What’s inside this buyer’s guide
- What is a pizza prep fridge?
- Sandwich/salad prep table vs. pizza prep table
- How to choose a pizza prep fridge?
- Pizza prep fridge sizes
- Pizza prep fridge refrigeration types
- Features to consider
- Other purchase considerations
- Best pizza prep fridges
- Used pizza prep fridges – worth considering?
- Frequently asked questions
- Pizza prep fridge glossary
- Keep your cash, use ours!
Pizza is not just a meal; it's a shared experience that has found a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders.
From Auckland's urban buzz to Queenstown's adventurous spirit, the love for pizza transcends boundaries.
A pizza prep fridge is an essential appliance for any pizzeria or restaurant offering pizza.
It's the behind-the-scenes powerhouse that streamlines pizza operations, boosting both efficiency and quality.
In our pizza prep fridge buying guide, we're going to explore the intricate details of these specialized fridges, examine various cooling methods, highlight must-have features, and introduce top brands.
Our goal is to equip you with a well-rounded understanding so that you can select the best pizza prep fridge tailored to your business's unique needs.
What is a pizza prep fridge?
A pizza prep fridge is a versatile appliance that integrates three distinct sections, each designed to streamline the process of pizza preparation.
The top section features refrigerated wells for storing pizza toppings for easy access.
This is followed by a spacious worktop that provides ample room for pizza assembly.
Lastly, a refrigerated base that allows you to keep pizza dough, additional topping pans, and other necessary ingredients handy.
While their name suggests a specific use, pizza prep fridges are incredibly adaptable.
They can be utilised for everything from sandwich and salad preparation to crafting burgers and burritos, and even perfecting your other signature dishes.
Sandwich/salad prep table vs. pizza prep table
The main distinction between a sandwich or salad prep table and a pizza prep table lies in the size of the accompanying worktop.
The preparation of sandwiches or salads requires less table area than that of a family-sized pizza.
Consequently, the table space on a sandwich or salad prep table is narrower than that on a pizza prep model.
Another notable difference is the configuration of the top storage wells.
Sandwich prep tables typically accommodate 1/6 size food pans, while pizza prep tables often feature a raised pan rail designed to hold 1/3 size food pans.
However, it may differ according to the make and model.
How to choose a pizza prep fridge?
The process of pinpointing the perfect pizza prep fridge involves a thoughtful analysis of several factors:
Measure your space
Prior to investing in a pizza prep fridge, it's crucial to ascertain that your kitchen has the necessary room to accommodate it.
The dimensions of the appliance not only influence its storage capacity but also affect the operational dynamics of your kitchen.
An excessively large prep fridge can obstruct kitchen activities, while a too-small unit may fall short of fulfilling your storage and preparation demands.
When evaluating your space, take into consideration any fixtures that might interfere with the appliance's positioning.
Assess if an additional power point is required for the appliance.
The majority of pizza prep fridges are plug-and-play units and are equipped with a standard 3-prong plug compatible with a typical electrical socket.
Moreover, it's advisable to avoid situating your pizza prep fridge near high heat-generating appliances, such as ovens or cooking ranges.
A pizza prep fridge will necessitate additional clearance on the sides or rear, depending on its design.
The positioning of the air inlets and exhaust determines whether the refrigerator is front breathing or side/rear breathing.
Front breathing models, with their air exhaust and inlets at the front, can function efficiently with minimal side or rear clearance.
Conversely, side/rear breathing models, with exhausts and inlets located at the side or back of the unit, require more side/rear clearance for optimal operation.
Therefore, when deciding on the fridge size, clearance should be factored into your decision.
Consider the volume
The daily throughput of food in your kitchen is another key consideration.
The number of patrons you cater to, the variety of meals you serve, and the number of staff members using the prep fridge simultaneously should all be taken into account when determining the size and capacity.
If several employees need to utilise the prep table concurrently during peak hours, larger three or four-door prep fridges may be more suitable.
Find out your storage needs
Reflect on the type of inventory you plan to store in the unit.
Will it be used solely for pizza dough and fresh toppings, or will it also accommodate meat and other ingredients?
Understanding your inventory can guide you towards the most suitable fridge for your needs.
Your goal should be to find a prep fridge that maintains an appropriate temperature range for the items you intend to store.
Pizza prep table refrigerators typically maintain a temperature range between 0.5°C to 5°C.
Some premium models offer adjustable controls, allowing you to customise the temperature based on the items stored.
