Essential Tools

The Built-In Oven Feature You're Not Using Yet

July 24, 2018

You know how to position your oven racks for baking cookies (upper and lower thirds, please and thank you) and for broiling fish (all the way near the tippy top).

But what about tossing those racks aside and—in a move that will definitely feel counterintuitive and maybe a little unlawful—placing your sheet pan directly on the oven floor?

Look at those crispy edges! Photo by James Ransom

It's a technique that Carolynn Carreño, in her book Bowls of Plenty, recommends for achieving charred edges on carrots, Brussels sprouts, and squash without having their insides slacken to mush. Carolynn picked up the trick from "a chef friend who had gone from working in restaurants with super powerful ovens to cooking at home."

"The oven floor provides the hottest, most even and direct heat possible," explains Carolynn, "which means you can get your vegetables nice and caramelized without overcooking them." She bakes two sheet trays of vegetables, one on the oven floor and the other on a rack in the middle, at 500° F (hot!) for about 20 minutes, switching their position halfway through. The result: tender but not spineless roasted vegetables with great color and natural sweetness. One more victory for us crispy vegetable fanatics!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“For pizza. I used to use a pizza stone. Now, I invert a sheet pan and roll the dough out on directly on the pan on the bottom side of the pan and use silplat on top the dough while rolling it out (not for baking). Then it gets decorated and put in a 400F oven for about 15 mins. Using 00 Italian flour..with 1 cup 00 to 2 cups bread flour..is the perfect ratio for the dough for me. And lately I've been lowering the temp to 375...and the results are just fine...with a slightly longer cooking time. Just mess with it with a broil if you think it needs it for the last 5 mins. Basically, after using a pizza stone for years...I now use a inverted sheet pan and a slower oven...I think it's much better and keeps the kitchen cooler. ”
— Sam1148
Comment

And, pssst, Carolynn doesn't instruct that you line the pans with foil or parchment paper—and, for the most caramelized results, neither do we!

Photo by Bobbi Lin

But an important P.S.: You will want to contact your oven manufacturer (or check out the manual—you saved that right?) before you place a baking sheet, especially a heavy one, on the bottom surface.

If you cannot place the sheet pan directly on the oven floor (maybe that's where the heating elements are), Carolynn suggests position the rack as close to the bottom as possible, and Food52er AntoniaJames advises "putting a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and preheating it for at least an hour at a very high temperature." (She also preheats her roasting pans!)

More of the run-down on roasting vegetables:


A Dessert, Just Because

This article was originally published in June 2017, but we're running it again because we love a good hack.

Have you ever taken advantage of your oven's floor? Or is it a scary, dirty territory? Tell us in the comments below!

24 Comments

Smaug July 24, 2018
I first learned to bake pizzas on the oven floor, and it worked well on the oven I had at the time, but it did not on other ovens I've tried since. Not a matter of running into heating elements; I think the variability is mostly a matter of distribution of thermal mass; also, some oven floors are not flat, some are vented etc.
 
BerryBaby July 24, 2018
I have a new oven and no, cannot put anything on oven floor. No need to. The new ovens bake and roast everything beautifully. Follow manufactures recommendations for best results.
 
Thomas F. March 9, 2018
Or you could use a Baking Steel. It’s not just for Pizza.
 
Carole March 8, 2018
So the article says not to use parchment paper for crisper vegetables then the pictures have...parchment paper
 
Patty C. February 22, 2018
That's how I make the best pizza, on the oven floor!
 
amal February 11, 2018
I make pizza and man'ousheh directly on the oven floor without a tray! (put the dough on a parchment paper lined tray, garnish it then with a firm wrist movement let the paper with garnished dough slide onto the oven floor)
 
jane F. June 23, 2017
Love this idea...just wished I did not have electric...:(
 
hollygewandter June 22, 2017
important warning from the dacor manual:<br />"WARNING - NEVER cover any slots, holes or passages in the oven bottom or cover an entire rack with materials such as aluminum foil. Doing so blocks air flow through the range and may cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Aluminum foil linings may also trap heat, causing a fire hazard."
 
Ann February 25, 2018
My oven has the same warning!! as many do!
 
polly June 22, 2017
Definitely DON'T do this if you own a Wolf oven - you will ruin the heating element and that pretty blue interior oven floor!
 
