Can You Use a Yeti Cooler To Keep Food Warm or Hot?

Yeti coolers are amazing at keeping things cold. They can hold ice for 5+ days at a time or even longer. But can Yeti coolers keep food warm or hot and what is the best way to keep food hot in a Yeti.

YES you can use Yeti coolers to keep food warm or hot. The thick insulation traps heat transfer and keeps heat from escaping. For best results wrap food in alfoil, add in a heat source like a hot water bottle and add towels into your cooler to fill air space and protect your Yeti from extreme heat.

Yeti coolers are actually amazing at keeping food hot and with the correct preparation they can keep food hot all day long.

You can heat up your food in the morning and put it in your Yeti and have it still be hot and pleasant to eat at dinner time.

Why Do Yeti Coolers Work To Keep Food Hot?

Yeti coolers contain thick insulation that makes it really difficult for heat to move through it.

Usually when filled with ice this insulation keeps the warmer outside heat from getting into the cooler and melting your ice.

However, when you fill your cooler up with warm food the insulation works to trap the heat inside the cooler and to stop the heat from escaping to the cooler outside air.

Larger Denser Food Will Stay Hot Longer

When trying to keep food warm in your Yeti it's important to think about the size and the density of your food.

Light, small pieces of food (think some warm falafels or warm toast) don't contain large amounts of heat and will cool down quickly.

For these you'll want to wrap them in alfoil and use an external heat source like a hot water bottle or wheat pack to keep them hot. They won't keep themselves hot for very long.

However, if you have a large amount of food that is dense (think a giant soup or big potato bake) then these will stay hot for a lot longer by themselves and may not need an external heat source.

Wrapping them in aluminium foil will stop water from evaporating, which will help them stay hot a lot longer.

Size Matters, Air Space Is The Enemy

When trying to keep food hot in your Yeti cooler empty air space is the enemy as heat can quickly move away from your food and into these spaces.

So you'll want to choose the right size cooler. Big enough to fit all your food but not so big that there is loads of air space.

If you only have a small amount of food then a small Yeti cooler is going to be better than a large one.

If you only have a large Yeti then use towels to fill the empty air spaces and make sure to use an external heat source like a hot water bottle to help keep your food warm.

Safety Concerns When Keeping Hot Food In a Yeti

If you're going to be putting hot food or hot items in a Yeti then there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Bacteria Growth

Keeping food at a warm temperature for extended periods of time makes them the perfect festering ground for bacteria growth.

Keeping food warm for short periods of time is usually fine but if you're keeping food warm for extended periods of time then you're risk of getting sick increases.

This is especially true with meat products. Follow your local health guidelines for how long you can safely keep food warm for.

Melting Your Yeti Cooler

Yeti coolers can only handle so much heat before they will start warping or completely melting.

You cannot put boiling water in a Yeti without a high chance of warping your cooler and ruining the insulation.

See Yeti coolers contain polyurethane insulation which is generally rated for temperatures around -62°C to 93°C (-80°F to 200°F). If you go above this temperature then you may ruin your really expensive cooler.

Put a Towel Down In Your Yeti

When putting warm food in your Yeti you'll want to avoid the hot food coming in direct contact with the plastic of the cooler so you don't warp it.

For this reason it's a good idea to put a towel down in your cooler or to wrap your food in a towel.

This will both help to insulate your food and keep it hot longer but also protect your Yeti cooler from the extreme heat of your food.

How To Keep Food Warmer In Your Yeti

There are a few different things you can do to keep your food warmer for longer in your Yeti. Follow these tips and you can heat up your food in the morning and it can still be hot at lunch time or even dinner time.

Wrap Your Food In Aluminium Foil

Aluminium foil is a great insulator of radiant heat and will help to trap it in your food and stop it from escaping.

A layer of alfoil will also trap water vapor and stop it from evaporating out of your food. When your food loses water it loses a lot of heat so this can really help to keep food warm a lot longer.

Use Towels To Wrap Food and Fill Air Spaces

Wrap your food in a towel to add an extra layer or insulation before adding it into your cooler. It also protects your cooler from warping which is a huge plus.

Empty air space is the enemy of keeping food hot in a Yeti cooler so you'll want to eliminate air space wherever possible and towels are great for this.

Use a Wheat Pack or Hot Water Bottle

To keep food really toasty and warm you'll want to add an external heat source to the cooler.

Most people have a wheat pack or hot water bottle lying around their house.

Warm these up and then place them in your cooler close to the food you are trying to keep warm. This will keep food way warmer for way longer.

You can even get creative and do things like put bricks or rocks in the oven to heat them up and then wrap them in towels before putting them in your cooler. Just be careful because if they are too hot they will damage your Yeti.

Pre-Heat Your Yeti With Warm Water

Usually I am advising people to pre-CHILL their Yeti cooler so it keeps ice as long as possible.

But in this case we are trying to keep things hot so you'll want to warm up the insulation in the Yeti cooler.

Fill up your Yeti with warm water from the tap and leave it in there for 15-60 minutes or so to warm everything up.

Then empty to water, dry your cooler and add your food inside.

DO NOT USE BOILING WATER as this is highly likely to damage your Yeti. I like to use water that is warm enough to have a bath in but not so hot it would burn me.