which warming drawer do you like

judysims84November 30, 2010

trying to pick a warming drawer and was considering the viking, thermador or dacor. interested in hearing any thoughts good or bad - or if there is a different brand you recommend.

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Generally,the warming drawer is a simple machine with a simple task. So there is not that much of a performance difference from brand to brand.

Generally I would just by the brand of oven/range you are buying.

However, I would not buy Viking anything. The quality of Viking has taken a tumble the last few years. High end home builders are keeping them in business. They buy Viking because they get better discounts than Wolf/Subzero.

Dacor is very popular amongst interior designers because of all the color options they offer. Not so popular amongst appliance aficionados due to poor reliablity. The infamous 30" dishwasher is not the only problem there.

What wall oven(s)/range do you own? Or plan on buying?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 2:22PM
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There is nothing wrong with Dacor's warmer drawer reliability. I have not had one call back on them in 10 years and I have one myself. In the early day , they were the only game in town for easily installing a fully integrated warming drawer. Now there are a few options.

I also have or have recently had a Miele, Thermador and Monogram.

The basic differences are heat source and drawer config. Some have traditional heat coils like an oven (older thermadors) some have a convection set up with a fan blowing air across a heat coil ( miele cup warmers) a third is a "heat mat" like the gaggenau and newer thermadors.

Re: the drawers - some are deep , some have bins that nest nicely like the wolf and monogram, and others are like a shelf that pulls out with almost no sides at all. (gaggenau)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 6:54PM
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There is nothing wrong with Dacor's warmer drawer reliability. I have not had one call back on them in 10 years and I have one myself.

Good for you.

Still, if I were buying a warming drawer today I would choose a company with a better overall quality record.

They are available for the same price so why not?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 9:31PM
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Part of the decision is what is looks like or will it be "faced" with a drawer front. Frankly, we do not use ours (Wolf) much but when we do, it's really nice. I have never heard of a reliability issue with warming drawers - pretty simple units.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 9:56PM
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With different types of warming methods, fans and sides vs no sides is there any difference in the type of foods that are successfully kept warm in the warming drawer?

Especially is any type better for baked goods?

I enjoy baking and hope to use the warming drawer largely for keeping baked goods warm and reheating. Our church used to have an old warming drawer (not sure of the brand and it was old) that could reheat biscuits so that they were as flaky and delicious as when they first came out of the oven.... something that I've never accomplished with the microwave or the oven.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 10:57PM
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Gbsim, Most warming drawers will work for your baked goods. You might be interested in one that has a moisture vent (just a lever that opens or closes holes) so that you can control crisp vs. moist.

The Miele cup warmer is the only one I've heard of with a fan. One wouldn't want one in most models. I'm not sure about the heat mats. Most warming drawers use warm air rather than setting the pots right on the heat source. I'd think the mat would be great for plate warming but not so great for holding food, but that's speculation.

I think the Dacor is the one that isn't as deep front to back so is easier to put in a flush mount with panel on stock cabinetry.

There are several features to warming drawers that might make the difference to you between one and the next.

1. Temperature range. I wanted plate warming, so a low temperature below 100 degrees. This is also appropriate for rising bread dough, but not for holding perishable food. At the top end, some only go just above 200 degrees, others go to about 240. Higher temperatures are needed to safely hold larger pots of dense food, but you probably don't need more than 210 or so for that. The higher temperatures are for things like crisping, I think, though I don't remember that as well.

2. Humidity. As I said above, moisture control is just a lever that opens or closes the steam vents. That can make a big difference, especially if you're holding made up plates of dinner. For a covered pot of stew it doesn't matter much.

3. Size. Do you need it to hold a large pizza box? Several? Do you want the bins Antss mentioned? (Mine came with them but I haven't found a use yet and it's a pain to store the bars they hang from.) Is it deep enough for your pots?

4. Sides. Miele and Gaggenau have open sides, making it easier to get things in and out when your warming drawer is in a difficult position. They're also expensive. Mine (Monogram) has sides, and I haven't had an issue. I've touched the sides accidentally and they're hot enough to make one draw back, but I haven't been burned. I think it would take more than a brief touch, and I rarely have mine on high.

5. Computer features. Mine is a simple machine. An on off switch and a dial for temperature. Some warming drawers have computerized controls that might make them more accurate, and give you features as well. Like a 4 hour shut off for if you forget what you have in the warming drawer. Which feature usually implies that there will be a Sabbath Mode, which overrides the 4-hour shut off. I, frankly, prefer the simple one. It has a red light to show it's on. That's a good feature. Many don't have that.

