Choosing the right refrigerator prep table for your food business may seem like quite a challenge. There are vast varieties of prep refrigerators in different sizes, cooling and storage capacity available in the market, so how do you choose the right one?

A refrigerator prep table or a makeline is a special kind of cooling unit that helps chefs in hotels and professional kitchens prepare pizzas, salads and sandwiches and over the counter service. 

Prep refrigerators combine the efficiency of a refrigerator unit at the bottom with a prep and service counter on top which helps you keep all your ingredients handy and easy to reach.

Adjustable controls are available on some units providing you multiple temperatures in one  unit, so you can store different ingredients at different temperatures.

Refrigerated prep tables available in the market  are mostly similar but with a few key differences. Let’s go through some of these details to help you make an informed choice.


These refrigerated makelines are wide enough to store ingredients for salads and subs but shallower than pizza tables as they’re specifically designed for sandwich bread. and have a smaller surface area for prepping food. 

Sandwich and salad prep tables have smaller pans and cutting boards as well, which are ideal for making subs and salads as compared to it’s pizza counterparts. There are a variety of pan configurations available for sandwich and salad prep refrigerators. Each table size may come with a variety of pan layouts and capacities to pick from and come with insulated hoods to keep food cold and maintain freshness.


Refrigerated prep tables for pizza are wider and have a bigger surface area. A pizza makeline is designed to have a refrigerated storage area that retains ideal temperatures for pizza toppings and condiments during long service hours, even with the top open.

They come with bigger pans as well which make toppings like cheese, veggies and sauces easily and quickly accessible. Pizza prep tables come with bigger cutting boards that can accommodate large pizzas.

Now that you’re familiar with the types of refrigerated prep tables available for your food business, here are some key points to consider before you purchase one.

Cooling Process

Prep refrigerated counters offer three kinds of inbuilt cooling technology, each suitable for different food prep requirements.

Air-cooled prep tables are a popular choice for many new users. This method uses a fan to blow cold air on the pans. Simple and easy to use, air-cooled prep refrigerators are low maintenance yet powerful.

The cold wall method uses conduction via copper wires that run through the refrigeration unit and pan rails to evenly distribute cool air and maintain consistency of temperatures. Cold walls help you control the temperature of the pans and the base refrigerator as well, is economical and saves energy.

Liquid Cooling technology is a relatively new refrigeration system. It works by circulating cold liquid like Glycol through the walls of the makeline and the pan rails. An expensive but power-saving cooling system, the liquid cooling method is consistent with temperature control.

Size of the unit

If you work in a large, fast-paced kitchen where orders keep rushing in, you will require a bigger prep refrigeration unit to handle the volume of pizzas, salads or sandwiches that need to be made. With a larger unit, you will enjoy the extra storage in the bottom refrigerators, more pans and bigger prep counters. 

On the other hand, a smaller prep table may not have as much storage capacity but its compact size and design make them a handy and efficient addition to a smaller kitchen.

Doors and Drawers

Lastly, you need to consider whether your prep table’s bottom refrigerator unit needs doors or drawers. 

Prep table doors are quite similar to reach-in refrigerators. Your choice here depends on the space available and the number of people working in the kitchen. Prep refrigerator doors close automatically, have good storage capacity and are easier to work within busy spaces. 

Refrigerator units with drawers on the other hand usually have less refrigeration capacity but are designed to hold pans with prepped food easily. However, they take up a lot of space and make movement tough in a kitchen.

So now that you have all the facts, which refrigerated prep table are you choosing for your next big food business idea? 

Elanpro offers top of the line refrigerated prep tables, salad counters and hotel makelines for all your professional kitchen needs. Get in touch with us for premium quality commercial refrigeration and service.

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