How To Keep Food Hot In A Steam Table?

Everyone in the restaurant industry is somewhat familiar with steam tables and their capabilities in keeping the food hot for a long time. However, there are certain things that you must know about steam tables and how to properly keep food hot using them.

In this article, I am going to walk you through the task and reveal some additional things that you should know about them so the food will be served safely and properly. But before we go into those things we need to understand how to keep food hot on a steam table.

In short, the first step is to fill the steam table with water. Approximately 1/4 to 1/2 is a good amount depending on the usage time and model. Next, set up the temperature to 140°F (60°C) which is ideal because it isn’t too chill or too hot. After that monitor the food’s temperature and keep it above 145°F (63°C).

Using a steam table really is easy with only a couple of steps to get right and after that it’s a breeze.

How much water should be in a steam table

If you don’t know how much water should be used in a steam table, you should fill it 1/4 and monitor it through the day whether you need more water or not. The amount needed greatly varies depending on how long the steam table needs to be kept in operation.

A good rule of thumb is that 1/4 will be the right amount in most cases.

Ideal steam table water temperature

When adding water to a steam table it should be hot enough but not too hot, therefore the temperature of 140°F (60°C) is ideal for keeping the food hot for a long period of time but not being too hot that the food would burn to the bottom of a steam pan.

How hot should food be kept on a steam table

In general, hot food should be always kept at least 145°F (63°C) or more. This way the food will be kept safe and the bacteria will be kept away! On the other hand chilled foods should be always kept at least 40°F (4.4°C).

How long can you hold hot food on a steam table

If the food has not been used in two hours you should throw it away. Food that is closing in the two-hour period should be reheated to steaming hot temperatures or chilled as quickly as possible to 46°F (8°C) or below in order to keep it safe for further usage.

How long can you safely keep food warm

According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration), 2 hours is the maximum amount that food should be kept hot for the customer for safety reasons. If the time exceeds 2 hours then the bacteria amounts will rapidly rise to unhealthy levels. You should also always monitor the hot food temperatures and make sure that the food is 140°F (60°C).


Using steam tables sure is convenient and after knowing the facts found in this article you should have no problems setting up your steam table and monitoring the right temperatures throughout the whole day.

If you are interested in how to clean a walk-in freezer or deep fryer troubleshooting guide, you should definitely check them out so you know how to operate your restaurant properly!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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