Chafer Pans: Stainless Steel vs Porcelain

Chafing Dish

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In the foodservice industry, there are two different types of chafer pans: stainless steel food pans and porcelain chafing dish inserts. Stainless steel has long been the chosen type of chafer pan, however porcelain chafing dish pans have been growing in popularity. To help with purchasing decisions regarding whether to buy a stainless steel or porcelain food pan I've compared the two below for easy reference:

Stainless Steel Food Pans:

  • Dishwasher-Safe with most manufacturers recommending hand-drying the pan immediately after the rinse cycle or hand-washing and drying to preserve the original finish
  • Not Microwave-Safe
  • Food Pans are Oven-Safe Up to 390˚F (198˚C) however prolonged oven use at high temperatures may cause discolouration.
  • Prolonged exposure to high heat settings may cause your chafing dish to discolour. A stainless steel cleanser and non-abrasive cloth should refresh the metal
  • Warping can occur if placed on cold surfaces or immersed in cold water when hot.
  • Food cannot be left or stored in food pan for long periods of time. As well, superficial pitting may occur if very salty or acidic foods are left in the pan.
  • Lightweight
  • Generally less expensive than porcelain

Porcelain Food Pans:

  • Dishwasher-Safe
  • Microwave-Safe
  • Oven-Safe Up to with no discolouration
  • Non-warping
  • Food can be left or stored in food pan for long periods of time.
  • Heavier than stainless steel
  • More expensive than stainless steel
  • Easier to break than Stainless steel

Generally whether an event venue or caterer choose porcelain or stainless steel is a matter of personal preference of the company. There's some companies that swear only porcelain will do while others would consider porcelain sacrilege. Hopefully this comparison will help you decide what your company prefers and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

If you're interested in a quote for round or rectangle porcelain food pans: