Read on for our best advice and product picks for transporting hot food.
If you’re bringing cooked food to a tailgate party, you’ve got to keep it warm. Here are three different ways to do it:
Coolers aren’t just for keeping food cold; they can also be used to trap heat. Keep tailgate dishes like chili, chicken wings, and cheese dip piping hot by placing them a cooler designated for hot food. To keep the food nice and warm, try this trick: wrap bricks in heavy-duty aluminum foil and heat them in the oven at 300˚ for about 20 minutes. Line the bottom of the cooler with dish towels and carefully place the bricks in an even row inside the cooler. Place the food containers on top of the hot wrapped bricks and keep everything in place with more rolled up towels.
Pro: Keeps food hot for the entire length of your tailgate.
Con: You’ll have to find some bricks.
Insulated Food Carrier
The easiest way to keep food warm at a tailgate (or potluck) is an insulated food carrier, or portable hot food bag. There are many options, from simple, lunchbag-like carriers to more elaborate carriers with multiple compartments and zippered pockets. MIER’s Double Casserole Carrier can fit a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with an expandable design that allows you to transport cold and hot items at the same time. Make sure your dish is very hot when you place it inside the carrier to trap as much heat as possible.
Pro: Lightweight and portable; easy to use.
Con: Keeps food hot for a few hours, maximum.
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If your tailgating spot has a power source, you can bring a small portable oven, an insulated carrier that plugs into the wall, providing a constant heat source. HotLogic’s Mini Personal Portable Oven warms up food and keeps it at a steady 165˚ without overcooking it—all you have to do is plug it in. The oven can accommodate a 6.75- by 8.75-inch food container.
Pro: No need to worry about food safety or whether the dish is hot enough.
Con: Requires an electrical outlet.
However you choose to store hot cooked food, remember that it must be at or above 140˚ to prevent food poisoning.