Electric buffet food warmers for countertop use are available at Wayfair, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart. Caterers and individuals who regularly serve food without an electric power source may prefer heavy-duty chafing dishes from professional suppliers, such as the WebstaurantStore.
Mini buffet warmers and servers for home use are usually electric-powered pan holders containing two to three small chafing dishes for storing multiple dishes. These convenience-oriented warmers are made for small servings, accommodating about 5 to 8 quarts of food. Many models have heat controls for adjustable temperature and carrying handles for easy portability.
Standalone chafing dishes are larger and offer flexible sizing for use in homes and culinary businesses. Chafing dishes contain a nonelectric heat source, which usually consists of a fuel can and hot-water pan. This heating method allows users to transport and warm high volumes of food in any location, especially when meals have to be kept at safe temperatures for long periods of time.
Both electric buffet servers and standalone chafing dishes are typically made of metal and come with heavy glass, thermoplastic or metal lids, helping to warm foods evenly and keeping heat contained as much as possible. Most chafing dishes are round, rectangular or oblong, and shoppers can also find specialty warmers for specific foods, such as soup and fondue.