Last Updated:
October 6, 2022

Essential Restaurant Kitchen Equipment The Ultimate Checklist

Equip your restaurant's kitchen with the right tools for the job. This comprehensive checklist will make sure you have everything you need.
Essential Restaurant Kitchen Equipment The Ultimate Checklist
By
Angelo Esposito
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DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You're responsible to comply with all applicable laws in your state. Contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
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Restaurants require a large amount of equipment to operate. When it comes to equipping your restaurant's kitchen, you'll have a wide selection of restaurant supplies and equipment to choose from. Don't hurry into purchasing restaurant equipment as there's much that needs to be done. Several significant criteria should be taken into consideration including the brands, models, quality, and suppliers.  For sure, this will be overwhelming for you to figure out which purchases are important and which are only money grabs.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive restaurant equipment list that you’ll need to help you become a successful restaurant.

1. Ovens  

An oven is one of the core pieces in a restaurant kitchen and there are lots of different types that you can choose. The type of ovens you require will be determined primarily by what you will be serving. It is recommended that you make a list of the kind of dishes you want to serve before you begin your search. When selecting the best oven for your restaurant, keep the following aspects in mind:

  • Size -  The size of the oven you should select will be determined by the amount of space you have in your kitchen. Another essential consideration is how much food you want to prepare during the entire process in order to evaluate the capacity required.
  • Quality - Because your oven and range are the heart of your kitchen, selecting something that can endure the test of time and use can mean the difference between success and failure. Examine the brands, reviews, warranties, and service agreements that may be included.
  • Function - This will be mostly identified by the style of cuisine you plan to serve at your restaurant. It is crucial to decide first whether you want an electric or gas stove. Then decide the type of oven you require. If you want to operate a bakery or a coffee shop, your needs will be different than if you want to open a fine dining restaurant.

Let's have a look at some oven options:

  • Convection ovens - These ovens, unlike commercial ovens, contain fans that help circulate hot air. This type of oven is necessary for bakeries and is perfect for baking bread, pastries, pies, and cookies, as well as toasting, roasting, and dehydrating.
  • Combination ovens - this combines the functions of a convection oven with a steamer. The major advantage of this type is its versatility and it offers speedy and consistent cooking. You can roast, steam, smoke, fry, bake, or grill using a combination oven. Whatever you can think of, the combi oven can do it.
  • Pizza ovens - This type of oven is used to make pizzas, as the name implies. Because of its high temperature, it may be used for more than just pizza. A pizza oven may also be used to cook everything from desserts to meats.
  • Conveyor ovens - You've probably seen this type of oven at your local sandwich shop or pizza parlor. Food runs through a conveyor belt in a conveyor oven, where it heats up or cooks at a certain rate and temperature.

2. Ranges and ventilation  

After you've figured out your ovens, the next important piece of equipment you'll want to consider is your ranges and ventilation. Ranges are an essential part of your culinary equipment, and your ventilation ensures that the airflow is comfortable for your personnel.

There are two types of ranges available to choose from:

  • Gas ranges - The temperature regulation of gas ranges is well recognized. These types of ranges heat up quickly and provide far more control than an electric range. One of its advantages is that even during a power outage, it will continue to operate. However, its downside is they are more difficult to clean and provide a greater risk of a fire or gas leak.
  • Electric ranges  - these are well-known for their energy economy. They cook meals more consistently than gas ranges and are easier to clean. Choosing an electric range reduces the possibility of a fire or a gas leak in your kitchen. Power ranges may run up a big electric bill is considered as one of their disadvantages.

