Holding cabinets and proofing cabinets are used in the foodservice industry to maintain foods in an ideal environment in order to keep them as fresh as possible. Commercial food warming cabinets and heated holding cabinets come in various sizes and styles, each offering very unique benefits. Holding cabinets keep fully cooked food at safe temperatures until it is ready to be served while proofing cabinets provide the best possible conditions for the final step in making the perfect dough. These units allow operators to change temperature and humidity for each specific food, so the food is perfectly heated or held.  

When it comes to insulation, there’s a choice between insulated and non-insulated cabinets. While insulated food warming cabinets preserve heat efficiently, reducing energy costs, and are ideal for transporting food, non-insulated cabinets offer an economical option. Opt for insulation that matches your volume of operation and budget.

Let’s take a closer look at the different options, and jump into the solutions that could best work for your business.

insulated / non insulated food warming cabinet for

Holding Food Warmer Cabinets

Holding cabinets hold cooked foods at a safe temperature until you’re ready to serve it to your guests. Ideal for catering events and large dining experiences, holding cabinets allow your team to be prepared for even the busiest dinner rush.

3 drawer warmer

Proofing Food Warmer Cabinets

Proofing food warmer cabinets provide an ideal environment for the final rising period when making dough, which is called “proofing.” These cabinets typically operate between 70 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect temperature for this stage of breadmaking.

heated holding cabinet

Holding/Proofing Cabinets

As you may have guessed, a holding/proofing food warmer cabinet is capable of both holding and proofing! Since these units can operate as either a holding cabinet or a proofing cabinet, they’re ideal for small operations that only have space for one unit in their kitchen.

Size Options

Holding Cabinet Sizes
commercial food warmer cabinets


  • 34″ tall or less
  • Fits under counters
  • Best for small kitchens

1/2 Height

  • 36-41″ tall
  • Best for low volume kitchen operations

3/4 Height

  • 54-57″ tall
  • Best for medium to high volume kitchen operations

Full Height

  • At least 65″ tall
  • Best for high volume kitchen operations


Commercial food warming cabinets are available as either insulated or non-insulated. Insulated cabinets help preserve heat within the cabinet more efficiently, which saves energy and reduces cost. Insulated cabinets are more expensive than non-insulated cabinets, but they are better equipped for transporting food items. Uninsulated cabinets have a smaller price tag and are ideal for low-volume operations where transporting the product isn’t necessary.


Non-insulated food warmer cabinets are a great option for a smaller budget, or for low-volume operations. These cabinets do their job of holding foods at proper environments and do so at a lower price point than insulated models.  

Featured Non-Insulated Holding and Proofing Cabinet:

Kratos Full-Size Non-Insulated Holding and Proofing Cabinet

Main Features of this Kratos Non-Insulated Full-Height Holding/Proofing Cabinet Include:

  • Holds 36 sheet pans
  • 112” clearance between pan slides
  • LED display for easy temperature monitoring
  • 120V
  • 1440 watts of heating power


  • An economical option with a lower investment cost
  • Slightly less bulky than their insulated counterparts


  • Less energy-efficient than insulated models 
  • The exterior of some units will be hot to the touch and radiate that heat into the busy kitchen 


non-insulated food warmer cabinet


An insulated food warmer cabinet reduces heat loss and therefore energy consumption — in heating the unit itself and in subsequently cooling its kitchen environment. These units are generally more expensive than non-insulated cabinets, however they make up for the cost in the long run thanks to the energy savings. 

