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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Oven

Most homecooks know the oven basics. Here are some things you may not know that can help you get the most out of your oven.

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Close-up of meat thermometer in cooked turkey, showing safe internal temperature for poultry, during the preparation of a traditional American Thanksgiving holiday meal, San Ramon, California, November 23, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)Smith Collection/Gado/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Most Ovens Have Inaccurate Temps

Even the newest, fanciest ovens give inaccurate temperature readings from time to time. The good news is that most ovens can be calibrated to fix this problem. It’s an easy oven maintenance tip you can fix without calling out for help. Purchase an oven thermometer ($8), crack open your oven’s instruction manual and get to work to make your oven an accurate cooking machine.

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Cherry tomatoes on the vine roasted with herbs and balsamic vinegar. Top view.Geshas/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Your Oven Is the Original Slow Cooker

Slow cookers were developed for a mostly hands-off cooking experience, and you can use your oven in the same way. Converting traditional stovetop recipes into oven recipes is quite easy. Consider slow-roasting tomatoes for sauce, vegetables for soup or caramelizing onions in the oven.

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Woman lifting tray out of ovenIngram Publishing/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Hottest Part of Your Oven Is the Top

This might not be much of a surprise since we all know that heat rises. But the hottest part of your oven is the top. When you’re using multiple sheet pans to cook at once, it is just as important to rotate them front to back as it is from top to bottom. Check out the best oven rack position for baking cookies.

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Close-up on woman's hands using a baking-oven.izusek/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Oven Knobs Are Really Dirty

We’ve all been there—halfway into prepping our chicken, we remember to preheat the oven. Then you get raw chicken juice all over the oven knobs. Cleaning these dials may be an afterthought, but it’s an easy and important task. Most oven knobs pop right off! Give them a soak in some soapy water to quickly disinfect.

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Empty electric oven with grill stainless steel grate for barbecue_ultraforma_/Getty Images Plus

Your Oven Cleans Your Cookware

If you’re finding your cast-iron skillet and pizza stone covered in a sticky mess, then it’s time to give them a heat bath. That sticky residue is actually built-up oil, and the best way to get rid of it is to bake the skillet and stone upside down on a foil-lined rack at 450° for 1 hour. Did you know you can steam clean your oven, too?

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Inside of ovenGoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

The Position of the Oven Racks Matter

We already mentioned that heat rises, but the bottom of the oven is where the heat comes out. So although the top is the hottest, the bottom also packs a blast of heat. A rule of thumb is the closer the rack is to the bottom of the oven, the crispier the bottom of the food will be. Generally, the middle rack position is the sweet spot. Test it out to see for yourself with our favorite oven-baked recipes.

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Young man checking food in oven low angle viewMilan_Jovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus

You Need to Pay Attention to Your Gasket

If your oven door is collecting moisture, leaking heat or improperly maintaining its temperature—you might have a faulty gasket. Your gasket is the spongy material that helps seal the door to keep the heat inside the oven. Appliance maintenance isn’t any fun, but it’s necessary for optimal performance. Replacing the gasket is a cheap, easy fix you don’t need to call a pro for.

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Cheese On Toast Being Grilled In Oven And Taken Outmonkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

All Ovens Have a Hot Spot

All ovens have a spot that is a little hotter than all the rest. Although you can’t get rid of it, there’s an easy trick to identifying it. It’s called the toast trick. Place bread in a grid pattern on the oven rack and toast at 350°. The hot spot will be wherever the bread toasts the fastest.

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Badly burnt oven with oven mits in forefrontftwitty/Getty Images Plus

An Oven’s Self-Cleaner Mode Can Be a Fire Hazard

The self-cleaning mode uses high heat to burn off spills and splatters. If you don’t clean out the food particles and puddles of grease prior to setting and forgetting, you’re playing with fire. If you want to utilize your oven’s self-cleaning mode, make sure you fully clean it beforehand.

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Pizza, Pastries, dinner, Snack Food, Tomatoesiboter/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Broiler Does More Than Melt Cheese

The broiler is an underrated oven feature. It’s really great at melting cheese, but it can do plenty more. Your oven broiler is an excellent way of cooking thin cuts of meat, quickly roasting vegetables, and reheating take-out food like pizza.

Sher Castellano
Sher Castellano is the plant-based chef, endometriosis advocate and former health coach behind the award winning blog With Food + Love. Sher creates recipes to help you feel better, and explores topics of chronic illness, women's health and infertility with her honest writings. With Food + Love was a finalist in the 2015 Saveur Magazine Food Blog Awards.