How to keep food hot when cooking?

Example scenario:

I'm preparing a meat dish with some sort of creamy sauce. I cook the meat, then I remove the meat and I use the same pan to prepare the sauce. After about 2 minutes of sauce preparation I'm ready to serve but the meat is already cold. How to keep it warm?

6 Answers 6


Cover your meat with aluminum foil. This will help it keep up to temperature. Put the meat back in to the pan with the sauce to bring it back up to temperature (but not cook further) just before serving.

You could also set the oven at a very low temperature (mine will do 170F) and place the item in there. This usually seems to be more trouble than it's worth though. Foil and a quick reheat works for most cases.

  • Wow, I guess I'm doing it right, since our answers were essentially the same, with the paragraphs reversed! +1 from me for bringing it back up to temperature in the pan with the sauce, great advice. Aug 19, 2010 at 17:46
  • @stephen, Clearly you just copied me and flipped the paragraphs around to make it less obvious. You won't fool me! ;op (kidding, obviously...)
    – yossarian
    Aug 19, 2010 at 17:51
  • 1
    crap, busted! and here i thought i was being sneaky upvoting yours to make it less obvious :) Aug 19, 2010 at 17:57
  • These are both good answers. You obviously copied each other, using an edible time machine -- if it were the plain old boring DeLorean sort, this would be off-topic. :) Aug 20, 2010 at 3:07

The best way I've found is to turn the oven to a very, very low setting (175 or under) and put the meat on a ceramic dish or in a pan in there, if it's going to be more than a few minutes.

If it's going to be a short amount of time, just cover the meat with aluminum foil and let it rest on the counter, this especially works well with steaks and the like where you want to let the food rest anyway.


It may be overkill, but I'll cover something with foil and keep it in the oven (without turning it on) for shorter wait times. You could also use a microwave in the same way. It may not make a difference, but I've always thought it would help keep the heat better than sitting on the counter. Added bonus: more counter space!


If you need to hold something for a more than just a few minutes and your oven is in use I have had pretty good luck with a heating pad (like the kind for a sore back) with a ceramic/glass dish on it and cover the whole thing with a clean dish towel or foil.


If it's a steak-like meat, you're actually doing your dining experience good by covering it in foil and letting it sit for a bit. It being too cold in 2 minutes is a bit fast, though, so perhaps it's something else?

The low-heat oven is a fine approach - don't really see why it would be considered a hassle. There's also keeping it warm in a sous vide cooker / warm water bath: this will allow you to keep it at a desired temperature for a long long time. Careful you keep the temp low enough that the meat doesn't cook any further.

What I do, and what works fine, is to pop the plate on which the meat will sit/wait in the oven in advance, and let the meat rest (in foil) on this pre-heated plate (or other container, if you have other meat.

  • Heating the oven, using oven gloves, something that'll go in the oven, heat up the kitchen, remember to pre-heat. meh.
    – yossarian
    Aug 19, 2010 at 22:50
  • Different strokes for different folks. Aug 20, 2010 at 11:45

Our oven has a "warm" setting which is probably in the 200-250 F range. It's great for this. It won't last forever, but it will last long enough to finish dishes which are taking longer than expected or long enough to quiet the baby, answer the phone, etc.

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