8 Best Buffet Food Warmers We’ve Tested

Best Food Warmers

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The best buffet food warmer can keep food hot and fresh for a long time and is useful in most commercial or home party settings. From restaurants to caterers, for small and large families, buffet food warmers are now a must-have to keep all your gravies, soups, and snacks warm for a long time. This becomes even more important if you are planning to prepare a potluck dish or a potluck side dish.

Our team of experts and food enthusiasts have tested the best buffet food warmers available online. For this purpose, we looked into the features of time and temperature adjustment, ease of cleaning, food holding capacity, the shape of the warmer, and others. Based on our careful testing procedure, we will help you make the right decision based on your preferences.

The Best Food Warmers At a Glance

  1. Best Overall: Elite Gourmet EWM-6171
    View at AmazonRead Review
  2. Best Runner up: Betty Crocker Buffet Server
    View at AmazonRead Review
  3. Best Professional: Valgus 8QT Food Warmer
    View at AmazonRead Review
  4. Best Versatile: MegaChef Buffet Server
    View at AmazonRead Review
  5. Best Portable: NutriChef 3 Buffet Server
    View at AmazonRead Review
  6. Best For Luxury Parties: Update International Chafer
    View at AmazonRead Review
  7. Best Looking: Nova 8 Qt Buffet Catering
    View at AmazonRead Review
  8. Best Disposable: Sterno Chafing Dish Buffet Set
    View at AmazonRead Review

(Recommended: 11 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking)

Things to Consider While Buying A Food Warmer

A food warming tray only has one purpose, and you want to make sure it’s convenient, safe, and simple to use.

  • Capacity: Buying a buffet server with a capacity of 2 quarts or above is always recommended. If you have a popular dish that you serve all day, a massive food warmer for that dish is ideal. However, if you’re serving a dish for dinner, a medium food warmer will suffice. For this, the NutriChef Food Warmer has the ideal capacity of 3.5 quarts per serving tray.
  • Electric Or Non-Electric: We have included both types in this list. Both come with their benefits and drawbacks. Non-Electric Servers like Valgus Food Warmer, come with fuel burners to keep the food warm the food, whereas, the electric options like Mega Chef Buffet Server let you control temperature as well. While non-electric buffet servers may cause a fire hazard, electric buffet servers can have socket problems.
  • Heat Control: Make sure the buffet server has temperature knobs to prevent the food from overheating. For instance, With the Betty Crocker Food Warmer, you can select the desired temperature as per the food’s requirement.
  • Cleaning: The preferable material for easy cleaning is stainless steel as it is dishwasher-safe. Accessibility also matters for example you can disassemble Nova Chafing Buffet Server to access every corner while cleaning.

Best Food Warmers You Can Buy in 2024

Elite Gourmet EWM-6171

Elite Gourmet EWM-6171

Features

  • Brushed Stainless Steel finish to allow easy cleaning
  • Spoon cutouts on lids for support
  • The warming tray can be used separately

What We Like

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • User-friendly

What We Don’t Like

  • Not Sturdy
  • Takes time to heat up

With Elite Gourmet Buffet Server, throwing a perfect party is a piece of cake. This food warmer preserves the temperature of your food as well as the flavor for a considerably long time compared to other products. The unit comes with 3 stainless steel yet lightweight serving containers, with a 2.5-quart capacity each, a heated warming tray, and a removable tray frame.

The best thing is that you can change it into a buffet server or a food warming tray whatever you like. The high-quality brushed stainless steel construction makes it perfect for restaurants, parties, and catering.

The user-friendly design of this food warmer features a power indicator light that allows you to adjust the temperature for making foods at an ideal serving temperature. Slots are allocated in the lids for utensils. The dome-shaped lids allow you to fill the containers beyond their 2.5-quart capacity.

One feature that I liked the most about Elite Gourmet Food Warmer is the fuse safety feature. Coupled with an adjustable temperature knob, the fuse protection prevents the electric tray from overheating or becoming dangerous to users’ safety. Besides, the handles are also cool to touch, and you can carry the tray even if there is hot food inside it.

As for the downside, it is relatively difficult to transport due to its large size. While It is good at keeping food warm, this buffet server is not sturdy enough to be portable. You will have to move food between rooms while lifting its main container.

