Buying Guide: Commercial Sandwich Prep Refrigeration

Buying Guide: Commercial Sandwich Prep Refrigeration

The sandwich prep unit is a versatile refrigeration unit that is an important investment for any kitchen preparing sandwiches, salads or any other food that requires cold, prepped ingredients to be added to the recipe. It allows you to move down a prep line and add the ingredients as you go! Once you've decided that a sandwich prep unit is essential for your kitchen, you might quickly become overwhelmed with the choices you face before making your decision. We'll try to highlight a few key options and help explain the benefits of each.

Pizza Prep Table or Sandwich Prep Table

Sandwich prep tables and pizza prep tables look very similar. In fact, they perform what is essentially the same task: allow you to move down a line and add cold ingredients to your product. However, there are some differences between the two.Raise Rail Example

  • Raised Rails - Pizza prep units top section that houses the pans is raised. The ingredients sit a couple inches above the cutting board, for less mess when assembling pizzas.
  • Standard Pan Size - In general, pizza prep tables are made for ⅓ size pans along the top, whereas sandwich prep units are made for ⅙ size pans. On both, you can switch the pans out with whichever size you need. Some manufacturers will include pans with your new unit. Others will not. Check carefully when making your purchase.
  • Cutting Board - The cutting board on the pizza prep tables is a little thicker. 

Besides those few minor differences, they are essentially the same unit. If you’re looking for something specific with your sandwich unit, and can’t find it, you might check the pizza prep tables and see if they’ll work for you.

Standard Top vs. Mega Top Sandwich Prep Refrigeration

Sandwich prep refrigeration units are available in two sizes: standard top and mega top. You’ll find the standard and mega top options available in the same widths. The difference is in the number of pans the top can store.  The mega top unit will obviously hold more pans, but how does it fit a greater quantity of pans, but still remain the same width? The secret is in the height and depth! Mega-top units are a bit deeper and a bit taller. This way, it fits more pans in the top and also allows for more storage in the refrigerated base. You’ll sacrifice a little work space, but you’ll have more storage. Both standard and mega top units include a cutting board, the size depends on the manufacturer.

Pan Capacity

Pan SizeThe choice between standard and mega top may in fact be dictated by the number of pans you plan to use and the amount of space you have. All commercial sandwich prep refrigerators will be quoted with a pan storage capacity. The pans they are referring to are 1/6th size pans. (Those are the small pans that are 4"x 4".) Some units will come with the required number of pans, others won’t, but you are able to change them out with whichever size pans works best for you.

Section Selection: Doors or Drawers?

Both standard and mega tops are available in one, two or three sections. Each section is available with either a door or 2 drawers. You can find most any combination of doors and drawers you need. Note: the drawers do not come with a bottom. They include slides and rails and are designed to be used with whichever size pans are most convenient for your situation.

Whether to go with doors or drawers will depend on your products and the space you have available. Doors may offer a more flexible storage space behind them. Drawers may be quicker to find what you’re looking for during the busiest times. No matter which option you choose, measure the space you have and make sure to include room to open the doors or drawers!

Operating Costs

Dollar SignTo save money in operating costs, look for a unit that is Energy Star rated. They might be a little more expensive up front, but it will save you money long term and is better for the environment. Finally, check out the warranty. Some are 3 years parts and labor, but some are longer, up to 5 years parts and labor, and the warranty on the compressor is usually warranted for longer. Buying used might save some money up front, but without the warranty, it could cost you far more in the long run.

Optional Sandwich Prep Features


For easier cleaning and sanitizing, casters are highly recommended, and are usually part of the standard package. Not only do they allow for mobility, more health departments are strongly recommending them. Think of all of the small pieces of food that can be dropped when preparing your dish. Being able to pull the unit away from the wall would be very helpful! If you prefer legs, those are usually available as an alternative option.