It’s 6 p.m. and you’re getting ready to whip up a delicious casserole for dinner. Which requires cookware, obviously. Time to break out that 13×9 pan you seem to use for everything! Like most of us, you probably keep a lot of your pans and bakeware in the oven drawer.
But is that a smart—or safe—idea? We investigate everything that can and can’t be kept under your oven.
Is an oven drawer meant for storage?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the oven drawer is actually called a warming drawer. It’s a spot that’s meant to be used to keep food warm after cooking, like when you’re making a multiple course meal (ahem, Thanksgiving) and you need to prepare a lot of dishes at once. You can simply pop one item in the drawer to preserve warmth while another goes into the oven. Basically, it’s not exactly meant as a storage space.
What can you store in there?
But if you are going to use it to store kitchen items, follow this rule: If something cannot go into the oven, it should not be kept in the oven drawer. That’s because the oven drawer tends to get very hot (it is, after all, right below the oven that you just cranked up to 425°). So anything that is plastic, cloth or paper will likely melt—or, worse, catch on fire. That means no keeping oven mitts or trivets under there, either. Save those for your actual drawers and cabinets, please.
Your pans and bakeware—like baking sheets, skillets, casserole dishes, pizza stones—are safe if kept in the oven drawer. As long as they are made of material that is oven-safe, they will not be damaged under the heating element. You can also keep extra cooling racks, oven racks or bulky kitchen utensils (not plastic ones, though!) here if you are pressed for space.
Because it isn’t exactly the most convenient drawer to get to (it can be tough to open or maneuver when you’re busy cooking), consider using it to store the items you use less often. Things like grill brushes or accessories or even some entertaining bakeware might be a good option for your oven drawer.
What if you’re still not sure?
If you’re still worried about what’s OK to keep in that handy drawer below your oven, look at your oven’s manual (if you still have it stashed somewhere) or the manufacturer to find out about your specific model. Not all ovens have the same features—some actually have a broiling drawer underneath theirs (ouch!)—so it’s worth your time to check before using it for storage. Better safe than sorry!
Want to free up even more space in your kitchen? Check out our best ideas for slick cupboard storage.