Commercial kitchens may be an unpleasant and congested place to work. A ventilation system maintains airflow and temperature regulation throughout your commercial kitchen, providing a pleasant, clean, and healthy atmosphere for your employees. Below are the five factors to consider when selecting a ventilation plan:

  • Air volume flow rate - This is the rate at which air flows through your ducts. If you frequently grill or cook over an open flame, you'll need more ventilation than if you're preparing pasta.
  • Static pressure - This is the resistance or friction that the air encounters as it passes through your ventilation system. Static pressure must be balanced to ensure that air moves smoothly and that energy is not squandered.
  • Energy efficiency - Finding the right balance between your fan's horsepower and efficiency is critical. If your fan's motor is weak, it will wear down quickly, but if it is overloaded, you will waste too much energy.
  • Size - Take into account the size of your kitchen and the available space for a ventilation system. The location of your fan will most likely be determined by available space or fire code safety requirements. This should be an important component of any commercial kitchen layout planning.
  • Noise - When selecting your ventilation system, take the noise level of the fan as one of the key considerations. Fans may be rather loud, and they can add a significant amount of noise to an already noisy kitchen. The volume of a fan is measured in "sones," and a commercial kitchen fan should be between 7 and 21 sones.

3. Food processors  

A food processor is a kitchen appliance that can be used to chop, slice, shred, grind, and puree many kinds of food. While there are several varieties of food processors, there are four primary ones to consider for your restaurant.

  • Batch bowl processors - It accumulates food as it is processed and is most typically found in your home. Kitchen staff may drop food vertically and they can select the type of cut they desire. You can quickly remove the bowl and dump its contents using a batch bowl processor.
  • Continuous feed food processor - This type of processor allows you to continually add food while it is running, and the processed mixtures are collected in a separate bowl—this is an excellent choice for a commercial kitchen.
  • Buffalo choppers - Buffalo choppers are heavy-duty all-metal processors that can even process meat. Most commercial kitchens may not need this.
  • Combination processors - This allows you to prepare a single batch of processed food or continually feed ingredients into a funnel.

4. Mixers  

Mixers are another essential piece of commercial restaurant equipment, especially if your menu includes a lot of delicious baked goods. For instance, If you are planning to make any bread or desserts, you need to invest in a commercial mixer.

The mixer you choose should be based on the volume of food you’re planning to make and how often you will use it. The following are three types of mixers you should consider before buying.

  • Hand mixers - These handheld mixers, also known as stick mixers or immersion blenders, are ideal for mixing items like soups and sauces. You can emulsify, chop, or mix at high speeds using this type of mixer.
  • Countertop mixers - Countertop mixers are the type of mixers you're likely to find in tiny bakeries, small restaurants, and even home kitchens. These are perfect if you don't need a lot of production and don't need to save a lot of space.
  • Floor mixers  - This is one of the most popular types of commercial mixers. These models are powerful and can mix a large volume of ingredients in a short period of time. This is suitable for restaurants that want to utilize a mixer on a regular and large scale.

5. Slicers  

Slicers are good tools for slicing ingredients such as meats and cheeses. While this isn't required for every restaurant kitchen, investing in an electric slicer to save your employees time will actually be useful if you plan on serving anything from sandwiches to cold cuts and charcuterie boards.  However, if you simply need to slice a little amount of food (for example, fruit to decorate your sweets), a manual slicer will do.

Consider the following factors when selecting a slicer based on your restaurant's needs:

  • Automatic or manual
  • Blade size
  • Horsepower
  • Light, medium, or heavy-duty

6. Food prep counters and cutting boards  

Prep tables, countertops, and cutting surfaces are also essentials that you must have in your restaurant kitchen.  It is important to invest in the proper materials needed to make your food preparation as clean as possible because your staff will be continuously utilizing it for various types of prep work. Hence, you must invest in something multifunctional and long-lasting.

Because wood is very unsanitary, especially when working with meat and poultry, you should go for a stainless steel prep table. These countertops are strong, won't absorb bacteria, and can endure all of the cleaning agents you throw at them. To keep things going quickly, make sure you have tiny refrigerators built under your prep countertops.

Plastic will be your best choice for cutting boards. Buy a high-density polyethylene cutting board, it is less permeable than wood, making it more difficult for germs to lurk in the cracks.  It is easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and will help in cross-contamination prevention.

