Found below are the pros and cons of the top 10 best chafing dishes this 2021. We enlisted the help of some of our friends, family members, colleagues, peers, as well as a bunch of restaurateurs whose businesses specialize in buffets. They were quite helpful in our objective of making a compilation of the best among the best for this list. We also referred to caterers, interviewing some of them both online (through emails) and offline to discuss their opinions.
The main reason why we decided to go with picking out the ten best chafing dishes is that the topic, in particular, has been highly requested by our peers and readers. Some of these people own restaurants and catering services and wanted our help in deciding the best chafing dishes which they can use for their businesses.
Additionally, you do not have to be running a food service business to be in need of a chafing dish; those who enjoy hosting gatherings of friends and family during the festive season may find it useful to have one at home. Admittedly, we had the same thoughts too – and we also wanted to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a chafing dish.
So, we decided to push through with this topic and implemented our usual procedure in picking and narrowing down the contenders for our list. We carefully selected and extensively researched several chafing dishes. After that, our group of testers proceeded to try them out one by one. Here they are:
Chafing Dishes Comparison & Rating
|#1 - Oster Buffet Server||99%|
|#2 - Winware Stainless Roll Top Chafer||98%|
|#3 - Party Essentials Chafing Kits||96%|
|#4 - Cuisinart 7BSR 11-Inch Round Buffet Server||95%|
|#5 - Excelsteel Stainless Chafing Dish||92%|
|#6 - Tiger Chef Stainless Steel Chafer||90%|
|#7 - Artisan Stainless Steel Round Buffet Chafer||89%|
|#8 - Winware Madison 8qt Chafer||88%|
|#9 - Tiger Chef TC-20415 Chafing Dish||87%|
|#10 - Tiger Chef Round Chafing Dish||85%|
We asked our team to test each of the products in our selection of the 10 best chafing dishes of 2021. We carefully took note of their test results, and once we had a good amount of data, we deployed our evaluation processes. This was how we managed to provide the comprehensive details below for each of the products in our roundup. Of course, we packaged the most salient data that we were able to collect from our extensive research, thorough testing and unbiased evaluation procedures in a format that’s quick and easy to absorb. This way, you’ll be able to find it simple to identify the most suitable set of chafing dishes for your exact purposes. So dive right in:
#1 – Oster Buffet Server
If you want to find a good chafing dish that helps warm-up at least two or three dishes at the same time, then the Oster Buffet Server is the best one for you. This chafing dish is very versatile. It’s got three parts that can help heat up three various types of food in one go. And it also comes with two different trays, in case you want to separate vegetables and meat while keeping them inside the same chafing dish.
With Oster, you can be sure that quality is never an issue when it comes to their products. Their chafing dish contains a stainless-steel housing, and this makes it very durable. The heating surface and its accompanying base have a measurement of at least 20 to 13 inches. We can assure you that it’s a pretty large dish. You can separate the base from the rest of the product, and use it as a stand-alone warming tray meant for appetizers and side dishes.
The buffet trays included alongside the server can warm up over seven quarters of food for several hours. It can also heat up dips, vegetable-based and meat-based dishes, appetizers, and warm desserts like Crème Brulee or pudding.
What We Like About It:
Our tester is a massive fan of this chafer, as it helped keep his food warm during an event. It also has a classy look and made his buffet spread look twice as fancy. The build and outer appearance of the product were just fantastic. One drawback is it’s quite heavy. So, if you happen to be a person who can’t do some heavy lifting, then you should probably try out another chafing dish instead. For our tester, it wasn’t a problem – He only thought that the dish is sturdy.
#2 – Winware Stainless Roll Top Chafer
Sometimes an event requires you to cook a large amount of food – take Thanksgiving, for example. It’s on occasions like these, you might want to get a dish that can hold giant quantities of your favorite food. Winware Chafer is a chafing dish that not only helps keep your food fresh and warm but serves a huge batch of food as well.
It’s got an eight-quart capacity and is pretty big to fit your needs for hosting a large number of party guests. The product has a measurement of 2.5 inches deep. Other accessories include a dripless water pan, a tight-fitting dome lid, as well as two types of Sterno fuel holders, which further increase its efficiency. Not only is it affordable and suits your budget, but it’s also quite easy to use too. You can use this chafing dish for birthday parties, holiday parties, or dinner parties. Winware only uses the most beautiful steel for their products, and you don’t have to worry too much about your food cooling down very quickly, or losing its flavor because there’s too much heat.