Another downside is that it takes time to heat up. Therefore, with this buffet server, you will have to be prepared with food before serving so you can turn this tray On to warm up. However, the heating process can be sped up by adding hot water to the bottom tray.

Overall, Elite Gourmet Buffet Server provides excellent value for money and performs up to expectations.

You can also buy this food warmer at: WalmartBestBuy


Betty Crocker Buffet Server – BC 1586CY

Betty Crocker Buffet Server Warming Tray BC-1586CY

Features

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Product Dimensions: 27 x 5.24 x 16.34
  • Shape: Rectangle
  • Server capacity: 3 x 2.5 quart
  • Total server capacity: 7.5 quarts

What We Like

  • Can keep food warm for up to 3 hours
  • Comes with lids
  • Adjustable temperature settings
  • Cool-to-touch side handles
  • Has a separate spoon notch to hold spoons

What We Don’t Like

  • Sharp edges
  • Short power Cord

Betty Crocker’s food server is the best choice for anyone who holds buffet parties. Its stylish 3 stainless steel servers, with 2.5 quartz in each unit, are sure to keep your Easter potluck dishes warm and fresh for up to 3 hours.

What I loved about this server was its automatic temperature controls. To prevent burning, the entire unit shuts off after 3 hours. Its stand-out security features include an indicator light to let you know if it is working, and the cool-to-touch handles to help you lift the food server without using a mitten.

It is merely 11.35 pounds so you can easily carry this buffet server around when you plan to host the outdoor party in the backyard. The transparent lids enable you to check the quantity of food without lifting the lid, and a side notch allows you to place some serving spoons with the server.

However, during personal use, I observed that the power cord is very short, so you will have to place this server near an electric socket. Note: I had to use an extension wire to solve this issue. Besides, the sharp edges of the server unit require careful handling as they may hurt a person during regular use.

Overall, the Betty Crocker Buffer server is an excellent choice for those who want to host office lunches or vegan potluck parties at their homes or offices. The sturdy body is the stand-out feature to keep the food hot for many hours.

You can also buy this food warmer at: WalmartWayFair


Valgus 8QT Food Warmer

Valgus 8QT Chafing Dish

Features

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Pan Capacity: 2 x 9.5 qt
  • Product dimensions: 23 x 14.2 x 12.6 inches
  • Heating method: Fuel

What We Like

  • Comes with a full accessory set
  • It has a foldable design for space saving
  • Long-lasting structure does not develop rust
  • Best for home as well as commercial use
  • Does not require electric power

What We Don’t Like

  • Food serving trays can stick together
  • Assembling the unit is difficult

If you are looking for an affordable and user-friendly server unit, the Valgus 8QT food warmer is just the right choice. The unit comes with two containers of 9.5-quart, sufficient to serve a large gathering.

Valgus buffet party tray is an excellent choice for any party. Whether you are at home, at the office, hosting a potluck breakfast, or a potluck dinner, this food server not only keeps the food warm and fresh but also saves you from unnecessary hassle.

The Valgus buffet server comes with 2 fuel cans which you can load with hot water, burning coal, or a candle to keep the food warm. The airtight lids ensure that the heat remains inside the unit to keep the food warm. The unit comes with two water trays to fill with ice or hot water to maintain the temperature of ice cream, custard, chicken wings, or Rice Pilaf. Other accessories include a set of tongs and a spoon for convenient food service.

The foldable legs and pans of this unit can be stacked into each other for a convenient storage option, making it ideal for a compact kitchen, or to carry it for outdoor BBQ potlucks. The stainless steel body is durable and rust and corrosion resistant.

However, as for downsides, I noticed that while stacking the pans for storage, the pans stick to each other and it gets difficult to separate them. To solve this issue, I poured a bit of hot water into the lower pan for its easy release. Though it is difficult to assemble, once done, it is a multipurpose server unit.

Overall, Valgus is the best food server for home and commercial use.


MegaChef Buffet Server

Megachef 93090024M Buffet Server

Features

  • Features 4 Serving trays instead of standard 3
  • Adjustable temperature knob for more heat control
  • Compact shape and lightweight for easy transportable

What We Like

  • High-quality Build
  • 4 serving trays
  • Compact Shape

What We Don’t Like

  • Small Capacity
  • Lid Wobbles

MegaChef food warmer is an ultimate party sidekick that will give your guests the impression that they are being served a delectable hot meal at the most exclusive banquet.

