Whether you are planning a big wedding party, organising a graduation party, or throwing a birthday party, whatever the occasion there is bound to be food there. And finding a ways to keep this food warm is a necessity.
Nothing is worse than sitting around a table getting ready to eat and discovering all the food you spent hours cooking has gone cold and lukewarm.
To prevent this from happening to you, we have compiled a list of the best tips and tricks to keep your food warm.
An important thing to remember when serving food, is that it shouldn’t be too warm or too cool. As a general rule, anything lower than 40 F or higher than 150 F could potentially be dangerous to consume. So it’s best to keep a thermometer handy. For more on Food Safety, see here.
With this in mind, below you will find lots of ways to keep food warm for a party.
Can I Keep Food Warm In The Oven?
Yes. Why not make the most out of the appliance you already have in your kitchen: your oven. In fact, some ovens have a “warm” setting integrated into them – typically, at a temperature between 170- 200 F.
Additionally, you may have a warming tray that can keep food at a constant, warm temperature.
If your oven doesn’t have any of these features, fear not. You can still use your regular oven. All you need to do is set the temperature to 200 to 250 F, this will ensure that your food keeps warm, without cooking it further and potentially burning it.
Next, transfer your food onto a baking tray, an oven-safe saucepan, or baking dish. Cover with aluminium foil and place in the oven until you need it again.
This is an easy solution to keeping food warm. However, it is limited to the size of your oven and the amount of food you can keep in it. Likewise, there is a chance of food becoming soggy and losing flavour if left in for too long.
What about the other issue – Keeping Foods Cold? See our post.
What About A Rice Cooker Or Steam-Based Dishes?
If you are cooking rice in a rice cooker, you can turn on the “warm” setting, this will help keep the rice hot and moist for an hour or so.
Some rice cookers even allow you to choose the temperature you wish to keep your rice at, just make sure your rice cooker is big enough for everyone.
Likewise, if you’re using a steam-based method to cook dishes, you can just remove the appliance from its heat source, this may be a stovetop or turning off an electric steamer, and put it aside until you are ready to serve.
To prevent the food from cooking further, you may want to open the lid briefly to let the steam escape. Replace the lid, and that’s it. This method is great for steam-based dishes.
Do you have a brunch to organise? Check out our Brunch Catering Food Ideas
How About Chafing Dishes Or Slow Cookers?
Much like a rice cooker, a chafing dish or slow cooker can be used to keep sauces, hot vegetables, stews, and soups hot when turned onto the lowest setting.
However, if you plan to store dishes for over an hour, you may notice some different textures and tastes. As, even though it’s set to the lowest setting, it may still cook to a small degree. An advantage is that these pots can even be used as serving dishes.
Are you unsure how much food to provide? Take a look at our piece on How Much Food Should I Cater?
Will A Cool Or Insulated Bag Work?
Definitely. When thinking of a cool or insulated bag, the first thing that comes to mind is using these bags for transporting cold groceries. However, they will also work to keep food warm.
The bags are lined with insulating material that helps to keep cold food cold, and hot foods hot. All you have to do is place any uncovered food into a container, or wrap it with aluminium foil, and store it in a cool or insulated bag until you’re ready to serve.
Make sure to keep an eye on the bag and check it once in a while to ensure that the food doesn’t dip below 140 F.
Feeling worried about your budget? Our post on Cheap Catering Food Ideas might be of help
Can I Warm My Plates For Serving?
Yes, you can. This is a great technique if you don’t need to store your food for a while before serving it. All you have to make sure is that you have oven-safe plates – ceramic is best as it maintains heat nicely.
There are several ways to heat your plates for serving. The most common method used is to heat them inside your oven. Simply stack your desired number of plates and set the oven to its lowest temperature (anything between 150 F to 200 F) for 15 minutes.
Additionally, you can use a warming tray or toaster oven, if it’s large enough. You can even use a microwave, all you have to do is place your plates into the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you don’t place your warm plates in the refrigerator or any cold place. The thermal shock from going from hot to cold may cause your plate to break.
Finally, when taking your plates out, make sure to use oven gloves as they can be very hot.
Are you still deciding on your menu? Take a look at our piece on Popular Catering Dishes
What About Aluminium Foil?
This is a great method for keeping your food warm if you’re looking for a short-term solution. All you need to do is wrap your dish or container in aluminum foil, and the contents inside should stay warm for 30 minutes or so.
Looking for something different? See our Thai Catering Food Ideas
There are many different ways to keep your food warm, whatever your occasion. Whether you are using an oven, rice cooker, chafing dishes, cooler bag, warm plates, or even aluminium foil, there’s a method to keep all kinds of dishes warm.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you on how to keep food warm for serving.
Not keen on doing it all yourself? Maybe Costco Catering will work for you.