Are Food Trucks Profitable: How Much Do Food Trucks Make?

So you might be asking yourself, are food trucks profitable? It’s no secret that food trucks have become a well-liked dining and business option in the culinary world. Let’s get to know some things about its cost.

are food trucks profitable

The mobile kitchen market has expanded by about 12% annually since 2016. Food trucks are popular among chefs and restaurateurs due to their minimal overhead and versatility. 

Some newcomers, nevertheless, might be curious about food truck profit margins and all the expenses that should be taken into consideration.

Similar to running a restaurant, the financial stability of mobile food trucks is based on a number of variables, including menu expenses, equipment costs, labor costs, and more.

Costs to Start a Food Truck

Although they are adaptable enterprises, food trucks can still have start-up expenditures of $50,000 to $250,000. 

You must take into account all of the necessary components of the restaurant business, including labor, supplies, insurance, and marketing.

There are several additional costs, particularly for food trucks. All of the things you need to outfit a mobile kitchen, including a truck, licenses, and permits. 

The price of a commercial kitchen and parking licenses may also need to be taken into consideration. You might always want to ignore this but ensure you take it seriously. 

Average Food Truck Costs

Once the firm starts to turn a profit, the operational costs of a food truck will account for 85–90% of your monthly sales. 

You might need to continue investing for the first year or longer to make up for labor, food, or marketing losses. 

Although you can provide excellent cuisine and service, the long-term sustainability of your food truck depends on having the right financial planning.

  • Operating Costs $13,000 – $65,000
    • Commercial Kitchen – $1,500/month
    • Parking – $500-$1,000/month
    • Insurance – $500-$8,000/month
    • Utilities – $1,000-$1,200/month
    • Marketing – $500- $5,000 (3-6%) of sales
    • Food Costs $5,000-$25,000 (30-35% of sales)
    • Labor $2,500-$25,000 (24-40% of sales)
    • Loan Repayment

Understanding your Upfront Expenses

Understanding your Upfront Expenses

The vehicle itself will be your initial outlay if you own a food truck. Your location and whether you decide to buy or lease a truck will have a significant impact on your initial outlay:

1. Leasing Costs

Typically, renting a food truck costs less upfront than buying one. Additionally, you have the extra luxury of having the truck equipped with everything you need. 

Depending on the terms of the lease and the size of the truck, leasing costs can vary greatly. Although some estimates range from $1,000 to $5,000 each month, it’s also feasible to locate trucks that cost more or less than that.

2. Purchasing Costs

Leasing is more of a short-term investment than buying a food cart. Prices typically range from $50,000 to $175,000. 

However, used food carts can occasionally be obtained for less. If the cart isn’t fully equipped with everything you need for cooking, there can be additional expenses for equipment. 

Though more customization is possible with truck ownership, this can help with marketing and effectiveness.

Other Food Truck Expenses to Consider

Food cart owners must estimate their overall launch and operating costs, just like any other food service business.

  • Startup costs for the design of websites, business cards, food truck wrap, POS and mobile technology systems, and all other necessary licenses and permits. 
  • Operational expenses are ongoing and comprise food expenses, labor costs, supplies for takeout packaging, marketing, utilities, truck payments, and lot rent.

While the average overall cost of permitting a food truck is $28,000, operations and beginning costs can vary greatly depending on your business’ size, staff size, cuisine variety, and even state. 

For instance, a mobile food license in Chicago may cost $700–1000 over the course of two years, compared to $74–200 in New York.

Maximize your Food Truck Profits

A strategy to control costs and attract customers is necessary for a successful food truck.

  • Set the price of your menu prices to cover food and overhead expenses.
  • Pick a place that will increase traffic
  • Use social media to market
  • Maintaining and remaining inspection-ready for your food truck
  • Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, such as equipment problems and climatic changes.

Owners of food trucks that follow their approach can expect to make early profits of approximately 8% and even more in the future.

How Profitable are Food Trucks?

Don’t be alarmed if some of the stats make you feel very shocked. Although the initial cost estimates may appear overwhelming, statistics show that a $100,000 investment can provide between $250,000 and $500,000 in income. 

Remember that not all sales result in a profit, so you should estimate your predicted costs and expenses before figuring out how much to charge for your menus in order to break even.


You might be interested in learning how successful your food truck can be now that we have a clear idea of the cost and expense projections. 

More so, you can enter your starting costs, operational costs, and cost of goods sold on a food truck financial projection worksheet to forecast your profitability.

You will be able to see your projected food truck financials once you have entered all of your personal assumptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

The types of food trucks that are most profitable are pizza, chili, and burger trucks.

Burgers, chili, pizza, and cheese.

The top five reasons why food trucks fail are low-cost management, choosing quantity over quality, poor understanding of the business, bad equipment, and not knowing their audience.

The three most common issues faced by food truck businesses are location, menu, and inefficient kitchen.

The three most popular food trucks are, Oink & Moo BBQ, Cinnamon Snail, and Mac Mart Truck.

Yes, it is.

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