11 Common Types of Pans that Keep Food Warm

Pan with warm food

Pans that keep food warm are a common sight at catering events and buffets.

These pans will usually have a base that holds water and the dish to be warmed.

The entire arrangement is heated using electricity or a burner at the base that warms the food inside the pan.

Let’s look at the different types of pans that are used for this purpose.

Which Pans Keep Food Warm?

Serving food while it’s still fresh and warm isn’t easy when the food is in large quantities.

However, it’s often essential to keep the food warm until service because warm food tastes better.

Chafing pans or chafers are typically used for such purposes.

Let’s explore these pans in closer detail.

1. Rectangular Heating Pans

Rectangular warming pans are one of the most commonly available types of pans to keep food warm.

Deep rectangular chafing pans are used in buffets and banquets to hold appetizers, main-course dishes, and side dishes.

These pans can hold a large quantity of food.

The main advantage of rectangular chafers is that they can hold kitchen sheet pans.

This makes it easier for restaurant staff to place the prepared food with the original container into the pan.

Depending on the dimensions and depth, rectangular pans may be able to hold more than one inner container.

Rectangular pans can be constructed using different types of materials.

The most common choices are usually stainless steel and steel.

2. Oval Heating Pans

Oval pans that keep food warm are a common sight at buffets.

They mostly hold the main entrees at the event.

The unique shape of these pans makes a dish look more appealing.

These pans are also used for serving cold dishes and desserts.

The shape of these pans makes it easy to use tongs or spoons, which aren’t easily accommodated by rectangular pans.

Oval pans can be made of different types of materials, like stainless steel, steel, and glass.

Ornate varieties with a mirror or satin finish and chrome or copper-plated handles are also available.

3. Round Heating Pans

You will usually see round warming pans at buffets and banquets holding side dishes and desserts.

They may also be used to hold sauces.

These pans are mostly made of stainless steel or steel.

The ornate varieties may even have chrome or copper-coated handles that add a touch of sophistication.

Round pans are usually small, and they hold items in limited quantities.

They’re good for liquid items that are served with ladles.

These pans usually come with roll-top lids or lift-off covers.

Some round chafing pans also have glass lids with a clear window that allows you to view the contents easily.

4. Soup Chafers

It’s becoming increasingly common to include soups in buffet and banquet menus.

Soup chafers are built explicitly for such purposes.

The pans used to keep soup warm during an event can be made from a variety of materials and have different shapes and sizes.

However, the common factor is that all these pans will be deep enough to hold liquids.

They will usually have a cylindrical shape.

These pans will have a lower cylindrical or square unit with water over the heat source.

The container with soup will usually be placed inside this cylindrical unit.

The heat from the boiling water in the lower pan will keep the contents of the inner container warm.

Most soup chafers come with hinged lids.

Expensive and elegant soup chafers may even have embellished trims with golden or copper details.

5. Square Heating Pans

Square warming pans aren’t as common as rectangular and oval pans.

They have a stylish, contemporary look and are usually spacious enough to hold plenty of food.

Square chafers are usually used to serve desserts, appetizers, or side dishes.

They may also be used to hold bread or baked goods at breakfast buffets.

6. Roll-Top Covered Pans

Roll-Top covered pans

We can further classify pans that keep food warm according to the type of cover or lid they use.

Roll-top cover pans are very convenient to use.

The lids of these pans will retract completely to reveal the contents of the pan when you push the handle.

So, there is no need for additional space to keep the lids aside after opening the pan.

It also makes it easier to pull down the lid to close the pan.

Roll-top covers are usually seen on rectangular, oval, and circular pans.

7. Lift-Off Lid Pans

In this basic pan model, the lid can be lifted off and kept aside while serving food.

The good thing about this type of lid is that the handles don’t get hot.

Hence, it’s convenient to touch and lift even while the pan is hot.

Although lift-off lids aren’t usually heavy, they can be bulky.

It’s also necessary to allow enough space beside the pan to place the lid while taking food from the pan.

8. Pans with Hinged Covers

Hinged covers aren’t as stylish as roll-top covers.

However, they’re just as convenient. In these pans, the lid is fitted to the base with a hinge.

By lifting the handle of the lid, you can move it up.

The lid stays in place at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees. This makes it easy to take food from the pan.

Most lids have a hydraulic operation that allows them to return gently to the original position when the handle is pulled back down.

9. Glass-Top Cover Pans

Some pans that are used to keep food warm come with glass covers or glass windows on a metallic base.

The glass lid or window adds to the appeal of the pan, but the primary purpose of this glass is to allow the food to be seen easily.

This reduces the need to lift the lid to view the contents of the pan. Hence, it keeps the food at a steady temperature.

Sometimes, the entire pan may also be made of glass.

Such pans are versatile because they’re made of high-quality glass, and you can also use them for baking.

10. Stainless Steel Warming Pans

Stainless steel is the most commonly used material for pans that keep food warm.

It’s food-safe, lightweight, convenient to handle, and easy to clean.

Stainless steel warming pans have a beautiful shine.

The original luster holds for a long time. They’re also durable and resistant to wear and tear.

Stainless steel pans can come in all shapes and sizes.

They’re easy to transport and hence a good choice for chafing pans.

11. Disposable Warming Pans

It’s becoming increasingly common to use disposable warming pans made of aluminum at big events.

This is an attractive and convenient option because it’s lightweight, easy to transport, and doesn’t involve any cleaning up.

Aluminum, which is used to make disposable pans, is also a good conductor of heat.

Hence, the food remains warm and tastes fresh.

Additionally, disposable warming pans are much cheaper than steel and other metallic warming pans.

So caterers and event organizers can conveniently serve warm food at an event using these disposable warming pans without worrying about cleaning up after the event.