America’s food truck industry is on the rise. The industry is estimated to bring in $1.2 billion annually, with the average food truck bringing in just under $295,000 per year. There are now over 4,000 food trucks operating in the United States.

Revenue for food trucks have increased by 7.9% annually between 2011 and 2016.

If you’re starting a food truck business, you’ll first want to do your research for your local license requirements and food truck options. There are some cities and states that make it difficult – if not impossible – to open up a food truck.

But once you’ve done your due diligence and know that you can open up your own food truck, it’s time to start acquiring food truck equipment.

Of course, you’ll need a truck. We'll leave that research up to you.

Equipment for a food truck will vary, but we’re going to explain the difference between new and used equipment, what types of kitchen equipment you’ll need for a food truck, and other equipment needs.

New vs Used Food Truck Equipment

Food truck equipment can be purchased used, and some items can safely be purchased, such as: trays, utensils, dispensers and equipment that doesn’t have internal components. Equipment that has been allowed to sit for a long time may not operate properly.

Espresso bean grinders and espresso makers, found in some breakfast food trucks, need to be used often.

These items can stop working properly over time, so you’ll need to do some maintenance on them if they’ve been sitting for a few months.

When opting for equipment that has moving parts, or ovens even, you’ll need to be very careful when making a used purchase. If taking the risk of buying used equipment, you’ll need to have the items inspected and also learn about any warranties that may be in place or expired.

Newer equipment has the safety of a warranty.

Starting a new food truck business with used ovens and heaters may lead to future down time and hassles.

You need to be very discerning when purchasing used equipment.

Food Truck Equipment You’ll Need to Start

The equipment needed for a food truck will vary, but there are a lot of standard pieces of equipment you’ll need.

Mobile Food Truck Equipment

There are smaller and larger pieces of food truck equipment that you’ll need. We'll start with the larger items and then move on to some of the smaller food truck supplies you’ll need.

  • Undercounter refrigerator. A standard item that allows you to maximize your food truck’s space. You'll need to make the most out of your food truck equipment layout, and an undercounter refrigerator will maximize cooling space.

  • Griddles. A mainstay in every food truck, the griddle is a must-have. This item can be used to cook everything from burgers and tacos to eggs. Countertop griddles are a great option for on-the-go food, and you’ll want the largest surface space that can fit in your truck for those high-trafficked days.

  • Microwave. Reheating doesn’t get more powerful than a commercial microwave. Commercial food truck equipment must be practical, and a microwave allows you to heat everything from coffee to sandwiches quickly.

  • Ranges. A range and a griddle are similar, but a range will have various burners which you’ll be able to use for cooking, too. There are even small ranges with just one large top burner, which is a great option for something like coffee or boiling water.

  • Ventilation. The truck’s ventilation system will dictate whether or not you can have a griddle. Smoke from cooking fats or greases will require ventilation systems to divert the smoke out of the interior of the vehicle.

  • Sprinklers. Depending on the state, one of the must-have mobile food truck equipment items is a sprinkler system. If a fire breaks out, these systems will go on and stop the fire from spreading further.

  • Fryers. One of the most dangerous pieces of equipment, fryers are a great option if you offer French fries or other fried food items. You’ll need to check local laws to ensure you can use fryers in your truck. Fire safety laws may dictate that you’re not allowed to have fryers.

  • Washing stations. Food dishes and pots will need to be cleaned. A washing station will be required, and they do take up a lot of space. You need to be able to fit your largest cooking items inside of the sinks – keep that in mind.

  • Refrigerator or freezer. You may need a standing refrigerator or freezer, and you’ll need to look at state and city codes to ensure that your appliances are up to code. The exact size will depend on how much room you have left for your food truck cooking equipment.

  • End loader. A small addition to a food truck. These small loaders will keep food items warm during transport.

  • Food warmer. Countertop food warmers can be used to keep all of your food items hot and ready to serve. These are built to keep foods at specific temperatures, and they will vary in size.

  • Coffee brewer. Coffee is a major selling item on food trucks, and a coffee maker is a good addition. Espresso machine combos are also available, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to offer additional caffeinated drinks.

You may also want to consider a panini press or sandwich maker if you plan on offering sandwiches to your customers. As you can imagine, this is the most expensive food truck kitchen equipment for sale, but all of the items are also vital to your operation.

Food Truck Supplies

Food truck equipment and supplies also demand a lot of smaller items that you’ll need to be able to cook and feed your patrons. Every food truck kitchen equipment list should include the following items:

You may also want a sign that illuminates or a window decal to alert customers when the truck is “open” or “closed.”

Menu boards are also a must-have and allow your customers to know what items you’ll be serving. These boards may be chalkboards, so you’ll either need a piece of chalk or an erasable marker if you choose an erasable board. A-frame sign boards are another popular option and can be placed outside of your food truck.

In terms of cost, food truck equipment prices vary greatly. Commercial fridges and freezers will often be $1,000 - $5,000, and a flat grill that’s 48” - 60” will run about the same: $1,000 - $5,000. That's just part of the expense.

You'll need most of the items in the food truck equipment list, and prices can easily run $10,000 or higher (much higher in many cases).

A food prep table will also be required, and if you purchase a food truck that has already been outfitted, the table may be included. There's a lot of food truck equipment for sale, and as you can see, some items are better purchased new than used.

Sinks, for example, along with some of the supply items, may not need to be purchased new. Brooms, dustpans, bottles and the like can often be purchased used because they have a low risk of breaking or needing to be replaced.

There are also items that may be needed depending on the type of truck, such as slicers, patty presses or blenders.

 

Learn more on how to manage a food truck business: