Food Truck Equipment List: What Equipment Is Needed to Start a Food Truck

11 Minutes Read

Essential Food Truck Equipment: Building Your Food Truck Equipment List for Success



The sizzle of success isn't just about the perfect recipe. Behind every thriving food truck lies a hidden world of metal and machinery. While branding and menu development are indispensable, having the right tools in your mobile kitchen is equally important.  

This article lists equipment every food truck owner or aspiring entrepreneur needs to consider.  Unveil clever hacks and cost-saving secrets to optimize your equipment, ensuring your food truck dream doesn't break the bank.

Further reading: Exploring the Average Profit Margin: How Much Do Food Trucks Make in 2024?

What equipment is essential for starting a food truck?

Essential Food Truck Equipment List for Success

Cooking Equipment

  1. Grill or Griddle: Ideal for cooking burgers, sandwiches, and other menu items.
    • Average Cost: $1,000 - $3,000
  2. Deep Fryer: Essential for making fries, chicken wings, and other fried favorites.
    • Average Cost: $500 - $2,000
  3. Oven: A compact oven is necessary for baking, roasting, and warming food.
    • Average Cost: $1,000 - $5,000
  4. Stovetop Burners: For sautéing, boiling, and other stovetop cooking needs.
    • Average Cost: $200 - $1,200
  5. Microwave: Useful for quickly heating pre-prepared items.
    • Average Cost: $100 - $300
  6. Blender: For making sauces, soups, and smoothies.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $200

Refrigeration and Storage

  1. Refrigerator: Keeps perishable items fresh and is essential for storing ingredients.
    • Average Cost: $1,000 - $3,000
  2. Freezer: Stores frozen goods and helps in long-term storage.
    • Average Cost: $500 - $2,000
  3. Ice Maker: Essential for keeping beverages cold and food fresh.
    • Average Cost: $1,000 - $3,000
  4. Dry Storage: Shelving and bins for storing dry goods, spices, and non-perishables.
    • Average Cost: $200 - $800
  5. Insulated Food Pan Carriers: For transporting hot or cold food safely.
    • Average Cost: $100 - $500

Prep and Serving Equipment

  1. Prep Tables: Stainless steel tables for safe and efficient food preparation.
    • Average Cost: $200 - $1,000
  2. Cutting Boards: Durable cutting surfaces to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Average Cost: $10 - $50
  3. Utensils: Knives, tongs, spatulas, and other essential kitchen tools.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $200
  4. Food Pans and Containers: These are used to organize ingredients and prep food.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $200
  5. Serving Supplies: Plates, bowls, trays, and disposable cutlery for serving customers.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $200

Sanitation and Safety

  1. Handwashing Sink: A separate sink for handwashing is a health department requirement.
    • Average Cost: $300 - $1,000
  2. Three-Compartment Sink: For washing, rinsing, and sanitizing dishes.
    • Average Cost: $500 - $2,000
  3. Fire Extinguisher: Mandatory safety equipment to handle potential fire hazards.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $150
  4. First Aid Kit: Essential for addressing minor injuries and ensuring safety.
    • Average Cost: $20 - $50
  5. Trash and Recycling Bins: For maintaining cleanliness and managing waste effectively.
    • Average Cost: $50 - $200

Further reading: What's the Average Profit for Food Trucks? How Much Do Food Trucks Make and Are They Profitable?

Factors to Consider When Purchasing Food Truck Equipment

  1. Quality and Durability: Invest in high-quality, durable equipment to withstand daily use in your food truck business.
  2. Space and Size: Ensure the equipment fits your truck's layout without compromising functionality, especially for limited space.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Opt for energy-efficient models to save on operational costs and reduce your environmental footprint.
  4. Ease of Maintenance: For longevity and hygiene, choose equipment that is easy to clean and maintain. You’ll likely need items that handle grease well.
  5. Regulatory Compliance: Ensure the equipment meets local health and safety regulations, as a permit is essential.

Bookkeeping Tips For Purchasing Food Truck Equipment

Here are essential bookkeeping tips when purchasing food truck equipment, incorporating considerations for accessories, appliances, and used food truck equipment.

Categorize Your Purchases

When purchasing equipment, categorize your expenditures accurately. Food truck accessories, such as utensils, storage containers, and serving equipment, should be recorded separately from larger food truck appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and grills. This categorization helps track expenses and manage inventory effectively.

Maintain Detailed Records

Keep detailed records of all purchases, including receipts, invoices, and warranties. For each item, note the purchase date, vendor, cost, and relevant specifications. This practice is especially important for used food truck equipment, where warranties may be limited or non-existent. Knowing the equipment's history can be valuable for maintenance and resale purposes.

