A restaurant’s kitchen is the heart of the operation, and it needs to be properly equipped to make your business thrive. When setting up a restaurant kitchen, you need to consider equipment that is specifically tailored for the kind of food service business you want to create.
Make sure you consider your menu and what you’ll be cooking from day to day to determine which items on your restaurant kitchen equipment list are most important for your kitchen. For example, owners that plan on offering a full menu of alcoholic beverages, with hot and cold food items need to consider getting more elaborate equipment. Even for a restaurant that will only serve cold menu items, like sandwiches and salads, need high quality equipment for food safety and proper operation. Mobile kitchens, like food trucks and food trailers, also have unique requirements considering kitchen setup.
Here is a list of essential commercial kitchen equipment that will help you decide which items are fitting for your food service business.
Essential Cooking Equipment List
What kind of cooking appliances you need, depends a lot on what you will be serving in your restaurant. There is a wide variety of cooking equipment required for an even more extensive range of dishes, so it’s essential to make sure that you choose the right types and quality that meet your kitchens needs.
Ovens are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about restaurant cooking equipment. But unlike residential ovens, commercial ovens are designed with higher power outputs and greater capacities for cooking all day, every day.
There are many different types of commercial ovens, and the type of oven you choose depends on what you’ll be cooking. Choose an oven based on your desired function.
- Convection ovens are built with internal fans that circulate air around the food itself. This helps to eliminate hot spots and promote more even cooking, which can be especially useful for baked goods like cakes and cookies. Convection ovens are also useful for roasting, toasting and dehydrating foods.
- Combination ovens are a blend of a steamer and a convection oven in one. Combination ovens, or combi ovens, can steam, roast, bake and more. These are handy for kitchens with limited space that require some versatility with cooking.
- Pizza ovens are specialized in, you’ve guessed it, cooking pizza. That’s because they can reach very high temperatures perfect for cooking pizzas quickly, getting that desirable crisp, spotted crust and melty cheese in no time.
- Conveyor ovens are designed for items that require a specific, paced amount of time in the oven, such as toasted sandwiches or cheese breads.
Ranges are powerful pieces of restaurant kitchen equipment, providing the means to cook a variety of items over electric heat or a gas-powered flame. Cooks use ranges to fire up food in pans and skillets, bring water to a boil, or simmer sauces.
There are two types of restaurant kitchen ranges: gas ranges and electric ranges.
- Gas ranges fuel live flames, which offer more cooking speed and precision than electric burners. Gas is also an advantage in case of an electric power outage. However, gas ranges come with the risk of fire or gas leaks, and they can also be harder to clean.
- Electric ranges provide more even cooking and are easier to keep clean, but take longer to heat up and run a high electricity bill.
With all the kitchen equipment needed to run a restaurant, microwaves are often forgotten. But odds are you are not going to be cooking every single thing in your kitchen from scratch every single day and you will need a commercial microwave. Microwaves come in handy with steam cooking, reheating pre-cooked items, or defrosting.
Other commercial appliances you may want to consider are grills and griddles, heating stations, steam cabinets and steam tables.
A deep fryer is an indispensable piece of cooking equipment. If you own a food truck, a deep fryer is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will buy. It consists of a pot-like vessel with a heating element at the bottom and a basket or container to hold the food to be cooked. The heated oil is poured into the pot, which cooks the food by immersion in hot oil. Deep fryers are typically used for cooking food such as French fries, onion rings, chicken wings, doughnuts, and fish fillets.
Air fryers are often used in the home, but they are also becoming popular in restaurants. Many chains and franchises are adding air fryers to their menu as a healthier alternative to traditional frying methods for cooking french fries, chicken nuggets, and fish filets. Air fryers are becoming more and more versatile, there are even air fryers with a rotisserie so you can make a rotisserie chicken or quickly roast a sirloin, or a stuffed flank steak. Commercial air fryers are available in different sizes, with some units capable of cooking up to 3 pounds of food at a time.
Freezers and Refrigerators
All commercial kitchens require a refrigeration system of some type. Without a fridge, you can’t keep ingredients and prepared foods fresh. Freezers are also crucial for inventory management. It’s much more cost-effective to buy 300 steaks and freeze them than to buy 10 steaks every day.
Industrial-grade refrigeration units are designed to meet the unique needs of the food industry. For example, they have the ability to cool large pots of sauce to a safe temperature in record time, so they’re a key purchase for any food handling operation. You’ll have to decide between reach-in units and walk-in units.
For spaces that do not need an industrial refrigerator, there are still many commercial refrigerators on the market that are designed for smaller businesses. If you have a café, pizzeria, or other, you’ll need to choose between various types of units, such as undercounter fridges, retro-inspired refrigerators, and glass door merchandisers.
Although walk-in fridges and freezers have more storage space — and can be custom built to fit any kitchen — smaller restaurants may not need a walk-in unit. There are even outdoor refrigeration and freezing options available if interior space is an issue.
Make sure to seek professional installation assistance when installing your refrigeration unit, and brush up on maintenance requirements as they can be costly to repair.
