When you work in catering you know the importance of keeping the food youve worked hard to prepare warm. However, if youve ever gone shopping for a food warmer you may have become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of machines there are on the market for keeping your food hot. If youve ever felt clueless about food warmers, what they do, and which ones will work best for you below is a list to get you started in the crowded world of food warmers.

Full Sized Warmers are the large food warmers that you often find at large events or hotel banquets. They hold large pans of food in place while hot water is placed in the bottom pan to keep the food hot and moist. Some full size warmers are quite big and designed to hold more than one full-sized pan of food. Other units are smaller. When you purchase a full sized warmer keep in mind that the warmer itself only holds hot water; you will need to buy the pans to hold the food separately.

If you plan to offer a lot of food, such as at a buffet, then you might want to invest in heated shelves which can keep food warm for long periods of time. Heated shelves are different from full size warmers since you dont have to worry about filling trays of hot water. They come in different sizes, and they are offered with different wattage points; bigger shelves need more wattage.

Another warmer type that utilizes water to heat foods is a round countertop food warmer. These types of food warmers are used for soups, gravies, and other liquid-based foods. You simply place hot water into the round countertop warmer and place a separate insert holding the food inside. Once your warmer is setup you can place a lid over the warmer to keep the warmth from escaping as fast. Lids can be hinged or unhinged. These inserts sometimes need to be bought separately so always double-check before you buy this type of warmer whether you will need to supply your own insert.

Like round countertop food warmers, soup food warmers keep liquid-based foods like soups and stews warm. Some soup food warmers are electric allowing the operator to adjust the temperature accordingly. These warmers also usually come with an insert to place the food into before placing into the warmer.

Strip Heaters are similar to trays, but they are primarily used to keep food warm until it is served out. They are not commonly used at buffets or anywhere where a customer would come into contact with it, and instead are a stopping off point between the kitchen and the table. Some strip heaters are hotter than others so you will want to research each before purchasing as the hotter a heater is the more chances there are that the food placed on top will dry out.