Salamander Broiler Vs Cheesemelter: Understanding the Difference

While salamanders and cheesemelters share several things in common, they’re not always interchangeable. Depending on the unique needs of each commercial kitchen, one may be more appropriate than the other when it comes to producing the hot, delicious, high-quality food diners crave. Wondering what differentiates these two useful pieces of restaurant equipment? Here’s a closer look.

Salamander Broilers

Standalone appliances which can be mounted above the range or placed on a countertop, salamander broilers provide powerful ceramic or infrared broiling functionality. Offering higher heating capabilities than traditional broilers located inside ovens, salamander broilers are ideal for everything from broiling steaks to the perfect temperature to achieving hot, bubbling cheese on casseroles.  In addition to finishing cooked products, salamanders can also be used for cooking and roasting.

Wondering how the salamander broiler got its unusual name? According to Supply & Equipment Foodservice Alliance, LLC (SEFA), the word derives from Latin, Greek, and Old French and refers to a “legendary lizard-like creature that could live in fire,” and was adopted by chefs to describe the flaming-hot nature of the equipment.

Vulcan’s comprehensive line of salamanders, including V Series Salamander Broilers, Radiant Salamander Commercial Broilers, Infrared Restaurant Salamander Broilers, and Electric Commercial Salamander Broilers, are built to support efficiency and consistency while withstanding the demands of today’s busy commercial kitchens.


While cheesemelters may also be mounted above a range or placed on a countertop in order to provide either ceramic or infrared top-down heat, their temperature output capabilities are lower than salamanders. However, the penetrating heat they do produce is ideal for melting cheese, browning dishes, and even warming and holding plates. Additionally, while salamanders typically have an adjustable slide out cooking grate and grease pan, the cheesemelter design may incorporate an oven rack with a crumb tray.

Vulcan’s VICM Series Gas Infrared Cheesemelters and Electric Cheesemelters finish food with ease leaving cheese melted and bread toasted.

The overall takeaway? While a salamander may be “too much machine” for restaurant kitchens looking primarily for finishing capabilities, cheesemelters may be a smart solution. Conversely, for restaurants looking for a multipurpose functionality, salamanders deliver — and then some.

Ultimately, purchasing the right equipment is an important strategy for restaurants aiming to maximize productivity, performance, and cost savings.  Understanding the key differences between a salamander and cheesemelter can help you make the most informed purchase for your commercial kitchen.