Insulated Food Carriers Guide

For catering businesses and restaurants that provide delivery service, having reliable insulated food carriers is vital. Food served at improper temperatures is not only unpleasant, but it can also lead to serious food safety problems. Hot and Cold food carriers are the best way to make sure that food stays at safe temperatures during transport.

Insulated food carriers vary from soft shelled insulated bags to large industrial holding cabinets. Some operations may have need for all types of food carriers while some may be able to make due with just one. Let us walk you through the different types of hot and cold food carriers and their purposes to lead you to your correct match!

Hard Shell Food Carriers

Hard Shell Insulated Food Carriers

insulated hard shell food carrier
Caterers in particular love insulated hard shell food carriers for their ease of use and clean-ability. These insulated food carriers do not use electricity, instead relying on thick walls and superior foam insulation to keep foods hot or cold for more than four hours at a time. Insulated carriers come in a range of sizes and colors for the convenience of the caterer to organize and color code their food items. They often have sturdy, well placed handles for carrying and are seam free for easy cleaning.

Insulated hard shell carriers come in both front load and top load styles. Front load is the most popular for caterers as they hold multiple food pans that can be conveniently removed when on location. Top load carriers hold just one food pan and are usually only used by someone who wants to serve directly from the carrier. They are popular with military and relief organizations who are more concerned with ease of use than with presentation.

Heated Hard Shell Food Carriers

heated insulated food carrier
Hard shell food carriers also come in varieties that include an independent heating element in addition to their insulated body. Heated carriers typically have the ability to heat for an hour but then can hold temperature for multiple additional hours. These carriers are great for food items more sensitive to temperature changes like meats or dairy.

Most of these carriers are Energy Star rated due to their energy efficiency, using less energy than three standard 100 watt light bulbs. They are available with the same size and color variations as the standard insulated food carriers.

Camchillers and Camdollys

Cambro Manufacturing is such a popular maker of food transport equipment that they have created a few very useful insulated food carrier accessories. Two products that caterers love are the Camchiller and the Camdolly.
cambro camchiller
Camchillers are inserts designed to prolong the holding time of a carrier below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when frequent opening and closing of the carrier is required. The inserts are either the size of a half size or full size food pan so that they can easily fit into your carrier with your other pans. To use them, you simply freeze them overnight and slide them to the top rails of your transporter.
The Camdolly is just what it sounds like- a small dolly made to perfectly and securing fit Cambro top and front loading food carriers. They are great for reducing employee strain and make for quicker transport to and from venues.

Soft Shell Insulated Food Carriers

soft shell food carrier
Soft shell food carriers are sometimes used by caterers for short transport, but are most popular with delivery services. They have a short hold time but can easily keep food at its correct temperature for around 30 minutes. The most common soft shell carriers are your traditional pizza box holders, but larger carriers can be used to hold multiple bags of already divided orders to be easily removed one at time for delivery.

Soft carriers are much easier to set in the back seat of a car than a hard shell carrier, but cannot stack like their hard shell counterparts can. If you are transporting small amounts of food on short trips, soft carriers are the way to go.

Warming and Holding Cabinets

holding cabinet
Warming and holding cabinets are the serious older brother to insulated food carriers. For caterers putting on lengthy events they are a must. These cabinets, unlike heated carriers, can keep food at temperature for hours on end and can hold a much larger amount of food.

Some cabinets must be plugged in, but some are able to heat themselves independently and can still function during transport. Cabinets that must be plugged in are often stationary and kept in kitchens or prep areas of halls that host many events. This way, caterers can simply transport their food in smaller carriers and put the food pans in the holding cabinet when they arrive. Independently heated cabinets, though less common and costlier, can even be transported with food pans still inside.

Popular Brands of Insulated Food Carriers

Cambro Manufacturing is a household name in the restaurant industry. They offer a wide range of foodservice products including their insulated transport products that are trusted by catering companies and healthcare solutions all over the globe.

Cres Cor is a very popular manufacturer in the realm of warming and holding cabinets. Known for their durability and the fact that they are made in America, Cres Cor continues to be a top maker of these heavy duty cabinets.


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