Best Warming Trays to Keep Food Warm and Delicious

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 31, 2017
When throwing a buffet party or cooking a family dinner, you want side dishes and appetizers to stay warm, delicious, and fresh. Get one of these handy warming trays to serve as-good-as-just-cooked mouth-watering meals! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Capacity
Temperature range
Controls
Material
Conveniences
Size
Power
Warranty
 
PROS

The unit comes with three capacious pans that can be used for cooking and serving three different dishes. You can remove a pan holder to use this model as a stand-alone warming tray.

CONS

Pan lids are not dishwasher safe. 

OUR VERDICT

If you love family gatherings and buffet parties, this Oster model is just what you need. Capable of holding 20-50 servings, it is an ideal choice for a variety of festive occasions. 

detailed parameters
Type

Warming tray/Buffet server

Capacity

20" x 13" (260 sq. in.) warming surface,

3 separate 2.5 qt. buffet pans

Temperature range

140 - 185˚F

Controls

Variable heat control, 

Power indicator light 

Material

Stainless steel surface, pans, and housing

BPA-free plastic lids

Conveniences

Dishwasher-safe and oven-safe removable buffet pans, Dome-shaped transparent lids with grips, Black stay-cool side handles

Size

23" х 14" 

Power

300 Watts

Warranty

1 Year Limited Warranty

PROS

Its ergonomic controls allow you to choose the desired warming temperature (3 settings available) and turn off the thermostat without unplugging the device.

CONS

Some feet parts might be not so easy to clean.

OUR VERDICT

Large enough for serving several dishes at a time, this professional grade warming tray with a stainless still surface is just what you need for serving a family dinner. 

detailed parameters
Type

Warming tray

Capacity

20.5" x 14" (287 sq. in.) warming surface 

Temperature range

155 - 200˚F

Controls

Control knob (off/1/2/3 settings),

Signal light

Material

Stainless steel 

Conveniences

Cool-touch side handles, 4 non-skid feet

Size

26" x 15.3" x 2.9"

Power

300 Watts

Warranty

2 Year Limited Warranty

PROS

Compact and powerful Cuisinart CWT-100 tray preheats your food in a wink and maintains the desired temperature to keep your meals warm and ready to be eaten.

CONS

When the device is plugged in for the first time, some smoke may occur.

OUR VERDICT

It is a good value for the money! Portable and stylish, this brushed stainless steel unit won't take much space in your kitchen. At the same time, it is large enough for serving warm meals for your family dinner.

detailed parameters
Type

Warming tray

Capacity

21" x 14" (294 sq. in.) warming surface

Temperature range

 up to 200°F

Controls

Control knob (low, medium, and high settings),

Power-on indicator light

Material

Brushed stainless steel 

Conveniences

Insulated cool-touch handles 

Size

25.5" x 15" x 2"

Power

400 Watts

Warranty

3 Year Limited Warranty

PROS

This compact NutriChef warming tray will come in handy in any kitchen. It has no frame so it can easily accommodate more dishes on its surface. 

CONS

The power indicator light is on the unit's back panel. 

OUR VERDICT

It is an excellent choice for a small family of two or a little more. A stylish combination of tempered glass warming surface and stainless steel housing and handles will add a touch of elegance to your kitchen.

detailed parameters
Type

Warming tray

Capacity

14.5'' x 8.6'' (124.7 sq. in.) warming surface

Temperature range

up to 203°F

Controls

On/off power switch with light

Material

Non-stick, heat-resistant tempered glass warming surface, 

Stainless steel housing

Conveniences

Looped cool-touch carry handles, Non-slip feet, 3.9' power cord

Size

19.2'' x 9.9'' x 1.6'' (with handles)

Power

130 Watts

Warranty

1 year

PROS

It is easy to fold for a comfortable storage and transportation. The device features two temperature settings: warm (two hobs) and hot (the other two).

CONS

It might be not so easy to clean. 

OUR VERDICT

The HotMat electric food warming tray could be an ideal solution for your family needs, as it can keep food warm for long throughout any gathering. The Science and Torah Zomet Institute has approved it for use on the Sabbath.

detailed parameters
Type

Warming tray

Capacity

4 round interconnected surfaces (~ diameter 8")

Temperature range

'Hot' hub av. temp: 338°F 

'Warm' hub av. temp: 230°F 

Controls

The device turns on automatically when you plug it into the socket

Material

Durable Teflon coating (hobs),

Silicone

Conveniences

Folds for convenient storage

Size

Open (in use) - 20" x 20" х 0.75"

Folded (stored) - 10" x 10" x 8"

Power

300 Watts

Warranty

30 days

What is a Warming Tray?