6. Appearance. Some warming drawers can be panelled to match or integrate with your cabinetry. The Monogram panel ready came with the stainless front, which one just removes to mount the panel (what they waste on the extra front they save on making a different unit). There's a little plastic lens to put on the hole in the panel over where the light is. Gaggenau's warming drawer has the glass over metal that the ovens do, so matches them. Similarly, manufacturers have different handles and details to match their ovens, though the warming drawers are mostly plain stainless and therefore easy enough to mix and match with other brands. Most warming drawers nowadays have the controls behind the door, though I think there are still a few that have the controls exposed. Manufacturers think people don't want to see controls. Also, if the controls are inside, you'll be reminded to remove that last bit of food when you turn off the switch, so it doesn't just rot in there for a week.

These are all considerations I researched. My priorities, in the end, were size (deep enough for my favorite pots with the lids on), temperature range, price, integrated panel (appearance), humidity control, open sides.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 2:13PM
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Plllog, Thanks so much for the thorough run down on what to look for. The info will be a big help!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 7:22PM
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dee - snarky today huh!

If you don't like Dacor that's fine by me, but to say their warmer drawer quality is sub par is simply BS - especially if you don't have a large sample set like I do! To extrapolate quality on the WmDrw from their 30" DW is just plain illogical.

Even the current DW's from them are fine, the early generation was fraught with problems and the whole project was shut down for a long time! The bugs seem to have been worked out now though. That episode was over 5 years ago and their warmer drawer design is well over a decade old and quite solid and has no bearing or influence from a new dishwasher.

One might want a Dacor (at same or more $$$) drawer for some of the reasons pllog lays out. It all really depends what feature set someone I looking for and install considerations. They might also want a dacor model for a towel warmer in the bathroom, and almost none of the competition has a suitable model for that purpose.

BTW - most designers hate the Dacor matchy matchy colored glass packages. They feel it's for consumers to shout out their individuality on their own terms. Seriously, a teal green fridge + DW + oven + warming drawer. YUM YUM.

At the end of the day these are simple appliances that rarely have any trouble at all, so people can just pick one that meets their needs with little fear.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 10:03PM
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thanks everyone for your input. as i read all your comments i'm thinking more about what i want in a warming drawer. do they all have the ability to keep baked goods warm without them getting soggy? i'm looking for a 30" and it seems the dacor has less room inside than some of the others but the price is better. any thought on the DCS?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 11:28PM
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Judysims84, I've never used one for holding baked goods (pizza doesn't count) so didn't want to comment specifically on that. I would think that the moisture control feature would be useful so that you can keep crisp things crispy and gooey things oooey. Other than that, I just don't know.

I doubt that there's a bad functioning warming drawer on the market, considering how basic they are. Even ones with electronic controls have very basic controls, and the WD doesn't get hot enough that I'd expect them to burn out. I suppose a temperature sensor could be off. So perhaps there's something to be said for the simplicity of a dial that's labelled low to high like I have, and no sensors, electronics or other gizmos, but even the most feature loaded are pretty darned simple, and people don't come on here and whine about how their warming drawers aren't working right.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 12:33AM
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One important thing to consider is where you are installing the WD. We put ours where everyone said NOT to.....under the double ovens. It was the only place we had available. That said, we use ours all of the time. We pull things out of the ovens and just bend down and put them in the WD. It is one of my favorite appliances. We chose Wolf because it was going right below the double ovens and I wanted them to match. I also chose Wolf because I liked where the controls were located. They can easily be read from above the WD. With the Dacor WD I had to practically stand on my head to read the controls. I LOVE my Wolf WD and would make the same choice again.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 1:01AM
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Any reason you are not looking at a brand like the KitchenAid? My appliance guy suggested the high-end KitchenAid - comes in several different sizes, and I am pretty sure it is cheaper than the other brands you mention. And, as several other posters have mentioned, warming drawers are pretty simple things. They do offer the option to use your own front panel or get the stainless version. They have the low temperature for bread proofing (90 degrees) and at least a high and a low humidity setting. I have not received mine yet so I cannot comment on its performance yet.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 11:07PM
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oh, yes, I forgot to mention the rest of my kitchen is Wolf wall ovens, Subzero refrigerator, and Miele induction cooktop and dishwashers - all bought from the same store as the warming drawer. So the appliance guy knew I was a "cooking" person with a decent appliance budget - he just thinks there is not enough difference in performance for a warming drawer to justify spending a lot of money on one compared to another - as long as you like the style, of course.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 11:12PM
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What warming drawer you purchase depends on what you want to do with it. My primary goal was to use the warming drawer to proof bread dough so I needed a drawer deep enough to take a large
bowl I ended up with with a Thermadore which had the deepest drawer at the time of my purchase. I really wondered if this was a wise purchase but I find that I use it all of the time - raise bread dough, freshen stale crackers / cereal / etc., warm plates and keep food warm. I placed my warming drawer under the cook top with a drawer below so the warming drawer is not too low and conveniently placed.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 11:22PM
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I've had a Dacor 36" warming drawer for 5+ years without a problem and I use it regularly when doing brunches for overnight guests, especially, as they wander down to meals rather randomly. I have no qualms about recommending it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 5:04AM
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Like pussuskattus I have the KitchenAid WD & am glad to hear her high-end applicance guy recommends it. We are sooooooooooo happy with ours. It is our best new applicance.