Color-code your plastic cutting boards based on the sort of food you regularly prepare on them. Have one for meat and one for veggies, for example.

7. Freezers and refrigerators  

To maintain the freshness of your food for as long as possible, and to have proper food storage, you must purchase in high-quality freezers and refrigerators for your restaurant.  It is important to store your food items at minimum temperature to avoid food safety and health code violations. Additionally, f+reezers are also critical for inventory management.

When you decide to buy this equipment, the first thing to consider is the size and capacity of your restaurant and then its features. Reach-in refrigerators are ideal since they are the handiest for your crew. For example, they can quickly cool big pots of sauce to a safe temperature, making them an essential buy for any food processing business. You must choose between reach-in units and walk-in units.

On the other hand, a walk-in cooler is also easy to use, safe, and an excellent choice if you have enough space and your restaurant requires that much food storage.

The condenser is the next item to check. A condenser is a component that contributes to the temperature regulation of your freezer or refrigerator. You may install a condenser in either a top or bottom-mounted refrigerator.

  • A top-mounted condenser prevents blockages and does not blow warm air into the fridge when it is opened.
  • Bottom-mounted condensers are ideal for scenarios where cleaning and maintenance are of the utmost importance. These are often used in bakeries.

Investing the effort to choose the best refrigerator or freezer for your restaurant will help assure the quality of everything you prepare. So put this piece of equipment at the top of your priority list!

8. Safety equipment  

Your restaurant business must meet safety standards as required by state and federal law. To ensure the safety of your employees and customers, you must comply and stock up on different necessary safety equipment in the workplace that must be accessible anytime. These include the following:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kits
  • Rubber floor mats
  • Wet floor signs
  • Aprons
  • Oven mitts
  • Goggles
  • Hairnets
  • Security cameras

9. Storage racks and shelving  

Every kitchen should have enough shelves and storage for dry food, utensils, and equipment. Your storage capacity must be strategic and long-lasting. You don't want to have to change or replace this, so getting it correctly the first time should be a priority. When keeping items on shelves, keep the items you use the closest to ground level, rather than high above, to ensure quick access.

Mobile storage racks can also actually be useful. They are typically sized to accommodate 20 standard sheet pans and are ideal for storing and transporting food.

10. Restaurant kitchen supplies

List down what restaurant supplies you'll require to complete your menu in a particular shift. The materials you need for your restaurant kitchen extend far beyond equipment such as ovens and dishwashers. Include on your list the pots, pans, tongs, spatulas, serving spoons, plates, bowls, and anything else your restaurant premise may require. You'll also need more of each item than you think.

11. Servingware

You’ll need tons of cutlery, plate ware, bowls, ramekins, cups, and glasses in your restaurant kitchen. It's important to find the collection of the dinnerware that best matches the style of your restaurant.  When deciding how much to buy, consider the number of tables you can put in the dining space and the number of people you want to serve each night. Check breakage as well. It's fairly uncommon in the hectic setting of restaurant kitchens to lose a plate or glass every few shifts, and it's even more likely in high-volume businesses.

12. Storage containers

Nothing makes back-of-house employees happier than a new supply of storage containers. Every prep and line cook's operation is dependent on plastic liter containers, Cambros, and hotel pans of all shapes and sizes. When filling your restaurant kitchen, buy a variety of containers with colored lids in various sizes to keep your dry ingredients and sauces organized and clearly identified. You'll also require a lot of excellent tapes. Make sure it remains sticky even if it becomes wet. Keep a stock of Sharpies on hand as well; they're essential for marking containers over and over.

13. Sinks

Kitchen sinks are a fundamental component of every kitchen. It provides spaces for handwashing and cleaning dishes to prepare food and drink. Sinks are designed to be easy to clean and sturdy enough for everyday use.

Commercial kitchens are often required by health and safety authorities to install a triple-sink wash station, a commercial dishwashing machine, and at least one designated handwashing sink.

