8 Awesome Chafing Dishes for Your Perfect Catering

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Last updatedLast updated: September 16, 2021
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You might have seen a chafing dish in a restaurant buffet and wonder how to choose one for your house. This kitchen appliance is a must-have for caterers or anyone who wants to keep their food hot and in an attractive display. However, securing the best chafing dish can be overwhelming. And remember not all top-rated chafing dishes are as good as they’re described. Therefore, you need to be extra keen when picking the appliance.

Chafing dishes, or chafers as they are commonly known, come in various sizes and shapes. In this article, we have reviewed crème de la crème products that are worth every penny. To come up with the best list, we considered the essential features such as the shape, heating type, materials, cleaning options, durability, and more. This is to help you land on the best equipment as possible. We have also included a detailed comparison table, buying guide, and FAQ segment for more information.

Top 8 Chafing Dishes Review 2021


Alpha Living Chafing Dish SetEditor’s Choice

  • Dimensions: 22.25 x 14.25 x 11.75
  • Capacity: 8 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: foldable legs, two fuel holders, rust-resistant

Keeping your food warm and ready has never been this easy. The Alpha Living Chafing Dish Set is ergonomically designed to allow users to maintain their food’s heat. The top-quality stainless-steel frame body is not only stunning but also durable. This chafer is designed in a way that the lid stays in an upright position while the food is being served.

A good chafer should be easy to handle and move around. And with this dish, it has a convenient structure. Each dish comes with two fuel holders and frame to ensure the food will remain hot for long. The full-size pan tray is large to hold enough food for the guest. More so, it’s designed with handles for you to move the dish with ease.

The Alpha Living Chafing Dish Set is made of durable stainless steel material. The material is sturdy for added durability. The foldable frame is ideal, especially when you want to transport the dishes or packing them in a squeezed space. The material is easy to clean and maintain. The rust-resistant dish will make the cleaning, storage, and usage process easy and safe.

The foldable frame consists of foldable legs made with durable and thicker stainless steel to support the dish and your food. The rectangular design is appealing, suitable for modern catering services. The dish can be used in a restaurant set-up or even at home when you have several guests.

What are our favorite features?

  • Made of stainless steel for added durability
  • The full-size 8qt tray
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Foldable leg for easy portability and storage

What could be better?

  • Some users claim that the equipment can get a bit wobble when loaded with heavy food


Winware C-5080Premium Pick

  • Dimensions: 21.75 x 13.75 x 17 in
  • Capacity: 8 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: roll top, gold plated handles, dual fuel holders, mirror finish

Winco debuted in 1992, and since then, they have been providing a wide range of high-quality products with restaurant and chefs in mind. These products are suitable for a busy kitchen, which enhances food preparation, cooking, and serving. And true to their mantra, the company designed Winware C-5080, which is sturdy and durable.

This is a must-have kitchen appliance for hotels, catering businesses, restaurants, and even for home use. It has a capacity of 8 qt, ideal for holding enough food for your guests. The stainless steel material makes it shiny and appealing. It also boosts its durability. After you-re done serving your guests, you won’t have a hard time to clean the appliance.

Winware C-5080 features an elegant mirror finish to add an upscale touch to your food presentation. With a rectangular design and gold accented handles, the product is suitable for modern restaurants, kitchens, and catering activities. The combination of gold-accented handles and stainless steel frame can blend perfectly with any kitchen décor.

The roll-top cover makes it hassle-free to serve food since the guests can easily slide the lid when they need food. You slide it back to keep food out of airborne contaminants. This makes it the safest stainless steel chafing dish in the market. The dual-fuel holders ensure the food remain hot throughout.

With the weight of 19.7 pounds, the dish is a bit heavy but stable. Winware C-5080 is both for commercial and home use.

What stands out?

  • you can disassemble all parts for cleaning
  • suitable for both commercial and home use
  • it’s an elegant dish for modern kitchens
  • the quality is top-notch

What cons did we manage to find?

