How Much do Food Trucks Make?

March 4, 2024 — Cloudwaitress

Zippia valued the US food truck industry at $1.48 billion in 2023 and expects this value to increase each year. Although this is a favorable estimate, prospective business people still want to know: How much do food trucks make?

Food trucks make between $250,000 and $500,000, with the industry’s top 10% being able to make more than $500,000. This amount is the difference that comes from subtracting operating costs from the revenue obtained from the business.

Some factors that affect the amount food vendors make include their location, type of food, weather conditions, and maintenance.

Learn how much food trucks make, how Cloudwaitress benefits food trucks, and how this online service can be set up for interested business people.

How much do food trucks make?

Food trucks make between $250,000 and $500,000 per year, according to a study by Food Truck Nation. The top 10% in this industry make $500,000 or more than that, while the top 25% make $250,000.

The answer to the question, ‘How much do food trucks make?’ mostly depends on operating costs and the cost of goods sold. This means that food booths make more money when they sell lots of food with few operating costs.

For example, a food truck makes $290,000 in sales and incurs $200,000 in truck expenses, food costs, insurance, and licenses. The amount that the vendor would make in a year is:

$290,000 – $200,000 = $90,000

Cost of starting a food truck

If the answer to the question, ‘How much do food trucks make?’ is favorable, perhaps it’s time to consider starting up. This section covers the major expenses involved in setting up this food business.

Buying the food truck

A food truck for sale can be as little as $15,000 or as high as $100,000. This cost is dependent on the age of the vehicle, its size, and its condition. Generally, the latest food truck models cost more than older ones, and larger models cost more than smaller ones.

Business license

This is a requirement for any legal business in the US, and street food vendors are no exception. Its cost can be as high as $400 or as low as $50.

Health department permit

This permit is necessary to show that the food truck’s dishes are safe for consumption. Its cost can be as high as $500 or as low as $100.

State sales tax permit

To collect and remit taxes on the food sold, food trucks need a tax permit, and this goes from $10 to $100 annually.

Mobile food vendor permit

Many US cities keep this separate from the food vendor business license, so business owners would have to acquire it separately. A valid permit costs between $100 and $1000 annually, depending on the city.

Parking permits

Some areas require special permits for food trucks to set up shop, but the costs vary, going as high as $50.

Fire and safety permits

To ensure that the street food vendors meet fire safety regulations, they have to pay fees of up to $500 per year.

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Operating costs for running a food truck?

After starting up the business, one of the most significant factors affecting the question, ‘How much do food trucks make?’ is their operating costs. This section will give prospective food truck owners an idea of what this could be like.

Food costs

The ingredients used in making food can cost as much as $1000, depending on the vendor’s location. This cost is also affected by the complexity of the menu, as simple foods like burgers won’t cost much in terms of ingredients.


Moving from one location to another to set up shop eats fuel, which could cost $500. Of course, if the food truck is large, fuel costs could be up to $1000 monthly.

Cleaning supplies

Trash bags, disinfectant, hand gloves, brushes, and other cleaning supplies can cost up to $100 monthly.

Paper products

Paper cups, napkins, plates, and other paper utensils are some of the cheapest supplies for any food vendor. However, their monthly costs can quickly add up to $100 or even $300.

Other factors that affect how much food trucks make?

The two major factors that affect answers to ‘How much do food trucks make?’ are operating costs and the cost of goods. Apart from these two major factors, other minor things affect the revenue of the food vendor business.

Some of the factors that make certain vendors earn up to $1 million and others less than $10,000 annually include:


Finding the right location to park a food truck is essential, as it can determine how much the owner earns. The right location has little competition and needs to be near a school, a business complex, or any other place to get customers.

Types of food sold

Grilled cheese, tacos, and hot dogs are some of the cheapest foods a street vendor can sell. Such vendors shouldn’t expect to make as much as those that sell premium items like Wagyu beef burgers, lobster rolls, and sushi rolls.

Number of employees

The profits that a street food vendor makes take a massive cut if they have to cater to employees. This includes paying monthly wages, workers’ compensation insurance, and even training fees.

So, a food truck with two employees working full time could be paying up to $62,000 annually, at $15 per hour.

Importance of Cloudwaitress to food trucks

The amount that food trucks make is dependent on the costs of sales revenue and doing business. However, there is a game changer that can shake things up when pondering the question, ‘How much do food trucks make?’

That game changer is Cloudwaitress, a food ordering website designed for restaurants and other businesses in the food industry.

With Cloudwaitress, a food truck can expand its reach and get more customers. It’ll also allow people who are searching for ‘food trucks near me’ to easily discover these food vendors. Simply put, Cloudwaitress offers effective online marketing to increase the amount that food trucks make in a year.

How does Cloudwaitress work?

To create a website through Cloudwaitress, food truck owners would need to register on Cloudwaitress. After the straightforward account creation process, setting up the restaurant website is next.

With a simple restaurant creation form, the opening hours, business currency, the name of the website, etc.

Then, the food truck owners can go into depth to create menus, dishes, accepted order types, and the rules for ordering.

They can also customize their receipts, configure their payment methods, and add finishing touches like color and images. With this, the food truck website is set up and can be found on ‘food truck near me’ online searches.


The answer to the question, ‘How much do food trucks make?’ is $250,000 to $500,000. This amount depends mainly on the cost of the food sold and the expenses incurred in doing so.

According to a recent industry report from Food Truck Nation, there has been a 60% increase in the sales of street food vendors. So, the future is optimistic for business people in this industry, and with Cloudwaitress, these chances just get better.

Cloudwaitress provides an online presence for food trucks, providing a personalized website with which they can reach more customers.

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How long should I wait for my food truck to become profitable?

On average, it takes two years for food trucks to become profitable, according to a National Restaurant Association survey. However, this estimate is still restricted by the vendor's location, operating costs, menu variety, etc.

What is the salary of a food truck owner?

The average salary of a food truck owner is $50,000—less than 50% of their profits. However, these businessmen can increase their earnings by working more than 60 hours a week. With this, they could earn up to $70,000 or more.

When should you expect to break even with a food truck?

Food truck owners can expect to break even with their business after two and a half years. After this period, the owners can start looking forward to making profits. One thing to keep in mind is that this estimate is not absolute and depends on many factors, like the vendor’s location.