This unit includes four serving containers (two 1.5-quarts and others are 0.75-quart capacity). It also includes a base warming tray and a removable tray frame.

Thanks to the stainless steel construction, you won’t have to be concerned about leaving these containers in the sink overnight. As for the build, this lightweight food warming buffet server is compact enough to be carried around conveniently and is safe to use on kitchen counters and serving tables.

Transporting the MegaChef buffet server is much easier than any other food warmer thanks to its 7-pound weight, and hard-mounted side handles to ensure that the buffet server can easily be moved without any safety concerns.

The best part is that the detachable serving trays let you access the base warming tray for heating plates while serving warm potluck casserole dishes or potluck appetizers, and after use, you can stack them together in the kitchen cabinet. The adjustable temperature knob allows you to alter heat settings as per the requirement of the food.

As for the downsides, the 1.5 quarts capacity is not a good option for large parties. Furthermore, like the Betty Crocker, this model has dangerous sharp edges and requires the use of gloves and towels while handling them. Lastly, the small lids of the containers wobble slightly, and a 1/4-inch gap between the edges of the container and the corners of the lid makes it a bit difficult to use this food warmer.

Other than that, the MegaChef Buffet Server keeps food warm for a long time, thanks to its bottom heating tray and premium stainless steel build. Overall, the MegaChef Buffet server does its job efficiently till the end of your party.

You can also buy this food warmer at: WalmarteBay


NutriChef 3 Buffet Server

NutriChef 3 Buffet Warmer

Features

  • Maximum size of 3.5 quarts
  • Long cord for easy socket access
  • Dome-shaped Lids to increase capacity

What We Like

  • Good for warming as well as storing
  • Greater Capacity
  • Heats up to 175°F

What We Don’t Like

  • Weak Lids
  • Dangerous as front side heats up

If you are looking for a compact and portable warming tray with a lightweight design then the NutriChef Buffet Server is the right choice you can have.

Featuring premium stainless steel construction, this unit includes three serving containers with a capacity of over 3 quarts, almost double to capacity of the MegaChef buffer server, and enough to serve summer potluck dishes.

This 2-in-1 deal can work as a buffet warmer, as well as a container to store your food and keep it warm for weddings, birthday celebrations, or even business parties. The good thing is that the temperature control knobs allow heating dishes at different temperatures up to 175 degrees F and the dish will remain hot for 4 hours.

The stainless steel build is scratch-resistant and easy to clean. The feature that impressed me the most was the 3-foot cord to set it up in any serving area without the need for an extension cable.

However, although, this food warmer has been advertised by NutriChef as having a 3.5 quart capacity, our results proved otherwise. Each tray can carry a maximum of 3 quarts by overfilling it til the dome of the lid. Furthermore, the front of the warming tray gets warm, albeit not too much, and might cause accidental burns. The plastic lids are also prone to cracking due to high temperatures.

Overall, the NutriChef Buffet Server is a convenient solution for warming your food at parties. It is fit for several occasions and is a reliable companion for any party.

You can also buy this food warmer at: WalmarteBay


Update International Chafer

Update International DC-4 Stainless Steel Gold-Accented Chafer

Features

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 12.64 x 12.6 x 10.04 inches
  • Color: Aureate
  • Usage: Non-electrical

What We Like

  • Suitable for outdoor parties, camping, hotel use, etc
  • Durable and heat-resistant structure
  • Portable size, convenient handling
  • You can use it as a hot pot, soup pot, or wok

What We Don’t Like

  • It has only one serving unit

When it is something about food being served to the masses, we all need to be extra careful! The Update International food warmer is one of the best food warmers for parties.

Its stainless steel construction is stain and scratch-resistant and also distributes heat throughout the unit, keeping the food evenly warm. With such material and construction, you can use it as a hot pot, or a soup pot. Once I tried frying steak in this chafing dish and it turned out exceptionally well, although the large size makes it harder to use for cooking.

The fuel cup is large enough to hold a substantial quantity of coal or oil without the need to refill it frequently. You can easily use it for outdoor parties, camping, family gatherings, hotel use, etc. without worrying about the electric sockets.

Storing this buffet dish is even more convenient, thanks to its detachable units. especially, the covering lid, food bowl, fuel cup, fuel stove, and bottom stand.

