most profitable menu items
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Not all menu items are created equal. Some are more profitable than others, and they can help you increase your profit margin if you know how to promote them.

From the most profitable menu items you should focus on, to clever ways to make them stand out, let’s delve deep into menu engineering.

4 Key Considerations When Choosing the Most Profitable Restaurant Food

Menu profitability depends on a variety of factors that you should take into account before you design your restaurant menu:

  • Cost: The cost of ingredients and labor is a crucial factor that affects profitability. Choosing low-food-cost menu items will help you generate a higher profit margin.
  • Pricing: Cost goes hand in hand with menu pricing. Ensure you charge enough to make a profit but not too much over the average in your area for your type of cuisine and service.
  • Food waste: Food waste is one of the main culprits for high food costs. If you let ingredients go to waste, it’s like throwing money out the window. Try to choose menu items that use the same ingredients to avoid that happening.
  • Seasonality: One of the easiest ways to keep food costs down is to use seasonal ingredients sourced locally.

How Strategic Menu Item Placement Can Help You Sell More

Did you know that your restaurant menu’s structure can increase profits? Customers tend to look at the top and bottom menu items in each category, so place your most profitable menu items there.

You can also highlight high-profit items by placing them next to more expensive items that are less profitable for you. Customers will see them as the better choice in comparison.

Moreover, don’t overwhelm customers with many choices. A small menu will help you focus on the most profitable menu items while making it easy for hungry customers to scan and order.

7 Most Profitable Menu Items to Choose from

1. Pizza

Who doesn’t love a piping hot slice of crispy pizza? What makes pizza one of the most profitable restaurant menu items is its versatility.

All pizzas need dough and sauce, and you can play around with the toppings to cater to a variety of preferences and dietary restrictions.

Give customers even more flexibility by allowing them to order a half-and-half pizza whenever they can’t decide on just one variety.

most profitable restaurant items: pizza

Follow these steps to add a half-and-half pizza option to your restaurant menu:

You might also like: 15 Pizza Marketing Ideas That Will Increase Traffic & Orders

2. Appetizers

Appetizers are generally inexpensive to make, making them a high-profit item. They can also help you attract groups of people if you offer big platters of shareable appetizers.

What’s more, you can cross-sell appetizers as optional additions to main dishes. That way, when the customer adds, let’s say, a pizza to their cart, they will see all the appetizer options you suggest and be able to add them with a click.

most profitable menu items: appetizers

Promote your high-profit margin appetizers Include them as add-ons to main dishes using our menu builder

3. Sides

Simple sides such as French fries, rice, or green salad won’t cost much, but they can be added to any main dish. Similar to appetizers, you can cross-promote them on the menu.

Did someone add a burger to their cart? Won’t they like some crispy fries to go with that? Instead of going back to the menu to add it, give them the option to do so straight from the burger item.

menu engineering categories: sides

4. Add-ons

Add-ons can help you turn a $10 pizza into a $15 pizza without lifting a finger. Customers love being able to customize their orders, and this works great for you because you can sell more low-cost, high-profit items such as pizza toppings.

high profit margin restaurant menu items: toppings and add-ons

Learn how to easily add toppings and other add-ons to your online menu in the video tutorial below:

5. Vegan and vegetarian dishes

Plant-based dishes are some of the most profitable menu items for many reasons.

First, they are becoming increasingly popular as more and more customers turn to meat alternatives. Second, their ingredients are typically more affordable than meat-centered foods. Finally, customers are willing to pay more for a high-quality plant-based dish.

lowest food cost menu items: vegetarian dishes

To help customers identify vegan and vegetarian dishes, add helpful menu icons following these steps:

Pro tip: To appeal to the health-conscious crowd, consider customizing your menu even further to include nutritional information and allergens.

add nutritional information and allergens to your menu

6. Combos

Food combos are not only profitable for the customer, but for the restaurant as well. They allow you to pair a more expensive menu item with a simple, high-markup one.

Good, profitable combinations include burgers and fries, pizzas and drinks, or desserts and coffee.

Use our restaurant promotion templates to create enticing food combos that you can add at the top of your menu, to ensure everyone sees them.

menu promotion

Learn how to create combos and other attractive restaurant promotions in minutes without breaking a sweat:

7. Drinks

Drinks are a high-profit margin menu item that can help you boost sales. If you’re not selling a large variety of beverages yet, consider adding a bit of each to your menu: soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits, cocktails, and non-alcoholic cocktails.

most profitable menu items: drinks

To sell more drinks, learn some key food and beverage pairing techniques and suggest drinks as add-ons that complement different meals.

Final Thoughts

Identifying the most profitable menu items you can sell and finding creative ways to promote them will contribute to your long-term success by catering to customer desires and preferences while lowering food costs.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.