Opening a new restaurant is both exciting and stressful. It’s easy to get so caught up in the location and branding that you overlook the most important part of your business: your equipment.

The best restaurants have the best commercial kitchen equipment.

The kitchen is the lifeblood of any restaurant, so it’s important to ensure that it’s properly outfitted with the equipment you need to quickly tackle any order on the menu.

Commercial Kitchen Equipment List

One of the first things you’ll do when launching a restaurant is purchase commercial kitchen equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Commercial Refrigerators

One of the first items on any list of equipment inventory is commercial refrigerators. Not only are they required by law, but refrigerators are also needed to keep your food as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Refrigerators will extend the lifespan of your ingredients, helping you save money and allowing you to serve fresh dishes every evening.

There are many commercial refrigerators to choose from, and restaurants may have several that are used for different purposes. For example, you may have one refrigerator used strictly for vegetables and set just to the right temperature to keep them fresh.

When choosing refrigerators, consider the size and capacity you’ll need. For example, a restaurant with 100 seats will need more than a small café.

Reach-in refrigerators with glass doors make it easy to see what’s inside the fridge and grab ingredients. But you may also need a walk-in cooler if you’re running a big establishment.

Depending on the restaurant, a prep refrigerator may be needed. These have countertops mounted to the top. You may also need merchandise refrigerators for your customers to use.

2. Ovens, Ranges and Microwaves

An essential piece of equipment needed for a restaurant, ovens and ranges ensure that your dishes are cooked to perfection.

There are several different types of ovens that may be found in restaurant kitchens. The right ones for your establishment will depend on your menu.

Virtually all restaurants will need conventional or convection ovens. But you may also need a pizza, conveyor, brick or deck oven.

Make sure that the commercial range you choose will have enough burners to accommodate your guests.  

Many commercial kitchens also have microwaves for heating dishes.

3. Ice Machines

Another essential piece of equipment needed for a restaurant kitchen is an ice machine. Ice machines allow you to serve cold beverages on a large scale by creating ice on demand.

Ice can be dispensed directly into a soda fountain or an ice bin. These machines can also be used to create blended drinks, like smoothies, margaritas and slushes.

Seafood and fresh meat can also be kept on ice to keep them on hand and prevent an extra trip to the refrigerator. And when making desserts, ice can be used to keep metal bowls cold.

4. Warming Cabinets

It's virtually impossible to finish all of the dishes for a table at the same time. That's why many establishments put warming cabinets on their list of equipment needed for a restaurant kitchen.

These cabinets keep food warm until it’s ready to be served, so a table’s dishes are served hot at the same time. They also allow restaurants to cook food in advance, and keep it hot and ready for when customers order it.

5. Commercial Grills and Griddles

If your menu includes burgers, steaks or pancakes, your kitchen will need a commercial grill. Griddles and flat-top grills are a great option for most restaurants, as they’re very versatile. Both allow you to cook several separate servings at once.

There are also specialty grills and griddles available. Panini grills, for example, may be used to cook Italian sandwiches. Tortilla grills are a staple in Mexican restaurants, and Teppanyaki griddles are used in Japanese restaurants.

Consider all of the items on your menu, and determine whether a specialty grill or griddle will be needed.

6. Deep-Fryer

If fried items are on your menu, your kitchen may need a deep-fryer. From French fries to calamari, churros and mozzarella sticks, deep fryers are now a staple in most commercial kitchens.

When buying a deep fryer, it’s important to consider the temperature range and capacity.

7. Hot and Cold Beverage Equipment

Every restaurant must be equipped to serve beverages – even if you only serve water. Hot and cold beverage equipment will allow you to serve a wide range of drinks.

Most restaurants will need:

8. Prep Tables

Prep tables are essential in every restaurant kitchen. They provide a clean and clear space to prepare ingredients for dishes. Work tables may also be used to roll out dough or to put the finishing touches on dishes before they go out to the table.

Many prep tables come equipped with undershelves that can be used as storage. This makes commonly-used items easily accessible.

Prep and work tables come in a wide range of materials, but stainless-steel is the most common option. Stainless-steel is easy to keep clean and resistant to corrosion. Depending on the restaurant, you may also have marble or wood worktops that can used for doughs.

Specialty prep stations are also available for sandwiches and salads. These stations allow employees to build custom food items for guests as they order. Similar stations may be used for pizzas and other dishes that require multiple ingredients for cold dishes.

9. Sinks

Sinks are another essential item on the list of equipment in restaurants. Not only are they required for health and safety purposes, but they’re an essential part of running any sanitary equipment.

From rinsing produce to cleaning utensils and washing hands, sinks are just as important as any other piece of equipment in the kitchen. Stainless steel is the most common material used for commercial sinks, as it is easy to keep clean and highly durable.

Be sure to refer to your local health codes to determine how many sinks you’ll need, and consider the capacity of your restaurant. The more staff and guests, the more sinks you’ll need.

10. Dishwasher

If you’re running a small restaurant, you may prefer to have your dishes hand-washed in the sink. But for a larger establishment or for mere convenience, a dishwasher is a smart addition to any restaurant kitchen.

A dishwasher not only cleans multiple dishes at once, but it also sanitizes your serving ware and can keep plates warm until ready to be served.

Cost of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Kitchen equipment is one of the biggest expenses when launching a restaurant. The cost of equipment alone can run anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000, depending on the size and nature of the restaurant.

The big appliances, such as the ovens and grills, will be the most expensive items. And these items are the ones you want to spend the bulk of your budget on. The appliances that actually cook the food are what matter the most. The higher the quality, the better the performance and the higher the durability. A quality commercial oven will be more likely to be accurate when it comes to temperature, which is crucial when cooking or baking food for customers.

Refrigeration can also be expensive, but is equally as important as your cooking appliances. Poor quality refrigeration may lead to premature failure, which can lead to a food safety issue and cost you money. It is essential for your refrigerators to maintain the set temperature to prevent spoiling and keep your food at just the right temperature to maintain freshness.

It can be a challenge to keep costs down when outfitting your restaurant’s kitchen. To stay within your budget, consider working backwards and using your menu to purchase only the items you need. It’s easier to expand as you need new equipment instead of investing in equipment you may not necessarily need right now.

When it comes commercial kitchen equipment, this list includes some of the basic items you’ll need to get your restaurant up and running. You may find that you need additional items in the future or specialty equipment to better prepare certain dishes. Creating a list of equipment will help you determine your budget and the costs of outfitting your establishment.