Table of contents
This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Starting a food truck business can be an exciting venture, taking your culinary creations on the go to share with a mobile customer base. Fitting what is typically standard in a brick-and-mortar kitchen can prove to be a challenge when taking into account the square footage of a truck. From food preparation to truck operation, having the necessary food truck equipment is essential to your overall success.
Not sure where to start? Let’s break down the essentials in this food truck equipment list to get you started on the road to a thriving mobile business.
Food truck equipment list
Having the basics for food prep at your disposal helps you give your customers what they’re hungry for in an efficient amount of time.
Prep equipment list
- Mixing bowls: A variety of mixing bowls in different sizes will be essential for preparing ingredients and mixing sauces and dressings.
- Cutting boards: Invest in durable and long-lasting cutting boards to ensure a sanitary food preparation area. It may also be helpful to use color-coded cutting boards for different types of food to avoid cross-contamination.
- Food processors: Food processors can help streamline chopping and dicing, cutting prep time in half.
- Storage and shelving: With limited space, organization with storage and shelving is crucial to have as a part of your food truck equipment. For durability and cleanliness while on the go, consider using stainless steel.
- Whisks: Simple tools, such as whisks for mixing and emulsifying, are necessary for any mobile kitchen.
- Shredders and graters: Have shredders and graters handy for preparing vegetables and cheese for your meal offerings.
- Knives: Every chef has their favorite knife set. Invest in high-quality knives to ensure safety and efficiency in your food truck.
- Blenders: Need a quick way to make soups or sauces? Offering delicious smoothie options? Choose a blender that is powerful enough to handle your specific menu items.
- Frying pans: Whether you’re sautéing or frying, you’ll want to look for versatile frying pans — potentially nonstick options — that make cooking and cleaning a bit easier.
- Thermometers: Accurate and easy-to-read thermometers are vital for ensuring food safety standards when cooking.
- Can, bottle, and lid openers: Working in a tight space and on the go? Can, bottle, and lid openers help you quickly access ingredients and packaging.
- Spatulas: You’ll likely want to have a few different shapes and sizes of spatulas for flipping and serving your dishes.
- Work tables: Workspace is essential for food prep. While you likely won’t have much additional space in a food truck, learn how you can maximize storage and sanitary areas for work tables.
Cooking equipment list
Ensure that you have what you need to cook and heat your tasty meals to your customers’ satisfaction.
- Food truck ovens: Convection ovens are typically used for baked goods or roasting, using fans to circulate heat so that food cooks evenly and quickly. Combination ovens use steam and circulated heat to cook the food. Pizza ovens can be versatile, but they are primarily used for pizza preparation.
- Food truck steamers: Steamers are great for cooking items such as vegetables and seafood to retain their flavor and nutrients.
- Smokers and charbroilers: If you’re looking to offer smoked or barbequed meats, then a smoker is a must in your list of food truck appliances. Offering burgers or steaks? Grill them to perfection with a charbroiler.
- Countertop fryers: Conserve space with countertop fryers and create foodie favorites such as french fries, chicken tenders, or donuts.
- Induction burners: For a space-conscious option, induction burners are energy-efficient and provide precise temperature control for cooking.
- Commercial grills: An essential addition to your food truck equipment, a large grill can be used for everything from cooking burgers and hot dogs to making eggs and pancakes for breakfast.
- Toasters: Looking to add that extra crisp? Toasters come in handy for preparing heated sandwiches and other toasted offerings.
- Rice cookers: Rice cookers can take the fuss out of preparing rice and simplify the cooking process.
- Microwaves: Microwaves are essential for reheating and quickly warming dishes to help create a more efficient process in the food truck.
- Panini presses: If you’re looking to spice up your sandwich offerings, a panini press is perfect for adding variety to your menu with grilled sandwiches.
- Ranges: Flat ranges require little electricity and can accommodate a wide variety of cooking needs. Gas ranges are butane-powered, easy to control, and a reliable investment to add to your food truck equipment.
- Food truck deep fryers: Deep fryers with proper temperature control are essential for achieving consistent, delicious fried foods.
- Food truck hood and ventilation system: A hood and ventilation system are vital for maintaining a safe and comfortable cooking environment, especially in the limited space within a food truck.
Refrigeration and cooling equipment list
These pieces of equipment ensure your food stays fresh and your beverages stay cold.
- Ice makers: Keep your beverages refreshingly cold and never run out of ice during the dinner rush.
- Fridges: Be sure to keep your perishables and fresh ingredients at the correct temperature for safety standards with a commercial fridge.
Food warming equipment list
You’ll need a few fundamentals to make sure that your food stays nice and hot — how your customers like it.
- Countertop warmers: Countertop warmers keep cooked food at the right temperature until the moment it’s ready to be served to your guests.
- Fry warmers: Don’t let your fried foods get soggy. Fry warmers can help maintain the crispiness of your fried menu items.
- Kettles (soup warmers): Have soups and stews on your menu? Kettles are essential food truck appliances for preparing and keeping these menu items hot.
