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ELLEN'S KITCHEN
Cook Talk

Chafing Dishes
Irene
06/15/08
I have never used chafing dishes and was wondering if they are appropriate for the following food:
Pasta
Eggrolls
Chicken Skewers
Stuffed Mushrooms

Will any of those items dry up or get soggy if left in chafing dishes for 4 hours?

ellen
06/16/08
Irene the food safety rule is, 2 hours max-

The egg rolls will lose most of their crisp- Chinese restaurants restock them on buffet about every 20 minutes.

If you pre-brine/ marinate the chicken and do not overcook it, it will hold pretty well- but if cooked without brining and/or overcooked, it will dry out.

If the pasta is a casserole type dish, the ideal is a warmer/chafer that keeps the temp at the center of the dish above 160.

Janet
10/21/08
I am preparing buffet-style food for 52 people. To keep prep time to a minimum, I'm planning on buying pre-made stuffed chicken breasts. How many can I fit into an 8-qt chafing dish? Also, how much corn and mashed potatoes should I get?
ellen
10/22/08
Hmm. That pan is about as big as 2-3 9x13 dishes. So it depends on the size of the serving- but I would guess about 6-8 per 9x13 or 18 per 8 quart pan.
joanna
11/15/08
I prepared several dishes in advance for a party tomorrow and am not sure the best way to reheat the dishes. Specifically, I have 4 half trays of sausage and peppers and 4 half trays of chicken rollatini. I plan to reheat them in the oven, and then put over sternos when we arrive at the venue. At what temperature and for how long should I reheat the sausage and peppers? And at what temp and how long for the chicken rollatini (breaded)? Covered or uncovered?
ellen
11/16/08
Joanna, breaded reheats very badly, I don't know any way to get a good result. Also, it is a BAD idea (not food safe) to reheat in one place, then transport, then put over sterno. You need to transport hot (above 140), regular caterers have special boxes called cambros. The closest you can come for a fast substitute is ice chests preheated with very hot water. The safety rule is 4 hours total between 40 1nd 140, and that includes prep time, transport time and service time on the table.
Is there ANY way you can reheat on site? The chicken should reheat uncovered- very high heat, shortest possible time to get an internal temp of 160. The sausage should reheat tightly covered.
donna
02/16/09
I was planning on cooking chicken parm, and sausage and peppers the day before a party. Can I just take the food out of the fridge and reheat over the sterno trays? If the food has already been cooked, would there be any chance of contamination if the food is really hot. Also, do you think the chicken will get dried out. I cant use the oven because I'll have a pork roast in it with other stuff. Can I place frozen manicotti in the trays over a sterno covered to cook. What do you think. Thank you
ellen
02/16/09
Absolutely not! Especially the chicken, safety-wise. You MUST reheat in the real oven to a temp of 160; then you can place over sterno and keep covered up to 2 hours.

Assuming you are preparing servings of about 40-60 of each entree. You need to get or borrow a couple of 18 quart electric roasters, one for the sausage and one for the chicken. And a third for the manicotti; no way it will cook over the sterno.

The roaster is very good for pork loin, because it cooks moist. You could do the loin in a roaster and reheat in the oven.

Read my food safety article for a better understanding of why your plan is SO unsafe. If you are being paid for this, you could be sued if anyone gets sick. If it is family you could still have liability.

Tony
11/17/09
I was looking at disposable (aluminum) chafing sets. I was thinking they may be able to help my Thanksgiving dinner. I make 2 stuffing's, mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, ham, turkey, green beans etc. The mashed potatoes, stuffing's, green beans and mac-n-cheese are done half hour to a hour before the turkey and ham are off the BBQ and carved. My wife bakes fresh rolls right before dinner so the oven is being used right before dinner. Will the side dishes be OK in the chafing dishes for up to 45 mins? Will making the side dishes with a lil extra liquid help it from drying out? Thanks
ellen
11/17/09
Absolutely. See this link for expert help on setup and use:
www.eddiesportablepigout.com/steamtable.htm

The big thing is not the extra moisture but to cover the dishes very thoroughly and tightly with foil while they wait.

Sequoia
12/01/09
Im making chicken alfredo for 60 people i was wondering how many full pans will i need to make for it to be enough to serve the 60 people.
ellen
12/01/09
About 2 1/2.
samantha
06/17/10
I am cooking chicken skewers for a large party this August and I want to bbq them ahead of time and then reheat them in the oven before setting them in a chafing dish above sternos.

I am using marinated chicken tenders in a garlic hoison sauce on bamboo skewers.

How long do I heat them in the oven and on what temp?
should I brine before marinating? Just salt?

ellen
06/18/10
Reheating chicken can be iffy, try this on a small batch before your party. Yes, brine before marinating, see Alton Brown's good eats for thorough directions.

Lots of the garlic sauce as they reheat.

Jessica
08/09/10
Can I use disposable aluminum pans in a stainless chafing dish? The chafing dish is an 8qt dish.
ellen
08/09/10
Probably not Fill one with water and try to lift it in and out; you will see why.
Gina
09/16/10
I am having a birthday party in my yard. I am having the food catered, and delivered hot. I want to keep them hot by using sternos. They are full trays of food. Normally you would see two half trays of food over a full tray of water. (for steam heating) Can I do the same with full trays? Meaning full trays of food over full trays of water?
ellen
09/16/10
Yes, that's fine, you just have to be sure to KEEP the water in the lower pans. It should not touch, you want steam, not simmering; be careful when lifting the top pan in and out, steam is released, and you can get burned.
BB
09/29/10
using a chafing dish for brisket for a wedding, should I coat or spray the dish before putting the meat on to the chafing dish so not to stick and can you suggest a nice garnish ?

Thanks
BB

ellen
09/29/10
Yes, coat. Spiced apple rings or spiced peaches are pretty cute.
Isabelle
10/14/10
I find it hard to believe that chafing dishes can actually keep food warm, do they really work?

If so I am planning on putting sliced turkey in them will it dry? If so what should I do to ensure it stays moist?

I also want to put mini meat pies in them will the crust get soggy?

ellen
10/15/10
Well designed, properly set up chafing dishes work by steam heat and yes, they do keep food hot. See the link on how to use chafing dishes in the thread above.

You need tight covers and some turkey broth to keep the turkey moist. Don't cover the tarts and the crusts should not get soggy.

Paula
10/20/10
I need to cook burgers in advance for a large family gathering. I have heard that you can reheat burgers and keep them warm in a chafer with beef broth. Your thoughts?
ellen
10/20/10
If it were me, I would make meatloaf, which makes great sandwiches and reheats much better, or meatballs for subs or hoagies. However, if you do make patties, IT IS UNSAFE TO REHEAT IN CHAFING DISHES. They don't get hot enough. You must reheat tightly covered in the oven or on the stove, to 160, then transfer to the chafers for up to 2 hours.
Paula
11/05/10
We are cooking sausage balls and pigs in blankets that we have previously frozen uncooked for a party. Also, we will have chicken tenders from a local restaurant. Can we cook these and transport them, then place them in disposable chaping trays safely. I am concerned about the time. Will be about an hour between cooking and transporting and another 1-2 hrs before eating.
ellen
11/06/10
The usual food safety standard is 2 hours from out of the oven or heated storage to eating. So you need to transport hot- see the discussion on the baked potato bar page on how to heat up ice chests; then add the food hot and put in some of the microwavable hot pouches to keep hot for the trip. To the chafers ASAP when you arrive- don't open the hot boxes till the chafers are set up and lit.
Kelly
11/08/10
I would like to cook flat iron steaks for a dinner party I am having and serve them in a chafing dish. My question is, how far in advance would you recommend me cooking the meat before putting them in the chafing dishes (I would love to cook the meat before the party and transport them directly to the dishes). Also, how long do the sternos burn for?
ellen
11/08/10
This is a chuck steak, and I would not cook them ahead, unless I was doing one of the braising recipes... Flat Iron or Top Blade Steak benefits from marinating and is best if it isn't cooked beyond medium rare. Anything calling for Skirt or Flank Steak will benefit from a Flat Iron Steak. You can grill it, use if for stirfry meat, use it for fajitas, braise it, panfry it.

The basic rule for food safety with chafers is 2 hours from heat source to mouth.

Sternos come in two different sizes. see the cans. Always bring two replacements per chafer sterno and tongs to remove the hot Sternos from under the chafers, they are scorchingly hot.

ellen
11/08/10
The 8 oz. can of Sterno burns consistently or in increments equal to 2 1/2 hours. The 7 oz. can burns consistently or in increments equal to 2 1/4 hours. The 2.6 oz. can burns consistently or in increments equal to 45 minutes. The cooking fuel is extinguishable and can be re-lit without affecting product performance.
Stacy
11/09/10
Hi: I looked at the large rectangular disposable water pans for the chafing dishes, and the half-pan inserts that go inside them. I am trying to figure out the VOLUME that will fit in those half pans. I am making green bean casserole for 500 people and I'm trying to figure out how many half pans to buy. I'm estimating 3/4 cup of GB casserole per person. Thank you!
ellen
11/09/10
Dead full the 4 inch pans hold 4 quarts.
Kristina
11/14/10
I got a set of aluminum chafing dishes to use on Thanksgiving day so that I can keep side dishes in them while finishing up the turkey and such. What's the maximum amount of time that I can keep those dishes (green bean casserole, stuffing, etc.)in a chafing dish while cooking my turkey?
ellen
11/15/10
2 hours before serving.
Kristina
11/16/10
Thank you!
Ann
11/28/10
Engagement party next week. I made stuffed chicken breast and froze them raw. They have a coating of mayo, horseradish sauce and bread crumbs. Should I bake the day of the party or the day before? When putting in the chaffing dish, should I add a sauce of some kind? Is there a sauce that will not make it too soggy? I am afraid they will get dried out. What would you recommend?
ellen
11/28/10
Thaw in fridge. Cook day of, then transfer to preheated chafing dish. Have sauce on side- if placed on, will make breading soggy.
molly
11/30/10
Hello - hosting office party for 12 people and making fettucine alfredo with spinach and roasted red peppers. Any suggestions on how this will hold up in chafing dish? I plan on adding a little cream cheese to the sauce to help keep it together...your thoughts?
keesha Pania
11/30/10
I am having my family cook for my wedding and not sure how many chafers i will need. It's about 60 people. Grilled Chicken, baked ham, and 3 sides that will need to keep hot. One for each doesn't seem big enough especially for the meats.
ellen
12/01/10
Molly, that is about the best you can do. Real Alfredo doesn't hold, but most of the cream cheese assisted ones do.

Keesha, usually for 60 people, I set up double lines, and thus 2 chafers for each item. That will be plenty.

yolanda martinez
12/04/10
Reading through your library on the use of chafing dishes raised some concerns.

Every year we serve Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners for our 3rd shift employees. We generally begin serving at 2:30 am. Our dinners are in a job trailer so amenities are limited; we do have a refridgerator and access to clean water. All meats and side dishes are warmed in aluminun steam trays.

The typical menu is turkey, ham and this year possibly a roasted beef(the beef can be seasoned and roasted at the grocery deli dept.).

Since our dinner time is unususal all food items, which have been pre-cooked, are picked up cold and stored in fridge. Sometime after 11:30 am. the meats are placed in steam trays. Around 12 am we heat sides in microwave then place them into steam trays. All food items are covered tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

The roasted turkey breast(pre-sliced at the deli)is kept moist with chicken broth. Around 2:00 am we slice the ham off the bone; return slices to steam tray along with its drippings and add some water. The beef roast(pre-sliced)can be kept moist with beef broth.

Given our circumstances am I following best practices?

ellen
12/04/10
How thoughtful to remember the night shift. I have worked night shift many Christmases, and we are often the invisibles.

That said, you probably guessed that this is not good practice. You need to get/borrow a couple/several electric roasters. Keep the all the sliced meat, tightly wrapped in foil packages with broth (or in the case of ham, can be pineapple juice or coke), packages 2 inches thick or less, in the fridge till about 2 hours before. Then into the preheated 350 roasters until ready to serve, rotating the packages for even heating.

Then transfer to the chafers to serve.

yolanda martinez
12/04/10
Dear Ellen,
I want you to know how much I appreciate all your patience, sound advice and encouragment. Thank you so very much!!!!

ym

J Jones
12/06/10
The food is never hot when we have a buffet. The manager says the temperature is 58 and that's as hot as it's going to get. Is there another way?
ellen
12/06/10
58 is not safe, it is not even legal. What kind of food, where and how is it being served? Commercial restaurants are legally required to maintain food service at 160 degrees.
Dot Reed
12/09/10
I would like to bake a rice, broccoli, cheese dish directly in a commercial chafing pan. Is there a problem with sticking or browning around the edges - and should the pan be greased or sprayed?
ellen
12/10/10
Yes, you can bake it right in the pan, and yes, you want it thoroughly sprayed. When doing cheesy dishes, I also coat with plain ground Parmesan on top of the spray (like flour on a cake pan).
Dan
12/10/10
Wow-some great advice on this page! Thanks My question - I am making fettuccini Alfredo for a group party (at someone elses house) and will need to keep it warm for about 2 hours. I planned to keep the sauce and pasta separate until just before we will be eating (the sauce holds up much better that way). How can I keep the pasta warm in a chafing dish without it drying out? I thought about under cooking it a little and adding a little water to the chafing dish, but I'm not sure how much. Any ideas?
ellen
12/10/10
Check out the cook and hold info on the spaghetti page.
Leeanne
12/11/10
if grilling tri-tip and putting in chafing dish for party, how to I keep from drying out? Do I add water or a sauce or cook rare?
thanks
ellen
12/11/10
Definitely cook rare, put some real beef broth in the bottom of the tray, cover tightly till serving. Make a mushroom sauce for the side.
leeanne
12/11/10
thank you so much...happy holidays
cindy
12/13/10
My question is: I have bought these new chafing dishes and they do not have the steamer in the middle. How do I make sure that my dish does not burn? I want them to just stay warm? I have bought 4 of them and hate to waist them. What can I do??

Thank you!

ellen
12/13/10
Send the manufacturer name and number or style name and I will try to find out for you.
cindy
12/14/10
Philippe Richard Chafing Dish from JC Pennys, it is a 5 qt,it gets too hot. Thank you for your help!
ellen
12/14/10
You might try replacing the alcohol fuel holder with warming candle. Or if still unused, just take them back...
Lee
12/17/10
I have never used a chafing dish before. For our Christmas buffet I would like to prepare a spiral ham and than place in a chafing dish to keep warm and serve. What is the best method to do this so as not to dry out the ham. Your help would be very much appreciated.
ellen
12/17/10
Once your ham is cooked and sliced, layer it in the chafing dish, to which you have added a small amount of warm liquid (chicken broth, pineapple or orange juice, etc). Then cover TIGHTLY with foil and place over heater until ready to uncover and serve. You cannot use the chafer to heat the ham- see the instructions on reheating ham in the holiday cooking section of big pots, if you need to do this.
Jodi
12/21/10
I am serving a baked chicken that has been coated in a white sherry sauce, breaded and placed over a bed of broccoli. It is for a party of 17, and I will place it in a large baking pan that fit into the chafing trays. My question is how long should I cook this for in the oven, without it drying out-I understand to watch the internal temp of the chicken and not go over it, but it always seems that this dish has a tendency to get dry as it has a bit of carryover cooking, even pulling it out of the oven on time. I don't want it to sit in the chafing dish drying out even more. Thanks for your imput!
ellen
12/21/10
Brine the chicken before cooking. Pull out 10 degrees before "doner", as it wioll keep cooking. Keep TIGHTLY covered in the chafers until ready to serve.
Heather
01/11/11
I am going over the idea of catering my own wedding reception for appx 90 people. I'm crazy, I know... But I think I will have a big enough team of helpers and the money saved will be worth it.

My question is this - can I cook frozen, precooked Chicken Cordon Bleu in the chafing pan? Or do I need to cook it onsite in the oven and transfer to the chafing pan? Will it stay warm and crisp? Or do I need to ditch the chicken cordon bleu idea?

Also - would mashed potatoes made before hand and then kept warm in the chafing pan be okay?

This site is so very helpful, thanks for all the information!

ellen
01/11/11
This is a reasonable size party, if you have a commercial type kitchen at your venue. You need 2 buffet serving lines plus a nibble table for the hour between the ceremony and the meal.

As mentioned above, you cannot cook ANYTHING in a chafing dish. It has to be hot (160 internal or above) when it goes in.

If you are really budget- minded, look at the Dijon wedding chicken on this site- cheaper than the frozen chicken entrees.

See the freezable holdable mashed potato recipe on site for discussion about reheating potatoes.

Baylis
01/31/11
Hi, We're having a wedding of 100-125 people catered by a local restaurant (that doesn't usually cater). We need to rent chafers for stewed beef, rice, beans, pupusas (a type of salvadoran food) and fajita vegetables. The only ones we have available to rent are 8qt chafers and we're having trouble figuring out how many the cook will need to put the food in to feed that many people. We've estimated 2 8qt chafers for each type of food, so 10 chafers total. Is that enough? too much?
Thanks!!!
ellen
01/31/11
Bayliss, to serve this many people, you are going to want 2 lines, which can be 2 sides of the table, with the same food on each line, so yes, you want 2 chafers per hot food. But you will be refilling/replacing the pans at least once, as the chafer only holds about 25-30 entree servings. So you need twice as many pans as chafers (it is not elegant or festive to bring out a big pot and shovel the second fill into the same pan...).

The standard is to allow one 8 foot table for about 4 chafers, so your serving line would be 3 tables long.

Jamie
02/07/11
Is it more appropiate to serve sliced ham or beef on a platter or in chaffing dishes.
ellen
02/07/11
Hot meat at dinner, chafer. Cold or sandwiches, platter.
RuthAnn Campbell
02/20/11
I'm having a St Patrick's Day party and will cook a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner with carrots & mashed potatoes. I would like to cook everything in the afternoon, my guests are coming at 6:00 PM. What can I do so the sliced Corned Beef doesn't dry out? I would like to have everything ready by 5:00 PM and warming until 6:30 - 7:00 PM.
ellen
02/22/11
Slice, tightly wrap in foil with a little of the cooking juice. hold at 180-
Kimberley
03/12/11
I am hosting a wedding celebration for my son and fiancee. We will have a chef with a roasted pig and rolls, which he will serve. In chafing dishes (as sides) we will have Raclette casserole, a Ziti dish, Bbq baked beans with bacon, and corn. There will also be cold Broccoli salad and Pasta Caprese salad. There will be approx. 120 people. Since the hot dishes are sides, do you think I will need two full pans of each? or will one do it? I will want to transfer the hot food to the chafing dishes 45 minutes before serving so I can put some hot appetizers in the oven.
ellen
03/12/11
120 people, definitely 2 pans of each and maybe 3 of the ziti. Have fun!
Patricia
03/20/11
I am making penne ala vodka for a sweet sixteen party. How many pounds of dry pasta will i need to cook to fit in a full pan? 75 quests I am thinking I should make two full trays. We are also having salad, chicken pram,steamed vegetables, peirogies,, vegetable egg rolls and bread. I am assuming three 16oz boxes of pasta per full tray???
ellen
03/20/11
Macaroni for teens? At least 1 pound per 8. Don't know the size of your trays, chills faster and heats faster if you make three shallower trays instead of 2 deeper.
Connie
03/31/11
I will be smoking brisket and pork spareribs for a party the day before. How long do I reheat in the oven and how do I keep both moist in chaffing dishes?
ellen
03/31/11
Reheat tightly wrapped in foil at 325-350. Time depends on amount in the package and thickness, but allow at least a half hour.

Add beef broth or consomme to keep the brisket moist. Use the BBQ sauce or chicken broth on the pork.

Vicki
04/07/11
I am having an anniversary party & cooking for 40 ppl at my house with only 1 oven. I am cooking 2 turkeys in crock pots (that way I can leave meat "on warm" until needed in the chafing dish) & 2 spiral hams in my neighbours oven. Side dishes are baby potatoes and baby carrots (that I am blanching a few hours ahead & storing cold in fridge). I am planning on renting 4 8 qt chafing trays, 1 for each meat, 1 for potatoes & 1 for carrots. Am I renting enough chafing trays? Also can I heat my cold carrots in oven before placing more in my chafing tray? Should I perhaps rent 1 more chafing tray to keep all the spiral ham warm as they will not be in crock pots like the turkey?
Thanks,

Vicki

ellen
04/07/11
How about purchasing or borrowing an electric roaster to keep the ham warm? By far the easiest, and yes, you definitely want to heat the carrots before placing them in the chafing dish- chafers aren't safe or effective to heat up the food, just to hold it.

