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Cooking without an oven: 5 ideas for baking, roasting and more

Ovens are essential kitchen appliances used for baking, roasting, broiling and even reheating food. However, if your oven is not working or you don’t have one, there are appliances that can act as replacements for some tasks. Microwaves, countertop ovens, toaster ovens, cooktops and slow cookers can all work to supplement the use of an oven for many dishes. Keep reading to learn more about cooking your favorite dishes without an oven.

Pans cooking food on a Whirlpool® cooktop Pans cooking food on a Whirlpool® cooktop

5 alternatives for ovens

If your oven requires a repair or replacement, there are several appliances that can serve as substitutes. In the section below you can read about the benefits, drawbacks and what kinds of dishes these alternatives are best suited for. Whether you’re busy caring for your family and looking for a quick and easy way to cook or in need of a backup plan while you shop for a new oven, these appliances are a great way to get the job done.

Whirlpool® microwave Whirlpool® microwave

1. Microwave

Microwaves can heat food quickly and help you get dinner on the table fast. Some microwaves are equipped with features similar to conventional ovens, such as convection cooking, broiler-like heat, or low heat to maintain the temperature of the food. 

If you’re in the market for a microwave that can keep up with the capabilities of your oven, this Whirlpool® microwave with air fry mode is a great choice. The convenient Air Fry Mode gives you the flexibility of a microwave and air fryer in one appliance to free up counter space and you can even grill meat and vegetables in your microwave with Grill Mode.

A microwave convection oven incorporates an additional heating element and a fan that helps to circulate hot air throughout the cavity. This feature allows you to bake and roast items like a casserole or a whole chicken directly in the microwave.

You can use your microwave to reheat, boil, melt, steam and more. Select Whirlpool® microwave models even offer Steam Cooking, letting you make foods like microwave eggs, rice, steamed vegetables and fish.1

KitchenAid® countertop oven KitchenAid® countertop oven

2. Countertop ovens

A countertop oven is a compact version of traditional ranges or wall ovens with similar capabilities and benefits in a smaller size, suitable for your countertop.

Having both a countertop oven and a full-sized oven in your kitchen can help you prepare larger meals with varied cooking needs. For more cooking options, consider a convection countertop oven that provides versatility and innovative techniques such as air frying.

Select countertop ovens have advanced features and settings, allowing you to take on the same  and sometimes more tasks than a full-sized oven. However, they have less capacity for multiple dishes or large meals. Some countertop ovens include features normally found on regular, full-sized ovens, including:

  • Temperature probes

  • Preset cooking functions

  • Convection

  • Multiple racks

  • Non-stick interiors

  • Interior lights

Countertop ovens from KitchenAid brand can give you similar capabilities as a full-size oven with quality results in a convenient, compact size. Select models feature the 360° Air Fry System and No-Flip Air Fry Basket so you can make delicious air fried recipes using little to no oil as well as Even-Heat™ Convection Technology for conventional oven-like results.

3. Toaster ovens

Toaster ovens are another alternative if you don’t have a traditional oven. The main differences between the two are their size and functionality. Toaster ovens are usually a bit smaller and have a more limited range of settings.

Toaster ovens available today vary widely in their features and are often used for toasting slices of bread or reheating food, making them great for basic tasks and small kitchens. Toaster ovens typically lack convection capabilities, but they are still convenient tools for lighter meals. You can use a toaster oven for tasks like roasting chicken breasts, cooking bacon, baking fish filets, roasting vegetables and toasting your own flavored nuts.

Pans with food in them on Whirlpool® cooktop Pans with food in them on Whirlpool® cooktop

4. Cooktops

If you don’t have an oven or yours isn’t working, you can still make some of your family’s favorite dishes on your cooktop or stovetop, such as pasta al dente. You can also make some casseroles, lasagna and other oven-baked dishes on your cooktop using a cast-iron skillet, dutch oven or other cooktop-safe cookware. You can even use a stovetop griddle as an alternative way to cook familiar dishes. Your recipe instructions will likely change, so be sure to do your research before using this method.

