Do you worry about cooked food spoiling if left out too long before being eaten? Or is it just that you don’t like eating something that has turned cold but doesn’t reheat well in the microwave? Maybe you want to finish cooking ahead of your dinner party but struggle to churn out warm food for all your guests? You can solve all these problems if you just get yourself an electric warming tray that keeps the food hot for hours at a time. But which is the best warming tray for food that will suit your needs? We’ve done the research and have picked our favorites based on size.
Also, if you don’t want to serve food in the utensils that you cook your food in, you might want to consider buffet servers that come with warming trays underneath. These have warming pans for food that are heated by warming trays but you can remove the pans and only use the trays whenever you want to serve straight from cooking pots. However, these are more difficult to transport and store and cost more, so you have to decide between them and these warming trays.
Before you buy an electric food warmer tray, there are a few things to keep in mind. Most modern models look good enough to be used at the dinner table for parties or even kept permanently on the kitchen counter. The top is often made of tempered glass or brushed steel that can handle hot dishes being placed directly on it. The rest of the unit is often in a neutral but sleek stainless steel or colored casing that looks good in the kitchen. All surfaces must be easy to clean because nothing can be washed under a tap or in a dishwasher.
When it comes to safety, cool touch handles are a must for transportation between kitchen and dining room. The cord should be long enough to reach a power outlet, unless the model is a cordless one. Non slip feet makes it safer to use around children.
Lastly, to ensure that the food stays at an ideal temperature whenever it is being served, some of the best food warmers, but not all, will have adjustable temperature controls and preferably a thermostat indicator light to tell you when that temperature is reached.
Now that you know what to look for, please continue on to our warming tray reviews to pick the best one for your needs.
NutriChef Warming Tray Hot Plate Food Warmer with Non-Stick Heat Resistant Glass
This warming tray from NutriChef comes in several different sizes, so you can select the perfect tray for your needs. The smallest size is 14.5 by 8.6 inches, which would keep a single casserole dish warm, and the larger sizes of 16.5 by 11 inches, 19.8 by 11.9 inches, and 22.4 by 6.7 inches are ideal for keeping several dishes warm side by side. The non-stick, heat-tempered glass is suited for almost all types of metal, ceramic, and glass bakeware, and the smooth design without ridges lets you place larger dishes on it easily.
If you’re looking for a sleek and thin warmer to avoid clutter on a buffet table, this hot plate helps save space with a small but powerful heating element that reaches up to 203 degrees Fahrenheit. When you need to transport this warming tray, you won’t need to fuss with potholders because the specially constructed handles stay cool to the touch. This tray comes with one preset temperature that is enough to keep food hot but not high enough to cook it. The on and off switch is located in the back of the tray, and operation involves a simple toggling of the switch.
When you use this warming tray, be advised that all food must be in a heat-resistant dish; food should not be placed directly on the warmer. However, if there are any spills, the non-stick glass makes cleanup easy. The tray comes with a 40-inch power cord that can be plugged into a 110V or 120V outlet. It heats up quickly and maintains food at a perfectly warm temperature for as long as you need it.
Chefman Electric Warming Tray / Trivet
This warming tray from Chefman is similar to the NutriChef model with its sleek glass top, but it has an indicator light on the front of the tray, so you can tell at a glance whether the tray is on or off. Its size of 21 by 16 inches lets you keep one large pan warm or set several smaller heat-safe dishes side by side. If you need to keep the tray on for several hours at a time, the built-in fuse safety feature automatically keeps the tray from overheating. The maximum temperature is 284 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not hot enough to cook food but will keep your cooked dishes hot. The tray features a simple on-and-off operation with no temperature control; it gets turned off by being unplugged.
Black tempered glass makes it easy to clean the tray after each use, and the handles are specially created to stay cool even when the tray has been operating for hours. It weighs just under 10 pounds, making it lightweight to transport between special events, and the slim profile lets you store it without fuss. Once being unplugged, the tray cools back down quickly.
Cuisinart CWT-100 Warming Tray
This Cuisinart warming tray is made of sleek, brushed stainless steel for durable construction, even heating, and easy cleanup. Once turned on, the tray heats up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit incredibly quickly with 400 watts of power. Unlike the previous models on this list, this warming tray features the ability to control the temperature with three settings: low, medium, and high heat. The indicator light is on the front of the tray. The power cord measures 37 inches.
This warming tray measures 21 by 14 inches to hold one or more heat-resistant pots and dishes. The entire tray is held up off the table with four feet for stability, and the two black handles feature cool-touch construction to keep your hands safe when carrying the tray during or after use. It weighs only 6.5 pounds, making it one of the most lightweight models available.
