Keeping BBQ Warm While Serving?

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
May 17, 2012
I was hoping to get some tips on keeping BBQ warm while serving it at a picnic. The only thing I could find was how to keep it warm in a cooler until serving. Not during serving. I have thought about Sterno cans or on a grill with just a few coals going. I am afraid that either of these may dry the meat out. What methods has everyone found to be successful?
Couple of things....big aluminum pan on a warm grill.  Open and close grill as needed.

Big aluminum pan with sterno underneath, and last but not least...a big ol crock pot.

Keep some finishing sauce handy to prevent drying.  

Here's mine:

This is a recipe that has been in my family for over a century, so you can understand why I was reluctant to reveal it, even though I'm sure others have something similar - this one will make your pork butts come alive!!!!!

3 Quarts of Apple Cider Vinegar

1 cup Ketchup (Catsup)

5 oz. Worsty sauce

10 oz. French's yellow mustard

3/4 cup salt (I use sea salt but regular iodized is fine) - I also usually cut back on the salt

1/4 cup fresh ground black pepper

1/2 oz crushed red pepper

4 oz of your favorite hot sauce (I cut back on the red pepper and hot sauce depending on the audience and it doesn't affect flavor)

Mix all ingredients in a large pot and bring it to a boil.  Once it boils it is ready for use as a mop or for canning.  

Makes about 1 gallon, which is enough to mop a 70 pound pig.

I can it using the hot water bath method if necessary.  This is a fantastic and tasty finishing sauce for minced or pulled pork.  My relatives in Lexington, NC swear that my BBQ is better than anything they can buy in the self appointed capital of Southern BBQ!!!!

Good luck,

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No matter what you do to keep it hot during service as long as it is uncovered it will dry out. The longer it is uncovered the dryer it will get.

Either method you mentioned will work. The only thing you need to make sure of is you set it up with a water pan. Basically you have a 4" pan with about an 1" of water and then place the 2" pan with the food inside that. This way the stereo is heating the water and the water keep the food hot more evenly. Keep a lid on the food as much as possible.
Thanks for the tips guys. It seems as though I was on the right track and my idea just needed a little fine tuning.
Bill,  how much sauce would you put into a full foil pan?    I've got a wedding coming up in Oct. for around 250 300 folks. I'm just cooking and panning.  Told them I'd have it hot and ready to serve.   I'm going to have to do two runs in the smoker.   First run I'll have to pan and frig.  warm at the church.  Second run I'm going to pull at 190 and let it rest in cambro boxes until needed.   I'll pull it fresh on site. 

I've never used a finishing sauce.   Your recipe looks really good.  Between now and then I'm going to make the sauce too.   If its as good as I think it is, I may serve it too.  

I've got a lot going on right now.  I hope Oct. doesn't get here before I'm ready.   I thought about backing out on it, but life must move forward...

Didn't mean to highjack the thread.   

Put your foil pans in the cooler to keep warm, then serve from the cooler when ready.  It will keep it out of the breeze so it won't cool down fast and then close the lid when you don't need access to the meat. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.