Steam Cooking vs. Microwave Cooking

woman cooking using a sharp superheated steam oven

This article will discuss the differences in how steam ovens and microwave ovens cook food, including both the method of heating and their strong suits in cooking particular foods.

The microwave has been a staple in the American kitchen for decades. It’s the perfect little appliance. It defrosts, cooks, reheats all within minutes. What more could you want? One word: steam.

A steam oven is an excellent addition to any kitchen. Steam can be hotter, cook better, and promote mindful living. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates the convenience of a microwave but sometimes finds themselves wanting more.

Let’s dive into the differences and similarities of a convection steam oven vs. a microwave and how you can benefit from having both.

green beans prepared using SHARP supersteam

Microwaves vs. Steam Ovens: How Do They Differ and When Should You Use Each?

To see the true value of cooking with a microwave and a steam oven, you should understand how each appliance works, what kind of food you can prepare in them, and the overall cost.


A microwave is the original versatile, all-in-one kitchen helper. If you are considering purchasing or replacing a microwave, there is a wide variety to choose from. You have the option of a countertop, over-the-counter, over-the-range, or microwave drawer. All models perform the same basic functions but differ in convenience, accessibility, appearance, functionality, and additional safety features.

Sharp 1.6 cu. ft. 1100W Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave

This is the Sharp 1.6 cu. ft. 1100W Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave.

How Does a Microwave Work?

Have you ever wondered how a microwave works? Microwaves use tiny, high-powered radio waves for cooking food. This is done through radiation, and it is also the reason that microwaves are encased in metal. These radio waves cause the molecules in the food to vibrate quickly and create thermal energy.

Why Do People Love Microwaves?

Why do people love microwaves? One word: convenience.

At the touch of a button, you can defrost, heat/reheat, or cook a complete meal. It does not require time to preheat, and you don’t need to watch the food in a microwave. Unlike a typical oven, the heating process stops when time runs out, and most microwaves do not retain heat like a traditional oven.

Microwaves are also easy to clean – sometimes. In most cases, microwaved food stays in its container. If there is a splatter or spill, it can be easily wiped away with a paper towel or cloth. But if you do not clean the appliance immediately and use the microwave again, the mess will likely become cemented onto the appliance and require more effort to clean.

Need to clean your appliance? Read these tips on how to clean your microwave.

What Can You Cook in a Microwave?

Microwave cooking can be somewhat limited. You can even bake some items in a microwave, but its primary use is heating and reheating items. It should also be mentioned that reheating is not always successful on the first try. It is common for a microwave to reheat a dish and then need to reheat the dish a second or third time after mixing the contents to get a consistent temperature throughout.

Did you know that you can make a pizza in a microwave? It’s true. You can also make a cake with your microwave.

How Much Does a Microwave Cost?

Microwaves are a popular option in most kitchens because they are typically very affordable. It’s true that of the variables listed above, there are some top-of-the-line, expensive appliances, but typically a microwave is an affordable appliance.

According to Angie’s List, a basic microwave can cost less than $100. However, some more high-end models with several additional features and finishes can cost more than $1,000.

Steam Ovens

Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven – Can a Steam Oven Replace a Microwave?

Steam ovens have been standard in commercial kitchens for decades but have recently become more popular for at-home use. Steam ovens are very popular with people interested in creating mindful, simple meals.

Why Do People Love Cooking with Steam?

Steam tends to be a better alternative than baking or frying food in oil or fat. Some people also believe the food prepared in a steam oven tastes better. This is likely due to the steam technology that prevents food from drying out while providing an enjoyable crispy outside texture. Steam ovens combine the power and convenience of a microwave with the moist, tender, delicate cooking style of steam.

How Does a Steam Oven Work?

If you are curious about how steam ovens work, it’s really quite simple. As an example, a Sharp Superheated Steam Oven uses a combination of superheated steam and conventional, radiant heat in all cooking modes. Cooking with steam also makes clean-up simple. You can wipe the appliance with a damp cloth or paper towel inside and out, and you’re done. A steam oven also reduces cooking time and eliminates the need to preheat or defrost.

What Can I Cook in a Steam Oven?

You may be wondering – what can I cook in a steam oven? The answer is pretty much anything. A Sharp Superheated Steam Oven can toast, grill, broil, bake, and reheat items like a standard microwave or oven. If you want to cook with steam, your options are practically endless. You can cook meat, fish, pasta, vegetables, pieces of bread, or desserts. In fact, this countertop oven is even big enough to fit a 12” pizza or 9 pieces of toast. A large oven is very valuable when cooking for multiple people or preparing a complete meal with multiple components.