  • It's heavy. So, if you're into catering, you might be forced to pay for its transportation.
  • Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 8.6 in
  • Capacity: 7.5 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: transparent lids, temperature knobs, safe-to-touch handles

The Oster Buffet Server Warming Tray is a chafing dish every patron or operator would dream of. The stunning design, removable pans, and other useful features make the equipment worth every penny.

This is an electric chafing dish, meaning you just plug in, switch on, and your food will remain hot. It’s fitted with temperature knobs to allows you to adjust heat to your liking. The easy-to-see power indicator light illuminates when the heating element is on. The handles will stay cool to facilitate safe and easy carrying.

People cook large quantities of food and different dishes for special occasions like weddings, thanksgiving, and birthdays. During such events, you’ll require a dish that can accommodate such volume and varieties. The Oster Buffet Server Warming Tray is a presentable dish that will serve different types of food and keep them warm.

The overall capacity is 7.5 qt, but it’s divided into three warming trays measuring 2.5qt each. This allows you to serve your guests with three different meals from one appealing dish. It features a large 20 x 13-inch heating surface suitable for heating dips, meat, appetizers, desserts, and vegetable dishes. The stainless steel base also works well as a standalone warming tray.

The dome-shaped, transparent lids make food presentation more appealing. More so, they have easy-lift handles and trap moisture and heat to keep food warm.

What do we love it for?

  • The stainless steel material makes the dish durable
  • Temperature knows are strategically located to allow you to adjust heat level easily
  • Transparent lids with handles for easy opening
  • Inexpensive
  • Handles with firm grips

What were we disappointed with?

  • Sharp edges might cause harm
  • The lids lack spoon holes

Winware MadisonBest Stainless Chafing Dish

  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 26 x 16.5 in
  • Capacity: 8 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: rolling top, double fuel holders, 4-in deep water pan

To boost your catering events or to appeal to your guest with Winware Madison chafer. It’s designed with great functionality and versatility to make serving foods a breeze. The equipment is ideal for professional use. You can also use it for events at home, such as birthdays or family gatherings.

The complete chafing dish set will keep food warm as you serve food elegantly and in style. If you want a high capacity chafer, then opt for Winware Madison. The 8qt can accommodate a large batch of food. The stainless steel construction is scratch-resistant and durable. Meaning, the appliance will give you impeccable services for long.

You’ll also love the dripless water pan that ensures the heat is evenly distributed among food without making it dry. It has everything you need to keep dishes warm. The food pan is 4-inch deep to hold enough food for your guests. The two fuel holders come with lead to provide enough fuel.

The dome-shaped cover is tight-fitting to ensure heat doesn’t escape. This helps in keeping food warm. This equipment is heavy, which is suitable for enhancing its stability. The lid opens at a 90-degree angle. The cool-touch handle makes it easy to open it when serving food.

What makes it special?

  • The cover is tight-fitting to ensure heat doesn't escape
  • The water pan is leak-proof
  • Scratch resistance, durable stainless steel structure
  • An elegant rectangular design ideal for professional use
  • The 8qt capacity with 4-inches deep can accommodate large batches of food

What cons did we find?

  • The equipment can easily dent
  • This is a heavy product that’s not easy to transport

Mophorn Chafing DishesBest Rectangular Chafing Dish

  • Dimensions: 24 x 14 x 11.5 in
  • Capacity: 8 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: mirror finish, foldable frame, dual fuel holder

Holding a large event can be hectic, especially if you don’t know how to serve your guests. Or when in catering, you might need an elegant dish that will make your work easy. If you a seamless food serving process, then invest in a sleek chafer. Mophorn Chafing Dishes is elegantly designed to make your food presentation appealing.

The high quality polished shiny mirror finish will sparkle in the ambient lighting of the venue. The handle on the lid makes it easy to open the chafer. It features two handles on the two sides, making it easy to carry the dish. The two string hooks in the back are safe and convenient to use.

