Blog / September 27, 2023 / Jeff Stumpf / UPDATED March 18, 2024

Food Truck Equipment Checklist

Table of Contents

    Food truck equipment checklist

    Food trucks offer a unique blend of culinary freedom and entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of being confined to a brick-and-mortar location, you can hit the road, sharing your gastronomic passion across neighborhoods, cities, and festivals.

    Even with fewer overhead costs and a nimble operation, getting started will be a significant investment. Although you won’t be sinking half a million or more into a physical restaurant, you’ll still need to budget wisely, seeing as the average food truck will still likely exceed $100,000.

    To avoid ballooning costs, meticulous preparation and budgeting are vital. 

    Make sure you have all your essential equipment listed and priced out with this list of all your essential food truck equipment. 

    Food truck essentials  

    Before rolling up your sleeves and diving into the nitty-gritty of equipment, it’s important to acknowledge that your checklist will largely depend on what you’re cooking up. 

    Are you flipping gourmet burgers? A commercial griddle is non-negotiable. 

    Or maybe you’re serving up scrumptious fried chicken? In that case, a top-notch fryer is a must. 

    Whatever you’re serving, you’ll need to tailor your equipment list to suit your menu’s specific needs. Now, with that caveat in mind, let’s delve into the equipment that almost every food truck will need, regardless of the cuisine:

    • The truck: The cornerstone of the business is the vehicle itself. Without a large, mobile truck, you’d essentially be running a sidewalk stall. As such, it will be your largest single expense, with costs ranging from $50,000 for a used truck to more than $100,000 for a brand-new vehicle custom-fitted with all the bells and whistles. Here, space and safety should be your primary concerns. 
    • Cooking appliances: Naturally, you’re going to need appliances to cook the food and keep it warm. The right equipment enables you to cook efficiently while ensuring your food meets high-quality food safety standards. Therefore, you should budget between $5,000-$15,000 for these items, depending on what you require.

    Appliances might include: 

    • Deep fryers
    • Griddles 
    • Convection ovens
    • Ranges
    • Hoods and systems 
    • Presses
    • Microwaves

    Refrigeration units: Freshness is paramount when you’re serving food on the go. Refrigeration units can keep ingredients fresh while upholding food safety. This is about maintaining quality while safeguarding your customer’s health. These might cost between $2,500 to $5,000 for items like:

    • Upright freezers
    • Reach-in refrigerators

    Storage and organization: In the confined quarters of a food truck, every inch counts. You need to find places to safely stow ingredients and tools, and organize them in a manner that supports workflows and enables seamless service. You’ll also require a solid workspace, with stainless steel tables that are hygienic and durable and plenty of built-in shelving and storage. Budget between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for this equipment. 

    Smallware and cooking items: In the high-stakes ballet of food truck cooking, you need the right tools to operate quickly and efficiently. These items will play a vital role in your culinary repertoire, allowing you to sear, sauté, and simmer to perfection. Budget between $1,000 to $2,000 for the following items:

    • Cooking knives 
    • Serving implements
    • Dining utensils 
    • Spatulas and tongs
    • Measuring cups 
    • Pots & pans

    Serving items and tableware: The experience doesn’t end when the food leaves the stove; it’s also about how it arrives at the table—or in this case, the window. Serving items and tableware set the stage for the grand reveal. Ideally, they’re low-cost, eco-friendly, and easy to eat from. Keep in mind, this will be a revolving cost, as these items will need constant replenishing. They include: 

    • Napkins
    • Disposable cutlery
    • Disposable containers 
    • Tin foil 

    Ghost kitchens: the all-in-one food truck fix

    For all their mobility, food trucks run into a square footage problem. How do you cram in everything a traditional commercial kitchen has—prep stations, storage, even safety measures—into such a tiny space? 

    Traditionally, commissaries have been the unsung heroes of food trucks, allowing owners to prep food, store inventory, and comply with various health and safety regulations. But now, there’s a better option: ghost kitchens.

    Unlike commissaries, ghost kitchens offer private, specialized space. No shared counters, no remote locations. They’re often right where you need to be, making your operation more streamlined and efficient. Additionally, ghost kitchens open doors to the booming delivery market. 

    They’re not just a space solution; they’re a potential food truck business model upgrade.

    Online food delivery

    Cloudkitchens will upgrade your cooking experience

    Navigating the financial maze of launching a food truck? You’re easily looking at a six-figure sum for the truck and onboard equipment alone. But, one area where you can cut costs and expand your reach is by leveraging the power of CloudKitchens

    This innovative solution marries the traditional advantages of commissaries with the cutting-edge adaptability, scalability, and cost-efficiency of ghost kitchens. 

    Why settle for one revenue stream when you can tap into multiple channels, from food truck service to delivery apps? 

    With CloudKitchens, you can go beyond the norm, setting your food truck venture up for unparalleled success.

    We have locations in major metropolitan areas around the US! So, if you’re eyeing a commercial kitchen in Houston or a commissary kitchen in Denver, we’ve got you covered! Start cooking and refining your brand with CloudKitchens, today.

    Explore ghost kitchen locations across the US:

    DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and the content does not constitute an endorsement. CloudKitchens does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, images/graphics, links, or other content contained within the blog content. We recommend that you consult with financial, legal, and business professionals for advice specific to your situation.


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