What We Like About It:
This product was just amazing for its price! Our tester used it to serve lunch after Sunday church service. One of the product’s cons was that the steel wasn’t crafted from commercial grade material, so they’re not applicable for use at places like five-star hotels or even high-end buffets. However, you can still use it from time to time. She ordered around eight dishes, and they all came looking great. It is still an excellent recommendation.
#3 – Party Essentials Chafing Kits
If you get the urge to throw a huge dinner party for your family and friends, but cannot afford to purchase the necessary equipment to serve loads of food for your guests and keep it warm at the same time, then this product is excellent for you. The set comes with over 33 disposable pieces, including the food pan, water pan, forks, spoons, serving forks, tongs, water pans, chafing racks, and gel fuel.
These pans are crafted from aluminum. They might feel flimsy because of the material, but they’re excellent if you’re going to use them for only one time. Meanwhile, the forks, spoons, and tongs they come with are all durable and are constructed from polystyrene. The gel fuel ensures that your food can stay warm for over two hours. Also included are some wire chafing racks that can hold both the food and water pans on top of the fuel cans.
What We Like About It:
Our tester purchased this product for her daughter’s birthday. It held up well and heated up her Dominican and Italian food without any problems whatsoever. The pans were also easy to clean, and even though they’re disposable, she has decided to use them again during the Christmas season. It arrived at her doorstep in perfect condition too – She was lucky to have bought this at an excellent price.
#4 – Cuisinart 7BSR 11-Inch Round Buffet Server
This is a fantastic chafing dish that not only can blend itself easily with your other kitchen utensils, but it also includes a kind of graceful, elegant charm to your home buffet party. The circular server measures eleven inches and contains a lot of admirable features that may suit your needs and your interest. The lovely stainless-steel exterior will stop it from rusting quickly and damaging the quality of your food. Meanwhile, the server’s interior is also created from the same steel and doesn’t include any foreign chemicals such as phthalates and BPA. This results in better heating when it comes to food.
One of the primary purposes of buying a chafing dish is to maintain a food’s freshness and warmth – and Cuisinart’s own dish does that perfectly. Thanks to its aluminum-encapsulated base, this dish can slowly distribute its heat everywhere. Although the product’s glass lid is heavy, it’s still light enough for you to carry around with you, in case you run a catering business. There are also wide stainless-steel handles that help you move the dish from the stove to the table.
What We Like About It:
One of our testers used this during a Christmas party, and it worked nicely for him. One tray included meatballs, while the other held appetizers such as cocktail sausage. The gas was able to heat both up efficiently without any issues whatsoever. The pots were also great, and the candles with the gas managed to burn long enough to keep the food warm throughout the event.
#5 – Excelsteel Stainless Chafing Dish
If you want to purchase your own chafing dish, you might want to buy one that is very durable and can withstand numerous heavy uses. Among all of the chafing dishes that we have mentioned, Excelsteel’s dish is one of the heaviest. Its look and durability draw in the interest of both individuals and professional restaurateurs.
The dish comprises an eight-quarts sized food tray, along with a water pan and a tempered lid. If you intend to utilize the dish for a special occasion such as a dinner party, then go for the smaller four-quarts sized one. Meanwhile, the eight-quarts one will come in handy for professional caterers.
Both sizes of chafing dishes will give you the best kind of functionality. You no longer have to worry too much about your warm food having to cool down quickly when you use this chafing dish since it’s made from stainless steel. The tempered glass lids are there to keep the dish sealed tight and prevent the steam and warmth from escaping. You can also keep an eye out on your food. The dish’s stainless steel material helps make the product durable, so you won’t have to worry about rust or corrosion forming.
What We Like About It:
There was a little downside to the Excelsteel dishes that our tester purchased: They had two small dents on the side. She had intentions to use the dishes for a Thanksgiving gathering, and it was too late to send them back or call for a refund. The lid and the pan, however, had a nice weight to them and kept her food warm throughout the whole celebration. The rounded shape was also a great alternative to the usual rectangular chafing dish.
#6 – Tiger Chef Stainless Steel Chafer
You can use this chafing dish to serve the freshest and hottest dishes in your next catered event. Tiger Chef’s products offer the promise that your food remains warm, while the domed lid makes sure that it seals in the moisture. These dishes come at an economical price and make an excellent addition to your buffet table. With Tiger Chef’s chafer, you can be sure that the product’s stainless-steel construction is durable enough to handle heavy-duty usage without the shape warping or accumulating rust.