Do you know that frustrating feeling when you have cooked up a variety of dishes for your dinner party, but the guests are late? You start to worry that the food will become cold and will lose its taste... Even if the guests are on time, or almost so, there is still another concern. How to keep appetizers and other dishes warm during the party? Well, you can get a warming tray or a buffet server. Both devices will keep your meals warm and fresh so you and your guests will enjoy them till the last bite. In addition, they are simple in use. Just switch the appliance on and let it preheat for 5-10 minutes. Then, place dishes or pans with the food you want to keep warm and ready to eat and help yourself to fragrant and delicious meals throughout the party! Electric warming trays can come in handy in a variety of situations: when cooking for a crowd, preparing dinner for your family or significant other. There are varied sizes and designs available, it is time to look through our review and select the one for your needs.

Throwing a barbecue party? A warming tray will keep side dishes and trimmings warm and ready to serve while you are cooking meat or vegetables with the help of an outdoor & camping grill. To accompany mouth-watering meals with refreshing drinks, we recommend buying an ice bucket that you can find in one of our reviews.

What Features to Compare

Type and Capacity

The prevailing majority of the warming trays available on the market have a rectangular serving area with a built-in heating element underneath. Some models are furnished with one or even a few hobs. There are also buffet servers, equipped with pans to serve several dishes. Usually, these pans have a standard design, with a full size of 20.75"x 12.75" (housing 70 up to 250 servings) and its smaller variations (½, ⅓ of a full size, etc.). Naturally, the larger is the tray's warming surface, the more pans it can accommodate. In most cases, it is preferable to use several pans with different foods for a more versatile menu. 

As for your chosen model capacity, a portable warming tray with an approximately 120-square-inch heating surface is enough for serving a romantic dinner for a small family or a couple. For family gatherings and parties, consider units with at list 260-square-inch heating area.

Temperature Range and Controls

Most of the models have up to 200°F heating temperature, which is enough to keep foods warm. At the same time, it is not too high, to prevent drying out and sticking during long use. Thanks to this user-friendly feature, it is one of the most convenient devices to keep food warm for a long while. 

A warming tray is a convenient easy-to-use appliance. Usually, it has a knob or a switch to turn on/of the appliance and adjust its heating temperature. Some models have only one heating temperature (which is quite enough for warming any dishes); some devices turn on automatically when you plug them into the socket.

Material and Conveniences

Typically, this kitchen appliance has stainless steel housing and heating surface. Devices made of this material are easy to clean, besides, they are durable and stain-resistant. However, most models were not designed for heating foods directly on their surface, that is why it is highly recommended to use dishes or pans for warming your meals. 

You should also keep in mind your chosen device conveniences. It is advisable to choose the appliance with stay-cool handles for easy moving around your kitchen. A real space-saver for a small kitchen is a compact warming tray; there are even handy foldable models available on the market. Finally, if you want to get an appliance that takes no time to preheat, pick a model with a powerful heating element.

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Oster CKSTBSTW00

2-In-1 Solutioun for Large Gatherings

Buying the Oster CKSTBSTW00 helper, you get a functional appliance that can work as a stand-alone warming tray or a buffet server. What is more, it takes no time to modify one into the other. Its large warming surface is perfect for serving a few plates of appetizers and other delicacies. You can also use it with the included pans filled with three different treats, just do not forget to put a pan holder on the tray before placing the dishes. Each chafing pan has a 2.5-quart capacity, which is ample enough for serving 20-50 portions (4 oz). To help it retain heat, moisture, and aroma, each dish is equipped with a handy lid. Made of BPA-free plastic, they have ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip. Anyone is welcome to open the lid and help themselves to a tempting hot appetizer; cover again to keep the dish warm and fresh. This awesome appliance is an excellent choice for any special occasion, buffet party, or family gathering!

Review of Oster CKSTBSTW00 Buffet Server

Comfort Comes First

This functional device has a whole bunch of user-friendly features. 