Amy R. March 28, 2018
Was just about to ask this! Love my blue oven floor even with its occassional smattering of charred bits.
 
Rose L. June 22, 2017
i've recommended baking pies on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes for a crisp bottom crust. of course you can't do that if there are coils on the bottom of the oven or if you have an oven that specifically says not to such as the Gaggenau but it's really a terrific technique!
 
Amy N. June 22, 2017
Just made a roasted shrimp and broccoli dish that I love this way and it was twice as good! Thanks for the tip-
 
Karenteacher June 18, 2017
I have a gas oven - so, no, not putting anything on the floor of my oven :)<br /><br />Also, my broiler is in the drawer at the bottom; I don't think I've ever put the racks higher than the middle of the oven. Please remember when making comments such as those in this article that not everyone has an electric oven.
 
Gwen W. June 18, 2017
Karenteacher, I too had my broiler in the drawer at the bottom of my last stove/oven... Best broiler I ever had! and I agree, this gas stove states specifically NOT to put anything on the floor. People would be wise to consider their stoves limitations (and advantages in others) before following some suggestions.
 
Gwen W. June 18, 2017
But you best be prepared that an awful lot of oven's - unless spotlessly clean - will create smoke to drive you out of the house - and it could easily linger for days! I suggest stones and max 450 (maybe even 475) Plus an hour is a bit excessive - 20 minutes minimum and probably up to 35 for most.,
 
Sam1148 June 17, 2017
For pizza. I used to use a pizza stone. Now, I invert a sheet pan and roll the dough out on directly on the pan on the bottom side of the pan and use silplat on top the dough while rolling it out (not for baking). <br />Then it gets decorated and put in a 400F oven for about 15 mins. <br />Using 00 Italian flour..with 1 cup 00 to 2 cups bread flour..is the perfect ratio for the dough for me. <br />And lately I've been lowering the temp to 375...and the results are just fine...with a slightly longer cooking time. Just mess with it with a broil if you think it needs it for the last 5 mins. <br />Basically, after using a pizza stone for years...I now use a inverted sheet pan and a slower oven...I think it's much better and keeps the kitchen cooler. <br /><br />
 
soupcon June 16, 2017
Have had a baking stone on the bottom shelf of my oven for years. Heat is much more even as the baking stone holds +++ heat and when the door to the oven is opened the oven regains it's temp more quickly due to the heat sink on the bottom shelf. Great also for putting baking sheets on or even metal pie plates as the bottom crust cooks properly due to more direct heat transference. There are many reasons to have a baking stone at all times in your oven as a heat sink.
 
Carrie June 14, 2017
Just want to highlight that you really do need to check with the manufacturer before you put anything on the floor of your oven. The ones my company makes have an element hidden underneath the floor, and if you put anything on the floor, the heat gets trapped and you will be very sad at what it costs to repair. So even if you don't see an element, please check.
 
Mrs S. June 14, 2017
I hate to think how much energy is used by "putting a pizza stone in the oven on the bottom shelf and preheating it for at least an hour at a very high temperature".<br />Food52, can you suggest some environmentally friendlier ways of roasting vegetables?
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. June 14, 2017
Hi Mrs Stinsfire! Yes—there are definitely more environmentally-friendly options. You can preheat your baking sheets as the oven preheats, or skip the parchment paper and roast directly on the sheet pan (no lining necessary). You can also leave your vegetables, sliced, in the fridge overnight. That will dry them out, which will ultimately make them more caramelized when you go to roast them: https://food52.com/blog/14902-how-to-get-browner-crispier-roasted-vegetables. Hope those tips help!
 
Mrs S. June 15, 2017
Thank you! I have a convection oven, so I hardly ever preheat it but I'll give drying out the vegetables a try. I'd have to do it at room temperature (European refrigerator - no room for trays). I have actually wondered if drying beforehand wouldn't speed up caramelizing onions. Probably would be smelly, though.)
 
bgavin June 16, 2017
The thing is...a frost free fridge removes moisture...being *in* the fridge will dry out anything left uncovered in way that won't happen on the counter.
 
Mrs S. June 16, 2017
That's really interesting - I didn't know. I guess I'm going to have to get creative about my refrigerator space, then.