A commercial cheese melter makes it quick and easy to serve dishes topped with delicious melted cheese. Whether it's French onion soup, pasta or a sandwich, a cheese melter adds a special finishing touch to your dishes.

But does your restaurant need one? If so, what should you look for when buying one?

commercial electric cheese melter

What is a Cheese Melter?

A cheese melter is exactly what it sounds like - a compact oven designed to melt cheese. It can also warm plates or toast bread. Some people call cheese melters finishing ovens because they're used to add the finishing touches to dishes.

Cheese melters are designed to be used for dishes that are already fully cooked. It's a light-duty piece of equipment that can also be used for reheating. Its compact footprint is great for small kitchens, and you can find models with both gas and electric options.

What's the Difference Between a Cheese Melter and a Salamander?

Many people mistakenly assume that cheese melters and salamanders are the same thing, but these are two different types of equipment. Their designs and sizes may be similar, but they serve different purposes.

As mentioned previously, a cheese melter is really designed for melting cheese and heating plates. It's not designed to cook food, but merely to warm it up. That's why it's important to use a cheese melter properly and only with food that's already been cooked.

A salamander, on the other hand, can cook food. You can technically use a salamander to melt cheese and toast bread, but because its heating elements are more powerful, you can also use them to:

  • Broil vegetables and meat
  • Brown foods
  • Finish steaks

Many restaurants use salamanders to finish dishes that require crispy or caramelized layers on top, like au gratin potatoes.

If your goal is to melt cheese and heat plates, then a cheese melter is exactly what you need.

commercial high capacity electric cheese melter

Our Top Restaurant Cheese Melters

Which cheese melter is right for your restaurant? Here are some of our top models.

Imperial ICMA-36

The ICMA-36 is a gas cheese melter designed to maximize performance. The aluminized steel construction allows for even heat distribution and optimal heat retention. A stainless steel exterior allows for easy cleaning and high durability.

The 40,000 BTU/hr burner has an adjustable gas valve and offers instant, even heating. The melter has a gas valve control on each side, giving you maximum control and flexibility. Independent heating zones improve kitchen efficiency.

Simple control knobs allow for easy operation and stay cool to the touch for added safety.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 36" W x 17.25" H
  • Weight: 162 lbs.

The ICMA-36 is ideal for kitchens powered by gas, and you have the option of mounting this equipment to a countertop or wall.

Atosa CookRight ATCM-36

The ATCM-36 is one of our top cheese melters, and it's made entirely from stainless steel. Versatile and easy to use, this model offers:

  • Dual 21,500 BTU ceramic infrared burners
  • Removable crumb catcher and broiler rack
  • Adjustable rack

The ATCM-36 is ideal for finishing dishes topped with cheese. The top-down heating also makes this model great for keeping food warm on plates.

Two valve controls allow you to adjust the left and right sides independently for the best cooking results.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 18" W x 17.3" H x 36" L
  • Weight: 129 lbs.

The ATCM-36 can be mounted to the wall for convenience. The unit's stainless steel design and removable components also make it easy to clean and maintain.

Imperial ICMA-36-E

The ICMA-36-E is one of our top electric cheese melters, and it's almost identical to the first cheese melter on our list.

This commercial electric cheese melter features aluminized steel to maximize heat retention and distribution. The stainless steel exterior offers added durability and makes it easy to clean.

The two 3 kw incoloy elements deliver even heating, and the stay-cool control knobs make it easy to make adjustments. Left and right heating zones can be controlled independently. These zones have three-phase operation as well as 208 and 240 volts.

Loading and unloading is a breeze.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 36" W x 17.25" H
  • Weight: 162 lbs.

For kitchens without gas connections, the ICMA-36-E is a commercial high capacity electric cheese melter that will meet your needs and budget.

top restaurant cheese melters

Turbo Air TACM-48

The Turbo Air TACM-48 offers a stainless steel construction, heavy-duty rack with chrome plating and an adjustable gas valve.

Delivering a total of 40,000 BTUs, this cheese melter is high-performing and efficient. Independent gas controls on the left and right sides give you more flexibility, and the protective screen over the infrared burner adds to the safety of this model.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 48" W x 19" H
  • Weight: 208 lbs.

The TACM-48 can be mounted on a wall, counter or even over a range. This model is ideal for high-volume operations that do a lot of cheese melting.

Turbo Air TACM-36

The TACM-36 is a smaller version of the TACM-48. It's ideal for kitchens that still do higher volume, but don't quite need a melter that's 48" wide.

This model also has an adjustable gas valve and features a stainless steel construction. In total, the TACM-36 has 35,000 BTUs.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 36" W x 19" H
  • Weight: 162 lbs.

With this model, you don't get the independent controls for the right and left sides like you do with the TACM-48. But all of the other features are the same, including the protective screen over the infrared burner and the ability to mount this unit to a wall or counter.

Turbo Air TACM-24

If you're looking for a more compact cheese melter, the TACM-24 is a great option. This model is made from stainless steel and is just 24" wide. It's a great option for smaller kitchens that may not need to heat as many plates as a larger, busier establishment.

Despite its small size, the TACM-24 still performs exceptionally well and offers total 20,000 BTU.

Technical Specs

  • Dimensions: 24" W x 19" H
  • Weight: 105 lbs.

Like the TACM-36, this model doesn't have independent controls for each side, but it does have an adjustable gas valve and a chrome-plated heavy-duty rack. You can also mount this unit to a countertop or wall.

Cheese melters make a great addition to any restaurant kitchen. They make it quick and easy to melt cheese, toast bread and even keep plates warm until they're served.