If you’re lucky enough to be in a situation where you can have your Food Truck built custom-designed, or have at least bought something pre-used with an empty interior that needs filling, then you can fill it with the exact equipment configuration that YOU need and want to operate your truck’s specific prep, cooking, and food service style in a smooth, easy, and well-executed fashion. There’s a big list of things that need choosing from, and unless your builder presents you with a full list of all the options it can be a pain to find and go through every possible equipment choice online. Hopefully this list of almost every main option can actually save you some time as your narrow down those main possibilities.
For obvious reasons, this ‘checklist’ will be leaving out anything that’s too big, cumbersome, or otherwise unrealistic to have inside almost all food trucks, such as those gigantic mass-production braising ‘kettles’ often seen on campus/hotel/stadium/etc kitchens, or rather large prep tables. Also note that all links used next to these are EXAMPLES and not our exact suggestions on which specific model, or even size, to look to purchase for your needs.
Plenty of truck designs include installed counter space in which one can set up cutting boards, and are too tight to install any such luxury, but those with enough room and interior have some options for getting in a cheaper side addition to better have food, equipment, or work space set up in. Mostly made with pure stainless steel, some of these tables can also have a maple wood top; great for people working in a bakery, food trucks not so much. Exact sizes can change by mere inches or half feet at a time, but here are a couple general dimensions that usually help.
- 12”x30” Filler Table – great little addition to add to an end space for further large/stacked equipment storage and a bit of extra work space
- 48”x30” – Standard dimension prep table that could fit if space was available, can find ones from 60-84+” long for wider areas
- 24”x24” – 2ft Square table, likely one of the best suited sizes to fit most truck’s ‘extra counter-space’ needs
We aren’t including Shelving options as the options for that are rather unlimited, from simple wire rack installs to having your builder set in some solid metal additions into the walls and above every prep station. And then there’s simply having cabinets set into the ceiling; either way it’s all storage space, which is less a specific product to buy and more details to work out with builder design and space configuration.
Every restaurant needs to clean its wares, mobile is no exception; no matter if you don’t use plates, or how many pots, pans, etc that may be stored for service and able to bring back to a kitchen later, you’ll still need a sink setup for cleaning. Let alone the required regulations, sooner or later things will still run out and need re-use during even the shortest of shifts. Then of course there’s washing your own hands, which should need no explanation.
- Hand Sink w/ Side Splashguards – just go for something like this and ignore any other style; health departments can be strict, and you want the side splashguards to convince them of no ‘contamination’ flying from that sink to anything outside it, or vice versa. Very important given your much smaller kitchen space.
- Tall Door Single-Rack ‘reach in’ Dishwasher – overall, you’ll likely want to ignore any urge to get industrial dishwashers; they take up a lot of space, use a lot of water, and are mainly just used for dishes and mise en place anyways. That said, if one feels they need one, a single standing option like this could work feasibly well, vs those attached to the long ‘in and out’ tables.
- Standard 3-Teir Compartment Sink – for all your washing, rinsing, and sanitization needs for health department approvals.
For obvious special reasons, you’ll never be able to successfully install any sort of walk-in cooler on a small truck, but there’s still quite a few different units that should be considered.