Whether you’re serving drinks at the bar or making sure every guest has a cold glass of water when they sit down, you’re going to need a reliable commercial ice machine. Look for an ice machine with an ice bin so that ice is constantly ready for your staff to use at all times. Additionally, consider the type of ice maker you need, such as cube ice maker or nugget ice maker, depending on the end use.
Equipment You’ll Need For Food Preparation
Food processors make easy work of slicing, chopping, blending, blitzing, and pureeing a variety of ingredients. A food processor is handy for making dressings, dips, sauces or simply slicing up veggies.
There are different food processor types you can look for when purchasing this kind of kitchen appliance.
- Batch bowl processors collect the processed food in an included bowl as it processes. This is the same type of food processor most home cooks are familiar with. Kitchen staff simply choose their preferred blade, drop the food in, and collect it in the included bowl.
- Continuous feed food processor is more of a workhorse than a batch bowl processor, since it runs continuously and the food drops into a separate bowl. For a commercial kitchen that needs to process a good deal of food continuously without stopping to change out a bowl when it’s full, this is a common choice.
- The buffalo chopper not only has the best name of the bunch, but it is one of the most powerful and heavy-duty food processors you can find. These are designed with all metal parts, including a shallow bowl and a bowl cover hiding sharp rotating blades sturdy enough to process meat. Your kitchen may not need a food processor this burly, so consider your menu before buying a buffalo chopper.
- Commercial slicers do the brunt of the work and can save staff a lot of time during prep, especially in kitchens churning out a lot of charcuterie platters or deli sandwiches. Food slicers are also central pieces of equipment for deli counters in grocery stores or specialty meat and cheese shops.
Restaurant kitchens with baked items like breads, cakes, or pizzas on the menu will most likely need a commercial mixer. Commercial mixers are designed to handle more frequent use and a higher quantity of ingredients at once.
- Hand mixers are handheld appliances also known as stick mixers or immersion blenders, with a long vertical handle and sharp rotating blades at the bottom. These are ideal for quickly blending soups and sauces, chopping up ingredients, or emulsifying dressings without having to pour the ingredients in a separate blender or food processor.
- Countertop mixers sit on the countertop and work well for smaller bakeries or restaurants that only need to mix ingredients occasionally. Many home cooks have a version of a countertop mixer for breads, cookies, and cakes.
- Floor mixers are the best food mixers for bakeries or pizzerias — that is, restaurant kitchens that need to churn out a good deal of dough, batter, or sauce on a daily basis. These huge and heavy-duty mixers stand on the floor and have the power to mix large quantities of ingredients quickly.
Food prep counters and cutting boards
Prep tables, counters, and cutting surfaces are essential to any commercial kitchen and come in various sizes. Choose preparation surfaces made of stainless steel, which holds up against corrosion, doesn’t absorb bacteria from food and meat juices, and can withstand the harsh cleaning products used in commercial kitchens.
On the line, you’ll want food prep counters that have small refrigerators underneath them, often referred to as low boys, for easy access to food prepped for each station. Some also have refrigerated compartments on the counter itself.
As for cutting surfaces, choose either plastic or wooden cutting boards. Plastic boards are easier to sanitize but can develop deep grooves that can hide bacteria. Wooden boards are generally tougher to clean than plastic ones but don’t develop grooves as easily.
A color-coded system for cutting boards helps prevent cross-contamination. Many restaurant kitchens use red for meat, yellow for chicken, green for veggies, and blue for fish and seafood.
MIHO was founded on the passion for bringing people together by cooking and sharing delicious food. From the award-winning Gastrotruck to a successful catering and event planning business, MIHO team has managed to evolve and innovate, cracking the codes of success in the industry year after year.
This blog aims to keep the legacy by helping new restaurant owners follow their dreams. Here you will find everything you need for setting up a commercial kitchen, from equipment reviews and buying guides, to tips and insights from real restaurant owners. We hope to help your operation find its place in the food service industry, whether it’s a small restaurant, catering business, a mobile kitchen or a food truck
What Else You’ll Need
- Pots, Pans and other restaurant supplies you’ll need to execute your entire menu in one shift. Pots of all sizes, sauté pans, tasting spoons, mixing spoons, sheet pans, whisks, fish spatulas, ladles, bowls of all sizes, squeeze bottles, bench scrapers — the list goes on and varies widely depending on the type of food you want to make. You’ll also need more of each item than you think. While your dishwasher may be the most efficient one around, there will still be times when all the sauté pans are dirty, even if just for just a few minutes.
- Servingware and Utensils. If there’s nothing to serve the food on, there’s no restaurant. You’ll need tons of cutlery, plateware, bowls, ramekins, cups, and glasses. Think about the number of tables you can fit in your restaurant and how many guests you hope to serve every night when factoring in how much to buy. Also, consider breakage. In the chaotic environment of restaurant kitchens, it’s not uncommon to lose a plate or glass every few shifts, and even more likely in high-volume operations.
