Aluminum Foil Steam Table Pans – The Complete Consumer Guide

Aluminum foil pans are the most versatile disposable food containers produced today. Steam table foil pans are cost-effective, practical, and intended for one-time use. They are designed to withstand extreme temperature ranges, from below freezing to broiler oven temperatures. For these reasons, they are the #1 choice for food transport used by restaurants, caterers, and chefs within the food service industry. There is no need to clean them up after using, simply discard in a recyclable manner. Aluminum can be recycled a countless number of times, therefore we suggest recycling aluminum products whenever possible.

With such an extensive selection of foil containers and products to choose from online, it can sometimes become confusing to the consumer. This guide will help you in choosing which specific pan fit your needs.

Steam Table Foil Pan Background

Almost all US manufactured foil pans are made with aluminum alloy 3003. The strength of a foil pan is determined by how thick the aluminum sheet is, which is measured by its gauge. A heavier gauge results in a stronger pan. Many US manufacturers make several different gauges of the same sized pan to allow for economical usage in different applications. For example, transporting light-weight food items such as salads does not require such a strong pan, so a lighter gauge foil pan will do the job adequately.

Steam Table Pan Sizes

Apart from a few negligible variances, all steam table foil pan sizes are universal among US aluminum foil manufacturers. There are 3 size categories of steam table pans: Full-Size, Half-Size, and Third-Size.

Half-Size Pans

These measure 12-3/4″ length by 10-3/8″ width. The most common half-size pans are made with 40 gauge heavy duty aluminum, full curl rim, with the exception of the half-size extra deep pan which is even stronger at 50 gauge. (A stronger 45 gauge version of the half-size deep is also available).

Half-Size Pans (4 Depths) 12-3/4″ x 10-3/8″ (Packed 100 pans per case)

  • Half-Size Shallow: 1-11/16″ Vertical Depth
  • Half-Size Medium: 2-3/16″ Vertical Depth
  • Half-Size Deep: 2-9/16″ Vertical Depth
  • Half-Size Extra Deep: 4-3/16″ Vertical Depth

Uses: Light-medium volume catering, smaller party portions, bulk food transport, barbecues, broiling, baking, casseroles, pastries, cooking.

Full-Size Pans

These measure 20-3/4″ length by 12-13/16″ width and vary in depth. Generally, these are made with 65 gauge heavy duty aluminum, full curl rim. These will not bend or crush easily. Economy gauge pans are 55 and 60 gauge, also known as cheater gauge. These are best used for light duty applications and we generally do not recommend them for commercial food service use. And if you need even stronger support, 70 gauge extra heavy duty pans in the Full-Size Deep and Full-Size Medium are available.

Full Size Pans (3 Depths) 20-3/4″ x 12-13/16″ (Packed 50 pans per case)

  • Full Size Shallow: 1-11/16″ Vertical Depth
  • Full Size Medium: 2-3/16″ Vertical Depth
  • Full Size Deep: 3-3/8″ Vertical Depth

Uses: Full-service volume catering, party pan portions, heavy bulk food transport, broiling, barbecues, baking, cooking.

Third-Size Pans

The third-size deep steam pan is the exact same pan as the 5LB loaf/bread pan. These are available in cases of 100 and 200.

Uses: Loaf/bread pans, pound cakes, broiling, barbecues, cooking, baking

Steam Pan Lids

Matching foil lids are available for all steam foil pans. Lids will universally fit their respective size pans, including pans made by various US manufacturers. In addition to foil lids, clear OPS dome lids are available for half-size pans.

Foil Pan Tips

Did you know foil pans can be refrigerated or frozen, and they can go straight into the oven? This is one main reason they are the top choice for disposable food transport within the food service industry. However, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your steam tables.

  • Always Support The Bottom! Keep in mind that aluminum containers will bend under weight, and holding a pan by the edges when full of food is something you should try to avoid. Use at least one hand under the pan for support whenever transporting food.
  • Use matching foil lids. These serve several purposes. They cover the food and keep food hot (steaming!). They help eliminate spills. They also provide significant added support once they crimp fully around the pan.
  • With liquid foods, use plastic cling wrap to cover the pan, then crimp the foil pan lid over the top. This will significantly reduce leakage and spills.
  • Aluminum pans are recyclable. Help the environment by recycling your foil products whenever possible.

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