When we cook on a regular basis, we tend to become blind to features in our kitchen that we’ve never used before. For example, what is with that drawer under the oven? Some people may have noticed it and use it as storage for pans and small pots.
However, in 2016, a meme began circulating, explaining that this drawer was actually a warming unit, and it’s still circulating today. It’s the perfect feature for a multi-course meal or to keep dinner warm for a family member coming home late. It could keep the food hot without burning it.
People were shocked to learn that they’ve been misusing this appliance all this time. Sounds like a brilliant feature that people have been sleeping on, right?
However, the meme wasn’t quite correct.
What is that Drawer Under the Oven for?
First of all, some ovens don’t come with that drawer at all. Second, sometimes the drawer is just a drawer. There’s no heating option; it’s just a good place to store kitchen utensils or baking sheets. Some are warming units though, and people were excited to learn about this bonus feature they never utilized before. Others went scrambling through old files to find their oven manual to determine which category their “drawer under the oven” fell into. 
So the meme was debunked but only partly. The warming unit is a feature for many brands but stating that all ovens have it is false. This raised confusion when it went viral, with commenters stating that their ovens didn’t have that function.
For a general comparison, an overview of the ovens available at Home Depot’s website showed that 87 models came with a storage drawer under the oven. Nineteen contained the warming unit. So the confusion is understandable. 
For those without these features, know that warming drawers are available as an independent unit that could be installed into your kitchen. So if you like to cook in advance and keep the food warm for later or dislike rushing dinner guests to the table before the meal becomes burned, this could be the perfect solution for you. Just think, you could have a piping hot pie for dessert without worrying about the crust burning to a crisp.
Storage, Warming — or Broiling?
According to the food website Tasting Table, the drawer under electric ovens tend to be a warming unit. And under gas stoves, the drawer may be meant for broiling — a feature perfect for melting cheese in French onion soup, browning the top of a meat dish, or toasting buns or crostini. This added a third potential function the drawer. 
“It can be a broiler drawer for some ovens, and for others, it’s a warming drawer,” said chef and cookbook author Candice Kumai. She added that those who store pots and equipment in the drawer under the oven isn’t necessarily wrong either.
“For others, it may even be for storage. You should definitely [check] the [oven’s] manual and you’ll explore a new world of oven wonders!” 
The broiling drawer is slightly different than the broiling feature in the oven. In the drawer, you have less flexibility of how far away the food will be from the heating element, although keeping the drawer ajar is always an option. 
The greatest perk of having a broiling drawer is that you could broil one dish while another bakes in the oven. There’s no need to change settings or move food around, which could increase cooking efficiency, something that’s always needed in the last-minute dinner rush.
Be careful though; broilers work fast and there is a fine line between browning and burning.
Read the Oven Manual
It’s best to stay on the safe side to avoid any nasty surprises. If you do have a drawer under the oven, read up on the manual (or try to find it online) before you try storing, heating, or broiling things in it.
Also, here’s a tip for storage: Don’t keep any plastic items in the drawer since the warmth from the oven can damage and warp them. Instead, keep cast iron pots and pans in it. The residual heat will actually keep them free of rust, so it’s a win-win situation. Just remember to use oven mitts to remove these utensils if the oven had been on recently. 
Keep Reading: The Shelf Life of 32 Foods in Your Pantry
 “That Drawer Under Your Oven Isn’t Actually Intended for Storage.” Tip Hero.
 Dan Evon. “What Is the Bottom Drawer of an Oven Really For?” Snopes. December 29, 2016
 Erica Bonelli. “What the Drawer Under Your Oven Is Really For.” Tasting Table. September 26, 2017
 Rheana Murray. “What is the drawer underneath your oven and how do you use it?” Today. October 11, 2017
 Emma Christensen. “Here’s How to Finally Use Your Oven’s Broiler.” The Kitchn. June 27, 2020
 Alina Bradford. “Here’s what the bottom drawer of your oven is for.” CNET. April 11, 2018