When your cooler is too small for the amount of food you want to keep cold, or when an ice pack isn’t enough and you need a full on refrigerator at home. Here are three ways that will help keep food hot in coolers without electricity!

To keep food warm in a cooler, you can use a heat source like a heating pad or an electric blanket. You can also wrap the cooler in towels to create a makeshift oven. Read more in detail here: how to turn a cooler into a warmer.

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A cooler is fantastic for keeping things cold, but many people are unaware that it can also be used to keep meals warm! If you’re new to smoking meats, you may not have considered this, but keeping meals warm can be done simply in a cooler.

It’s difficult to schedule other meals to finish at the same time when cooking low and slow cookers like my favorite Boston butt recipe, ribs, or even brisket. Using a cooler to keep the meat warm is the ideal approach to have all dishes finished and ready to serve at the same time.

1 – The Towel Technique

Back in my rookie days, I had a Boston butt cook too quickly over night and panicked since supper was still 5 hours away. However, it was a valuable learning lesson, and the following is the approach used to preserve a lovely supper for around 5 hours.

  1. In the bottom of a cooler, place a double layer of towels.
  2. Pull the meat apart and cover it in two layers of heavy-duty tin foil.
  3. Place the meat that has just been covered in tin foil on top of the towels in the cooler.
  4. How-to-Keep-Food-Warm-in-a-Cooler-3-Alternative
  5. Several additional towels should be used to cover the meat.
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  7. Close the cooler’s lid and don’t open it again until you’re ready to serve.

This approach of keeping meals warm in a cooler has worked for me on several times, ranging from 30 minutes to 5 hours. The Boston butt was still sizzling after 5 hours, pulling properly and tasting absolutely great!

This technique of keeping food warm in a cooler may be used for a variety of crock pot foods, including potatoes, baked beans, and more.

Here’s a great video showing how to keep food warm in a cooler:


2 – The Brick Approach

If you’re heading out in the cold for something like tailgating at a football game, you may need to heat up your cooler to assist resist the cold. The approach outlined above is ideal for storing items at room temperature (around 68 degrees).

To achieve this, just wrap a few bricks in heavy quality tin foil and bake them for 15-20 minutes at 275-325 degrees.

Place them on a towel that has been placed in the cooler’s bottom. Then, on top of the hot bricks, put another towel and add the meat or dish you’re attempting to keep warm.

Once that’s done, place a few additional towels on top of the meal to help keep it warm. Another fantastic technique to keep food warm in a cooler for a long time is to use this method.

Thermos Method No. 3

Small foods like soups and dips are the emphasis of this approach of keeping food warm in a cooler. While you may place these goods in a cooler in a pan or Tupperware, if the cooler is tilted too much and they spill, it can be a disaster.

To prevent a mess while yet keeping the food warm in the cooler, pour the soup or dip into thermoses and set them in the cooler with any other food you want to keep warm. Thermoses are fantastic since the tops are designed to keep items like coffee sealed and warm.

Food safety is something that should be considered in all of these procedures. Anything between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit should be refrigerated within 2 hours.

I’ve never had a problem with temperature when keeping items warm in a cooler, but I strongly advise you to follow the USDA’s guidelines on this. Whether you’re not sure, stick a thermometer in it to see if it’s still edible.

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The “can a cooler be used to keep food warm” is the question that many people have. There are 3 alternative ways to keep your food warm in a cooler.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest way to keep food warm?

A: If you are using a microwave, make sure that your food is dry and not wet. You should also cover the dish with wax paper or aluminum foil to prevent any water from leaking during heating up time.

Is there a way to keep food warm?

A: There are a few ways to keep food warm, but the most effective way is with an oven. You can also do this without any heating by using ice and water.

How do you keep food warm without a thermo?

A: You can use a heating pad.

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