I would probably rent 4 chafing dishes and a few extra trays, as an 8 quart tray will not hold 40 servings. Do read the article on chafers that is linked in the thread above.

Niki
05/24/11
We are serving mini BBQ sandwiches using a chafer dish to keep them warm makes the bottom of the slider buns turn hard quickly. We tried putting a cloth down and still the same. Any suggestions?
ellen
05/24/11
I would put the meat in the chafer and the buns in a basket. No way I know of to avoid the overdone bottoms if you put the rolls in a chafer.
Meredith
06/01/11
Hi Ellen,
Would Shumai or steamed dumplings hold on a buffet? I was thinking of lining the chafer with banana leaves to prevent them from falling apart from the condensation?
ellen
06/02/11
Steamed dumplings will hold better than shumai. Cover the top with a clean cotton dishtowel until ready to serve.
gene
06/05/11
I have a roaster oven and want to keep hamburgers warm for serving and not haveing them dry out do you have idea what kind of sayce i can use and not get the hamburgers slopy when severing ?
ellen
06/05/11
Gene, this is very difficult. You need to keep the oven at 160-180 for food safety, which will overcook the burgers. Can you consider an alternative? Sloppy joes, BBQ, meatloaf?
Kelly
06/06/11
I am cooking for a party of 30. I am making pulled pork, wings and mashed potatoes. Will all of these things be ok to put in chafing dishes over sternos?
ellen
06/06/11
All of these are fine over Sterno, but they MUST be fully hot (in the oven, temp at center at least 160 degrees) before being placed over the Sterno. Chafers cannot be safely used to reheat.
Nicholas
06/07/11
Hi Ellen! I'm doing a pasta bar for 40 people.
I'm going to have a triple burner for saute pans to cook as they order. I'm not planning on having a pot of boiling water to reheat pasta. Seems like too much work. I thought maybe I'd keep pre-cooked pasta coated with olive oil without the sauce in large bowls at room temperature. Will the pasta be hot enough from room temperature to saute pan heat to cook eggs in my Carbonara sauce? Without scrambling of course. Or should I keep pasta warm in chafer then cook extremely hot in saute pan? Also, will eggs scrmable in my carbonara sauce if I hold in chafing dish? It very touchy beacuse of the eggs. I don't want to get people sick. Thank you!!
ellen
06/07/11
Not wise to keep the pasta at room temp- see the spaghetti page for discussion on reheating/holding pasta. Besides, room temp won't work for your carbonara- try it, you'll see what I mean.
Are you trying to hold carbonara already made in the chafer? I think you won't be satisfied with the quality.
Use Davisson's pasteurized eggs and there will be NO food safety issues- put up a cute little sign to reassure diners, and maybe to introduce them to pasteurized eggs. I use them exclusively at my house.
Nicholas
06/09/11
Hi Ellen,
Thank you for reponding. I'm not sure if you understood what I was saying about the pasta heat. I thought that I could hold pre-cooked pasta in large bowls on pasta bar tables and heat the pasta in the sautee pans with the sauce and toppings. Will the pasta be hot enough to heat the eggs in carbonara off the hot pans? I thought that it would be. I will use the pasteurized eggs. I was doing a lot of research on google and most pictures hold pasta in large bowls at room temp until they order. They say pans will heat pasta. Let me know! Thank you.
Tia
06/09/11
I am wanting to cook stuffed mushrooms in the chafing dishes is this possible. The filling is pre-cooked and cooled prior to stuffing. Is this possible. Thank you. By the way great website. I have learned so much from your site. Thank you for this Ellen.
ellen
06/10/11
Nicholas, you can cook ahead the pasta and reheat in pans, that works fine, but usually is done with an already hot sauce to help heat the pasta quickly without overcooking. You will have to get the pasta really hot before trying to do the carbonara. Experiment a little.

Also, you can only hold the pasta 2 hours at room temp and that includes ALL the time after cooking- cooling before refrigeration, room temp before display, etc.

Tia, No, chafers don't get hot enough to cook anything. Items must be cooked and hot before being placed in the preheated chafers.

Julie
06/21/11
I am having a party with approx. 60 attending. We are going to be making rigatoni...we are planning to use the large foil chafing pans. How many 1-pound boxes of cooked pasta will fit in 1 large foil pan? Also, how many pans should we make to feed 60 people?
ellen
06/21/11
Julie is this a side dish or the main course, and what are the actual measurements, including depth, of your pans? They come in 2, 4, 6 and 8 inch depths. Write back.
Sam
06/22/11
Ellen I am having a graduation party and it was for around 70 people but as usual the number has increased. I don't really know the final number but am assuming around 110 people.

I already made the following and froze it in my freezer. (I didn't bake the ziti) Baked ziti x 2 half sized aluminum chafing dishes (the two halfs fit into one chafing dish)
Baked Eggplant x 2 half, Italian sausage x 2 half, pulled pork x 1 half, and one full chafing dish of chicken nuggets. We will be having grilled burgers x 40 and grilled chicken x 48 drumsticks and 50 hot dogs. I will be having a plain salad.

Is this enough food? If I need more food what would you suggest I either make or buy frozen? Should I have vegetables in that mix? I am going to have chips and salsa for appetizers.

I just took the frozen dinners out of my freezer (except chicken nuggets)and defrosting it in my refrigerator for Saturday as I think it will defrost in time.
Please let me know as soon as you can! Thanks :)

Sam
06/22/11
oh...and the party starts at 4pm. What time would you suggest I bring the food outside (weather permitting!) wait a while until most people are there or have it already set up for 4pm. I was thinking of setting up around 4:15.

I didn't take the food out of the freezer yet. When should I do that for them to be defrosted in time for this Saturday?

Thanks again!

ellen
06/23/11
Sam, a 2 inch deep full pan is about 7 quarts. So, I am assuming these are 2 inches deep (they also come in 4 and 6):

Baked ziti x 2 half sized aluminum chafing dishes (the two halfs fit into one chafing dish)
Baked Eggplant x 2 half,
You have only about 35 servings of each, max, do at least 2 more half pans of each, maybe 3 ziti, if you expect 100+.

You have about enough meats, but not everything will get eaten evenly.
Italian sausage x 2 half, may run out
pulled pork x 1 half, will probably run out. another one would be good.
chicken nuggets x 1 full, probably fine
grilled burgers x 40 and
grilled chicken x 48 drumsticks
50 hot dogs, leftovers. I would skip it and do more Italian sausage.

3 days is about right to thaw.

Either have appetizers out or get that food out promptly.

Sam
06/23/11
Thanks Ellen, I should have said that the half sized aluminium dishes I have are 4" deep.

I might skip the pulled pork and make macaroni & cheese x 1 large 2 inch pan.
I will buy a party size lasagne dinner they are $10 at Shop-rite and fit the chafing dish. I have large bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad & coleslaw & large plain green salad as well.

Just so I understand do you think I should skip the burgers and dogs and make more Italian Sausage instead?
Thanks for the help!

ellen
06/23/11
I would skip the dogs for sausage. The burgers are fine, if you want them; or you could increase another meat by the 10-12 pounds.
tisha
06/27/11
I am having a wedding in 2 weeks. I have 5 chafing dishes for 5 dishes. I have 60 people. I don't know how much 8 qts is to know if I have enough. We're serving grilled chicken, roast pork, rice, green beans, and maccaroni. I don't want to make too much since we have to clean before we return the dishes but I don't want to run out of food. There is no oven on site.
ellen
06/28/11
OK, Tisha, if I understand it, you have 60 people to serve. You will want to set up a 2 sided serving table where people go down both sides at the same time, with a spoon at each end of the chafing dish.

Since you have both rice and macaroni, you need to allow about 5/8 cup of each per person, your 8 quart pan will serve about 50 people. You want 1 1/2 pans of each.

For the pork and chicken, I would get 2 pounds raw boneless pork for each 5 people PLUS 1 piece of chicken per person.

One chafer for about 12-14 pounds of green beans.

Enjoy.

Deirdre
07/06/11
I am going to be cooking for a wedding and serving buffet style, I will be transporting from oven to buffet within a maximum 5 minute drive. If the oven temp is proper at 160, and the pans are ready to receive the food is that enough time for food safety. Also, I am planning to cook for 50 adults, I have 3 main dishes and 3 sides..how many 1/2 pans of each will I need? Thank you!
ellen
07/06/11
That is OK, you can pack the foods into preheated ice chests to hold for the trip- the 5 always turns into 20 by the time you load and unload,, etc. How to heat ice chests- see potato bar page. Half pans come from 2-6 inches deep. go by weights of food for amounts, see the pan size page for help on volumes. You can;t go by pans, a pan of meatloaf serves more than a pan of fish fillets.
Marla
07/15/11
Hello Ellen,
Last year we served burgers and hot dogs at a charity function. We grilled them about 10 at a time each and held them in a cooler lined with foil. This did not work very well at keeping them hot at all, obviously. We did reheat some of them, but we were often serving lukewarm food. I was very wary of this as I know the proper holding temp is 140 F or more.

We are doing this again this year. I have seen aluminum chafers at Walmart that have everything needed for $10. However, I forsee some problems here. Mainly, can the sternos heat the water from the ambient temperature to the correct one? I could heat the water at home, but by the time we got to the event, it would not be hot likely. Also, we would be serving from about 11-4 and I think by then we would need a lot of sternos, especially if they were used to warm the water up.

I also thought about buying an electric chafer if there is an outlet available. I think I have seen used ones on eBay? Then I could heat the water in it and not worry about running out of sterno.

Finally, should I use a full pan or half size pans? I also thought about using third size pans and putting the buns in one briefly to heat up. Not sure if the half and full size pans would have enough room for the burgers and hot dogs without them being stacked too deeply.

ellen
07/15/11
If you need to cook on site, you need electric roasters, not chafing dishes. Chafers never get hot enough to cook, they can only maintain already-hot food. They are good for warming the buns, though.

Ice chests don't work unless preheated, packed foil and left closed. See the potato bar page for discussion.

Hot dogs with skin on will puff up and crack or shrivel, even turn greenish, if held over 20 minutes, but skinless can be held a long time. For the roaster, large electric roaster, fill it with hot water about 4 inches, put a disposable foil roasting pan inside with a few holes in the bottom to keep the dogs out of the water and load it up. Steams them in no time. Turn it down to low, keep them warm without drying out. Easy cleanup too. USE SKINLESS!

You can rent a real hot dog machine/cart from a rental place, it will have rollers instead of water. Pick up, set up, cleanup, rental fees, returning immediately- more trouble than the roaster...

Here are additional hints from a French class that raised a LOT of money with hot dog sales:

- if possible get hot dogs that are not invidually wrapped because it take FOREVER to peel 10 - 15 dozen dogs
- if you have to get the individually wrapped ones, put them in the freezer for a while and it will make unwrapping way easier -- the dog contracts more than the wrapping
- you will get asked what is in the dog -- beef, pork.??? People seem obsessed about this. Personally I like how an all beef dog stands up to the abuse of large scale cooking.
- if you are providing veggies dogs or non-pork or non-beef, some folks want to know that you have cooked and kept them separately. This is where your crock pots can come in handy. Do a crock pot for the veggies and if necessary another for other alternative choices
- cooking method of choice - grills because they are the fastest. But if not grills then water, which is easier to clean up.
- have your condiment station a fair amount of space away from the where folks get their dogs because condiment hogs can really slow down your line. Also get the big pump bottles of condiments from Costco -- way faster than squeeze bottles and you won't run out.
- make sure the buns are pre-sliced, and the ones with slice going vertically through the buns are way easier to handle and folks seem to lose fewer dogs from them.
- unless you are serving salads, large napkins work as well as plates

Frankfurters are fully cooked, but if you are going to reheat, take them to an internal temperature of 160.

Marla
07/15/11
Thanks for the information! I was planning to cook the burgers and hot dogs on the gas grill to 160, about 10 at a time and hold them in the chafer at 140. What size pans do you suggest, one full pan for both items, or half size for each? I will probably use an electric chafer as there's no way to heat the water unless I do so at home (outdoor venue). I would just use some crock pots, but there's clearly not enough outlets there.
ellen
07/15/11
Separate pans for the 2 items. Good luck.
Leona
07/17/11
Ellen I love reading the questions and answers on your site. I was wondering at what temperature do you steam the hot dogs at before turning them down to low? Also would you use a broth for the cooked hamburgers or steam them also?
ellen
07/18/11
Depends on the roaster, you set high enough to get a nice steamy simmer. Some have the heating element on the bottom, some around the side, so it varies, start at 300-350 and see.
Leona
07/19/11
Great what about the burgers? THX
ellen
07/20/11
I really don't like to hold burgers, they just don't stay juicy and good. Have you considered a loose meat/ sloppy joe/ chili/ BBQ alternative?
angela
08/03/11
I am having an outdoor party for 100guests and I wanted to make some hot dogs what's the best way to do this to keep them warm? Should I boil them at home and put them in chafing dish or what?
ellen
08/03/11
Angela, there is a lot of discussion about hot dogs on this thread, including to use skinless. If that doesn't answer, please tell me:

How many dogs?
How will you cook them?
Do they have to be transported?
How long between cooking and serving?
Thanks. Write back.

angela
08/04/11
Yes Ellen I read them but I'm still a little unclear. I'm thinking about 200 dogs I wanted to boil them first at home then put them in a chafer to stay warm. Yes they will be transported I need to be at the park at 10am my guests will not arrive until 1. I've never used a chafing dish and I wanna know how to keep them warm for the guests.even if a chafing dish is not the way to go please let me know what to do. Thanks
ellen
08/04/11
Angela, I have no idea how to hold already cooked hot dogs for 3+ hours. What I would do is, make Italian sausage with peppers and onions, or kielbasa with sauerkraut, both of which CAN hold at 180 in a covered roaster, or be transported and held in preheated ice chests or cambros (see the potato bar page for instructions on how to do this). You should not plan to hold food in a chafer for any more than 2 hours; it is not safe, the temp is too low and too uneven.
Jen
08/05/11
I am cooking stuffed bell peppers for a group of 16. I won't be able to serve them (after removing from oven) for about 4-5 hours. What should I do to keep them hot. I have chaffing dishes and a microwave but no access to ovens.
ellen
08/06/11
I would cook ahead, chill, reheat in the microwave just before serving.
shelly
08/14/11
How many serving does a 8 quart charfing dish serve?

I am making oven roasted potatoes, and green beans for 300 people. How many pans should i have of each?

Whole meal includes 6 oz roasted chicken breast bonein , the above sides, salad, roll, and dessert. Coffee, tea, and water.

ellen
08/14/11
The dish is usually only filled to 6 quarts, which is 48 "1/2 cup servings" but realistically most people take more of many popular foods, 32 3/4 cup servings.

Allow at least 1 serving per person.

If you are plating, you use less than if it is buffet/ self serve.

Connie
08/17/11
Hi Ellen, My daughter is getting married and we are cooking the food. We are having Smoked Brisket, Chicken, Cheesey potatoes, A rice dish that the groom loves, 2 vegetables, rolls and salad. I have purchased the chicken breasts but am undecided how I will cook them. I want something that can be cooked ahead and I am worried about drying them out by reheating. Do you have a recipe suggestion? They will be kept warm in the chaffing dishes.
Thanks!
ellen
08/17/11
The orange Dijon wedding chicken on this site in Big Pots is a tried and true recipe that fulfills all the requirements and because of the sauce, no dry-out problems. It is great with rice. Any similar dish would work.
daniel
08/21/11
Having a school function with ~75-100 hotdogs being prepared ahead of time. Probably just boil them unless you offer better suggestion. What would be the best way to keep them warm in a chafing dish- wrap dog in bun with aluminum foil-place in chafing dish or just keep hotdogs in chafing dish and add to bun as given out?
Looking for the least time consuming way!!
ellen
08/21/11
Use skinless if you plan to hold them. Steaming is better than boiling. There is lengthy discussion about hot dogs on this thread, start at 7/15/11.
Brooke
08/23/11
I am planning on making scrambled eggs for a function of 30-40. We don't have a working stove or oven at the location. We do have steamer trays, a BBQ and a large (refrigerator size) warmer that cooks up to 300 degrees. The problem with the warmer is trays are very shallow and slide in and out. I don't think I can cook scrambled eggs very well in it. What else would you suggest? How well would the eggs turn out if I cooked them ahead of time, put them in the freezer then reheated them in the warmer? From what I understand I can not cook them in the steamer tray? Can I cook them on the BBQ?
ellen
08/23/11
You do not want to offer reheated scrambled eggs, unless you don't like the folks you are feeding...

I suggest you do a baked egg breakfast casserole instead, the sort with potatoes, cheese, veggies, etc., which you CAN do in the warmer. You just put glass 9x13's on the shallow trays. I would do 6 pans for this size group, plus fruit trays, some pastries, bagels or toasts, juice and a small assortment of cold cereals and yogurts.

Yes you can do scrambled eggs in large iron frying pans on a bbq, but it takes a little practice.

yolande
08/25/11
I need to do kelibsa and kraut in a chafing pan. How many pounds of each can go into a chafing pan.

thank you

ellen
08/25/11
Yolanda it depends on whether these are the stainless steel ones or the flimsy aluminum foil ones, and also the depth of the pans (they come in 2 1/2, 4, 6 and 8 inch depths). More info, please.
Denise
08/26/11
I am having a surprise birthday party for my husband, we are grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. I would like to grill these before the party and keep them warm in disposable pans with sternos, so everyone can eat at the same time (approx 50-60 people). What's the best way to accomplish this, without the meat drying out?
Karen
08/31/11
I have never used a chafing dish. I have a 6.5 electric chafing dish;(chafing dish separate from electric base)and want to use it for my crab dip. Can I prepare the crab dip and bake it in the chafing dish? Once prepared can I put it on the base to keep it heated? Thank you.
ellen
08/31/11
Denise, I dont have any suggestions; both dry out. What I do when I need to hold is, I make sausage and peppers, and meatballs in sauce, both of which hold beautifully and make great sandwiches.

Karen, The chafer will be fine for holding the dip, but I have no way to tell if your dish is oven proof for the baking- and the chafer will NOT be hot enough to bake it.

rebecca
09/05/11
Should I use a chafing dish or electric roast to keep fried chicken warm? Anything I should do to minimize drying? Thanks. Your site is great- kind of you to share your expertise.
ellen
09/05/11
A chafing dish will be fine. If you want really tasty, you could turn it into fricasee by adding a rich chicken gravy and reheating in the gravy- this holds beautifully.
Lisa
09/08/11
Im catering a wedding for 150 people, I'm serving Cajun Chicken, Jambalaya, String Beans, Glazed Carrots,& Ceasar Salad. How many does a 8qt chaffing dish serve & how to keep my ride moist?
ellen
09/08/11
An 8 quart dish of jambalaya makes about 22 entree servings, or 32 side servings and you need to allow that some people may take seconds or both chicken and jambalaya. If you mean the rice in the jambalaya, the sauce in the dish itself is what is needed. Be sure to use converted rice, such as Uncle Ben's if you plan to hold it.

With this menu you need French bread and an appetizer table with at least fruit, cheese and crackers.

Kelly
09/20/11
Hi Ellen,
I'm having about 100 people on Sunday for my husband's birthday and wanted to keep hot dogs in chafing dishes. Should I boil first and then transfer to the chafing dishes with an inch or so of water? Party will be about 5 hours long with people coming and going. Thank you!
ellen
09/21/11
Kelly, I never try to hold hot dogs like this, it is discussed in detail here:

www.ellenskitchen.com/forum/messages/25635.html

Use skinless, steam, do not boil, cover tightly.

However, I suggest you switch to Polish sausages or kielbasa, much tastier, hold much better.

