After a rigorous selection process and almost eighty hours of testing, and quite a few delicious meals, our mock kitchen led us to the conclusion that the Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Convection Microwave is the best one convection microwave currently available. Read on and we’ll show you our testing methods in depth and how we came to that conclusion.
We were immediately sold on this one, and in testing it proved to be pretty amazing. It functioned great in both modes, had an enormous capacity, and fits right on your existing countertop so that you’re not going to have to do any remodeling to get it in place.
Table of Contents
How We Selected Products
When it came down to it, finding convection microwaves wasn’t all that hard. They’re fairly new to the market so we ran down the brands and grabbed what we figured would be the best for any given purpose.
We were a bit torn on which one would be the absolute best. The Toshiba ECO42A5C-SS and the Cusinart CMW-200 both came up repeatedly while we were scouring the internet for information so we just grabbed both to see which would perform better.
Other than that we also needed a smaller option, an over-the-range option, and something which was a little bit cheaper than the rest for those who wanted the benefits without breaking their budget.
In this case, we had to rely on cooking forums, online reviews, and our knowledge of the brands themselves since they’re not exactly a common sight in professional kitchens and no in our immediate circle had one just yet.
We ended up being quite happy with the ones that we picked out, however, so read on and we’ll tell you how we tested them.’
How We Tested
The only way, as far as we were concerned, to find the best of the best was to pit them side-by-side while cooking the same foods. Fortunately, we were able to find a handy conversion chart by GE which allowed us to adapt regular recipes.
For each of the five we cooked the following dishes:
- Baked french fries
- New York strip steaks
- Mixed chicken parts
- Green bean casserole
- Peanut butter cookies
We assumed that would give us a good baseline to work with and it would enable us to modify the sizes of the dishes in order to accommodate even the smaller models easily.
For the Toshiba EC042A5C-SS and the Emerson models, both of which were significantly larger than the others, we also cooked a whole chicken in each.
All of the smaller dishes were cooked using Pyrex dishes, since sticking metal in any kind of microwave is a terrible idea. Overall it took us about two eight hour days of testing per convection microwave, but for the most part we didn’t mind all that much since the real test was going to be how the food would come out.
In theory, a convection microwave combines both the evenly cooked exterior of a convection oven along with the quicker cooking time of a microwave.
In practice we found that to be true, although it took us a little bit of time to dial in the whole affair since we found out that our conversion chart wasn’t exact right out of the gate. Once we got used to them it was quite easy, but we’d recommend a bit of practice before you decide that you need one to cook your Christmas dinner with.
After a lot of delicious meals, and a couple of extra pounds put on, we came to one primary conclusion: convection microwaves are awesome.
- The Toshiba EC042A5C-SS performed exactly as advertised. Combined with the fact that it’s able to fit on most countertops easily that made it our top pick, especially considering the enormous capacity which readily cooked a whole chicken.
- The Cuisinart CMW-200 performed about as well as the Toshiba. It’s smaller capacity and the fact that it seemed to take just a bit longer to heat up the interior of the cooked foods made it our runner-up.
- The Cusinart CMW-100 actually outperformed its larger brand-mate in the microwave compartment, but we found the interior rack was a bit touchier than we would have liked.
- The Sharp R1874T was a little bit underpowered in the wattage department but still made the whole cooking process shorter than either appliance alone. Combined with being an over-the-range option it’s a great space saver and the exhaust system was relatively easy to hook up.
- The Emerson model that we picked up lacked a lot of the quality-of-life features we found in the others. It was also a bit underpowered, but it remains relatively cheap and functions quite well.
So basically, we found that we made five great picks. All of them are excellent additions to any kitchen, it’s really only in comparison to each other that some of the flaws begin to show up.
Since our initial testing, a couple of things have changed, which we’ve updated the article to reflect:
- The Emerson model was out of production and only available as a refurbished model when we tested it initially. You can now get it brand new, but it’s no longer a “budget” option. It remains pretty much the same, except there is now a 1.6cu foot model available which makes it the largest of the convection microwaves we tested
- The Toshiba model which was our favorite has dropped in price, at least temporarily as of this update(October 2018) which makes it an even better purchase for the average home.
Top 5 Convection Microwaves
|Toshiba EC042A5C-SS||Countertop||1.5 cu. Ft.||Check Price|
|Cuisinart CMW-200||Countertop||1.2 cu. Ft.||Check Price|
|Cuisinart CMW-100 Stainless Steel||Countertop||1.0 cu. Ft.||Check Price|
|Sharp R1874T 850W||Over-the-Range||1.1 cu. Ft.||Check Price|
|Emerson with Convection Grill||Countertop||1.5 cu. Ft.||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Convection Microwave
Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Convection Microwave with Sensor Cooking Function
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
This was the best of the convection microwaves we could find by a long shot. It boasts a powerful microwave and an impressive 1.5 cubic foot capacity that’s more than enough for most dishes.
