this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET The $98 Galanz microwave and air fryer proved itself a capable appliance that does the work of several. David Watsky/CNET

My uses for a microwave have dwindled over the years. One of the big shifts is an air fryer usurping many of the responsibilities. For quick reheating of solid foods like meat and veggies, I find an air fryer does the job better, more evenly and as quickly. I still call on the microwave for zapping semi-solids like mashed potatoes and beans, to soften butter or defrost frozen food in a pinch. (Letting it defrost on the counter will always be the best option if you can remember to take it out, though.) While the air fryer makes consistent gains on the microwave, there are still some very good reasons to keep the microwave around. That’s why a sleek $98 Galanz hybrid oven that combines the powers of the microwave, air fryer and convection oven caught my attention. 

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© David Watsky/CNET

The concept is confusing since microwaves famously can’t cook with metal inside and convection ovens can’t cook anything wrapped or sitting in plastic — one of the microwave’s few obvious advantages. But the Galanz had solid reviews and cost just $98. At that price, how could I not at least try the thing? 

There aren’t a ton of microwave-air fryers out there which usually tells you all you need to know. I’ll be honest, I had low expectations for this small kitchen appliance, but in a series of tests of the microwave and convection modes, I discovered that it manages to do a bunch of different types of cooking at least competently or better. If you’re looking for a new microwave or need to replace an older model, I say get one that can do all that the Galanz can.

Here’s more about the versatile microwave-air fryer oven why it impressed me so much.

Is this really a microwave and a convection oven?

Yes. I immediately ran simple tests to make sure there wasn’t some fancy or misleading marketing jargon. When you set it on the microwave function, the Galanz cooks foods and liquids to extremely high temps but without melting plastic. That’s a clear indicator that electromagnetic waves (aka microwaves) are at work.

Conversely, when you put it in air fry mode, roast or another variation of a convection program, this oven cooked just as most ovens do and the use of metal roasting racks — like the ones that come with the oven — didn’t elicit any sparks.

Now it was on to the real tests.

Microwave function is up to snuff 

I’m not a stickler for a fancy or powerful microwave. I use mine sparingly and for very straightforward heating and defrosting tasks but I wanted to make sure the Galanz could perform the basic duties. I ran several tests side by side with my existing KitchenAid microwave. 

I put 8 ounces of water in two coffee mugs and microwaved on high for 2 minutes, then tested both with a thermocouple thermometer. Each mug of water rose to an identical 142 degrees F. 

Next, I cooked an Amy’s frozen dinner (saag paneer with rice) for the amount of time instructed on the box. Both microwaves cooked the food to a very similar temperature and doneness. At this point, it was obvious the microwave function was on par with other leading (and much more expensive) microwaves.  

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET I half expected the plastic around this frozen dinner to be melted when I opened the door but the microwave function works as advertised. David Watsky/CNET

Frozen fries and dumplings

Fries are a popular air fryer food so I stuck a handful of Alexia garlic frozen fries on the air fryer rack, set the air fryer on 400 degrees F and cooked them for 8 minutes. When the timer dinged, the fries inside were cooked through and crispy but not quite browned enough for me. I gave them 3 more minutes and they were golden-brown perfection.

I also cooked six frozen dumplings with just a light coating of oil on air fry at 400 degrees checking them every so often. They turned out crispy and delicious in just 8 minutes.

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET There was some uneven browning but my dumplings turned out crispy and delicious in just 8 minutes of air frying. David Watsky/CNET

Air fryer fried chicken

I’ve become hooked on making oil-free air fryer fried chicken so I ran a test with my trusty recipe in the Galanz oven. I made the very same chicken in my solo air fryer to compare. After coating the skin-on chicken thighs in egg and seasoned flour, I placed them on the air fryer rack and cooked them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. The chicken that emerged from the Galanz was excellent — crispy on the outside and juicy inside. The solo air fryer got the chicken skin just a slight hue darker but I imagine another minute or two of cooking and the Galanz would be right there with it.

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET The Galanz produced two excellent pieces of air-fried chicken (right) in 25 minutes, if not just slightly less browed than the single piece I cooked in a solo air fryer (left). David Watsky/CNET

This was as good a sign as any that the air fryer function was plenty powerful if not just slightly less powerful than a top-shelf solo air fryer. 

Air fried chicken wings

If you polled people on what food made them spring for an air fryer, you’d probably hear “chicken wings” more than any other. Wings are difficult to get right in a big convection oven and deep-frying at home is a very messy business. I cooked six medium chicken wings and used the oven’s preset wing program. After the 30-minute cook time (temperature is not disclosed when you use a preset program), the wings came out nearly as crispy as in the test using our top-rated solo air fryers. 

I decided to run the test again and forgo the preset program. After 25 minutes on high (400 degrees F) the wings were darn-near perfect.

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET Wings riding high on the nonstick air fryer rack, ready to be cooked. David Watsky/CNET

Roasted broccoli 

To test the roast function, I cooked half a head of broccoli cut into florets at 400 degrees F for 17 minutes, just as I would in my oven. They came out as I’d hoped: cooked through but still retaining a snap and a bit of browning on the edges.

Mess and cleanup

Chicken wings have a lot of fat and generally make a pretty big mess when you cook them in a smaller oven. After 30 minutes of air frying, a decent amount of grease dripped down to the easy-clean circular glass tray below but almost none splattered on the sides or ceiling of the oven. What did splatter, I wiped away easily with a warm sponge.

this $98 oven air fries and microwaves and does both well
© Provided by CNET A 30-minute session cooking chicken wings left pools of grease on the easy-clean glass tray, but very little splatter on the walls of the oven. David Watsky/CNET

The bottom line

This impressive oven does all the work of a microwave but it also has formidable convection power to air fry roast, toast and bake. Another advantage this oven has oven standard air fryers is a rotating glass tray which promotes even cooking. I have yet to come across another air fryer that spins food while it cooks.

If you’ve already got a microwave you like and are just looking for a good countertop toaster or air fryer, I might point you to our list of best air fryers since they generally cost less, take up less counter space and are light enough that you can move them in and out of cabinets or down from atop the fridge. I should also mention that I haver limited personal experience with the Galanz brand, so it’s tough to predict how this oven will hold up over time. 

But at just $98, this combination device is an excellent value considering all it does and how well it is cooked a few of my air fryer favorites. If I were in the market for a new microwave, I can’t think of a reason not to get one that also does everything else the Galanz does. If you’re a serial host, think of it as an extra oven to make that pesky side of potatoes or holiday stuffing when it comes down to crunch time. 

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