Chafing dishes are essential to serving hot food at a buffet, banquet or catering event. Knowing how to properly use chafing dishes, also known as chafers, is important to ensure your food is being served at a safe temperature and out of the danger zone.

Using a chafing dish is very easy. Simply heat a water pan underneath the dish using a chafer fuel candle or electric source. Currently, induction chafers are also a popular, safe hit because they use induction heating eliminating the need for a water pan or fuel.

There are various styles and shapes available on the market, making choosing the proper chafing dish somewhat difficult. Here, we breakdown each type of chafer eliminating the guesswork!

Chafing Dish Types

There’s a reason for each chafer shape! Main dishes are usually served in larger oval or rectangular dishes, while you’ll find round chafers used for side dishes.

Rectangular: The most standard style of chafing dishes, commonly used for main entrees or a large quantity of sides.

Round: Round chafers are also popular, but more commonly used for side dishes and desserts. Some food service operations use these to serve up sauces and appetizers as well.

Oval: Oval chafing dishes are also used for main entrees like rectangle chafers but give the dish a most stylish look.

Marmite/Soup: Marmite chafers, also known as soup chafers, are used to hold what you think – soup! You can also hold stews, sauces, gravies and other liquids in these.

Square: Square chafing dishes are less common, but still used throughout the food service industry for sides and appetizers.

Coffee Chafer Urn: You’ve seen these before out on the buffet lines, and for good reason – they hold the holy grail of all hot beverages, coffee! You can also use these for other hot beverages such as tea.

Chafing Dish Cover Types

One important factor when determining what type of lid you need to buy is knowing the crowd you’re serving. If you’re having a buffet where customers serve themselves, roll top lids are self-serve friendly. Lift off covers are a better option if your food service operation will be dishing out the food to guests.

Lift Off and Dome Covers: This lid features a handle on top of the lid making it easy to remove completely from the chafer, even while hot.

Roll Top Covers: If customers are serving themselves, this is the cover to get! Roll top covers retract completely and it holds itself up. The front handle is easy to use – flip the lid up and locks help keep the lid in place!

Hinged Covers: A hinged lid acts and looks like a lift off lid, but angles it at 45 or 90 degrees. This lessens the hassle of completely removed the lid and stays open for easing serving.

Glass Top Covers: Glass top lids allow you and your customers to see food without lifting the lid. Glass covers allow for heat to stay with the food because people won’t be lifting the lid to see what’s inside. They also create visual interest, and can be used for main and side dishes.

Chafing Dish Sizes

There are three standard sizes of chafing dishes: full-size, half-size and round. Full-size chafing dishes have an 8 to 9 quart capacity, half-size chafers have a 4 to 5 quart capacity and round chafers typically have a 4 to 7 quart capacity.

Shop Central

Central has a wide variety of chafers that will fit your food service operation. If you’re looking for some new chafing dishes or other catering equipment for your restaurant and additional help, call one of our knowledgeable Product Consultants at 800-521-1277 or chat with them live!