Cooking to Hold: Best Solutions and Comparisons

10 26 2023 FER Article

In the fast-paced world of foodservice, finding efficient solutions to meet peak demand can be a challenge for any operation. Enter “cooking to hold” or batch cooking, a method that helps feed your hungry guests faster and frees up your food preparation team to manage other tasks.

By preparing and holding food ahead of time, commercial kitchens can achieve more productivity with fewer staff, reduce food waste, and streamline workflow. Your customers will appreciate it – and so will your crew!

Let’s walk through all the options for holding food after it’s cooked:

Heat Lamps & Strips

Heat lamps and strips have long been a staple in commercial kitchens, serving as go-to solutions for keeping food warm on countertops, serving lines, or in preparation areas. These fixtures find their niche, particularly in buffet settings or at carving stations, where the rapid turnover of dishes is essential.

However, while these solutions offer some advantages, they come with limitations:

  • Uneven Heating: Heat lamps and strips primarily provide radiant heat. This means that only the surface of the food facing the lamp gets the direct heat, which can lead to uneven heating or drying out food.
  • Drying Out: The direct radiant heat can cause the surface of the food to dry out quickly, especially foods with a high surface area or those that are thinly sliced.
  • Overcooking: Extended exposure to the heat source can continue cooking certain types of food, potentially leading to overcooked or compromised food quality.
  • Limited Holding Time: Food quality can deteriorate if kept under heat lamps for extended periods. While it keeps food warm, it’s not meant for long holding times.
  • Limited to Certain Foods: Not all foods are suited for heat lamps. For example, creamy dishes or those with a lot of sauce might skin over or separate.

Countertop Warmers

Timing is everything in foodservice, and countertop warmers shine by ensuring that hot food is just a reach away. They’re the secret for keeping baked potatoes, bacon, meat patties, and chicken nuggets at the perfect serving temperature.

Like the ones you’ll find in Henny Penny’s lineup of holding equipment, modular holding, or multi-purpose holding, offers flexible and customizable configurations. Some modular models come with a pass-through option, allowing access from both sides of the counter. This thoughtful feature enhances kitchen efficiency by minimizing the hustle and bustle around the equipment.

Just like heat lamps and strips, countertop warmers might not be the optimal choice for all operations:

Countertop warmers are generally smaller, limiting the quantity of food you can keep warm. They are great for certain dishes but might not be suitable for all types of food. Delicate dishes may not hold up well in countertop warmers. And foods exposed to the air can dry out if kept in a countertop warmer for extended periods.

Heated Holding Cabinets

When it comes to cooking in large batches and holding dishes at the ready for your upcoming lunch and dinner rush, heated holding cabinets are a game changer. These holding solutions prioritize performance and productivity and elevate the quality of your menu items.

What sets Henny Penny heated holding cabinets apart is their commitment to kitchen efficiency and energy conservation. These cabinets are not just warmers; they’re a low-energy solution designed to boost kitchen productivity. Their flexible sizing, configurations, and control options allow you to tailor holding solutions to your specific needs.

Heated holding cabinets and pressure fryers make an exceptional duo, particularly when it comes to the art of pressure-fried chicken. The pressure fryer’s ability to cook chicken to crispy perfection while sealing in moisture pairs seamlessly with the heated holding cabinet’s role in maintaining that just-fried goodness.

Humidified Holding Cabinets

Humidified holding cabinets are the ultimate solution for achieving maximum hold times without compromising the integrity and quality of your food.

Henny Penny SmartHold creates the perfect conditions for holding a wide range of food items, extending their freshness and warmth by up to 200% longer than most conventional holding cabinets. This technology enables you to meet the demands of your busy kitchen without sacrificing the taste and textures your guests expect.

One of the most impressive aspects of SmartHold is its capacity to hold food for hours rather than mere minutes. Take the pressure out of dinner rush when you’re able to confidently hold your food, knowing it maintained the quality and taste through the busiest of service hours.

Ultimately, cooking to hold isn’t just about keeping food warm; it’s about keeping your guests and crew happy, your kitchen efficient, and your menu tasty. So, as you explore the options and comparisons for holding equipment, remember, each one caters to specific needs.

Ready to learn even more about Henny Penny’s holding equipment? Their global network of distributors can help. Find your distributor or fill out the form below.


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