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Essential Butcher Shop Equipment List: Equipment Needed to Start a Butcher Shop

Tyler MartinezAuthor

Essential Butcher Shop Equipment List (Appliances, Tools, Essentials)

While butchers of old may have used just a cleaver, a knife, and a chopping block, getting together your modern butcher shop equipment requires a more serious investment. You’ll need the equipment to break down whole animals. You’ll also need to be able to store meat safely and present it effectively to your customers. 

So, what equipment do you need to open a butcher shop? Because your equipment is a sizeable part of your operating costs, a crucial part of your butcher shop business plan is going to be listing what you need and pricing it out accurately. 

In this article, you’ll get to know:

  • The essential equipment needed for a butcher shop

  • How much this equipment can cost

  • How to choose the best equipment for your needs

What Equipment Do You Need for a Butcher Shop?

If you have experience in the butchery trade, you’ll already know that there’s a lot more equipment needed to run a shop than a great knife. While meat cutting is one aspect of this business, the other is becoming a retailer and that means you’ll need a lot more equipment to run a shop. Here’s a list of the most common items butcher shops need:

Technology/Point of Sale

Meat Preparation

  • Meat mincer/grinder

  • Meat slicer

  • Meat saw

  • Tenderizer

  • Dicer

  • Meat mixer

  • Burger press

  • Sausage filler

  • Knives

  • Cleavers

  • Scissors

  • Sharpeners

  • Carving forks

  • Other utensils

  • Stainless steel tables

  • Cutting boards

  • Cutting gloves

  • Scales

Other Equipment Needed to Run a Butcher Store

  • Walk-in fridge

  • Freezers

  • Display cases

  • Refrigerated display cases

  • Shelves

  • Vacuum packing machine

  • Overwrap machine

  • Meat thermometers

  • Cooking equipment

  • Personal protective equipment

  • Cleaning equipment

  • Sinks

  • Dishwasher

Ultimate Equipment List for Butcher Shop

1. Point of sale system (POS)

You’ll need an efficient way to ring up sales and manage customer payments. New digital systems with touchscreens have become the industry standard for their convenience and clarity. They can also help you create and print stock-keeping units (SKUs) to keep track of your inventory and make pricing a snap.

2. Kitchen display system (KDS)

You may also need an ordering system to communicate with your staff cutting and prepping orders in the back. A KDS can be adapted to communicate orders from the front-of-house to the back-of-house in any operation. These systems use large screens, images, and clear messages to get orders filled quickly and correctly.

3. CCTV system

Most businesses these days are taking advantage of the decreasing price of security cameras, thanks in large part to Wi-Fi technology. A CCTV system helps deter criminals but can also be useful for monitoring daily operations in your shop.

4. Meat preparation machines

The core of a butcher shop is preparing meat that might be sold raw, partially cooked, or fully cooked. To do this, you might need:

Meat mincer/grinder

If you’re going to make items like burgers and sausages, you’ll need an industrial meat grinder that can turn whole meat and trimmings into mince in seconds. Choose a machine with an appropriate capacity for the output you hope to produce.

Meat mixer

Burgers and sausages need other ingredients mixed in. An industrial meat mixer can do this for you with powerful mixing arms and capacities from 20-70 pounds.

Meat slicer

Whether you’re preparing slices of raw bacon or cooked meats, every butcher shop needs an excellent slicer. Look for a machine that’s easily and quickly adjustable and provides precise thickness. Slicers should also have excellent safety features to help prevent accidents in the shop. 

Meat saw

A commercial meat bandsaw is going to be your go-to machine for cutting steaks and chops. To make cuts efficient even through frozen meat and bone, look for a machine with a powerful motor. Safe operation, easy clean-up, and a sturdy mounting stand are also essential in a good meat saw.

Tenderizer

An industrial tenderizer makes thousands of tiny cuts into meat slices using an array of needles that stamps the meat. Again, your priorities here should be efficient operation, safety, and easy clean-up.

Dicer

Rather than dicing meat by hand, you may want to use a dicing machine. These units are designed to dice frozen, raw, or cooked meat, including chicken on the bone. A great machine will be hygienic and easy to clean. It will also handle 2D dicing with an adjustable grid and 3D slicing to create perfect cubes.