- Single Glass Door Refrigerator – some enjoy using to store sodas and other cold drinks for service, usually behind order window for customers to see
- Two-Door Reach-in Fridge – for large-area storage of all prepped and pre-prepped product to be held in a single area
- One-Door Reach-in – more economically space friendly, can still find smaller or bigger varieties
- One-Door Reach-in Freezer – basically same as the fridge, benefits and size varieties, just colder. A larger one-door is likely the biggest most trucks will want to go, ignore two-doors in all but the largest and most freezer-dependent trucks
- Undercounter Ice Machine – never know when you’ll need ice, there are plenty of smaller commercial machines that can fit under counters, in the corner, etc
- Undercounter Fridge/Freezer, One-Door – little singles that can be easily inserted under counters and other empty table spaces, or in the corner, to mix and match to your exact needs. There are also multi-door options, such as:
- Undercounter Fridge/Freezer, Two-Door
- Undercounter Fridge/Freezer, Three-Door – For when you somehow have that long of a hollow counter in a food truck
- Worktop Refrigerator/Freezer 1-3 Door – great option to take care of Prep Table AND Cooler needs in one purchase
- “Sandwich/Salad Table,” Aka Lo-Boy, 8-pan/Single Unit – the classic combination of fridge and prep counter with easy-reach open top to grab on-hand cold ingredients for menu items. Like the worktop, also on wheels, singles able to buy at your need to fit the exact space and storage requirements
- Two-Door Lo-Boy
- Drawer-Style Lo-Boys – often used to provide even more easy-access, highly organized compartments for separated prep ingredients; usually to have protein cuts in one particular drawer, ready for the grill or other uses
For now let’s assume, like almost every other truck, that your cooking equipment will be mainly gas-based.
- 6-Burner Stove – THE standard stovetop+oven combo to fit the everyday needs of any kitchen
- 4-Burner + Oven – more petite and economically spaced for minimalist needs on this equipment
- 10-Burner Stove+ 2 Ovens
- Griddle + Oven Range – for when you can, and want to, just cook all your food on a single hot plate instead of separate pans/pots; a favorite all-purpose piece of equipment for most truck menus for finishing
- 4-Burner + Griddle, Two Ovens – pre-made combo to fit one’s needs in a single machine
- 6-Burner + Griddle, Raised or non – smaller griddle, which can be bought flushed with the burners or raised up depending on preference
- Single Gas Wok Range – small and portable for your simple Chinese/Pan-Asian cooking needs
- Three-Chamber Wok Range – and yes there ARE even bigger, longer ones for the very wok-centric menus
For the most part, having stovetop+oven combo equipment will usually fulfill a lot of needs for most trucks, but many baking-heavy menu styles, like pastry trucks, will want to look for some more heavy duty options.
- Single Convection Oven
- Double Stack Convection Oven – space economical way to get two ovens in that work well
- Combi Oven – combination of oven and steamer, used very well for re-heating and other specialty uses
- Convection Steamer Oven, Double Stack
- Double-stacked Conveyor Pizza Oven – takes up room, but if doing a pizza truck and have the room, it’s a useful and popular option
- Double Deck Pizza Oven – flat ovens great for getting things really hot, a substitute environment to brick ovens without the massive space
- ‘Brick’ Pizza Oven – whether it’s attached to the back or made out of steel and somehow assembled inside, the best cooking environment for pizza trucks. One can also use the hot surface for cooking other foods in cast iron pans, or direct searing
Instead of buying a whole setup of stove/grill+oven, classic ranges, often one sees restaurants buy low-kept solo versions to set up on tables. An easy, cheap alternative to having these cook-tops when you don’t feel you NEED the oven.
- 4-6 Burner Gas Hot Plate
- 4-8 Burner, Elevated Rear – Makes reaching for pans in the back easier without wading through hot metal
- Kitchen Char-Broiler – closest thing to a proper grill one can fit inside a truck, small enough to squeeze into any line easily
- 36” Char-Broiler – portable, tabletop version. There’s even some out there with deeper wells one fills charcoal in vs relying on gas
- Classic Griddle/Plancha – the flat top for all purpose searing of meats, buns, veggie sautés, etc
- Teppanyaki – just another kind
- Heavy-Duty Flat Range – a single independent griddle unit, like the char-broiler, to set in its own space and not on an already-elevated surface
- Gyro Rotisserie Grill – used also for classic Kebabs and other Mediterranean stacked meats for an easy slice-and-serve, juicy, and flavorful meat
Unlike some restaurants, the idea of having a pot of hot oil/fat on a stove for minor or specialty frying needs is completely not an option for a food truck. Thus, if one absolutely needs to fry, even for small items, they’ll have to buy something industrial; at which point, one may want to find other reasons to need a friar for the menu if one hasn’t already.