Featured Insulated Holding and Proofing Cabinet:

Metro C539-CFC-U C5 3 Series Full-Height Insulated Holding/Proofing Cabinet with Universal Slides

Main Features of the Metro C539-CFC-U C5 3 Series Full-Height Insulated Holding/Proofing Cabinet Include:

  • Proofing-holding combination control module
  • Universal wire slides adjust in 1-1/2″ increments
  • Insulation Armour technology keeps the cabinet cool to the touch and is dent-, impact-, and stain-resistant
  • Solid, fully insulated, field-reversible door


  • Energy efficient 
  • Great for off-site events such as catering, weddings, etc. 
  • Cool to touch exterior 
  • Less radiating heat leaves the kitchen cooler 


  • Higher initial investment 


insulated food warmer cabinet

Interior Configurations

The interior configuration determines the type and size of pans that can be used in the cabinet as well as how pans are loaded.

Universal Slides

• Fits full-sized steam table pans and full-sized sheet pans of any depth
• Fully adjustable
• Can be bottom-loaded
• More effort required in cleaning due to multiple piece assembly

Fixed Slides

• Fits full-sized sheet pans and shallow full-sized steam table pans
• One-piece assembly makes for easy cleaning
• Limited height clearance may interfere with rising dough
• Can be bottom-loaded

Lip Load Slides

• ONLY fits full-sized sheet pans
• Loaded by the lip
• Provides generous clearance; best for rising dough

Door Type

Warming cabinets offer two types of doors: glass and solid. Glass doors allow operators to see product without having to open the door and lose heat. Meanwhile, solid doors are extremely energy efficient and create minimal ambient heat.

Door Configuration

Full height warmer cabinets are great for high volume operation kitchens. However, opening the full door will cause loss of heat. Avoid this problem with a dutch door – or a split door. If heat loss is not an issue with the kitchen’s operation, the full length door is still a great option.

Control Type

Easily keep your food warming cabinet at the perfect temperature with either manual or thermostatic controls. Manual controls require regular monitoring while thermostatic controls provide more precise temperature controls.

Top mount controls are safer during transport and during the daily operations of a busy kitchen. These controls are also easier to see and access. Some models are made with bottom mount controls, so it is important to ask where controls are located when purchasing.

Energy Star

Energy Star products cut your energy usage, contributing to a cleaner environment. These Energy Star products lower your utility bills due to the lowered energy usage and qualify for rebates in some states, making these products even better investments!

As you look deeper into which solution is best for you own unique needs, remember that commercial food warming cabinets and heated holding cabinets are a foundational element to your kitchen’s operations.

Top vendors such as Metro [remove hyperlink, new link here], Vulcan[remove hyperlink, new link here], Crescor [remove hyperlink, new link here], and Carter Hoffman [remove hyperlink, new link here] offer a wide variety of sizes and styles that will increase efficiencies and convenience.

Carter Hoffman has been a leader in the restaurant equipment for years. Learn whyy so many foodservice provers turn to this trusted brand for all insulated holding cabinets, and non-insulated holding cabinets.

If you have additional questions, one of our helpful expert product consultants would be happy to assist you at 800-215-9293! 

Top FAQs on Food Warming Cabinets

1. What’s the main purpose of holding cabinets and proofing cabinets for foodservice providers and restaurants?

There’s a main difference between these two types of cabinets. Holding cabinets work to maintain temperatures for cooked food until it’s ready to be served, while proofing cabinets are an ideal space for dough rising during breadmaking.

2. What’s the difference between insulated and non-insulated food warming cabinets?

As we have discussed throughout this article, insulated cabinets efficiently preserve heat, making them great for energy savings and transporting food—perfect for all types of foodservice establishments. Non-insulated cabinets on the other hand offer an economical choice for low-volume operations.

3. What size options are available for these cabinets?

We have many different sizes and options to choose from! Shop now to find the size that works best for your space.

4. Which door types are available for warming cabinets?

Most warming cabinets come in either glass and/or solid doors. Glass doors allow easy visibility without losing heat, while solid doors are energy-efficient and create minimal ambient heat.

5. How do Energy Star products benefit businesses using holding cabinets?

Energy Star-rated cabinets reduce energy usage, lower utility bills, and qualify for rebates in some states, contributing to a cleaner environment and better investments. We highly recommend going with an Energy Star item!

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