5. Burger press

Burger presses are simple machines that press ground into patties. They can be manual with a pull-down handle or automatic with a press and conveyor belt feature, depending on your production needs.

6. Sausage filler

While some sausage fillers are manual, most butcher shops will opt for either hydraulic or vacuum-powered machines to speed the process along. Look for a machine that’s quick to load and easy to take apart and clean.

7. Utensils

Knives

Butchers need good steel. You’ll need an array of traditional butcher knives as well as carving, boning, paring, fillet, and steak knives to do the job right. Look for quality stainless or carbon steel that holds a great edge that needs minimal sharpening.

Cleavers

Chopping through thick meat and bone requires cleavers that are strong, heavy, and frighteningly sharp. 

Scissors

You’ll need smaller scissors up to powerful shears to take apart poultry, meat, and fish. Look for scissors that won’t rust and which stay sharp as long as possible.

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Carving forks and other utensils

All butcher shops need an assortment of other utensils like carving forks, spoons, spatulas, skewers, and more.

Sharpeners

You’ll need steels to keep your knives and cleavers sharp continuously and whetstones to fix their edges on a regular basis. Larger operations should invest in electric knife sharpeners that save a lot of time.

8. Cutting equipment

Stainless steel tables

You’ll need tables to break down whole carcasses and for de-boning. Choose a combination of stainless surfaces and stainless tables with built-in blocks.

Cutting boards

Wooden or bamboo cutting boards and blocks take a lot of punishment and will need to be replaced frequently.

Cutting gloves

You’ll need metal mesh cutting gloves for all of your meat cutters. These gloves protect them from costly accidents that can shut down your production.

9. Scales

Butcher shops sell nearly everything by weight so you’ll need an assortment of scales in the back and front-of-house. Look for durable scales that are precise and easy to clean.

10. Storage units

Walk-in fridge

One of your biggest investments will be a walk-in fridge for storing meat, hanging meat to cure, and storing other ingredients. Choose a pre-fab or built-in unit that has a great efficiency rating and the capacity you need.

Freezers

Great freezers are essential to keep meat safe for consumption. You may choose several chest freezers or even a walk-in unit for a larger butcher shop. Again, look at efficiency and capacity as your most important selection factors.

11. Display equipment

Refrigerated display cases

Display cases in your front of house need to store your products and also make them look attractive. In most cases, they’ll require refrigeration to keep products at a safe temperature and ensure their longevity. These should be efficient and also easy to keep spotless at all times.

Shelves

Your shop will need wall or stand-alone shelving units to display your wares. Make sure these are as sturdy as they need to be and large enough that they don’t need to be overcrowded.

12. Packing Equipment

Vacuum packing machine

Many of your products will likely be packaged in bags and vacuum sealed. To do this, you’ll need bags and a vacuum sealing machine that can handle the size of packages you want to sell.

Overwrap machine

For meat packed on foam trays and covered in plastic wrap, you’ll need an overwrap machine. For small shops, a manual machine will usually suffice.

13. Cooking equipment

If you’re planning on selling cooked meats, you’ll need the right equipment to ensure this is done well. That can mean ovens, broilers and grills, steamers, and even microwaves. 

Meat thermometers

For safety reasons, meat has to be cooked to the right temperatures, and you’ll need thermometers or temperature probes to check. 

14. Personal protective equipment

In addition to meat-cutting gloves, other PPE can keep your staff and your products safe. This can include hair nets, goggles, gloves, masks, and aprons, as well as all-important non-slip floor mats for working in wet areas.

15. Cleaning equipment

You’ll need mops, buckets, spray bottles, wiping cloths, and lots of cleaning products to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of your operation.

Sinks

You’ll need deep industrial sinks to safely wash your knives and other equipment.

Dishwasher

All other utensils, cooking equipment, and even smaller cutting boards can go into a dishwasher. Look for a large-capacity unit that can do all your cleaning in fewer runs.

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Cost of Equipment

Starting a butcher shop can cost anywhere from $20,000-$500,000 depending on the size, location, and products you’re selling. The prices of your equipment depend heavily on the quality you buy, the size and amount of equipment, and whether you buy new or pre-loved.