The product includes a sturdy frame, a full-sized pan, a water pan, and a lid with a plastic handle that stays cool. There are also two fuel holders that complete the set. It can carry a considerable amount of food inside the pan and handles around two half-sized pans. These dishes are easy to maintain and clean. Self-service is a breeze as the dome’s handle remains cool while the food is hot. The deep construction of the dish makes refilling food easy as well.
What We Like About It:
Our tester decided to purchase these dishes for his annual cider party, as renting other chafing dishes got pretty expensive for him. After the celebration, he would give the dishes a thorough wash. He says that these were very easy and quick to assemble, store, and wash. He admits that he can be quite selective in regards to holding a party, and he always plans ahead. Nevertheless, the product left him feeling very happy.
#7 – Artisan Stainless Steel Round Buffet Chafer
These dishes help you serve meals with flair and style. It can help you maintain the right food temperature, giving you the best cuisine experience. The product is a heavy-duty dish constructed from stainless steel. The shape is round, giving it a classy feel. The versatility, efficiency, and overall design in helping maintain the warmth of your food make it perfect in both informal and formal parties.
Artisan’s own chafers come in a whole assortment of styles and sizes. Each design is sure to fit any occasion, no matter what party you use it for. It’s great for potluck lunches, as well as other self-service gatherings. The dishes help your food stay fresh because of the patented steam release vent found inside the lid. The same vent also stops moisture and condensation from leaking inside the dishes. There’s also a welded rack that can hold the lid after you open it.
What We Like About It:
The quality was great and exceeded our tester’s expectations. It appeared much more significant than he expected. The only downside was that the lid didn’t hook onto the dish itself when there’s no food stored in. This is why he always needed to refill it with water and food for support. That aside, the dishes themselves were impressive, and he has also used it for several parties. The food stayed warm as well with each use.
#8 – Winware Madison 8qt Chafer
Winware’s Madison Chafer is big and durable, with a full-sized steel rolling top. If you want to find a chafing dish that can store tons of food, then this product is for you. It’s a high-capacity dish which further enhances the presentation and looks of your food. The dish itself also looks amazingly polished. This is perhaps your ideal chafer if you run a catering business or own a restaurant that has a buffet. It’s a full-sized chafer that provides you with everything you need to ensure your food stays warm.
Other features include a water pan, two fuel holders with accompanying lead, and the aforementioned roller top dome cover. The cover opens itself up at a ninety-degree angle. The water pan makes sure that the heat distributes evenly instead of drying out your food. The water pan also securely fits the dishes, so the heat never escapes from the chafer.
What We Like About It:
This is a great way to enhance the quality of your food, according to our tester. The warmer was massive enough, the dishes were heavy, and the way they heat up her food was just fantastic. She thought it worked so much better than the tin pans that she previously used for her parties. Winware’s chafing dish added such an elegant touch to her food, and it cleans up nicely too.
#9 – Tiger Chef TC-20415 Chafing Dish
If you want to find a smaller chafing dish that still screams elegance and sophistication, then this product is the best choice. This particular chafing dish is a half-sized 4-quart chafer buffet serving set that is excellent if you only intend on serving appetizers or smaller portions of food – or perhaps a dinner party with only a handful of guests coming. This product looks very elegant, thanks to the gold accents found on its handles. You won’t have to worry too much about burning your hand because the handles stay cold.
There is also a lid with a hook that you can attach to the dish, so it won’t fold and close while you’re serving food. The dish is also excellent in making sure your food stays warm, without having to compromise your food’s flavor. The water pan found below the dish can help spread out the heat all over the food as well.
What We Like About It:
These dishes are very sturdy yet lightweight and came with tons of fuel. Our tester had to use them for a Christmas party and everything worked well. The product’s brass and gold accents gave it such a classy look, and it looks so much better than her own collection of crockpots.
#10 – Tiger Chef Round Chafing Dish
This is a chafing dish that ensures your food stays warm, fresh and tasty, while the domed lid locks in the moisture. It’s got a pair of nicely curved legs, making it excellent for formal events such as graduation parties, weddings, etc. The look is also perfect for hotels. There are also gold accents found on the product’s legs and hands. It’s very versatile and can serve both cold and warm food. Putting in gel fuel keeps it hot while replacing it with ice does the opposite.
The set includes a rounded food pan, a fuel holder, a dome lid, and serving tongs. The product is constructed from stainless steel, and the legs are also very sturdy. Plus, the handles give you a steady grip. It is indeed a comprehensive set, especially suited for professional use.
What We Like About It:
The tester rented this for a huge birthday party, and it was a huge hit! Not only did the food look elegant it also stayed warm and fresh throughout the whole event. However, a con here is that you might have to spend more cash on purchasing additional burners. It was also effortless to clean up and makes the whole product look practical.
