An oven and microwave oven are two completely different appliances. Some functions may overlap, but ultimately, they’re used for different purposes and will yield different results.

Cook with oven vs microwave oven aeg south africa

To help guide you to an informed purchasing decision, AEG will compare the two so you know what the difference is between an oven and a microwave oven.

How an oven works

An oven
works by heating the air inside the oven cavity to cook your food. In terms of heat distribution, it comes in two types: Conventional and Convection. A conventional oven radiates heat through heating elements on the top and bottom of your oven, whereas a convection oven has an added fan for more even heat distribution.

They can also be categorized according to their placements. Freestanding ovens sit on the floor, and are combined with a hob. Built-in ovens can be installed in your cabinetry for a seamless, minimalist look.

Read more here for How to use an oven with pro preheating and baking tips.

How a microwave oven works

How a microwave oven works

A microwave oven cooks your food by emitting a type of electromagnetic radiation called microwaves. These cause water, fat, and sugar molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat and cooking or reheating the food.

Some advanced combination microwave ovens are now available that have added cooking functions well beyond reheating. Some combine microwave technology with grilling or convection oven cooking.

Like ovens, microwave ovens can also be freestanding or built-in, depending on your preference or available space.

The differences between an oven and microwave oven

Size and installation

Ovens are larger than microwaves and can be installed in a dedicated space at eye level within your wall cabinetry (Built-In Oven), or in a nook along your countertop (Freestanding Oven). Built-in ones also have a bigger capacity than their freestanding counterparts. If your oven is powered by gas, it might need professional fitting.

Microwaves are smaller and can be easily placed on your countertop (Freestanding Microwave Oven) or installed within your cabinet (Built-In Microwave Oven) to save space. Just plug to a nearby socket, and it’s good to go.

Cooking options: Which one have better versatility?

For cooking a variety of dishes, choose ovens

For cooking a variety of dishes, choose ovens. From baking, broiling to roasting and airfrying, ovens let home cooks expand their culinary repertoire with their wider range of features. They also operate on a higher temperature range, making them suitable for cooking raw food or for precisely preparing complex dishes.

Discover a lot of healthy dishes with air fryer oven here.

Standard microwaves only let you reheat and defrost pre-cooked food for simple, low-effort food preparation. This is why they’re an essential appliance for students and busy people. For greater versatility, it is recommended to choose microwave ovens that not only reheat, but also grill or bake.

Cooking speed: microwave time vs oven time

Generally, microwaves cook food faster than ovens. This is because electromagnetic radiation directly heats molecules inside your food, rapidly reheating it in minutes or even seconds. With convection microwaves, baking a cake only takes 7-12 minutes whereas with ovensit can take 30-60 minutes.

Make cup cake with aeg microwave oven

Cost: Which is more expensive microwave or oven

The more complex, the more expensive. This is why microwaves are generally less expensive than ovens since they have simpler functions, especially with basic models. Do expect advanced ones, those that come with different programes, to be pricier. 

Likewise, built-in ovens cost the most as they offer the most complexity.

Oven and microwave oven maintenace: which is easier?

Clean microwave oven - aeg south africa

Both ovens and microwave ovens require regular maintenance and cleaning to work efficiently. However, microwaves are easier to clean — no heavy scrubbing required. Simply heat soapy water solution, and wipe. With normal usage and regular cleaning, microwaves can last for about seven to eight years. 

On the other hand, cleaning ovens need more elbow grease and more of your time. For added ease and convenience, some AEG ovens have assisted cleaning functions, such as pyrolytic cleaning, steam, and catalytic options.

Read more about how to maintain your kitchen appliances:

Compare an oven and microwave: pros and cons

Here is the Comparison between a Standard Microwave Oven vs. an Oven


Standard Microwave Oven Oven

Ease of Use

Push-button efficiency

Simple but with more detailed settings


Reheats and defrosts in mere minutes

Requires preheating and longer cooking time


Less costs upfront and uses less energy

More expensive and consumes more energy


Minimal effort in cleaning

Can be harder to clean and requires more time


More compact and saves more space,especially if built in.

Freestanding ovens take up more space if not built in


Usage is limited to heating, reheating, and defrosting. Does not cook raw food.

Allows cooking techniques through various levels of functionality such as AirFry. Freestanding ovens come with a hob for maximum versatility

Temperature control

Simplified to power or wattage levels

Higher temperatures and  more precise control for cooking raw food


Limited capacity for smaller households

Larger capacity for bigger households, especially for freestanding

Container options

Incompatible with metal. Requires use of microwave-safe containers

Can be used with cooking pans made from diverse materials

Frequently asked questions about ovens and microwave ovens

  • Can I bake in a microwave?

    Yes, however, this depends on the type of microwave oven you have. Convection microwave ovens allow you to bake cakes and breads, as you normally would in an oven. However, you won’t have the same results in a standard or solo microwave since it may turn out gummy or undercooked. As a workaround, cook recipes made for microwave cooking such as mug cakes.

  • Can a microwave be used as a grill?

    With a grill microwave oven, you can. In AEG models, a built-in heating element above delicately browns food for deliciously crisp results. Conveniently cook burgers or brown the crisp top of lasagnes, with less clean-up.

  • Is a microwave safe to use?

    Electromagnetic radiation from microwave ovens are safe. In fact, we encounter this low frequency radiation everyday — from objects like lightbulbs and radios. For cooking raw meats in a convection microwave, make sure they reach the required internal temperature with a food thermometer.

Oven vs microwave oven: what to choose?

Now that we have covered the difference between an oven and a microwave, you can see that there isn’t a right or wrong decision; it’s about choosing the appliance that is best suited to your needs and lifestyle. Ideally, the two appliances should work together in your kitchen to provide every cooking function when you need it.

A standard or solo microwave is mainly for quick and easy cooking, suitable for simple techniques like reheating and defrosting. An oven is more versatile, letting you bake, roast and, overall, have more control of your dishes.

Want more flexibility? AEG microwave ovens come in combined grill and convection models, while full-size ovens have steam functions for the ultimate cooking experience.
Discover more about them here:

4,5 (14 reviews)
  • Inverter technology cooks evenly and efficiently.
  • AirFry your food for a fried taste with less oil.
  • Steam modes for healthy eating at home.
60cm 8000 Series built-in combination microwave oven with 49L capacity, Premium Matte Black
4,8 (9 reviews)
  • CombiQuick combines functions to cook faster.
  • CombiGrill for fast, crisp results.
  • Grill function to brown and crisp.
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