Kelly
09/21/11
Thank you so much - I'm going to look for a roaster - can I only fit 40 dogs in an 18 quart?
ellen
09/21/11
You can do about 15 pounds.
yvonne
09/26/11
Holding Cabinet
What is time limit for keeping foods hot in a warming/holding cabinet for a wedding reception? Maximum is 190 degrees. Thanks,
ellen
09/26/11
Most of the time, food does not hold well for more than 2 hours. Safety-wise, as long as it is above 160, it is safe.
Pennie
09/26/11
Hi Ellen, I am having a cocktail party and I will be serving some pastry type appetizers like mini quiches and mini crescent hot dogs, etc. what is the best way to keep items like these warm without drying them out? Thanks for your help.
ellen
09/26/11
A true chafing dish works great-
Kelly
09/27/11
My party was on Sunday and I could not find the electric roaster in ANY store around me. I had no choice but to keep them in simmering water in a giant pot on my stove. I had purchased the Costco hotdogs (1/4 lb meaty ones). EVERYONE said how great they were!! It worked in a pinch - I ended up with about 80 people to feed. I never ate till the very end of the night and I have to say - they kept great in there! Maybe because of their size. Thanks!
Kathy
10/11/11
I am having an outdoor party and the temperature is only going to be in the low to mid 60's. I have chafing dishes for the food, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, rice, potatoes, etc. Will I be able to keep the food warm this way in such cool outdoor temperatures? What do you recommend as far as sterno goes? Should I double up on them? Oh this is a bon fire so the guests will be warm, I'd like the food to be warm as well.
ellen
10/12/11
Use the 2-sterno-chafers that take the large sternos, and the wind wrapping method shown in the link near the top of this thread on using chafing dishes. It will stay safely hot.
Chip
10/13/11
I bought an economy 8 qt chafer from a warehouse club that also stocks food pans in every size. I got two half-size 4" food pans (for mashed potatoes & rice), but I'm concerned that the water tray is barely deep enough to accommodate the deep food pans. They fit, but it doesn't seem like there's enough room left for water. Should I exchange the deep pans for shallow ones? If so, what would deep food pans be used for?
ellen
10/14/11
You need enough room to make steam. It is steam, not hot water, that keeps the food hot. Usually the table chafers are the 2 1/2 inch deep pans.

The deep pans are usually used in steam tables and chill tables(the kind at restaurants).

carrie
10/14/11
I'm catering a wedding for 150-200 people. I'm buying a hotbox that holds 5 full size pans. I have 6 full size chafers (8qt) and 6 extra half size pans.

The menu is:
3 full size pans Steuffers Lasagna (6 boxes)

3 full size pans Chicken Alfredo from a local Deli (heat in microwave or oven)

3 full size pans stuffed shells from a local deli (heat in microwave or oven

Tossed Salad

Breadsticks picked up from Olive Garden at 6:00
.
.
.
Is this enough pasta? I could also add 5 quarts of frozen meatballs in a round chafer.

How do I keep the bread from getting cold and/or hard? The last time I put bread in a chafer it got hard quickly and I only have 6 chafers which I wanted to use for pastas.

The venue only has one oven, a small stove, and one microwave. I have to be there at 2 and serve at 6:45.

Carrie
10/14/11
cont'd...

One idea I had was to take the bread directly out of the foil lined delivery bags and put them on each table in bread baskets (instead of holding them on the buffet line). My concern is that people will eat too much bread this way! lol

ellen
10/14/11
Carrie, bread sticks are the least of your problems, you do not have adequate room for safely heating this much food.

5 quarts of meatballs is not enough, either skip or get enough for everyone (which is at least 40 pounds).

Surely there are some vegetables, appetizers, antipasto, etc?

You need about 25 pounds of bread sticks. Bread is cheap, don't skimp on it. On the tables is good; passing the bread encourages strangers to introduce themselves.

kathy
11/06/11
I am making lasagna for a party if 75 people..I am going to bake it first... how can i keep it warm to serve over a period of a couple of hours... will it start to ooze in a chafing dish..?? or should I just keep it on a hot plate?
ellen
11/07/11
Chafing dish is a fine choice, but you will need to keep one in the oven (at 180 degrees) while the other is being served.
mary
11/13/11
I usually make about 5 lbs of roasted potatoes for christmas and keep them warm in 1/2 tray sterno. I am thinking of getting a chafing dish and was wondering what size. Would a 4qt fit 5 lbs. of potatoes or am I better off with a 5qt?
ellen
11/13/11
5 quart gives more space, they stay hotter and not so steamy.
Sandy
11/20/11
Can I bake cornbread dressing in my chafing dish in the oven? Will I need to worry about burning? Thanks!
ellen
11/20/11
Don't know if you have a stainless steel pan in your chafer, but they are not made for baking, and may discolor it.
Sandy
11/21/11
It is stainless steel and seems really thin. I apprecaite the advice. Thank you!
Heidi
11/21/11
I have 2 electric chaffing dishes that appear to not need water.. Will these work OK for keeping mashed potatoes warm for at least 40 minutes while I finish the turkey and ham?
ellen
11/21/11
Yes. Keep covered.
Heidi
11/21/11
Thanks Ellen! I've read some people suggest covering with foil as well as the lid to offer double protection - keeps things warmer but not dry. Is that true?
ellen
11/21/11
That's OK. Won't hurt anything.
Felicia
12/02/11
I will be cooking for 100 people at work. Can you help me determine how much food I need. These are the trays available at my local warehouse club:

Full Tray: Top dimensions: 12 7/8"W x 20 3/4"L x 3 9/16"D Bottom dimensions: 9 7/8" x 17 5/8"

Half Tray: Top dimensions: 10 3/8"W x 12 7/8"L x 2 1/2"D Bottom dimensions: 7 7/8" x 10 3/8"

1. We will have 3 Meat options: Turkey (12 lb), Rotisserie Chicken and Honey Baked Ham (How many lbs.). How many of each should we make? 1A. How many trays will I need for the meats?

2. Our sides will be Macaroni and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Broccoli Florets. Based How many/what size trays of each should I have? 2A. Based on the size you recommend, how many quarts is that considered? 2C. Am I able to bake the Macaroni and cheese in the oven in these same trays?

3. Based on the sizes above, can the half and full trays be placed inside of the full tray for chafing/steaming. It seems kind of snug.

THANKS!!

ellen
12/02/11
Felicia, this is going to take a little time. I will do the calculations and post more.

Caution: you cannot cook or reheat in the chafers, the pans have to be hot (at least 160) when they go in, for food safety sake. The fit is supposed to be snug, to keep the steam under the food pans, it is the steam, not the water, that keeps the food safely hot.

ellen
12/03/11
Turkey (12 lb), I would not do less than 18
Rotisserie Chicken, 8 in pieces
Honey Baked Ham (How many lbs.). 15-18

Macaroni and Cheese, 8 pounds dry (8 9x13)
Mashed Potatoes, 30 pounds
these will work out to about 3 full trays
Green Beans, 20 pounds
Broccoli Florets, 20 pounds.
about 2 full trays, but half trays are easier to handle.

Yes you can bake in the foil trays.

Felicia
12/03/11
Thanks so much for your responses!! Off to shop I go ;-)
Julie
12/06/11
Can I use a round chafing dish to keep cheese dip warm INSTEAD of a crock pot?
ellen
12/06/11
Yes, it just has to be already melted when it goes in.
susan
12/08/11
Can I bake scalloped potatoes directly in the chafing pan in the oven and then remove and place it over the water pan?
ellen
12/08/11
Yes, but be aware that some of these pans are thin and may discolor or warp slightly.
Carrie
12/08/11
Hello! I'm using an 8qt. chafing pan to keep pasta (macaroni and cheese and penne) warm for an event. How many pounds of dry pasta should I make to fit the 8qt. pan? Thank you!
ellen
12/09/11
3-4 pounds, depending on type of pasta and how much sauce.
Claudia
12/10/11
Hello, I would like to know if I can use a candle to keep the food warm on a 4 quart chafing dish with a water pan. Please let me know.

Thank you!

ellen
12/10/11
Sterno keeps a safer temp. Candles are mostly used for tea pots.
Stacy
12/12/11
Hi,
I have a chafing dish from my Grandmother that has a refillable container w/ a wick rather than using canned sterno. Do I fill it with gelled fuel?
Thanks!
Patti
12/13/11
bbq chicken
i am throwing a quinceanera and would like to cater it myself. i am inviting 230 people and am aware that not everyone will show up. my plan is to fix bbq chicken legs and something else. i need to know how long 200 drummsticks will stay hot in a cooler after they cooked and bbq sauce is added? also, it will n ot be self serve.but it will be a buffet.the time for the meal is 5pm-7pm if that helps.
ellen
12/13/11
Stacy, these are "alcohol" lamps, and you need to find an old fashioned hardware store (or go online) to find the correct liquid fuel. My favorite old fondue pot has this type heat.

Patti, The sauce has to be Hot (temp) And I would use electric roasters; the cooler will not keep meat safely hot for several hours.

Stacy
12/13/11
Thank you for your speedy reply. I've found a bottle of gelled liquid fuel. The bottle says for fondue sets and chafing sets. Is that what you are describing? (the liquid is a gel type and colored blue).
Thanks!
sld
Kim
12/14/11
I am doing a beef tenderloin for a party this weekend. My plan is to marinate it overnight, then an hour & half to two hours before the party, brown it on the stove, then roast it in the oven & keep it warm in a chafing dish during the party. I'm borrowing the chafing dish from a friend, I've never used it. I have other things to cook in the oven, so, I need to get it done a little early. What temperature should I cook the tenderloin to in order for it to not overcook in the chafing dish...I would like for it to stay medium or just above for eating? Also, should I go ahead & cut it after it sits 15-20 minutes & put it in the chafing dish or wait until 20-30 minutes before guests arrive to cut it & put in the chafing dish?
Thanks!
Carol Trott
12/15/11
Hello, I'm catering an event on the 28th of this month and need to know how many 4" chafing pans would feed 65 people. I'm serving BBQ chicken, mac & cheese, potato salad and white rice, peas and corn.
ellen
12/15/11
See the steam table pan table on this page, around the middle of the page:

www.ellenskitchen.com/cooktalk/pansmeas.html

Don't forget that you must calculate according to your ACTUAL serving size, since only your peas and corn will actually be served in 1/2 cup servings.

Sarah
12/21/11
Hello, I am cooking Xmas Eve 7 fish. I am making Tilapia, 6oz lobster tails, shrimp,scallops,escargot,sno crab legs, to name a few of the fish. I am planning on steaming the crab legs, and baking the tails (wrapped in foil with butter) and baking the escargot in the oven. My question is Can I cook the Tilapia in the oven before time and then refrigerate it? Can it be safely reheated in the oven to save time then be put into chafing dishes? help this is the first time I have made so many differant fishes at one time.Also any tips on preparing the escargot? They were stuffed and purchases from the butcher market already frozen. I was told just to warm them but don't know how to prepare them for that. Any help is appreciated. Thank you
ellen
12/21/11
Sarah, no fish does well reheated. Bake the tilapia, maybe with a nice sauce, at the same time you do the other oven items.

The simplest snail cookery: Nest into foil on a cookie sheet, meat side up. Top each with a piece of garlic butter (press it in the hole) and bake for about 10-12 minutes in a preheated low oven (350). You might get some ideas from these snail sites:

escargot.free.fr/eng/cooking.htm

www.applesnail.net/content/various/eating_snails.htm#nhoam

ellen
12/21/11
Consider cooking the tilapia in a creole sauce on top of the stove.
nancy
12/23/11
I am having a family breakfast (20 people). I am making home made biscuits. Can I keep these warm in a chafing tray?
ellen
12/23/11
Yes. They will do fine.
vin
12/27/11
Hi, how easy is it to keep Potato Frys and Pizza hot in chafing dishes? will they go soggy, they will be in for an hour max. regards Vin
ellen
12/27/11
Fried things just don't hold well in chafers, refill every 20 minutes from real heat.
Pam
12/31/11
Hi, helping with party for 100 from 5-9pm. Main food items so far are pasta w/chicken in tasso cream sauce, pulled pork with broccoli salad and bread. Appetizers include hot spin/artichoke dip, corn dip and meatballs. Cake for dessert. This is not a sit down dinner. I think more appetizers are needed. Please advise on amounts.
ellen
12/31/11
If this is a come-and-go or open house type party, the folks who come early will eat a meal's worth and the folks who come later a reception size serving. The quantities are different if it is a party where everyone will stay the whole time. Also, is the pulled pork on sandwiches?

Appetizers
hot spin/artichoke dip,
corn dip
meatballs
I would add a fruit tray (see the deluxe tray for 100 on the fruit tray page)

SO SEND SOME MORE INFO ABOUT THE PARTY PLAN.

cake for dessert.

MELANIE
01/09/12
How much chicken
i am cooking fettucine for 60 people about how much chicken do i need
ellen
01/09/12
Look at the chicken section on the plan for 100 page, then use 2/3 the amount for 100, amounts depending on what cut/piece of chicken you use.
Paul
01/12/12
Hi Ellen, Having a kids party at a nearby park. There will be about 20 toddlers and 30 adults. We are going to fix pulled pork sliders on small rolls and macaroni and cheese and want to serve them in the disposable aluminum Sterno chaffing dishes. What size chaffing dishes should we buy and how many of each item. We're also serving watermelon and a veggie tray and cupcakes for desert. Thanks!
ellen
01/12/12
The half size pans are easiest to handle. 10x12x4 inches, full, holds 7 quarts, about 3 9x13 pans.

If you did 2 half pans of macaroni, you would have plenty left- you might do them a little less than full.

For the meat, 2 cups (about a pound) will make 6-8 sandwiches, depends on the size of the buns. One each for the toddlers, 2 for the regular adults, 3 for any heavy eaters or teens.

Connie
01/18/12
I am having some people over Saturday night and want to cook chicken nuggets in the oven and transfer them to a chaffing dish. If I leave the lid off with they stay crunchy or will the chaffing dish cause them to get soggy. That would be bad
ellen
01/18/12
They will hold about 1/2 hour before losing crunch.
Marcie
01/24/12
We are having a valentines dance our church and Several ladys and I are involved in cooking for it...We are preparing boneless pork roast for about 130 people...since we don't have a proper kitchen in the church it will be cooked at home sliced and put in chafing pans and brought to the church...the concern was it drying out!!! It has in the past.....I'm assuming it will be in the pan for at least a hour prior to the event with set up of all the other food....How can we keep it moist???
megan zacharias
01/25/12
I am having a v.i.p party for 52 two people every hour for 4 hours i am making bread bowls with soup i need to know what to do so the bread does not get soggy..
Wendy Brown
01/26/12
I'm cooking Shrimp Jambalaya for a party this weekend and would like to make enough to fill two half chafing dishes (one full chafing pan) The recipe i have calls for 6 cups of uncooked rice with shrimp, vegetables etc serving suggestion on recipe is 16-18 people. I was wondering if you thought this recipe would be enough for one pan.
Thanks for your help.
ellen
01/26/12
Marci, this is a naturally dry meat. You need a wonderful sauce or gravy to reheat. Also, you can make a tunnel in the middle of a loin and fill it with fruit (prunes, remoistened dried apricots, etc, letting it release some moisture into the meat and making really pretty slices.

Megan, you can't fill the bowls until they are ready to sit down and eat. Also, you can coat the bowls inside with a little oil or butter (depends on the soup) and toast just slightly, ahead of time.

Wendy, I would increase it 1/4 to 1/2 (depends on how much/what else is included). These pans hold 7 quarts, 3 9x13 pans.

char
02/07/12
Hello. I am making chicken parmesean, lasanga, veggie pasta alfredo and sausage and peppers for a party of 40.
My plan was to make all the dishes to completion the day before party , and put food in fridge...and reheat in oven before we eat party day..and put food in chafing dishes to keep hot. Is that how you would do it? I assumed all those foods will reheat ok in oven? I wanted to avoid cooking the day of party.. What do you think?

Thank you!

ellen
02/08/12
I think this is not a good menu to make the day before. The chicken Parm, lasagna, and alfredo could be prepped/assembled the day before, but need to be baked day of. The sausage and peppers, OK. This is also too many entrees for 40 people; skip the alfredo.

Yes, heat in the oven before transferring to chafers; chafers do not safely reheat.

Jan
02/10/12
Our church is having a Valentine's banquet for around 30. One of the ladies is bringing homemade noodles and I am preparing the meatballs and gravy (frozen meatballs and Heinz gravy with additions). What size chafing dish sould I use for that? Can I prepare it in crockpots at home and take them to the church (a 7-min drive) and then put them in a chafing dish? We have two 17 qt. roasters, otherwise nothing else but the crockpots to keep them hot. Should I purchase a cheap chafing dish at WalMart? Thank you!
ellen
02/10/12
Yes, that is safe. For 30, why not serve the meatballs in 2 large crock pots?
Jan
02/10/12
Thanks, Ellen. I think I can borrow another large one. :)
Sondra
02/13/12
I have a 5 qt Multifunction Chafing Dish and wanted to know can I bake a breakfast casserole in the dish because must sites are using glass casserole dishes. The casserole will consist of cubed white bread, milk, eggs, ground sausage and cheddar cheese. I may substitute the bread for frozen hash brown potatoes. Thank you!
ellen
02/13/12
No, you can't do cooking in a true chafing dish, it doesn't get hot enough. You need to bake in the oven, then transfer.
Sondra
02/13/12
On the box, it states the chafing dish works as a braising pan on the stove top or in the oven. Also, dish can be moved straight from stovetop/oven to serving stands. Can you explain to me what this means? Thanks
Jo DeSantis
02/16/12
I am coordinating a pot luck dinner party for 100 people at a college with no heating facilities. Crock pots have been used in the past but this presents issues with need to be near outlets and then we have to use extension cords. Can sterno set ups be used to heat up the food which will be brought cold?? I was told it takes forever and probably will not work. Thanks for your help and any suggestions please!!
Mario
02/16/12
I am making 50 chicken subs and planned on wrapping them in aluminum foil then placing them in chaffing dishes to keep warm until served. Do you recommend making a bain marie with 2 dishes and will the chaffing dishes dry out the sub rolls and chicken? Thanks
ELLEN
02/17/12
Saundra, braise is to cook in liqui9d with medium heat. Do not heat the pan empty, do not use high heat.

Jo, No, Sterno is absolutely not safe for reheating. 9x13 casseroles can be stacked in electric roasters (only ONE per outlet, though- they blow fuses in groups). What I would do is entree meats in two roasters and the rest in crock pots...

Mario, not safe to hold chicken under 180 degrees, either do cold and hold cold, or let people assemble with the chicken held hot in chafres.

Denise
02/24/12
How many people does a large chafing dish feed (Alfredo)?
ellen
02/24/12
They come in 2 depths, 2 1/2 and 4 inches. 2 1/2 about 25 1 cup portions.
Ann
03/05/12
Hi. I am having a hawaiian luau birthday party for my son and wanted to make chicken and beef kabobs with green peppers and mushrooms on them. Can I cook the kabobs the night before and then reheat them in the oven covered in foil and then transfer to a chafing dish to keep warm, or will they dry out in the reheating process?
ellen
03/05/12
They will definitely dry out, especially with the veggies on them.

These cook so quickly that reheating takes about as long as cooking, especially if you do yakitori style, which is more common in the islands than the chunk style, so do yakitori style, do the veggies separately, and cook day of.

Pat
03/05/12
Reheating six lasagnas at once..fast
My sisters and I are holding a 90th birthday party for our mother. Our main dish will be lasagna. We will cook them all the day before and reheat them the day of the party. We learned that we can put the oven between 400-500 degrees and heat the lasagna for 3-10 minutes. Here is my question. The oven we are using can hold six lasagnas at once. How long will it take to reheat six lasagnas at 450 degrees or higher?
ellen
03/06/12
I have never cooked and then reheated whole lasagnas.

Preheat the oven at least 20 minutes and expect them to take twice as long as a single. Check the temp in the middle with an instant read thermometer- this is a safety issue- 160 degrees.

eileen
03/06/12
Apple Crisp for a crowd/
Hi Ellen,
What a lovely helpful site you have.
I am making apple crisp for 65 people. Church fund raiser. How many 9x13 pans will I need.??

I am hoping to find extra large cans of pie filling to ease the burden of peelin.
Thank you for any help you can give me re. amount needed.

ellen
03/06/12
I would make 6 or 7 9x13 pans.
Denise Beavers
03/07/12
how much instant rice do I need for 60 guest and how much green salad
Kristina
03/07/12
I'm doing a hot dog bar for my son's birthday party. I'm expecting about 50 people. How many hot dogs do you think I need?

Also, if I buy a roaster oven to steam the hot dogs what's the best way to keep them for the party? How many hot fogs can I cook in an 18 at roaster at a time?

Thank you!

Kristina
03/07/12
I meant how many hot dogs can I cook in an 18 qt roaster at a time? Thanks!
Anita Kaspsh
03/08/12
I'm planning my daughters graduation party and not sure what to use to keep food hot. I am planning to have fettuccine Alfredo, lasagna and sausage and peppers. I am not sure what to keep them warm in. Chafing dish or warming plates.
ellen
03/10/12
Denise, I don't do instant rice- sorry. For salad do 2/3 the amount for 100.