  • First of all, the temperature is easy to adjust using a handy dial on the front panel. It is a useful feature when you need, say, to set lower temperature for warming foods with low liquid content. 
  • Next, cleaning is a breeze: just turn the appliance off, give it some time to cool, and wipe its stainless steel housing and cooking surface with a non-abrasive damp cloth. The removable pans are dishwasher safe; for the plastic lids and pan holder hand wash in warm soapy water is recommended. 
  • To add to its benefits, the buffet server is equipped with ergonomic stay-cool side handles for comfortable carrying around and safe room-to-room transport. 
  • Finally, it is equipped with a 36-inch cord on the back panel to ensure safe use and avoid trip hazards. 
Oster CKSTBSTW00 Buffet Server in the use

Cook and Serve with Ease and Convenience

We cannot help mentioning that this functional appliance is equipped with high-quality removable stainless steel pans which can be used for warming, serving, and even cooking meals. You can prepare wholesome and delicious puddings, lasagne, meat, vegetables, and other baking dishes. These handy oven-safe pans have the dimensions of approximately 12 by 6 by 2.5 inches. Please, keep in mind that the included plastic lids can not be used to cover pans inside or even straight out of the oven. When the dish is not too hot, you can cover it with the lid and put it on the tray to keep it warm. 

Detailed review of Oster CKSTBSTW00 Buffet Server

Pamper Your Guests With a Scrumptious Treat

If you entertain the idea of throwing an unforgettable dinner party for a very special occasion and pampering your family and friends with toothsome homemade treats, in addition to the warming trays consider buying a roaster. This is an awesome portable appliance for both roasting succulent poultry for crowded gatherings and cooking daily meals. 

Oster CKSTBSTW00 Buffet Server application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Oster CKSTBSTW00
Oster CKSTBSTW00
 

Broil King NWT-1S

Professional Approach

If you appreciate high-quality kitchen appliances, consider purchasing the Broil King NWT-1S professional-grade warming tray. Its neat and stylish look, thoughtful and functional design are on a par with that of commercial-grade kitchen equipment. Its elegant stainless steel warming surface and housing ensure reliable and durable use of the unit. We can safely say that the manufacturer designed this unit with the users' safety in mind and thoughtfully equipped this model with a grounded 3-prong plug, which can fit into a standard 3-prong outlet. In addition, this user-friendly item tray features a lightweight design and large cool-touch handles. What's more, it can be placed on any kind of surface thanks to its ergonomic non-skid feet.

Review of Broil King NWT-1S Professional Warming Tray

Family Size

With a 20.5-by-14-inch working surface, the NWT-1S allows you to warm up the food in two steam table pans of 1/2 size and dimensions of 10 3/8 by 12 3/4 inches. Also, you could employ four compact professional sheet pans of 1/4 size and dimensions of 9 1/2 by 13 inches. Feel free to heat your meals in professional stainless steel cookware or other heatproof containers, and even place them directly on the heating surface! Please, do not put any plastic wraps or dishes on the tray. You should also keep in mind that the device was designed exclusively for keeping cooked food warm, and not for cooking or defrosting. 

Broil King NWT-1S Professional Warming Tray in the use

Extending Cable Length

For safety considerations, the unit is equipped with a 40-inch cord, which is the optimal length to prevent its tangling, tripping over the cable, and breaking the unit. In case you are going to use the appliance further from the socket, you should keep in mind that the extension cord rating should be at least as high as that of the Broil King NWT-1S warming tray (300 Watts, 120 V, 2.5 A). Please, make sure that the longer cord is properly arranged and securely hidden, so it does not drape over your countertop to avoid accidental trip hazards and pulling off by your kids. 

Detailed review of Broil King NWT-1S Professional Warming Tray

User-Friendly Control Knob

Located on the appliance's front panel, its variable thermostat knob allows convenient temperature adjustment. In addition to selecting one of the three available settings, you can switch the appliance off without unplugging the unit. 

Broil King NWT-1S Professional Warming Tray application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Broil King NWT-1S
Broil King NWT-1S
 

Cuisinart CWT-100

Stylish and Practical Kitchen Helper

The Cuisinart warming tray has a contemporary brushed stainless steel design, making it an ideal choice for serving both at a party and at a casual family dinner. Just keep in mind that it is not recommended to put food directly on the heating surface. The tray's warming top is large enough to accommodate two and more platters or other containers so you can use either your kitchenware or serving pans of variable shapes and sizes, depending on your needs. To be more precise, its warming surface size is approximately equal to that of a full-size sheet pan that allows you to use a set of dishware for warming different meals. For example, a ½ size pan and two ¼ size pans. With this awesome appliance, there will be fewer back-and-forth rounds around your house. In other words, this capacious electric food warming tray is perfect for serving a buffet dinner or gathering party. 

