What is a warming drawer and why do you need one?

Do you love entertaining at home? Well, a warming drawer is the kitchen must-have you need to take your hosting game up a notch.

But first, what is a warming drawer? As the name implies, a warming drawer is a built-in drawer that keeps things warm – from coffee cups to ready-to-eat meals.

The concept of a warming drawer dates back to the first wood-fired range cookers, which had slow ovens that would be set to a lower temperature to keep food warm. Aga, for example, still uses a similar system in its modern range cookers.

These solutions became popular in professional kitchens as chefs would use them to keep food warm mid service. And warming drawers are fast becoming a must-have in modern kitchens, too. Let’s take a look at some of the functions…

An open look of a warming drawer
Generation 700 ESW 7010 warming drawer, £1399, Miele.


The temperatures of a warming drawer can range from 20°C to 80°C. It can be controlled manually, or through automatic settings. A lot of brands offer models with smart features, allowing you to control them via your phone or voice control.

Warming drawers are often seen as a luxury but are incredibly practical. “This versatile appliance has multiple functions and is an indispensable addition to any host’s kitchen,” explains Simon Plumbridge, category manager at Gaggenau. “This not only helps manage time efficiently but also ensures that each dish is served at its best quality. The warming drawer preserves the flavours and moisture of the food.”

But the functionality of warming drawers goes beyond keeping crockery and food warm. “They also come in handy for thawing and defrosting food items, delicate cooking such as proofing bread dough and warming plates and serving dishes, ensuring that your food stays hot when once it’s served,” says Jo Sargent, sales and marketing director at Franke UK.

A long run of appliances showing its functionality
Mythos warming drawer, £560, Franke.

Why do I need a warming drawer?

A warming drawer is perfect for dinner parties, where you want to serve everything at once. Or if you’re the star baker of the family, it can double as a proving drawer for your dough. Plus, you can prevent meals or coffee getting cold faster by taking the chill off of plates and cups.

Oven and warming drawer in a green kitchen
14cm warming drawer in gunmetal, £463.38, Caple.

Thawing and defrosting is also an added bonus. When defrosting meat, use the clever settings to keep it at the right temperature in order to defrost it safely. Alternatively, a warming drawer can be used as a slow cooker, put your favourite recipe into a casserole dish and choose the slow cooker option.

Inside a Gaggenau warming drawer
400 series WS462112 in stainless steel, price on application, Gaggenau.

If you are Kosher and observe Shabbos, then some warming drawers have a Sabbath mode and can keep hot food warm when you can’t cook. Not all warming drawers are Kosher, so always check with the manufacturer and your Rabbi.

How do I incorporate one into my kitchen design?

Warming drawers come in various sizes and in standard oven widths and can be incorporated into a kitchen design within a run of appliances. If you have a traditional-style kitchen, a few brands offer integrated warming drawers, so they can become a hidden feature of the kitchen.

Most warming drawers come in a space-like grey or black, easily matching with most built-in ovens. The most common placement is putting a warming drawer below a smaller appliance, such as a coffee machine, microwave or wine cooler, making the combination the same size as a double oven, for example.

Kitchen with long run of appliances
Linea range in Neptune Grey, £699, Smeg.

The placement of your warming drawer depends on what you think its primary use will be. Next to or below an oven is the most practical area, as you can take your item directly from the oven and place it into the warming drawer. Or, for those coffee connoisseurs, you can place it under your built-in coffee machine to warm your cups before use.

You could also consider placing one near your plates cupboard. This way you can transfer the plates quickly to the warming drawer before serving.

Kitchen design by The Main Company with Neff warming drawer N50, £469. Photography: Chris Snook.

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