Kristina, read the thread on hot dogs in a roaster, and allow 2 per person.

Anita, it depends on how many servings. An 18 quart electric roaster serves 50-60.

Tammy Hurt
03/10/12
I'm helping plan a breakfast brunch for approx. 200 women. We would like to have breakfast casseroles and was wondering how many chafing size pans to prepare. Our pans are the 8 qt. size.
We will also be serving fruit and pastries/muffins. I'm assuming that we would bake our casserole in the disposable pans and then transfer to the chafing pans.
Thank you.
ellen
03/10/12
See the breakfast for 100 page, you want 7-8 of these large pans (equivalent to 16-18 dozen eggs).
Yvette
03/16/12
Hello,

I am cooking teriyaki chicken and meat balls for a group of approx. 40 people.I will have 3 salads, rice, snacks etc. I would like to know how many chafing dishes I will need for the meat and what size? I would appreciate any suggestions you may have to offer.

ellen
03/17/12
Standard large chafers (the rectanglar ones) hold about 8 quarts=32 cups. 1 chafer for each with 40 people.
fish for tacos
04/03/12
Chafing Dishes steam tray restaurant
i am wanting to cook some unbreaded fish ahead of time and putting in steam tray to keep warm for fish tacos on friday what kind of fish will work and not get mushy?
ellen
04/04/12
Most fishes will get mushy treated this way. I would try a firm, white fleshed fish such as haddock or cod.
Jasmine
04/05/12
Throwing a small appetizer wedding reception. 26 adults, 11 children. We are having meatballs which I know do well in a chafing dish. Any suggestions for another hot app? The groom loves pizza and I was wondering if individual calzones would do okay?
ellen
04/08/12
Yes, the tiny freezer food called "Pizze Bites" is another option, or the tiny pizzas about as big as a silver dollar.

A hot dip such as artichoke, spinach, crab, queso, or pizza is another option.

Lisa
04/17/12
I am just starting to plan the menu for my daughter's hs graduation open house (approx 75-100 people), which will be during the dinner hour, probably from 5pm-8pm. She would really like to have pizza and/or calzones, as well as macaroni and cheese for the hot dishes. Do pizza and calzones stay warm well in chafing dishes without drying out or getting hard/crusty on the bottom? Any suggestions?
ellen
04/20/12
Calzones probably hold better, but the truth is, teens will eat pizza cold...

They eat a LOT of pizza, about 1/3 large each. Have some fruit trays, maybe some finger relishes or veggies.

Dre
04/23/12
Hello, I am doing a job for 300 people and will like to know how many full 4in pans would I need for each items( Baked Chicken, Meatball and Baked Ham)
ellen
04/24/12
I would do 1 pound meatballs per 5 plus 1 piece chicken per person plus 1 pound boneless ham per 5. Put the chicken first in the lines (you need at least 4.)
Angela
04/30/12
Thanks for all your wonderful advice!! I am planning a dinner/reception (5 pm) for about 100 people. How many full chafing dishes of macaroni and cheese and how much potato salad would you recommend?
ellen
04/30/12
A full chafing dish serves 30 plentiful servings- 50 if a server is scooping- I would do 3 and expect to have some left unless it is the only starch. 4 gallons potato salad and you may have some left.
cindy
04/30/12
We are catering our daughter's grad party. For a half aluminum chafe dish is the volume 4 qts? this is for baked beans. Serving apx 100 people; thinking will prepare 4. Having fried chicken, potato salad, fruit salad and macaroni and cheese. possibly veggie trays. Also,have two sheet cakes that will require chilling due to being filled with cheesecake and the other one filled with mousse. What is the best way to keep safe with the cakes? great site and great help. Thx!
ellen
04/30/12
More like 3-3 1/2 quarts. For 100 people I do 3 gallons= 4 pans.

Borrow cooler or refrigerator space from a friendly neighbor.

Lily
05/03/12
I have 6 pounds of pasta I am serving, what size chafing dish do I need to keep it warm. 8 quart, 6 quart or 4 quart?
ellen
05/09/12
This is about 6 quarts of pasta plus any sauce or additions, if that is dry weight. To serve all at once, at least the 8 quart.
Michelle
05/24/12
How many pounds of chicken cutlets should I buy if I want to fill a half tray. I plan of slicing the chicken and pounding thin, then cutting them in half to be more like the size of a medallion. The tray fits about 3 quarts. I am making chicken marsala
ellen
05/24/12
Half tray is usually considers about 12 servings. Maybe 4 pounds.
Tracy
05/28/12
I am cooking for my daughter's grad party. I am using sternos to keep food warm for a buffet. (I am making the food ahead, reheating at the house and keeping it in the stove at the hall on warm until time to serve). I need a second dish though. The first is malfalda lasagna...going to have salad, bread, etc. What else would be an easy dish that I could serve as an alternative that would serve well in this manner? Thanks.
ellen
05/28/12
The orange dijon wedding chicken on this site is a great make ahead choice. Or maybe Italian sausage and peppers with good bread?
April
05/30/12
I am making 2 pasta dishes for 40-50 ppl. There will be other food also. How many of the large aluminum pans of each will I need to have? Thanks!
ellen
05/30/12
You need a total of about 10 pounds of dry pasta if this is the only starchy dish; 8 if there are other starches.
gina
05/30/12
Can you keep chicken nuggets warm by using a crock pot?
ellen
05/30/12
Warm, but not crisp.
gina
05/30/12
Would a chaffing dish work better to keep chicken nuggets "crispy" on a buffet line? Any other suggestions?
Tracy
06/01/12
We are cooking for our own wedding of 40 people and need to know how many 1/2 trays to make of each item? Baked ziti, meatballs, roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, mixed veggies, chicken marsala, and salmon? And wanted to know if you had any tips on preparing any of these dishes ahead of time?
ellen
06/01/12
Gina, it will be a bit better, but not too much.

Tracy, a half tray is usually 3 quarts or about 15 servings.

With meatballs, chicken marsala and salmon as entrees, I would do 1 pound meatballs per 5, 1 pound raw salmon per 5 plus 1 pound raw chicken per 4.

Meatballs can be done ahead and frozen, Ziti can be assembled ahead but bake day of. Rice, maybe with almonds and dill, would be a good alternative to potatoes and can be done in the oven. Salmon can be done ahead and served chilled with a mayonnaise sauce, very nice for summer.

Brandi
06/04/12
How Manu servings of lasagna in an 8 qt dish?
Hi Ellen,
I am serving lasagna for my wedding reception. It is a tried and true recipe I have made a ton. I have never, however, made it for 150 people. My question is how many servings does one 8 qt pan hold? I am assembling the day before and I am going to cook them the day of (well I hired someone to do the cooking for me on my wedding day). How long should I cook them for? I rented a heater to store them in after I cook them. Should I allow the lasagna to 'set' before placing them in the heaters or on the chafers? I always let it set at home or it gets a little runny. Also, I am serving appetizers for cocktail hour. How many should I serve for this many people? Right now I have 5 on the list, all to be prepared by 3 close relatives, each having about 3 bites per person. I am also serving salad and bread.
Thank you!
Brandi
ellen
06/05/12
An 8 quart dish is 2 1/2 9x13's, so think about how many people you serve from a 9x13 and you can figure this out. Don't leave them at room temp between cooking and warming, they will set in the warmer, unless you have a very wet recipe.
the pans are cold from the fridge, they take about twice as long as just made, using a 325 heat.
If

If you have 15 bites per person for your appetizers, that is way plenty!

Lorraine
06/11/12
Hi Ellen,
Having sandwiches and salads for my sons eagle scout ceremony this weekend.
My question is about the salads. I have the large stainless pans from my chafing dishe sets to make the salads in. ( I will use ice in the 4" pan to keep it cold.)
I want to make a macaroni, a potatoe and a pasta salad. How much macaroni (elbows) , lb. boxes, do I need for the big pan? And roughly how many will it serve?
ellen
06/11/12
Lorraine, the 2 inch full chafer holds about 8 quarts, usually considered 25 servings. 1 pound pasta makes about 2 1/2 to 3 quarts salad or casserole.
Jonathan
06/11/12
Hi Ellen,
I have a party and there more or less 200 people.
I am planning on putting out 2 Full trays (Buffet style) of TRI-COLOR Pasta..PENNE ALLA VODKA & BAKED ZITI, 1 Full tray of each: Salads. How much do think I need and how much do you think i could get out of it?
ellen
06/12/12
Jonathan, see the pan sizes page for info on how much the various depths of full size pans holds. The depth varies from 2 to 8 inches, and the 2 inch pan is only about Usual serving of pasta as an entree is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups.

www.ellenskitchen.com/cooktalk/pansmeas.html

That isn't nearly enough food for 200, even if they are polite.

Mandy
06/19/12
My uncle is making a Hawaiian luau style pig for my wedding. The day of the wedding he will be finishing the pig. since we are expecting around 130 people we are serving 45 pounds of cooked pig. (a portion of the pig) Would using a chafer pan be the best way to do this? could this be placed in the tin foil dish things in the oven and place them on the chafer after the ceremony is finished without drying the meat out. how many 8 quart pans will I need for this much meat?
Any other suggestions for me?
ellen
06/19/12
45 pounds of cooked boneless meat is a little bit short for 130.

A chafing pan holds about 25 servings, 12 pounds.

BE SURE to carry the foil pans on thick cookie sheets. They CANNOT be handled by the edges when full.

Have at least one dish that can serve as an entree for non-,meat and non-pork eaters. Have a happy day.

Jer
06/19/12
Kabobs
Can kabobs be cooked in advance and then left in a warming oven to be served later?
ellen
06/19/12
Very likely to be really unsatisfactory after holding. Beef tips with mushrooms and gravy uses the same meat and holds fine.
Michelle
06/23/12
Hi Ellen
We are doing a buffet style dinner for our upcoming wedding for approx 55 adults and 16 kids(kids meal planned). However we are unsure how to determine how much food we would need.
Our menu goes as follows
1.Rotisserie chicken ( which we are buying from a Deli and having a whole chicken cut in to 6-8 pieces.. We plan to purchase anywhere from 9-10 whole chickens depending on if we portion out the wing as a seperate cut from the breast )
2.Black eyed peas - Adults Menu
3.Collard Greens - Adult Menu
4.Mini Golden Potatoes (planing on 1 per person but cut in to 1/2 pieces) - Adult Menu
5.Mac n Cheese - Adult and Child Menu
6.Chicken Fingers - Child Menu
7.Salad - Adult and Child
8.Rolls - 2 bags with 35 per bag

My question is in regards to the aluminum chafing dishes and how many of each we would need for each side dish. We aren't sure of how many half pans (12 1/2in x 10 1/2in x 2 1/2in) we'd need or if a full pan(20in x 12in x 2in) would be best.
I will also be making the mac n cheese and greens myself. If you could also possibly advise me on approx how many boxs of noodles would be need and the many bushels of greens assuming they are a good size bushel would be suggested for purchase to feed approx all 55 adults.

Thanks so much for your time
Michelle

Helene
06/23/12
Hi Ellen,

We are having a family reunion this Saturday (6/30) and there will be approximately 50 adults and 30 children there. What is the best way to make sausage and peppers for this crowd? Thank you! And, can you think of anything else that would be easy?

ellen
06/23/12
Helene,
I would roast the sausages in the oven, drain slightly. Use the fat to brown the veggies- equal weight to the sausage- most people use peppers, onions, sometimes tomatoes. Put it all back in the roaster, cover with foil or lids, hold at 180.
Michelle
06/23/12
Hi Ellen
We are doing a buffet style dinner for our upcoming wedding for approx 55 adults and 16 kids(kids meal planned). However we are unsure how to determine how much food we would need.
Our menu goes as follows
1.Rotisserie chicken ( which we are buying from a Deli and having a whole chicken cut in to 6-8 pieces.. We plan to purchase anywhere from 9-10 whole chickens depending on if we portion out the wing as a seperate cut from the breast )
2.Black eyed peas - Adults Menu
3.Collard Greens - Adult Menu
4.Mini Golden Potatoes (planing on 1 per person but cut in to 1/2 pieces) - Adult Menu
5.Mac n Cheese - Adult and Child Menu
6.Chicken Fingers - Child Menu
7.Salad - Adult and Child
8.Rolls - 2 bags with 35 per bag
My question is in regards to the aluminum chafing dishes and how many of each we would need for each side dish. We aren't sure of how many half pans (12 1/2in x 10 1/2in x 2 1/2in) we'd need or if a full pan(20in x 12in x 2in) would be best.
I will also be making the mac n cheese and greens myself. If you could also possibly advise me on approx how many boxs of noodles would be need and the many bushels of greens assuming they are a good size bushel would be suggested for purchase to feed approx all 55 adults.

Thanks so much for your time
Michelle

ellen
06/23/12
Nice, Michelle,

The aluminum half pans are sturdier and easier to handle than the full pans. The full pan holds about 25 moderate servings, so you would do 5 of any side dish for all.

I would simply count this as 2/3 of 100= 65 served.

1.Rotisserie chicken ( which we are buying from a Deli and having a whole chicken cut in to 6-8 pieces.. We plan to purchase anywhere from 9-10 whole chickens depending on if we portion out the wing as a seperate cut from the breast )-1 chicken per 6- I would probably get a dozen if I had any big eaters.
2.Black eyed peas - Adults Menu- 2 gallons or about 18 pounds shelled
3.Collard Greens - Adult Menu- 35 pounds fresh or 18 pounds ready to cook
4.Mini Golden Potatoes (planing on 1 per person but cut in to 1/2 pieces) - Adult Menu- 20 pounds- kids will eat,also
5.Mac n Cheese - Adult and Child Menu- 5 pounds dry pasta
6.Chicken Fingers - Child Menu- Adults will eat, also; at least 6 pounds
7.Salad - Adult and Child- plan for 100 table, 2/3 of 100
Consider adding a fruit tray.
8.Rolls - 2 bags with 35 per bag- at least 3 bags. 2 pounds butter

praise
07/27/12
will mini pizzas stay warm and not soggy in a chafing dish??
ellen
07/27/12
Not for long- they will get a little soft after about 15-20 minutes.
kim Wrona
07/28/12
How many pounds of mostaccioli fit in a large chafing dish?
kim Wrona
07/28/12
Also, if I use a no meat sauce (from a jar) how long can it sit out before I reheat for serving later in the day?
ellen
07/28/12
Kim, NOTHING should be at room temp for more than 4 hours total, including all prep and serving time. Why leave it out before reheating?
kim Wrona
07/28/12
There are 2 reasons why I would leave it out. First, - refrigerator space, secondly, I thought it would heat up faster if not ice cold from the fridge. But it's already done, and in the fridge for reheating later today. Also if anyone is interested I made 4 - 1 lb. boxes of mostacciolli and it, plus sauce, filled the large pan perfectly with just enough room to sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top!
Chef D
07/28/12
Hi Kim, if you buy the sauce from the shelf supermarket in a jar, then it can sit out until you are ready to use it.. but if not follow Ellen advice on it.
Stacey
07/29/12
Hi Ellen
We are hosting a 4 year old birthday and serving sliders, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese and some sort of salad. We are expecting 31 adult and 29 kids. Could you make a recommendation as to how many sliders to make, how many pounds of ground beef to buy and how much macaroni and cheese to prepare. Also, my husband will be grilling the meats during the party but I was wanting to purchase a chafing dish so we have a place to keep them warm - do you think a full sized divided chafer would be appropriate?
ellen
07/29/12
3 per grown up and 2 per kid. A pound makes about 7 sliders.

5-6 pounds dry pasta for the mac and cheese.

The chafer would be fine. Several companies make an electric roaster with a buffet server insert, which is another option with extra uses.

Jean
08/02/12
I am making 16 lbs of Sausage with peppers, onions & potatoes for Granddaughters Christening. My problem is I was planning on cooking at home and bringing the trays with me to go to church. It will be 3 hrs total for trays to be in car before we put the food on sternos at Catering Hall. It is hot out and was wondering if this would be okay to keep hot safely. I don't know what else I could do. Also can you suggest how many lbs of peppers, onions & potatoes I should buy.
Jean
08/03/12
Is it possible to give me an answer today. The Christening is Sunday and I have to buy the peppers, onions and potatoes.

Thank you very much.

ellen
08/03/12
No, it is absolutely NOT safe to keep the food in the car.

I would make it the day before and refrigerate; take in an ice chest; plug in an electric roaster before the service and heat to 350-400- put the sausage in- serve when hot after the service (could also heat at 400 tightly covered in an oven).

Get a weight of vegetables equal to the weight of the meat.

Jasmine
08/09/12
Hi Ellen,
So I am throwing a 5yr old birthday party at a park. I want to know if I can pre-make the hotdogs with the buns and put them in the "Chaffing Dish" to keep warm and what can I use to wrap them so they are warm & ready to eat (meaning all they have to do is unwrap and put their topping of choice)? Also I wanted to do Nachos, but the park does not have electric outlets for crockpots, so the Chaffing dish came to mind to use for the Nacho Cheese sauce..will this work, will it stick to the pans,will it stay nice creamy and hot? And chili beans too. Can I use the disposal chaffing dieshes for all of these items. I need party help and want to make things as easy as possible, any ideas on what to serve, or do to keep warm and to still have yummy nachos..?? Please help!
ellen
08/10/12
I would probably not try to do this menu with 5 year olds and no electricity- they don't care about nachos and chili beans, anyway. Sternos and chafing dishes are not too safe around small children...

Jasmine, have you considered pigs in a blanket, which is a roll wrapped around a hot dog and bake in place?

Chafing dishes don't heat food, they just keep it hot if it is already hot.

If the park has grills, you can keep things hot on grills, including pans of cheese sauce.

So consider letting them make sandwiches with non-hot items, having chips and dips, not nachos, and save the beans for another time. Fruit trays. Cake and lemonade.

Anyway, here are a few other ideas...

set up an obstacle course around the park --hopscotch, jumping over a stick, twirling, doing X number of jumping jacks, run around a post 3 times, hula-hooping, crab-walking or walking sideways, skipping, tossing bean-bags, etc.

"Candy Land" themed. Each kid, and adult, gets a cupcake to decorate with gumdrops, and licorice and all the stuff from Candyland, and the main cake is a castle made to look the caste on the box. Even a pinata that matches.

Kathy
08/22/12
Hi Ellen,

I am doing the majority of the cooking for my daughters wedding reception. 100 to 120 people. The meat is pulled pork and barbeque chicken prepared onsite by professional. I am preparing Mac n cheese, collards, baked beans, marinated coleslaw, potatoe salad, and corn muffins. Collards are cooked and frozen. How many chafer pans of Mac n cheese and baked beans wil i need. How many pounds of potatoes for the potato salad and how much cabbage for the slaw. Can i prepare baked beans and mac n cheese a couple of days before and reheat without dryiing them out. I have plenty of help but i have limited ovens available. I am willing to rent a hotbox to keep backups warm. I have 2 double ovens to reheat in. How long can you keep things warm in the hotboxes without sacrificing taste. I read your responses to others and you recommend two lines for this amount of guests. Due to Space issues this may be difficult. Is it going to be a big problem? Thank you in advance.

ellen
08/23/12
Mac n cheese, 1 pound per 10, 1 quart sauce per pound
collards, ready to cook, 26 pounds
baked beans, 3 gallons
marinated coleslaw,
potato salad, 4- 4 1/2 gallons
corn muffins, 2 per person, 3 pounds butter per 100
buns, 4 per pound of pork. See sandwich page for notes about condiments

prepare baked beans and mac n cheese a couple of days before and reheat without drying them out. Prepare up to 48 hours ahead, but do not cook. Refrigerate. Bake day of, adding about 1/2- 3/4 hours to cooking time. Beans would fit in one electric roaster- preheat the roaster for 20 minutes before placing the pan.

Two lines for this amount of guests. "Due to Space issues this may be difficult. Is it going to be a big problem?"
Yes, it is, with 100+ guests. You can do 2 lines by setting the table up so people can go down both sides.

If you thoroughly preheat the cambros/ hot boxes, and the food is over 180 degrees going in, they can hold 2-4 hours.

If this saves you time, trouble or money, consider a donation to support the site.

Jasmine
09/02/12
Hi Ellen, I was wondering how many chafers and and how much food of each should I get to serve at a wedding. I am using Magic Chef 7.5-qt Buffet Server, which comes with 3 2.5 dishes. We are serving general tso chicken, white rice, house special rice, sesame seed chicken,fried noodles, and sweet and sour chicken. We are having about 90 guest.
ellen
09/02/12
You need a vegetable dish, and possible pork and vegetables.

