How to Sell Homemade Desserts to Restaurants

by Maya Black; Updated September 26, 2017

Restaurants without pastry chefs on staff may be interested in buying desserts from wholesalers like you. If you're just starting a dessert production business, ensure that your home kitchen -- or other dessert production facility -- meets your state's and jurisdiction's requirements for an approved facility. This will determine whether or not you can sell your desserts for public consumption.

Get Your Home Kitchen/Production Facility Approved

Typically, your production facility must meet state and local public health requirements before you can produce any type of food, including desserts, for the general public to eat. Without proof that your facility is approved, you can expect potential restaurant clients to shy away from dealing with you. Your jurisdiction may offer facility approval in the form of a paper certificate, a wallet card or other certifying documents.

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements that your kitchen/facility must meet for approval. Generally speaking, the kitchen/facility where you produce desserts for sale must include, but is not limited to:

  • Separate storage cabinets for commercial and personal food items, if located in a home.
  • Separate and adequate cooling appliances for commercial food items, if located in the home.
  • Sinks with hot and cold running water.
  • Adequate hand-washing facilities.
  • Sanitary conditions throughout, meaning the facility must be clean.

You're responsible for learning your state's public health requirements with respect to preparing your kitchen or facility for commercial dessert production. You are also responsible for arranging an appointment with local public health officials in charge of approving kitchens when your facility is ready for inspection.

Limitations for Home-Based Dessert Producers

Some states may limit the kinds of desserts you can produce in a home-based kitchen due to restrictions on certain ingredients or production methods. For example, Arizona restricts home-based dessert producers from selling cheesecake because of dairy ingredients. Consult your state's food production guidelines, which you can find posted on department of public health or department of agriculture websites, for restrictions that apply to you.

Knock on Restaurant Doors

First, get your finger on the pulse of what's hot in your area in terms of desserts. Visit local restaurants that sell desserts and make note of what's selling well among desserts in which you specialize; for example, it could be cupcakes, cookies or gooey dessert bars that customers love. Then, make appointments for face-to-face meetings with decision makers -- this could be the head chef or owner -- at specific local restaurants -- coffee shops count, too -- that don't have in-house dessert production. Bring samples with you and be ready to negotiate your wholesale prices, as those in charge will want to buy at a price point that ensures profit when they sell the dessert items.

Impress Your Restaurant Clients

Prove that you can meet demand as soon as you acquire your first client. For restaurant clients in particular, you'll need to prove that you can produce the desserts you supply at the same or increasing volume and consistent quality, according to information posted on University of Nebraska-Lincoln's food website. When it comes to producing desserts, consistent volume and quality depend on, but are not limited to:

  • Reliable ingredient vendors
  • Reliable cooking and baking equipment
  • Space -- square footage -- to handle any increased volume
  • Time in your schedule 
  • Transportation for deliveries

Keep in Mind

Retail dessert sellers can rely on word of mouth and a certain amount of foot traffic to increase their business. This is not the case when you sell desserts wholesale to restaurants. In an article published on the Food Service Warehouse website, it's noted that you'll always have to get out there and woo restaurant clients, mainly with samples, to increase your business.

About the Author

Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.