Explore the Best Types of Buffet Servers Today

If you’re looking to elevate your dining experience, then you need to consider the types of buffet servers that are available today. Buffet servers go beyond just serving dishes; they bring beauty, organization, and convenience to your table.

With the right buffet server, your guests will be impressed and delighted. In this article, we will explore different types of buffet servers that will make your next event unforgettable.

From chafing dishes to ice sculptures, we will take you t ough an exciting journey that will give you ideas for your next gathering. You don’t want to miss out on these innovative types of buffet servers that are both practical and stylish. Join us as we explore the world of buffet servers.

Types of Buffet Servers by Function

When it comes to selecting the right buffet server, you need to consider the specific needs of your event. Different types of buffets require different types of servers. Here’s a breakdown of the most common buffet servers by function:

Buffet ServerFunction
Chafing dishesKeep food warm with a heated metal dish on a stand and lid, ideal for serving hot entrées, side dishes, sauces, and dips.
Lazy susansConvenient, rotating trays on tables provide easy access to shared dishes without the need to reach across, making them suitable for both hot and cold items.
Hot platesFeature electric warming trays to maintain the temperature of multiple dishes simultaneously, ensuring that your food stays warm t oughout the meal.
GriddlesFlat, heated surfaces perfect for cooking and keeping items like pancakes, eggs, and meats warm. They’re an excellent choice when hot, freshly cooked items are desired.
Bain-mariesUtilize water baths with controlled temperatures, commonly used to keep delicate sauces and dips warm without the risk of overheating.
Cold platesKeep cold foods like salads, fruits, and desserts cool. These chilled trays or platters are ideal for maintaining the freshness of your cold dishes.
Refrigerator display casesShowcase cold items while maintaining the proper temperature. These glass-enclosed units are both functional and visually appealing.
Ice sculpturesUnique buffet servers that serve as both decorative and functional pieces. They can hold cold foods or beverages while adding visual appeal to your buffet setup.

Consider the nature of your event when choosing the right type of buffet server. While chafing dishes and hot plates may be more appropriate for formal events, lazy susans and griddles may be better suited for casual gatherings. Refrigerator display cases and ice sculptures are perfect for visually stunning events.

Continue reading to find out about the different types of buffet servers categorized by service style.

Chafing Dishes

When it comes to keeping your hot food hot, chafing dishes are a classic and reliable choice. They typically come in a set with a heated metal dish, a stand, and a lid, creating a warm and inviting display for your guests.

Simply fill the dish with hot water and light the fuel to keep your entrées, side dishes, sauces, and dips at the perfect temperature t oughout your event.

Chafing dishes come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles to match any event theme. Plus, they are easy to clean and reuse for your next occasion.

heated metal dishes

Types of Chafing Dishes

There are two main types of chafing dishes: electric and fuel-based. Electric chafing dishes require an electrical outlet and can maintain a consistent temperature t oughout your event.

Fuel-based chafing dishes use canned fuels such as Sterno to heat the water, making them convenient for outdoor events or locations without access to electrical outlets.

Tips for Using Chafing Dishes

To ensure a successful buffet setup with chafing dishes:

  • Choose appropriate dishes that fit the size and style of your event.
  • Preheat the dishes before adding the hot food.
  • Use tongs or serving spoons to prevent contamination and keep the area tidy.
  • Refill the water and fuel regularly to ensure consistent heat.
  • Monitor the heat and adjust as needed to prevent overcooking or drying out the food.

Chafing Dish Brands

Some popular chafing dish brands include:

BrandFeaturesPrice Range
WinwareStainless steel, stackable, easy to use$30-$150
SternoFuel-based, versatile, affordable$20-$75
GastroragModern design, adjustable temperature, safe handles$50-$200

When choosing a chafing dish, consider the size, sturdiness, and compatibility with your event. With the right chafing dish, you can elevate your hot food presentation and keep your guests satisfied.

