Steam Oven vs a Microwave – Too Much Fuss Over Hot Water?


Stuck trying to understand the differences between a steam oven and a microwave?

You’re not alone! Both appliances can be great, but sometimes choosing between them can be tricky.

Don’t worry, though – You’ve come to the right place!

The main difference between steam ovens vs microwaves is their cooking method. Steam ovens use steam to cook food, while microwaves use electromagnetic waves to generate heat. Steam ovens usually deliver better cooking results but can be more expensive.

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about steam ovens and microwaves!

Steam Oven vs Microwave

If you’re struggling to understand the main differences between a microwave and a steam oven, don’t worry.

In this section, you’ll learn all the important details to consider when comparing both appliances.

#1 Cooking Method

When homeowners are faced with the decision between a steam oven and a microwave, I always advise them to consider their cooking methods.

Steam ovens cook food using superheated steam, while microwaves rely on waves that pass through the food, causing its molecules to vibrate and rapidly heating it.

One disadvantage of steam ovens is the need to fill them with water before each use. However, higher-priced models can be connected to your kitchen’s plumbing system, eliminating the need for manual refilling.

It’s worth mentioning that the cooking method of microwaves vs steam ovens affects your food’s texture and overall outcome.

#2 Ease of Cleaning

When comparing a steam oven vs a microwave, it’s important to consider their ease of cleaning.

In my opinion, wiping away any spills or stains from a steam oven is very simple, as steam can loosen up grime and debris.

Microwaves are also easy to clean. But if your teenage kids reheat last night’s pasta without covering it and then abandon the mess…   By the time you get to the crime scene, the red pasta sauce would’ve locked onto the surfaces like quick-drying cement.

Clean microwave
Cleaning a microwave is harder than cleaning a steam oven.

So, when it comes to ease of cleaning, my go-to recommendation is to consider getting a steam oven.

#3 Price

When deciding between a steam oven and a microwave, I also recommend considering your budget.

The prices of microwaves can vary depending on their type, features, and brand. From what I’ve seen, some models are priced as low as $100, while others can go as high as $3100! However, on average, microwaves fall around the $500 mark.

On the other hand, steam ovens typically range in price from $1000 to over $5000! Their price will also vary depending on their features, brand, and size.

So, if you decide based on price alone, I recommend choosing a microwave.

You’re probably wondering, “Why on Earth are steam ovens so expensive?” Here are a few reasons:

  • Steam ovens are usually sold as units that a professional will build into your kitchen. The process is just like the installation of a regular oven. And as with any built-in appliance, it comes with a sizable price tag.
  • Steam ovens are smarter, healthier, and deliver better-tasting food. The enhanced results from cooking with a steam oven make them pricey.

But you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on a steam oven. If you are willing to choose a smaller model, you could pick one up for between $300 and $500. These models can stand on your countertop and are great for heating a few vegetables or small meals.

#4 Cooking Results

Another main difference between microwaves and steam ovens is their cooking results.

Steam ovens produce the best results for your food because the steam keeps the food moist and locks in vitamins and minerals. With steam ovens, your food will not dry out as it heats and will not need as much cooking oil, which is great if you’re trying to cook healthier meals.

On the other hand, microwaves can easily dry your food out and make it soggy. In my experience, they’re also typically not suitable for cooking thicker food items.

So, based on cooking results alone, you should choose a steam oven.

#5 Cookware

You also need to consider the type of cookware you can use when comparing steam ovens vs microwaves.

Steam ovens are compatible with glass, stainless steel, oven-safe ceramics, silicone, and a wide range of other cookware, which makes it easy for you to reheat the leftovers from last night’s takeout.

Unfortunately, the type of cookware compatible with a microwave is limited.

When it comes to microwaving food, it’s crucial to ensure that the containers you use have a microwave-safe label on them.

So, if you’re making your decision based on the ease of heating food with different cookware, I recommend getting a steam oven.

Steam Oven vs Microwave – Pros and Cons

If you’re still trying to decide between a steam oven and a microwave, please look at the pros and cons tables I’ve prepared for both appliances.

They’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Steam Ovens

– They are easy to clean.
– They keep food moist.
– They are a healthy option for heating food.
– Steam cooking helps to lock in the vitamins and minerals in the food.
– Steam cooking helps to deliver a great taste sensation after cooking.
– They are compatible with a variety of different cookware materials.
– They come with a wide range of pre-programmed settings.
– You have to periodically fill the water reservoir.
– They are expensive.
– Most models need professional installation.


– It is easy to get a great model at a low price.
– Countertop models do not need professional installation.
– They come with a wide range of pre-programmed settings.
– They are tricky to clean.
– They tend to dry food out.
– They are not compatible with all cookware.
Microwave pros and cons
Microwaves are very convenient and typically affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Steam Oven for Baking?


Steam ovens are great for baking pastries and other delicious treats. Just read your manufacturer’s instructions to accurately set the temperature and baking mode.

Can I Use Vinegar to Clean My Steam Oven?

Sure thing.

Pour a bowl of water and a cup of vinegar into your oven’s water tank and let it run (it should have a cleaning cycle mode, please check your user manual to find it).

Once the cycle is done, any gunk and other undesirable substances should be gone or at least be easier to remove.

Do Microwaves Use a Lot of Power?

The energy consumption of a microwave will vary depending on its wattage, frequency of use, and the electricity cost in your area.

On average, running an 800-watt microwave that’s always plugged in and used for about 15 minutes daily costs $1 per month or $12 per year.

Click here to learn exactly how much it costs to run your microwave.

Can You Reheat Food In a Steam Oven?

Absolutely! Steam ovens are indeed a great option for reheating leftovers.

With the help of steam, the food can be rehydrated, resulting in a more enjoyable eating experience.

Select the reheating setting to reheat food in your steam oven or check the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions.


Hopefully, now you know the main differences between a steam oven and a microwave.

Remember that steam ovens cook food with steam, while microwaves use waves that cause molecules in your food to vibrate quickly. Additionally, steam ovens are typically easier to clean and deliver better cooking results.

Don’t forget that microwaves are usually more affordable than steam ovens.

If this article has helped you, then why not check out some of our other articles and free guides? You could even sign up for our email list!

Have a great day!

— Craig.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more