How Much Does a Ice Cream Truck Make in 2023

Published by Robin Esson on

The income of an ice cream truck can vary a lot depening on a number of factors, including the seasonality of the business, the frequency of operation, and the location of the truck. In this article about how much does a ice cream truck make is a common question for those considering starting their own ice cream truck business.

In this article I will talk about these factors and provide an estimate of the average income of an ice cream truck. By understanding the potential income of an ice cream truck, aspiring business owners can make an informed decision about whether this type of business is right for them.

What Is a Ice Cream Truck

How Much Does a Ice Cream Truck Make

In general an ice cream truck is a great vehicle that people use to sell amazing ice cream, frozen treats, and other cool snacks for people, often in neighborhoods or at public events. I really like the trucks because they are typically outfitted with a refrigeration unit to keep the ice cream and other products cold, and they often have music or other sounds to attract attention. And because ice cream trucks are a really popular sight in many communities and beaches, and they are often used as a way to bring treats and refreshment to people on hot summer days.

Different Types Of Ice Cream Trucks

There are different types of ice cream trucks. Some ice cream trucks are small and only have a few flavors of ice cream and other frozen treats, while others are larger and can offer a wider variety of options. Some ice cream trucks are operated by people or small businesses, while others are part of larger chains or franchises. 

Some ice cream trucks are only open during the hot summer months, while others are open all around the year. There are also ice cream trucks that specialize in offering novelties like ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, and other frozen treats, as well as trucks that serve more traditional ice cream cones and cups. Some ice cream trucks also offer other types of snacks and beverages, such as soda, water, and chips.

How Much Does a Ice Cream Truck Make?

strawberry ice cream a warm summer day

Ice cream trucks are vehicles used for selling ice cream and other frozen treats to people. Earlier this year, a survey was conducted to determine the average daily income of ice cream trucks in the United States (USA). 35 ice cream truck vendors participated in the survey, which was conducted anonymously through an online form. All vendors were based in the United States and operated a mobile truck without a fixed location, meaning they were not eligible if they had a fixed daily location at a busy lake or other busy area during the summer. The survey only included independent ice cream truck drivers and excluded franchises or trucks that made their own ice cream. The trucks surveyed only distributed pre-made and pre-packaged items and played the traditional jingle music while driving through suburban neighborhoods.

According to the survey, the average daily income for an ice cream truck in the summer is between $200 and $300 in sales but that does not reflext the profit. This means that on a typical day, the truck would make between $200 and $300 in total, but that is before every expense. If the ice cream truck worked an average of 20 days per month, this would result in a monthly income of $5,000 in gross profit. After accounting for expenses such as gas, insurance, and supplies, the average monthly income for an ice cream truck is around $2,500.

There are several factors that can affect the income of an ice cream truck. These include:

  • Seasonality: Ice cream trucks tend to make the majority of their income during the warmer months and when kids are out of school. Many ice cream truck vendors only operate as a seasonal business, generating between $15,000 and $30,000 of gross revenue annually.
  • Frequency: Consistency is key in the ice cream truck business. The more days and hours a truck operates per month, the more income it will generate. To make significant amounts of money in this business, it is necessary to be prepared to work long hours, weekends, and holidays during the summer months.
  • Big income days: While revenue may drop during the winter, ice cream trucks can also have days that exceed the average income. On particularly hot days or holidays like July 4th, it is not uncommon for an ice cream truck to generate between $500 and $1,000 in a single day. Another way to see larger income days is to allow customers to book the truck for special events or kids’ birthday parties.

Starting an ice cream truck business typically requires an initial investment in a vehicle. A reliable step van or truck will cost between $10,000 and $20,000 as an initial investment. Other expenses to consider include getting the vehicle wrapped and customized, installing freezers to keep inventory cool, and ongoing expenses such as gas, insurance, and supplies. On average, an ice cream truck will need to refill its gas tank two times per week, but this can vary based on the distance traveled. Insurance costs will vary based on the location and coverage desired, but it is generally recommended to have at least $1 million in liability coverage. Other supplies that may be needed include ice cream, napkins, cups, and cones.

How to Make Money Selling Ice Cream

The ice cream industry can be a lucrative business, with annual sales in the United States (USA) alone exceeding $5.4 billion. There are multiple ways to profit from ice cream, including:

