Choosing the Right Food Warmer for Your Commercial Kitchen

Food warmers are an essential part of every commercial kitchen. They help keep your kitchen operating smoothly and ensure your staff can focus on one task at a time. Choosing the right food warmer depends on your business, but here are a few key things to keep in mind.

Wells v Cabinets

The two largest groups of commercial kitchen food warmers are holding cabinets and food wells. In general, wells are best suited for buffet style restaurants as they allow for easy access to a large variety of foods. Some food wells have built in heating elements and others require the use of an independent heat source such as sterno cans. Overall, wells are great for serving food to your customers when you need to keep it warm.

Wells can also keep large quantities of liquids warm, such as sauces and soups. The right type of food warmer depends on what kind of food you typically serve.

Holding cabinets usually contain levels where trays of food can be placed and stored. They come in a variety of sizes and models, and are used for storage in the kitchen itself to keep food out of the food safety danger zone before serving. Cabinets often have wheels attached to their base for easy mobility.


How large of a warmer you need depends entirely on your business size and production quantity. Larger food warmers can obviously hold more, but take up a lot more space and require more energy to operate. Capacity directly determines how big the food warmer is. Cabinet food warmers come in full size models which are about 60 to 80 inches tall, and half size variants often between 30 and 45 inches tall. 

Further, there are drawer warmers that are much smaller than cabinets and can be placed on countertops or below other kitchen spaces. Their smaller size means less capacity, but they can often make better use of space.


Depending on the kind of food you serve, you may need to use different heat settings. Food warmers equipped with thermostats allow for precise temperature control, varying from 80 to 200 degrees. Being able to select the specific temperature results in higher quality for your customers. 

Different food warmers have different temperature settings and may offer a more limited temperature range. Keep in mind what foods you will be keeping warm and how warm they need to be stored when making your decision.


In a larger sized kitchen, you may be dealing with several food warmers in simultaneous operation. If this be the case, perhaps a food warmer with a glass door would better suit your needs, as you can see what is stored and how well it is keeping.

Single or Double Wells

Holding cabinets come in different sizes and also different types. Some full sized cabinets have two compartments instead of one. Each compartment can be heated to a different temperature and therefore can accommodate different foods. Instead of two half-size cabinets, the double compartment option saves floor space. If you usually do not need to keep foods at different temperatures, a single door cabinet will serve you fine.

Be sure to check whether or not the food warmer includes holding racks, as these may need to be purchased separately. Keep this in mind when considering the overall cost of the food warmer and all of its necessary parts.

Food warmers help save time and allow your business to handle increased production. The right one for you depends on how you will be using it and how much you will be using it. Overall, here are a few quick things to consider:

  • Size
  • Temperature
  • Kitchen space
  • Types of food
  • Accessibility

Texas Restaurant Supply has a wide range of warmers to best suit your restaurant’s needs. Check out our inventory and get your kitchen fully equipped!