For 90 people, 2 1/2 gallons each of the 3 items, 6 gallons rice, about 2/3 fried.

Mike
09/05/12
If I were serving salad, baked penne with mozzarella and ricotta, meatballs and sausage along with bread/rolls... How much pasta should I slot for each person? I am thinking 2 cups? so for around 110 people that's 220 cups. Divided by 32 and that's about 7 full 8qt pans for the pasta right?
ellen
09/05/12
That will be plenty, you may have one left if they are light eaters.
Mike
09/06/12
Thanks Ellen! My rough plan would be to prep in half chaffing dishes a day or two before and refrigerate the pasta. The meatballs and sausage I plan on precooking in the sauce which will be done before the pasta since I need it for the pasta. I'll remove them from the sauce and place in half chaffing dishes. Day off I will cook the pasta and reheat the meats in a regular size oven at the location, storing things in a hotbox till everything is cooked. Does that sound about right? The meatballs and sausage will mostly cook IN the sauce and there will be sauce in the pans with them so not too worried about them drying out or anything. If I'm making about 25lbs of each, so each person gets around 1/3 to 1/2 pound of meat, how many chaffing dishes will that be and do they make disposable chaffing dishes? Thanks!
ellen
09/06/12
If the cooked pasta sits without sauce in the fridge for a day or two, it can get pretty chewy. Do an experiment, make a small batch holding in the sauce and without, and reheat according to plan and see how you like the quality.

I would get some roasters and do all at once, this is too much for one regular oven. The roasters blow fuses unless they are plugged into separate circuits on heavy duty extension cords (the orange or yellow ones); use surge protected extension outlets.

Mike
09/07/12
Thanks Ellen! I didn't mean I'd refrigerate the pasta without the sauce, kind of the opposite actually. 1st step will be browning the meat, 2nd making the sauce with the meat in it, 3 making the pasta el dente, 4 remove meat from sauce, 5 mixing pasta with cheeses and sauce saving sauce to have on the side, 6 refrigerate meat covered in sauce and unbaked pasta mix. Day of I'll put the pasta in 4 roasters to cook and use the on sight over to heat up the meat balls and sausage. Would you serve right out of the roasters or would you transfer to a chaffing dish? Same thing with the meatballs and sausage bc I could use crockpots and serve out of them or transfer to chaffing dishes.
ellen
09/07/12
Chafers are sexier- it depends on the event...
Justin
09/07/12
Hi, Ellen I was wondering how much of chicken tenders, sweet boneless
BBQ wings, popcorn chicken, and regular wings would I need to serve 90 people.

Also will electric buffet chafers keep these food hot enough and not dry them out

Etta
09/08/12
I am making baked stuffed potatoes in advance of a dinner party for 8. In the past, when I reheat them they get very loose and ooze out of the potato skins. Any suggestions?
ellen
09/08/12
Justin, they will keep in electric chafers, but are these part of appetizers, entree at dinner, what?

Etta, look at the mashed potatoes that hold recipe, and modify your way of preparing the stuffing. Or make everything say before, but do not stuff until just before cooking, so you can beat the filling just before cooking.

Justin
09/08/12
They are part of the entree dinner
ellen
09/08/12
Justin, OK.

chicken tenders, depends on size, 2-3 per person
sweet boneless BBQ wings, 1 pound per 3
popcorn chicken, 1 pound per 4
regular wings- substitute legs, cheaper and more variety, 1 per person plus 10%

Justin
09/08/12
Hi Ellen, I have another question. How much bake macaroni and cheese would I have to make for 90 people.

Also what other types of food could I serve with the other entree dinner.

ellen
09/08/12
( pounds dry pasta, and I do not understand the other question.
Justin
09/08/12
Yes dry pasta
Justin
09/08/12
What are other types of food I could serve with the chicken tenders, sweet boneless BBQ wings, popcorn chicken, and regular wings.
ellen
09/09/12
9 pounds dry pasta, and what is the budget, kitchen and occasion? For example, is it a meatloaf, pot roast, or steamship round type event?
Justin
09/09/12
Wedding
ellen
09/09/12
OK. Sliced meat of some kind, such as pot roast or sliced round. 1/3 to 1/2 pound raw per person
Sarah
09/12/12
If you transferred a rice dish from a slow cooker into a chaffing dish and covered with cheese like provolone or mozzarella would it melt? Would it be better to use sprinkled or sliced?

Thanks!

ellen
09/13/12
It would melt if the dish was tightly covered. It will melt faster shredded and also serve better.
Jasmine
09/17/12
Hi Ellen

I had a question about disposable aluminum chafers. Do they work as well as the regular ones. I was looking into purchasing these for a wedding, but was not sure if they did or not.

ellen
09/17/12
No, they are over-flexible and a little more likely to scorch.
Jasmine
09/17/12
Oh okay, so bad idea to keep fried chicken, mashed potatoes, dirty rice, and biscuit hot?
Kathy
09/21/12
Hi,
I'm serving 1 full pan of jerk chicken and
Kathy
09/21/12
Hi,
For a party, I'm serving one full pan of jerk chicken and 1 full pan of rice and peas. I've ordered them from a restaurant which does catering and have to pick them up the day before the party because the restaurant is not open on the day of the event. I will be refrigerating the pans when I pick them up. On the day of the party, how long I should reheat them for and at what temperature before transferring them to disposable aluminum chafers? Thanks!
Rebecca
09/21/12
Hi Ellen,

I was wondering if you could help me, i have taken on a charity event for a friend towards christmas, its a great cause and they dont have the money other than for the food so i said i would help them out. I will have two cooks available and its a really simple menu. We are doing a warm winter salad (probably squash or sweet potato based thinking superfoods maybe) and a soup (vegetarian non dairy). Its for 400 people, problem is i dont know how much equipment to hire, being budgets are tight and how many volunteers i should ask for as servers. Its a dinner event that will go for two hours, we have a proper kitchen to prep everything in and will just re-heat and assemble on site. They wanted to have this self service, but i think the food will go further if we serve it with volunteers. Should i use chaffing dishes to serve the warm salad, or will it make it too hot? HOw many should i rent, how many servers should i have and is it practical to re-heat soup in large quantities, transfer to soup warmers to then serve from in a buffet scenario? So many questions! Sorry. Any help for this worthy cause would be so appreciated.

ellen
09/21/12
Jasmine, they will work fine as long as the food is already hot (from oven heating) when it goes in. Just handle with care and move full pans on cookie sheets or trays, not by holding the sides.
ellen
09/21/12
Kathy, they need to be covered tightly with foil, placed in a 325 oven that has been preheated for 20 minutes, and heated until the middle of the pan is 180 degrees, measured with a quick read thermometer. This will take up to 2 hours, depending on how deep the food is in the dish. As soon as hot, turn oven to 180.

I would start the rice about 1/2 hour before the chicken. It takes longer because it is dense.

ellen
09/21/12
Rebecca, a 400 person event takes about 8 people in the kitchen and about 24 servers to set up, serve and clean up, if it is self-serve, and about 32-40 if table service (larger amount for less experience.) Plus you have to feed the servers, also.

You are talking 32 gallons, which is about 250 pounds, of soup and 12-15 gallons of salad.

The menu would benefit from the addition of 1 more item, a green bean casserole such as my better green bean casserole in the top section of big pots would be an excellent addition. It can be made with a soy milk cream sauce instead of canned soup to eliminate dairy. A corn side dish is another option- see the article on big pots.

You desperately need to add good bread and real butter or nut butter to the menu- at least 12 pounds bread and 3 pounds butter per 100. This only adds about $25 per hundred to the cost if you make the bread yourself (there are very good frozen bread doughs that cost less than $1 per pound). You also need a good dessert.

Iced tea is the least expensive non-water beverage.

Yes, you use about 10% less food if you serve, but table service for that many people with inexperienced help is a nightmare. An option is servers at the buffet.

You need 6 to 8 serving lines for 400 people for buffet, as it takes about 1 minute per person.

Chafing dishes are fine for the salad.

Kayla
09/22/12
Great info on this site! We are catering for 100-120 people for a wedding on the beach. Serving tri tip, BBQ chicken, buns, potato salad, regular salad and beans. Appetizers...nuts and crackers/cheese. I saw the post about cooking the tri tip a little raw and covering it tightly. I also saw the posts about all the chicken. I guess my question is about quantity. I have 75lbs of tri tip and 30lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I have not purchased the sides yet. How many buns, and regular salad should I buy? Is this enough meat to serve a max of 120 people? How many 8qt chafing dishes of each meat and sides? 2? I plan on having 2 8' tables set up for the food line. Also, and suggestions about anything else I should have?

Thanks so much. Love this site.

ellen
09/22/12
You have PLENTY of meat, will have some left. 2 buns per person unless very large, but get good ones; with that tritip, I would probably spring for crusty, baguette style rolls. Get sandwich condiments for 100, see the sandwich page.

Salad, use the plan for 100 table 1 1/4 times the amount for 100.

You need 4 8 foot tables, set up so people can go down each side, you can start mirred sides from each and and put the meat in the middle, or do 2 full serving stations.

3 gallons beans per 100.

I would probably add a fruit tray, see the fruit tray page. I would definitely have a sliced cheese tray at least 8 pounds assorted, as you will have people who don't eat meat in a crowd that size, or else do a dozen veggie burgers for them.

If this saves you time trouble or money, consider a donation to support the site.

Rebecca
09/24/12
Ellen - thank you so much for your response - I will definitely add in the bread and real butter. I like the idea of having 6-8 serving lines. Could i therefore ask, how much does a chaffing dish tray hold of food? If for example I had 6 serving lines and two trays per server of the warm salad at each serving line, how many times do you think these would need to be refilled to feed 400 people? The reason that I ask is that i need to rent everything. So far my rental list looks like this:-

12 Chaffing Dishes
12 serving spoons
24 Full trays to sit in chaffing dishes
6 soup warmers
6 ladles
400 soup bowls
400 side plates for bread
400 main plates for warm salad
400 knives and forks and soup spoons

for in the kitchen
3 x industrial gas burners
3 x gas bottles
3 x 40L saucepans to re-heat the soup in

We will cook all the salad items off site, compile and warm through in chaffing dishes on-site, how long will it take to heat the salad to warm? Thinking something Kale and sweet potato based.

One other question Ellen and I really appreciate your time on this, we will heat up the soup in large commercial size saucepans in a makeshift kitchen on-site on gas hobs. But how/ what is the best way to get the soup from these pans into soup warmers, being that its going to be very hot? Or are soup warmers a bad idea? I cant work this out logistically and would love some advice, as we need to get it from huge saucepans to something smaller to serve it from on the buffet lines.

Many thanks again for your help.
Rebecca

ellen
09/24/12
Rebecca, chafers will not safely heat the food/ salad; you need to oven heat, then transfer to chafers. You can move hot food in cambros (which some rental places handle) or preheated ice chests, see the potato bar page for discussion.

Chafer trays come in 2 1/2 , 4, and 6 inch depths, but the standard is 2 1/2. Full size, these hold 6-8 quarts, which is about 25-30 servings.

I use a standard 3 quart saucepan with a heat-proof handleto ladle out of the big pots. I have strong hands.

Have 2 serving spoons per chafer

Have a few extra ladles, things get dropped.

Usual on buffet to have 2 plates per person. You do not need a separate bread plate.

Need at least 1.2 plates and bowls. People come back for seconds, need clean plate; it's the law in many states.

Plan on 2 forks, 1 1/2 spoons, 1 knofe per person, 4 napkins.

I personally would have at least 4 heaters, 6 would not be too many, as it takes almost 20 minutes per gallon to heat liquids. The less in the pot, the faster it heats. DO NOT forget paddles for stirring the soup. These pots are huge and you MUST stir all the way to the bottom.

Craig
09/25/12
Love the site and all the help you provide us with. I am catering a breakfast event for 40 attendees. I am in the process of buying a Nostalgia Electrics Buffet Server & Warming Tray, which contains three covered 2.5-qt. chafing dishes. I am serving Scrambled eggs as their breakfast meal with sides. Now I already have a container for all sides covered. I am just concerned that the tree 2.5-qt chafing pan will not be enough eggs. Do i need any more chafing dishes for scrambled eggs? Thanks for your help Ellen!
ellen
09/26/12
5 eggs are 1 cup, which is about 2 people's worth of scrambled eggs without additions. You should have just the right amount of space for 40 peoples' eggs.
chris
10/16/12
i hope you can help me answer some questions. my party starts at 7 and i have plenty of snacks for when people arrive. i would like people to eat by 8:30 and i am having it catered by an italian restaurant. they will deliver anytime. i am having chicken fingers, penne ala vodka, sausage and peppers, and meatballs. also they will be deliving pizza. i have 4 sternos that the food can be placed on. what time should i have them deliver the food?? also should i tell them to deliver it hot and i just keep my sternos lit for them? or should they deliver cold?? thank you for any help you can give me.
ellen
10/17/12
Deliver hot by 7:30, have sternos on, assuming 50 people or less.
Cassandra
10/23/12
I'm having a church seminar this December and about 100 people will be attending. i would like to know how many pans of dirty rice, drumettes, meatballs and spaghetti/cheze that I will need. Please help me Ellen December is right around the counter.
Jessica
10/23/12
I would like to know how many pans that I need for devil eggs. feeding about 100-120 people.
ellen
10/23/12
Cassandra, is this all for the same meal? It's an odd menu.

Also Drummettes are VERY expensive as chicken goes, leg quarters are much cheaper and more filling. Write back.

ellen
10/23/12
Jessica, you need about 6-7 dozen eggs. Not sure what you mean by how many pans- if serving over ice in a chafer, you would just put out 1 pan at a time, which would hold about 2 dozen eggs.
Amanda
11/05/12
I am planning a party for possibly 30ppl (6pm-2am roughly). The hot food will consist of buffalo chicken dip, sausage&peppers, pulled pork (in crock pot) & I thought sliders would be a great idea. as far as cooking sliders in the oven (too cold outside for the grill) how long do you suggest cooking for & at what temp? also keeping sliders warm right from oven in what type of warmer is best and for how long before becoming dried out?
ellen
11/06/12
Amanda, this basically counts as 3 rounds of food; appetizers, dinner, and midnight snack. You need to plan the service in 3 rounds. The food so far does not show this.

Also, sliders are labor intensive and don't hold very well. How about something like mini meatball subs instead?

Also this is surely not the whole menu. Please START A NEW THREAD, post the whole menu so far, information about beverages, too. Then I will try to help.

Peg
11/17/12
Cooking turkey day before
Can I cook 2 - 10 lb turkeys day before. How do I wrap or keep so won't dry out next day which will be Thanksgiving. Will really help me as so many are coming and I am 85 so will be tired. Have some help but turkey would be great if I can cookk it day beforre. Thanks
ellen
11/17/12
You can't reheat whole turkeys safely. On the top of the Big Pots index page is an article on safely reheating turkey cooked ahead. It is very tasty that way, and easy to serve.
Beverly
12/22/12
Ellen, one of the dishes at our family Christmas Eve get together is meatballs in spaghetti sauce; however, two of the family members now need to eat gluten free. I was going to make a batch of meatballs without breadcrumbs; will that alter the taste? Also, one person doesn't do well with red sauce; how can I keep some meatballs hot without sauce? Thought of a small crockpot, but was worried they may dry out. Any suggestions?
ellen
12/22/12
What I would do is, make meatballs with gluten-free crumbs (our gluten-free bakery has these, or you can make from gluten-free bread) and make a sauce such as with beef bouillon, sauteed onions and mushrooms, italian seasoning and garlic and a gluten-free thickener such as cornstarch or mashed potato flakes, and have these for all three special diet people.

Others will try too, as they will look and smell delicious. Keep them hot in the sauce in a crock pot on low.

Jay
01/11/13
We are having a barbecue sale and I was wondering how many pounds of pork are there in one of those large chaffing pans.
ellen
01/12/13
You have to ask your seller- it varies from provider to provider.
Kim
01/16/13
How much Chicken Alfredo will I need to feed 20-25 people. I am using chafing pans. How many chafing pans full will I need?
ellen
01/16/13
A full size chafing pan is considered to be 25 servings, so one is about right- you do want to be sure these are the smaller breasts though, 4 ounces approx, as with the larger ones you will not have enough pieces.
amy
02/04/13
My boss is hosting a wedding reception for which the caterer (the local VFW) will not provide sterno. She insists because she knows food needs to be kept warm over the buffet time. The caterer has said only that the pans are "standard 60 50" but no one (including me) knows what that means. Can you please help us figure out if we need anything more specific than a typical disposable sterno kit?
ellen
02/04/13
These are the standard 7 quart chafing dish, which fit in the standard 2 sterno holders.

1 can lasts 2 hours. You need an under pan to hold at least 1/2 inch water for steam to heat evenly.

Natalie
02/07/13
I am making mac & cheese for a church event, how many people does each aluminum half pan feed?
dave
02/07/13
My boss came up with an idea to do a group potluck at work, but we would not eat it until 6p. People want to bring hot dishes but they would have to cook them at home and bring them with them at 10a to 11a. We don't have any ovens at work or any large microwaves. I can get chafing dishes. Is it ok to bring cooked hot meals to work and then refrigerate them and ten warm up with chafing dishes? What Would you suggest. I brought this up with my boss after she came up with the plan and she felt it wouldn't be a problem but I think it will be.
ellen
02/07/13
The simple, inescapable rule about food safety is that ALL cooked foods can develop potentially unsafe levels of bacteria if between 40 degrees and 140 degrees for more than 4 hours including both holding and serving time. 10 AM to 5 PM is simply high risk behavior.

The truth about chafing dishes is that they CANNOT heat chilled food to safe levels (160-180), though they can hold above 140 if
1) the food is 160 or above to start (ie, hot out of an oven) AND
2) They are set up using a steam tray under the food tray and the water is kept replenished. Two candles or sternos under a tray with no steam table burns the food right over the heat and lets the rest drop rapidly to unsafe temp levels.

Don't know how big your group is. When I do food for 200 people with no kitchen, I use the 18 quart "turkey roasters" to heat and hold. You can only plug in one per circuit (try two and watch the circuit blow. Repeatedly.) One roaster holds about 50 servings in the cooking pan, or can have a rack placed in and hold several casseroles. Keep the lid on. Cook at the normal oven temps, hold hot foods at 180. Crock pots are also safe.

Sally
02/21/13
16 Qt Roasters
Hi Ellen. I love your site. I am cooking dinner for 100 people for an anniversary party. I purchased (6) 16 Qt Electric Roasters. Will this be enough to cook a meat dish, a vegetable, and a side dish of rice? Will be serving salad, rolls, etc. as well, but they won't need heating. Any suggestions on what to make for 100 people? There will also be a lot of appetizers right before dinner.
ellen
02/21/13
2 roasters of each. The issue is, you can only plug one roaster into each circuit. Try two and the circuits will blow, repeatedly. Use long heavy duty orange cords and tape them down. CHECK circuits.
A. McKenzie
02/24/13
I am making penne a la vodka for 70 people, using bow tie noodles instead of penne. How many boxes of bow tie noodles will I need for 70 people, but I also want them to be able to come back for seconds if they need to.
ellen
02/24/13
See the spaghetti page for amounts- they are different if this is the main dish or a side dish, and that is discussed. It will be 7 to 10 pounds.
Erinn
03/07/13
If I put crab cakes in a chaffing dih will they dry out
ellen
03/07/13
The exact answer is, possibly.

It depends on the size, whether they are freshly cooked, whether you keep the pan covered and how long you hold them- tell me more.

Erinn
03/07/13
I plan to cook them the night before. The chaffing is small like 4qt r smaller. Do you have any suggestions for heating
ellen
03/08/13
OK. You can't reheat in the chafer- it doesn't get hot enough to safely reheat.

So, you need to reheat in the oven and transfer. A 4 quart chafer doesn't hold very many, so they should get eaten before they have a chance to dry out- just be sure, when you refill, to put the ones that are left on top and the fresh ones on the bottom.

Use a recipe that has some mayo or other fat in the mix to help them start and stay softer inside. You may want to try a small batch before and see if you are happy with the result.

