Keep food warm for as long as the party lasts with the latest portable food heater from Sterno.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated November 20, 2018
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When hosting (or even just contributing to) a party, everything can be perfectly planned—the menu refined, the dishes shined, the drinks made-to-order—but it might still fall flat if the food is cold. This party-ruiner poses the largest threat to large gatherings with finger foods, where people will be sampling from a range of appetizers, snacks, and sides for as long as the party lasts, which can often be long after food comes out of the oven.

Keeping party food warm is the simple solution, of course, but that’s not always so easy, especially for celebrations in large multi-use spaces or school buildings where an oven or stove isn’t always available. Portable food heaters are the go-to alternative, and Sterno has been selling systems to keep food warm for a century. The iconic food warming system of trays with canned flames beneath (a standard catering set-up) isn’t exactly putting safety first, though.

Enter Sterno SpeedHeat, the company’s safer alternative to open-flame food heaters.

To buy: Sterno SpeedHeat Flameless Food Warming System, $32;

This flameless system uses SpeedHeat packets—which react with water to heat up in minutes—to keep party food toasty in the included food-safe trays for as long as 45 minutes. All the parts are disposable, which means easy clean-up, and the heat is safely contained in sealed bases, so there’s no concern that something (or someone) will catch an open flame, brush against a blazing-hot surface, or knock into a spindly tray stand and knock the whole container of food to the ground.

Smaller parties may be able to make do with room-temperature food, but for large, lengthy celebrations—think office, class, and anniversary parties and the like—these compact, easy-to-set-up trays offer a simple, low-cost, and safe way to keep food warm. And that odd metallic taste food kept in a heated tray can sometimes have? Not with this system.