Pizza prep fridge sizes
Pizza prep fridges are available in different sizes to meet the unique requirements of different food services.
They typically range from 914mm (36”) to 3023mm (119”) in width. However, it can vary according to the make and model.
The appropriate size of the pizza prep fridge for your needs hinges on the scale of your operation, the volume of your service, and the quantity of ingredients you need to store.
The 914mm models, being compact, are apt for smaller businesses, while the 3023mm models are predominantly used in larger pizzerias.
Pizza prep counter fridges of 1168mm (46”), 1524mm (60”), and 2362mm (93”) are more prevalent in larger food service establishments.
Based on the unit's width, the refrigerator can feature one, two, three, or four doors but it may differ from brand to brand.
Single door prep fridges: Typically, units that are 1219mm (48”) or less in width feature a single door.
Double door prep fridges: Models that are approximately 1524mm (60”) to 1829mm (72”) in width usually have two doors.
Three door prep fridges: Pizza prep units that fall in the range of 2363mm (93”) to 2896mm (114”) in width generally feature three doors.
Four door prep fridges: Pizza prep counter fridges that are 2896mm (114”) or more in width typically come with four doors, offering maximum refrigerated storage space.
Pizza prep fridge refrigeration types
Pizza prep table refrigerators are engineered to consistently maintain a cool temperature in both, the base storage area and the raised rail.
The minimum requirement for any model is that the unit should maintain product temperatures of 5°C or below when the doors are closed and the pan lid is in place.
Even with the pan lid off, the unit should be capable of keeping the products in the rail at 5°C or below for a certain period.
Pizza prep table refrigerators employ different cooling techniques.
Unified Cooling System
Certain models utilise a unified cooling system for both the base and the rail.
This can result in two potential problems.
Firstly, when the pan lids are not in place, the compressor might have to operate more often to balance the loss of cold air through the rail, which could inadvertently lead to the freezing of items in the base.
Secondly, there's a risk of food from the pans in the rail dropping into the base, which would require more intense cleaning.
Some pizza prep table refrigerators employ conventional refrigeration methods for the base storage and utilise cold-wall cooling for the rail.
This is achieved by running refrigerant lines within the walls that encircle the pan rails, thereby ensuring the temperature of the pans is maintained.
The rail area is effectively isolated from the base, which aids in preventing spills and simplifies the cleaning process.
These models are equipped with distinct temperature controls for the two sections.
The benefit here is that the temperature of the rail can be managed independently, enabling it to be defrosted and powered down overnight, resulting in energy conservation.
However, if you intend to power down the rail overnight for saving electricity, the items in the rail must be removed and stored elsewhere.
Pizza fridges that utilise forced-air cooling generally feature separate temperature controls for the refrigerated base and the upper rail.
Fans and/or air ducts are strategically positioned to circulate air over, around, and beneath the pans situated in the rail, ensuring the ingredients are kept at the optimal temperature.
The enclosed rail also prevents food from spilling into the base.
This configuration cools the food pans by circulating a chilled fluid through the divider rails.
This eliminates the need for a defrost cycle, thereby conserving energy.
The rail area is isolated from the base, which assists in maintaining a steady rail temperature and avoids cross-contamination.
The temperature of the coolant remains stable, and there are no concerns related to the frosting of the refrigerant lines.
This type of system can house deeper pans compared to other designs.
Features to consider
Identifying the correct pan specifications is crucial to finding the ideal solution for your business.
Factors such as the number of pans, pan capacity, and lid style should all be taken into account when narrowing down your options.
Various pizza prep table models are engineered to accommodate different numbers of pans on the top rail.
The variety of ingredients you need readily accessible will dictate the appropriate number of pans.
While the standard pan size for pizza prep fridges is a 1/3 size food pan, it can differ across brands and models.
Some pizza prep refrigerator models might offer only one pan configuration per size.
It's important to verify the pan capacity for a specific model before making a purchase.
If you're using Gastronorm (GN) pans in your establishment, ensure the appliance you’re ordering is GN compatible.
Pizza prep fridges typically feature insulated stainless steel lids over the top wells.
However, clear perspex lids offer greater visual appeal and allow you to inspect the stored ingredients without opening them.
Stainless steel lids are easier to clean and are often favoured for their superior insulation and durability.
The worktop is a key feature of a prep fridge.
In a pizza prep unit, the worktop or prep area should be large enough to accommodate the biggest pizza you serve.
