What the drawer under the oven is really used for

What do you keep in the drawer under your oven? Baking sheets? Pots and pans? Clunky lids? 

That out-of-the-way space might seem like a good place to store your larger kitchen items, but there's a good chance you're missing out on it's actual purpose by using it for simple storage. Believe it or not, that drawer may actually be a warming drawer, used for keeping food warm when it's done cooking — but it's not quite time for serving. That sounds like a tool that can come in handy in every kitchen — especially during the holidays and other special occasions, when you just can't fit everything you need to cook into your oven all at once.

So how can you tell if you have one of these magical drawers? The easiest way is to check the owner's manual for your oven. But be warned — if you do have a warming drawer under your oven, it comes with a few important rules. Keep in mind that it's not for cooking — it's only designed to keep hot foods hot, so you should never use it to heat cold (or uncooked) food. Discovering that your trusty oven is equipped with a warming drawer also means that you've lost some of your precious kitchen storage space — you should never store items in a warming drawer, as it could lead to a fire. 

If you have a gas stove instead of electric, that bottom drawer may be even more useful — there's a good chance it's a broiling drawer. This one might be a little more obvious since there's often an exposed heating element, but since it's so low to the ground, it's still easy to miss. If you find one of those you've hit the jackpot — broilers are essential for browning dishes, melting cheesy toppings, and getting the perfect crisp to your roasted veggies. Broiling drawers don't have windows like in-oven broilers though, so you'll need to check it frequently as broilers can burn your food very quickly.

Try not to be too bummed out if it turns out your oven drawer was only meant to store things after all. Not all ovens feature warming drawers — and if yours doesn't, that just means you've been using it the right way all along.