Skip to main content

ToughJobs may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Tips for starting a successful ice cream truck business

Most people have encountered an ice cream truck or cart at some point in their lives. The classic jingle is often associated with childhood, summertime, and cool relief on a hot day. Have you ever thought of operating your own ice cream food truck? As a kid, maybe you thought about owning one as a kind of dream.

As an adult, you can make that dream come true. Running an ice cream truck is similar to owning or operating any other food truck business. You need a solid business plan, a vehicle, and specialized inventory. You’ll also need all the proper permitting and licenses.

Related Videos

There are a few unique aspects to running an ice cream truck, which you must know if you plan on running one. Read on to discover what it takes to run a mobile ice cream business (plus a few other important tips).

How much do ice cream trucks make a day?

A study conducted in 2019 by Food Truck Empire answered this question. Most mobile ice cream vendors bring in an average of $200 to $300 in gross sales per day during the summer. Keep in mind that this is peak season, so you won’t make this much throughout the colder months if you’re in a place that has all four seasons. Based on this estimate, if you worked 20 days per month on average (during a peak season), that would be about $5,000 in gross profit. 

Of course, that doesn’t include things like expenses, which could take up to $2,500 out of your revenue. That leaves you half of what you made. Now, imagine if you operated full time during peak season. With these figures, you’re looking at a gross profit of approximately $10,000. To make the most of an ice cream food truck’s daily estimated income, consider the following:

  • Seasonality
  • Hours of operation
  • Type of ice cream
  • Your driving route


Colder seasons generate less of a profit for ice cream trucks. Warmer seasons, like the three to four months of summery weather, generate the highest gross profit. If you run an ice cream business in southern climates, you’re guaranteed a longer peak season (as well as more competition).

Holiday weekends during the summer may also serve as a high time for generating revenue. If you park at a lake or near a popular park on a holiday weekend, you’re likely to see a jump in profit for that day.

Hours of operation

If you don’t operate full time (which is anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week), you’re cutting directly into your profit. And if you don’t operate when customers expect your food, you’re missing out on revenue opportunities. 

Depending on where you operate, weekends are an absolute must for ice cream trucks. If you want weekends off, this may not be a business venture for you. For summertime hours, you may get mornings to prep, but expect afternoons to late evenings as prime time to sell ice cream. This can range based on where you sell and who you sell to, such as children and families versus drinking, barhopping adults.

Choosing the right products

What you sell is just as important as when and where you sell. If you plan to specialize in certain types of ice cream, do your research. Figure out where you’ll source inventory. Or determine what ingredients you need to make the ice cream you churn on your own.

Most ice cream food truck owners specialize in a certain type of ice cream. Your business plan can outline what this specialty is. And if you’ve done your research, you should be filling a gap based on what your competitors aren’t selling. For example, if you’re the only gelato truck in town, you’re guaranteed more business.

Selling what every other established ice cream vendor sells is a sure way to sink your profits. Figure out your inventory expenses ahead of time to determine if your specialty ice cream is worth selling. Also, make sure you price your goods accordingly to generate a profit.

Planning your route

Where you drive your ice cream truck makes a huge difference in your profit potential. You need to know the best areas to sell that are big, potential sources of income, such as areas with a lot of schools and playgrounds. Of course, some cities restrict where you can sell, so research ordinances ahead of time.

Check with the local established competition to avoid losing business to well-known favorites. Plus, you can always find out new areas to scope out based on where your competitors don’t operate.

Ice cream truck in operation

Can you make ice cream in a food truck?

You can make ice cream in a food truck (if the truck is big enough). Depending on the type of ice cream you make, you can make it on the go. Specialty ice creams with many added ingredients are better made in a full-sized kitchen. Types of ice cream, like gelato, require special mixers which may take up too much space in your truck.

Ideally, you’ll sell ice cream that’s made ahead of time. Your best bet is to invest in solid freezers and other refrigeration equipment. In other words, consider an ice cream food truck a refrigerator or icebox on wheels. Even though you can make certain types of slow-churn or soft-serve ice cream on the go, it would be a mess, potentially, and not worth the work. Plus, unless your angle is to sell the fresh ice cream, you may want to purchase stock from a creamery or dairy farm.

Editors' Recommendations

Start your local cheese shop with these supplies
restaurant health code violations chef slicing delicious bbq meat at street market on table

You enjoy making your cheese, and you want to make a career out of it. You believe that everyone should be able to try your homemade cheese recipes. You want to sell your cheese locally in your beautiful hometown. You want to start with the simple tasks on what you need to start your career on the right path. You wondered what sort of items you need to start your business from scratch. You already purchased the building, but now you need the supplies to get you started. When it comes to your business you want to start with ideas.

In every local food business, owners had to start from scratch. Sometimes there are struggles when it comes to starting your own business. When it comes to the food business, it can be hard on how to start your business or when to start your business. You want your business to flourish, and you need some guidance on starting your business. When it comes to local business it starts with a lot of ideas and ways to figure out how to accomplish those ideas. You want your creative hobby with cheese to start well without any mistakes along the way.

Read more
Items you need for your awesome coffee shop

You enjoy making coffee, for the flavor, the hobby, and the warmth. Do you know you can make your brewing coffee flavors into a business? You suddenly have an idea of making and creating your flavors of coffee whether hot or cold. You live in an area where there should be a coffee shop on every corner. You want to fulfill your dream of owning your coffee shop. You want to start your day with the joy of giving your customers the energy and taste of their morning routine. You want your place to be special. You want to give a positive reason for customers to stop by.

You want to make it easy for you to start your coffee business. Making coffee is what you enjoy, and you want to be successful with it. When it comes to your coffee business, you need certain supplies to make it happen. You want a few steps and the supplies that can help you keep track of your career and make it succeed in the future. Coffee is how every person starts their morning routine or odd hours. Coffee is the energy drink for students and workers to boost their brain work. You can be that source that helps your customers' morning routines start fresh.

Read more
Table ware items for your outdoor restaurant
Potted Plants Outside Restaurant Patio

You officially purchased a building in a beautiful downtown area. You are looking forward to starting your restaurant. You want a few things to get your ideas started for your restaurant. You understand that people enjoy sightseeing, and you want to be one of the places that tourists will flock to during their stay in your hometown. You want to create an outdoor area that is welcoming and give your customers to take in the beauty of your hometown while eating at your home-cooked meals. You want to give the tourists a beautiful experience during their stay and give them a positive stay in your hometown.

You want to start fresh for your new business. You want to start fresh for your restaurant. Some supplies will help you on your successful career path. You can use your cooking hobbies in a full-time food business. You love your hometown, and you want to be the restaurant where family and friends go-to place for special occasions. You want to start off with creative ideas and think about what decorations are perfect for your restaurant. You understand food brings people together and you want to fulfill that wish for people in your hometown. You want your business to be well known.

Read more