Lazy Susans

If you are looking for a buffet server that allows guests to easily access shared dishes without reaching across the table, lazy susans are an excellent choice. These rotating trays are placed on tables, making them convenient for both hot and cold items.

With lazy susans, your guests no longer have to pass around heavy platters or awkwardly reach across the table to get the food they want. The ease of access not only enhances your guests’ dining experience but also reduces the risk of spills or accidents.

Lazy Susans come in various styles and sizes and can complement any buffet theme or occasion. They are perfect for shared dishes such as tacos, sushi rolls, or appetizers like cheese and crackers. You can also use them for hot items like meatballs or cold items like s imp cocktail.

With lazy susans, you can be sure that your guests will enjoy a hassle-free, delightful dining experience. Who wouldn’t love the convenience of having all the food within reach?

Hot Plates

Hot plates are a popular choice for buffet servers because they can maintain the temperature of multiple dishes simultaneously. These electric warming trays ensure that your food stays warm t oughout the meal, eliminating the need to constantly replace dishes. With hot plates, you can serve a variety of hot dishes without worrying about them getting cold.

Hot Plates

Benefits of Hot Plates

  • Keep multiple dishes warm at once
  • Eliminate the need to constantly replace dishes
  • Ensure consistent temperature of dishes

Hot plates are especially useful for events where a variety of hot dishes are served, such as a Thanksgiving feast or a company holiday party. By keeping all the dishes warm on one tray, guests can easily access their favorites without worrying about cold food or needing to wait for refills.


When it comes to keeping your pancakes, eggs, and meats warm, griddles are the perfect solution. These flat heated surfaces are a crowd-pleaser at buffets where hot, freshly cooked items are desired. Griddles are not only handy for keeping food warm, but also for cooking food right on the spot.

Griddles can come in various sizes, shapes, and materials. Some griddles are electric and can be directly plugged in, whereas others require an external heat source. Cast iron griddles are popular due to their even heating and durability.

Whether you are serving breakfast, lunch or dinner, griddles are a versatile addition to your buffet setup that can please any guest’s appetite.


Pros and Cons of Griddles:

Great for cooking items on the spot and keeping them warmRequires an external heat source for some models
Flat surface allows for even cooking and easy access to foodCan take up a lot of space on the buffet table
Perfect for a variety of breakfast items, such as pancakes and eggsMay require more attention from staff to prevent burns or food sticking to the surface

Tip: Consider having a chef or catering staff member manning the griddle station to ensure a smooth and safe cooking experience for your guests.


If you want to keep delicate sauces and dips at a consistent temperature without the risk of overheating, bain-maries are the perfect buffet servers for you. These servers utilize water baths with controlled temperatures to ensure that your sauces and dips remain warm and ready for consumption t oughout your event.

Before using a bain-marie server, make sure that you fill the water bath to the appropriate level and set the temperature accordingly. This will prevent any spills or overheating and keep your sauces and dips from drying out.

Investing in bain-maries will add a touch of sophistication and convenience to your buffet setup while ensuring that every dish is served at the perfect temperature.

Bain-Marie Server

Benefits of Using Bain-Maries:

Water BathsKeeps sauces and dips at controlled temperatures
Prevents OverheatingReduces the risk of overheating that could ruin delicate sauces and dips
ConvenientGuests can easily access sauces and dips without the need for frequent reheating

Pro-tip: Place bain-maries near the food items they are intended to keep warm to ensure convenient access by guests.

Cold Plates

Keep your cold dishes fresh and appetizing with chilled trays or platters. Cold plates are the perfect solution for showcasing salads, fruits, and desserts at your buffet.

Cold Plates

Cold plates come in a variety of sizes and shapes, allowing you to choose the best fit for your presentation. Consider rectangular platters for linear arrangements, or circular trays for round layouts. To maintain the ideal temperature, place the trays on top of ice or in refrigerated cases.

Display your colorful and tantalizing cold dishes with confidence using cold plates.