The Mophorn Chafing Dishes features a foldable frame made with thicker, sturdy stainless steel for added durability. The foldable legs are ideal for convenient placements, transport, and storage. Stackable design allows multiple chafers to easily stacked and packed, saving much space.

This chafing dish set is made of food-grade stainless steel for safety. More so, it has excellent heat resistance, anti-corrosion, and rustproof. The material is thick and sturdy to ensure it’s durable. Each dish can hold 8qt, suitable for a myriad of occasions such as banquet, wedding, birthday, picnic, and parties.

The package includes a bottom tray with the support of two fuel holders for warming food. With all the pieces in one place, it’s easy for portability and easy use.

What do we love it for?

  • Easy to clean dish with liquid soap and water and dry it with a soft towel
  • Has wide application
  • The cool-to-touch handles ensure you carry the dish with easy and safely
  • Elegant design

What were we disappointed with?

  • Be careful when ordering since the dishes might arrive in a bad state
  • It might be a bit flimsy

Traditions Stainless Steel Chafing DishBest Round Chafing Dish

  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 9.75 in
  • Capacity: 6 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: round

More features: drip tray, fuel holder, curved legs, slotted spoon included, lid holder, glass lid included

If you have the urge to throw a birthday party or plan for a picnic with friends and have no idea of the necessary equipment to serve food, choose Traditions Stainless Steel Chafing Dish. The dish will serve a large number of people and still keep food warm without making it dry. When it comes to buying the best chafing dish, most prefer a sturdy, long-lasting product. Amongst chafers is this attractive kitchen appliance.

The dish is suitable for both home and professionals to use. It’s designed to keep food at the perfect temperature for hours with no effort on your part. You only fill the water tray to distribute heat evenly. Place the fuel source in the available fuel holder, light it, and your food stays warm throughout the event.

While other chafers might have a lid holder, this round chafing dish stands out amongst counterparts. The convenient drip tray is engineered to keep the linens dry. Any condensation on the steam-vented cover lands in the innovative drip tray and not on the table cloth.

The curved legs add elegance to your picnic party, while the highly polished stainless steel is sure to awe strike your guests. A matching stainless slotted spoon is included in the package, handy for serving up any dish.

For use and care, hand wash the dish with hot, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. Dry it with a soft towel to avoid scratching it. Avoid acid food and harsh or abrasive cleansers to preserve the polished finish.

What do we love it for?

  • Stainless steel prevents corrosion and rust
  • A lightweight product for easy portability
  • The glass lid allows monitoring food without opening the dish
  • The stand offers excellent stability
  • Easy to use and clean

What were we disappointed with?

  • Might a bit expensive for those on a tight budget

Proctor Silex 34300Best with Heat Control

  • Dimensions: 13 x 21 in
  • Capacity: 6.5 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: rectangular

More features: adjustable heat control, transparent lids

Each Proctor Silex appliance is reliable and comes at a reasonable price. The products are tested to ensure they meet consumer needs. And Proctor Silex 34300 is no exception. Get the party food at the perfect temperature.

Serving different foods at a party can be a bit hectic. You have to carry different types of dishes, which will occupy a large space and become bulky. Ease your work with this proctor dish. It comes with three removable stainless steel chafing dishes, each with 2.2qt capacity.  Use these dishes to hold various types of food. The lids are domed and designed with slots to fit serving utensils.

The dish is a combination of a food warming tray and buffet server. Serve all your food at the required temperature without reheating in an oven. You can use your dish or disposable chafing dish. The 13 x 21-inch warming tray can hold the heat-safe dishes as well as disposable aluminum pans. Serve small-perfectly warmed bites like stuffed mushrooms by putting them directly into the try. This is because the warming tray is a food-safe.

Once you set the temperature, the buffet server and warming tray will cycle on and off to maintain perfect heat. So you don’t have to keep on readjusting or monitoring the temperature.

What stands out?