Typically, the worktop area is either stainless steel or marble.
A removable cutting board that can be mounted on the worktop is present in some models.
Often these cutting boards are made of HDPE or nylon.
The effectiveness of any refrigeration system hinges on its compressor, and pizza prep fridges are no different.
A more robust compressor will offer greater cooling capacity.
However, it will also draw more power.
The efficiency and horsepower of the motor are two factors you need to consider before settling on a model.
The horsepower of a pizza prep fridge is dependent on the capacity, brand, and model of the appliance.
In pizza fridges, the compressor is typically located on the right/left side or at the bottom of the unit.
Depending on your kitchen's layout, available space, and proximity to other appliances, you can select the appropriate compressor mount style.
The defrost system is designed to prevent frost accumulation in the unit, ensuring optimal performance of the cooling mechanism.
Pizza prep counter fridges typically feature either a programmed defrost or an adaptive defrost system.
Programmed defrost operates by initiating the defrost cycle at pre-set intervals for a specific duration.
If the frosting condition in the unit changes due to variations in storage or ambient temperature, the defrost cycle might not initiate exactly when needed or might run for a shorter duration than necessary.
An adaptive defrost system adjusts to the conditions, automatically activating when frost build-up is detected.
This mechanism addresses the limitations of a programmed defrost system and is more suitable for commercial environments.
Doors and drawers
Pizza prep fridges are available with either doors, drawers, or a mix of the two.
The number of doors or drawers is contingent on the unit's dimensions.
Units with doors
These resemble conventional reach-in fridges, offering storage racks and ample storage space.
Units with drawers
Drawers facilitate easy access to the stored trays and pans of food, as the containers are spread out when the drawer is extended.
However, this design offers less storage space compared to the door variants.
Units with doors and drawers
These units feature a mix of doors and drawers, optimising space usage while providing the advantages of both styles in a single unit.
The items stored in the top wells of a pizza prep station are subject to environmental exposure and have a higher spoilage risk.
Cooling solely from the bottom can result in a temperature disparity between the bottom and top of the pans, which can compromise the quality and freshness of the ingredients.
To address this issue, double airflow, a sophisticated cooling technique, has been developed by leading prep fridge manufacturers.
In this system, the pans are cooled from below, while cool air is circulated over their open tops, ensuring that food-safe temperatures are upheld throughout the top wells.
Double airflow extends the freshness of ingredients in the open wells.
The ambient temperature refers to the temperature of the immediate surroundings where the pizza prep fridge is located.
This factor is critical when purchasing a commercial pizza prep fridge as it can greatly influence the unit's efficiency and performance.
Pizza prep counter fridges are engineered to function optimally within a specific ambient temperature range.
If the ambient temperature is excessively high, the fridge may struggle to maintain the desired internal temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and potential food safety concerns.
Conversely, if the ambient temperature is excessively low, the fridge may not operate correctly, resulting in unnecessary energy consumption and potential damage to the fridge.
A commercial kitchen equipped with a pizza oven or other high-heat-producing appliances will have a higher ambient temperature.
Significant outdoor temperature fluctuations across different seasons should also be taken into account.
Some premium pizza prep fridges offer an extended ambient temperature range, such as between 5°C and 43°C.
Other purchase considerations
Ease of cleaning
Maintaining the cleanliness of your pizza prep table refrigerator requires a comprehensive daily cleaning regimen.
Prior to purchasing a unit, it's vital to ensure that the cleaning process is straightforward and won't demand an undue amount of time.
Pizza fridges equipped with casters allow for easy manoeuvrability, facilitating cleaning around the unit, which can become messy during pizza preparation.
Key factors to consider include the simplicity of pan removal, the accessibility of the area beneath the cutting board, the ease of cleaning the well beneath the pans, whether the pan well is sealed from the storage underneath to facilitate cleaning in the event of food spills, and whether the work surface is welded and features rounded corners to prevent food from becoming lodged.
Regular upkeep of your pizza prep refrigerator is crucial to guarantee its durability and peak performance.
All surfaces that come into contact with food should be cleaned daily.
After each batch, clean the prep area with a dry, clean cloth.
Clean nylon or marble surfaces frequently with soapy water.
If the cutting board begins to show signs of wear, replace it.
Furthermore, establish a routine of dusting the compressor at least once a week.
This is necessary to eliminate any fine food particles that may have been drawn in with the airflow and become lodged in the compressor.
