An essential tool in the foodservice business, the hotel pan plays a significant role in the operation of kitchens and catering businesses. With its durable construction, the hotel pan has become a staple in professional kitchens worldwide; and despite its name, can even be beneficial in establishments outside of hospitality.

But before we get into how to actually use your hotel pan—what is a hotel pan?

A Hotel Pan Is: A rectangular or square container made of materials such as stainless steel or aluminum, intended to hold, store, transport, and serve larger amounts of food.

Variety of Steam Table Pans with Food
You may recognize the hotel pan through its different names. Hotel pans are often referred to as:
  • Steam Table Pans
  • Service Pans
  • Counter Pans
Although these are all vastly different names, the product stays the same. Now that we’ve covered what a hotel pan is, continue reading to dive deeper into the uses for them and how utilizing them in your business can be beneficial.

What is a Hotel Pan Used For?


Hotel pans are quite versatile and can be used for

Holding and Storing Prepared Food

With their rectangular, square shape and deep sides, hotel pans offer ample space to accommodate large quantities of food. The pans’ durable and often stainless-steel construction ensures that the food remains safe and well-preserved during storage. Hotel pans are commonly used with lids to create a tight seal, keeping the contents fresh and preventing any potential contamination. Adequate food storage is imperative to any kitchen—no matter what kind of foodservice business you’re running. From restaurants to hotels to schools, investing in a storage container such as the hotel pan minimizes spoilage and keeps your kitchen running smoothly.

Keeping Food Warm for Serving

Hotel pans are specifically designed to retain heat, making them ideal for holding and transporting hot food items. When used with steam tables or heated cabinets, hotel pans create a controlled environment that helps maintain the temperature of the food.

The deep sides of the pan paired with a tight-fitting lid further contributes to heat retention by minimizing any heat loss. This ensures that the food stays warm and appetizing for extended periods, keeping labor low during the busier hours of the day.

Steam Table

This can be especially useful for catering businesses or any establishment with buffet-style serving. For caterers, utilizing a hotel pan can keep your food hot from prep to serve even throughout transport; and on a buffet line, hotel pans can keep your food warm and appetizing, increasing customer satisfaction.

Streamlining Your Buffet Line

Did you know that hotel pans are offered in multiple sizes? The range of sizes in which hotel pans are available make them a valuable addition to your buffet line.

Hotel pans can hold a significant amount of food, allowing for easy and less frequent replenishment of buffet stations. By using hotel pans, various dishes can be prepared in advance and kept hot, which reduces wait times and ensures a continuous flow of food. This makes sure that customers aren’t left waiting for their desired dish!

Buffet using Steam Table Pans

The standardized size of hotel pans allows them to fit seamlessly into your buffet line equipment such as chafing dishes and steam tables, keeping setup and organization effortless.

Hotel pans also help prevent your food from drying out and/or becoming contaminated, maintaining the quality and freshness of your offerings. These factors all add up to a pleasant buffet experience, keeping customer satisfaction high.

Transporting Food

Designed with durability and functionality in mind, hotel pans provide a secure and convenient way to move larger quantities of food from one location to another.

The sturdy construction of hotel pans ensures that your food remains protected during transit. Pairing the pan with a secure lid can help prevent spills and leaks, which keeps your food intact and reduces the risk of contamination.

Insulated Carrier Holding Steam Table Pan

Additionally, hotel pans are compatible with various transportation equipment, such as food carts and insulated carriers, making it easy to transport them efficiently and maintain the desired temperature of the food.

Whether you’re using them for a catering event or just for off-site cooking; hotel pans are an essential tool for ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of food, allowing your business to deliver delicious meals to your customers—wherever they may be.

Preparing and Cooking Food

As if they don’t do enough already, hotel pans provide plenty of space for mixing, marinating, and storing ingredients prior to cooking. They are ideal for preparing salads, marinating meats, and storing prepped ingredients (such as veggies), ensuring that everything is conveniently accessible during the cooking process. Hotel pans can also assist during the cooking process! These pans are compatible with various cooking methods such as baking and roasting. This is due to their stainless-steel construction, as it can withstand high temperatures and facilitates even heat distribution during cooking. This can be helpful in every kitchen, no matter the type of business you’re running.

Bring Hotel Pans into Your Business

Get ready to embrace the versatility and convenience of hotel pans to elevate your food preparation, storage, and service—and witness the impact they can make on your business’s efficiency and customer satisfaction.

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