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Choosing Chafing Dishes and Accessories

A chafing dish, also known as a chafer, is an important piece of food warming equipment often used at catering events, in hotel kitchens, school cafeterias, and in buffet settings. While choosing chafing dishes can seem like a daunting task, we are here to help.

Figuring out which size, shape, style, and even brand can seem overwhelming. Will you need sterno or should you use an electric pan to fulfill your restaurant, catering, and other food service needs?

In this guide we will discuss the necessary insights to make smart buying decisions when choosing your chafing dishes and accessories so that you can give customers the best possible experience.

Shapes & Sizes of Chafers

Chafing dishes come in round, rectangular, and oval shapes, with each shape being an ideal choice depending on your needs. Typically, smaller serving areas require a round or oval shape chafer as a rectangular chafing dish tends to take up more room. Round chafing dishes have up to a 7 quart capacity, providing you with a generous amount of holding space without taking up your whole table.

Another consideration concerning space is your chafing dish size. Half size chafers typically come in square or rectangular, and have 4 to 5 quart capacity. Smaller dishes are commonly used to accommodate bread rolls, soups and sauces while larger pans hold meats like chicken breasts, steak or casseroles at appropriate temperatures.

Note:Chafing dishes are not meant to cook food. They are used to keep food at warm serving temperatures. You food should be prepared and warm in the pan before adding it to a warmed chafing dish.

Chafing Dish Heating Types

Chafing dishes come in many styles with traditional, induction, and electric being among the most popular. Asking yourself what your personal preference is can help you decide which style makes the most sense for the job.

Is saving power important or necessary? In this case, a traditional chafer will cut out electricity costs by using chafing fuel to heat food.

Do you have regular access to electricity when setting up your chafing dishes? In that case you may want to go with an electric warmer to eliminate open flame concerns.

Would you like to ensure that your water gets heating more evenly? Well an electric chafing pan will heat water evenly allowing your food to warm on all sides.

Induction is a desirable option for both indoor and outdoor environments, and you cannot be burned by the induction surface, which many cooks appreciate.


Having the proper accessories involves not only the heating elements such as fuel, but it also entails which utensils you use. There are ladle spoons that are all stainless steel which ensure your utensils will not rust or corrode. There are also those that do not radiate heat at all, which is a great option for safety purposes.

For more information about chafing dishes and buffet equipment, view our video or call us at 404-752-6715 for buying advice.

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