In this season of merry gatherings, you better hope your cooking station is up to the task. As your range boils water and bakes your casserole, put your microwave to work to defrost the chicken and, dare we say, cook some of the sides. Microwaves do more than just warm up your leftovers and frozen dinners, and with newer models offering high-tech features, we invite you to expand your worldview of culinary possibilities.
We think you deserve the gift of streamlined cooking, so if you’re considering upgrading your microwave unit, read about our top 3 features (plus one bonus entry) that are bound to make your holiday dinner party a stress-free ordeal.
1. Defrost Feature
This microwave feature is an easy-to-use setting that can thaw up to one pound of frozen meats, fish, or poultry in a matter of minutes — no pre-cooking required. The defrost feature saves time, making this feature a home cook’s saving grace during this hectic season. Some premium models boast a Quick Defrost setting (also known as “Auto Defrost”) to help speed things up.
2. Convection Option
If you fancy yourself a proficient home cook, then you’ve surely heard of convection settings. A baking mode in many mid-end ranges and wall ovens, convection settings heat foods inside and out to seal in flavors and juices while browning and crisping the exterior of your foods to mouthwatering perfection. This is thanks to a fan at the back of the cavity that circulates hot air and maintains a consistent temperature for even bake results.
Luckily, select premium microwaves offer convection options to thoroughly cook your dishes and revive your leftovers. That’s right — yesterday’s pizza can be enjoyed without a soggy crust. But best of all, juicy poultry skins and golden mac and cheese bakes are just a couple of button clicks away.
3. Large Interior Capacity
It’s not hard to imagine that a large microwave may come in handy when you’ve got a green bean casserole to warm up before serving. Sure, your oven can handle this job, but it requires more energy to run, driving up the cost of your energy bill.
Due to its smaller size, a microwave is more energy-efficient than a full-size oven. Here, it should be noted that countertop microwaves’ capacities can range from a compact 0.5 cubic feet to an extra-large 2.2 cubic feet. That said, microwaves are considered to have a large interior capacity starting at around 2.0 cubic feet.
Bonus: Alternative Configurations, Endless Possibilities
Did you know some microwaves don’t have a door at all? Some mid-end options are designed to open at the pull of a drawer, which gives you the freedom to design your kitchen to your liking — microwave drawers are designed to be installed directly into your wall or kitchen island. In addition to saving you countertop space for food preparation, a microwave drawer also lets you monitor the progress of your cooking and stir or flip over foods without removing the dish from the appliance.
In the name of efficiency, there are also wall oven and microwave combinations that position your oven and microwave in one appliance, providing a two-in-one cooking setup. Working in tandem to save you time and be conducive to a more efficient kitchen design, a wall oven and microwave combo removes the need to scurry from one end of the kitchen to another. But most importantly, you can have all your holiday fixings roasting in one station.
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