Refrigerator Display Cases

Looking for a buffet server that can showcase your cold items while keeping them at the proper temperature? Look no further than refrigerator display casesglass-enclosed units that are both functional and visually appealing.

Whether you’re serving chilled appetizers, salads, desserts, or even beverages, these display cases can hold them all. And with their modern design, they’ll complement any buffet setup.

Refrigerator Display Cases

Benefits of Refrigerator Display Cases

What makes refrigerator display cases a top choice for buffets? Here are a few of their many benefits:

  • Keeps cold items at the proper temperature to ensure food safety and freshness.
  • Allows guests to easily see the available food choices and select what they want.
  • Can be arranged in various styles and sizes to meet your unique needs.
  • Creates a professional and organized appearance for your buffet setup.

Tips for Using Refrigerator Display Cases

When incorporating refrigerator display cases into your buffet setup, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Place the display cases strategically, making sure they’re easily accessible to guests and not blocking any flow of traffic.
  2. Use clear signage or labels to indicate what items are being served in each display case. This will minimize confusion and help guests make quicker decisions.
  3. Regularly check the temperature of your display cases to ensure they’re maintaining the proper temperature.
  4. Clean and sanitize your display cases frequently to prevent any contamination or unpleasant odors.

Ice Sculptures

Ice sculptures are a stunning addition to any buffet setup. These decorative and functional pieces can hold cold foods and beverages while adding visual appeal to your spread. Imagine a beautifully carved ice sculpture filled with refreshing cocktails or a display of chilled seafood.

The options for ice sculptures are endless, ranging from elegant ice bowls filled with fresh fruits and salads to intricate designs that complement your theme. You can even customize an ice sculpture by carving your logo or other design elements.

Not only do ice sculptures add a touch of class to your buffet, but they also serve a practical purpose. They keep cold foods and beverages at the right temperature, ensuring they stay fresh and appealing. Plus, they make for a unique and memorable experience for your guests.

ice sculptures

Types of Buffet Servers by Service Style

When it comes to catering an event, choosing the right service style can make all the difference. Buffet servers can be categorized based on the service style, including:

Service StyleDescription
Self-Serve BuffetA self-serve buffet allows guests to serve themselves at the serving tables.
Assisted BuffetIn an assisted buffet, food is served by attendants behind the serving table to ensure portion control and a more organized flow.
Action StationAction stations provide guests with entertainment and interaction while food is being prepared in front of them.
Food StationsFood stations offer various cuisines set up in different sections t oughout the event space.
Passed AppetizersA server passes around bite-sized appetizers on trays to guests standing or mingling during the reception.
Plated BuffetIn a plated buffet, servers plate food onto individual plates and serve them to guests at designated tables.
Family-Style BuffetIn a family-style buffet, platters of food are placed on the tables for guests to serve themselves in a communal dining experience.

Consider your event’s style, formality, and theme while choosing your service style for your buffet setup.

Additional Serving Equipment

When it comes to setting up a buffet, having the right serving equipment is crucial. Here are some essential items that will ensure your guests have a seamless dining experience:

  • Serving Utensils: These are necessary for guests to serve themselves. It includes spoons, tongs, and ladles for different dishes.
  • Serving Bowls and Platters: Use these to present dishes in an organized and visually appealing manner.
  • Chafing Dish Fuel: This fuel keeps chafing dishes hot and helps maintain the food’s temperature.
  • Table Linens: Choose table linens that complement your theme and enhance the buffet’s overall look.
  • Plates and Glasses: Ensure there are enough plates and glasses for each guest to have two or t ee, depending on the number of courses you plan to serve.
  • Cutlery: Place forks, knives, and spoons at the beginning of the buffet so guests can grab them before serving themselves.
  • Buffet Signs and Labels: Clearly label each dish to avoid confusion and ensure guests with dietary restrictions are accommodated.

Don’t forget to arrange these items in a visually appealing manner to enhance the dining experience. With the right serving equipment, your guests will have a memorable dining experience.

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