  1. One awesome way to make money from ice cream is by producing the product yourself. This can be done by experimenting with recipes and using a basic home ice cream maker, which can be purchased for less than $50. Once you have a formula that works, you can expand into making ice cream sandwiches and bars and sell your products locally to build brand recognition.
  2. If you do not want to go through the process of producing your own ice cream, you can sell other brands instead. Seasonal ice cream trucks and stands can be profitable if you choose the right locations to sell, such as popular tourist places. It is important to do market research before investing in inventory and equipment to ensure the success of your business.
  3. Hosting an ice cream event and inviting people you know is a great way to make money! You can modernize this concept and make money at the same time by hosting ice cream parties where customers can create their own unique ice cream concoctions. You will need to stock up on high-quality ice cream, waffle cones, toppings, spoons, bowls, and mobile refrigeration gear to take the party on the road.
  4. If you have cash, an old-fashioned ice cream shop can be a lucrative business. The key is to differentiate yourself from chains like Ben & Jerry’s and Baskin-Robbins by developing a niche appeal to local consumers and tourists. Specializing in locally produced ice cream and frozen yogurt is a great way to attract foodies who will become long-term customers.
  5. A weekly or monthly subscription business can be successful if you put in the work and do pre-launch marketing, like most things nowdays subscription is the best way to get a constant cash flow. You can use a service like Indiegogo or Kickstarter to pre-sell the business to future customers. You will need to figure out how to ship your products without them melting, which can be done through overnight shipping and specialty packaging.
  6. If you have expertise in making ice cream, you can pass on your knowledge to others by organizing a class. You can hold the class at a local community center or in your own home, and you can even use Skype to mentor students from around the world. Use social media accounts to attract new students for each session.
  7. Ice cream lovers are passionate about everything about ice cream, so a blog dedicated to all things ice cream can be a great way to make affiliate sales of products like ice cream machines and specialty kitchenware. Publish at least one article per day and include a mix of topical and evergreen content to appeal to a wide range of readers.
  8. While it is easy to find ice cream at the supermarket, it can be more difficult to find specialized ice cream. Parties, birthdays, events are always looking for unique serving containers and decorations that will set their event apart. Home ice cream makers may also have specific tastes when it comes to their ingredients. You can buy goods in bulk, market them online, and profit from the sales.
  9. Invent a new product and become the Tesla of ice cream. You can take an existing product and redesign it to make it even better. For example, maybe you’ve always wished there was a hand-operated ice cream maker on the market, but all you can find are electric ones. Well, you could come up with your own design for a hand-crank ice cream maker and then find a manufacturer to bring it to life.

How Profitable Are Ice Cream Trucks?

vanilla ice cream with chocolate in a cone

The epic margins on ice cream products are often high, with a markup of 50% or more. For example, if you purchase a box of ice cream sandwiches that cost 50 cents each, you can sell them for $1 each. Some products may be more expensive, while others may be cheaper. Operating an ice cream truck with bulk ice cream bins can also result in a significant increase in profits. Limiting the number of flavors available and purchasing large bins can help increase efficiency. 

Single and double scoop cones can have a markup of over 100%. On a typical summer day, an ice cream truck can generate sales of between $200 and $500, resulting in a net profit of around half the gross sales. For example, if an ice cream truck generates $300 in sales, five days per week, it will have a gross profit of $1,500 or a net profit of $750 per week which is insane. Multiplying this by the number of weeks per year that the ice cream truck is in operation can give an estimate of the annual income. 

Special events such as Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July can result in even higher profits, with the potential to sell over $1,000 in a single day. Ice cream truck owners can also increase their income by operating in areas with busy event schedules.

How Much Do Ice Cream Trucks Cost?

The cost of an ice cream truck can vary depending on whether you choose to buy a brand-new truck or a pre-owned one aka older model. Pre-owned ice cream trucks typically cost between $10,000 and $20,000, while a new ice cream truck can cost around $60,000. 

Leasing is another option, with monthly payments ranging from $1,500 to $2,000. When considering the cost of an ice cream truck, it is important to also factor in the cost of any necessary modifications, such as custom wrapping, freezer installation or a cool sound system. 

You will need to consider ongoing costs such as gas, maintenance, and insurance. It may be helpful to create a budget to help you determine how much you can afford to spend on an ice cream truck. Researching different financing options and shopping around for the best prices can also help you save money when purchasing an ice cream truck.

Where to Sell Ice Cream With Your Ice Cream Truck

strawberry and vanilla ice cream in a cone

It is important to check local rules and regulations before selling ice cream in any location to ensure that you are following the rules. You may also need to obtain any necessary permits or licenses to be able to sell ice cream.

  1. Residential neighborhoods: One option is to drive through residential neighborhoods and play music to attract customers. You can create a route that takes you through different neighborhoods on different days to reach a wider customer base.
  2. Special events: You can also sell ice cream at special events such as festivals, sporting events, and carnivals. Contact local event organizers to see if they are interested in having an ice cream truck at their event.
  3. Parks and beaches: Another option is to sell ice cream at local parks and beaches, which are popular destinations during the warm months.
  4. Schools: Many schools allow ice cream trucks to park on their grounds during lunchtime or after school. Contact local schools to see if they are interested in having an ice cream truck visit.
  5. Businesses: Some businesses, such as office buildings and warehouses, may allow an ice cream truck to park on their property during lunchtime or as a treat for employees. You can contact businesses in your area to see if they are interested in hosting an ice cream truck.


How much does a ice cream truck make is totally up to you and the amount of time you put into the business. So the money that an ice cream truck makes can vary depending on a number of factors. Some of the main factors that influence the income of an ice cream truck include the seasonality of the business, the frequency of operation, and the location of the truck.

On average, an ice cream truck can make between $200 and $300 per day in the summertime, resulting in a monthly income of around $5,000. However, it is possible to make significantly more on high-traffic days or by offering additional services such as booking for special events or kids’ birthday parties. So this really is a great side hustle that can bring in loads of money and make you rich!

It is also important to consider the expenses associated with operating an ice cream truck, such as the cost of the vehicle, gas, and supplies, which can cut into the overall profit. The income of an ice cream truck can range widely depending on these and other factors, but with careful planning and hard work, it can be a lucrative business.


Robin Esson

Hey, I'm a project manager, how to make money expert and dad of two who's all about maximizing the money. From creating successful money-making strategies to managing projects like a boss, I'm here to share my know-how with you. But don't worry, I won't bore you with jargon - I keep it real and add a little humor to make things fun. Let's build those passive income streams and live our best lives! Follow along for tips, tricks, and a little bit of quirkiness.


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