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Concession Stand Food Ideas

Concession Stand Food Ideas

Last updated on 1/19/2022

If you develop the right menu, opening a concession stand is a low start-up cost way to join the foodservice industry. Whether you want to revamp your existing concession stand menu or generate one from scratch, we developed a comprehensive concession stand food ideas guide filled with healthy items, profitable snacks, pre-made concessions, and spruced-up concession stand fare to help you increase your sales.

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Classic Concession Stand Food Ideas

Your concession stand menu isn't complete without these classic foods. Investing in some key concession equipment allows you to expand your menu to include popular foods that will boost your sales. We rounded up the most profitable menu items and provided tips on upgrading these classic concessions.

Hot Dogs

hotdog on grilled bun with melted cheese, onions, and mushrooms

If you're looking for a traditional concession food that's cost-effective, popular with customers, and requires very little labor to prepare, hot dogs are the perfect choice. Countertop hot dog rollers do most of the work for you, displaying footlongs, brats, and sausages while they cook and adding a tempting aroma to your concession stand that draws more attention. Condiment dispensers make it convenient for guests to choose their favorite toppings, whether it's ketchup, relish, or mustard. Try adding some of these popular hot dog combos to your concession stand menu:

  • Ketchup or Mustard: In the battle for the most popular hot dog topping, you can stay neutral by offering your guests their choice.
  • Chicago Style: To make this regional favorite, start with an all-beef frankfurter and top it with yellow mustard, green relish, a pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt.
  • Coney Island Hot Dog: The quintessential Coney Island dog is made with a beef frank topped with meaty chili, hold the beans. Finish it off with chopped onions and yellow mustard.
  • Cleveland Polish Boy: This Cleveland classic combines a kielbasa sausage with a generous topping of cole slaw, french fries, and barbecue sauce. Extra napkins are a must for this messy hot dog.

French Fries

It's hard to resist a bucket of fresh-cut french fries. This classic concession food can be prepped ahead of time or cut fresh to order with a french fry cutter. Just a few minutes in your countertop fryer and you'll be ready to serve up this crowd-pleasing snack. Try some of our ideas for mixing up your concessions french fry menu:

  • Potato Alternatives: Instead of russets, try a different type of potato like a purple Peruvian or a Japanese sweet potato. You can even skip potatoes altogether and offer jicama or yucca fries.
  • Cooking Oils: Experiment with a range of deep frying oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or duck fat.
  • Loaded Fry Ideas: Load up your fries with tasty toppings like carne asada fries, bahn mi loaded fries, or poutine fries.

Chicken Wings

Fried foods like chicken wings are great for concession stands because the cooking process is very simple. Drop an order of wings in the fryer and toss them with sauce when they're done. Plate the wings with celery and blue cheese, and they are ready to be served. You can take this simple menu item and spice it up with our tips:

  • Meatless Alternatives: More consumers are interested in plant-based meats than ever before. Try offering vegan wing alternatives made of crispy cauliflower, deep-fried seitan, or buffalo tempeh.
  • Smoked Chicken Wings: If you want to put your chicken wings over the top, try smoking them the night before. Flash fry them to order and toss them in a classic Memphis dry rub seasoning before serving them with ranch dressing.
  • Global Flavors: Take inspiration from popular street foods around the world and offer Korean fried chicken wings, shawarma chicken wings, and pollo frito chicken wings.


Even with gourmet ingredients, loaded nachos are relatively inexpensive to produce and quick to assemble.

  • Unexpected Proteins: ahi tuna, toasted chickpeas, pulled pork, huli-huli chicken, fried tofu.
  • Unique Cheeses: beer cheese, paneer, cheese curds, queso, vegan cheese, Ayib.
  • Tortilla Chip Alternatives: pita chips, beetroot chips, Fritos, wonton chips, sweet potato chips, Cheetos.

Funnel Cake

Trends toward health consciousness aside, most patrons are happy to splurge at events. Use these funnel cake ideas to create desserts customers will set their diets aside for.

  • Funnel Cake "Sandwiches": funnel cake ice cream sandwich, fried chicken funnel cake sandwich, funnel cake Monte Cristo.
  • Sub Funnel Cake Into Classic Desserts: Replace vanilla wafers in banana pudding, shortcake in strawberry shortcake, or graham crackers in smores with funnel cake.
  • Flavored Funnel Cake Batter: red velvet, chocolate, peanut butter, birthday cake, lemon.

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is classic comfort food that sells well at concession stands when they're made with unexpected and fanciful ingredients.

  • Artisan Breads: sourdough, pumpernickel, focaccia, gluten-free, croissant, rugbraud, buttermilk biscuit.
  • Specialty Spreads: spinach and artichoke, ajvar, baba ganoush, Amba.
  • Add-Ins: mojo pork, mac and cheese, BBQ chicken, crab cakes, burnt ends.


