So you’re opening a bakery – congratulations! You’re already imagining the display case full of fresh, delicious goods: rows of cookies and cupcakes, croissants and breakfast sandwiches, bear claws and cinnamon twists, just waiting to become someone’s new go-to treat. But first, how will your customers know what you’re selling and how to order it? One fundamental yet often underrated component: your menu.
Whether in-person or online, every choice you make as you put your menu together – from creative illustrations drawing attention to the highest-priced items, to easily-found modifiers and add-ons that customers can tack onto their orders (and up their check), to cohesive and consistent brand colors and logos – will influence how your products are purchased, and how your revenue flows.
While it can be easy to take menus for granted given their regularity and necessity, the way you build, design, and present your menu is crucial to how your customers will engage with your products – and putting intentional thought into this process is critical to driving business and maximizing profits.
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Bakery Menu Design Best Practices
Every menu design will be different, but there are some bakery menu design best practices that are always helpful to consider. The below 10 steps offer a recipe for success as you create the best possible menu for your bakery from scratch.
Essential Bakery Equipment List
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How to Create a Bakery Menu
Your menu is more than just the list of items that your bakery sells – it’s the tool through which your customers will be able to purchase your product. And while every establishment, and therefore every menu, will be different, there are 10 key steps that every bakery owner should consider when cooking up this essential piece of their bakery puzzle.
Write out all menu items
First, write out every single item you’re planning to sell.
Before you can start baking, you need to know what ingredients to bake with, right? In the same way, before you can start whipping up your menu design or strategy, you first need to know what components you’ll be working with.
Take a moment to write out all of the goods that will be available for your customers to buy – and don’t forget to think outside the box. In addition to baked goods, will your bakery sell any coffee or tea? Will you offer milk substitutions, like oat, almond, or soy milk, for an upcharge? Will you sell butter or jam to go with freshly baked scones? Will you have any combo deals or specials? Customers can’t get something if they don’t know it’s available for purchase, so make sure to include in your list any item that might help you maximize your bakery’s profits.
Categorize menu items
Once you know what items you’re selling, you’ll want to organize them into categories. For example: pastries, bread, sandwiches, daily specials, coffee and tea, substitutions and add-ons, and any other bucket that makes sense for your inventory.
After you’ve categorized your items, think about how you want them to appear on your menu. Which categories would be best to lead with? Is there an intuitive order that would make the most sense to your audience – and therefore make it easy for your customers to find what they’re in the mood for – such as pastries, then breakfast items, then lunch items, and so on?
Is there a way to organize the items within each category so that your most expensive options rise to the top? You can also use tools like this menu engineering worksheet to play around with a bakery menu template and nail down your recipe for success.
Set menu prices
Now that you’ve listed out and categorized all of your items, it’s time to calculate their value.
Pricing your bakery menu should not be an arbitrary decision. Determining the value of your items requires careful consideration of multiple components, to ensure your prices are accessible to the broadest possible customer market, while still generating a profit.
Make sure to account for all of your expenses, from overhead and inventory costs to employee compensation and benefits, to maintenance, repairs, and measures to improve health and safety. You should also consider the price points of your direct competitors and how they compare to the market rate, as well as the quality of your products and the experience of your staff. If your pastry chef attended a leading culinary program, make sure to incorporate that background into the value of your products. You could also consider using tools, like this menu engineering course, to learn how data and psychology can help inform your bakery menu design.
It’s important to note, too, that customers tend to appreciate transparency, honesty, and communication, and often want to invest in products and businesses that align with their morals and values. If your prices are higher than your competitors, don’t be afraid to let your customers know why. Maybe you’ve partnered with a local farm to use only organic, locally-sourced materials, maybe you’re covering your employees’ health insurance and paying higher wages.
Learn more about creating your bakery pricing strategy here.
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Create menu descriptions
Now, it’s time for the fun part – naming and describing your menu items.
Think about what kind of tone you want to strike with your customers – will your descriptions be witty, full of bakery puns and humor? Will your breakfast sandwiches be named after a person, a place, or an event? Will your cupcakes have funny titles? Will you take a simpler, more classic approach? How will you tell the story behind the items you’re selling, from the inspiration to the ingredients, and will it differ by product or category? Will you list out every ingredient so customers know exactly what they’re eating? How will you communicate allergies or dietary restrictions? Will you use a code, like “gf” for “gluten-free”, or “v” for “vegetarian”?
Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, and think about what details you’d want to know about what you’re consuming – are all of those communicated in your menu item descriptions? If yes, you’re on the right track.
Decide on a menu color scheme
While the written text is fundamental to creating your menu, just as important is how you visually communicate your brand. What colors represent YOUR bakery? What you choose is entirely up to you and your creative license, but here are a couple of components to consider.