Running Water and Plumbing System
Running water is an essential part of any food operation. The water is used for dishwashing, food preparation, and general cleaning. A food truck water system is made up of a few different components: a water tank, a pump, a water heater, a sink system, and a faucet. It should also include the gray water tank for disposing wastewater.
Sinks are vital to any restaurant kitchen. Sinks provide spaces for hand washing, cleaning produce, defrosting frozen meat under running water, and washing the occasional cooking utensil.
Health and safety authorities typically require commercial kitchens to install a triple-sink wash station and a commercial dishwashing machine, as well as at least one dedicated hand washing sink. There are a few different types of sinks found in restaurant kitchens:
- Compartment sinks have several compartments, usually designed for a rinse sink, a wash sink and a sanitizing sink.
- Bar sinks are located below the bar and used for dumping out drinks and ice. Bars often also have compartment sinks for handwashing glassware.
- Disposal sinks come with built-in disposals for ease of dumping and disposing of food scraps.
- Drop-in units are designed to easily fit into surface openings in countertops.
- Handwashing sinks are designed specifically for washing hands. This helps reduce cross-contamination from sinks where food scraps and other potential bacteria are present.
- Portable sinks are typically used by mobile vendors, and they are often the part of concession stand or a food truck water system. Some mobile handwashing sinks come with water tanks included.
Storage Racks and Shelving
Properly installed shelving can be a great solution for storing various appliances in your kitchen, as well as perishable and nonperishable foods. An organized storage system helps streamline your operation. Keep the most-used kitchen equipment within arm’s reach, and the stuff that’s used less frequently on the top and bottom shelves. Just be sure the bottom-most shelf is at least six inches off the floor to be up to code.
Mobile storage racks are also useful. They’re usually sized to fit 20 standard sheet pans and are great for storing and transporting food.
Kitchen Display System
Gone are the days of yelling out orders to the kitchen or tacking up hand-written tickets on the line. Many restaurants today use a kitchen display system (KDS) to keep things moving efficiently in the kitchen and throughout the entire restaurant.
Mounted to the wall (or on a counter stand), kitchen display systems allow kitchen staff to view all open orders on one screen. This makes it easier for the kitchen to stay organized and fulfill orders accurately and on time, all while keeping things moving according to plan in the front-of-house, too. How? A KDS receives POS orders in real time, improving ordering speed and accuracy. A KDS can also aggregate all orders from kiosk, online ordering, and third-party channels.
The best KDS units are also durable and built with hardware that can handle the heat of the kitchen, rated for higher temperatures and more long-lasting than iPad screens.
While designing a commercial kitchen requires an understanding of what sort of appliances and types of equipment are required. It is important to take into consideration the kind of fuel that needs to be used to power these appliances to produce the desired results in cooking. The two most commonly used energy sources in commercial kitchens are electricity and natural gas.
- Electricity: Electric power is used to power a wide range of appliances and pieces of equipment in a commercial kitchen. In Europe, equipment works on 220 volts, whereas USA equipment works on 110 volts. It is important to keep this in mind while importing kitchen appliances and equipment.
- Natural gas is a commonly used fuel to power gas burners in cooking ranges. It is liquefied under pressure and turns into gas once the pressure is released. It is almost smokeless and easy to handle.
- Generators: Catering trailers and food trucks operate from various locations, many of which simply do not have an easily available, sufficiently powerful electric outlet. Portable generator can provide enough juice to get you through several cooking sessions, all without the need to set up and connect to a power source every time the food truck relocates.
No matter the type of range you choose, be sure to plan for proper kitchen ventilation when laying out your restaurant kitchen. Restaurant kitchens can be crowded and sweltering. Ensuring proper airflow will keep the space more comfortable while ensuring better air quality.
When building out a ventilation system, think about the layout and size of your kitchen. You’ll want a ventilation hood to be up to code and meet safety regulations while providing enough power to move air through and out of the kitchen.
When it comes to restaurant kitchen ventilation, consider ventilation air volume, which measures the rate at which air is vented through your ducts. Cooking over an open flame on a grill or gas range requires a greater air volume flow rate than cooking pasta or simmering soup. Another aspect of ventilation to think about is status pressure, or the resistance the air encounters as it moves through the kitchen space. Less resistance means more energy efficiency and better overall air quality.
Point of sale system (POS)
The point of sale, or POS system, is crucial to a well-functioning restaurant. This system allows for waitstaff or front-of-house cashiers to enter customers’ orders into a computer or tablet which communicates with the KDS in the kitchen so cooks know what to prepare. The POS can also interface with a cash register, or track customers’ order and tally checks for payment.
Make sure your kitchen has proper safety equipment. A well-stocked first-aid kit or medical emergency kit is crucial in a workplace that runs on fire and knives. You’ll also need things like fire extinguishers and domed safety mirrors that let people know when someone is rounding a corner. Check your local fire department guidelines before purchasing fire, safety, or sanitation equipment, and avoid potential complications by always keeping your kitchen up to fire code standards.
Ensuring your staff wear non-slip shoes and providing rubber floor mats to prevent injury from standing for long hours also play a big part in keeping your kitchen safe.