Looking at new equipment prices, here’s what you might expect to pay for the main items you’ll need:

  • Walk-in freezer             
    • $2000 to $10,000
  • Meat slicer                
    • $300 to $1000
  • Cutting tables                
    • $300 to $1000
  • Meat display cases             
    • $500 to $4000
  • Meat grinder and sausage stuffer     
    • $200 to $1000
  • Meat scales                
    • $200 to $500
  • Shelving and storage             
    • $500 to $2000
  • Professional kitchen equipment    
    • $1000 to $5000
  • POS system                
    • $1000 to $3000

This equipment can start around $6,000 and climb to $27,500 or higher, depending on your needs. Of course, other smaller equipment purchases will also add to these totals. 

Things to Consider When Buying Butcher Shop Equipment

Famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto once said “A kitchen without a knife is not a kitchen.” He would no doubt say the same about a butcher shop without a great slicer or meat grinder. The essential equipment you need in a butcher shop is just that – essential. However, each shop owner will have to decide what is needed for the specific needs of their own business. Here are some of the top considerations when choosing butcher shop equipment:

1. Quality

Low-quality equipment is (usually) a lot cheaper than the top-of-the-line products out there. However, if it won’t stand up to the intense demands of the butchery industry, it may just represent throwing your money away. Buying the best, most expensive equipment may be prohibitively expensive, however. You may want to spend a lot on a few items that really need to be durable and 100% dependable, and for the rest, find mid-range equipment that has good reviews from people in the industry.

2. Price

Your equipment has to fit into your overall budget but should also make up a significant part of it. Focusing on essential purchases will help you set your budget, but remember to leave room for incidentals. You can look for cost savings by buying second-hand equipment or buying many items from a single manufacturer. You might even look for suppliers that let you rent or lease equipment to help lower your initial costs.

3. Space

You’ll need to think about the location you have and what can fit inside it. Think about how much space you need for each activity you plan to perform, like breaking down whole animals, making sausages and burgers, cooking meat, storage, and, of course, deep freeze. If your location can’t handle all the activities you want to perform, you may need to scale back, and that will mean less equipment – at first. Once you’re established, you may be able to expand, and you’ll need more equipment when you do. 

4. Ease of use

Just because a slicer has a 20-year warranty doesn’t mean that you’ll want to keep using it for 20 years. It may be overly complicated, finicky, difficult to adjust on the fly, and hard to clean. Look for detailed product reviews that give you a real sense of how appliances are to work with. After all, your equipment is supposed to make butchering more efficient, not less so.

5. Support and service

Some suppliers give great after-market service and some give little or none at all. Suppliers that can help you with installation and even training on equipment are a big help. They should also be easy to contact, answer your questions effectively, and stand behind their products with guarantees and warranties.

New vs. Used Equipment: Pros and Cons

New equipment has its perks, but it will definitely be more expensive. Used equipment can save you lots of money in your butcher store set-up, but it also comes with risks. Here are some pros and cons of new and used equipment that you can consider before making your choices:

Pros of Buying New

  • The equipment should be in tip-top condition.

  • Most large-ticket items will be under warranty for months to years.

  • Newer items should last a lot longer than used ones.

Cons of Buying New

  • The high price can be a barrier for new shops or force owners to take out expensive loans.

Pros of Buying Used

  • Lower prices can reduce overall start-up costs significantly.

  • You may be able to find equipment you want that is no longer manufactured.

  • Some well-maintained equipment could be almost as good as new.

Cons of Buying Used

  • You may have a limited choice of makes and models that are available on the second-hand market.

  • Used equipment may be less reliable and require more maintenance.

  • Second-hand items won’t be covered by warranties.

  • Older equipment won’t last as long.

To save costs, many butcher shops buy a few main pieces of equipment like walk-ins and grinders that have been lovingly cared for and well-maintained.

The Essential Butcher Shop Equipment You Need to Start Your Business

As with any new business, starting up a butcher shop can require a significant financial commitment. In addition to location, staff, and licenses, equipment is a major part of this cost. You’ll need some very specific equipment that no butcher shop can do without. However, if you make your decisions wisely, you can save money by sticking to the essentials, choosing reliable yet affordable equipment, and even buying some previously owned items. Remember that great equipment makes life easier but so does an excellent business plan that will help your butcher shop succeed.

