Essential Portable Catering Equipment


For foods that hold and transport well, such as soups and chilled salads, many caterers find it most cost-effective to cook off site and then transport and reheat menu items at the event venue.

However, not all foods transport well. And let’s get real, even foods that transport well taste better when they’re cooked fresh. Right?

So, if you’ve got some wiggle room in your budget it is a great idea to add at least a few pieces of portable catering equipment to your stockpile. If you’re feeling real go-gettery, you can stock up on everything you need for a fully mobile kitchen. This is pretty much (pretty much = totally and completely, but not in a legally binding way) guaranteed to impress your customers.



Cooking Carts: Cooking carts are made specifically for on-site cooking. Most come with storage shelves to hold ingredients and are excellent not only for making sure food is fresh, but also offering guests something of a spectacle to behold.

Outdoor grills: For outdoor events, these grills can provide guests a treat for the nose as well as the taste buds.

Tailgate grills: Tailgate grills are smaller and a bit easier to transport, making them great for operations with limited truck or van space.

Portable gas stoves: Gas stoves are an excellent alternative to outdoor grills for winter events, though they are smaller and can only handle limited quantities.

Commercial induction ranges: Induction ranges are kind of magical. Or, at least they seem so to the uninitiated. Pans are heated using a magnetic field, so only the pan gets warm and not the area around it. This makes induction cooking both energy efficient and safe. It is important to note that only pans made from magnetic metals can be used with induction ranges.

Commercial hot plates: Electric hot plates are much like induction plates, but can be used with any cookware.

Hot Holding

Portable hot food tables: Portable hot food tables are an attractive and simple alternative to carting carloads of chafing dishes.

Cold Holding


Portable cold food tables: Portable cold food tables are great for salad bars as well as sandwiches and other cold items. They are designed to hold ice and hotel pans to keep cold food at safe (and delicious) temperatures for several hours.


Portable bars: Portable bars provide a great space for bartenders to mix and serve up drinks. They are typically insulated to keep beverages cold for up to four hours.

Mobile ice baths: For self-service drink stations, a mobile ice bath keeps bottled beverages cold and ready to drink.

And there you have it! Everything you need to cart around your kitchen. Except maybe a truck. You should probably get a truck.

And in the meantime, click here to learn more about what foods hold and travel well, and what foods are better cooked on site.


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Sara Henderson

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