Skip to content

Best Kitchen Display Systems of July 2024

A kitchen display system can keep your restaurant kitchen organized and running smoothly.
By Kurt Woock, Karrin Sehmbi, Hillary Crawford
Last updated on June 28, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

A kitchen display system’s main role is to streamline communication between a restaurant’s front- and back-of-house, so that food orders are promptly fulfilled and delivered to the customer. The simplest option is going with the kitchen display system that your current restaurant POS system provider offers.
The best kitchen display systems come from popular restaurant POS system providers and have reasonably priced monthly plans that cost somewhere from $0 to $35 per month. They should also include reporting features and user-friendly layouts.
Here are our picks for the top kitchen display systems and why they stand out.

Best Kitchen Display Systems From Our Partners

Loan calculator icon

Calculate your monthly cost estimate

Input your business’s monthly transaction details and we’ll help you sort from the best value
Estimates assume an average interchange fee of 1.81% + $0.10, based on our latest available data. Estimates provided reflect online and in-person transactions, but exclude any keyed transactions. Estimates are based on the lowest monthly plan and processing fees for each provider.

Product
Cost Estimate
Payment processing fees
Cost Estimate
Learn more

Toast POS

Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
4.0/5

Best for Overall kitchen display system

2.49% + $0.15

if you buy hardware upfront; 3.09% + $0.15 for pay-as-you-go option.

$0.00

Starter Kit; $69 Point of Sale plan; custom Build Your Own plan.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

Square Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Free POS software

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Free plan; $60 Plus plan; custom pricing for Premium plan.

Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Features that increase efficiency

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$69.00

Starter plan; $189 Essential plan; $399 Premium plan.

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

TouchBistro

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Offline mode functionality

N/A

Quote-based.

$69.00

and up.

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

Our pick for

Overall kitchen display system

Toast POS

Learn more

on Toast POS's secure website

Payment processing fees
2.49% + $0.15

if you buy hardware upfront; 3.09% + $0.15 for pay-as-you-go option.

Monthly fee
$0.00

Starter Kit; $69 Point of Sale plan; custom Build Your Own plan.

Our pick for

Free POS software

Square Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Square Restaurant POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Free plan; $60 Plus plan; custom pricing for Premium plan.

Our pick for

Features that increase efficiency

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Learn more

on Lightspeed Restaurant POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$69.00

Starter plan; $189 Essential plan; $399 Premium plan.

Our pick for

Offline mode functionality

TouchBistro

Learn more

on TouchBistro's secure website

Payment processing fees
N/A

Quote-based.

Monthly fee
$69.00

and up.

Our picks for the best kitchen display systems

Toast

Overall best kitchen display system
Why we like it: It costs more than some of its competitors, but Toast offers a few features the others don’t. The company says its custom-made device is built for abuse, withstanding higher temperatures than iPads, for example. It also supports multiple languages and lets the kitchen ping servers (or guests) via text or an app when their food is up. Read our full Toast POS review.

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Best for features that increase efficiency
Why we like it: Lightspeed’s KDS aids kitchen staff in coordinating delivery, pickup and in-house dining with helpful icons. Other kitchen-friendly details — such as the ability to quickly scan wait times with color coding on each digital ticket or a breakdown of which dishes see the biggest delay — make this a good option. Read our full Lightspeed Restaurant POS review.

Square Restaurant POS

Best for free POS software
Why we like it: The feature list of this KDS isn’t as deep as some others, but counter service or pickup- and delivery-oriented restaurants may find that the combination of reasonable pricing and Square’s easy user interface make this a good option. Read our full Square Restaurant POS review.

TouchBistro

Best for offline mode functionality
Why we like it: Although TouchBistro is less transparent with its pricing than most of its competitors, its restaurant-specific POS solution stands out for its ability to continue most restaurant operations even during a temporary internet outage. Many POS systems today have some form of an offline mode, but while most other providers only enable you to continue taking payments while offline, TouchBistro’s system also allows you to continue sending orders to the KDS and printing tickets in the kitchen, among other offline capabilities, so you can largely continue business as usual. Note that additional costs may be involved in the setup and/or operation of the locally installed connection that enables this offline functionality. Read our full TouchBistro review.

Benefits of using a kitchen display system

The benefits of a kitchen display system boil down to two things: Replacing and improving paper-based processes, and providing new capabilities. Here are some ways kitchen display systems help restaurants run more smoothly:
  • Everything’s digital. When a server inputs an order or modifies it, it’s routed to a digital display in the kitchen instead of being printed out as a paper ticket. That means no more lost, torn or burned tickets. Plus, the reduction in paper alone can lead to serious savings.
  • It centralizes information. Having a single source of information everyone can access can help avoid miscommunications, bypassing the need to rely on verbal or handwritten order updates. You can also consolidate knowledge that might currently exist with a few longer-tenured employees, which can help shorten the time needed to train new employees in a high-turnover environment.
  • Staff can easily access and change details. Kitchen display systems can display recipe details, photos, order substitution notes or allergy alerts, for instance. 
  • Difficult tasks are automated. Complex tasks such as dish sequencing and timing tickets — things once done by hand — are now completed instantly and prioritized automatically. 
  • It can make analysis easier. A kitchen display system can use the data generated over time to create reports that flag opportunities to improve efficiency. For example, you’ll be able to see if it’s taking longer than expected to get certain dishes out of the kitchen, or if certain days or times see drops in performance.

When a kitchen display system might not make sense

Using a kitchen display system can benefit many types of restaurants. But it might not make as much sense if the following scenarios apply to your business:
  • Your kitchen display system options are limited by your POS system. If you don’t like the choices available, you might prefer to stick with paper (or look at other restaurant POS systems).
  • Your kitchen doesn’t have a good place to mount a kitchen display system. In addition, the hardware might not suit your needs. Some kitchen display system setups operate exclusively on a touch screen, which could be difficult to use in some environments.
  • You’re worried about investing in extra hardware. A kitchen display system will cost not only money, but also time to train employees on the new system. While these drawbacks are temporary, you’ll still want to make sure your restaurant can afford them.

How to choose a kitchen display system

If you use a newer, cloud-based POS system, such as Toast, your kitchen display system choices might be limited to a proprietary option from that company. Questions to ask include:
  • Is the hardware included, or do you supply your own?
  • Does the company supply or recommend mounting hardware?
  • What are the costs? Many of these systems use subscription pricing.
  • What would starting small look like? For example, could you set up a kitchen display system only in the central hub of your kitchen, likely where the printer is now? 
  • In what ways could you grow into the system?
  • What types of reports can the kitchen display system generate?
If you use an older POS system, check with the manufacturer to see what options are available.
Last updated on June 28, 2024
Close
Business software made simple

Compare features, pricing, and expert reviews for your business software needs - all in one place.

Close
Business software made simple

Compare features, pricing, and expert reviews for your business software needs - all in one place.