Convection microwave ovens are pretty handy appliances. They give you the quick-cooking options of a microwave, with the browning and crisping ability of a traditional oven, and having both of these technologies in one compact package is what home cooks really love. If you have limited space and would love a convection oven, but also couldn’t live without your microwave, or if you have a conventional oven and wish you had a convection option for some dishes, one of these convection microwaves could be a perfect fit. One caveat though: convection microwaves get more complaints about durability issues than basic microwaves do, most likely because the more features and functions you have, the more there is to break down. Also, convection microwaves are panned across the board for their slow cooking performance in convection mode.
Although convection microwave ovens have come down in price in recent years, they are more expensive than a conventional microwave so, if you don’t need, want, or can’t afford the convection feature, see our discussion of counter-top microwaves elsewhere in this report. If you need an over-the-range microwave or are looking for a microwave for a custom installation, you’ll want to check out what we have to say about built-in microwaves. And keep in mind that both countertop and built-in convection microwaves are available.Tops in this category is the Samsung MC12J8035CT Countertop Convection Microwave (Est. $500). Rated at 900 watts for the microwave, 1,600 for the oven, this 1.2 cubic foot oven is a good size for all but the largest families, with enough capacity to cook a large dinner plate or accommodate a small roast or chicken. Users say it performs very well as either a microwave or a convection oven, although they do say that the convection feature takes longer to warm up and cook, and we saw issues with the convection part of the oven failing sooner than the other components. The Samsung MC12J8035CT has a good selection of microwave presets, including popcorn, slim fry (which is like an oil-less fryer technology), reheat and defrost, as well as convection-oven presets for grilling, roasting and baking. In one professional test the MC12J8035CT earns scores of. Good for speed of heating and even heating; Excellent for defrosting.
Many cooks say they don’t use the convection feature on the Samsung MC12J8035CT very often, but that it’s great to have around as an alternate cooking appliance for holidays and parties. However, many say this oven has a steeper learning curve than a dedicated microwave, something that’s somewhat common with convection/microwave combos — certainly more so than with standard microwaves. But most add that once you get used to programming the Samsung MC12J8035CT, it gets much easier to use. Another popular feature: the MC12J8035CT can be built-in with the optional Samsung MA-TK3080CT Trim Kit (Est. $200).
The Cuisinart CMW-200 Convection Microwave Oven (Est. $210) is a bit larger at 1.2 cubic feet, but is also rated at 1,000 watts and it gets good reviews for both its microwave and its convection performance. Some say that it browns so well they prefer it over their regular oven and use it more often. It’s very popular with those who are pressed for space and need dual-duty appliances. It again features a good range of microwave and convection presets. Among the latter, we saw some good comments regarding the grill function, with reviewers saying that the ability to prepare items that traditionally would be cooked on an outdoor grill is a nice option for inclement weather. This microwave gets some of the best reviews we’ve seen for its attractive appearance; it comes in brushed stainless steel.
Combination microwave/convection ovens do not come any larger than 1.7 cubic feet (and that size only comes in over-the-range style and tend to get poor reviews). If you need something larger, a wall oven or range with convection features would be your best bet — see our reports on wall ovens and ranges to learn more. If you want a small convection oven without microwave features, those are covered in our report on toaster ovens.