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Chafing Dish Buying Guide And Tips

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Chafing Dish Buying Guide And Tips

If you are hosting a large buffet or formal dinner party and plan to serve several hot entrees and side dishes, you're probably concerned about keeping the food warm and appetizing. The solution is a chafing dish.

What Is A Chafing Dish?

These low-tech serving dishes use a flame to heat water that then warms your food. You have probably seen these serving pieces at catered events or restaurant buffets. Though most often used for serving hot food, you can use a chafing dish for cold foods as well.

What Are Components Of A Chafing Dish?

  • A serving dish to hold the food
  • A slightly larger water pan that holds the serving dish
  • A heat source, usually a small can of cooking fuel
  • A wire or metal frame to suspend both the pans over the heat source

Do You Do A Lot Of Entertaining?

If you look forward to your annual big holiday bash or love to entertain throughout the year, a large and rectangular stainless steel chafing dish will keep your famous enchiladas or chicken piccata just the right temperature for your guests to enjoy.

Use a rectangular chafing dish for entrees and hearty side dishes, as the shape makes it easy for guests to serve themselves. A full-size chafer holds 8 to 9 quarts.

Do You Need A Chafing Dish For Side Dishes?

Round chafing dishes are perfect for side dishes, desserts or entrees like pasta, rice, egg dishes or other recipes that don’t have a definite shape. A round stainless steel chafer will provide many years of service at various large group celebrations. Round chafing dishes typically hold 4 to 5 quarts.

Are You Hosting A One-Time Event?

If you don’t throw large, buffet-style parties on a regular basis or simply have no room to store a chafing dish, you can get the same benefits with a disposable chafer. Dispoable chafers normally have aluminum pans for food and water, and a wire stand to support them. Usually rectangular, they hold around 8 quarts in a full-size pan or come with two 4-quart pans that sit side-by-side in the steam tray. Most disposable chafing dishes do not come with a lid.

Chafing Dish Tips For Serving Hot Foods

  • Your food needs to be hot before it goes in the chafing dish. Otherwise, you risk the growth of dangerous bacteria. A chafing dish is not for cooking, but is for maintaining temperature. You can use the food pan to cook your entrée in the oven before placing it on the chafing stand.
  • Place the water tray on the stand, then fill with enough HOT water to reach just below the food pan. If you overfill the water tray, your chafing dish will leak and hiss as water escapes down the sides. Set the food tray in the water pan.
  • Light your fuel can, and place it below the water tray. The flame should not be touching the bottom of the dish, so adjust the wick if necessary.
  • Don’t light the flame until you have filled the water pan.
  • Never use anything but candles or cooking fuel intended for chafing dish use in the burner.
  • Make sure to keep children and pets away from the flame.
  • For full-size chafing dishes or very dense foods like cheesy pasta, you will need two flames beneath the chafer, one at each end.
  • Check the water level periodically, and add more if it runs low.
  • Typically, a small fuel can burns for 2 to 3 hours.

Chafing Dish Tips For Serving Cold Foods

  • If you are serving cold food in a chafing dish, your food needs to be chilled to the appropriate temperature before placing it in the serving dish.
  • Fill the water tray with crushed ice to right below the bottom of the food tray.
  • You will obviously not use a heat source with cold foods.

It’s not an everyday item, but for those occasions when you need to keep a large quantity of food hot and appetizing, a chafing dish is a very simple and effective method for doing so.

If you’re planning on a buffet or large dinner party, you’ll probably find a chafing dish to be indispensable. It lets you set out your favorite recipes, then spend time circulating and enjoying your guests rather than working in the kitchen.

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