A microwave oven adds a lot of convenience to your daily cooking. You can not only make delicious food but also reheat, defrost and steam your food. This will cut down your cooking time significantly.
However, they can only benefit you if you choose the right oven for your needs. In India, you will largely find 3 types of microwaves in the market. These are solo, grill and convection microwave.
A solo microwave is generally considered ideal for basic reheating or defrosting food. Whereas, a convection oven can perform many functions such as roasting, baking, grilling and more.
Grill ovens are somewhere between the two and can make crispy food such as pakoras and kebabs along with basic reheating, defrosting and steaming. But they cannot bake or roast food.
Other than the different types of microwave, there are also other factors like size, capacity and features that you need to consider while buying a new microwave.
In this article, we have mentioned all these important factors you need to check in order to choose the right microwave oven for your household;
Types of microwave:
There are mainly three types of microwave ovens available in the market. These are solo, grill and convection microwave. Let us understand each of them;
Solo microwaves are designed for simple cooking. They are also called standard microwaves because they have only the basic functions of an oven.
What functions can you perform using a solo microwave?
You can re-heat, defrost and steam food using a solo microwave.
This type of microwave is great if you cook simple food. If you want to save gas that is used on frequent reheating, defrosting or steaming of foods, then a solo oven will be a great choice for you.
These are the advanced versions of a solo microwave. In addition to the function of a solo microwave, they can also grill food. These microwaves come with an additional grill attachment where you can place the food and grill it. You can add a crisp texture to the food with this type of microwave.
What functions can you perform using a grill microwave?
You can crisp food and make dishes like paneer pakora, chicken pakora etc along with re-heating, steaming and defrosting food.
Grill microwaves are ideal for you if you generally cook simple food but want to try out new recipes once in a while. You can make pakoras, tandooris, tikkas, kebabs etc along with re-heating, steaming and defrosting.
These are the most advanced types of microwaves. They can perform a wide variety of cooking functions. A convection oven creates even heating and cooks food thoroughly.
Like normal ovens, convection ovens also have upper and lower heating elements. But in addition to this, they also have fans that circulate the hot air inside the oven. This is why you can make so many different types of food using a convection oven. They also cook food faster because of this.
What functions can you perform using a convection microwave?
You can roast, bake, make pizza, crisp, reheat, defrost, grill and steam food. Some of these even provide additional functions of air frying, fermentation and auto cook options that make them very convenient to use.
If you like cooking a variety of food and want to try out new recipes then a convection oven should be your go-to. You can make cakes, cookies, pizzas, naan, toast, roast meat and many more types of food with this type of oven.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Microwave:
Other than the types of a microwave oven, here are some other factors you should look for while buying a microwave oven;
1. Ideal Capacity:
The sizes of microwave ovens are represented by the volume of food that they can cook. This can range from 15 to 40 litres. When you are looking at microwaves, always consider your family size while deciding the ideal capacity of microwave you should go for;
- A small family of 2 to 3 members: 15 to 20 litres
- A family of 3 to 5 members: 25 to 30 litres
- Bigger family of more than 5 members: 30 litres or above
2. Cooking Functions:
Most ovens these days come with extra features that make the cooking process easier and less time-consuming. We have mentioned a few of these features below, take a look and make sure to look for the one that would be most useful in your household;
3. Auto Cook Menu:
Auto cook menu is a very convenient option to have in your microwave. This option does not need you to set the timer or the heat setting. All you need to do is set the type of food you are cooking and it will get it ready for you.
This function is great for instant microwavable meals available in the markets. This option saves time and makes cooking easier.
The Preheat option is a very important menu for all kinds of baking. This option is used in other types of cooking as well but it is mandatory to make any kind of baked goods. This has two reasons;
When you preheat the oven to a specific temperature before you put the food inside the oven, the food gets cooked at the most accurate temperature.
This also prevents the food from cooking slowly as the temperature inside the oven gradually rises to the degree that you have set. Pre-heating instantly blasts high heat at the food and cooks it faster. This also prevents uneven cooking where one side is cooked while the other side still requires cooking.
5. Quick Defrost:
Quick defrost is used to thaw frozen foods like frozen peas, corn, frozen soups and other ready to eat frozen packages. They are also used to defrost meat and fish.
They make it very convenient for you to defrost difficult foods like meat. All you need to do is put the frozen food inside the oven and punch in the weight of the food. Then click on the quick defrost button and your microwave will defrost the food.
6. Sensor Cooking:
The sensor cooking option uses the sensor present inside the microwave to decide how long the food will take to cook. This is done by sensing the moisture level of the food.
The sensor cooking means you don’t need to set a timer or temperature to cook the food. The microwave will automatically guess the time and temperature needed to cook your food.
Rotisserie mode is great for people who love eating barbeques and roasted meat.
This comes with some extra attachments like a big hot stone and skewers etc. In this mode, you can cook food that is traditionally made over campfire or barbeque ovens. You can put the meat in the skewer and attach it.
The microwave will rotate the skewers and cook them like barbeque or roast them. If you like making fancy dishes then you will enjoy this feature.
8. Sun dry mode:
Most Indian households will love this feature. With this mode, you can make papads, dry pickles and make many other Indian dishes.
This mode will dry your food as you do in natural sunlight. You can also use this to dry spices before making powders out of them.
This way is faster than the normal sun drying process which can take days to dry the food properly.
Other Important Features To Look For:
Here are some other features you should keep your eye on:
1. Select your panel type
The control panels of the microwave come in manual or feather touch types. Manual control panels have buttons that you can use to control the microwave. This type of panel is suitable for heavy use or areas like PGs and hostels where multiple people use the microwave. They can be easily replaced or repaired when damaged.
On the other hand, the feather touch panel comes with touch sensitivity. The control panel here is a touch screen. This is suitable for light and careful usage. This type of control panel is difficult to repair once damaged.
2. Ceramic interiors
Some new microwaves come with ceramic interiors. This type of interior is easy to clean and does not stain easily. You can easily wipe the interiors with a wet cloth to clean them.
3. Energy saves mode
Most electronics these days come with energy save mode. This feature saves power and decreases your electricity bill considerably. Additionally, you can also look for star ratings and choose the most power-saving microwave.
4. Child lock
Child lock features lock the control panel of the microwave. Once the child lock is activated you can only switch on and switch off the microwave. Other functions will not respond. This is a useful feature if you have kids or toddlers at home.
This is found in some high-end microwave ovens. Here the device can automatically deodorise itself after you cook the food. All you need to do is click on the deodorise button and the microwave will remove the bad odour etc from the interior. The duration of the deodorisation can vary from 5 to 60 minutes.
6. Keep warm functions
Keep warm function is one of the most useful functions for busy people. As the name suggests, this will keep your food warm after cooking or heating it.
7. Top brands
Brands are the most common factor that people look for. While a brand name alone is not crucial, things like warranty offered, after-sale service and the closeness of the brand service centre etc are important things to consider. All of this depends on the brand. Reputable brands have more service centres, offer more warranty and have better after-sale services.
If you want the best microwave then go for convection ovens which come with maximum features. A 5-star convection oven from a big brand like LG, Samsung, Hairer etc are generally considered the best in all aspects.