Your Complete Guide to Food Truck Hire Prices: Costs per Event Type, Factors, and Budget Tips
Food trucks have become an increasingly popular catering option for all types of events, from small backyard gatherings to large corporate functions. There’s just something fun and appealing about grabbing a bite from a mobile kitchen!
But hiring a food truck involves more than just choosing your favorite type of cuisine. There are several factors that can impact the cost of renting a food truck for an event.
So how much does it actually cost to rent a food truck?
The cost to hire a food truck can vary based on the type of truck, services offered, the number of people being served, and the duration of the event. On average, plan on spending $1,500 to $3,000 to rent a food truck for a single day or event. For multi-day rentals, the costs usually range from $3,000 up to $15,000. High-end gourmet food trucks can cost as much as $20,000 or more for major events.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about food truck rental prices and costs to hire a food truck for your next party, wedding, corporate event, or any type of work event. We’ll provide detailed cost ranges for different event types and services, factoring in elements like capacity, staffing, travel, cuisine, and more.
So whether you’re planning a backyard birthday bash, a 200-person wedding, or a large corporate festival, understanding food truck pricing is key to budgeting and getting the best rate.
Key Factors That Determine Food Truck Rental Costs
Several important factors go into the cost of hiring a food truck for an event, including:
Type of Event
Food trucks charge different rates depending on the type of event. Private events usually cost more than public events where the truck can sell to walk-up customers too.
- Weddings – Expect to pay more for wedding catering, with most full-service food trucks charging $1,500 to $4,000 for a single day. Weddings require a higher level of service and coordination.
- Corporate Events – Prices for corporate catering events average $1,500 to $3,000 per day. Corporate events may want branded trucks, specialized menus, and prepaid meal vouchers.
- Birthday Parties – Backyard birthday parties and similar small private events can book a food truck for $500 to $1,500. More casual, with simpler menus needed.
- Festivals – Vendors may charge less for major public events and festivals, sometimes just a flat fee of $500 to $1,500 per day since they can also sell food to event attendees.
Number of Guests
The number of people the truck needs to serve affects the overall food costs and rental fees.
Most food trucks cater for 50 to 150 guests as a standard service. Going above 150 guests often incurs additional fees for a second truck, more staffing, or limited menus.
For example, a truck charging $1,000 for a party of 50 people may charge $1,500 or more for a group of 150, due to higher food quantities needed.
Length of Rental
Food truck hire costs are usually based on a minimum number of service hours. The base price may include 3 to 4 hours of active serving time.
Events over 4 hours typically incur an extra hourly rate, usually around $100 to $250 per additional hour. For an 8-hour wedding reception, you may need to pay for 4 additional service hours.
What’s included in the food truck rental also determines the price. A la carte food trucks tend to cost less than full-service catering.
- A la Carte Service – Guests order individually and pay for their own meals. The cost for truck rental only is $500 to $1,500. You handle the rest.
- Full-Service Catering – Truck provides staff, pre-ordered menus, disposable plates/utensils, and handles all food service. Catering packages start around $1,500 to $4,000.
- Specialty Cuisine – Unique menus like BBQ, seafood, foreign cuisine, or gourmet options have premium pricing, starting around $2,500+. Specialty trucks require specialized ingredients and preparation.
Branding, event coordination, wait staff, alcohol service, desserts, and other upgrades add to the costs quickly.
Location and Travel
Geography impacts food truck hire costs. Urban trucks often charge less than those traveling long distances to rural events. Expect to pay travel fees on top of the base rental rate if the event is outside the metro area, generally $1 to $2 per mile.
For example, a truck traveling 50 miles outside their service area may charge $100 in travel fees.
Time of Year
Peak seasons like spring and summer tend to have higher demand, so food truck rental prices often increase during the busier months.
You’ll usually get the best rates booking 6-12 months out for a spring/summer event before the trucks are overwhelmed with bookings. Last-minute rentals during peak times can come at a premium.
Type of Cuisine
Simple cuisines like sandwiches, tacos, BBQs, burgers, pizza, etc. tend to have lower food truck rental costs, while upscale specialty cuisine comes at a premium.
Gourmet food trucks offer unique menus like lobster rolls, Korean fusion, and organic bowls but usually charge higher rental and food pricing due to ingredients and labor costs.
Cost Range by Event Type
To give you a better idea of potential food truck hire costs, here are typical price ranges based on different events:
Food Truck Rental Cost for a Wedding
Hiring a food truck for a wedding generally costs between $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the length of service, number of guests, services included, cuisine type, and location.
Most full-service wedding catering packages start around $3,000 to $4,000 for a single truck serving 150 guests for 4 to 5 hours.
This usually includes coordination with the wedding planner, branded design, staff for buffet service, and some combination of appetizers, main dishes, and late-night snacks.
If you have a smaller guest list under 100 and need shorter service of 2-3 hours, prices could be as low as $1,500 to $2,500.
Upscale gourmet food trucks or specialty cuisine for weddings averages $4,000 to $6,000+. These trucks require specialized ingredients, prep, and highly trained chefs, increasing the costs.
Cost to Rent Food Truck for Corporate Event
Corporate food truck rental costs tend to range from $1,500 to $3,000 per truck for most single-day events. Here’s a breakdown of pricing factors:
- A la Carte Service – Rental only, no catering staff: $1,000 to $1,500
- Full-Service Catering (for 100 guests): $2,000 to $3,000 Includes coordination, delivery, and disposable plates/cutlery.
- Additional Hours: $100 to $250 per hour Usually needed for corporate parties over 4 hours.
- Long Distance Travel: $1 to $2 per mile Companies may want trucks from a popular metro area.
- Branding & Promotions: $500+ Many companies want custom graphics or messaging on the trucks.
Other factors like guest count, gourmet cuisine, extra staffing, special menus, etc. can drive up prices. Large multi-day corporate events like conferences or festivals often book multiple trucks with rental fees ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 in total.
Cost to Hire Food Truck for Birthday Party
For smaller backyard birthday parties, expect to pay around $500 to $1,500 to hire a food truck for a party.
Having the truck provide full catering service with coordination, disposable utensils, and staff can increase the price from $1,000 to $2,000.
Upscale trucks offer specialty cuisine menus for birthday events at premium pricing of $2,000+. These tend to be for “foodie” private events.
The more elaborate the party, the higher the truck rental rate. Sticking to basics like BBQ, tacos, burgers tends to cost less than specialized menus and lots of add-ons.
- How Much Does A Food Truck Cost For A Wedding?
- The Pros & Cons Of A Food Truck Wedding
- 27 Best Food Truck Ideas For Weddings 2023
Tips to Get the Best Food Truck Rental Price
Here are some tips to help get the best bang for your buck when hiring a food truck:
- Book early – Prices are often lowest during off-peak season and you get the most options booking 6-12 months out. Last-minute bookings can really limit selection.
- Compare multiple trucks – Get quotes from several vendors to find the best rate. Prices can vary greatly between trucks. Don’t assume the first quote is your only option.
- Negotiate pricing – Especially for multi-truck or multi-day rentals, you can likely negotiate discounts. Ask about combining days, promotional opportunities, or early payment discounts.
- Downsize guest list – For private events, dropping from 150 to 100 guests can potentially save thousands. Food quantities and staff needs drop with fewer guests.
- Limit rental time – Only book the truck for active serving hours, not your whole event. A 6-hour wedding really only needs a truck for 4 active hours.
- Skip extras – Branding, decor, expanded menus, etc. add costs quickly. Stick to basic catering needs to keep the price reasonable.
- BYO staff – If the budget is tight, hire your own servers instead of using the truck’s full staff. You just need a couple of people to hand out food.
- Share costs – For big events, split the rental fee with other organizers or the host venue. Many hands make lighter work.
- Browse used trucks – You can sometimes save 50% or more by booking used, vintage, or refurbished food trucks. Just confirm they meet safety codes!
Should You Hire a Food Truck or Go With Other Catering?
Beyond just costs, there are a few other things to factor in when deciding between hiring a food truck, restaurant caterer, or other food service.
Pros of hiring a food truck:
- Fun, unique experience for guests
- Ability to serve freshly made food on-site
- More flexibility on menu options
- Less expensive than formal catering or restaurant delivery for mid-size events
- Built-in entertainment value and decor
- Engaging staff who focus on customer experience
- Limited capacity (usually 100-150 guests max)
- Restricted menu options compared to restaurant caterer
- Requires outdoor venue space for the truck
- Potential weather issues
- Less predictable pricing
- Need backup kitchens/power for large events
If your event has fewer than 100 guests and you want a casual catering option with lots of variety, a food truck is likely the best fit.
For large formal events or plated dinners, a licensed restaurant caterer may work better to handle detailed menus and seating plans.
Food trucks are ideal for informal events where you want fresh, experiential food service. Formal caterers excel with traditional multi-course plated dinners and more guests.
Questions to Ask Before Booking a Food Truck
To make sure you find the right food truck rental fit, here are some key questions to ask vendors:
- What is your per-person or flat event rate? Is there a minimum/maximum?
- How many guests can you serve in one service? Get their realistic capacity.
- What is included in a full-service catering package vs. a la carte pricing?
- Do you offer different cuisine styles and specialty menus? Or just the basics?
- Is staff for serving, clearing plates, etc. included? How many staff members?
- Are disposable plates, utensils, and napkins included or do we provide them?
- Do you have insurance for off-site catering events? Ask for proof.
- Is there a travel or mileage fee if I’m not within your metro area? Check radius.
- When do I need to finalize guest count and menu orders? How soon in advance?
- What is your cancellation and deposit policy if plans change? What’s non-refundable?
- Can you provide photos of other events you’ve worked on? Ask to see their work.
- How do you handle payment? Deposit, balance due, gratuity?
Key Takeaways on Food Truck Rental Costs
Hiring a food truck for your next event can make catering fun and memorable. But costs can climb quickly depending on guest count, service needs, cuisine, and other factors. Use these tips when budgeting:
- Expect to spend $1,500 to $3,000 to rent a food truck for a single-day event. That’s the typical range.
- Major factors affecting price include the number of guests, length of rental, services offered, event type and location.
- Full-service catering packages are pricier than a la carte-truck rentals. Go basic if you’re on a tight budget.
- Negotiate pricing whenever possible, especially for multi-truck/multi-day rentals. Ask for a discount!
- Book in the off-season and compare quotes across multiple vendors to get the best rate. Don’t assume one quote is the lowest price.
With the right truck match, food trucks can be an awesome and cost-effective catering choice for both private parties and public events of all sizes!