The $35 Find I Bring to Every Party I’m Invited To (It’s So Versatile!)

updated May 8, 2024
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Credit: Olive & Mango

A few years ago, I was at the grocery store when I came across a sturdy, plastic carrier that was designed to hold a disposable aluminum pan. At the time, I thought it would be a fun holiday gift for my sister, who’s active in her community and is constantly bringing meals to various events throughout town, so I grabbed one on my way to the checkout lane. Plus, it had a fun name — Fancy Panz

The plastic carrier tray turned out to be a great impulse purchase because she immediately fell in love with it, and she still uses it several times a week to cart goodies to and from parties and potlucks. I always love it when a little gift turns out to be a big win!

Fast forward to the beginning of March last year when I was attending the Inspired Home Show in Chicago, a trade show that showcases the latest in kitchen gear and homewares. Lo and behold, I spotted Fancy Panz, the same brand that makes my sister’s favorite tray — and now, mine.

As a bonus, I was lucky enough to chat a bit with co-founder Jane Casey and learned that Fancy Panz happened to come from a woman-owned company. 

What’s So Great About Fancy Panz?

My sister loves the Classic Fancy Panz carrier that I bought her back in 2021. It fits a half size foil pan, and she suses it regularly. There’s also a carrier that fits an 8-inch square pan, as well as a 9 by 13-inch cake pan.

The Fancy Panz come in several colors including Charcoal and White, as well as bolder shades like Hot Pink and even Gold Swirl. The carriers open on one side via hinge so you can easily set a disposable aluminum pan inside, and they have a see-through plastic lid that you can keep on for stackability, or remove for a beautiful serving presentation; it doubles as a trivet too.

Once you’re done with the carrier, wash it by hand or toss into the top rack of your dishwasher.

Credit: Kristina Vanni

However, what got me really excited from the trade show was the Fancy Panz Premium, a newer version that’s still designed to fit a half-size foil pan like the Classic, but is a little deeper. The extra depth accommodates the included reusable gel pack that ensures salads stay nice and crisp while casseroles stay warm until you’re ready to serve. Simply pop the pack in the freezer for cold dishes, or the microwave for warm meals. 

Credit: Kristina Vanni

To make the carriers even more functional, there are additional inserts you can purchase that fit perfectly inside, like one for deviled eggs that can fit right on top of the chilled gel pack. Not only do your deviled eggs stay at the perfect serving temperature, but each one is safely nestled into its own little bed for stress-free transport. 

The Fancy Panz Premium also comes with an aluminum tray and a serving spoon for additional ease and convenience. Additional foil trays are easy enough to find at a grocery store; for the Classic and Premium carriers, you would grab a half-size foil pan measuring 11 3/4 by 9 3/8 by 2 1/2. The cake pan accommodates a 9 x 13-inch tray and the square model uses an 8-inch foil tray. 

Credit: Kristina Vanni

In the year that I’ve been using my Fancy Panz Premium, it’s been my go-to for transporting chilled mixed greens salads, hot pans of lasagna to serve a crowd, and, of course, deviled eggs. With so many celebrations coming up, it continues to get a ton of use.

At the show, I also saw a prototype for a charcuterie insert with little compartments to help design and organize your spread. Sit that on top of the cold gel pack, and not only will your charcuterie board travel with ease, but everything stays cool for picnics and potlucks. Given my love for Fancy Panz, I’ve already added one to my cart — and of course, a second for my sister! 

Buy: Fancy Panz Premium, $34.99