In the rare case that the pizza prep table refrigerator begins to malfunction, you'll want to ensure that the problem is resolved promptly and with minimal disruption to your business.
Therefore, before finalising an order, verify whether the unit you're considering can be inspected and repaired onsite in the event of a malfunction, or if it will need to be taken elsewhere.
It's also crucial to understand the terms of the manufacturer's warranty, including whether it covers a technician's visit, how promptly a technician will arrive to assist, how to submit a service request if necessary, and the expected response time.
Best pizza prep fridges
For over a decade and a half, Polar Refrigeration has made its mark on the global stage, providing the commercial catering sector with top-notch products.
Known for its wide array of quality offerings and budget-friendly pricing, Polar has become synonymous with excellence, resilience, and energy conservation, particularly in the realm of pizza prep counter fridges.
When it comes to crafting scrumptious, fresh pizzas, Polar pizza prep fridges are meticulously designed to excel.
They feature forced air cooling technology to guarantee uniform temperature control within the appliance.
The automatic defrost feature eliminates ice accumulation, enhancing the energy efficiency of the fridge, while the stainless steel build, complemented by GN-compatible shelving, facilitates effortless usage and maintenance.
Polar G-series pizza prep counter fridges, 254ltr and 390ltr, featuring two and three doors respectively with a wide worktop area, are popular for their versatility and sturdy construction.
These models come with solid self-closing doors, digital temperature controls and have a maximum ambient temperature of 38°C.
Check out more Polar pizza prep fridges here.
Thermaster, a brand synonymous with quality and innovation, has been a prominent name in the commercial refrigeration landscape.
Thermaster has introduced a series of pizza prep fridges that are popular across pizzerias and restaurants in New Zealand.
Thermaster PPB/15 two-door deluxe pizza prep bench and PPB/18 two large-door deluxe pizza prep bench stand out for their design and functionality.
These units are engineered with precision, offering a temperature-controlled environment that ensures the freshness of ingredients.
The Thermaster TPB series of pizza prep fridges, TPB 1200 and TPB 1800 are the other popular models. They are ideal for daily commercial use in demanding environments.
These models come with a powerful compressor, auto defrost and have a maximum ambient temperature of 32°C.
Skope refrigeration, a leading name in commercial refrigeration, has been a hallmark of innovation and quality in New Zealand.
With a rich history of over 50 years, Skope has been at the forefront of refrigeration technology, crafting products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Their pizza prep fridges offer a blend of cutting-edge technology and practical design.
Among Skope's top models, the ReFlex series stands out.
The ReFlex 2 solid door and ReFlex 3 solid door GN-compatible pizza preparation fridges known for their durability and energy efficiency are particularly popular.
These pizza prep refrigerators feature the award-winning ReFlex technology ensuring food safety.
Skope's commitment to quality is further reflected in their 3-year warranty on these models.
The Pegasus series PG800 3 solid door pizza fridge designed to fit 2/1 gastronorm trays featuring perspex lids, is another model businesses rely on.
Check out more Skope pizza prep fridges here.
Federal Hospitality Equipment (F.E.D.) is an Australian-owned brand that has been a prominent figure in the commercial catering industry for decades.
Supplying and servicing both New Zealand and Australia, FED has become synonymous with quality and reliability.
FED's pizza prep fridges are engineered to meet the demands of modern pizzerias and restaurants.
Their design emphasises energy efficiency, durability, and user-friendly features.
From automatic defrost systems that prevent ice build-up to stainless steel construction that ensures easy cleaning.
In New Zealand, FED's PWB pizza prep fridges are regarded for their innovative features and robust performance.
PWB200 and PWB180 three-door deluxe pizza prep fridges featuring German ËBM-Pabst fans and Secop compressors are popular in high-demand professional food establishments.
The PWB150 three-door model is a more compact variant with a width of 1500mm, ideal for kitchens where space is at a premium.
Check out more FED PWB pizza prep fridges here.
Used pizza prep fridges — worth considering?
Spending thousands of dollars on a new pizza prep fridge can put a strain on your budget and cash flow.
If you’d prefer not to invest a lot of money in a new pizza prep refrigerator, a cheaper, second hand pizza prep fridge might be the solution you’re looking for.
SilverChef’s range of ‘Certified Used’ commercial kitchen equipment is mostly ex-rental equipment sourced from businesses we know and trust.
The equipment is typically less than two-and-a-half years old, has been fully refurbished by us, and is backed by a three-month parts-and-labour warranty.
