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I'm considering purchasing a new freestanding gas range and would like to hear pros and cons of people's experiences with a broiler drawer under the main oven or having the broiler element inside the top of the oven compartment.

I'm interested in efficiency, ease of use, consistency, safety, versatility, price, etc.

I've only ever used ovens that have a broiler drawer and thought in-oven broilers were reserved for electric or in-wall ovens. One thing I'm really curious about: the broiler burners are the main burners for the oven with broiler drawers. When using an in oven broiler, is the top broiler burner also the main burner for the oven? That would put the flame directly in the oven when baking. Or are there two burners? One underneath for baking and one on top for broiling?

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I cannot speak to price; I haven't comparison-shopped with this feature in mind. However, I have used various home gas ranges with either type of broiler. I'll go ahead and sum it up:

tl;dr: I greatly prefer an in-oven broiler.

Here's why.

First, positioning. Broiler drawers are typically located at the very bottom of the range, underneath the actual oven. This means that in order to place food in or take it out, you've got to bend all the way down to the floor. I hope the ergonomic challenge here is obvious, but I have safety concerns as well. If you have never tried to cook 10 pounds of flank steak in a broiler drawer, then learn from my experience: it's less than optimal. You will wind up bent over at the waist when pulling your finished steaks, end up tilting your pan and spilling meat juice on the way to the top of the range, and just barely manage to kick the drawer closed before your dog licks the exposed cooking tray. An in-oven broiler presents no additional challenges than you'd have with regular oven use.

Second: flexibility. Broiler drawers often seem to come equipped with an awkwardly-sized pan that's smaller than the oven itself. Sometimes this has brackets or rails to hold it in place in the center of the drawer. This is a stupid design that's difficult to clean, sometimes even difficult to remove, and limits your cooking space. The pan also rarely has any ability to move up or down, limiting your vertical space too. With an in-oven broiler, you can adjust the existing racks to get thick items underneath, and control how close your food gets to the heat source (and therefore how quickly it browns). I frequently kick on the broiler at the end of cooking with things like au gratin potatoes, to get a nice brown crust on top at the very end. I couldn't fit the pan I use into a broiler drawer, but with the in-oven version I don't even have to open the door. An in-oven broiler will also accommodate any size pan that will fit in your oven. Remember those flank steaks?

Regarding design, most gas ranges that I've seen with an in-oven broiler have two separate burners, a main version at the bottom that provides indirect heat to the oven box, and the broiler running along the top with a sort of heat shield to reflect its energy down into the oven. Drawers often seem designed to take advantage of only a single burner at the bottom of the oven, which provides both indirect heat to the oven box and direct heat to the drawer. This is mostly my assumption; I'm not an engineer.

This design could make drawers marginally cheaper (again, I haven't checked) but I think the advantages outweigh any price premium for the extra burner. I'll be so bold as to say that you will be very pleased with the difference if all you've ever used is a drawer.

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    What logophobe said. The only situation where a separate broiler is to be preferred is in a wall oven. That puts the broiler as high as or higher than an under-range oven, and it gives you something that can function as a second oven in a pinch (via a covered roasting pan). Of course, if you have the space for a wall oven with a separate broiler compartment, then for heaven's sake, just get a double oven. :) – Marti Oct 18 '14 at 0:34
  • this...and broiler drawers i've used don't have windows to check doneness visually. – Jessica Brown Oct 22 '14 at 14:56
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    I was hoping to get some more opinions on both sides but I guess there aren't too many fans of the broiler drawer. The only two benefits I can think of with a broiler drawer are.. 1) awesome for reheating pizza :) Put the pizza on foil and slide it right on the bottom of the oven for a bit to heat the bottom to get it crispy then pop it in the broiler to heat the toppings. Quicker and cleaner than using a pan on the stove top or waiting for stone to heat up. 2) Can sometimes heat up some other items without opening the main oven and losing heat. Warming up bread, sides, etc. – OrganicLawnDIY Dec 6 '14 at 22:29
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All of the ranges with broiler drawers I've ever owned have become dust bunny magnets. And the older I get, the less appealing getting down on all fours to clean or check doneness of the food in the broiler drawer becomes. I would much rather have a storage drawer.

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I have had both types. I really liked the drawer broiler, as I thought it was cleaner, only spattering the broiler area instead of the whole oven! The window of my oven was positioned to be able to see food baking, but the broiler being at the top of the oven, I still had to open the door to observe doneness. I never did get use to using the oven type, and I am shopping to replace my oven/range which is the oven broiler type. After reading the above 'pros', I may reconsider my search for the drawer type.

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I absolutely hate the broiler drawer. I am 60 yrs young. The getting up and down is a chore in itself. The stove I have now came with my modular home. It is so poorly designed. The broiler isn't a drawer, the door drops down. You use the oven rack, which only pulls out 3 inches. So, now you must pull out the broiler pan. (I had to buy it at the store.) Lift it to the stove top to flip the meat \then put it back in the bottom. Good thing I have a anti tipping device on my stove. I have looked at the prices not any real significant difference. Buy the oven broiler type. Using extra heavy foil you can build a shield around the sides of the pan.

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It is a bit awkward on my GE stove, but I am use to it now. I guess the safety issue of spilling hot pans is a valid complaint though if you are not too good on your balance or don't expect to be able to take the extra care to remove the pan slowly. Broilers are not meant for thick cuts of meat so you don't need a lot of height in the broiler space. I think there must be a price differential in some matchups between oven bake/broiler units and oven bake/broiler drawer units when there is an extra heating element.

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