How We Chose the Best Chafing Dish
First, we went to Amazon’s best-seller list of chafing dishes this year. We also checked out other widely used Web shopping platforms that many of our fellow home cooks, professional chefs and restaurateurs recommend. We wanted to find the most popular brands and latest models of chafing dishes in the market at the moment. We took note of the top ones in the best-seller lists of these platforms.
Second, we showed our preliminary list of chafing dishes to our relatives, friends, colleagues, and fellow members at the social groups and web forums that we often visit when we need an expert opinion on related topics. We asked them for their insights, advice and comments, especially those who have used and are currently using the chafing dishes that we have shortlisted at this point.
While we were gathering and analyzing their inputs, we created a checklist of the most salient features to keep in mind when shopping around for the best chafing dishes this year. This checklist is found at the bottom section of our roundup. You’re advised to go through this list as you take a closer look at the products in our selection.
Third, we used this checklist and the feedback that we gathered from our own networks as we carefully studied the reviews and ratings left by other buyers in Amazon and other online shopping platforms. Our goal at this point is to take note of the key benefits and advantages of each chafing dish set in our shortlist while comparing these against any negative remark that we encounter for each of the same products. So yes, we looked at both positive and negative comments about these chafing dishes, in order to be as objective as possible with our assessment.
Fourth, we used all the data that we collected at this point to trim our shortlist down to the top 10 chafing dishes of 2021. Plus, we formulated testing guidelines, procedures and evaluation systems using the same data for our testers to follow.
Fifth, we mixed and matched a variety of skills and experience, in order to represent as many groups as possible during our tests. This means we don’t just ask veteran home cooks and seasoned chefs to join our group of testers. Instead, our team is comprised of our fellow kitchen lovers with a wide range of skills and expertise, from beginner and intermediate to expert.
Do You Need A Chafing Dish?
If you frequent buffets or like to throw or attend dinner parties that accommodate hundreds of guests, then chances are you may have seen a chafing dish. However, the average person might not be familiar with how handy a chafing dish is, simply because they don’t own one and thus never feel the need to use this product.
A chafing dish is a kitchen equipment that is a must-have, especially if you run a restaurant that specializes in buffets or work in the catering business. However, everyone can pretty much own a chafing dish, and that includes you, the home cook and aspiring chef. From birthday parties to any large festive gatherings, a chafing dish is excellent when you want to serve some buffet meals.
The kitchen equipment gets its name from the French word chauffeur, which translates to ‘a small portable heater or stove’. And as the meaning suggests, a chafer or chafing dish’s primary purpose is to help keep your food warm. You can’t use it for cooking, but instead, it helps the food stay warm and fresh enough for people to eat. It is a great and affordable way to conserve gas and energy. A chafing dish can keep food warm for up to six hours.
A chafing dish is basically constructed out of three key features: The lid, the pan, and the frame or stand. Chafing fuel is there to heat up the water in the pan, indirectly warming up the food inside it without it drying out. Meanwhile, there are also electric chafing dishes – These don’t require any chafing fuels, but will still need water, so it can do its job of keeping the food warm.
Contrary to what one might think, not every chafing dish looks and works the same. They come in a variety of different sizes and shapes. This list of the best chafing dishes should help you determine which one is the best for your needs. If you are still unsure whether purchasing one is the right investment, consider the following pros and cons, plus some tips on the features to look out for when shopping around.
There are many advantages to using a chafing dish. Here are some of the most salient ones:
- Keeps food fresh & looks professional – Without a doubt, the main reason to own a chafing dish is to keep the food served safe, sanitary and warm (or cold, if it’s needed) for the duration of an event. The availability of the dish also makes refilling food and self-service a breeze, not to mention, it also adds a dash of finesse and professionalism to your service. It’s definitely one of the must-haves for buffet restaurants and food caterers;
- Time Saving & Convenience – If you have a chafing dish ready to be wheeled out for serving at any time, that’s one less thing to worry about when planning the food for the event. With chafing dishes, you have the issue of how the food will be served and kept fresh. Of course, if you are running a catering or restaurant business, then having the right equipment can tremendously boost the efficiency of your operations; and
- Saves you money in the long-run – You can always rent chafing dishes for a special event, especially if you are not in the food preparation business. However, depending on how frequent you find yourself in the position of cooking for a luncheon or dinner party in a year, the total cost of renting equipment could add up to more than it’s worth it. In such cases, you are better off owning your own chafing dishes. You will end up saving money on catering and equipment rental down the line.
