Toaster ovens and microwaves can be used interchangeably for kitchen tasks like reheating leftovers or melting butter and both can live on your countertop as a fixture of your kitchen.
A toaster oven utilizes a heating element to brown and toast food similarly to an oven. A microwave heats water molecules using electromagnetic waves, cooking food from the inside out. While this doesn’t in a browning effect like a toaster oven, it is often faster. Ultimately, both perform very different functions and create different results because of how they operate.
If you cook a lot of popcorn, want quickly steamed vegetables and need to defrost ingredients, a microwave will be your best bet. However, if you are looking to bake golden cakes, toast multiple slices of bread at once and broil steak for a quick lunch, a toaster oven is a good choice. Because of their different strengths, many people have both kitchen appliances in the home.