  • It’s reasonably priced
  • Adjustable and consistent heat
  • You can replace the included pans with disposable aluminum warming tray
  • The warming tray is food-safe. Hence, you can place food directly on it
  • Transparent lid for easy monitoring

What cons did we manage to find?

  • It can be wobble especially when loaded with heavy food
  • The temperature adjusting knob is a bit flimsy

Winco Winware MalibuMost Comfortable Handles

  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 13.5 in
  • Capacity: 4 qt
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Shape: round

More features: fuel holder, polished mirror, water pan

Closing our list of the best chafing dishes is Winco Winware Malibu. It allows you to serve any meal with style and pride. The stainless steel construction and a stunning round-shape give the dish and elegant look. Its versatility and effectiveness in keeping food warm make the dish suitable for both informal and formal occasions.

When looking for a chafer, most of us would go for an appealing product. And if you want such an item, then choose Winco Winware Malibu. The stainless steel mirror finished color gives the product an elegant look.

The package consists of one round food pan that can accommodate 4qt of food. There is a water pan where steam falls instead of falling on the table cloth. The dome cover is good at retaining heat to keep food warm. The included fuel holder will heat the food throughout the event.

The gold-accented legs are robustly built to support the dish. The handles are string and provide a firm grip to allow you to handle the item safely. Its lightweight nature allows easy portability.

If you’re on a tight budget, Winco Winware Malibu will greatly suit your budget. With 5.9 pounds and measuring 16.5 x 13.5 x 11.25 inches makes it fit in small spaces for easy transportation and storage.

Why is it special?

  • Lightweight for easy portability
  • Stainless steel construction for added durability
  • Elegant design
  • Handles offer a firm grip
  • Ideal for both informal and formal occasions
  • Versatile and efficient

What are the flaws?

  • The product might arrive scarred

Things to Consider

With a myriad of chafers available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right appliance. These dishes are also available in various sizes and shapes. You, therefore, need to pay attention while making a choice. You might end up buying a chafer based on its brand or look and end up being disappointed because not all dishes are as they are praised to be.

What are chafer dishes?

8 Awesome Chafing Dishes for Your Perfect Catering

A chafing dish, better known as chafer, is a serving pan with an alcohol burner and fuel below it. The kitchen appliance is used as a food warmer or for cooking at the table.

Historically, the chafing dish is derived from the French word “chauffer,” which means “to make warm.” Initially, the dish was heated with charcoal and used for foods that need gentle cooking.

In the modern world, chafing dishes are made of ceramic casserole or light metal, such as stainless steel with handles. They are used in restaurants or even at home when holding a large group of people.

These dishes have an array of benefits including;

  • Keeping Everything Warm

Chafer is purposely designed to ensure the food you serve to your guests will remain warm throughout the event. Whether you serve mushrooms, pancakes, rice, scrambled eggs, or sausages, the chafer will keep it warm. The food will remain warm and fresh without getting dry.

Food Remain Safe for Consumption

The freshness is not the only thing you can achieve with a chafing dish. You’ll also enjoy a hygienic presentation. Everything is kept organized, tidy, and away from dirt and dust, makes food safe for consumption.

The warming tray is a food-safe so that you can place directly to the pan. A high level of hygiene is essential to every business.

  • Durable

When it comes to high-quality kitchen appliances, chafing dishes stand out. The dishes are designed with quality and sturdy material for added durability. The rustproof, scratch, and corrosion resistance fabric will make your dishes last you for long. More so, they are easy to clean and maintain.

  • Serve Meals in Style

Chafing dishes are an elegant and beautiful addition that will help you reach the sophisticated and attractive food display you would ever want. The elegance look will even make food irresistible!

Chafing dishes by event type

Chafing dishes are categorized into various types of units. We broke down multiple types and what they’re used for.