Review of Cuisinart CWT-100 Warming Tray

Preheat in No Time

One of the most capacious devices of its kind on the market, the Cuisinart warming tray heats up faster than its competitors especially if you have chosen its highest temperature setting (200°F). Thanks to an ergonomic control knob on its front panel, the temperature is easy to adjust (you can select between a low, medium and high mode). Please, keep in mind that the device was made for warming (not cooking) food; it will help maintain the desired temperature of your meals. For maximum taste and flavor, it is recommended to serve side dishes and appetizers at least 150°F hot. At the same time, the meals should not be too hot to prevent you from burning your mouth. 

Cuisinart CWT-100 Warming Tray in the use

Straight to the Table

Resembling a conventional tray, the appliance features ergonomic cool-touch handles for comfortable and safe carrying. Although the cord is rather short (for safety considerations), you can use an extension cord as needed, just arrange it properly to ensure your and your guests' safety. You should also keep in mind that it is not recommended to serve too large and heavy pans. 

With our simple tips in mind, you will surely enjoy the benefits of using the electric food warming tray for serving mouth-watering meals straight to your table. 

Detailed review of Cuisinart CWT-100 Warming Tray

Don't Forget About Drinks!

Nothing tastes better than family dinner accompanied by a good bottle of wine. Wine lovers and experienced connoisseurs will appreciate a set of finest wine glasses that can accommodate any type of wine, release its aromas, and make it taste the best it possibly can. Note, that a handy ice bucket will help retain wine's ideal serving temperature. You can also get one of these electric openers to uncork wine bottles with ease.

Cuisinart CWT-100 Warming Tray application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Cuisinart CWT-100
Cuisinart CWT-100
 

NutriChef PKWTR15

Unique Design

Featuring black tempered glass cooking surface and matted stainless steel housing, this food warming tray looks different from most its competitors. There is no frame so you can use every inch of its smooth surface for heating meals. In spite of its comparatively low capacity (130 Watts), it heats quickly and evenly and maintains its temperature. The unit has an exquisite contemporary design; there is a company logo on its front panel and an on/off switch on its back panel next to where the cord comes out. You should keep in mind that the appliance does not allow you to adjust the temperature, however, it ensures efficient heating up to 203°F to keep your meals warm. The unit is equipped with cool-touch stainless steel loop handles that ensure a comfortable grip and convenient carrying.

Review of NutriChef PKWTR15 Warming Tray

Convenient and Ergonomic Space Saver

It is important to have your cooking space well organized especially if you have a small kitchen. The NutriChef warming tray is a wonderful space-saving solution: thanks to its compact ultra-thin design, the appliance won't take up much space in your drawer and will be at hand when you need to serve warm meals. The unit is equipped with a 3.9' cable allowing to place it neatly on your countertop next to an electric socket. 

NutriChef PKWTR15 Warming Tray in the use

Multiple Options to Suit Your Needs

Being an excellent choice for a couple or a small family, this device was designed to accommodate two dishes or two 1/9 size pans. With your meal warm and ready to eat, there will be no need in back-and-forth sprints to the kitchen during a romantic dinner with your significant other. If you love the design and features of the unit yet you are looking for a more capacious warming tray, there are larger options available. We would recommend a 16.5" by 11" or 22.4" by 6.7" models for bigger families. The latter option features a smaller heating area which nevertheless allows you to place several pans in a line for easy access. In case you are after an appliance for serving appetizers for parties, consider a 19.8" х 11.9" food warming tray.

Detailed review of NutriChef PKWTR15 Warming Tray

Italian Dinner

Bet your loved ones will appreciate an Italian-style family dinner! With the help of a highly-functional and practical pizza maker, you will be able to cook scrumptious and finger-leaking pizzas to treat all your family and guests. Put the freshly-baked pizza slices on the tray to keep this appetizing delicacy deliciously warm and the cheese on top soft and stringy. 

NutriChef PKWTR15 Warming Tray application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


NutriChef PKWTR15
NutriChef PKWTR15
 

HotMat Electric Blue

Patented Design

Standing out against its competitors, the HotMat food warming tray has a bunch of features that make it a functional kitchen appliance to be used in a variety of situations. Firs of all, the unit is equipped with MICA heating elements that ensure fast and even warming of your meals. Next, there are two preset temperatures. We are talking about 230°F (the first two hobs) to keep warm food above room temperature, as most devices of a kind do. The other couple of hobs heat up all the way up to 338°F allowing you to keep the dishes piping hot or even cook them. At the same time, this unique 2-in-one device has a thoughtful design and can be folded four times to be stored in any drawer in your kitchen. Moreover, it is perfect to take along when traveling or going to your summer house for cooking simple dishes or quick warming-up of meals. 

