Microwave Drawer Vs Warming Drawer

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Updated August 19, 2022

Homeowners looking at renovations and wanting to step up their hosting game should consider a microwave drawer vs a warming drawer. Cooks use both of these appliances to keep food warm when someone runs late or while preparing for a dinner party. However, the best microwaves provide several additional functions that a warming drawer does not. To determine which is right for you, you could consider the benefits of each. If you expand your options slightly, you should consider a microwave oven vs a toaster oven.


  • Warming drawers keep food warm after they are made, as the name implies, and they may be standalone appliances or built under the oven.
  • Microwave drawers, or drawer microwaves, offer the various functions of the microwave without taking up countertop space.
  • If you simply want a way to keep food warm, a warming drawer remains ideal because it does not dry out food as quickly as a microwave would.

Differences Between Drawer Microwaves and Warming Drawers

Drawer microwaves, also called microwave drawers, work exactly like a standard microwave that would sit on your countertop or be built into your upper cupboards. You defrost, heat, or reheat food in them. However, they share one usage with a warming drawer: keeping recently prepared food warm. Brands design warming drawers primarily for helping food or coffee retain heat, so these drawers most likely do not reheat food. However, some microwaves and warming drawers contain additional functions. For information about new functions on microwaves, check out our article on an old vs a new microwave.

Insider Tip

If you want to save counter space, consider installing a drawer microwave or warming drawer.

Placement and Uses of Warming and Microwave Drawers

A warming drawer typically sits under the oven, which is also the source of its warmth. As you cook dinner, the drawer warms up, and you can keep food in there to keep it warm if someone arrives later than expected or if you are preparing for a gathering, though depending on how many minutes it’s in there it may become dry. If your range lacks a warming drawer, you can install one in place of a lower cabinet like a regular drawer that features a control panel. In this case, your warming drawer likely has its own control that you set for your desired function. Similarly, a microwave drawer fits into your cabinetry where a drawer could be. These drawers work precisely like a microwave when defrosting, cooking, reheating, or warming dishes. For a comparison look at microwave drawers, check out the Sharp microwave drawer SMD2480CS vs SMD2470 and how microwave drawers over built-in microwaves measure up.

Cooking Time

Microwave drawers heat or warm food by agitating water molecules in the ingredients. As a result, the drawer microwave does not warm up, but the food you’re cooking does. This feature allows you to use the microwave as soon as you want to keep food warm. Meanwhile, a warming drawer heats up before placing food inside since they heat food from the outside. Add in that the meals have to be warm prior to being placed in the drawer, and you wait for the food and the drawer to be heated up before it works effectively.

Overall Taste

People recognize microwaved dishes as dry or rubbery after an extended time. These characteristics stem from the use of water molecules to heat dishes. The water agitates and evaporates as a result. On the other hand, a warming drawer keeps food warm using outside heat, better maintaining the moisture of food. In addition, some warming drawers feature an option for humidity control in addition to temperature. Thus, the meals placed in a warming drawer rather than a microwave take longer to dry out. But, compare a microwave vs electric oven vs OTG microwaves to see which one works best for you taste-wise.

Aesthetics and Cleaning

Many warming drawers may match the style of your kitchen, including offering steel plating to match any other stainless steel in your room. The steel plating often eases cleaning by ensuring that the sauces, spices, liquids, or other food comes off easily, though the same can be said about microwaves. In addition, each kitchen appliance reduces counter space usage, particularly in place of over-the-range microwaves, and warm plates, cups, or bowls. However, you should avoid warming any heavy dish in these stainless-steel devices.


Most warming drawers cannot reheat food, so you want a microwave if you often reheat food or cook using the drawer.


Why are microwave drawers so expensive?

The parts of microwave drawers remain unique and expensive, especially since SHARP makes the technology exclusively. However, the most significant upside of these factors stems from the fact that they are high-quality parts and devices.

Is a warming drawer the same as a microwave?

No, a warming drawer only allows you to keep food warm, while a microwave contains additional functions, as well as warming.

Do warming drawers dry out food?

Warming drawers may dry out food if the meal remains inside for an extended period. However, the process takes longer in a warming drawer than in a microwave or drawer microwave.

STAT: A warming drawer, sometimes called a baking drawer, can be used to help bread dough rise, keep dishes warm until serving, and can sometimes be used as a slow cooker. (source)

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