  • Standard chafers– These dishes are available in various styles and sizes, but they all have a common purpose- to keep food warm. They are designed with a lit that can retract or lift off, depending on the design. They also range from economy to high-end. These types of dishes are suitable for both informal and formal occasions.
  • Drop-In Chafing Dishes – These type chafers are permanently installed into tabletops or countertops. It enhances an upscale presentation. A drop-in chafer is suitable for hotel breakfast buffets and other permanently installed food stations like food courts.
  • Disposable Chafers –A disposable chafing dish has all the features and warming ability of a standard chafing dish. Besides, they have an added benefit of disposable nature. They are cheaper and will save you time and effort on cleanup by disposing them after use. They are ideal for outdoor parties.
  • Marmite Chafers – They’re also known as soup chafing dishes. They’re commonly used to keep sauces, soups, hot cereals, stews, and various liquids.
  • Coffee Chafer– This is meant to accommodate beverages such as tea, coffee, and other hot drinks. It ensures you don’t serve lukewarm drinks at a party.
  • Chafer Griddles– These chafing dishes are suitable for keeping already cooked meals such as grilled meats, stir fry vegetables, and pancakes. The dish is open, so the aromatic smell entices customers. They’re ideal for indoor events.

How to set up a chafing dish

A chafing dish is composed of various parts such as the lid, food pan, water pan, the stand, and fuel holders. Setting up the chafer is quite simple. However, you need to be keen so that you’ll get the desired results. you can set it in simple steps;

  • Ensure you place the base or stand in the targeted position
  • Put the fuel inside the holder and attach the dampening lid, then place it on the stand.
  • Ensure the water pan is secure and fill it with about an inch of boiling water.
  • By using the stick lighter, light the fuel and be cautious to keep the hand away from fuel flame. As with most fuels, the chafing fuel is highly flammable. You, therefore, advised being extremely careful.
  • Then put the chafing dish on the water pan and let your food warm.
  • For an electric chafer, you only need to plug in and turn on the heat adjusting

For more detailed information, this video is of great help:

Price range

Chafing dishes are effective kitchen appliances. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices. And when it comes to chafers, you get what you pay for. The cost might range from as low as $10 for cheap disposable pans to as high as $500 for high-end dishes.

The price factor is a combination of several factors, such as durability, construction, exterior, and interior finish, brand, weight, and purpose. All you need is to choose a chafer suitable for your needs and budget.

Features to consider while buying the best chafing dish

With a myriad of chafers out there, securing the best equipment might be overwhelming. But with the right information, the entire process will be seamless. There are over various things you need to consider before purchasing the best chafing dish.


Chafers come in various sizes, and some are designed for serving entrees, desserts, and appetizers. Different dimensions can be used for a different purpose. The full-size dishes are typically about 8 and 9 quarts. Alpha Living Chafing Dish Set is a full-size chafing dish with a capacity of 8qt. Full-size chafers are suitable for serving entrees. However, you can customize and use two smaller food pans for serving two types of meals.

The other size can hold between 5-6 quarts. These types can serve any kind of food. The smallest size has a capacity between 4-5 quarts. The Winco Winware Malibu is an example of a small-sized chafer, with a capacity of 4qt. Small dishes are ideal for serving side dishes and appetizers.

When choosing a chafer, your purpose will guide you in selecting the right size.


Chafers can be categorized by shape. Each shape can be classified for a particular purpose. Chafers come in different shapes including;

Rectangular- Rectangular-shaped chafers, such as Mophorn Chafing Dishes, are common due to their versatility and efficiency. They’re most suitable for entrees.

Oval – A modern polished look characterizes these dishes. They are as versatile as rectangular dishes and used mainly for entrees.

Round – In most cases, round chafers such as Winco Winware Malibu are suitable for side dishes, sauces, and desserts.

Square – square chafers are not common, but they’re quite spacious with a contemporary look. They are compatible with appetizers and dishes. They are ideal for both informal and formal occasions.

Marmite- The specific shape of these dishes enables them to accommodate liquids such as warm stews, sauces, and soup.