Review of HotMat Electric Blue Food Warming Tray

Sabbath-Friendly Warming Tray

Devices of this kind are widely used to avoid activities prohibited on Sabbath. The unit boasts low energy consumption and can run for many hours without adjusting the cooking temperature. It is worth mentioning that the device is approved for use by the Science and Torah Zomet Institute.

HotMat Electric Blue Food Warming Tray in the use

Tips on Use

To ensure easy cleaning of the unit, careful use is recommended. 

  • Avoid spilling any liquids onto the heating surface.
  • Do not forget to unfold the unit before you plug it in.
  • Deciding where to put the unit, please, keep in mind that when it is operating, the temperature on the device's bottom is about 160°F.

Detailed review of HotMat Electric Blue Food Warming Tray

Going out of Town

It is no secret that going out to nature is one of the best ways to relax and recreate. Luckily, there is a variety of handy appliances designed to enjoy comforts of home wherever you go. Going to your summer house, do not forget to bring your warming tray for heating food and a water boiler for boiling water and brewing delicious hot drinks. To purify the water, a water pitcher from this review will come in useful. 

HotMat Electric Blue Food Warming Tray application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


HotMat Electric Blue
HotMat Electric Blue
 

FAQ:

Q: What is the difference between a warming tray and a buffet server? 

A: Well, for starters, a warming tray has a flat surface to accommodate dishes and pans. It is a perfectly suitable appliance for serving family dinners as well as warming appetizers for a crowd. The second of the two usually comes with pans and a pan holder and can be used as a stand-alone warming tray, which makes it an excellent choice for serving various treats at rowdy parties. Some models have several hobs (sometimes with different temperature settings) for convenient placing a few pans or platters or even casseroles. 

Q: Can I put foodstuffs directly on the heating surface?

A: The prevailing majority of the models available on the market are not designed for this purpose, so it is better to use dishes and pans with them. However, with some of the devices, you can place foodstuff onto the heating surface, but it is strictly prohibited to use any plastic wrappings or plates. In any case, you should check the information given by the manufacturer and carefully follow the instructions to ensure a safe and durable use of the unit.  

Q: Can I use it to keep food warm during Shabbat?

A: Warming tray is one of the most convenient devices you can use for this purpose, for it can be used for a long time without adjusting the temperature. For safety considerations, it is important to choose a high-quality unit recommended for this use. 

Q: How many pans can I put on a warming tray?

A: It depends on the pans, their size and design. Most models can accommodate a couple of plates or 2-3 pans of varied sizes. 

Q: What is the best material for tray's warming surface?

A: Stainless steel is the most commonly used material, and for a good reason. It is durable and stain resistant, besides it gives the appliance a classy look. However, there are many other quality materials that both look good and last long. For example, there are units with a durable Teflon or tempered glass heating surface, designed to faithfully serve you for years. 

Q: Why most models come with a rather short cable?

A: A great deal of the warming trays and buffet servers available on the market are furnished with a quite short cable primarily for users safety, to avoid cable tangling and draping over your countertop. An extension cord can be used as needed, however, do not forget to arrange it safely behind the table. 

Q: Can I adjust the heating temperature? 

A: Some units allow you to adjust the temperature, others have only one setting available. However, for most cases, even a single option of warming your treats up to 200°F is sufficient enough to keep your meals warm and fresh during your family dinner or any other occasion. Some units provide the heating option of up to 338°F, which is truly excellent as it allows you not only keep your soups and other dishes piping hot but also cook many meals from scratch. 




Sources:

1. Jeff Flowers 10 Appliances That Make Holiday Entertaining Easier, Compact Appliance. December 4, 2014.

2. Giora Shimoni What is a Shabbos Blech? The Spruce. February 29, 2016.

3. Food Warmers: Ways to Create a Hot Buffet, eBay. April 14, 2015.

4. Serving Prepared Foods SafelyWhole Foods Market.

5. Megan Curley How Does a Warming Tray Work? eHow.

6. How to plan & organise your eventBBC Good Food.

7. Donna Pilato How To Estimate Party Portions, The Spruce. April 10, 2017.

8. Heather McClees Warm Foods and Drinks That Benefit DigestionOne Green Planet. January 9, 2015.

9. How to keep food warm for a crowd, Walmart.

10. Amy Fleming Hot or Not? How Serving Temperature Affects the way Food TastesFood.ndtv.com. September 22, 2013. 

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Publish Date: 2017-07-03 14:03:11