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8 Most Popular Food Delivery Items for Restaurants & Virtual Kitchens

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Food delivery has become the biggest lifeline for so many restaurants and virtual kitchens are booming with business.

Knowing what kinds of food people are ordering is super important if you’re looking to cash in on this delivery trend that’s sure to continue in 2021 and beyond!

This data is from studies conducted and published by 3rd party delivery apps like UberEats, Grubhub, and DoorDash. From all their app data they were able to find out the most ordered items throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Let’s dive right in:

1. Burgers

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The number one most profitable food delivery item: burgers. An American staple, it’s a comfort food that travels well, making them super popular.

According to DoorDash, this is the number one item people have ordered through their platform – with fries.

Grubhub says that sales of spicy chicken sandwiches are up by 353%, while both plant-based burgers and cheeseburgers have seen a 150% increase in demand.

Why are so many people ordering burgers?

Making a good burger at home takes lots of equipment and ingredients, so people would much rather have them delivered. Make sure to include one on your delivery menu for a cut of these big profits.

2. Mac & Cheese

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Next up: Mac & Cheese… it’s such a warm, nostalgic, and hearty item.

According to DoorDash. This is the second most in demand item that people are ordering.

If you’re going to offer this item, you must make sure it’s not clumpy or dry, and add a nice extra touch like breadcrumbs or seasonings. Otherwise, people will just prefer to get the box!

At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering a great customer experience. The better the experience, the more customers are going to want to order from you again and again.

3. Tacos

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Everybody loves tacos. There’s so many great kinds!

One downside is that they could turn into a mess during delivery. I would highly recommend testing different packaging options so your taco makes it to the customer safe and sound.

Packaging aside, it’s a great item for delivery because the profit margins are big and the demand has skyrocketed. We’re talking about more than 900% for shrimp tacos and over 1,500% for a chicken taco!

These are crazy numbers. Be sure to offer a taco item that fits your restaurant concept to take full advantage of this trend.

4. DIY Pizza Kits

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Pizza is an all time favorite. People love pizza. I love pizza. You love pizza. Making your own is a great easy activity, especially if you’re bored at home all the time!

No one wants to go and buy groceries or make dough from scratch. They just want to buy a meal kit have all the ingredients there, ready to put together and bake.

This is why you should definitely consider not just selling and serving pizza, but offering a DIY Kit. According to DoorDash, DIY kits have already seen a skyrocket in demand.

And on top of that, it is super easy for your restaurant to produce. All you have to do is put all the ingredients in a box and it’s good to go.

Not into pizza? You can offer DIY kits for pasta, sushi, tacos, whatever fits your brand!

At the end of the day, if you give the customer a great time they’ll attach this experience with your brand. And when they do that, you’re in a very good place to capitalize on this trend.

5. Coffee

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Believe it or not, the next item is iced coffee!

DoorDash saw an increase of more than 1,000% for their iced coffee, which surprised me since it can be an easy thing to make at home.

People just love it a lot. It’s something that everyone drinks on a daily basis. Even if you think it doesn’t match your concept, people will drink coffee with anything at any time!

In general, beverages are great high margin items that travel well and are perfect for offsetting those hefty delivery fees.

Don’t just limit yourself to offering iced coffee, test out lots of different beverages that go with your food options for the best chance of success.

6. Sushi

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Number 6 is sushi. Sushi is by far my favorite food item!

If you’re starting a new virtual kitchen, sushi is definitely the way to go. Why?

It travels tremendously well! It just sticks into the box and it doesn’t move around, so your presentation remains intact.

On top of that, you can actually prepare everything in advance. When people order during lunchtime, you can just take it out of the fridge, put in a box, and boom!

More than 30% of respondents of the DoorDash survey said that they missed eating sushi, because it’s pretty difficult to make at home.

So if you have the ability, this is a great item for your menu, because it’s just something that everyone loves!

7. Cupcakes

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Next up is cupcakes. This one really caught me by surprise! I never thought cupcakes would be in the top 8.

But according to Grubhub, cupcake demand and sales went up by more than 200%. People want sugary comfort food, and there’s just something about cupcakes that makes them so delicious.

Make sure to invest in quality packaging for travel so they’re safe from any sharp turns the delivery driver might make!

In general, desserts are a big ticket item. Demand for cheesecakes and muffins has gone up by more than 500%! Most desserts are easy to prepare and will stay fresh for a day or two.

So if you have a sweet tooth, consider adding a dessert item to your delivery menu.

8. Pasta

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And lastly, pasta!

If you haven’t seen my video on the Top 5 Most Profitable Food Items, check it out here! I talk about why pasta is always a great item to offer because of its high margins, low skill required, and is overall just a great hearty comfort food option.

According to DoorDash, Cajun Shrimp Pasta specifically has gone up in demand by more than 164%. Dishes like this are great because they offer more interesting flavors and ingredients that people are less likely to be able to make at home.

Like pizza, pasta is also a great idea for a DIY meal kit!

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There you have it, the eight most profitable food delivery items over the past year. Pandemic or not, customers’ delivery habits have fundamentally changed. Virtual kitchens and delivery orders are projected to hold steady throughout 2021.

If you have a restaurant or you’re thinking about opening up a delivery service, you should really consider offering these items to take advantage.

Overall, the pattern that we see is that comfort food and shareable plates sell very well. We also see a huge decline in healthy food demand. When you’re at home all snuggled in, you just want to be able to enjoy a delicious plate of food.

For more great resources on starting a food delivery business, check out my other blog posts here!

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