When it comes to achieving the perfect finishing touches on your culinary creations, having the right equipment can make all the difference. In commercial kitchens, two popular appliances often come into play for browning, melting, and caramelizing: the salamander and the cheese melter. While both are essential for achieving that delightful golden crust or perfectly melted cheese, understanding their unique features and functionalities is crucial to making the right choice for your kitchen.
In this article, we’ll explore salamanders vs. cheese melters, their differences, pros, and cons, and help you determine which one best suits your specific cooking needs. Whether you’re a restaurant owner, a caterer, or a chef looking to elevate your culinary creations, please read on to discover which appliance will take your dishes to the next level.
What is a Salamander?
A salamander is known for its precise heat control and capacity, which provides a variety of tasks in one unit. It can be used for melting cheese, broiling meat, caramelizing sugar on desserts, toasting bread and sandwiches, browning casseroles, and cooking a full meal if needed. With their strong heating components, they can heat and cook food, broil veggies and seafood, and brown steaks. When set to lower temperatures, it can be used as a holding cabinet, keeping the food warm until serving.
Salamanders are available as wall-mounted or countertop models, but they are mostly mounted above ranges to increase productivity and capacity for cooking. The difference between salamanders and grills is the location of the heating component. While a salamander directs heat from above the unit to the food, a grill has a heat component located below, letting the heat rise. With precise heat directing and heat control, salamanders provide more options for different tasks in one device.
Important Points To Know Before Using A Salamander
- Broiler-safe cookware and plates in a salamander are essential to ensure safety and avoid any damage to the unit and your kitchen. Metal and cast iron are the best and safest materials to use in salamanders.
- Salamanders release small grease particles into the air, which requires proper ventilation around the equipment.
- Deciding the size of the salamander according to your usage frequency, purpose, and available space is essential. If you want to use your salamander for melting cheese or brown, a bowl of casserole, a small size, or a cheese melter will do the job. But if you want the functionality of a salamander that can melt cheese, add finishing touches, and broil a dish in one unit, a bigger model with a higher heat source will be better.
What’s a Cheese Melter?
Cheese melters are intended to melt cheese on top of your delicious meals. Cheese melters have a low heat output, making them suitable for melting cheese for nachos, steak, soup, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, browning food, toasting bread, reheating dishes, and keeping food warm. Cheese melters use radiant heat above the unit and are directed to the food.
A cheese melter can be called a salamander because it resembles a salamander. But unlike salamanders, cheese melters are designed to finish the already cooked food, not fully cook it. They provide the heating capability of an oven for warming dishes but with less energy consumption and a small footprint.
Cheese melters come in electric and gas models and be mounted to the wall or used as a countertop unit. They mostly have a small rack and a crumb tray. Some models provide a detachable back panel, making the unit function as a pass-thru, which will be effective for the kitchens that use it to warm plated dishes between the kitchen and serving station.
Differences Between Cheesemelter and Salamander
Cheese melters and salamanders are often confused and thought of as the same equipment with the same purposes. Yet there are some key points that separate cheese melter from the salamander.
- The first and biggest difference between a salamander and a cheese melter is their heating capacity and temperature output. While a cheese melter melts the cheese and finishes cooked dishes, a salamander can cook a full meal with a higher heat capacity. A salamander is also used to broil meats and increase the temperatures of rare-cut steaks and brown casseroles.
- A salamander comes with a grease pan and a cooking grate and mostly with a metal rack to create grill marks, while a cheese melter comes with a small rack.
Salamanders vs. Cheese Melters: Features To Consider Before Buying
1. Heating Element
Both salamanders and cheese melters feature infrared or ceramic heating components. Ceramic heating components distribute heat evenly but heat all of the chamber. Infrared heating components, on the other hand, provide a more intense and directed heat to the food. Ceramic is a less expensive option, making it preferable to use in a cheese melter for low-volume small businesses.
Both cheese melters and salamanders are available in countertop, wall-mounted, or standalone models. Some heavy-duty salamanders are available in free-standing double models, ideal for high-volume commercial kitchens that use salamanders continuously. They are mostly used as wall-mounted for ease of use and space optimization. They are also available in both gas and electric models, so knowing which power source is better for you is another point.
3. The Use Purpose
Considering what you will use it for is the main point In deciding to buy a salamander or a cheese melter. Knowing that a cheese melter can only be used for finishing and browning dishes and melting cheese, which will be useful for small businesses such as sandwich shops, cafeterias, and food trucks. However, a salamander is a more heavy-duty equipment that can act as an oven and handle a high-volume business when needed.
Space is an issue in most commercial kitchens. Knowing the volume of your business, how often you will use the equipment, and, lastly, considering your available space for the equipment will help you to choose the right one for your kitchen. Buying a large and heavy-duty salamander for use only as a finishing oven will be unnecessary and consume extra energy, increasing energy costs.
Conclusion for Salamanders vs. Cheese Melters
In conclusion, understanding their unique features and functionalities is key when you compare salamanders vs. cheese melters to find the best commercial kitchen equipment for your foodservice business. Both appliances play a vital role in achieving the perfect finishing touches on your culinary creations, but they serve different purposes.
A cheese melter is ideal for melting cheese, browning dishes, toasting bread, reheating, and keeping food warm. It offers a low heat output, making it suitable for smaller businesses or tasks requiring precise cheese melting or browning.
On the other hand, a salamander provides a higher heat capacity, making it a versatile tool capable of cooking a full meal, broiling meats, caramelizing desserts, and adding finishing touches to various dishes. It offers more cooking options, making it a valuable asset for high-volume commercial kitchens that require flexibility and efficiency.
A cheese melter will ultimately do the job if you want a finishing oven for your plated dishes. But if you want a functional device that can be used for multiple tasks, from broiling meat to browning dishes and cooking food in a large-volume kitchen, a salamander broiler is what you need. Additionally, the choice between a salamander and a cheese melter depends on your specific cooking needs, kitchen space, and your business volume. Consider the tasks you need to accomplish and the capacity required before deciding.