Pizza with Fresh Ingredients

There will be other vendors offering this beloved food, so use our pizza ideas to outproduce your competitors.

  • DIY Toppings: allow customers to select their desired sauces, cheeses, and toppings.
  • Serve Less-Known Types of Pizza: Roman pizza, Detroit pizza, Ohio Valley pizza, Sicilian pizza, Greek pizza.
  • Accommodate Alternative Diets: gluten-free pizza crust, vegan cheese, cauliflower pizza crust, meatless sausage toppings.

Cotton Candy

Nostalgic and easy to eat on the go, cotton candy is a classic concession stand food. Use our gourmet cotton candy ideas to attract the cultivated modern palette.

  • Use Organic Ingredients: use organic sugar and flavorings in your cotton candy recipe.
  • Creative Cotton Candy Containers/Sticks: ice cream cone, twisty stick, mason jar, rock candy stick, glow stick.
  • Fancy Flavors: pina colada, prickly pear, cherry cordial, pumpkin spice, pitaya, white chocolate, acai.

Corn Dogs

Corn dogs are classic concession stand fare, but there is nothing basic about these corn dog ideas.

  • Non-Sausage Corn Dogs: lobster corn dog, dill pickle corn dog, chicken tender corn dog.
  • Creative Batters: beer battered corn dog, tempura battered corn dog, pancake battered corn dog.
  • Unique Dipping Sauces: marinara sauce, curry ketchup, mustard BBQ sauce, maple syrup, tomato chutney.

Beef Sandwiches

There are countless takes on the beef sandwich, proving that however you smother or slice it, people love hot beef between warm bread. Dress your beef sandwiches up to the nines with these beef sandwich ideas.

  • Convert Comfort Food Into A Sandwich: beef stroganoff sandwich, Salisbury steak sandwich, pot roast sandwich, beef bourgeon sandwich.
  • Regional Beef Sandwiches: Philly Cheesesteak, Beef on Weck, Italian Beef, Baltimore’s Pit Beef sandwich.
  • Unique BBQ Sauces: El Sancho BBQ sauce, Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, guava BBQ sauce, Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce.

Concession Stand Menu Tip: Find something that you do very well and make that the focal point of your menu. Once you have a loyal customer base frequenting your stand, look to expand.

Most Profitable Concession Stand Foods

Popcorn at a Concession Stand

Profitable concession stand foods are inexpensive to purchase in bulk, easy to mass-produce, and don't require cutlery. We've rounded up the most profitable concession stand foods below:

  • Popcorn
  • Cotton Candy
  • Nachos
  • Pretzels
  • Roasted Nuts
  • Snow Cones
  • Corn Dogs
  • Ice Cream

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Healthy Concession Stand Food Ideas

Individual Portion Hummus and Pita Chips

When forming your concession stand menu, it's important to consider the growing trend towards health-conscious eating and the broader awareness of food allergens so you can accommodate customers' dietary restrictions. Here are some healthy snacks you can sell at your concession stand.

1. Fruit Snacks

The best fruit snacks for concession stands are easy-to-peel and consume. Stock your concession stand with these fruit snacks.

Fruit Snack Ideas

  • Pre-Cut Melon Slices
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Fruit Cups

2. Roasted Nuts

Roasted nuts' healthy fat content will keep ballpark customers satiated when the game goes into overtime, making them an ideal, nutrient-packed snack to offer at your concession stand.

Roasted Nut Recipes

  • Praline Pecans
  • Honey Roasted Nuts
  • German Roasted Nuts
  • Cinnamon Roasted Nuts
  • Toasted Coconut Rum Nuts

3. Vegetable Snacks

Pre-cut vegetables paired with single-serve dips are on-the-go snacks that won't leave your concession stand customers feeling heavy.

Vegetable Snack Ideas

  • Celery and Peanut Butter
  • Sweet Bell Pepper and Hummus
  • Cucumber Slices and Tzatziki
  • Jumbo Dill Pickles
  • Carrot Sticks and Ranch

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Pre-made Concession Stand Food Ideas

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can make simple crowd-pleasers off-site and transport them to your concession stand. Some of these food options require equipment if you want to serve them hot. Investing in a food warmer allows you to keep pre-cooked food at ready-to-serve temperatures without having to upgrade your concession stand space or increase on-site prep times.

1. Cookies

On average, we eat seven billion cookies each year in the United States. Selling these beloved treats is a safe way to turn a profit, but which flavors do people prefer? We're sharing the most popular cookies so you can turn a major profit.

Most Popular Cookies

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Oatmeal Cookies
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Snickerdoodle

2. Popcorn

These beloved popcorn flavors are sure to sell. Reimagine them to set your concession stand apart.