- Standard Single Friar w/ 2 Baskets – usually ranging between 40-70lb oil capacities, all-purpose and good for mass-frying and quick-order needs
- Double-Unit – for when you just need MORE hings deep fried, not necessarily a bad thing in the food truck scene
- Countertop Friar, 15lb capacity – a smaller, stable friar that doesn’t need the ginormous space, and is great for SPECIALTY item frying needs, such as Duck Fat or Peanut Oil uses where one doesn’t want to deal with a gigantic amount at one time and should keep separated from other food and equipment
- Countertop Friar, 30lb – double-top, the big bad boys
- Donut Friars – Hey, I don’t judge
For the BBQ lovers, but not EXCLUSIVELY for that; there certainly are plenty of truck owners enjoying that delightfully savory flavor addition into some menu items, whether as a modern flair or just bolstering traditional southern/latin flavors, or who knows what else. It’s likely these latter that will want to look into different smoker models on the market. On the opposite side, most BBQ businesses, food truck or otherwise, usually focus on either getting a fully custom-made piece to fit their vehicle and needs, or try to find a way to install their own personal smoker, which was also potentially made custom if not by themselves. Not to say one going into the BBQ-focused side of things shouldn’t consider smaller, in-truck models for additional if not TOTAL reliance, certainly much more wallet friendly many custom jobs. Also, the varieties listed here only scratch the surface on available models that one can fit in or on the back of their truck/trailer, so make sure to take that into consideration.
- Restaurant Box Smoker
- Vertical, Multi-Racked Electrical Smoker – used a lot in catering
- Gas-Fired, Wood Burning Vertical Rack Smoker
- Classic Pit Grill
- Barbecue Smoker Grill – a good smaller, portable open-lid smoker style to install in a smaller porch or near the back
- Small-box Electric Smoker – definitely great to fit into a cramped line
- Glass-front Box Kitchen Smoker – I’ll admit I still have lasting memories of using one of these guys in culinary school
- Trailer Smokers – just hook on the back of the truck and go!
Countertop, Wall, and other Smaller Equipment Additions
Salamanders and Panini Grills and Microwaves oh my! If you have the space on your counter or shelving, there’s always the option to get in at least one or two more things that can aid in finishing various foodstuffs.
- Induction Burner – Favorite all-purpose addition to when one needs extra stove space or pots to keep something warm. These come in various models, some even have two burners, but note that often they’ll only work with certain kinds of pans; that said, one can adjust the heat to the exact temperature they want.
- Hot-Plate – another kind of portable burner, use with any pan
- 2-Burner Stovetop ‘Hot Plate’ – like the independent ranges mentioned earlier, but with this even smaller version one could potentially find more portability on different tables and countertops
- Salamander/Broiler – installed on the back of the range and wall, for all your quick melting and searing/toasting needs
- Standing Broiler – for the countertop
- Pop-up Toaster – for all classic sandwich needs
- Conveyor Belt Toaster – great to use in toasting all sizes of cut bread
- Soup Kettle/Warming Station – when you need to keep warm liquid around for serving purposes, they also come in attractive ‘Cauldron Pot’ like designs
- Waffle Irons – when ya gotta do waffles, ya gotta do waffles; there are plenty of classic single models to fit your needs, but also heavy duty double models good for waffle-focused trucks
- Microwaves – Light, Medium, and Heavy duty all depending on what size one can get in and how often they expect it needs use
- Panini Grill, Smooth Surface
- Panini Grill, Ribbed Surface – for those pressed grill marks and grooved surfaces for even more crisp. One can get either of these styles in single small, wide, or attached side-by-side models; can even get double grills where one side is ribbed and the other smooth
- Electric Pizza/Toaster Oven – certainly multi-use if done properly, fits on the counter, can even stack one or two on top of each other
- Classic Toaster Oven
We hope you enjoyed reading our ultimate checklist of food truck equipment! This should give you a better idea about the type of options that are available.