Not too hot, not too cold

Everyone who cooks food for a crowd – either at a dinner party or for a holiday meal – understands the struggle of timing things so that all of the hot foods are served hot and cold items don’t get warm while waiting for the other items to cook. Having foods that can be served at room temperature helps solve part of this dilemma, but that is not the only reason to serve them, says Miranda Kaplan at Serious Eats. She makes even better arguments in favor of room-temperature foods


The science regarding temperature and flavor could (and does) fill volumes, but a simplified explanation is that our ability to get the most flavor out of food happens in a very narrow temperature range that happens to be around room temperature. This is why you shouldn’t serve items like cheese straight from the refrigerator, and why eating steaming hot food can sometimes leave you underwhelmed with its taste. 

Flavor isn’t the only component of food to be affected by temperature. Texture is dependent on temperature too, especially for fat. While meat fats are usually (but not always) better when hot, most plant-based fats achieve their optimal texture when, to paraphrase Goldilocks, they are not too cold and not too hot – they are just right at about room temperture. 

The article discusses foods that are best serve at or near room temperature. This list includes many dips and spreads (we can all agree that it is vexing to try to spread something cold on a delicate cracker), and most baked goods like cakes, breads, or pastries. Cheese is another food that benefits from being allowed to warm up from the chill of the refrigerator, but don’t let it sit out too long or it will sweat.

Photo submitted by Darcie of the Banana and chocolate Bundt cake with peanut caramel drizzle.

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