Serving equipment list
You can’t neglect the equipment that allows your customers to enjoy their food in a comfortable way.
- Plastics (cups, knives, forks, spoons, lids, and containers): Disposable utensils and containers are necessary items for serving and packaging your food.
- Salt and pepper shakers and condiment dispensers: If you have tables to set at your location, provide condiments and seasonings for your customers.
- Napkins: Stock up on napkins for customers to use while enjoying their meals.
- Insulated food carriers: Insulated carriers can help maintain the temperature of your food during delivery or catering events.
Sanitation and safety equipment list
Cleanup and maintaining hygiene are crucial to operating a safe food truck environment.
- Gloves: Food-safe gloves prevent cross-contamination and maintain hygiene.
- Sani-buckets: Sani-buckets filled with sanitizer solution are ideal for sanitizing utensils and surfaces.
- Sinks: Disposal sinks are used for gray water or liquid waste when cleaning your dishes. Handwashing sinks are meant for employees and must be available in the food truck kitchen. Compartment sinks are used for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing dishes to meet food safety standards.
- Sanitizing chemicals: Use approved sanitizing chemicals to keep surfaces and equipment clean and free from harmful bacteria.
- Aprons: Protect your clothing while working in the kitchen with branded aprons for your and your food truck employees.
- First aid kit: Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand to address minor injuries quickly.
- Date labels: Date labels are essential to ensure food items are stored and used within their safe shelf life.
- Bar rags: To quickly clean up spills and wipe down surfaces, have clean bar rags handy for your employees.
- Trash cans and liners: Properly dispose of all waste with sturdy and convenient trash cans and liners.
Technology equipment list
Here are indispensable tech solutions that optimize the running of your food truck business.
- Point-of-sale system: A pointof-sale system helps manage orders, payments, and inventory efficiently. With Square POS, you can manage your inventory across multiple locations (if you have a brick and mortar and a food truck) and easily have your customers check out on the go.
- Kitchen display system: A kitchen display system streamlines order processing and improves kitchen efficiency. Customize ticket layouts to fit your food truck offering and keep orders synced between your POS and the kitchen.
- Website: A well-designed website can help you reach and engage with your customers online. Square Online helps you create a website that updates your customers and fans about where your food truck will be located each day.
- Payments processor: Square Stand offers a user-friendly experience with built-in card readers and guiding LED lights to accept payments from customers.
- Marketing software: Utilize Square Marketing to promote your food truck and attract more customers. Send out email and text campaigns to keep your customers up to date on your food truck’s promos.
- Loyalty program: Implement a loyalty program to encourage repeat business and customer retention. With Square Loyalty, you can turn your walk-up customers into regulars who will follow your food truck each weekend.
Food truck equipment list for truck operation
Don’t forget that you also require equipment to keep your truck running without problems.
- Necessary operating permits and licensing: Ensure that you have all the required permits and licenses to operate your food truck legally.
- Transmission fluid: Remember, it’s not just a kitchen to look after. You’ll want to ensure you’re keeping up maintenance on the truck as well. Regularly check your vehicle’s transmission fluid to keep it running smoothly.
- Spare tires: Carry spare tires and necessary tools for changing them in case of emergencies traveling between events.
- Windshield washer fluid: Constant driving will certainly lead to a dirty windshield, so maintain clear visibility with a topped-off windshield washer fluid reservoir.
- Extra fuses: Keep spare fuses on hand to quickly address electrical issues.
- Fire extinguisher: Safety in any kitchen is crucial. Have a fire extinguisher easily accessible from all points in the kitchen in case of emergencies.
- Engine oil: Regularly check and change your vehicle’s engine oil to ensure it operates efficiently.
- Radiator coolant and antifreeze: Proper radiator coolant and antifreeze levels will prevent overheating of the food truck and will help you avoid any engine damage.
- Distilled water: Keep distilled water on hand for topping off your vehicle’s battery and diluting antifreeze.
Food truck equipment for power needs
Ensure that you always have the necessary power supply to keep your truck powered up and your customers fed and full.
- Generators: You’ll need electricity for your refrigerators, grills, and other food truck appliances to operate. Make sure you have generators that are reliable and easy to use on the go. Gas generators, while easy to use since you’ll be using gas to power the truck, can sometimes be off-putting to customers due to their noise and fumes. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons with a gas-powered generator. Propane generators can be a little less harsh on sound and smell, but require an extra step to fill.
Equipping your food truck with the right tools and appliances is essential for running a successful food truck business. From food preparation to truck maintenance, having the appropriate food truck equipment will help you provide high-quality dishes, maintain a clean cooking environment, and keep your customers coming back for more.
Don’t forget that, just because you’re a mobile business, it doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt modern business solutions such as a POS system, website, and loyalty program to enhance your food truck’s customer engagement and food preparation efficiency. Through investing in the right food truck equipment and staying committed to satisfying your customers, your food truck business will be on the road to success.