I've been cooking for most of my adult life, and I've never actually been completely sure just what that drawer under the oven is for. It seems like a good enough place to store baking pans, but that also feels like wasted space, or that it should actually be for something besides storage. I've never really used that drawer for anything. Honestly, most of the time I forget it's even there until I can't find the muffin tins, and my husband tells me to look in the oven drawer.
"What are you talking about? There's no drawer in the — Oh snap, I completely forgot there's a drawer under the oven!" I say. That happens more often than I like to admit.
But apparently that drawer under the oven is not necessarily for storage, and PopSugar's Anna Monette Roberts did everyone a huge favor by figuring out what, exactly, the mystery drawer is for.
According to Roberts, that drawer could be a storage drawer, or it could be a "warming drawer." On gas ovens where the heating unit is on the bottom, the drawer might even be a broiler drawer, which is great for roasting vegetables or browning the tops of casseroles. Roberts suggests using the broiler drawer to toast marshmallows to make a "s'mores dip," and now I really wish I had a broiler drawer.
You'll have to look at the manual for your specific oven to find out whether you have a warming drawer, broiler, or just some extra storage.
While extra features are always nice, whether the drawer is for warming, broiling, or storage is not necessarily a function of how high-end an oven is. I checked the manual for my sister's ultra-swanky gas range — she has a La Cornue and I'm so jealous I can't stand it — and it turns out hers is just a big storage drawer.
"The bottom drawer is for storing oven trays and other cooking utensils," the manual says. "It can get very warm, don't store anything in it, which may melt or catch fire. Never store flammable materials in the drawer. This includes paper, plastic and cloth items, such as cookbooks, plasticware and towels, as well as flammable liquids. Do not store explosives, such as aerosol cans, on or near the appliance."
My little electric oven calls it a warming drawer, and says to use it to keep dishes warm while preparing the rest of the meal. That actually sounds extremely useful, given how difficult it can be to time a meal exactly right so all the side dishes aren't ice-cold by the time the rest is cooked. I plan on putting mine to good use right away, just as soon as I get all the muffin tins out of it.
What do you use your oven drawer for?