Wally
03/18/13
I will be baking shrimp in butter base sauce for 200 people. Then I have to transport it to a tent 5 miles away, an serve it buffet style. How can I keep it warm for the next 3 hours and it not get tough?
ellen
03/18/13
Don't know any way to do this safely and keep the shrimp tender- also, it will not hold effectively for 3 hours except in some kind of stew, soup, or casserole. You could discuss a change in the dish with your hosts. Use the email contact at the bottom of the page if you want to discuss options.
Kyra
03/21/13
We are planning on serving a baked white fish (roulade or similar) for a buffet dinner party. So as not to disturb the delicate roulades during transfer to the chafer food pan, I would like to bake the roulade in the upper chafer food pan, in the oven, and then immediately transfer the food chafer pan to the hot water pan at the buffet table. The fish will be baked in the oven at a moderate/low temp. (~250-350 degrees).

Will I be ruining the food chafer pans by doing so? I'm afraid they will warp. Is there a maximum temperature the food pans can withstand in the oven? I have placed pre-warmed rice in the food pan, in a preheated oven at 100 degrees and then shut off the heat, no problem. (The reason I put the pan in the oven to keep the rice warm was that I was finishing preparing harcourt vert stovetop to be served in the same pan with the rice.)

I appreciate any advice you may offer. Many thanks!

Kyra
03/21/13
Re: baking fish (or anything) in a chafer pan in the oven..

P.S. I just checked a few of my recipes, and the temperature to bake the fish may be as hight as 400 degrees.
Again, many thanks.

ellen
03/22/13
If these are standard commercial stainless chafer pans, they will do your fish perfectly.
Paula
03/22/13
We are having a cocktail party wedding reception. I would like to serve a nice variety of hat and cold appetizers for about 60 people. I really would like to keep 4 to six of the appetizers in chaffing dishes as we will be setting up primarily buffet style.....suggestions?
ellen
03/22/13
Paula, you need to tell me how many people and the time and length of the reception. Please write back.
Alexis
03/27/13
Keeping Warm
Ellen,
im doing my senior project and for my presentation im preparing food for the judges I present at 7:30am and i have to be there by 7:15, i live 10-15 mins away from the school im making a chicken dish and was wondering how do I keep this warm, no one wants cold chicken? Help?
ellen
03/27/13
Ok, so the question is, keeping it hot for 30 minutes.

Pull from the oven, place in preheated ice chest (see the potato bar page for how to do this), transport. Leave in heated container until ready to serve.

caroline
03/28/13
is there any way to keep the crust of mac and cheese crispy in a steamer?
ellen
03/28/13
I have never figured that one out, but I do sometimes top with French fried onion bits (like green bean casserole) for the crunch.
Katrina
03/28/13
Having Easter dinner and menu is manicott, meatballs, sausage, ham, potatoes....will everything be hot enough if it goes into sterno trays about two hours before we eat (if it is at room temperature) or should I heat in oven and then how long can it stay in sternos before maybe drying out? Thanks
Kim
04/17/13
Taco Shells
I'm making tacos for 150 people at a outdoor event (no electricity) and I would like to know how to keep the hard taco shells(corn) warm, without ruining them. I have chafing dishes, and portable butane burners. Any Suggestions?? Thank you.
ellen
04/17/13
Katrina, it is unsafe to try to reheat in sternos. It must be brought to 165 in the oven or on the stove, then transferred to the sterno, which has a steam tray under the food tray. 2 hours is the max you can leave before serving.
ellen
04/17/13
Kim, argh! You could simply serve at room temp.
Re ne
04/18/13
I have a venue about 8 minutes from my home but it has no oven. Someone suggested beef brisket cooked and sliced the day before. Could I heat it before the party and bring it to the venue where the chafing dishes will await them? I don't want a lot of options, just a basic meal, but I can't think of another meat that would hold up well in chafing dishes.
ellen
04/18/13
Pot roasts, stews of all kinds; the two wedding chickens on the big pots page, all hold well.

Bring food to 165 at home with stove or oven. Move in preheated ice chests (on the taco/potato bar page), have someone there to light the sternos when you leave the house, so they are hot when you get there.

Cooking the brisket ahead is great, it is an excellent choice for this situation, and it slices better cooled anyway, but you MUST reheat it HOT before putting in the service containers, it is a big safety issue.

Jon Miller
04/19/13
Making a creole butter sauce for meatballs and I'm putting then in a Chaffer for an auction I'm doing. What can I do to keep the sauce from breaking? Can I slurry it? Cornstarch? What do you think?
ellen
04/19/13
What is the recipe?
ellen
04/19/13
This variation on Cajun butter sauce would hold over a chafer:

1 stick of butter, or margarine
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (1/2 clove crushed garlic is better)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tsp. (1 tbs. + 1 tsp) cornstarch
1 c. chicken broth, cooled

How to make it

Melt butter in a small saucepan.
While it melts, combine cornstarch and broth until smooth and set aside.
Once butter is melted, stir in chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper (into melted butter).
Cook for a minute or two.
Whisk in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil.
Cook and stir for about 2 minutes.
Serve hot.

ellen
04/19/13
By the way, you might enjoy Chuck's page on creole and cajun sauces,

www.gumbopages.com/food/sauces/

Adam32
04/25/13
Hi Ellen, just discovered your site and it is great. Thank you.
Can you tell me if water can be brought to a simmer in a chafing dish? If not I could boil the water first, then put it in the chafing dish.

What I actually want to do ideally is cook dried black beans from scratch - i.e. bring them to a boil over a gas burner, then transfer immediately to a chafing dish to simmer for a couple of hours before serving. The reason is I need to use the gas burner for something else. Would that be safe? Thanks so much

ellen
04/25/13
Won't work.

Chafers only get to 145, way too low for cooking.

You can bring to a boil on the stove, cover tightly and put in the oven for about 3- hours- depends on the amount.

kiana brown
04/30/13
I will be preparing the following menu for my wedding reception in Sept this year. Really tight budget.
Pasta bar with penne ,spaghetti, and cheese stuffed tortellini. Sauces are red/meat sauce, alfredo and pesto. I have really gret recpies that I tried out annd love. I'm also serving family style caesar salad and garlic bread sticks.
Questions : how far in advace can I prepare and how long can I freeze the sauces.. and what should the prep. Be the day of or day before the event. I'm serving meatballs chicken shrimp ans sauteed veggies as toppings how should I prep these. Lastly what is a good way to keep the bread warm and soft? Chafing dish?
Tonya
05/05/13
Hi! I am planning a graduation party for my daughter. Will serve approx. 80 people. Menu consists of 3 meats, 1 pasta, parsley potatoes, 2 cooked vegetables, and 4 salads. Wondering the quantity of each to make. Also, how much I can fit in a half size (11 3/4x9 3/8x 2 5/16") aluminum pans.There will also be plenty of appetizers, and desserts.
Eloise
05/12/13
Hello, I am preparing for a wedding with 160 guests. The main course will be a buffet and we are using chaffing dishes. Are you able to help with the following queries please?

a) There will be steamed vegetables, can we put raw sliced vegies (carrot, squash, snake beans and brocoli) into a chaffing dish for them to steam? Or do we need to cook them first?

b) We are also roasting sweet potato and pumpkin (24 kg total). Do you think two chaffing dishes will be adequate? They are the standard size rectangle chaffing dish.

Thanks in advance!

ellen
05/12/13
Tonya,

A half pan that size holds about 12 servings.

3 meats, this depends on what the meats are but usual split is half beef, 1/4 each of two others, aiming for AT LEAST 6 ounces cooked, which is about 9 ounces boneless raw.
1 pasta, 1 pound per 10-12
parsley potatoes, 1 pound per 4
2 cooked vegetables, 15 pounds each

4 salads I really need to know what salads, if you look at the salad tables, you will see that weights or amounts for 100 people vary hugely depending on the salad type. If you want a SWAG, 6 ounces total all types per person, but not if one is fruit salad. Don't do fruit salad anyway, do fruit trays, easier, keep better and leftovers are more useful.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, consider a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support the site.

ellen
05/12/13
Eloise,

steamed vegetables, can you put raw sliced vegies (carrot, squash, snake beans and brocoli) into a chaffing dish for them to steam? Or do we need to cook them first?
Cook them first. You can not cook safely in a chafer, they only reach about 145 degrees if done exactly right with the steam tray under the serving pan. If cooking the vegetables is a problem, roast them ahead, rewarm in the oven and then transfer to the serving dishes.

roasting sweet potato and pumpkin (24 kg total). Do you think two chaffing dishes will be adequate? They are the standard size rectangle chaffing dish.

With 160 people, you need at least 3 serving lines- 2 is really not enough- and a typical steam table tray only holds about 7 pounds, or a fraction over 3 kilos, and serves at most 24. You need a lot more than 2 pans...

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support the site.

Jolene
05/22/13
Hello I am preparing a menu for a outdoor summer wedding. I am wondering if you would have any ideas on main course. I have chosen oven baked beef kabobs as those are easily kept warm in a chaffer however I am having issues coming up with a second meat choice that is as easily kept warm in a chaffer dish and still be wedding appropriate. We will be serving about 160 people.
ellen
05/22/13
The orange Dijon wedding chicken on this site would work well; 40 pounds boneless skinless chicken in approx 4 ounce pieces. The chicken Madeira would be fine, also. Take a look and see what you think.

Another pleasant option would be something like a white lasagna.

Laura
05/23/13
I am cooking for my son's graduation party next month. I expect between about 150 guests. I have 4 - 4" full stainless steel chafer pans, 1 18 qt. roaster pan, and a 6 qt crockpot to keep hot food hot. I will have to cook food that will go in the chafing dishes in oven at home and transport (5 minutes away) to party location. My hot menu is shredded bbq beef (25#); bbq chicken (80 pieces); swedish meatballs (20#); roasted red skin potatoes (40#); 3 full pans macaroni & cheese; 3 full pans baked beans. I'll also have macaroni salad, cole slaw, fresh fruit, vegetable and relish trays on the cold table. Do I have enough hot food to serve this many people?
ellen
05/23/13
Chafing Dishes 150
shredded bbq beef (25#); OK, not much left
Need 100 large rolls, or 160 small and trimmings
bbq chicken (80 pieces); OK
swedish meatballs (20#); I would do 30

roasted red skin potatoes (40#);
3 full pans macaroni & cheese;
Together these are OK, but none left
3 full pans baked beans, these will run out for 150 people- you need at least 4 pans.

macaroni salad, 6-8 pounds dry pasta
cole slaw, 4 gallons

fresh fruit, see fruit tray page, do 1 deluxe tray for 100, add another for 25
vegetable and relish trays- I would do 2 classic relish trays plus tossed salad for 100 from the plan for 100 page

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, consider a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support this site.

Judy
05/28/13
Hi Ellen.
I am having graduation party for my daughter and I suck at this... There will be about 50-60 people with about half kids (and most likely not all at one time but in and out.
Hot-ziti, sausage and peppers and maybe meatballs for sandwhiches. So how many lbs or dishes of each? (aluminum chafing dishes to keep warm)
Cold-Macaroni and pasta salad. How many pounds?
Veggie trays?
I was going to do fruit tray but we are going to have chocolate fountain so there will be some fruit.
1 relish tray and one cold sandwich tray.
Maybe cheese/crackers?
1/2 sheet cake.
Do you think I will enough?? I don't want to waste food but want to have enough.
Suggestions are welcome!
Thank you!!
ellen
05/28/13
You are heading in the right direction, take a few deep breaths and consider some suggestions. The biggest one is, please consider making this a hot sandwich bash and forget the ziti-

Also, this is a nice size party and you could easily use the 6 quart crock pots instead of chafers for the sausage and the meatballs- quite a bit easier to refill, and to take care of.
50-60 people with about half kids

ziti- skip, do just the pasta salad ahead, no oven issues
sausage and peppers- 1 pound sausage per 4, equal weight veggies
meatballs for sandwiches- 1 pound per 4, 3 cups sauce per 2 pounds
add cheese- about 4 pounds thin sliced
rolls and bread- about 7 pounds
add sandwich trimmings- 1/2 the amount for 100 on the sandwich page, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, mustard, etc

Macaroni and pasta salad.- total 4 pounds dry pasta, divide to family taste and recipes. Can be made 2 days ahead and stored in baggies in the fridge.

1 relish tray- see the classic relish tray on the veggie tray page, do one

one cold sandwich tray??? do you mean trimmings? If you mean meats, just add a few pounds of lunch meats to the hots above (about 4 pounds). Have one jar each of creamy peanut butter and good jam for the hard heads.

chocolate fountain. please READ THE CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN ARTICLE NOW and again before setting it up.

1/2 sheet cake- this is just 24 pieces- get a two layer half sheet for more.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, consider a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support this site.

shirley
06/04/13
Hi Ellen,

My brother and bride will be redoing vows 25 years. expecting 160 people. we are having mexican beans, spanish style rice that will be made by a restaurant need to know how many 8 quarts pans should we order?

Family will be making chicken enchilada cassrole need to know what how many 8 quart pan do we need for that many people? and what size should the serving be ?
will have salad, flame broiled chicken as part of the menu.

ellen
06/05/13
OK to have some leftovers? Assuming the 8 quart pans are full,

4 rice, 3 bean unless they are big bean eaters, then do 4

With the broiled chicken, 2 enchiladas per person is plenty, you need 1 pound boneless chicken for 5 people, or that is 2 pounds whole bone-in for 5. Space required depends on whether they are rolled or stacked- make 1 tray for a family event and count them.

Make one pan of cheese enchiladas for the non-meat eaters.

2 gallons sour cream or crema fresca for on top.

You need green salad, see the plan for 100 page and fruit trays, see the fruit tray page.

Appetizer of chips and dip? 1 pound chips per 12, 1 pint dip or salsa per pound

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, consider a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support this site.

Doris
06/05/13
Hi Ellen,
Thanks for this website.
I am cooking a dinner of about 50 people.
Here is my menu:

Chicken (breast) with basil cream sauce
Vegetable lasagna
Baked ziti

I am not sure how many half chafing dishes (11 3/4 x 9 3/8 x 2 9/16) would I need of each? I am also wondering how much chicken breast per person. Thank you in advance.

Doris
06/05/13
I forgot to mention that I will serve penne with the chicken.
ellen
06/05/13
See the wedding chicken recipe for help in estimating the amount of chicken, use 1/2 the amount for 100.

See the spaghetti page, for how to estimate pastas. You need about 30-36 servings full servings lasagna, but cut them smaller than usual. You need 30 ziti.

A full pan of lasagna serves around 20-24; a full pan of ziti serves about 15.

Ann
06/12/13
I'm serving 40 people tomorrow off site and serving Chicken Piccata and Bake Ziti. I'm wondering how to avoid keeping the Piccata from coming soggy when i reheat in the oven. I was going to make it the day before and reheat when i get to the event. I was thinking of reheating in the oven before i transfer to the chafer. Any thoughts on how to keep my lightly breaded chicken from becoming soggy? Also how many people will a half and full size chafer feed?
ellen
06/13/13
Don't know how to keep the sog out, next time use a different dish- see the chicken marsala this site

MUST reheat in oven, unsafe to reheat in chafer (temp is too low)

Full is about 20 servings for most items, depends on density; for example, 15 for mac/penne dishes, 24 for lasagna.

Diane
06/15/13
I'm making breakfast egg/cheese/sausage casserole for a wedding shower brunch. I've rented a chafing dish, but I'm afraid to cook directly in the insert pan-I've been told that it will get done around the edges but the egg mixture in the center won't set up. What do you think? An alternative would be to cook the casserole in several 9x13 pans and set them inside the chafing pan (one at a time) Will that look strange since there will be several inches of space between the 9x13 pan and the chafing pan? Someone suggested using the "ruffled" lettuce to fill in the space. Suggestions please!
ellen
06/15/13
Do not use lettuce, use kale and/or curly parsley.

A 9x13 only serves about 8 to at most 10 full servings...

Joanne
06/27/13
We are preparing for a wedding dinner for 150. The menu is pulled pork on buns, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, veggie tray, and watermelon. I have frozen the pork and plan to reheat, how soon should I take from freezer and how long to reheat? We are renting food cambros and chafing dishes, but not sure of timing on these. I would also appreciate help with determining quantities for each. I plan to have two lines and a cold table with a layer of ice. I appreciated any help you can offer. Thank you.
ellen
06/27/13
Wedding dinner for 150
The serving arrangements sound right, but you do need to provide veggie patties or veggie brats for the non-pork eaters- about 10 on each table.

pulled pork, thaw in fridge 2 days, 30 pounds
buns, 225
Condiments, see the sandwich fixing table on the sandwich page

potato salad, 6 gallons
coleslaw, 4 gallons
baked beans, 5 gallons
veggie tray, see veggie tray page
watermelon, about 70 pounds

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, consider a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support this site.

Daniella
06/30/13
Heating Food in Chafing Dishes
I have chafing dishes and wanted to know if the top tray can go in the oven. Someone is making me lasagna and I wanted to give them the chafing tray so they could make in in there and I simply bake it in the oven and then place it straight into the chafing dish. Can you use that tray in the oven?

Thanks

ellen
07/01/13
Most of these pans are stainless steel and do fine used as baking pans. The pan is a little thicker, so you may have to add a few minutes. Temp in the middle should be 160 when it goes into the chafer.
Liz
07/16/13
Hi Ellen!
I'm having a company provide chicken breasts, roasted (quartered) red potatoes, and asparagus for 80 people. We are doing it buffet style (but without staff to replenish single chafers of each dish).

My question is, if we need to have enough 8 qt chafers on the buffet table for all the food to be out and warm...How many chafers would you suggest per each dish? I'm assuming (correct me if I'm wrong) the chicken needs to be in a single layer, while the sides can most likely be a few inches deep? I just can't conceptualize this amount of food :)

Note: We will be warming everything in ovens on site, and then placing in chafers.

Thanks for your help!

ellen
07/18/13
No ovens at the site? The caterers can deliver in Cambros, preheated plastic chests that will hold the food safely hot for hours. One chafer holds about 25 servings, for 80 people, I would make a two sided line, but you only still need 2 for each food- then pull the next hot pan out of the cambro. If you have ovens, you just cover and hold there. Under no circumstances would I put out more than 2 of each...
Joan
07/23/13
Electric Roasters
Hi Ellen,
I need to fry wing dings for about 200 people, this will not be the only meat served, will also have beef and pork. The venue does not have a stove on site, is it possible to keep the wing dings hot by using portable electric roasters? Will the chicken stay crisp? I am looking to cook around 400 pieces, how many roasters do you think I would need to use, if this is a viable option?
ellen
07/24/13
The chicken won't stay crisp.

You are looking at 65+ pounds of wings if you do 1/3 pound per person, which would be about 4 roasters. As noted in the roaster thread, 2 on the same circuit blows most circuits.

You might want to reconsider the menu.

jim may
08/01/13
Hello, I am cooking for a reception, for my daughter's wedding, for 100.
I have frozen full sized chafer pans, disposable,
of single layer of meat balls, in sauce.

I will also be making full sized pans of sliced pork loin in gravy.
I didn't really think through the re-heating. They will be on Sterno chafers.
How should I proceed?
The venue is 15 minutes away.

ellen
08/01/13
You cannot reheat on the chafers- they don't get hot enough, it is unsafe.

So, do you have ovens there?

If not, you can heat at home to 165-180 and transport in cambros (caterer's preheated moving boxes you can rent).

Kathy
08/01/13
I'm serving shrimp in garlic sauce as part of a buffet for a party. This is a warm dish. How long is it safe to keep it out in a chafing dish?
ellen
08/01/13
4 hours total time between 40 and 140- which is the max on a chafer- including any off the heat wait time.
bennett
08/11/13
I have two short, related questions. What temperature will an electric chafing dish reach and maintain, and about how much power do they draw? I really need numbers.
Gayle
08/11/13
Ellen - First let me say "Thank You" for what you're doing. You are really an angel to many of us rookies. Here's my situation:
Serving Mexican Buffet for 180 people. Menu:

In 8 Qt. Lg Chaffers:
Chicken Enchiladas
Chili Relenno Casserole
Pork Tamales
Grilled mixed veggies

In Round 5 Qt Chaffers:
Refried Beans
Black Beans
Spanish Rice
Cilantro Lime Rice
Cornbread Cake

Large bowl:
Fiesta Salad - Greens w fresh mexican relish
Tortilla Chips
Then appropriate condiments like cheese, salsa, guacamole
sour cream
salsas

Three issues: First, looks like buffet can only go up against a wall. This many people seems like I need two 2 sided tables...(Do I add an entire second one in an adjacent room or move it all to this classroom that has two entrances (one in and one out maybe).

Second, Am I doing too much?

Third, How much of each is appropriate?

