Commercial Restaurant Kitchen Equipment Checklist

Your Back-Of-House Essentials

Illustration showing several essential items for a restaurant kitchen

The Balance


One of the biggest investments that goes into opening a new restaurant is the kitchen. A commercial kitchen needs industrial-grade equipment that can withstand busy restaurant use. The layout of a commercial restaurant kitchen must be planned to allow food to flow seamlessly from the prep area to the line.

Sometimes a new restaurant has a fabulous location but a small kitchen space, which dictates the kind of kitchen equipment needed. You may really want the six-burner gas range with a convection oven, but, in reality, your kitchen will only fit a four-burner range. It's important to think strategically about your kitchen well before you sign a lease.

Role of a Restaurant Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of your restaurant, the place where your menu comes to life. It’s where food is prepared, cooked, and plated. It's the center of the action in many other ways—the kitchen is typically home to the dishwasher, your food ingredients, and all the various utensils, dishes, and cooking equipment.

Unlike in a home kitchen, where it’s just you and your family, a restaurant kitchen can have dozens of people coming and going throughout any given shift, so it’s important that it's organized well. This not only saves time during the busy rushes, but it also helps the staff avoid accidents and reduces excess waste.

Commercial Kitchen Costs

One of the biggest expenses for most new restaurants is the kitchen. A $250,000 loan might seem like a lot of money when you are first getting ready to open, but it can run out quickly after you've invested in new, or even used, ranges, grills, ovens, and coolers.

If you purchase new kitchen equipment, remember that, just as with a new car, these items depreciate the moment they leave the showroom. One way to save money during the startup process is to lease or purchase used kitchen equipment.

Restaurant auctions are a great place to find commercial kitchen equipment for pennies on the dollar. They can be especially helpful for picking up small items like dishware, flatware, bread baskets, condiment containers, and serving utensils. You can also find good deals on gently used kitchen equipment, such as oven ranges and refrigerator units. Just be aware that used equipment doesn't usually come with a warranty. In most cases, this isn't a deal-breaker, but it should be factored into what you're willing to pay.

When shopping for kitchen equipment, remember that salespeople will try to sell you more than you need. While it's tempting to consider every shiny, popular item, you only need a few basics to get you started.

You can always add things later on. So, just walk away from the commercial smoker or the industrial-grade ice cream maker until you are sure smoked ribs and soft serve are integral to your restaurant menu and concept. 

Commercial Kitchen Equipment List

Here is a general checklist of everything you need to outfit your restaurant kitchen:

  • Range
  • Oven
  • Grill
  • Deep-fryer
  • Reach-in cooler
  • Walk-in cooler
  • Freezer (either a chest, upright, or walk-in)
  • Sauté pans
  • Stock/soup pots
  • Saucepans
  • Baking sheets
  • Pizza screens
  • Baking pans
  • Tongs
  • Spatulas
  • Ladles
  • Chef’s knives
  • Pizza paddle
  • Whisks
  • Mixing bowls
  • Plastic inserts for coolers
  • Steam table
  • Entrée plates
  • Pasta bowls
  • Appetizer plates
  • Salad plates
  • Dessert plates
  • Metal or plastic shelves for walk-in cooler
  • Cleaning rags
  • Cleaning buckets (specifically labeled for cleaning products) 
  • Rubber floor mats
  • Hand soap and sanitizer dispensers
  • Fire extinguisher

Depending on the size of your restaurant kitchen and the restaurant concept, you may not need every item. Or you may need other types of equipment more specific to your restaurant concept, such as an ice cream maker if your restaurant will make artisan ice cream, or bread pans if you plan to make your bread in-house. Be sure you're considering every aspect of your menu plan and kitchen layout as you make your equipment list.