Separate Capital Expenditures and Operating Expenses

Distinguish between capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX). Capital expenditures are investments in long-term assets such as major food truck appliances that will be used over several years. These should be capitalized and depreciated over their useful life. Operating expenses include day-to-day costs like food truck accessories, which are generally expensed in the period they are incurred.

Track Depreciation

For capital assets like food truck appliances, track depreciation accurately. Depreciation spreads the cost of the equipment over its useful life, providing a more accurate picture of your business’s financial health. Choose a suitable depreciation method (e.g., straight-line or declining balance) and ensure it aligns with accounting standards and tax regulations.

Budget for Maintenance and Repairs

Allocate a portion of your budget for the maintenance and repair of equipment, particularly used food truck equipment. Regular maintenance ensures longevity and reduces unexpected breakdowns, which can be costly. Record all maintenance expenses meticulously to monitor the total cost of ownership and to plan for future equipment replacements.

Consider Tax Implications

Understand the tax implications of your equipment purchases. Many jurisdictions offer tax deductions or credits for capital expenditures. For used food truck equipment, ensure you have proper documentation to support its valuation for tax purposes. Consult with a tax professional to optimize your tax strategy and comply with local regulations.

Evaluate Financing Options

If purchasing new or high-end food truck appliances, consider financing options. Loans, leases, or vendor financing can spread the cost over time, easing cash flow constraints. Record the terms of any financing arrangements carefully, including interest rates and payment schedules, to manage your liabilities effectively.

Periodic Inventory Audits

Conduct periodic inventory audits to verify the physical presence of all food truck accessories and appliances. This practice helps identify discrepancies, losses, or the need for replacements. Regular audits also aid in accurate financial reporting and inventory management.

Tips for Buying Eco-Friendly and Resourceful Food Truck Equipment

  1. Energy Star Rated Appliances: Choose appliances with Energy Star ratings for energy efficiency and lower utility bills. These are essential items for starting a food truck business.
  2. Sustainable Materials: Look for equipment made from recycled or sustainable materials. To attract a conscious customer base, invest in eco-friendly options.
  3. Water-Saving Devices: Install water-saving faucets and dishwashers to conserve water, optimizing resource use.
  4. Compostable and Recyclable Supplies: Use compostable and recyclable serving supplies to reduce food waste.
  5. Solar Panels: Consider installing solar panels to power your food truck and reduce reliance on traditional energy sources. This can help create a more efficient power supply setup.

Streamlining Equipment Investments with Accountants and Bookkeepers

  1. Budget Planning: Meet with your accountant to create a detailed budget for your food truck equipment. This checklist will help you identify the right equipment and prioritize essential items like a generator, steamer, and refrigeration equipment.
  2. Cost Analysis: Have your bookkeeper review costs and spot potential savings. They can compare prices for accessories and different types of food equipment, ensuring you get the best deals on panini presses, processors, and more.
  3. Financing Options: Talk to your accountant about financing options and tax incentives. This can ease the upfront cost and help you invest in quality equipment, such as a POS system and a contactless payment processor, without breaking the bank.
  4. Expense Tracking: Keep a close eye on all expenses related to your equipment purchases. Accurate tracking ensures you stay within budget and have clear financial records. This is integral for maintaining a safe financial standing and ensuring customer engagement through efficient service.
  5. Long-Term Investment: Treat your equipment as a long-term investment. Consider the ROI of each purchase, ensuring they will benefit your business in the long run. Quality equipment, like a powerful enough ventilation system or restaurant POS, can boost efficiency and customer satisfaction, leading to a successful food truck business.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cooking Appliances: You’ll need equipment that allows your customers to enjoy a variety of cuisines, including grills for burgers, steamers to steam veggies, and a pot for soup.
  2. Condiment Storage: Don't forget condiment dispensers and a place to store your spoon and other utensils, which are easy to forget but essential for service.
  3. Refrigeration: Adequate refrigeration units are necessary to store your food safely, which is a significant item on your list of food truck equipment.
  4. Customer Engagement: A QR code system may want to be added for menus and payments to streamline the customer experience.
  5. Preparation Space: Stainless steel prep tables for food preparation are necessary, and you may want to consider the type of cooking you’ll be doing to get started efficiently.

How can Taxfyle help?

Finding an accountant to manage your bookkeeping and file taxes is a big decision. Luckily, you don't have to handle the search on your own.

At Taxfyle, we connect small businesses with licensed, experienced CPAs or EAs in the US. We handle the hard part of finding the right tax professional by matching you with a Pro who has the right experience to meet your unique needs and will manage your bookkeeping and file taxes for you.

Legal Disclaimer

Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

We recommend a Pro file your taxes. Click here to file today.Leave your books to professionals. Click to connect with a Pro.Leave your books to professionals. Click to connect with a Pro.Leave your books to professionals. Click to connect with a Pro.
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May 31, 2024


Kristal Sepulveda, CPA

Kristal Sepulveda, CPA


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