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What Are the Different Types of Serving Baskets?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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Serving baskets come in a variety of styles and materials, including baskets made from woven materials, porcelain, and plastic. Some serving baskets have folding handles, while others have handle tabs or no handles at all. Some baskets are specialized for particular types of food, such as breads, condiments, and fruits. Serving baskets are also available featuring multiple tiers, which can make the best use of limited table space.

A common type of serving basket is an oval, plastic basket used by many diners and restaurants to serve "basket-style" meals that typically consist of a sandwich and potato chips or French fries. The re-usable baskets are typically lined with paper before the food is placed inside, making cleanup fast and easy. This convenient style of basket is often used when customers are responsible for clearing off their own table and dishes after dining.

Many serving baskets are made from wire configurations, including baskets for serving bread and rolls. Tall, wire "bird's nest" baskets are often used for serving appetizers and side dishes, such as French fries, hushpuppies, and cheese sticks. Some types of wire serving baskets also incorporate holders into their shape suited for dips, sauces, and other condiments.

Wire baskets are available is assorted shapes, including square, oval, and oblong. Those on pedestals are well-suited for serving fruit, as they allow air to freely circulate around the fruit. Some types of serving baskets are simply spiraled wires on a base, and these can be used to serve a variety of buffet foods, including breads and fruits. Many wire baskets are stackable, allowing for easy storage when not in use.

Woven serving baskets are often used for serving bread, biscuits, and cookies. Long, rectangular baskets are designed for serving crackers, and round sticky-rice serving baskets also are available. Chip-and-dip serving baskets typically feature a small location for a dip container and a larger area for chips. Some types of baskets are crafted from sterling silver, including sugar baskets. In order to protect the silver baskets from corrosive foods, a glass insert can be placed inside the basket.

Some serving baskets are designed to hold serving dishes, such as glass cake and casserole pans. Other baskets are intended to serve more utilitarian purposes, such as utensil and napkin baskets. In order to display a variety of baked items, such as assorted cookies, some baskets are shaped in the form of over-sized trays.

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Discussion Comments

By indemnifyme — On Jan 03, 2012

I rarely entertain people at my apartment, so I don't have any serving baskets. However, my mother entertains a lot, and she has a serving basket for almost every purpose. She has some that are fancy for entertaining, but she has a few serving baskets she likes to use for every day use, too.

For every day use, she has a serving basket that holds napkins and one for rolls. I think it adds a really nice touch to a run of the mill weeknight dinner. However, I don't like it enough to actually go out and buy my own!

By Azuza — On Jan 02, 2012

@ceilingcat - I never thought about how much easier it is to carry baskets to a restaurant table rather than plates. Also, if you drop a plastic basket, it won't break! I always assumed restaurants used the baskets for looks alone.

I have to say though, I think it's actually kind of wasteful because most restaurants line their baskets with paper, but don't do the same thing with plates. So every time they use a basket, they're generating more waste than they would from using a plate.

By ceilingcat — On Jan 01, 2012

I worked as a waitress for several years when I was in high school, and the plastic serving baskets were my favorite. They were much lighter and smaller than plates, and didn't get as hot when they sat under the heat lamps.

This obviously made my job much easier. I could carry out almost twice as many baskets at once as I could plates, which resulted in fewer trips back and forth to the table.

Also, they made for much easier cleanup. When bussing the tables, all you have to do was take the basket to dishwashing area, and dump everything in the trash. Thanks to the paper, everything would slide out quite easily, unlike plates that often needed scraping. Then, you would set the basket in its designated area for washing.

By myharley — On Dec 31, 2011

I have a special bread serving basket that works great at keeping your bread or rolls warm.

This basket came with a miniature stone that can be placed in the oven or microwave so it gets hot.

The basket has a liner with a zippered pouch in the bottom where you can insert the warm stone.

This way, your bread will stay warm for quite awhile when it is in the basket. There is nothing like fresh bread or rolls at a meal, and they taste even better when they are warm!

You could probably use any kind of small stone and towel inserted in the bottom of a basket to get the same results.

By honeybees — On Dec 31, 2011

I have a set of wicker serving baskets that each come with a cotton liner. When not in use, the baskets fit inside each other for easy storage.

I love having the built in liner as they are easy to remove and wash after every use, I have served everything from fruit, bread, appetizers and crackers on these baskets.

These baskets match the colors in my kitchen, so they also look nice sitting out on the counter. I often use them as fruit baskets, or as a basket for small wrapped candy bars.

By SarahSon — On Dec 30, 2011

I really like using serving baskets with handles where you can insert a baking or casserole dish.

This way when you are seated at the table, you don't need to worry about needing hot pads when you are passing the dish around.

The baskets also add a nice decorative touch to the otherwise plain, serving dish. I received a couple of these many years ago when I got married.

I have used these baskets for every big dinner I have served through the years. They have stood the test of time and I would be lost without them.

Since I have enjoyed them so much, I have given them as wedding presents many times, along with a couple of my favorite, easy recipes for the new bride.

By seag47 — On Dec 29, 2011

I think that air circulation is crucial when you are serving rolls. That's why I like using a wire basket.

I don't even line it with anything, because this would get in the way of the air flow. If the bottom of the rolls is blocked off, then it will get soggy. Wire baskets are excellent for keeping rolls at a uniform temperature and moisture level.

I always make sure my wire basket is clean before putting the rolls into it, since they come in direct contact with it. There is an extra raised inner level of wire along its bottom to keep the rolls from touching the table through the squares, and this lets them get air from beneath.

By shell4life — On Dec 29, 2011

My favorite fast food restaurant uses oval plastic serving baskets. They are bright red and have small slits all around them. They are always lined with paper, which helps absorb some of the grease.

I always order chicken tenders, fries, and toast from this restaurant. The fries probably would be pretty greasy without the paper to soak some of it up.

Once I finish eating, all I have to do is pull out the liner with any leftovers on it and toss it in the trash. There is a designated area on top of the trash can for returning your baskets, and I simply place it there and leave.

By StarJo — On Dec 28, 2011

@orangey03 – I wish I had thought to check the label on my basket to see if it was safe for holding food before I bought it. I saw what looked like the perfect woven basket in a hobby store, but it wasn't in the food section.

After I got it home, my mother read the fine print on the label. It said not to put food in it. I was so upset, because this was such a cute basket, and I had bought it specifically for that purpose!

So, I have to put either a towel or some wax paper in the basket before filling it with food. I didn't want it to go to waste, and I figure that as long as I cover the entire inner portion of the basket with something, the food should be totally safe to eat.

By orangey03 — On Dec 28, 2011

I have a rattan serving basket that I like to use for serving biscuits at parties. It has a lacquer finish that is supposed to make it safe for holding food.

The sides of the basket rise up on two ends, and the handles are made into this raised area. Basically, they are just holes large enough for your fingers to fit through so that you can carry it around.

I take the serving basket to church whenever we have fellowship dinners. I throw a decorative kitchen towel over the biscuits to keep them warm during the service, and I remove it when we are ready to eat. I think the basket and the towel look very old-fashioned, and I find them comforting.

By jennythelib — On Dec 28, 2011

Maybe I'm the only one who has to be told this, but baskets with top handles (like the kind one imagines a farm girl using to gather eggs) make poor serving baskets. I tried to use my old Easter basket as a roll basket. It was nice and sturdy and a good size for rolls, but the handle on top just made it way too hard to get things in and out. Side handles are your friend.

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