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Chafing Dishes | Stainless Steel Chafers for Your Buffet-Style Party

Updated on October 21, 2015
Rectangular Chafing Dish - Gold Plated.
Rectangular Chafing Dish - Gold Plated.

If you are from a culture that like to entertain, you know there's always some kind of cooking going on. And what better way to present your cooking to your guest than using great table settings and server-wares like chafing dishes.

A Chafing Dish is a metal dish or pan that's usually mounted on it's own, or a separate heating device, and it is used to cook food or keep food warm at the table. With Chafing dishes you can present your meals with a certain sophistication that you don't get with a regular foil pan. The use and placement of chafing dishes can even make the food more appealing than it is. They are a great way to serve your party guest in a buffet-style setting.

There are different types of chafing dishes. There's the disposable aluminum types that you'll see at most stores, even at dollar stores, and then there's the more sophisticated ones that comes gold-plated, copper plated, and with rolled-tops.

Here are a few things to consider if you're in the market for chafing dishes:

Fuel Powered Chaffing Dish vs. Electric Powered Chafing Dish

Be advised that there are two categories of chafing dish, the fuel powered chafing dish, and the electric powered chafing dish. Which should you buy?

The decision to buy fuel powered chafing dish versus electric chafing dish can sometimes go beyond personal preference. There are other factors or reasons that plays into which chafing dish to buy. Some of these factors are highlighted below.

When To Use Fuel Powered Chafing Dish

  • If Chaffing Dish will be used in an area with no constant electric supply, or no electricity, period.
  • If you're setting up chafing dish in an area with limited or no electrical outlets.
  • If you're not willing to deal with the hassle of electric cords and possible use of extension cords
  • When you're trying to prevent accidental tripping over an electrical cord or extension.

Fuel powered chafing dishes
Fuel powered chafing dishes

When To Use Electric Powered Chafing Dish

  • You will need to set it up in an area where the open-flame of the fuel-powered chafer creates a problem.
  • You will be setting up (or using) chafing dish in an area where fuel is scarce or unavailable.
  • You want the ability to control the heat supplied to your meal, since the electric powered chafing dish comes with a control knob that allows you to adjust the heat supply. This helps to prevent food over-heating or burning.
  • You cannot tolerate the smell and smoke emitted from the fuel powered option.

Some Concerns Raised About Chafing Dishes

Think Again!
Chafing dish is for restaurant use only.
Most chafing dishes are designed for used in a home setting for entertaining guests.
It's a lot of hassle to clean chafing dishes after use.
Not at all. Stainless steel types are very easy to clean. And if you use the disposable aluminum pan linings, you mostly just need to empty the water that helps keep the food warm
Chafing Dishes are not fancy enough for my table.
There are beautifully designed, gold-trimmed chafing dishes that are fit for a king/queen. You just haven't seen them yet.

Fuel Powered Chafing Dish Lighter Fluid

If you do choose to go with the fuel powered chafing dish, you will need to buy lighter fluid canisters. These are usually lighted and placed below the chafing dishes to help keep your meal warm whenever needed. They are sold separately in packs of six or twelve. Lighter fluids are sold in grocery stores and Dollar Stores.

Danger of Lighter Fluid

Extra care should be taken to ensure safety when using this fluid, especially in enclosed area. Be aware that the substance of the lighter fluid is combustible as they are either petroleum or alcohol based, and can therefore pose danger around children. Also when lighted and in use, the lighter fluid emits smoke that may impart an unpleasant flavor into your food.

Rectangular or Round Chafing Dish

This decision to buy a rectangular versus a round chafing dish is mainly driven by individual preference, though it can also be determined by;

  1. How many guest you will be entertaining. Rectangular shaped chafing dishes are usually of very large capacity compared to the round chafing dishes which are quite small in capacity. Rectangular chafing dishes are therefore best suited for entertaining large crowds, like in a restaurant, while the round chafing dishes are best suited for in-the-home type of entertainment.
  2. Space Limit. Rectangular chafing dish tend to lend itself to ability to fit together in most space when set up side-by-side. The round chafing dish because of it's shape may tend to take up more space.

Roll-Top Cover Chafing Dish

Roll top type chafing dish provide you with the comfort of not having to completely remove the lids off your chafing dish while serving your guests. This ensures that the food is always covered, thus keeping the food warm. It also helps to keep away bugs that are ever present where ever there's food.

Plus, takes the hassle out of trying to find a place for the lid. So one never have to worry about misplacing the lid.

Lift-Off Chafing Dish

This is a good option if you do not want to burden your guests with the responsibility of having to open and close the dish as they help themselves to the food. The lids can then be completely removed (temporarily) to allow for easy access to the food. The only problem is that you may encounter the issue of where to store the lid each time it is removed. Thus, lid can be easily misplaced, dropped or damaged.

Chafing Dish With Viewing Window Cover

This is my ideal kind of chafing dish. It has a viewing window on top of lid and comes in both rectangular and round. The see through window on cover eliminates the need to remove the lid in other to view the content of the dish. This is especially fitting in a high traffic setting, such as, a restaurant. The glass, see-through lid helps to keep the food warm, and also keep the bugs away.

So with all of these to consider, be sure to weigh your options carefully to ensure that you buy the chafing dish that's best for you and your intended use.


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Author: Comfort Babatola - ©2013


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    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      @Dwachira - I'm still learning the way things are done on Flipora. I'm glad I found it though through your hub. Thanks for the read, comment and vote. Very well appreciated.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi ComfortB,

      I read this on, great! you have enlightened me more about chafing dishes. Voted up and useful.