When Thanksgiving Day comes around and you’re the one hosting the big party, you know you’re going to be busy. Hosting is a juggling act that requires military-like timing. From getting the turkey in the oven (or in the fryer) on time to making sure the beer is cold, there are plenty of things to worry about, and you might not always get your cooking timing just right. This inevitability is why you should definitely have a warming tray on hand for the holiday season.
Warming trays allow you to keep your dishes at a safe temperature until you are ready to serve. Whether it’s your famous yams, tasty gravy or even the turkey itself, a convenient heating tray can provide a helping hand when you’re making the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.
From buffet servers to lazy stone-style trays, these are the best warming trays for household use. Before you attempt to cook dinner for the whole family, grab one of these trays and save yourself the stress of getting everything on the table at the same time.
1. Homeart MyHotMat Modular Electric Warming Trays
Ideal for use at large family functions like Thanksgiving, each of the Homeart MyHotMat Modular Electric Warming Trays can keep two dishes warm. However, up to five of these warming trays can be connected together to keep up to 10 dishes warm at the same time, using just one of your plugs. The fuse safety feature ensures the warming trays don’t overheat, and the adjustable temperature switch keeps your food at just the right temperature. As an added bonus, the Homeart warming trays can be used with any heat-safe cookware. So yes, you can leave the mashed potatoes in the pot this year.
2. Chef Buddy Warming Plate
Slightly different than the rest of the warming trays on our list, the Chef Buddy Warming Plate requires no electricity or chemicals to keep food warm. Instead, the stone at the center of the plate retains heat so that when a dish is placed on top of it, the food inside stays warm. All you have to do is throw it in the oven for a few minutes and you’re good to go. This is a great option because you don’t need to waste electricity or create a fire in the slightest to keep your food warm, making this potentially the safest option on our list. Because of its innovative nature, this warming plate can be placed on any surface safely.
3. Ovente Electric Warming Tray
An affordable option for keeping all your food warm throughout the day, the Ovente Electric Warming Tray has a large 17-inch hot plate that runs on 200 watts of power. This device can keep your food warm for hours on end and has a precise temperature control knob. Another perk of this tray is that it’s super thin, so there’s no need to store another bulky item in your kitchen. When not needed, feel free to store it in that little drawer under your oven or better yet, let it collect dust at the bottom of your pantry until your family’s next potluck. Plus, Ovente offers an impressive one-year warranty.
4. Oster Buffet Server
The Oster Buffet Server features three individual serving trays. However, should you require only a warm surface, the stainless steel warming plate can be used separately without the trays on top. This function allows you to keep plates, bread and other items pleasantly warm. The server also features heat control to help you keep your food at just the right temperature. Though you can take the trays right out, we love how easy it makes storing various side dishes on Thanksgiving. Leave corn, green beans and a heaping tray of stuffing on this side by side and call for a super uncomplicated serving solution.
5. Elite Platinum Maxi-Matic 3 Tray Buffet Server
BEST BUFFET SERVER
Quite like the pick prior, the Elite Buffet Server doesn’t just keep your food warm, it gives you a convenient way to let your guests dish out their own accompaniments. The three 2.5-inch stainless steel trays are ideal for housing your mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and other Thanksgiving staples, while the clear dome lids have spoon cutouts and allow you to see inside without losing heat. This buffet server is not only great for Thanksgiving, you can use it for any events or parties that require you to entertain guests and on other holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
6. Sterno Disposable Party Set
Ahhhh, the classic. If you’ve ever been to a backyard BBQ or any summer cookout, you’ll know damn well what these are. And we get it, sometimes you need to keep your food warm but you don’t want to add an extra item to your kitchen cabinets. If that’s the case, the Sterno Disposable Party Set is absolutely the answer to your food heating woes. This 24-piece set includes three wire racks, three water pans, six food pans, six Sterno cans and three sets of serving utensils. When you’re done with Thanksgiving dinner, simply throw everything away, eliminating the need to store a warming tray or do any sort of clean-up.
7. Uncommon Goods Fondue for Two
While each and every single other option in this list doesn’t necessarily have a specific food in mind when heating, the Fondue for Two from Uncommon Goods does. Heat up your favorite cheese and add a couple of spices, salsas or mustards to make the perfect concoction to serve as an appetizer at your Thanksgiving dinner. Light the candle underneath and watch your slew of ingredients brew into a creamy, cheesy dip your guests will love. When it’s time for dessert, wash the top bowl and use the same method for a rich, chocolate dipping sauce paired with strawberries, bananas, marshmallows and graham crackers.
8. Cal-Mil 3439-99 Chafer Grill w/ Fuel Holder
Taking the tray look to a whole other level by removing the tray and adding a grill-top, this chafer grill is a handsome way to spice up your buffet line at Thanksgiving dinner by giving it a little flare. The tray is made with reclaimed wood to give it sort of a rustic vibe and the grill-top is made from stainless steel to ensure it won’t burn. If you’re looking for a better presentation that differs from your typical at-home warming appliance, this is the way to do it.
9. NutriChef Warming Tray
BEST NON-STICK OPTION
This versatile warming tray from NutriChef can be used with a range of kitchen cookware to make sure your food stays warm and ready to serve. The cool-to-touch handles offer maximum portability even when the tray is warm, while the large, tempered glass surface ensures your after-meal clean-up is a breeze. Plus, Nutrichef designed this tray with a slim build, resulting in a device that won’t take up much space in your already full kitchen. So, if you’re ready to have a successful Thanksgiving or holiday party with food that stays hotter than hell and has a non-stick surface, look no further, you’ve found your solution.
10. MegaChef Electric Black Warming Tray with Adjustable Temperature Controls
Sometimes you need to keep dishes really hot, and other times, you only need a little bit of warmth. If your holiday dinner varies, it’s worth investing in a warming tray with adjustable temperature control. The MegaChef Electric Warming Tray offers even heat distribution, which you can choose from using the handy control knob. This is excellent for dishes that don’t necessarily need to stay piping but need to keep at least a bit of their warmth. In addition, this device boasts always-cool handles and a tempered glass top for a sleek look that’ll fit the style of any kitchen.
11. Old Dutch 6qt Stainless Steel Oval Chafing Dish
Okay, it isn’t necessarily a tray, but it’s pretty dang close. This stainless steel serving dish is a really helpful and good-looking way to serve any side this Thanksgiving and will keep it hot while doing so. It’s constructed with a stilt lift and a place to put cooking fuel gel to keep the temperature of the contents controlled while serving. Seconds, anyone? Be completely surprised the second time around (after your first plate) as the contents of your desired side dish stay as hot as can be up until it’s time to clean up.
12. Duxtop Portable Induction Cooktop
While there’s a good chance you already have a pretty accessible stovetop, sometimes you want to do a little bit of cooking and keeping warm when a little bit closer to the table. If that’s the case, keep the gravy bubbling or the mashed potatoes piping hot with this temperature-controlled countertop burner that can sit directly at your serving station with a pot on top. It has a boil, timer and keep-warm option depending on what you’re cooking and has the ability to keep your go-to side piping hot at all times.
13. Winco Electric Free Standing Heat Lamps
Do it like the pros with this free-standing heat lamp set from Winco. These lamps keep food at optimal serving temperatures and have three different adjustable heights to choose between for controlling heat intensity. They’re super stable on your counter and have an easy-to-clean, scratch-resistant finish that makes them easy to take care of. There is an electrostatic powder coating on the hoods and frame for extra protection and they’ve got a six-foot power chord making them easy to set up.