We even managed to roast a whole chicken in it in record time, beating out the Emerson model we tested by about ten minutes.
The stainless steel interior is a particularly nice touch, we found it was quickly and easily cleaned in between dishes. Since it was first in line for testing you can bet we made a good mess of things a couple of times.
It’s a dual-usage convection microwave, which all of our picks were, allowing you to easily use both functions at the same time in order to enjoy the advantages of crispy exteriors and warmed insides.
It’s a bit bulky but the high capacity more than makes up for it. Since you can split it’s usage as well we think it’d make a good replacement for your regular microwave if that’s what you’ve been planning on doing.
It was also the easiest to use out of the options that we worked with. Pretty much anyone should be able to get the hang of it, just remember to look up a conversion chart if you’re planning on cooking your favorite dishes with it since the temperature required and the cook time are a little bit different.
The truth is that if you’re willing to spring for it, this Toshiba convection microwave is one of the best currently on the market. Talk about kitchen miracles!
- Three year limited warranty
- Extremely simple to use
- Can use both microwave and convection options at the same time
- Great capacity
- Limited power in the microwave portion
- Hot spots at the top of the appliance
2. Runner Up for Best Overall Convection Microwave Over
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
This was our second favorite of the ones which we tested. We were able to get it up and running quickly and found that it worked great in comparison to either kind of appliance alone. Really, if we had tested this one first we would have been quite impressed but we did find the microwave function to be a little bit underpowered after our testing process.
It’s easy to clean, has some great presets built right in, and it took up less space on the counter than the Toshiba model while not being super compact. It’s just about right for an average sized kitchen if you’re trying to cut down on space, but if you’ve got a small studio then take a look at it’s younger cousin before you commit.
It performed well in our testing, although it did turn out to be just a tad slower than our favorite. It’s a solid pick and if quality-of-life features are your favorite part of a new appliance then we could see going with this model over the Toshiba.
- Stainless steel interior for easy cleaning
- Eight presets
- Memorizes settings for cooking
- No install since it’s a countertop model
- Rather expensive compared to the smaller version
- Microwave function is a little bit underpowered
3. Best Small Convection Oven
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
This is the little brother of our runner-up.
Once again we have a countertop model which can handle quite a bit, but the slightly reduced capacity put it behind our favorite.
It’s got 1000W of power, which actually works quite well with the smaller capacity. That alone makes it shine, since it doesn’t feel underpowered compared to single-use appliances which was a problem that we’d noted when doing our research beforehand.
It has the eight presets to make it easy to cook just about anything you might want to roast or bake and it can run both functions at the same time in order to deliver a crisp outside and a hot center. The smaller capacity was a bit of a drag but we think it’d be perfect for those who aren’t intent on cooking a full family dinner and don’t mind chopping down some of their dishes.
It also has a memory function in order to allow you to remember which settings worked the best in the past if you want to step away from the presets. We did so quickly, but we were doing our best to see how far we could push the convection microwaves we were testing.
It has all of the quality-of-life features of our runner up as well, which was a nice touch in a smaller microwave.
Overall, if you’re willing to put up with the smaller capacity you may just fall in love with this microwave convection oven. It’s perfect for smaller homes, and the reduced cost makes it more accessible for those on a budget.
- 1000 watts works pretty well with the capacity
- Memory function to remember your settings
- Can use both microwave and convection options at the same time
- Attractive brushed chrome exterior
- Slightly limited capacity
- Rack is a bit shifty
4. Best Over-the-Range Convection Microwave Oven
Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
If you’re looking for something that won’t take up any counter space then you’ll be in luck with the Sharp R1874T. It was one of the best looking of the models that we tried out and it was easy to install temporarily in our testing setup.
As for performance… well, it worked quite well. The problem was that it only boasted as much power as our smaller model while being much, much more expensive. You’re really paying for the convenience of being able to put a convection microwave in without losing any of your valuable counter space.
The exhaust system was really simple to install. That’s a bonus and something we were worried about while waiting for the appliance to come in since it’s not a given in an over-the-range appliance.
This unit is often installed in motor home as we found from our research, which gives it a nice edge up since you’ll be able to run it using the in-built power system if you’re looking to keep your home mobile.
It wasn’t underwhelming, but except for those who insist on over-the-range options there are much better ways to go in the average home.
If you’re looking for an over-the-range appliance for your home, then this is your best bet. It’s a little bit underpowered and quite expensive, but we found it still does a respectable job in the kitchen and the advantages will make up for it for some buyers.
- Over-the-range model to save counter space
- Integrated exhaust fan
- Easy to install for an over-the-range
- Quite simple to use
- Limited presets
- Rather expensive for the power
5. Best Budget Convection Microwave Oven
Emerson 1.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave Oven with Convection Grill
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
When we originally tested this large Emerson model out it was only available as a certified refurbished product but since then public pressure has put it back in place as a regular product.
It’s quite large, and there’s actually an even larger version available if you’re looking to get the biggest possible.
The refurbished model which we tested worked amazingly well. It packed a ton of power and it was quite simple to use, having pretty much the same interface as any other microwave out there. This being the exact same model, we imagine it functions the same and the reviews indicate that there’s been no new issues cropping up.
It does have some presets, but we really weren’t all that impressed with them. In all honesty, these devices seem to function best with a little bit of modification to their running by the person using them anyways, however, only Cuisinart had relatively great presets right out of the box.
Since it’s only available new at the current time, however, we had to nix it as our budget option. Instead, it’s still a great way to go but it’s primary use is for those who are looking for a particularly large convection microwave.
It lacks most of the quality of life features which we liked in the other models but as long as you’re willing to learn how to use it you won’t be missing out on anything. It’s a solid convection microwave and the 1.6cu foot version is one of the biggest available for the home consumer.
It’s large, simple, and powerful. The Emerson is a good option for those who are looking for an extra-large convection microwave, just be aware that you’ll have to devote some time to using it.
- Huge 1.5 cubic foot capacity
- Nine presets for cooking
- Tons of power at 1400 watts
- Widely variable power levels, eleven in all
- Extremely simple
- A bit pricey
Why We Tested Convection Microwaves
We like dual-use appliances… provided they’re not a gimmick. We weren’t sure when we first approached convection microwaves but in the end we found that they really are a great option.
A convection microwave combines both a convection oven and a microwave into one package. They’re usually quite similar in appearance and size to your usual microwave, but there are some larger exceptions for those who are going to be cooking large dishes.
In most cases, they actually perform both functions at the same time: basically, you can avoid the problems of having a blazing hot interior with a cold outside.
Since they’re dual-use, it pays off to replace a standard microwave with one in many kitchens.
The convection oven function can be used to cook roasts and bake without the sogginess that microwaves sometimes leave food with. You’ll also be able to microwave things… hence the dual-usage.
The really cool part was combining both modes in order to get things moving just right. In our testing we cooked all of the foods this way to see what the capabilities of the machines really were.
We found that most of the claims made about them were true. You just need to learn how to set them properly. There’s a lot more to fiddle with here than with either appliance on it’s own but once you get the dual-mode cooking down it’ll be hard to go back to either on their own.
What to Look for in a Convection Microwave
The ideal convection microwave is going to give you both options at a high rate of power, which was an essential part of our selection criteria. While the models varied across the spectrum, all of the ones we tested worked well in both modes.
You’ll want to look for all of the following when you’re trying to pick a convection microwave for personal usage.
Cooking sensors measure the interior humidity of the appliance. This will allow you to prevent overcooking many of the more sensitive foods which might find their way into your device.
These are one of the first things to look for in anything which microwaves, since they can make a huge difference in how food comes out with less input on your part.
We’re all familiar with the turntables which ensure even microwave saturation during the cooking process. For those of us who like to cook bigger dishes a toggle may be necessary.
Most of these are simple enough: push a button, the plate doesn’t turn. This allows you to cook larger dishes without risking the small motor which powers the turntable.
“Quick Cook” Features
Quick cooking will let you press a single button and get a 30 second or 1 minute microwave session going. While they’re not really required they certainly can be convenient for just quickly heating something up.
The capacity of your new convection microwave oven is more important than it seems at first glance. In order to get the most out of the convection feature, you’ll probably be cooking much larger dishes than you normally microwave.
So, it makes sense to get something a little bit bigger than normal for the best end results.
On the other hand, you’ll also want to make sure that the whole thing fits where you place it so there’s a definite tradeoff happening. Larger capacity, larger appliance, harder to place.
It’s a good idea to figure out a few dishes you’re going to want to try cooking before you even get going and measure the pans and get a rough estimate of the food to make sure that you’ll be able to enjoy the things which you want.
Microwaves tend to be tough. They pretty much have to be in order to be safe to use, since the magnetron works by emitting radiation in an enclosed space.
Unfortunately, that physical toughness doesn’t always translate into a truly durable appliance, since things have a tendency to break down over time.
We rejected a lot of models for complaints about their longevity, even with a warranty having your cooking devices breakdown is a major inconvenience.
