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hot cupboard buyers guide
Keeping your dishes at the correct serving temperature is no easy feat. Fortunately, heated food cupboards and plate warmers are on hand to keep your service red hot!

These nifty appliances can be used almost everywhere that food is served, from cafes to schools and workplace canteens.

There are many different types of hot cupboards for you to choose from, in a variety of sizes and with a range of features to help streamline your service. In our hot cupboard buyer’s guide, we’ll help you to narrow down which model is right for your business.

See our complete range of Hot Cupboards here

What is a hot cupboard?

A cornerstone of the catering and hospitality industries, a hot food cupboard is used to either keep plated and precooked meals warm for future serving, or for warming plates. A standard hot food cupboard will feature a few shelves of space, it will be heavily insulated and it will have an integrated heating system to preserve any meals put inside it.

However, hot cupboards often come with plenty more functionality than just heating; more elaborate models may come with gastro-norm capability, cross compatible ranges and other features.

There are plenty of different models out there and, in turn, lots to consider when shopping for one. Below, we guide you through everything you need to consider when in the market for a new hot cupboard.

What are the types of hot cupboards available?

There are plenty of hot cupboards out there, all with differing functionality and purposes. Identifying the right one for your needs can be tricky, so see below for definitions on the different types of cabinets available to you.

Food Warming Drawers

A useful tool for preserving hot meals and making sure they’re delivered to the recipient fresh and piping hot, food warming drawers are very popular within the hospitality and catering industries. A food warmer cabinet, such as the Victor Heated Drawers Table Top Two Drawer Unit, ensures hot food can be prepared in advance of serving time.

Bain Marie Top

Unlike simpler models of hot cupboards, a Bain Marie top allows your staff to cook and store fresh vegetables, gravy and sauces. A common sight in businesses such as carveries, this type of hot cupboard is also a good choice for healthcare establishments.

Plate Warmer

A plate warmer is a catering industry staple. Much like other hot cupboards, it serves to keep your food piping hot by warming the plates, although they are not designed to keep food itself warm.

They typically feature a thermostat control so you can monitor the temperature of your plates. Some warmers, such as the Victor Plate Warmer, can store up to 300 plates!

What should I consider when choosing a hot cupboard?

Hot food cupboards are an investment, but often the quality of your service depends on them, so it’s important to get this purchase right. Below we explain a range of aspects to consider when on the hunt for a hot cupboard to suit your businesses’ needs.


A static hot cupboard should fit nicely in your kitchen. However, even if it fits within the space, you should also consider the practicality of positioning it there. If stored in a fairly small preparation area, a cupboard with sliding doors is recommended as to avoid obstructing the work of other chefs when you access it.


This is of particular concern for those known to serve large numbers of people at once. For example, if you’re hosting a function with hundreds of guests, you’ll require a hot cupboard or plate warmer with the space and capacity to keep all of their meals warm.


You should invest in a hot cupboard that has the power to warm foods efficiently. A common problem for chefs is when hot spots are created within the cupboard, which can cause warm meals to become overdone, and those out of the hot spot go cold! Make sure the mode you opt for is powerful and effective.


If you plan to travel with your warmer, think carefully about its mobility. Seek a fairly lightweight cabinet that’s sturdy enough to carry large weights. One crucial feature to ensure an efficiently mobile cupboard is castors. But, it’s not just that the castors should move smoothly, but also check how reliable the breaks are as to avoid any spillages!


It’s important that you check the machinery is accessible, especially during hectic or busy periods. Some appliances feature doors on either side of the trolley, this way chefs can quickly and easily place meals in there from all angles, without disturbing the work of other chefs.

How much should I spend on a hot cupboard?

The proverbial question ‘how much will it cost?’ always springs to mind with these sorts of purchases. Once you’ve factored in the various features your hot cupboard will need, you should calculate how much you’re willing to pay. The price of the hot cupboard will always be reflective of the amount of features that it has.

Now that you’ve considered the features you should look for when buying a hot cupboard, take a look at our full hot cupboard range to see all of the models we have available.

For more useful information on picking the right equipment for your food service business or restaurant, take a look at our Bottle Cooler Buying Guide, or Dishwasher Buying Guide to ensure you have the best equipment at your disposal to maximise both the quality of your service, and efficiency.


Lockhart Catering on 24 November 2017 12:00 AM

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