There are several types of sinks for your restaurant kitchen:

  • Compartment sinks  - this includes many compartments, generally one for a rinse sink, one for a wash sink, and one for a sanitizing sink.
  • Bar sinks -  these are positioned beneath the bar and are used to dispose of beverages and ice. Bars usually have compartment sinks for handwashing glassware.
  • Disposal sinks  - these have built-in disposals to make dumping and disposing of food leftovers easier.
  • Drop-in units  - this type of sink are intended to simply fit into countertop surface holes.
  • Handwashing sinks  - these are particularly intended for hand washing. This helps to prevent cross-contamination from sinks containing food waste and other potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Mop sinks  - these are designed to be set on the floor and have a low faucet and drain for filling or emptying a mop bucket.
  • Portable sinks  - Mobile vendors generally utilize portable sinks, which can be equipped with drainage or without a faucet. Some mobile handwashing sinks include water tanks.

14. Kitchen Display System (KDS)

Say goodbye to handwritten order tickets by combining a digital kitchen display system with a ticket printer. There will be no more yelling commands and passing hand-written notes between the front and back of the house, which may add to the stress of a frantic night and increase the likelihood of errors.

The kitchen display systems (KDS) are a perfect complement to the back of the house of any restaurant. Connect this tool to your front-of-house point-of-sale system to assist kitchen staff with incoming orders.

15. Restaurant point of sale system

A point of sale (POS) system is the backbone of your restaurant's operations. Adopting a POS (point of sale) system may turn your business around by delivering an all-in-one solution to a variety of everyday issues, making every process simpler, easier and faster. It helps you manage everything from orders and transactions to customer relationships and reports.

You'll also need a printer in addition to the POS system. This will generate tickets for kitchen employees to use with each order, as well as invoices and receipts for consumers. You may have many printers for various purposes.

16. Steam tables

A steam table is required to keep sauces and other prepped food warm during serving. This will keep food in metal containers warm and safe for several hours.

17. Washing equipment  

When it comes to keeping your commercial kitchen clean, soap and water aren't enough. Supply various cleaning items to make sure that your kitchen is up to code every shift:

  • Brushes for your griddles
  • Mops
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Commercial-grade cleaning products

18. Sharpening stones

The best quality knives perform well when they're sharp. Sharpening stones are necessary to maintain your knives in tip-top shape. You might want to keep a few on hand in the kitchen. This ensures that your prep crew can always chop, prep, and do anything they need to do with the best knives.

19. Microwave  

When it comes to all the kitchen equipment, the microwave isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. It's unlikely that you'll make everything from scratch in your kitchen and thus, you will still need a commercial microwave for steam cooking, defrosting, and reheating pre-cooked items.

20. Icemakers

You'll need a good quality ice machine to make sure every visitor has a cold glass of water when they sit down or when you're serving drinks at your bar. Go for an ice machine that continuously dispenses ice into a bin so that it is always available for your staff to use.

21. Gas or electric grill

The tastiest steaks and hamburgers come from a grill or griddle.

Gas grills are popular in restaurant kitchens because they provide more consistent heat for even cooking. These grills are available in a variety of sizes, and the best ones come with an added flat griddle surface perfect for making pancakes or grilling sandwiches. While electric grills are ideal for compact areas, they aren't as popular as gas or charcoal grills and don't deliver the rich taste that a gas or charcoal grill does.

Space is the major consideration when you select the right grill for your restaurant. If you have an outdoor terrace, you could have a commercial outdoor grill, but if not, you'll most likely get an indoor grill. If having a grill is essential for your type of food, make sure to plan for it when designing your restaurant layout.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing Restaurant Kitchen Equipment

Quality

It is always advisable to inspect the quality of restaurant equipment in person before purchasing it. This will ensure that all of the equipment's components are working properly. As a restaurant owner, you may want to save money whenever possible.