Based on your event and purpose, you can easily pick your desired shape.

8 Awesome Chafing Dishes for Your Perfect Catering

Heating type

There are several ways in which chafers can maintain food at a perfect temperature. But there are three most common heating types- fuel, induction, and electric.

Fuel chafing dishes, such as Traditions Stainless Steel Chafing Dish, are equipped with fuel cans. They’re eco-friendly and inexpensive options. Most caterers prefer them since they’re compatible with outdoor events.

Electric chafing dishes are fitted with electric units to allow you to monitor the temperature. The Proctor Silex 34300 is an example of an electric chafer. However, this type of dish would necessitate access to the electrical outlet.

Induction chafing dishes stay cool to touch and prevent the risk of injuries. These dishes do a great job of keeping the temperature constant.


Stainless steel is the most used material in designing chafing dishes. This is because it’s easy to clean and maintain. Aluminum is another excellent material but might be as durable as stainless steel.


Before securing a chafing dish, ensure you check the material used. If you plan to use the dish regularly, then you better go for a high-quality material- stainless steel. For one-time use, disposable pans are the most ideal. Therefore, ensure you pick a durable product to last you for long. This will also save you some bucks.

Cleaning options

Aside from choosing a well-made, elegant looking chafer, you should also consider the cleaning and maintenance practices. Ensure you have the necessary cleaning cloths and solutions.

Mostly, soapy water will also do the work. And wipe them with a dry, soft towel to avoid scratching the dish.


Chafers come in different cover types. The roll-top cover doesn’t necessitate holding, lifting, or removing it. It has a handle that facilitates ease of use. Lift off, and dome covers have a handle on the top. The hinged lid cannot be removed entirely or replaced. They can also be set at 45 or 90 degrees.

The glass top covers allow you to monitor food without opening. More so, people can check through to decide on what to eat. These covers are visually enticing and are quite attractive.


When it comes to food, hygiene, and food safety becomes a priority. When choosing a chafing dish, ensure the warming tray is food-safe. Check if the fuel is eco-friendly to prevent accidental injuries. For yourself, avoid touching heated surfaces to prevent burns.

Some dishes have sharp edges that might hurt you. As you select your chafer, it’s crucial to ensure the edges are smooth for safety operation.


It all depends on the type of chafer you’ve chosen. The best chafing dish should be designed so that the lid retains heat without making food dry. However, if you leave the chafer open for long, the food might dry since the steam with evaporate.

Therefore, to avoid this, get the best chafer in the market and always cover the dish.

A chafer originated from the French word “chauffer” which means “make hot.” A chafing dish is designed to keep cooked food warm. Remember, it only keeps meals warm and not cooking. Ensure the minimum heat is 60 degrees Celsius, which is ideal for commercial use and serving.

The best chafer can remain heated for about 6 hours. Once the fuel runs out, you replace or refill the cups. Ensure the temperature stays above 60 degrees Celsius for food to remain fresh and safe for consumption.

Our Verdict

From weddings, birthday parties to family gatherings, any of the above dishes can meet your needs. Alpha Living Chafing Dish Set is our editor’s choice. The stainless-steel construction makes the dish durable and easy to clean. It comes with a full-size pan tray, two fuel holders, and a lid for convenience. The foldable frame and legs make it easy to transport the dish to the event venue.

Our second pick is Winware C-5080. The dish boast of a quality stainless steel structure for added durability. The full-size pan is 2.5-inch deep to hold enough food for the guests. Its dripless water pan prevents condensed steam from falling on the table cloth. The dish is designed with gold-accented handles provide a firm grip to help you carry the dish safely.

Our third pick is Oster Buffet Server Warming Tray. It’s the best chafing dish that comes at an affordable price. The buffet dish has three 2.5qt trays to serve different meals. It’s suitable for holidays and parties. It’s an electric chafer designed with an adjustable heat knob to help you adjust the heat from low to high.

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