Mobile Kitchen And Food Truck Design Basics

Not every prospective food truck owner is going to be able to purchase a fully designed and equipped mobile kitchen. Some may even whan to know how to build a food truck from scratch, because of this we have put an article together with the basic steps in food truck design. Look at these mobile kitchen tips before you start looking for food trucks for sale or begin the process of installing your food truck equipment or before you begin the process of bolting in their fryer or flat top grill.

A well-designed food truck kitchen is an absolute must if you want your mobile kitchen to be efficient and safe. Careful planning in the design of the kitchen will save you money and time during the build-out phase and over time will increase the profitability of your truck.

A food truck kitchen design is primarily dictated by the minimal space you have as well as your required equipment and budget. When designing your food truck’s kitchen, consider ergonomics as this will always be appreciated by the chef and truck’s other on-board employees.

Mobile Kitchen and Food Truck Design Basics

List Your Menu Items

Prepare a detailed list or menu of all foods you plan to prepare in the truck. Describe in detail the method of food storage and preparation. This is one of the most important steps in planning any type of kitchen and should be done prior to choosing equipment. You do not know what kind of equipment you will need until you have decided on the foods you will prepare. Include all menu items you may wish to add in the future. Proper planning will avoid costly changes you could run into if these changes need to be made after the kitchen has been completed.

List Your Food Truck Equipment

Create a complete list (including detailed measurements) of all equipment you will require for on board food prep, refrigeration, and storage. Every single item of equipment must meet commercial health code requirements. The size and amount of equipment, plus food preparation counter surface, will dictate the amount of space your food truck kitchen must have.

If you are using a used truck be sure to take exact measurements of the size of the space set aside for the kitchen. Make note of existing service windows, doorways, and electrical outlets. Make a sketch of the existing space, making note of the present flooring material, wall and ceiling surface and all heating, exhaust or air-conditioning vents. For a new truck, draw out a rough sketch of the dimensions and special features of the proposed construction of your mobile kitchen.

Plan Your Food Truck Design

Plan how you will use the space with your plan of the food truck equipment inside your mobile kitchen. Ergonomics is the number one consideration in the design of kitchen space. Your kitchen should be designed for maximum labor efficiency, safety and functionality. Make sure that there is plenty of room to move about freely when carrying hot pots and bulky supplies. If employees do not have to waste time and extra movement completing a task, efficiency is increased and fatigue and workplace injuries are reduced.

Setup a Review for Your Food Truck Design

Contact your local city or state department tasked with reviewing all mobile kitchens and make an appointment to review your preliminary plans. Health and fire codes must be met. The kitchen area may need to be remodeled to satisfy requirements even if the truck had been licensed in the past. Regulations govern how far a food preparation area must be away from any sinks or electrical outlets, the installation of vents, and the size and temperature capacity of insta-hot water units. Make sure you receive a printed copy of all rules and regulations prior to designing the trucks kitchen space. Regulations vary from state to state. City or county ordinances may also apply.

If you do not have the skills to layout or build your kitchen yourself employ the services of a mobile kitchen builder to design the kitchen, incorporating all building and health department rules that apply.

Prior to purchasing equipment or commencing construction, in many municipalities the detailed drawings or blueprints must be reviewed and officially approved by both the health department and fire inspector. In many cities across the country the blueprints must include electrical wiring schematics, fire suppression equipment installation drawings, plumbing and electrical installation plans and a complete list of all building materials used in the completion of your food truck project.

If you have any additional suggestions about mobile kitchen or food truck design, please share them in the comment section below.

We hope these tips will help those of you who want to know how to build a food truck from scratch or how to design a well-thought out mobile kitchen to run your food truck business.

2017-03-31T08:42:18+00:00 By |Under the Hood|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.


  1. Carlton Williams Jan 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hello There” I am a culinary artist in the process of converting a box candy truck into a food truck. I sure can use some tips on designing it properly.I want to keep it very simple.I have a signature menu,4 maybe 5 items that i have created.My summer street vending tells me that all ill need.I have veryyyyy little start up money but i do already have a floor deep fryer,flat top grill which is my BREAD AND BUTTER, cream freezer,hot dog steam table already installed with overhead vent already in place.stainless steal work table,i don’t want any problems with coeds,laws,regulations.inside painted but no diamond plating in place yet.Any helpful tips,hits suggestions i really do appreciate it. Thank you Carlton Cchefcee Williams

  2. Mobile Kitchen Designs Aug 2, 2012 at 10:05 am

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  5. luis Jul 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    i have a crazy idea of converting a decent sized RV into a food truck. just with a bed in the back. how impossible is this?

  6. ben Jul 31, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Hey Luis,that’s what i want to do as well! I bought a toy hauler which is basically an RV which has a separated garage compartment used to haul harley davidsons normally,and my girlfriend and i want to convert it,then travel around to see what states let us sell our food. Have you had any success or anyone with any suggestions on whether or not this is achievable? ~Ben~

  7. Dean Nov 20, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    One of the key essentials to not forget when designing a food truck is the shelving. These are crucial to maximizing the space within the truck itself.

  8. Mobile Cuisine Nov 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Very true Dean. Thanks for the tip.

  9. Angrybull May 28, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    what are the blue vents called on top of the truck, and where can I get them?

  10. Mobile Cuisine May 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

    The blue vents you see are vents that are typically installed in California style trucks. We don't know the the exact supplier but if you reach out to a West Coast builder you should be able to get a contact.

  11. Teresa C. Jun 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I'm starting the early planning stage. I want to know what type of material would I use for the walls and ceiling??? Need to get started today


    Teresa c.

  12. Mobile Cuisine Jul 1, 2016 at 8:21 am

    You should be using metal or water resistant wood studs. Depending on the exterior materials you plan to install in the kitchen, use a cement backer wall board or water resistant plywood.

  13. Ricardo picena Jul 14, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Hello, I currently recycled & turned an old job site trailer into a mobile food trailer. Follow our page on Instagram @LittleMexicoMobile
    i basically used our kitchen design on our drive thrus but put it on our mobile trailer & I recommend if you're on a budget, buying slightly used equipment until you can afford new one. That's the expensive part IMO.
    Trail & error after that ???? good luck yall

  14. Taylor Aug 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    How do you guys mount your food truck equipment? Like freezers and stuff to the wall.

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