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Warm food not only tastes better than room temperature food, but it also helps prevent contamination, which can make your guests sick. However, how to keep food warm on the table, especially when serving different dishes with different cook times, can seem daunting, but it can be done using the following tips.

Safe Food Serving Temperature

Once you have successfully prepared your food, it is important to keep hot foods properly warmed and cold foods properly chilled to help prevent bacteria growth that can cause various illnesses, not to mention cause the food that you slaved over for hours or more to lose maximum flavor.

Therefore, before your preparing your next meal, you should also plan how you will keep it at a safe food serving temperature, which can be done using some of the equipment already available in your kitchen. Or you may even consider renting or purchasing additional warming equipment to help keep your foods at a safe temperature.

As a general rule, hot foods are considered safe by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as long as they are kept at a temperature of at least 60°C or more. Meanwhile, chilled foods are considered safe, provided they are maintained at a temperature of at least 4.4°C.

Therefore, once you have safely prepared your foods to the proper internal temperature, which should be checked by using a  food thermometer, as simply going by sight alone can leave your food under-cooked on the inside, which poses certain health risks, you should also use a thermometer to periodically gauge the temperature of the foods as they sit out to ensure they remain safe for consumption.

food warming tool

How Long Can You Leave Food Out?

Quite often, as you complete one dish and then begin to work on another, it means that the other completed dish or dishes are left sitting out until the remainder of the meal is done. Hence, whatever foods that were prepared first can be left sitting out for a while until the last dish is complete. Furthermore, sometimes after preparing a meal, you may assemble the various dishes on the table before your guests arrive. But, if you have completed your meal too early, your guests arrive late, or you have guests arriving at different times, it can also result in your food being left out to sit for a while.

In either case, leaving cooked food out for too long can render your food unsafe. So, just how long can food be left out before it becomes a risk? Basically, the FDA states that cooked foods can be kept out for up to 2 hours as long as they are kept at the recommended safe food temperatures, which is between 4.4°C and 60°C. After two hours, any prepared food should then be transferred to the refrigerator, freezer, or another type of cooler or simply thrown out.

However, if you are serving the food in an area where the temperature is above 32.2°C, the recommended time that you can leave food out, and it still is deemed safe, is reduced to just 1 hour.

Tips to Keep Food Warm for a Party

Because you want to avoid scrambling around at the last minute or to simply prevent under timing when certain foods will be done, especially when grilling or slow cooking certain meats, such as brisket and turkey, that can take long hours to cook, which can leave your guests waiting, the best thing to do is to cook your foods way ahead of time and then keep them chilled or warm until it is time for them to be served.

To keep cold foods chilled until they are ready to serve, simply store them in the refrigerator, or you may even consider placing them on ice. Meanwhile, there are various ways to keep warm foods warm until they are ready to be served.

One of the cheapest and most convenient ways to keep foods warm is to store them in a warm oven. You could also use the stovetop set on low heat to help keep your foods warm. If you have a microwave or even a toaster oven, you can also use it to help keep your warm foods at a safe temperature.

If you are serving a buffet-style meal, you can keep the food warm simply by preparing small amounts of food ahead of time and then replenish them with fresh foods as the dishes become nearly empty or they have been sitting out for too long. This way, you’ll always have a fresh supply of fresh, safe food, no matter how long the gathering lasts.

You could also use various commercial food warmers to keep your buffet-style meal warm. However, be warned, some warmers can only keep your food as warm as 43.3°C to 48.8°C, which is well below the recommended food-safe temperature, so if you are using a warmer with temperature control, be sure to check that it has the proper settings for safe food.

Some popular food warmers include:

  1. Slow Cooker or Instant Pots – are great for storing foods that have already been prepared in the pot, and they also include temperature control with a warm setting, so they can continue to keep the food hot until it is ready to be served. However, you can also transfer stovetop dishes to the pot to keep them warm, as well.
  2. Chafing dishes – are catering pans that are elevated on a frame, which can then be heated using a small flame or heated water, and they can also be used to heat cold food. There are also disposable aluminum party sets that are most commonly used for backyard BBQ style buffets.
  3. Electric slow cooker with mini crock pots – is great for keeping various slow cooker style sides or toppings warm all at once. It also helps save space by providing its own little warming station, and it also includes various temperature dials for keeping different foods at different temperatures.
  4. Electric warming tray and buffet servers – include various small trays, which can be used for keeping dips and sides warm. They also have see-through lids, so you can see what’s being served. However, like electric slow cookers, they also require electricity to operate, so they must be placed in areas near a power outlet.
  5. An outdoor gas grill – can also be used to help keep foods warm. Simply set the grill to the lowest heat setting, place the food inside, and then close the lid.
  6. An insulated cooler or thermal heat bags can also be used to help keep food warm, in case you are wondering how to keep food warm on the go. To help lock in heat, after placing your warm food into the container, simply place a few water bottles filled with very hot water into various parts of the bag or cooler.

No matter which method you use to help keep your food warm, be sure to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food periodically to ensure it remains at a safe level.

How Do You Keep Food Warm in an Oven without Overcooking or Burning it?

If you are wondering how to keep food warm for a party and are using the oven to keep foods warm, it is important to ensure you use the lowest heat setting to prevent it from continuing to cook, thus becoming burnt or dried out. When it comes to how to keep food warm in the oven without drying, placing foil over the food will also help keep it moist.

It is also important to use a thermometer to periodically check that the foods maintain a temperature above 60°C, which is what temperature to keep food warm in oven celsius.

When using a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer to gauge the temperature of food:

  1. Power on the device.
  2. Select the food type in the thermometer set.
  3. Insert the probe into the food to measure the internal temperature.
  4. Move the position of the selector to °C or°F.
  5. Continue to check the internal food temperature until it reaches the desired temperature.

As for how long can I keep food warm in the oven, the answer is no longer than 2 hours.

So now that you know how to keep warm temperature oven Celsius, go ahead and enjoy your next gathering confident your foods are kept safe and delicious the way they were meant to be. And don’t forget to use a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer throughout your event to help ensure they stay that way!

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