Gayle
08/11/13
Guess I should add: Have on sight kitchen with 4 ovens, 2 stoves and 3 microwaves. Also will have cambro on hand. But just me and 4 helpers. Any suggestions on what I can prepare ahead and store in frig or freezer?

Will probably purchase refried beans already prepared from local restaurant.

Thanks again :-)

ellen
08/12/13
Hi,

The menu is OK, though it is starch heavy and calls out for fruits.

You need 1 full serving line for every 50-75 people, so you are actually looking at 3 serving lines if you want to serve in a timely manner.

What is the event, what is the dessert and how many children?

Write back and I will try to help with the amounts.

Gayle
08/12/13
The event is a wedding (November)and there will be wedding cake as well as fresh fruit trays. Only @ 10 children under 12.

That's what my "am I doing too much" was. Do I need two types of rice and two types of beans?
Should I add another type of vegetable?

ellen
08/13/13
The more choices, the slower the line moves, so if you only have 2 lines, cutting down the choices is a good thing.

Count this as 1 3/4 times the amount for 100.

Yes, doing Spanish rice only would be fine.

If you do just one bean (which would also be fine) I suggest the black beans, and make sure they are meatless.

A very nice addition would be a cold corn salsa/salad instead of another cooked veg, and it would add attractive color.

I would put the fruit trays and the chips out as appetizers- to allow prep/ finish time on the buffet while the guests wait for the photos.

Tortilla Chips- 1 pound per 10-12
Then appropriate condiments like
salsa, 1 cup per 6
guacamole, 1 cup per 4 (frozen avocado, available through restaurant supply, is a helpful choice here.
sour cream, move to dinner table

Fruit trays- about 1 1/2 times the deuxe trays for 100 on the fruit tray page

n 8 Qt. Lg Chaffers:
Chicken Enchiladas- 2 per person
Chili Relenno Casserole- 1/2 serving per person
Pork Tamales-2 to 3 per person
Grilled mixed veggies- about 40 pounds ready to cook
sour cream-about 7-10 pounds per 100, tastes vary regionally

In Round 5 Qt Chafers:
Black Beans- 8 pounds dry or 3 gallons cooked per 100
Spanish Rice- See on site recipes
Cornbread Cake- about 1/2 cup per person
Need some butter- 3 pounds per 100

No tortillas? 2 per person, or 1 bolillo style roll per person, reheating info for tortillas on the taco bar page.

Large bowl:
Fiesta Salad - Greens w fresh mexican relish- use guidelines on the plan for 100 page salad section

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation to support this site. Thanks.
Corn salsa- 2 gsllons per 100

Gayle
08/13/13
Thank you Ellen - You saved me a ton of math and I appreciate you rounding everything out.
Nina
08/20/13
Hi! This is a great site! My question is I am planning a first birthday party for my daughter in the fall, sheis allergic to tomatoes and squash so I want fall foods she can eat. I was thinking of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets (its minnie themed and cosco has mickey shaped nuggets) how can I keep nuggets in a chafing dish for about 2 hours, maybe less? Or would a electric cooker be better choice for that? Is there any other kid friendly ideas for a chafing dish? Thanks!
Nina
08/20/13
Oh, I mean a roaster pan wen I said electirc and we're having around 75 people-we both have HUGE families!
ellen
08/20/13
Mac and cheese is a fine choice for a 1 year old, and you will be surprised how many adults like chicken nuggets. You will put the hot nuggets in a preheated chafing dish with the steam bath pan beneath it, and they will stay warm, this is perfectly safe for 2 hours.

Hot apples, such as fried apples or baked apple halves, would be fall-ish and popular. Artichokes, Brussel sprouts, cranberries, green beans, pomegranates, broccoli / cauliflower and all the greens, are extra good as fall crops. A corn casserole would be interesting.

When you say squash, do you mean summer squash or the various orange and yellow ones? Do you know if she can eat pumpkin? Sweet potato or yam?

How about hot cider as a beverage choice?

All kinds of fruit cobblers are great in chafing dishes.

Write back if you have more discussion.

Olive
08/24/13
Hello Ellen,
I need to cook inexpensively for a fundraiser, about 50 servings. I have a huge crockpot cooker and a big electric roaster. I also have one of those units with 4 mini crocks in it. No oven on site. I am 5 minutes away from the hall though so was considering maybe chafing dishes could be used, although I already have all that other equipment.

I would need to serve people intermittently over the course of about 3-4 hours. I know pasta will be inexpensive, I was considering a baked ziti or lasagna but didn't know how that would hold up. I'm open to any ideas. There are no tables so people sit and eat holding plates in their laps, so that is a consideration as well. I will be doing meatball heros with the meatballs in the large crockpot one day, any other ideas? Thanks in advance.

ellen
08/24/13
Instead of pasta, how about a classic rice dish such as jambalaya, red beans and rice, or paella? Or scalloped potatoes with ham? Holds better and much easier to eat on your lap.

Add a green salad and good bread, maybe a fruit tray or relish tray, a veg if you are ambitious, and plenty (6-8 pounds)of good (preferably home baked) bread and some butter, and you will have a fine dinner.

One roaster is just right for a main dish for 50.

Olive
08/25/13
I hadn't thought of any of those, thank you so much! I will be looking up recipes! This will be a bi-weekly event so I am glad to have options for the coming weeks.

Since I've been asked to make a pasta dish for one of the nights, is it better to do a baked ziti type or a lasagna? I wasn't sure which would hold better without drying or getting gummy. Also, I've been asked to do pierogies or sausage and peppers, are they something I should consider or will they not hold well? Thanks again!

Olive
08/25/13
Ellen, I was just going through Jambalaya recipes and got to thinking about the shrimp, will they hold up for 3 hours or so or will they get rubbery?
Scott
08/25/13
This is such a great resource. We're holding a party for 50 people and I'm making lasagna. Can it be cooked in the food insert? If not, I saw an 8Q holds 1.5 9x13 pans? Would the 9x13's go on top of the food insert? Is there a general depth.

Thanks in advance!

ellen
08/25/13
50 people's worth will just fit in the insert. Cook lower (25 to 50), check temp in the middle to check doneness (should be 165, and covered, watch to add a little extra juice
Scott
08/25/13
Thanks. So it's okay to cook right in the food insert or something else on top of the insert?
ellen
08/26/13
Olive, baked ziti is easier, but do make some meatless, as not everyone eats meat these days. A chicken and sausage jambalaya would hold better than one with shrimp. Sausage and peppers is very practical, be sure you have sandwich-type rolls that night. Pierogies are delicious, but a LOT of trouble for this many people, and expensive if you buy them pre-frozen.
ellen
08/26/13
Scott, yes you can cook right in the insert, just be sure to give it a good coating of non-stick spray, add a dusting of Parmesan or crumbs if they go with the recipe. I use the Parm for lasagna.
Olive
08/26/13
Thank you so much, Ellen.
Caroline
08/31/13
Hello,
Will white rice hold in a steam tray? If not, how could I hold it warm? It has to be plain white rice, not a pilaf. Thank you.
ellen
08/31/13
White rice holds. Put a clean cotton dishtowel over the top under the cover until you are ready to serve.
Jewell
09/04/13
Hi Ellen

I am cooking for my friends wedding. I have a few food to cook and place into chafers.

I have a three cheese pasta bake, potato casserole, steamed veggies, salmon, ham and turkey.

The bride would like all food to be served warm. I am precooking the the pasta and potato casseroles in aluminum pans. Warming them up on site.
Can I place the aluminum pan on top of the chafer insert, or should I transfer them directly into insert.(the one above water)

Would the veggies also get soggy? How long should I cook the salmon filets so they don't dry out in chafer.

Also the Turkey how much stock should I place into insert.

Will the ham dry out, or is there a trick.

I am a little stressed, just over a week to go.

thank you

ellen
09/04/13
Do you have enough ovens to heat everything at the site???

Yes, you can put the aluminum pan in the chafer but ask about renting enough trays to load the food in directly. Those aluminum pans are flimsy, and therefor rather dangerous, with this much food.

three cheese pasta bake,
potato casserole,
These two MUST reach 165 before being put on the chafers.
steamed veggies, undercook slightly, maybe a cheese sauce on the side

salmon, reheating is a mess, they will dry out, no avoiding. Is there any way you can cook it there OR convince the bride to let you serve it poached and chilled, which is very nice in this hot weather. You really need a lemony or mustardy sauce if you are going to try to hold it.
ham, turkey, see the reheating instructions in the reheating article in the holiday cooking section at the top of big pots.

You don't say how many people, but if it is more than 60 you need 2 helpers in the kitchen and some helpers setting up serving and cleaning up.

Nina
09/06/13
HI Ellen! Sorry it took me awhile to get back. She is allergic to yellow squash, I didn't think of yams, that may work. Our problem will be getting the nuggets hot (enough for that many people) before we are at the venue, then keeping them that way while we serve. We don't have enough sterno racks to warm more than 1 pan at a time. We wont have ovens on site. Any suggestions? My mom is assuming we'll need 3 pans of nuggets, 1/2 pans. Our families are big eaters! haha Thanks!
ellen
09/06/13
Sterno chafers do not safely warm cold food. They MUST be heated to 165 before being placed in the pans.

If you have electricity, you can use an electric turkey roaster to heat, sterno to hold.

Jack
09/08/13
Hi Ellen. I am catering my sisters wedding and I have a question about warming canned black beans and the holding of rice. Is it safe to warm the black beans in a chafing dish directly from the cans or do I need to heat off site and transport hot? For the rice I'm making it in a large rice cooker and hour before I leave and tossing it with lemon/lime juice, sea salt, and cilantro. (cilantro-lime rice) dumping in a hotel pan and wrapping VERY tightly with plastic wrap then directly into a hot box that plugs in and will be at 160 degrees. How long will that rice stay moist in the hot box? I will take it straight to the wedding/reception hall and plugging back in. Wedding is 1 hour then I will be putting it all out into preheated chafing pans. Any suggestions on keeping the rice moist? Thanks!!
Mary
09/08/13
Hello Ellen,
I just picked up one of those warming trays, I think it's from the 70's. Wood grain top and it heats up beautifully. I'm wondering if you've written anything about using these. Are they basically electric chafers??!
ellen
09/09/13
They will keep a pan of food plaecd on them hot for serving. To check yours, put a Pyrex casserole of warm water on yours and check the temp after 1,2, 3 hours, it should be at least 145.
PRRUM
09/11/13
Hello Ellen-
Im making a BIG batch of pigeon peas w/rice and need to know how much a 1/2 size or full size steam foil tray will hold. How many cups of rice or ounces.
Thanks,
ellen
09/11/13
Check out this page:

ellenskitchen.com/cooktalk/pansmeas.html

Jean
09/15/13
Hi. I'm making a bunch of zitis and macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets for a party. I was going to make the zitis the night before and then place in the refrigerator to be heated in the oven the next day before placing everything in the chafing trays is this safe and how long can the food stay in the chafing dishes if kept hot.
ellen
09/19/13
Jean, you need to bring it to 165 in the oven or on the stove before transferring to chafers. It can stay 2 hours safely.
Jane Stopher
09/22/13
I am catering for 50 people... Were having Stuffed Chicken Breast, Pulled Pork, Corn Green Beans.. Mashed Potatoes, Mac and Cheese. How much of each do I need to make to feed 50 people? I'm new and lost lol
ellen
09/22/13
Stuffed Chicken Breast, 1 small per person. Almost everyone will take some, so if they are large, cut some in half in the serving dish
Pulled Pork, 1 pound per 5 ready to eat (that is about 13 pounds raw boneless pork shoulder)
When you have two meats people take more and often some of each

Corn
Green Beans
about 11 pounds of each (2 #10 cans if using canned)

Mashed Potatoes, about 20 pounds raw potatoes, look up the freezable, holdable mashed potato recipe on the Big Pots page).
Mac and Cheese, 4 pounds dry pasta

If this saves you time, trouble, or money please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to support this site. Thanks.

kathy
09/30/13
I am serving 100 people, mac & cheese and green bean casserole as side dishes with ham. My chafing dishes are 20x12x4. How many dishes will I need per side?
ellen
09/30/13
These pans hold just over 3 gallons. A 9x13 holds just over 3 quarts. You need to know that the chafing dish usually has a 4 inch water pan with a 2 1/2 inch food pan- without a water pan, a chafer does not heat evenly or safely.
Jim Frazer
10/01/13
Party for 175; using full size disposable aluminum chafers, making ziti with meat sauce and chicken bowtie, salad, and bread. If I prep day before do I prep with dry pasta or cook, cool, and prep pans to cook at event? Should I make sauce extra wet with dry pasta? Thanks. First timer at this.
Kim
10/01/13
Hi Ellen---I'm ordering my food for an engagement party from a caterer. We are having 120 people. We want to order penne vodka, chicken Francesese, sliced skirt steak, red bliss potatoes, and broccoli rabe. We need to order by tray or half tray. I'm nervous about how much I should order of each item. Each tray is the standard chafing dish size. Thanks so much for your help!!
ellen
10/01/13
Jim, you need to read the spaghetti page. You cook a couple of minutes short of al dente, store overnight as discussed in the page, then reheat as suggested. Does not work well to do large amounts of uncooked pasta with sauce, although this can sometimes be done with small, shallow dishes.
ellen
10/01/13
Kim,

You need to talk to your caterer.

I would order 90 servings beef, 50 chicken Francese.

About 80 servings each, pasta and potatoes.

30 pounds broccoli rabe.

Standard chafers can be 2 1/2 or 4 inches deep, and I don't know which you have, so go by servings. The reason it doesn't add to 120 for each is 2-fold; you have to have enough for everyone to get their first choice the first round and to allow for seconds; and, you will find that people take more and some of each when there are two offerings.

Kelly
10/08/13
I am buying Stouffers Party Size Lasagna for a buffet dinner (amongst other items). I have an 8 quart stainless chafing dish, how many of these party size lasagna's will fit in this chafer?
ellen
10/08/13
A single makes 10 servings, the 8 quart will hold 2 to 3.
hollan
10/10/13
I'm getting married in November, my mom will be doing most of the cooking although I'll be helping a lot the day before. We're planning on having ham, a twice backed potato casserole dish, a sweet potato casserole dish, green beans, Caesar salad and rolls. Is that enough options? We're having cupcakes and smores later in the evening and we're not having a cocktail hour with appetizers so I was thinking about putting some platters with cheeses and vegetables out with dinner.
I'm on a budget so I can't really hire anyone to carve ham or serve the food, if we slice the ham and put in in a chaffing dish will it be ok?
Thank you!
hollan
10/10/13
oh and there will be about 90 people there.
Angela
10/21/13
I am cooking for 100 people; the menu is baked chicken cornbread dressing, squash casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, yeast rolls and ice tea. My question is I have two 8 qt. rectangle chafing dishes for the chicken, two 5 qt. round chafers with two additional pans to replenish for the dressing totaling four pans; two rectangle 5qt. chafers for the beans which I can replenish from the pot of beans and two 2.5 qt. chafers for the squash with 4 additional glass dishes to replenish totaling six. Do I need to use all four additional glass dishes or will four dishes be enough. I plan to have two serving lines. Please advise A.S.A.P
ellen
10/21/13
Two lines is essential.

I go by starting weights, so this is not too easy. Yo will have to refill the chicken.

You need at least 4 gallons of each to give everyone a half cup serving with a bit left for seconds. 6x 2.5=15 quarts, just a little less han 4 gallons, so yes, you will need all.

Anglea
10/21/13
How much gravy
How much chicken gravy do I need for 100 people who like gravy, it is to go over chicken and dressing?
Also what time should I start baking my chicken to have it ready by four in the afternoon? Is it best to bake it on sheet pans that can hold 13pcs. or in the full pan of the chafing dish I think it will hold 13pcs in it? After each pan is cooked can I layer it in an extra water pan because it is deeper and can hold more chicken. How should I keep it hot as I will also need the oven to bake the dressing. I am going to make the squash dish the night before and heat it after the dressing is done, the squash will have no eggs in it.
ellen
10/21/13
Angela, you can't safely do this much food for 100 in a single oven. You can only hold food, including both serving and eating time, for 4 hours once it is cooked.

You need to switch your squash to top of the stove.

You need at least 2 1/2 gallons of gravy, 3 would be better.

You are talking 7 trays of chicken at this size. You need great big trays that leave just an inch of space around the edges in the oven, then you can get it to 6, but even done 2 at a time, at 40+ minutes each batch, you are looking at nearly 3 hours cooking time.

Can you get someone else to bake the stuffing and bring it ready to serve?

Can you switch you chicken to one of the cutlet dishes on my wedding chicken page, that can be done ahead and reheated in 2 roasters?

You got some problems here...

Lindz Underwood
10/22/13
I am planning to do a kabob dinner (steak&chicken) for my outdoor wedding in the spring. Was wondering if kabobs are cooked early afternoon and put in chaffing dishes if they will stay warm without drying out if the wedding is that evening?
ellen
10/22/13
No, it is not safe to cook and then hold for so many hours, and also they will dry out. You might consider fajita style, with the veggies, sauce and so forth, they hold better.
Tara Lee
10/23/13
We are having a party this weekend and are debating between corn dogs and hot dogs. (It is a Halloween carnival theme.) My husband says the corn dogs will get soggy when cooked ahead of time and put in a chafing dish to keep warm. I don't think they will. What are your thoughts?
ellen
10/23/13
Yes, they will lose some crispiness. On the other hand, they are MUCH tidier than standard dogs, which matters in party situations. You can get pups (minis) and they hold better.
Suree
10/24/13
Hi Ellen,

Love this site! It's so helpful. I am cooking Italian sausage and potatoes. I will be making 2 full trays and wanted to know how many pounds of sausages and potatoes I should use. Thanks in advance.

ellen
10/24/13
2 pounds of sausage makes about 5 cups and the chafer holds 2 gallons. Assuming 1/2 potatoes, you need about 7-8 pounds of sausage per pan. About equal potatoes. Serves about 40 with both pans.
Gail
10/26/13
Hi. I am having a cocktail party for 60 people. I have rented five chafing dishes for several different frozen appetizers I plan to serve. I would like to prepare these before the party and place them all in the chafing dishes when the party arrives so I won't have to be in the kitchen cooking during the evening. Any suggestions on how to accomplish this? I have a double oven and plan to have enough of each type of appetizer for all 60 guests. Thank you!
ellen
10/26/13
The success of this depends on what appetizers you pick. Some things hold well in chafers and some don't.

So, you might have a mix of table/cold things with the hot hd's.

The amounts depend on how long the party is, and what time- do please send more info.

Gail
10/26/13
Hi. You're a life saver....I've been at a loss on how to pull this off. Party is at 5 pm so I know the guests will be eating quite a bit of hor d' ouvres. I plan to allow several hours before the party to bake the tons of apps as I won't have any time once the party begins We plan to serve the following hot apps: Southwestern Rolls, Pigs in a blanket, Spinach & Feta Phyllo, Shrimp Crostini & Veggie Egg Rolls. A good idea about having some cold plates to...(thanks!) We have music coming for the party so we expect it to run about 4 hours give or take.
carol
11/04/13
Pasta in chaffing dish
I would like to serve a vegetarian pasta dish at my Christmas party - approx. 30 ppl. Any ideas on what type of noodle would hold best with a white or red sauce, including some chopped up vegetables? I was thinking tortellini or baked stuffed shells. Can I bake directly in the chaffing dish or do I have to transfer into the chaffing dish after baking?
ellen
11/05/13
Either would be excellent, just be aware that almost everyone will take some, even if they have a meaty main dish. In other words, it will take a big rectangular roaster, at least 1 1/2 pans.

You can't cook in the chafer, you can put the pan in the oven to cook, then transfer to the chafer to hold.

Hollie
11/07/13
Hi Ellen! I've read almost all the entries here and you are SO helpful!

I was wondering - how soggy will pizza bites (flat, mini pizzas) get? I know that they will get softer, but will they turn to mush?
I can't figure out if it'd be better to bake these and then serve them ASAP, or if a chafing dish would be necessary to keep them warm. It's a bridal shower that lasts two hours. There are no ovens on site.

ellen
11/08/13
In a chafer, they will hold pretty well, not turn to mush.
Hollie
11/08/13
Okay great! Looks like I'll be serving them that way then.

Thank you for your help, Ellen!

mary
11/27/13
Hi Ellen
I am having a holiday party and using the aluminum tray chafing dishes for first time. I am trying to time about 6 finger foods for 7 pm for stuffed mushrooms, mini quiche, mini breaded chicken balls, etc.. How long will that stay hot pre party. Can I put in about an hour before people arrive and hope to get two to 3 hours out of the dishes? and would quiche and mushrooms reheat nicely if made the day before?
ellen
11/27/13
Consider reading the chafing dish thread and the related link for a basic primer on chafing dishes.