In order to ensure that there is no gap in the quality of your equipment, we recommend buying kitchen equipment from recently closed restaurants that have not operated in a long time. Because most restaurants fail during their first stages due to the inability to control expenses, you may be able to obtain high-quality restaurant kitchen equipment at a low cost.

Space Consideration

When considering purchasing restaurant equipment, consider how much space it will require. Otherwise, your kitchen may get overly crowded and limit staff movement, preventing the kitchen staff from performing to their full potential.

The dining area takes up around 60% of your restaurant space, leaving the kitchen area with little less than 40% of the remaining space. If you are limited on space, you might consider purchasing multifunctional equipment.

Pricing

Pricing is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing new restaurant equipment. You must determine first how frequently the equipment is used. If the equipment is not used frequently, you can go for used restaurant equipment, which will save you money that you can use towards anything else.

Create a list of restaurant cooking equipment in order of use and priority. Identify which restaurant kitchen equipment you require and can afford, as well as which items you can go without. Check also to see what might be avoided by investing in multifunctional equipment. You will be able to control your restaurant equipment expenditures in this manner without exceeding your budget.

Tips for Saving on Restaurant Equipment Purchase

When purchasing commercial kitchen equipment, search for high-quality equipment that can withstand regular usage over time. To make the purchase more reasonable, start considering restaurant financing. Make sure the restaurant kitchen equipment you purchase is appropriate for your kitchen layout and the culinary flow you imagine.

The pros and cons of buying used restaurant equipment

One advantage of buying used restaurant equipment includes cheap costs owing to depreciation—as soon as a stove leaves the showroom, for instance, it loses its value, so you can get a great deal even if it's hardly been used. Additionally, due to the high rate of failure in this field, it may be simple to find gently used equipment at low prices.

On the other hand, unforeseen damages are possible if you buy used restaurant equipment, and lack a warranty. Therefore, you are responsible for whatever damages. Take note that when you choose secondhand, you have fewer options and quantities.

When deciding whether to buy new or used, assess your priorities and bear in mind that some things (such as ovens) are better off used than others (freezers).

Ease in Using and Cleaning

It does not make sense to choose restaurant equipment that is modern but difficult to operate and maintain. The equipment you choose for your restaurant should be easy to operate, clean, and well-maintained. At the same time, it must be made of alloys such as stainless steel so that it does not become a breeding ground for germs.

Choosing the Right Supplier

The top restaurant commercial kitchen equipment suppliers will assist you in installing your new equipment on-site. They should also be in charge of delivering repair services and necessary maintenance. A facility like this will ensure the seamless functioning of your restaurant and, as a result, the satisfaction of your customers.

There are several brands available on the market that offer both new and secondhand restaurant kitchen equipment. Before investing, one should undertake extensive research on each provider.

Hiring a Restaurant Kitchen Planner

If you are purchasing restaurant kitchen equipment for the first time, you might consider hiring a professional restaurant kitchen planner. Because there is a chance that you may purchase equipment that you will never utilize due to your lack of skill. Having to spend money at this point will help you save money later on.

Checking for Leasing Option

If you do not have a sufficient amount of money to spend on your restaurant business all at once, leasing is an alternative to consider when deciding on a restaurant supply company. Monthly leasing is suitable for equipment with limited life cycles, such as ice makers. Your suppliers may also provide rented restaurant equipment such as coffee makers and refrigerators on occasion. Secondhand restaurant kitchen utensils are also widely accessible in the market.

The best way to source restaurant equipment

Every restaurant is unique, with special needs based on the type of cuisine and customer base it targets. To get started as a restaurant owner or manager, keep your personal needs and priorities in mind.

Doing your research, comparing prices, and reading reviews are good starting points when searching for higher-priced items such as a refrigerator and oven. Knowing what you need ahead of time and making a list of all the different pieces of equipment can help you in consolidating your demands if you need to apply for financing and loans.

Remember, it's all about finding the right restaurant equipment for you and your entire restaurant business.

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