Warranties are pretty much essential for any kind of kitchen appliance that runs more than $20. Due to the moving parts and interaction with various foods… they tend to break down quite a bit. That means you’ll want to make sure you have at least a year of warranty ahead of you.
Sooner or later these things do break down, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it for a couple of years.
Ease of Repair
Chances are you’re not going to be working on your convection microwave at home.
But, you do want to make sure that you’ll be able to get it repaired somewhere nearby if it happens. Checking the manufacturer’s information to see if there’s someone capable of putting it back together near you is important if you don’t want to end up having to buy a new one over what should be a minor repair.
Three Types of Convection Microwave
There are three primary types of convection microwave out there, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Standard countertop models are our favorites. Most of us have a microwave on the counter anyways, so it’s easy to find the space for one.
These models are pretty much “plug and play”, allowing you to plug them in and get things going immediately.
Of course, the trade-off is that they do take up space on the counter and if you’re planning on cooking larger dishes then you’ll be limited with what you can do.
Over the range convection microwaves, on the other hand, save a lot of counter space but they’re much more difficult to install for the average homeowner.
The saved counter space is awesome for kitchens with limited space.
The last type are built-in convection microwaves. These are the best of the best, offering large capacity and ensuring that you’ll not have to use any counter space. Unfortunately, they’re also a pain to install and you probably don’t have room for one.
There’s an exception to this, however: if you already have a convection oven installed in your home then you may be able to swap out the model if it’s the right size.
They’re also the most expensive of the three, so choose wisely if you’re planning on installing one. Go with a trusted brand and you’ll be fine, especially since built-in appliances tend to have a lot more coverage than the types which we tested.
Things to Ask Yourself
Whenever you’re thinking of an addition to your kitchen this large, you need to carefully consider how you’re going to use it in order to make sure that not only do you need the appliance but also which one is best suited for your own home.
Ask yourself the following when you’re looking to snap one up in order to make sure that you get a welcome addition to your home instead of just an expensive block of electronics that rarely is used to its full potential.
- Where are you planning on sticking the convection microwave? This is the biggest factor for most people, and it’s going to help you figure out which one is the best for your home.
- How are you going to use it? If you just want a microwave with the option to quick roast a chicken once in a while, for instance, then you’re going to want to make sure the microwave portion is high powered. On the other hand if you’re trying to replace your normal oven entirely then you’ll want to put some emphasis on the convection aspects instead.
- Do you need one? Most people will benefit from a convection microwave, but the majority of people are going to use just one mode or the other most of the time. If you’re not going to use the convection feature, for instance, you may be better off doing the occasional crisping in an existing oven.
How much are you willing to pay? We know you’re not made of money, and many of these can cost the same as a new oven entirely. That means you’ll have to make sure your budget is in line to allow you the most benefit from your convection microwave.
Helpful Tips for Your Convection Microwave
If you’re not already familiar with these appliances, then they can seem a little bit confusing at the first glance.
It definitely took us a bit of time to figure out the best way to approach things, but we assure you that it doesn’t require a technical genius to handle one either.
After our extensive testing we’d recommend doing the following:
- Learn about the settings. That means you’re going to want to look through the manual and make sure you know what each button does before you use it. Some of the higher end appliances can get a bit confusing, but thankfully they usually come from brands that have clear instructions.
- Use the microwave setting sparingly. Basically, you don’t want to use it on anything you wouldn’t microwave normally. Of course, all of the usual precautions around using a microwave apply, including keeping metal out of there unless you want to ruin the device.
- Use the combination feature for super-fast cooking. When the functions of the device are both functioning you can finish food remarkably quickly, which is one of the primary advantages of using one in the first place. Foods like whole birds can be ready to eat remarkably quickly if you made sure to pick up the best one available.
- Check food early until you get used to things. When the combination setting is in effect, you’ll want to check food early before you get used to it. They can cook things fast and you may overcook a couple of dishes first if you’re not careful.
- Use the convection setting for baking. Seriously, convection baking is one of the best uses for any kind of convection oven, and you’ll be in good hands here if you like to make cookies and cakes… just make sure that you purchased one large enough in the first place.
- Clean microwave splatters before using the convection function. The convection feature has a bad habit of “baking on” stains when used, and microwaves tend to splatter a bit when not used carefully. This can lead to a serious mess if you don’t wipe things down in between. We did find that stainless steel interiors made this a bit easier to handle, but it’s best to just avoid the problem entirely.
Follow the above practices and you’ll be in good hands.
A convection microwave can be a welcome addition to nearly any home. On top of being a dual-use appliance, the dual-mode can cook things amazingly fast. All that remains is to make sure that you know exactly which one is going to serve your family the best, and once you’ve got it in and working you’ll be surprised at just how much easier they can make your life.