Steam Oven vs. Microwave - What's the Difference?
Ideas and Advice

Steam Oven vs. Microwave - What's the Difference?

Steam ovens have become increasingly popular in recent years. But what's the big deal about steam cooking? Can a steam oven replace a Microwave? And what are the differences between a steam oven and a microwave? We hope to answer all your questions about steam ovens in this post.

How Steam Ovens Work

How Steam Ovens Work

Steam ovens generally work by siphoning water from a reservoir into a boiler, where the water is heated. At sea level, this temperature is 212° F or 100° C. This creates a lot of steam, which is then forced into the steam oven's main cavity. This cooks or reheats food more quickly than a traditional oven does, but slower than a microwave. You'll often find steam ovens in restaurants and bakeries, where the high volume of cooking means that things need to be baked quickly.

How Microwaves Work

Microwaves work by exposing your food to a high-frequency electromagnetic field. This radiation is trapped inside the microwave's cavity, and it energizes the water molecules in the food you're heating up. This allows for fast cooking, but you may lose out on cooking precision and food quality. Microwaves are typically smaller and more versatile than steam ovens as well, making them easier to fit into cramped spaces.

How Microwaves Work
Healthy

Which is Healthier?

In general, food cooked in steam ovens tends to be healthier than food cooked in microwaves. This is because a steam oven preserves the nutrients in food, reducing the risk of overcooking. By locking moisture into your food, you are also reducing the need for extra fats and oils that may be necessary in microwaved food or food cooked in traditional ovens. Steam ovens also allow you to cook a wider variety of foods.

Which Foods Should Be Cooked in Each?

In general, any food that can be heated in a microwave can also be cooked in a steam oven. Steam ovens have a much wider range of foods they can cook than microwaves can: in particular, you don't need to worry about whether your cookware is microwave-safe before placing it in a steam oven. Many people reheat leftovers in steam ovens while they're still wrapped in aluminum foil, for instance, and steam ovens can be used to cook rice to perfection.

Microwaves, on the other hand, are better at cooking food that's designed specifically to be microwaved. This mostly means ready-made meals, but also includes dishes such as microwave popcorn. Microwaves are also faster at defrosting frozen food than steam ovens are, which is definitely something to consider if you freeze a lot of your food.

Foods
Leftovers

Reheating Efficacy

If speed is your primary concern, then a microwave will be your best option for reheating leftovers. This is especially true for frozen foods, as food can take a while to defrost in a steam oven. A steam oven, however, provides more even heating, and you have greater control over the cooking environment. This allows you to reheat food with less worry about burning it, and also improves the flavor of your food.

Ease of Use

There's a bit of a learning curve with steam ovens: microwaves tend to have a wider variety of features that speed your cooking, while steam ovens generally favor the quality of your food. With a microwave, you get near-instant gratification. With steam ovens, you'll need to block out more time in your day for meal preparation.

Ease of Use

Related Questions

Can you use a steam oven as a normal oven?

Yes, a steam oven can do all the things a normal oven can do. You can even turn off the steam supply in many steam ovens if you need dry heat.

Do professional chefs use steam ovens?

Steam ovens are becoming increasingly common in professional kitchens. Because they are faster than traditional ovens and often provide better bread crusts, they are especially popular among bakeries.

Can you cook pizza in a steam oven?

Yes, you can cook pizza in a steam oven. In fact, this creates pizza crusts that are crispy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside.