Steam Table Pan Sizes Explained
There are dozens of available food pan sizes when you take into account the many widths, lengths, and depths they come in. To complicate matters, different segments of the foodservice industry often use their own jargon to refer to identical pans, so what one operator might call a counter pan is a steam table pan to another.
We owe the diversity of sizes and names for food pans to the countless number of uses they enjoy in commercial kitchens worldwide, from holding hot food on their namesake food bars to organizing sandwich trimmings on food prep tables. With this guide, we'll help you make sense of all the different food pans available and provide some tips for choosing the right one for the job.
Standard Food Pan Sizes
Food pans are available in several standard sizes, some of which are more common than others. Their precise dimensions vary slightly between different manufacturers, but they're all named according to their size compared to a full-size pan:
- A full pan measures roughly 12 inches x 20 inches. A full-size food pan is often used for cooking large batches and serving popular items, especially entrees like fried chicken, burgers, and salad greens.
- A two-thirds pan measures roughly 12 inches x 131⁄3 inches. A two-thirds size pan will fill two thirds of a full-size cutout and leave room for a third size pan or a combination of smaller pans.
- A half pan measures roughly 12 inches x 10 inches, so two half pans can fill the same space as one full-size pan. Half pans are commonly used for side dishes, salad toppings, and smaller entrees on food bars.
- A third pan measures roughly 12 inches x 62⁄3 inches. Three third pans can fit in a full-size cutout. A third pan is a good choice for serving side dishes on hot food bars.
- A quarter pan measures 6 inches x 10 inches, so four can fill the same space as a full-size pan and two can fill the same space as a half-size pan. Quarter pans are popular for holding side dishes and salad toppings.
- A sixth pan measures 6 inches x 62⁄3 inches, so it takes six to fill the same space as a full-size pan and three to fill the same space as a half-size pan. Sixth pans are commonly used to hold soups, dressings, and toppings for salads. This is the size that's most often used on salad and sandwich prep tables.
- A ninth pan measures 4 inches x 62⁄3 inches. Ninth pans are the smallest of the available steam table pan sizes. They're commonly used to hold small quantities of seasonings, spices, garnishes, toppings, and condiments.
Steam Table Pan Capacities
The following table provides the capacity in cups of common steam table pan sizes and depths. Note that capacities are approximate and meant to represent 80 percent of a pan's brimful capacity.