Your Oven Drawer Isn’t (Always) for Storage

There are several options on different models of ovens.

If you’ve been using every single oven drawer as pan storage then you might have been missing out on a valuable extra tool in cooking. Some stoves have a warming drawer at the bottom, something which is coveted by many cooks. Other drawers are actually broilers. However, many people wrongly assume that all oven drawers are for storing baking pans!

Via/ Flickr

Cheaper ovens, like many apartment models, often will only have a storage drawer below the main oven compartment. This does retain some heat when the oven is on, which is why user manuals for these models will advise against storing anything plastic or meltable in the drawer at any time.

Via/ Flickr

Gas ovens will sometimes have a drawer on the bottom for broiling and these are usually identifiable by their shorter height and flip down drawer front. This is to allow the food to be closer to the heat source and for the easy removal of hot pans. Many of these models have adjustable rack slots inside to account for different sizes of pans or roasts.

Gas oven with broiler drawer below. Via/ Library of Congress

On models where the drawer is actually for warming, there will usually be separate temperature controls for the drawer and it may have special function settings like for proofing bread. For those who love to keep food warm for a large family or between courses, the warming drawer is an essential tool. Many people also use this type of device for warming dishes and towels.

The rest of us make do by simply using the warming setting on the main oven compartment. However, not all ovens have this type of setting and you can’t put towels in there to warm.

Warming drawers are not usually intended for cooking since most don’t get hot enough to kill bacteria. Some models do have a slow cooker setting, but always check your user manual if in doubt.

If you have a warming drawer you can use it for storage and many people do, but like the storage drawers, be sure to never put anything flammable or plastic inside, though some manufacturers advise against using warming drawers for storage at all. If ever in doubt always check your oven manual for information on your specific model.

Via/ Flickr

It’s also important to note that some models of warming drawers aren’t fitted under the oven and are separate devices. However, it would be hard to mistake this for oven storage.