If you have a dutch oven, you can make some of your favorite dishes traditionally cooked in the oven on your cooktop. As long as the lid fits properly, the dutch oven will maintain its heat and slowly cook your meal. 

5. Slow cookers

Another alternative to your oven is a slow cooker. Slow cookers allow for a true “set and forget” experience in the kitchen and can be a great substitute for your oven when making roasts, soups and stew recipes. Slow cookers can’t brown foods, so keep that in mind when determining if you can convert a recipe from oven to slow cooker.

Cooking time in your slow cooker depends on whether you set it on high or low and the recipe’s original cook time. Generally, the high setting cooks about twice as fast as the low setting. Slow-cooker recipes typically work best with recipes that are cooked at 350°F or lower in the oven since higher temperatures are used mostly to brown items, which slow cookers can not do.

Person pressing button on a Whirlpool® microwave Person pressing button on a Whirlpool® microwave

What can I cook when my oven is broken?

If you're wondering what to make without an oven, don’t worry. You can still make a delicious meal even if your oven isn’t working or you don’t have one. Explore the ideas below to help spark meal inspiration, even if you can’t use your oven.

  • Breakfast: You can make breakfast easily on your cooktop or with your countertop oven. Make eggs in a frying pan on your cooktop and use your countertop oven to make perfectly crispy bacon. 

  • Homemade bread: You can make bread in your air fryer, toaster oven or even on your stovetop in a dutch oven. Use your homemade bread to get creative with sandwich flavors or dip in your favorite soup.

  • Microwave casseroles: When you can’t use your oven, you can experiment with microwave and stovetop casseroles. Try this delicious casserole in your convection microwave.

  • Beef or pork roast: Use your slow cooker to make fork-tender pork or beef roast that you can serve alongside hearty mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables. Try this Cajun Coffee Chuck Roast for a unique dish you can set and forget.

  • Roasted vegetables: Using your toaster oven or countertop oven, you can make flavorful roasted vegetables to add to your meal. 

  • Soups and stews: Toss your favorite ingredients in your dutch oven and let your soup or stew simmer all day for a flavorful one-pot dinner and easy clean-up.

  • Frozen foods: Even though you might usually pop a frozen pizza in the oven, you can still make one when your oven isn’t working. If your pizza fits in the appliance, you can use your toaster oven, countertop oven or even microwave for similar results. Be sure to read the directions for your chosen method as they might differ from one appliance to the next.
Person putting fish on a grill pan Person putting fish on a grill pan

What appliance can replace an oven?

A countertop oven is the closest alternative to a conventional oven, with similar features and a smaller size. Countertop ovens are the perfect size for single dish meals or cooking methods like toasting, thawing and crisping. Some countertop ovens offer a variety of functions, making them just as useful as a full-sized oven.

Can I bake in a microwave?

It is possible to bake without an oven, using some microwaves. Convection microwave ovens have the ability to heat foods like conventional microwaves, but also feature an extra heating element and fan to circulate hot air around the cavity, letting you bake, roast and cook food like an oven.

What can I cook with just a stovetop?

If you only have a stovetop, you can still create many meals—even meals traditionally made in the oven—with the right cookware. Having a range of cookware in different sizes and materials, including a dutch oven, allows you to cook foods similarly to how they’d cook in the oven.

With only a stovetop, you can fry, sauté, sear, melt, steam and boil. You can also bake and braise.

Explore Whirlpool® wall ovens

Whether you’re baking a pie for after-dinner dessert or cooking frozen pizza after soccer practice, the right oven makes all the difference. Make more of your family’s favorite recipes with a built-in design double oven from Whirlpool brand or effectively utilize space with one of our single wall ovens. Look for select wall ovens with features like True Convection and Frozen Bake™ Technology for consistent baking results, while self-cleaning options help you tackle stains and spills with ease. 

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1. Steam accessory available separately.