Essential Equipment for a Catering Kitchen

Catering Kitchen

Considering starting a catering company? Here is the list of essential equipment for a catering kitchen to be successful.

Experts believe that the catering services industry will grow by over $103 billion between 2022 and 2027. Both online ordering and mobile food options have given the catering business a big boost. 

But if you want to start a catering business to cash in on the demand, you’ll need the right commercial kitchen equipment. The following guide will explore the most essential parts of a catering kitchen and why you need them.

Read on to learn what it takes to really get your catering company cooking!

Commercial Refrigerators

You’ll need a high-quality commercial refrigerator to keep food fresh for as long as possible. They help keep ingredients from spoiling, which also helps save you money. Visit for examples of commercial models to consider.

When it comes time to buy a refrigerator for your catering company, determine what size you need first. How many people do you plan to cook for and what capacity do you need?

Pay attention to the features of different refrigerator models as well. Look for anything that might make life easier for your staff so that they can work efficiently. For example, a larger operation might benefit from a walk-in cooler.

Insulated Food Pan Carriers

Catering food off-site from the kitchen means transporting dishes and keeping them ready to eat. Insulated food pan carriers make sure your meals stay either cold or hot for many hours.

These pans come in a variety of sizes to accommodate all kinds of dishes. They even stack to make transporting them easier and take up less space in a vehicle.

Commercial Grills

A commercial grill makes life easier for catering businesses because they can accommodate almost any type of food. Whether you’re serving up pancakes or filet mignon, commercial grills have it covered.

Most restaurants use flat-top grills or griddles, which work well for catering setups, too. They let cooks prepare more than one serving in the same space simultaneously.

You might want a more specific grill depending on what kind of catering business you have. For instance, panini grills use a lid that pulls down and presses to cook different hot sandwiches.

If you plan to cater something like Japanese cuisine, you might invest in a Teppanyaki griddle. Businesses that cater Mexican food often use tortilla grills. A general commercial grill will do in any case but try to help streamline cooking when possible.

Chafers and Chafing Dishes

Chafing dishes play a big role in catering because the containers work so well for both serving and presenting food. Combining chafing dishes with chafing fuel keeps hot foods consistently hot for an entire event.

Consider investing in reusable stainless steel chafing dishes for a more elegant look. You might also want to keep disposal chafing dishes on hand for events that require quick cleanup.

Commercial Ice Machine

It’s hard to run a catering business without a reliable ice machine. It’s just about the only way to keep drinks and certain dishes cold on a large scale.

They constantly make ice so that it’s available for your staff at all times, no matter how much they need. You can dispense the ice straight into a large bin so that it’s ready to transport to events, too.

Ice machines also come in handy if you plan to serve blended ice drinks. Examples include events with margaritas, slushies, or smoothies.


Not all catering events require tableware, but the more formal ones usually do. For instance, a wedding would need more tableware than a high school reunion.

Tableware includes items like tablecloths, table skirts, beverageware, napkins, placemats, plates, and pitchers. You should even try to have things like salt and pepper shakers on hand for your catering events.

For less formal events, you can go with disposable tableware like plastic cutlery. Other examples include aluminum foil, cocktail picks, beverage napkins, and appetizer plates.

Tables and Chairs

A lot of catering businesses don’t offer tables and chairs, especially new upstarts. However, providing tables and chairs for events can help separate you from your competition.

It makes the customer’s planning process easier because they don’t have to look for a separate rental company. You can also use a few tables and chairs for your staff and for prepping purposes.

Cleanup Items

You’ll want to keep your kitchen safe and clean by having plenty of trashcans, trash bags, and washing stations available. You’ll also need things like trashcans and trash bags for certain events.

Consider a portable hand sanitizing station for your staff and customers to use at events. It’s a good way to kill germs and it also shows clients that you prioritize cleanliness.

Outdoor Coolers

An outdoor cooler is a great item to have for both indoor and outdoor events. It helps out in any situation where you can’t access regular refrigeration or for transportation purposes.

Industrial outdoor coolers use thick insulation and some can even keep ice from melting for several days. Consider using these coolers to keep drinks cold or to keep premade dishes chilled and fresh.

Industrial coolers also have a larger capacity than standard coolers. They also remain sealed tightly for outdoor events that might encounter severe weather.

Buying Equipment for Your Catering Kitchen

Now you know some of the most essential equipment needed for a successful catering kitchen. You also know which kitchen items you can use at events and for transportation, too. 

Remember this guide and consider investing in the basics to get your business off the ground and your food out to customers! Check out our site’s business section and food section for more wonderful tips and tricks.

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