Why Toast Retail is Perfect for Butcher Shop

In today's competitive retail landscape, selecting the right technology is essential for both new ventures and established businesses aiming for success. Solutions like Toast retail not only streamline operations, making them more efficient, but also provide invaluable insights to optimize the financial health of the business. 

By harnessing the power of point of sale technology, retailers can gain a competitive edge, improve customer satisfaction, and drive sustainable growth. Choosing the right technology sets the foundation for long-term success, empowering businesses to adapt to evolving market demands and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

The tech that redefined restaurants is now here to transform retail. Supercharge your store with the POS built for high volumes and complexity, offering everything you need to run your business on one platform. Toast's retail offering is a game-changer for businesses like convenience stores, liquor stores, and grocery stores, revolutionizing how they operate and interact with customers. Here's why Toast is the perfect fit for these retail environments.

1. Helps Modernize How You Sell

Toast's intuitive, cloud-based system simplifies daily operations. Its user-friendly interface makes staff training a breeze, ensuring seamless adoption across your team. Whether it's processing payments in-store or integrating with online sales channels, Toast ensures a smooth and consistent experience for your customers regardless of how they shop.

  • Intuitive Cloud-Based System: Our intuitive, cloud-based system is easy to learn and easy to use. Say goodbye to complicated interfaces and hello to streamlined processes. Toast is designed to simplify your day-to-day operations, from staff training to consolidated operations, ensuring maximum efficiency and productivity.

  • Seamless Payment Processing: Toast’s seamless payment processing easily integrates with online payments for smoother sales every time, no matter how your customers are shopping. This integration ensures a hassle-free experience for both customers and staff, leading to increased satisfaction and faster transactions.

  • Flexible Order and Checkout Options: Offer flexible and efficient order and checkout options with reliable hardware including handhelds, kiosks, and guest-facing terminals. Adapt to the diverse needs of your customers and reduce wait times at checkout with Toast's versatile hardware solutions, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

2. Streamline Retail Management

Efficiency is key in retail, and Toast delivers with automated, mobile-first inventory management. Say goodbye to manual inventory tracking and hello to SmartScan, a feature that enables quick product scanning and shelf placement. Managing thousands of SKUs becomes effortless with Toast's intuitive product database and bulk update capabilities.

  • Automated, Mobile-First Inventory: Experience the freedom of automated, mobile-first inventory management with Toast. Create and print barcodes in bulk, and take new products from scan to shelf in seconds with our SmartScan feature. Say goodbye to tedious manual inventory tasks and hello to streamlined operations.

  • Efficient SKU Management: Easily manage thousands of SKUs with our intuitive product database and bulk updates feature. Modify, reprice, and import multiple products at once, saving valuable time and resources. With Toast, keeping track of your inventory has never been easier.

  • Retail-Enhanced Dashboards: Stay on top of your business with retail-specific dashboards and cost-tracking reports. Monitor trends, maximize margins, and ensure your top-selling products are always stocked, empowering you to make data-driven decisions that drive profitability.

3. Tailor Your Customer Experience

Toast empowers you to tailor the customer experience to fit your unique retail concept. Whether you're considering adding food service or expanding your offerings, Toast's flexible platform accommodates creative expansion.

  • Creative Expansion Opportunities: Thinking of adding food service to your retail concept? Including Kitchen Display Systems and Order Ready Boards, our flexible platform allows for creative expansion. Explore new revenue streams and enhance the overall customer experience with Toast's versatile features.

  • Online Ordering and Delivery Integrations: Give your guests the option to order from home with Toast’s Online Ordering and our third-party delivery integrations. Meet your customers where they are and provide convenience that keeps them coming back, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

  • Loyalty Rewards and Personalized Offers: Be your neighborhood's favorite shop (and incentivize repeat visits) with loyalty rewards and personalized offers. Transform one-time shoppers into loyal patrons by engaging with your community and offering enticing rewards, making your store the go-to destination for your customers.

In conclusion, Toast's retail solution is more than just a point of sale system; it's a comprehensive toolkit designed to elevate your retail store to new heights. From modernizing sales processes to streamlining management and enhancing the customer experience, Toast empowers retail businesses to thrive in today's competitive market.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.