Popcorn Flavors

  • Caramel Popcorn
  • Cheese Popcorn
  • Chocolate Popcorn
  • Coconut Oil Popcorn with Toasted Coconut
  • Cajun Popcorn

3. Brownies

Brownies are a beloved baked good you can easily make ahead in large batches and sell for a high profit at your concession stand. Here are some ideas for the best types of brownies to sell.

Types of Brownies

  • Keto Brownies
  • Vegan Brownies
  • Everything Brownies (cookie, Oreo, and brownie layered bar)
  • Peanut Butter Brownies
  • Cream Cheese Brownies

4. Sandwiches

Pre-assemble America's most popular sandwiches and sell out daily.

Most Popular Sandwiches

  • BLT
  • Roast Beef Sandwich
  • Turkey Sandwich
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich
  • Ham Sandwich

5. Soft Pretzels

From giant soft pretzels to pretzel bites, soft pretzels are inexpensive to produce and return a considerable profit. Discover the best soft pretzel dip ideas below.

Soft Pretzel Dip Ideas

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Honey Mustard
  • Beer Cheese
  • Whole Grain Mustard
  • Creamy Horseradish

Concession Stand Menu Tip: Try introducing a new pre-cooked item and see how it sells. When you learn what your customers like to buy—and how much—you can pre-cook with more confidence.

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Store Bought Snack Ideas

Concession Stand Display of Hershey's Reese's and Kit Kat Candy Bars

Store-bought foods allow you to serve the largest number of people at the lowest prices. We researched and compiled lists of the most popular snack flavors and brands for you. All you have to do is pull these items off the shelf and hand them to your customers.

Most Popular Candy

Offer the top five most popular candies in America at your concession stand:

  1. M&M's
  2. Skittles
  3. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Starburst
  5. Twizzlers

Most Popular Soda

The polls are in and these are your patrons' favorite soda flavors:

  1. Coca-Cola
  2. Diet Coke
  3. Pepsi
  4. Mountain Dew
  5. Dr. Pepper

Most Popular Candy Bars

Discover the best-selling candy bars in America:

  1. Hershey's Bar
  2. Snicker's
  3. Kit Kats
  4. Twix
  5. 3 Musketeers

Most Popular Chewy Candy

The most popular chewy candy brands will fly off your concession stand's shelves:

  1. Sour Patch Kids
  2. Swedish Fish
  3. Gummy Bears
  4. Sour Gummy Worms
  5. Fruit Gummy Rings

Most Popular Gum

According to a 2020 research study, Americans ranked the most popular chewing gum flavors as follows:

  1. Spearmint
  2. Peppermint
  3. Wintergreen / Winterfresh
  4. Fruit Flavors
  5. Cinnamon

Concession Stand Menu Tip: Stocking your concession stand with bottled beverages such as bottled water, iced tea, and lemonade at a lower price than on-site food vendors will encourage their patrons to make a separate trip to you. If you sell food, creating a drink deal and including a bottle of water with meals is a great way to set yourself above your competition.

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Preparing Concessions On-Site vs Off-Site

French Fries of Multiple Sizes Stacked Side by Side

If you're trying to decide where to prepare your concessions, we've broken down the benefits and risks of preparing your concessions on- and off-site to help you decide. You should also consider your location and your customer's needs. For example, if your concession stand is at a sporting event, you would do well to focus on pre-made snacks since your customers will want to return to their seats quickly.

Benefits and Risks of Preparing Concessions Off-Site

Selling pre-made concessions reduces the amount of equipment you need at your stand. If you have limited space, preparing your food in a commissary kitchen ahead of time can be helpful. Less on-site prep time means you can sell more products than if you cooked them to order.

Although prepared food saves time on site, it also involves some risk. You must estimate how much you can sell before setting up shop for the day/evening. This gamble could cause overproduction and waste if you're unfamiliar with your customers' needs.

Benefits and Risks of Cooking to Order at Your Concession Stand

The freshness and authenticity of made-to-order food allow you to charge more for your concessions, and you’re more likely to have return customers if you have something unique to offer. Also, cooking to order means you won’t have extra prepared goods at the end of each day, reducing food waste.

There isn’t a lot of risk in selling food to order, but it can be harder to turn a profit. The added prep time means you’ll probably sell fewer items, and the added expense of purchasing equipment lowers your profit margin. Additionally, keeping up with customer orders may require you to hire a small staff or work with a partner.

Rapid Cook Ovens

If you want to increase your menu and decrease prep times, rapid cook ovens are essential. They can cook a pizza in less than four minutes, create a perfectly crisp panini in seconds, and roast a chicken breast in under seven minutes. Rapid cook ovens take up significantly less space than traditional ovens, making them ideal for concession stands. Depending on your menu, this could be the only piece of equipment you'll need.

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The best concession stand menu is filled with low-cost, easy-to-assemble items that are well-suited to the event it serves. If you're interested in pursuing other vending opportunities, check out our guide comparing food trucks, food trailers, and food carts and discover which mobile food business is right for you.

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