A little known feature that KA added is a slow cooker function. They added 2 additional temperatures (higher) to enable low & high slow cooking. It is great! I put my slow cooker ingredients in a casserole & put it in the warming drawer. I've never liked using the counter top slow cookers & clean up is so easy using the casseroles -- you can also make multiple recipes simultaneously.

My one regret is the largest WD KA makes is 30 inch & there are times I feel I could use a 36 inch. I priced 36 inch WDs and they were 1/3 more than the KA. I didn't feel I could justify the difference and lose the extra feature.

I put mine under my cooktop & love it there. My cabinet maker put panels on either side of the WD so it fits seamlessly since I have 36 inch cooktop.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 10:35PM
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can such warmer drawer be used to "store" waffles? Would they stay "crisp"? I now keep them in my toaster oven before we have a pile large enough to serve a few people... Would warmer drawer be suitable for such task?

Am I reading it correctly that you "refresh" breads in those as well?

plllog: wouldn't your Adbvantium serve similar function as the warming drawer?

I am not sure whether I will have space for all the appliances I want to have, hence the question. I am trying to figure out that if I plan on steam/combi oven; one large convection oven and speed oven- would I really need a warming drawer? We are family of 4, and I entertain, but usually not more than 12-16 people with preference for sit-down dinners rather than buffet party, but this may change one we expand the house...

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 12:45PM
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I'm not sure about breads, but you're supposed to be able to refresh crackers in a warming drawer--that is, re-crisp them. You can unstale a lightly staled bread by heating it in any manner, because heat untightens the starches. They tighten right back up when they cool.

Yes, a warming drawer is perfect for waffles. For crispness control, get one with a moisture control vent. If you vent the steam, they should stay crisp. (Waffles never get a chance to accumulate here.)

The Advantium does have a warming setting, as do some ovens (not to be confused with "keep warm", which is usually around 250 degrees and isn't for long use. Warming is between 165-210 degrees depending on the type and density of the food). I haven't used it on the Advantium. As I understand it, the warming feature uses the microwaves and can only be used for half an hour. A warming drawer, or warming feature on a regular oven, uses radiant heat and is meant to hold food safely for hours, and if used correctly, can even do so for days. It's the modern equivalent of keeping food warm on the hob (the shelf inside the fireplace).

The calculus as to which appliances you need and can fit is highly individual. How cold does your kitchen get? Do you have a spare counter where you can put a hot tray or portable warmer? Someplace that can do double duty? A warming drawer can really help you by holding vegetables you've steamed in the steam oven, while you're steaming your dumplings.

If your kitchen gets cold you can warm plates, hold waffles hot, hold the parts of dinner that were done early, or what you've saved for the stragglers (though, with the combi-steam you can rewarm just as easily, possibly with better results). You can hold delivery food, and actually bring it gently back to full heat (though you should heat in the oven if it's gone cold). You can warm up breads for serving without making them into rocks. You can keep a pot from the stove warm without further cooking or making stuff stick to the bottom.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 4:14PM
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thank you so much- you are really educating me- much needed before the next trip to an appliance store... This one (to see the Gaggenau combi oven and Advantium in real life) is over an hour away in heavy traffic, so I really need to go prepared... maybe they also have the KA warming drawer..

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 4:31PM
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Does anyone know if brands other than KitchenAid have added/will soon be adding slow cooker functions to their warming drawers?

KitchenAid is actually the first brand of warming drawer I looked at, so I've been shocked lately, poring over user manuals online, that no one else (Wolf, Viking, Miele, Thermador, Monogram, and Dacor, at any rate) seems to have this feature.

Barring this, has anyone who's got another type of warming drawer (perhaps one with a high maximum temperature and Sabbath mode) ever tried breaking the rules and using it as a warming drawer? It's really the slow-cook functionality that I'm looking for, so I don't mind being a renegade in this respect.

