Size of a Steam Table Pan

baking pans image by DSL from

Steam tables are used in commercial cafeterias, banquet halls, restaurant buffets and school cafeterias. The purpose of the tables is to keep food warm. Pans are designed to fit into the table and are available in many sizes.

How it Works

The size of steam pans are measured by depth and liquid capacity. Lids may also be used to secure food prior to or during an event. The standard pans used to hold water in steam tables are 12 inches by 20 inches in size and 6 inches deep. Standard pans are placed into the steam table and are filled partially with water. Smaller pans are supported by and fit into the standard pans. Heat from the water in the standard pan is transferred, keeping food warm.


Sizes are broken down into category beginning with a full size or standard pan. From there pans are sized fractionally to the full pan. Each size offers multiple depths and liquid capacity. For example, a full pan can be 2 1/2 inches deep with 8 1/2 quart capacity; 4 inches deep with with 14 1/2 quart capacity; or 6 inches deep with 22 quart capacity. Other sizes include a half pan, quarter pan, one-third pan and one-ninth pan.


These pans can fit into the standard pans in multiple combinations. They are designed to provide any capacity that may be needed. Steam table pans are made from stainless steel, making cleaning and sanitizing easier.