Since it is a single-unit food warmer, it is not meant for a large gathering. It does not have any additional units, so it can only cater to a gathering of 25-30 people at max. Moreover, you’ll need to buy 2 or 3 of these to hold different menu items at your buffet table.

You can also buy this food warmer at: WalmarteBay


Nova 8 Qt Buffet Catering

Nova 8 Qt Buffet Catering

Features

  • Stackable components for easy storage
  • Total of 8 Quarts Capacity for massive gatherings
  • 2 Fuel Burners to keep food warm for a longer time

What We Like

  • High-Capacity
  • Rust-proof
  • Safe to be carried around

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy
  • Lids not transparent

If you are looking for something more advanced with a higher capacity, Nova Buffet Catering is a good option. This pack of four rectangular chafing dishes with a total capacity of 8-quart makes it ideal for buffets, wedding banquets, hotel breakfast or brunch areas, or even self-service environments.

In terms of size and design, it offers portability with a sophisticated professional look. The mirror finish and a sturdy, matte stainless steel surface make it worth every penny. Besides, this food warmer is NSF-certified for complying with all safety standards. The handles on the sides of each chafing dish make it safe to be carried around with no chance of getting scalded.

In terms of convenience, these stainless steel chafers can hold the lids upright with support while the food is being served. Its long beveled legs further ensure stability so that the risks of the server toppling over are minimized.

Its bottom tray can support two adjustable fuel burners, making it ideal for banquet serving and also other scenarios where you need to keep food warm for long periods while minimizing flame exposure for the safety of your guests and staff. Washing this Buffet Server is also easy as you have access to every corner internally as well as externally.

As for the downsides, it is quite heavy with a weight of 36 pounds. While from the size it may seem as if it is portable, the weight says otherwise. Secondly, the stainless steel lids aren’t transparent making it harder to keep an eye on the remaining food.

Overall, it is an attractive alternative food warmer that is perfect for keeping food hot during the whole party.


Sterno Disposable Aluminum Chafing Dish

Maxygift's Disposable Chafing Dish Buffet Set

Features & Specs:

  • A complete set with pans, trays, and lids for buffet service.
  • Includes disposable food warmers
  • The set includes spoons and utensils too
  • Heavy-duty aluminum-based construction

What We Like

  • Easy setup
  • Versatile pans for serving cakes, biscuits, BBQ etc.
  • Keeps food warm for long hours
  • Suitable for all types of outdoor buffet parties

What We Don’t Like

  • Requires frequent refueling

Sterno’s disposable buffet set is a complete solution for all your catering needs. The set includes everything you need for the setup. It includes wire racks, water pans, food pans, cans of Sterno Green Canned Heat, serving spoons, and serving forks for a complete buffet serving set.

With the fuel cans, you can keep your food warm for a long time. The pans are shaped so that they can hold a variety of items such as BBQ, roast, cakes, biscuits, rice, pasta, etc. The buffet dishes are large enough to hold a good quantity of all items.

Due to the small-sized trays of MegaChef buffet server, I had to frequently refill. However, this complete set makes the serving hassle-free for you so that you can spend more time with your friends and family. The buffet set is stackable and occupies less storage space in the kitchen.

This set of utensils allows you to place a spoon with each item so that the guests can help themselves. The chafing dishes are disposable so that you have less hassle of washing the dishes. However, one thing that I felt was missing in this set was the automated temperature controls.

Since it requires manual fuel, you’ll have to refuel the fuel cans more than once. At this time, I honestly appreciate the Betty Crocker’s buffet server with automatic temperature controls. Otherwise, this complete disposable set is a perfect solution to host a buffet party on a minimal budget, with less hassle.

You can also buy this food warmer at: Walmart



How We Tested?

After researching and compiling a list of the best macaron pans, our analysts put them to the test. The Buffet Servers were then classified according to their durability, portability, temperature control system, and safety features.

Why Trust TheLadyChef?

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the data you receive has been carefully reviewed by kitchen professionals and is as up-to-date as possible. Our expert team of analysts ensures that the top-rated products on the internet are thoroughly examined. After the entire process, the information is proofread for accuracy.

Hi there! This is Fakhra. I treasure the art of cooking and learning delicious recipes and sharing them with others on daily-basis because nothing brings people together like good food.