Can food trucks operate without having ovens? Here is everything you need to know about food trucks oven, the best oven options in the market and their cost.
Do food trucks have ovens? Sure, they all do. Food truck owners can even choose between gas and electrical oven. For instance, if the truck is consistently parked in a location where an electrical outlet is available, or even with a generator, an electrical oven will work fine.
But most trucks these days use gas for stove top and oven because they are much more portable and easy to fill. That also gives more versatility down the road.
Food trucks are essentially restaurants on wheels. It means they need all the areas a restaurant has — dry storage, cold storage, prep, cook line, hot and cold food holding, staging, service, cashier, dishwashing and janitorial — all in a very compact space.
Since they are mobile, food trucks are expected to be self-contained. They carry their own water supply, utilities and infrastructure — plumbing, wiring, HVAC, gas lines, and safety systems. And, like a brick-and-mortar restaurant, food trucks have to meet local codes and standards.
If you will be selling sandwiches and burgers, then you need a griddle or char broiler, and probably a fryer. Selling pizza? Obviously, an oven —wood-fired, deck or conveyor — with a refrigerated pizza prep table. That is why it is very necessary you think through your concept, menu and operation procedures carefully before you select an equipment.
Fryers, for example, are very dangerous in mobile kitchens and often require special safety measures to prevent grease spills and/or fires. You may decide a small portable oven is a better choice to prepare “fried” foods. You must know your menu to project the volume of sales you need to make a profit which will determine the size of the oven you can build.
However, note that the size of your mobile kitchen will need to also be considered when determine how large your oven you can be.
Along with the space is the venting, which can be expensive for a wood – burning oven. In some cases, the venting can cost more than the oven. You will have to analyze the cost of cleaning hoods and ducts, which is critical for fire prevention within your food truck.
Choosing the Best Oven for a Food Truck
Considering space, efficiency and menu variety, there are three types of ovens that work best for a food truck. If you have decided to make an oven a part of your mobile kitchen, below are the top three to consider.
a. Cook and Hold Oven
These ovens use low and slow heat to cook foods like shredded chicken, roast beef and even baked foods like cheesecake. Immediately the food is ready, it can be held for long periods at the proper temperature without overcooking.
As a food truck operator, it is important you earn every dollar and a cook and hold oven can help you do that in three ways.
First, you can get a fan-less technology because this type of oven doesn’t dry out your food the way conventional cooking can. Secondly, with 18 percent less meat shrinkage, you’ll earn greater yield because the slow and low method naturally tenderizes meat so you can make the most of less expensive cuts.
Thirdly you can get cook and hold ovens that don’t require water or ventilation to operate. You’ll save on hood space and utilities. What’s more, cook and hold ovens are so energy efficient, they can run on $1-2 of electricity per day. And with programmable controls that can store several recipes, operating it couldn’t be easier.
b. Multi – Cook Oven
This oven is still new in the oven market. It allows you to cook four different menu items at once with no flavour transfer.
Separate chambers can be set at different temperatures, cook times and fan speeds to maximize efficiency. All within one unit, for instance, you could cook eggs, bacon, biscuits and sausage in individual chambers for quick and efficient breakfast sandwiches.
Then with a second batch of hash browns, cinnamon rolls, bagels and turnovers, you can create an entire menu in minutes. Note that this isn’t limited to just breakfast food — you can cook burgers, chicken, hot dogs, French fries, flatbreads and more in the same oven.
With the combination of high – velocity air flow and not having to rotate pans means you can cook two times the food in the same time. Additionally, its small footprint is ideal for space starved food trucks. It is also a vent-less countertop oven that doesn’t need water to operate — no need for a kitchen hood, plumbing or water filtration.
c. Smoker Oven
A smoker oven also works like a cook and hold – with the addition of smoking capabilities. A smoker oven allows you to add new flavours to your menu. With this oven you can hot smoke chicken, beef, pork and more. Or try cold smoking cheese, veggies and more.
Note that immediately after smoking; the oven automatically switches to holding. The flavour comes from real wood chips like hickory and apple that allow you to create different flavour profiles.
It is always hard to design a food truck layout or even determine the size of the truck you need without first figuring out what equipment you need for your truck concept and operation. Immediately you have the basics, food truck manufacturers are experts at helping you analyze how large your truck should be and the most efficient layout.
However, ensure coolers, refrigerators, or freezers are bolted strongly in place for safety. They should also have proper ventilation and electrical outlets.
The same is true for your commercial ovens, grills, and deep fat fryers. Space, utility costs and volume are essential when operating a food truck. By choosing the right oven and equipment, you can maximize your investment for years to come.