Can a steam oven replace your microwave? In terms of utility, it’s certainly possible. The drawback is, of course, the time it takes to heat the dish you’re preparing. A microwave may be faster than a steam oven at completing basic reheating tasks, but the food will not be as well prepared.

If you’re looking for some steam oven-specific recipes, we offer suggestions such as Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Crema, Portobello Burgers, Brats with Grilled Peppers and OnionsFrench Toast with Fresh Berries, or Honey Mustard Salmon.

Portobello Burgers Prepared in a Steam Oven - Convection Steam Oven vs. Microwave

How Much Does a Steam Oven Cost?

Suppose you are curious about the cost of a steam oven. In that case, Pro Remodeler estimates that prices for wall units like you’d see with a typical oven can range anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for basic models, to well over $7,000 to $8,000 for higher-end models. The Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven, which sits on your countertop like a toaster oven, is priced much lower at $399.99.

Upgrade Your Kitchen with a Steam Oven

When it comes to a microwave vs. a steam oven, the good news is there is room for each. Microwaves will always be your go-to when you’re in a pinch and need something heated quickly. But when you want optimum crispness and flavor, a steam oven such as the Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven cooks perfection with no preheating or defrosting and no cleanup. It shouldn’t necessarily replace your microwave, but it does take your culinary experience to the next level.

The ability to perfectly cook each item, whether it be with steam or in the microwave while cutting down the amount of time spent in the kitchen, is priceless. Having the right appliances means you spend less time cooking, more time enjoying – less time worrying about taste, and more time savoring the fruits of your labor.

Happy cooking!

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Featured in this Article

1.6 cu. ft. 1100W Sharp Stainless Steel Carousel Countertop Microwave Oven (ZSMC1655BS)

Roomy, family-sized 1.6 cu. ft. microwave has a bigger capacity to cook and reheat larger portions of food. 1100 watts of power give you rapid reheating and fast cooking. Modern, brushed stainless steel finish with scratch-resistant glass door complements your style.

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Sharp Smart Combi Built-In Steam Oven (SSC2489GS)

The Sharp’s SSC2489GS Smart Combi Built-In Steam Oven is the start of a cooking revolution.

While regular steam only reaches 212°F, the Smart Combi Built-In Steam Oven can create superheated steam up to 485°F. Steam this hot can roast meats and caramelize sugars so your food can be brown and crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. With the smart Sharp’s SSC2489GS Smart Combi Built-In Steam Oven, you can grill without smoke, roast without drying, and get the roasty-toasty, tasty results you desire.

And don’t forget, the Sharp’s SSC2489GS Smart Combi Built-In Steam Oven is also a powerful convection oven with even heating for superior baking. That’s three ovens in one!

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Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven (SSC0586DS)

The Sharp(R) Superheated Steam Countertop Oven is the start of a cooking revolution. The innovation is simply that steam can be hotter, cook better, and promote healthy living. The combination of superheated steam and conventional, radiant heat in all cooking modes means that your food will be crispy and browned on the outside, moist and delicious on the inside.

The Sharp(R) Superheated Steam Countertop Oven is a powerful, low-profile, pizzeria-style oven. Roomy enough for a 12″ pizza or 9 slices of toast, the included Broiling Pan and Crisper Tray (12.5″x12.5″) give you more cooking area than a standard quarter-size sheet pan.

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About Sharp Home Electronics Company of America (SHCA)

SHCA is the US Consumer Products Group of Sharp Electronics Corporation, the US sales subsidiary of Sharp Corporation, a worldwide developer and manufacturer of one-of-a-kind premium technology products.  SHCA includes the manufacturing of premium home appliances in Memphis, TN, together with the sales & marketing, and servicing of home electronics based in Montvale, NJ.  Leading products include Sharp AQUOS™ TVs, Sharp Carousel®, Microwave Drawer™ ovens, SuperSteam+™ ovens, and Plasmacluster® Ion air purifiers.

Sharp Corporation appears on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies for 2023. Sharp Electronics Corporation received a 2023 award for Best Places to Work in NJ. Learn more at http://www.sharpusa.com/.

Sharp, AQUOS, Carousel, Microwave Drawer, SuperSteam+, Plasmacluster, and all related trademarks are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sharp Corporation and/or its affiliated companies. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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