While it’s possible to put dry food such as bread and pizza directly onto the surface of this warmer, you may want to place aluminum foil underneath to keep the warmer as clean as possible. The underside of this tray can get hot, so for safety, it’s recommended that you don’t place this warming tray on a plastic table or use any vinyl hot pads near it. There are a few reviews out there that say that when you plug the unit in for the first time, some smoke that was observed near the temperature dial that disappeared after a while and never occurred again.
HotMat Electric Food Warming Tray
This warming tray is one of the more expensive models, but its unique design and construction may be worth the price to save space in a small kitchen. Rather than a single flat plate, this HotMat warmer comes with four round plates that fold up for easy storage and transportation. The four small plates are designed to mimic a stovetop and can hold up to four pots and pans. The warming tray measures 20 by 20 inches when in use and 10 by 10 inches when folded; each plate is about 8 inches in diameter.
The mica used in the plates promotes quick and even heating, and they are coated with Teflon for durability and easy cleanup. The four plates offer different temperatures, with two plates heating up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit and the other two heating up to 338 degrees. The plates are labeled “warm” and “hot” accordingly. If you do not wish to cook food further but simply keep it warm, then avoid using the “hot” plates.
This portable warmer for food is in operation whenever plugged in; there is no on and off switch. Be sure to thoroughly clean the warming tray after use as the Teflon may stain.
Warming Trays for Parties
These are a bit bigger than the previous models, which makes them better suited for parties.
Broil King NWT-1S Professional 300-Watt Warming Tray
If you want a warming tray on which to directly place food, such as small appetizers, the Broil King warmer model may be for you. Its best feature is an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 155 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can set the temperature that’s best for your needs. Food can safely be served directly on the tray as its made from stainless steel that is food safe and easy to clean.
This warming tray comes with cool-touch handles and plastic feet, and the indicator light and adjustable knob are located on the front of the tray for ease of use. The tray measures approximately 15 by 26 inches, which is large enough to hold two standard casserole dishes or a single metal pan. It weighs about 9 pounds for safe and simple transport. The power cord measures 43 inches.
Although this 300-watt warming tray is energy efficient, it is designed to keep food warm rather than heat up cold food, as a microwave would be much faster for that.
Classic Kitchen Deluxe Glass Buffet Warming Tray
This Classic Kitchen tray is designed to keep a feast warm. This food warmer for parties is of a generous size, measuring 24 by 20 inches to hold a variety of heat-resistant pots, pans and dishes. It runs at 300 watts of power to heat quickly. The surface of the tray is made of tempered glass for ease of cleanup, and the base and handles are made of aluminum. This warming tray is one of the heavier models, weighing 15 pounds, thanks to its large size. Make sure you have a safe place to store the tray when not in use.
This warming tray has an adjustable temperature knob on the back to heat food anywhere from 110 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit for the perfect temperature. An on and off switch is included, so you can keep the unit plugged in but turn it off for convenience. An indicator light on the front of the unit lets you know whether the warming tray is heating.
KooK Buffet Warming Tray, Food Warmer Hot Plate
This KooK warming tray measures 24 by 20 inches like the Classic Kitchen model, and it also features a tempered glass top with an adjustable temperature knob on the front of the unit. The difference is that the KooK is slightly less expensive than the Classic Kitchen tray. This tray can heat food from 110 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and an indicator light on the front makes it easy to see whether the unit is in operation.
The tray operates at 300 watts of power for faster heating in minutes, and it comes with two spare fuses to ensure that the heater will be operable for years of use. The handles are ergonomically designed for easy handling, and the glass top is designed with quick cleanup in mind in case of any spills. The sleek glass design and generous surface space make it great to keep an entire meal warm at any gathering.
Cordless Warming Tray
Cordless warming trays for food are convenient for camping or backyard parties, however, they will usually work for a limited amount of time after being charged. These electric food warming trays are not suitable for Shabbat.
Toastess TWT-30 Silhouette 800-Watt Cordless Classic Stainless-Steel Warming Tray
This Toastess warming tray is unique on this list because of its cordless design. The three-plate size measures 23.7 by 7.7 inches of warming surface. An 800-watt power supply heats food in about 8 minutes, according to the manufacturer, and then you can detach the cord for another hour of cordless heat. This tray is ideal for using at a potluck or gathering; simply heat up the tray in the kitchen for a few minutes and set your dishes on display for an hour with no cord to keep plugged in. You can also leave the tray plugged in if you have a power source close enough. The unit will just cycle on and off to keep the temperature at the right warming level.
The heating surface is made of stainless steel for even heating and easy cleanup. Be sure to use flat plates and serving dishes to keep food hot rather than warm. The handles are designed to act as elevated feet for the warming tray. The unusual shape of the feet means that this tray is harder to store than completely flat trays, but the design is attractive enough to leave on display when not in use.
This model does not feature an on and off switch; it operates by being plugged in. An indicator light on the front will glow red when it’s plugged in and green when it’s sufficiently heated. Automatic temperature control doesn’t let you control the heat level, but it will protect the tray from getting too hot.