Considering the effective, or useful, life of a pizza prep fridge is much longer, you can be sure our Certified Used commercial pizza prep fridges have plenty of life left in it.
You can either buy or finance the ‘Certified Used’ (and clearance) equipment on our website. (We’re one of the few financiers, if not the only one, in New Zealand that funds second-hand commercial kitchen equipment).
Read more about ‘Certified Used’ equipment
Frequently asked questions
What is the best pizza prep fridge for my business?
The "best" pizza prep fridge will vary based on your business’s specific needs, but brands like Polar, Skope, and Thermaster are often recognised for their superior quality and performance.
Polar is globally renowned for its robust and efficient refrigeration solutions.
Skope is highly regarded for its reliable and versatile commercial refrigeration products, including Skope pizza prep fridges.
Thermaster pizza prep fridges, on the other hand, are known for their innovative designs and longevity.
It's always advisable to compare different brands and consult with industry experts to make an informed decision that best suits your business needs.
Where can I find a second hand pizza prep fridge?
Finding a second hand pizza prep fridge can be a cost-effective solution for your business.
Various online platforms offer a wide range of second hand commercial kitchen appliances, including pizza fridges.
Local classifieds and restaurant equipment auctions can also be excellent sources for finding used equipment.
However, it's important to inspect the condition and functionality of the fridge before making a purchase.
If you are looking for an authentic source for second hand pizza prep fridges, check out the collection on .
SilverChef offers certified second hand pizza prep fridges for sale and also on easy weekly rent.
What are the energy efficiency considerations when buying a pizza prep fridge?
When purchasing a pizza prep fridge, energy efficiency is a key consideration.
An energy-efficient pizza prep fridge not only reduces your establishment's carbon footprint but also results in significant cost savings over time.
Check for Energy Rating labels as applicable to your model.
Some commercial pizza prep fridges feature energy-saving designs, such as double airflow, which keeps ingredients fresh and reduces energy consumption.
Good insulation is also crucial for maintaining temperature and reducing energy use.
Models with adaptive defrost systems can automatically manage ice build-up, leading to energy savings.
Pizza prep fridge glossary
The condenser is a component of the fridge where the heated, compressed refrigerant dispels its heat into the surrounding environment, subsequently cooling down and transforming into a high-pressure liquid.
This is a feature found in some pizza prep fridges that displays the current temperature and other operational settings.
It facilitates easy tracking and modification of the fridge's functioning.
The defrost cycle is an inbuilt function that periodically heats the cooling element of the appliance to melt any frost or ice that has formed.
This is the part where the refrigerant takes in heat from the fridge's interior and evaporates, thereby cooling the inside.
In a pizza prep fridge, the evaporator aids in maintaining the temperature in the food pans and the refrigerated base.
Energy star rating
It is a certification that is given to appliances that meet particular energy efficiency standards.
Appliances with this rating consume less energy, leading to cost savings.
Gastronorm / GN pans
These are standardised food trays used in professional culinary settings.
Their standardised measurements enable simple replacement and optimal management of space.
This is the seal around the door of the refrigerator.
It stops the cold air from leaking out and the warm air from getting in, thereby maintaining the unit's efficiency.
This refers to the material used in the doors, walls, and lids of the pizza prep fridge to minimise heat transfer and maintain the right temperatures.
Effective insulation enhances energy efficiency.
This is a type of high-density foam insulation used in pizza fridges.
It offers superb thermal resistance, helping to uphold the right temperatures and improving energy efficiency.
This is a device that controls the temperature of the fridge by managing the refrigeration cycle.
It ensures that the unit maintains the temperature set by the user.
Keep your cash. Use ours!
We hope this guide has helped you better understand what you need to look for in a pizza prep refrigerator and how to choose the right model for your needs. If you want to know more, you can always reach out to the SilverChef team.
Hospitality equipment can be expensive and paying for it outright can put pressure on your business’s cash flow.
Our finance solutions allow you to get the equipment you want now and to pay for it in small, regular amounts out of the revenue it generates for you.
Rent–Try–Buy® not only helps you maintain your cash flow, it gives you unrivalled flexibility to adapt your equipment to the changing needs of your business.
You can upgrade or buy the equipment at any time or, after 12 months, return or continue renting it.
If you decide to buy the equipment, we’ll give you back 50% of the rent you paid in the first year and 25% of any rental payments thereafter — to put toward the purchase price.
Read more about Rent–Try–Buy.