Of course, there will be a few disadvantages to using a chafing dish. Here are some of them:
- Takes up additional storage space – If you aren’t running a restaurant, then you’ll need to ensure you have the storage space at home for a chafing dish when it’s not in use if you do decide to purchase one. If you only need to cook for a large number of guests once or twice a year, then your chafing dish would likely spend more time in storage than in usage. As with any kind of product, being kept in storage for too long may cause the material it was made from to deteriorate gradually; and
- Additional costs – You may need to spend a little more cash on purchasing chafing fuels unless you are buying chafing dishes that are powered by electricity (which may be a bit on the pricier range). If the chafing dish you’re buying doesn’t come with serving tools and utensils – or only comes with a disposable supply, then you will need to stock up on these tools and utensils, plus fuels, each time you have to serve a large number of guests.
Best Chafing Dish Buying Guide
We noticed that many users primarily focused on a certain set of aspects when it comes to choosing the most suitable chafing dish for their exact purposes. We realized this while gathering the feedback of our peers about each of the chafing dishes in our collection. After careful evaluation, we trimmed these factors down to the most salient ones below:
Capacity & Frequency of Use
How much food can be served and how often you would need them are perhaps the most important factors to keep in mind when considering the type of chafing dishes to purchase. Unless you own a restaurant or a catering business, there may not be that many occasions when you will be needing chafing dishes to serve a large number of guests. If that’s the case, then a mid-range dish that’s not too big and easy to store may be sufficient to serve your needs.
Meanwhile, if you’re in the food serving business, you may want to opt for one that is bigger, easier to wash and carry around. You may also want to invest in a model that can accommodate warm and cold foods equally well. If you only plan on using them once, then go for a disposable option;
Safety Design & Food-Grade Materials
Materials that are used to manufacture a chafing dish, along with the durability and form factor design itself, are crucial factors that affect the safety design of the dishes. The interior of the chafing dishes should be made from materials that don’t include any foreign chemicals such as phthalates and BPA.
You wouldn’t want to be using a chafing dish made of a metal that dents easily, or one that can gradually rust or corrodes from frequent use, since it could lead to the food it contains being contaminated, causing a serious health hazard. That’s the reason why you should carefully confirm that the chafing dishes you’re planning to purchase are indeed made out of food-grade materials, as this is part of its overall safety design. Plus, this is especially crucial if you’re buying chafing dishes that are intended for commercial use;
Appearance, Sturdiness & Durability
This has a lot to do with the form factor design along with the materials that are used to produce a chafing dish. For example, any type of chafing dish is usually sturdier and are able to withstand frequent use when it’s made out of high-quality materials if it’s integrated with an optimized form factor design or both. Low cost chafing dishes made of a more flimsy material may be good enough for occasional use.
Now, a chafing dish with a sleek and elegant design can also add that extra touch of class to your foodservice. So, you’re advised to choose chafing dishes with a sturdy design and carry the added bonus of adding style to the way you serve your food. Also, you’re recommended to use a chafing dish that’s easy to open and close, so you can quickly take out the food inside with ease; and
A chafing dish with comfortable handles to give you a steady grip, big enough food pan, and fuel holder, plus a feature to hold the lid up after it is opened is definitely a handy feature that you should not overlook when considering your purchase. If you are buying for commercial use, then additional features that make doing your job of serving food easier should always be your priority. Some chafing dishes set even comes with utensils, including serving tongs, food pan, water pan, forks, spoons, chafing racks, and gel fuel.
These could save you some cost on cutlery and serving equipment. Now, these are just some of the many value-added benefits that some manufacturers include in their products. Some models have the added feature of being able to separate the base from the rest of the product to be used as a stand-alone warming tray, features to prevent moisture and condensation from leaking into the food, easy to clean and store, and the like. So, it is recommended that you keep your eyes peeled for these value-added advantages.
A final word of advice if you’re looking for a good chafing dish is to pick one that is of a size that suits your needs. For example, if you need one for a small crowd, then pick a small or medium-sized one, and a big dish that looks classy with the decor if it’s for a catering business or restaurant. Not all chafing dishes are the same, just as no-cook or caterer has the same needs, and you can be sure there is one out there that suits your needs.
And there you have it! These are the most salient factors that you should always remember while you’re taking a closer look at any product in our selection of the 10 best chafing dishes for this year. That’s because you’re bound to find the right dishes in much quicker ways for your exact needs when you gauge its overall value through these aspects. So, best of luck in pinpointing the right product as you go through our roundup of the top 10 chafing dishes this year!