4 hours from cooking to eating is the food safety max, two hours is about what you want to hold in a chafer, but I am betting they won't be there after two hours because people will eat them up.

The quiches can be served room temp, no need to reheat.

Consider doing some platter dips such as my 7 layer dip, and some trays such as fruit trays, and some bites such as my spinach Parmesan bites so everything doesn't have to go through the oven. You need about 8 items per person for the first hour and about 6 per person for following hours, and that is a LOT of oven time/space.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please consider a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to support this site. Thanks and happy holidays.

maya
12/02/13
I am having a party and have bought the disposable chafing dish set. There are the large pans for putting in water and two small pans for each for food. My question is can I put two of the same size large pans on top of eachother? Will the water fit below if they are the exact same size? I have a very large part 100+ people and want to have large amounts of food out at the same time.
ellen
12/02/13
You can do the large in large, but it has to be the shallow 2 1/2 inch pan in the deeper 4 inch pan- you can buy these- you need space for the water in the lower pan to turn to steam below the food.

Near the top of this thread there is a link to a chafing dish how to that might be useful to you.

Rita
12/06/13
Hi Ellen. I am ordering 4 half trays of pasta and / or chicken for a Christmas Open House. I want to purchase 2 economy Stainless Steel 8 qt chafing dishes. Can I put two of the half trays in each chafing dish in the aluminum pan that they come in from the restaurant?
ellen
12/07/13
Yes, but you need the 4 inch deep pans under as the steam pans.
Rita
12/07/13
Thank you ,Ellen. I ordered the chafing dishes and will purchase the aluminum pan for each one . I got a very good price for the dishes on line. They come with a cover and are stainless steel, and have a stand with the sterno holder attached. Thank you again!
lee
12/22/13
ordering hot food for Christmas eve -- chicken marsala, shrimp parm and shrimp arreganota. food must be picked up by 4 and wont be served to guests till 6:30-6:25. I was wondering if I can just leave it out and then warm it in sternos about 1/2 before I serve.
lee
12/22/13
That's 6:30-6:45
ellen
12/22/13
This is a tuffy. Shrimp doesn't hold well when heated, but not safe to hold this long without heating... Is there any way you can pick it up earlier COLD, then heat up?

If not, consider putting' them in the oven at 180, and serving plenty of wine. DO NOT just leave it out; it has already sat at the restaurant.

lee
12/22/13
thanks for the quick response! so if I pick it up hot, just put in the oven at 180 from 4 to 6:30.. and then no need for sternos at all?
ellen
12/23/13
You don't say how many, but if there are more than about a dozen or 20 to serve, you do need sterno/chafers to keep hot while serving.
Rina
01/02/14
Should i keep fried chucken tenders in a chaffing dish to keep warm on the buffet? Would they get soggy? What are your suggestions?
ellen
01/03/14
Basically, from the time cooked, for food safety reasons, the food should spend no more than 4 hours between 140 and 40 until eaten. In other words, 4 hours when it is not refrigerated or heated. This includes transport time, standing time, and serving time. So, it depends on how you are serving, holding the food. If it is a small group and you are going from fryer to table, that is one thing, and you don't need chafers. If you are picking them up somewhere or having them delivered, and serving a large party over an hour or more, you definitely do. And remember it takes almost 40 minutes to preheat the chafers to the food safe temp above 140 before the food goes in, and allow for that time also.
ellen
01/03/14
As for soggy; put a rack in the bottom of the serving pan above the steam pan. Put a clean cotton dish towel or layers of paper towels over them as long as they are covered (which they should be until you serve.) This will avoid any condensation from the lids going back on the chicken. But yes, holding fried food, they do always lose some crispness in chafers. Best to hold in the oven and transfer to chafers as you need for serving.
Rina
01/03/14
Thank you so much!! You are great!
Patty
01/04/14
Happy New Year! I'm hosting back-to-back parties. Friday Jan 10 and Saturday jan 11 2014.
I would love some advice on, money and time saving entrees that are chafing dish/ warming tray friendly and could be prepared up to two days in advance.

My ideas:

Friday night 32 guests - lasagna, Greek lemon roasted potatoes and chicken, buttery basmati rice, BBQ spareribs.

Saturday night 29 guests: baked pasta, stewed beef and split peas in a tomato sauce, buttery basmati rice, braised chicken, grilled beef liver.

Plenty Appetizers for both nights chips and home made dips
Spanakopita mini meatballs in BBQ sauce stuffed grape leaves veggies & salads.

Deserts. Birthday cake and home made loukoumades. Fruit

ellen
01/04/14
How about pastitio instead of lasagna- delicious and keeps with the Greek theme. How different do you need the two menus to be? Write back.
TONYA
01/10/14
cooking for 120 people for wedding I have 3 18qt oven roasters I will be serving baked chicken;ham;smoked wings;and chicken tenders from zaxbys aslo greenbeans and garlic red potatoes with sweet dinner rolls please advise me on how to prepare this meal at home and transferring to venue; dinner at 5:45pm wedding starts at 5 but very short wedding no wedding party only bride/groom also wedding venue at same location; no oven at venue only kitchen with sink area and long cabinets with wall plugs please help on this matter thanks for your help
tonya
01/10/14
sorry meant to say wedding/reception at same location but cooking at home chicken will be hot from oven at 3:30 brought over to venue; so yea I will need to heat it for about 2 hours; please advise would like to use my oven roasters instead of chafing dishes which do you prefer sorry rambling oh yea and I am the bride but lots of family helping with the cooking wish me luck
carl hayes
01/13/14
Hi I was wondering about chicken curry,chilli con carne and lasagne and meatballs with fried potatoes wedges....how are these for keeping warm
ellen
01/13/14
Hi, Tonya,

First, good luck.

green beans, for 120, about 30 pounds-s con
garlic red potatoes, about 50 pounds
with sweet dinner rolls, 2 small per person, 3-4 pounds butter
I would definitely add salad and maybe a second vegetable

You are going to have some trouble with holding the baked chicken 2+ hours before serving. I strongly suggest you do one of the wedding chickens on the Big Pots page, with precooking and a sauce and reheat on site.

ham, 1 pound boneless for each 5
smoked wings; 2 pieces each
chicken tenders, 1 large or 2 small per person

Roasters at 200 are safe for warming if preheated and kept covered. Each one needs a separate circuit/plug; they do blow fuses if hooked up together.

If it saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to help support the site. Thanks.

ellen
01/13/14
Carl, everything but the potato wedges will do fine.
Brigitte
01/16/14
Hello, we are having a buffet dinner for my daughter's wedding and we expect 130 adults and 30 children for a 5:30 meal. Below is our menu and quantities.

4 lg stainless steel bowls of Caesar salad
2 med bowls of Coleslaw
3 med bowls of Pasta Salad
2 large bowls of tossed green salad
200 buns & butter (2lbs)

4 Turkeys - 16 to 18 lbs each (total 64to72lbs)
(3 gallons of gravy)
3 boneless Hams-6 to 8 lbs each (total 18to24lbs)
1 gallon glaze for ham
2 pans of lasagnas (each pan 13x16 inches)
3 pans of scalloped potatoes (30lbs total)
3 pans of mashed potatoes (30lbs total)
3 pans of mac n cheese (each pan 13x16)
5 pans of vegetables (each pan 13x16)(carrots, peas, green beans)

Dessert will consist of 400 squares & bars, 3 large cheese cakes and 2 large fruit plates.

First of all do I have enough food for that many guests and will 6 chafing dishes be enough. I planned to put the turkey & ham in one chafer, the mash, scalloped, mac n cheese, lasagna each in their own chafer and one for the veggies. Will rent extra inserts and keep other dishes warm in oven to replace empty trays.

Looking forward to hearing from you Thanks!

Jackie
01/17/14
Refrigerating food
I am making penne ala vodka tonight and need to bring it to a gathering at 11:30am tomorrow. Is it ok to keep it in a covered aluminum tray on my kitchen counter overnight then bring it to the party unheated? Or should I refrigerate it, heat it up in the morning then take it to the gathering?
ellen
01/17/14
Jackie, ABSOLUTELY not safe at room temp overnight. It must be refrigerated, put it in baggies and put it in the fridge. Heat in the morning and keep hot till serving.
ellen
01/17/14
Brigitte, count this as 150 people. I can't do by bowls, so I am going to give you weights and measured volumes.

First, you really need an appetizer area-
A self-catered buffet is a real challenge to the organizers, and things don't always come together as smoothly as hoped. By planning and setting up an appetizer area or "nibble table" which is ready when the guests begin to arrive, the cooks and servers have time to complete the arrangement of the dinner buffet. This is especially critical if there are children among the guests, or there is a wait before dinner, as at a wedding reception.

This does not have to be complicated. Three items, plus a punch, or two if one is alcoholic, are sufficient. Typically, include a fruit tray, a cheese tray and an attractive dip or spread; or you can go with a dinner theme such as TexMex with chips, salsas, Texas caviar and guacamole; Italian with bruschetta or antipasto; maybe shrimps or other cold seafood, if budget permits.

One appetizer service area is usually needed for each 100 guests, but you could manage with just 1.

4 lg stainless steel bowls of Caesar salad- do for 100 from the plan for 100 page
2 med bowls of Coleslaw- 3 gallons
3 med bowls of Pasta Salad- 6-8 pounds dry pasta
2 large bowls of tossed green salad- do for 100 from the plan for 100 page

200 buns & butter (2lbs)increase butter to 3-4 pounds

4 Turkeys - 16 to 18 lbs each (total 64 to 72lbs)- OK, none left
(3 gallons of gravy)
3 boneless Hams-6 to 8 lbs each (total 18 to 24lbs)
1 gallon glaze for ham
All OK

2 pans of lasagnas (each pan 13x16 inches)- will run out- suggest you make them meatless to act as an entree for any non-pork.meat eating guests
3 pans of scalloped potatoes (30lbs total)- maybe 40?
3 pans of mashed potatoes (30lbs total)
3 pans of mac n cheese (each pan 13x16)

5 pans of vegetables (each pan 13x16)(carrots, peas, green beans) You need at least 24 pounds each.

Dessert will consist of 400 squares & bars, 3 large cheese cakes and 2 large fruit plates. This is just fine.

Dinner level coffee with dessert? See the beverage planning page.

Will 6 chafing dishes be enough?
No, with 130 people, you need a double line, 2 tables long, separate pans for each meat.

the mash, scalloped, mac n cheese, lasagna each in their own chafer- OK
The veggies, one of each, not all mixed.

Will rent extra inserts and keep other dishes warm in oven to replace empty trays. Good plan.

Gary
01/20/14
We are serving Chicken Tenders for my daughter's wedding reception. Is there a trick to keep the tenders from drying out in a chafing dish? Thanks
jessica
01/20/14
Hello! I am cooking for my daughters first birthday and we are having about 70 adults and 20 children. I have salads and some garlic bread as my sides and the hot dishes I am going to be making are baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, eggplant parm and mozzarella sticks. I'd like to know if two large chafing trays of each are enough and I'd also like to know how many pounds of pasta I should purchase to fill each tray? Thank you!!
Teresa
01/20/14
I'm completely inexperienced about chafers.

I will be hosting approx. 80 people for cocktails and heavy appetizers.

I have purchased two chafing dishes and will be serving 150 Costco sweet & sour meatballs in one and 120 browned vegetarian Trader Joe's pot stickers in the other.

Both items will be fully cooked before putting in chafers.

People arrive at 5:30 p.m. What time do I start heating up the chafers? What is the earliest I can transfer appetizers to chafers? How do I keep pot stickers from getting dried out?

ellen
01/20/14
Gary, anything fried doesn't hold too well, if they are not fried, holding in a sauce is the optimum prevention for drying. See the sauce on the orange Dijon wedding chicken on Big Pots, for example.
ellen
01/20/14
Jessica, you also need an appetizer table, for discussion, see the answers a few slots up this thread.

I assume you mean standard steam table size trays, 2 1/2 inches deep. Each one only makes 20-24 servings

baked ziti, with meat, 4 trays
macaroni and cheese, 2 trays OK
You need at least 12 pounds total pasta
eggplant parm- at least 3 trays, 4 would be better- only 20-25 servings per tray

mozzarella sticks, about 2 per kid, 3 per adult. Dipping sauce? 1 cup per 5-6 people.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to help support the site. Thanks.

ellen
01/20/14
People arrive at 5:30 p.m. What time do I start heating up the chafers?
It takes about 40 minutes to bring a full size chafer with steam tray up to heat.
What is the earliest I can transfer appetizers to chafers?
Just before your guests arrive-
How do I keep pot stickers from getting dried out?
This is not easy. You can cover the pans with a clean, just damp cotton dish towel and plastic wrap for a brief hold, or foil, but the ones on the table don't have that protection.

It is a good idea not to put them all out at once- instead put out part at a time.

You know with a 5:30 party, many people will eat heavily instead of going to dinner later. You need about 20 items per person for a two hour appetizer party at dinner time.

Gary
01/20/14
Thank you Ellen. My daughter's fiance is dead set on the tenders so we'll have to struggle through!
Brigitte
01/25/14
Thank you Ellen, your experience is a big help! The buffet meal is potluck style and we have asked each guest to bring one food item from the menu I listed above so that should make things a little easier, I've also hired three servers to maintain the buffet. Thank you for the appetizer suggestion, great idea. Since space is limited we will have people serve from both sides of the buffet tables with a spoon on each side. Will 8 chaffing dishes be enough? One for turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, mac n cheese, lasagna and two for vegetables.
ellen
01/26/14
OK Brigitte, sounds like you are rolling along. 8 chafers, 2 sided line is fine.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to help support the site. Thanks.

Kaela
02/06/14
Hello Ellen,

I have never used a chafer before. I am trying to plan for a graduation party and I would like to break one chafer up using 1/3 pans, 2 1/2" deep (hot food) and in a second and third chafer use 6 or 9 little pans (cold food).

I am having trouble understanding how the little pans will be supported in the middle...I have seen "adaptors" but they come in odd lengths. I am looking at purchasing 3 chafing dishes measuring 24" x 14 1/8". Would you be able to guide me?

Thank you for your help

ellen
02/06/14
Steam tables have the dividers for more than 3 pans, but I have not seen these for more than 3 for standing chafers. You might consider ice and standing bowls?
Nancy
02/07/14
Hi Ellen,

I have read almost all the posts - love your advice. I am self-catering an event that 50-60 people will attend (most are big, strong teenagers and adults men). What do you think of this menu and those quantities? I will have two lanes, as you often suggested for this number of people.
2 meat lasagnas (chafing dishes)
40 honey glazed drumsticks (chafing dishes)
10 lbs BBQ pulled pork (crock pots)
4 lbs cold shrimp + cocktail sauce
20 meatless Enchiladas
4 lbs coleslaw
4 lbs potato salads
2 green salads
60 rolls
Drinks galore

I tried to vary as much as possible so everyone finds something s/he likes. This is an off-site event, so all the food will need to cooked in advance, brought onsite (there are ovens/refrigerators onsite), and then to the chafing dishes/serving tables.

THANK YOU in advance!

THANK YOU!

ellen
02/07/14
OK, you have eager eaters. You would go with at least 2/3 up to 3/4 of 100, depending on whether you are OK with having some leftovers. I would definitely tweak the menu as well as the amounts.
4 lbs cold shrimp + cocktail sauce, sorry to say, but I would eliminate this entirely. You need 12-14 pounds of shrimp to make an appetizer portion per person, and EVERYBODY gobbles shrimp.
How about chips and salsa or dip instead? about 6 pounds chips, 1 pint dip or salsa per pound.

2 meat lasagnas (chafing dishes)- about 40 servings- you cut them, don't let them scoop
40 honey glazed drumsticks (chafing dishes)- at least 65, 80 better
10 lbs BBQ pulled pork (crock pots)-about 40 sandwiches, add the rolls for this. Also 6 pounds sliced onions and at least 2-3 quarts pickles.

20 meatless Enchiladas- fine- 1 tray

4 lbs coleslaw- at least 2 gallons
4 lbs potato salads- at least 3 gallons
2 green salads- at least 16 pounds, 2-3 quarts of dressings

60 rolls- do French /garlic bread in addition to the pork rolls above- at least 10 pounds. If not garlic, add 2 pounds butter

Drinks galore- the beverage page will help you get a closer estimate on types and amounts.

Plenty of dessert, of course, the dessert planning page can help with this.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime or quarter per guest, to support this site. Thanks.

Blanca
02/09/14
Dear Ellen,

I reading your post and is very helpful!
I'm helping coordinate a wedding in May for my sister and we are are wondering about serving skirt steak {CHURASCO].
but my family like meats well done.
My question is if we cooked the steak well done, and if we keep in the chafing warmer for about 1 and half hour would the steak get chewy. or what type of red meat do you suggest?.
your suggestion is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

ellen
02/09/14
So, the trick is, you don't ever cook skirt steak well done, since it will be tough even before it is held.

If I had my heart set on skirt steaks, I would marinate, pound and grill them just to medium rare, hold them UNsliced in the chafers and slice just before serving. You have a dish of hot au jus on a hot plate and slide the slices in there for anyone who likes them well done. Yes, one or two people should serve the first round of meat, so you don't run out.

Hope this gives you a good idea. You can write back, of course. If it saves you time, trouble or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to support this site.

Megan
02/11/14
How would I prepare a veggie omelet to server in a chafing dish? Do I make it before and let it sit?
Mary Boyle
02/18/14
I am preparing for a weeding reception of 125 people. Menu is roast pork tenderloin roasted vegetables, chicken parmesan and pasta, and shrimp scampi, salad and rolls. will use chafing pans. what temperature and how long and how many will I need to keep warm and ready to serve in a timely manner. Please answer I am getting anxious. thanks mary
ellen
02/18/14
Megan, omelets don't hold. If you need to hold an egg dish make a frittata (more eggy) or a breakfast casserole.
ellen
02/18/14
Mary, if you decide to post again, please start a new thread. I assume that this is buffet service for a crowd of mixed adults.

You need to reheat on the stove, or in the oven, then transfer to chafing dishes; chafers do NOT warm sufficiently to take cold food to safe heat (160).

roast pork tenderloin, 1 pound raw per 3
1/4 cup gravy per person
This slices best if it has stood for 1/2 hour before slicing. If you make ahead, you need to reheat in sauce or gravy.
chicken Parmesan, 1 pound boneless skinless per 4, small pieces
shrimp scampi, 1 pound raw shelled shrimp per 4-5
Assuming you offer all three as toppings for the pasta, the shrimp will throw the estimate. Put it last on the line and have someone dish up the first round. Many eaters will want some of each.

pasta, assuming it is the only starch food, 20 pounds. Read the spaghetti page thoroughly about heating and reheating.
You need at least 2 pounds grated or shredded Parm per 100

roasted vegetables,about 35 pounds
salad, use the plan for 100 table
rolls, 2 crusty or 4" baguette per person
4 pounds butter

This can't be the full menu- appetizers? Desserts? Beverages?

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per person, to support this site. Thanks.

Evelise Vasquez
03/07/14
Great site,

I have 8 Qt chafers. But some family members are helping me with some trays of their own. The question that I have is, may I just remove the food trays when food runs out and replace them with the trays they are bringing me which will be in large aluminum disposable trays?
Thank you very much.

ellen
03/07/14
Some of the aluminum pans fit inside the water trays, but some are too deep. Check with both empty before the party.
Jackqueline
03/07/14
Pizzas
Hi Ellen,
I am bringing 12 pizzas in pizza boxes to a little hall, for a party, where there is no oven available. I can rent some chafers and the pizza place told me that I could borrow their cambro. I hate for the pizzas to get soggy. Should I use the chafing dishes to keep them warm or the cambro? Or both? The pizza place puts aluminum file in their boxes. Wouldn't that make it worse? Should I ask them to leave out the foil too? The pizza will be eaten in shifts during a 2-2/12 hour time period. Thank you!
ellen
03/08/14
No good choices here. Is it not possible to have some delivered half way through?
Jacqueline
03/09/14
Yes, I think we could stagger them; time wise. I am thinking of wrapping them in aluminum foil, piece by piece to keep warm, then put them in chafing dish...
ellen
03/10/14
Wrapping in foil makes it worse- holds the steam in. Preheat the serving chafer 40 minutes to make it hot.
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