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Chef Pete Schellenbach

Your basic guide to essential restaurant and ghost kitchen equipment

Interested in opening a restaurant or running a ghost kitchen? Not sure where to begin? We've got you. Let's explore the essential commercial kitchen equipment you should have in your restaurant.


From large commercial kitchens to compact delivery-only ghost kitchens, there are four main categories of must-have equipment. 

1. Food Preparation

Your chefs can only turn ingredients into meals with the right food prep space and equipment. This includes not just preparation utensils and their convenient storage, but the counters and tables on which foods are prepped. Food safety is critical when considering food preparation equipment. Stainless steel is expensive, but you will need a highly durable smooth surface that is easy to clean or sanitize. The surfaces, such as cutting boards, that raw and cooked foods touch should be clearly delineated. For operator safety, some very simple equipment like floor mats to prevent slipping on spilled liquids, and even employing a clean rubber mat or towel to prevent cutting boards and equipment from sliding on slippery counter surfaces. More productive countertop equipment, such as mixers and slicers may need dedicated space. Having a well thought out and organized food preparation area will help to speed production, reduce food waste and lower labor dollars through faster prep.

2. Food Storage

Once food is prepped, it needs a place to be stored until it is ready to be used. Mise en place bowls are highly beneficial to keep ingredients at the ready. Airtight lids ensure fresher flavor and can provide stackable efficiency. Whether dry storage (like covered bins for flour and rice) or cold storage (walk-ins, reach-ins or specialized refrigeration) you’ll need such equipment to keep food fresh and free from cross-contamination. Expect that your food distributors' delivery schedule and customer demand should inform the size of refrigeration and freezer equipment for your restaurant kitchen to use food before the sell-by date. 

3. Cooking

Cooking equipment is one of the largest costs of opening a new restaurant but allows your team to turn individual ingredients into delicious dishes. The specific cooking equipment your kitchen needs will vary depending on your menu, volume, hours of operation and the space under the hood. This is going to be the investment that most directly affects your ability to produce food quickly, consistently and profitably.  Proven foodservice equipment manufacturers like Vulcan help you navigate the decisions when it comes to choosing the best and most versatile cooking equipment for your space. This equipment can include:

  • Braising Pans –Known as the “workhorse of the kitchen,” braising pans offer operations versatility. Braise, retherm, sear, shallow fry and more with one piece of equipment.
  • Convection Ovens – Typically used for baking or roasting – convection ovens are a popular choice for busy commercial kitchens. They cook foods on average about 25% faster than standard ovens, making it an ideal solution in a busy commercial kitchen.
  • Charbroilers – Looking to incorporate a flame-broiled, smokey flavor profile and gorgeous grill marks on your proteins and veggies? If yes, then a charbroiler should be high up on your list of “must-haves”.
  • Combi Ovens – Not just a convection oven. Not just a steamer. Operations that use combi ovens get the best of both worlds with this versatile piece of equipment.
  • Deep Fryers - Fried foods are a favorite among many diners—and a great deep fryer can help your restaurant staff deliver delicious appetizers, sides and full meals.
  • Griddles – Griddles provide a large surface area to cook breakfast foods like pancakes, bacon, eggs and hash browns – enabling  room to cook simultaneously with ample space for easy flipping.  Attaching a clamshell accessory  that closes over the griddle cuts cooking times in half by applying heat from the top.
  • Kettles – Boil grains, simmer sauces and prep stocks and soups with minimal supervision when adding a kettle to your commercial kitchen lineup.
  • Steamers – Quickly cook foods while retaining moisture and nutrients by incorporating a steamer. Steamers use the power of water to help kitchens quickly turn out fresh options.    
  • Ranges and Upright Broilers – No matter the operation type, a range can fit into your kitchen. With options from light to heavy-duty, a commercial range improves productivity and empowers you to deliver consistent results every time.

Select from either electric or gas (propane or natural gas) and many pieces of equipment are  ENERGY STAR® certified, saving you money without sacrificing performance.

Kitchens will reap great return from add-on equipment for certain dishes like salamanders and cheesemelters, heated holding cabinets and blast chillers to help your team produce, finish and safely hold the best foods possible.

4. Maintenance/Cleanup

It's no secret that restaurants require a lot of smallwares and plateware—so having the right equipment to wash and sanitize all these items quickly and easily is a must. High-capacity dishwashers make this possible. Don’t forget to plan for safe and separate storage for chemicals and janitorial supplies, too.  Another effective - but often overlooked – detail for maintenance of commercial restaurant equipment is installing equipment for water treatment. Depending upon the condition of the water, filtration or softening devices can optimize performance of dishwashers, combi ovens and steam cooking equipment, reduce spotting on glasses and prevent scale build-up on spray nozzles.  Soft water also reduces soap scum residue while rinsing detergents.


Ghost kitchens (sometimes called cloud kitchens) are becoming increasingly popular. These licensed commercial kitchens are specifically designed for delivery and carry-out restaurants (no indoor dining). Typically, these kitchens are smaller in size, thus requiring a little more creativity and better use of space when choosing commercial equipment.

When equipping a ghost kitchen, look for items that will serve multiple purposes and save space. Vulcan's Versatile Chef Stations and Minijet™ Combi Ovens are ideal because they maximize space and offer chefs multiple cooking capabilities. Blast chillers are also key to maximizing freshness and quality in high-speed, delivery-only kitchens.


We know there’s a lot to consider when planning and building your commercial kitchen - and we want to make it easier for you and your team. Vulcan's Kitchen Equipment Guide asks you a series of questions about your restaurant and kitchen operations; from there, our interactive tool helps you get a better feel for what product you need.

When seeking the best cooking equipment for your commercial kitchen, Vulcan has you covered with a wide range of quality products built to last. With more than 150 years of experience in the commercial kitchen industry, it's safe to say we know a thing or two.

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