Is It Dangerous To Let Food Drip In The Oven?

It can be easy to view cooking as an expression of creativity, the way one would view any art form. While there is truth to this, cooks must have a firm handle on the basics, and one simply cannot become successful in the kitchen without knowing how to properly mince garlic, sauté chicken, or even ... clean the oven. And oven care and maintenance is more than recommended; it's absolutely essential. 

Whether mounted in your wall or attached to your range, the process of cleaning the oven is laborious and utterly unenjoyable. It is, however, necessary. A clean oven improves the quality of your food, and makes your kitchen safer.  

Allowing food to drip willy-nilly in your oven with no regard for cleanliness could be a dangerous and costly mistake. That's because cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in the U.S. Oven fires can cause extreme damage both to the equipment and to your home. So, yes, it is absolutely dangerous to allow your food — whether cake batter or chicken juices — to drip in the oven. Fortunately, there is an easy solution that will help mitigate the safety hazards caused by grease buildup while simultaneously helping keep your oven clean: a drip pan.  

Use a drip pan or oven liner

The function of a drip pan is to collect grease and drippings, keeping potential flammables away from your oven's heat source. For most ovens, something as simple as a cookie sheet or shallow baking tray works fine, but one can be custom made if you own a specialty oven. Positioned on the lower rack, below whatever it is you're cooking, the pan will catch any drippings that would otherwise hit the bottom of the oven. 

Another solution would be to use an oven liner. The disposable ones come in packs and are typically aluminum, like the trays you find at the grocery store. There are, however, reusable liners, as well. These sturdier liners are typically nonstick and made of heat-resistant fiberglass. All you need to do is place them on the bottom of your oven and occasionally wipe away the collected mess. 

Using one of these items will go a long way toward keeping your oven clean and safe. The drippings need only be washed after a brief cooling period, which is much simpler and easier than scrubbing away at a dirty oven.