I have nothing against buying a KitchenAid, of course--I just want to be thorough (I have until early March to decide), and I don't have an appliance guy (at least not yet), so I feel like I may be missing out on any industry gossip that's floating around....

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 5:26PM
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I want a WD that I can put my own panels on - KA is one and it seems to have all the features I am looking for.

maks - could you post a picture of your WD with the panels please? I will have a 36" induction cooktop and want to put the WD under it and will also need to put panels on it so it blends with the rest of the cabinets.

Could this actually be such an easy decision?? Not something I am used too :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:24PM
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One thing to be aware of is that most warming drawers assume a 25" depth for integrated installation. I think the Dacor is the one that's shallower.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:37PM
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I heard the GE Monogram is also panel ready and includes the trays for the slow cooker feature and the KA doesn't.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:16PM
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I have the Monogram warming drawer. The panel ready one has a stainless front which can be removed and replaced with a custom panel. It's flush integrated at 25". They include a red plastic disk for the surface so the on light can shine through. I haven't installed that yet. I think I've grouped the WD in my mind with irons and coffee pots which have to be checked for being off before retiring.

There isn't a "slow cooker feature" on the Monogram. The instructions specifically say to only use it for hot foods, not to warm or cook anything. Them's weasel words, however, since Wikipedia says, "Typical slow cooker is designed to heat food to 170 F (77 C) on low, to perhaps 190-200 F (88-93 C) on high." The top setting on the warming drawer is 230. The thing is whether whatever is slow cooked in it will develop an internal temperature that's safe for consumption (should do if it's in there long enough), and also whether leaving the WD on for 6-8 hours is the best use of electricity. (I have no clue!) Warming drawers are made to be run for at least three days straight by Orthodox Jews, so it should be safe from that point of view. And many Jews do use all kinds of warming devices for slow cooking Sabbath foods without killing anybody.

The tray kit includes one long and two short stainless food service trays, as well as rails and cross bars from which they hang. The manual claims they're an extra cost, but they were included with mine. It probably became a bonus incentive when the downturn hit.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:55PM
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The Monogram WD also comes with a U shaped rack that fits in one half. That is, the legs of the U make the rack stand up. It's very useful. there are some things one doesn't want to put on the floor of the WD, one can stack things by putting dishes underneath and others on the rack, with taller things on the other side. For big trays that have some leeway on the balance (or pizza boxes, if that's your thing), you can invert the rack, rather than having to find a place to put it.

I haven't used the covered food service trays, and the 30" rails are a bit of a bother to store, so they're all on a top shelf that takes a ladder to get to. :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:01PM
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I have a kitchenaid warming drawer with the slow cooker, it is FANTASTIC! I purchased the commercial grade stainless steel pans with flat tops (2 fit) for when I do my slow cooking, It is just the best thing and we use it constantly for all uses!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:22PM
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Could someone with a custom panel on their KA warming drawer post a picture? I'd also like to know how deep your cabinets are and how far the drawer panel extends out from the cabinet frame. I'm considering this for my kitchen remodel, but need to determine if it will fit. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 10:14AM
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muskokascp: I just realized that I haven't taken a picture since we added the panels. I'll try to do it tomorrow & upload. Sorry for the delay . . .

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:01PM
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Thanks maks, that would be helpful!! Does it sit flush with the rest of your cabinetry?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 11:57AM
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Dacor is known to be a little shallower front to back, and easiest to make flush. A lot of the others are meant to be flush integrated at 25" (same as the BSH fridge columns, and some other items). The Miele rep suggested having your drawer front cut down to be a thick veneer so that it could be flush mounted at 24".

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 4:55PM
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muskokascp, we have a paneled Jenn-Air WD with slow cooking feature (a virtual twin to the KA model, they share the same owner's manual), also installed beneath a 36" induction cooktop.

A few things:
- the Jenn-Air is available in a panel-ready model, and was less expensive than the KA which would have required that we remove the SS front to accept a panel.
- We had our cabinet maker install a full 36" width panel to the 30" WD, in order to match the width of the other drawers.
- We have the cooktop cabinet bumped out 2.5", so there was no problem ensuring that the paneled WD sat flush with the drawers above and below. As discussed in posts above, it may be difficult to achieve this effect if the cabinets are standard 24" depth.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Funny you should post this. Just yesterday I found the Jenn air panel ready and thought that would be another option. We do plan on bumping out the cooktop section - great to see that would solve the flush problem. Thanks for the pictures!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:20PM
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