Color printing can be expensive, so make sure you’re budgeting accordingly. Does it make more sense to go with black and white for a more chic, minimalist vibe that also saves money on printing?
If you do go with color, how many colors are you choosing? Even if multiple colors go well together in theory, sometimes once they’re all incorporated into text and backgrounds and logos it can be an overwhelming visual – do all the colors you chose work well together in those different combinations?
As you play around with different options, here are some helpful resources to determine what colors work best for your bakery brand:
Design your bakery menu
Okay, you have your menu items, categories, prices, descriptions, and color scheme. Now, it’s time to put them all together as you design your bakery menu.
If you’re working with a graphic designer, you should be able to share all of the information you’ve pulled together thus far and let them run with it to come up with different concepts for your menu design. If you’re taking on the designing yourself, more power to you! You can try using these menu templates, or exploring Canva or Pinterest for more inspiration to get started.
As you’re pulling your menu together, remember that simple usually works best. Rather than overwhelm your customers with too many options, focus on keeping your menu simple, clear, easy to read, and limited to one or two pages. Our menu engineering course’s section on menu design also offers additional insights for strategically placing items and their prices, and here are some more menu design best practices to consider as you get the dough rolling.
Learn more about bakery design ideas here.
Bakery menu photos
When I hear, “We’re trying a new bakery,” my first reaction is usually to open up Instagram or TikTok to track down photographic evidence of those mouthwatering croissants people keep writing reviews about. In some cases, including this visual component on the menus themselves can also be a strategic value add.
Because most of your bakery products will likely already be on display in your shop, having photos on your printed menu is probably less important than including visual references for potential customers browsing online.
While too many photos can be distracting or overwhelming – and poorly shot, low-quality images can actually have an adverse effect on your customer’s interest in your products – choosing a select few of your most aesthetically pleasing items to include photos of on your website can be a great business driver. Ensuring these photos are high quality and thoughtfully presented also helps build trust with your customers – it shows you know what you’re doing and you’re intentional about the care and consideration you put into their customer experience.
Furthermore, having a social presence, like an Instagram account linked to your website, where people can browse through a gallery of delicious bakery images, is a great resource for customers looking for order inspiration, and can help generate exciting viral buzz about your business.
When it comes to taking photos of your products, you can hire a professional photographer – but if you’re tight on budget, well-shot and edited iPhone photos should be more than enough to put your treats on display.
Choose Menu Fonts, Spacing, and Composition
As you put your menu together, it’s also important to consider what font you’ll use and how you’ll lay out the elements of your menu – items, descriptions, photos, etc. – on the page, whether printed or digital.
This is where menu templates are really helpful to play around with and iterate on different menu compositions until you find one that feels right for your bakery. Sometimes, hiring an expert menu designer is the best approach to getting the support you need. Whatever avenue you take, remember that it’s always a work in progress and it’s okay (and often necessary) to keep your menu as flexible as possible. As your bakery evolves and the items you’re selling change, so will your menu, and having room to make updates and improvements is key to ensuring long-term success.
Select the final menu layout
If you got to step 9, congrats! The hardest parts are over. You’ve done the work and now it’s time to get input from all of your key stakeholders.
Take this opportunity, before printing, to get as much feedback as you can on your menu options – from your friends, family, and other trusted sources. Once you’ve incorporated all of the changes that feel right to you, it’ll also be important to get approval from your investors and staff. Take your time going through the review process – once your menu is fully cooked (printed) there’s no going back, so go through as many iterations as you need to feel totally confident in the final product.
Proofread and print your menu
Last but definitely not least, proofread your menu. Customers notice even the smallest details, and any typos or spelling mistakes on your menu could undermine your bakery’s credibility and influence customers’ experience. It’s crucial that you really take your time to give your menu a final close read and don’t be afraid to ask for help – pull in others to give it a review with fresh eyes, too, if needed.
Once you’re finally ready to print, you have a few options. Staples offers affordable and accessible printing services. For higher-quality printing, geared more specifically towards restaurants, check out Vistaprint, PsPrint, and PrintPlace for their services and pricing.
10 Great Bakery Menu Examples
Huckleberry Cafe – Santa Monica, California
10/10 for Huckleberry Cafe’s menu. From high-quality photos previewing their delicious food, to well-organized menu sections and simple and clear descriptions that communicate everything customers need to know to order from a cohesive color scheme and fun graphic design elements, to a note for guests about how their food is made and where it comes from, this Santa Monica-based bakery does it all. A master class in creating an accessible, informative, visually pleasing, and easy-to-navigate menu.
Claudine Kitchen and Bakeshop – Encino, California
Claudine Kitchen and Bakeshop’s menu manages to strike a perfect balance – there’s a lot going on, from written text to illustrations – but the well-organized sections, intuitive layout, natural and calm color palette, and playfulness of the illustrations keep it from being overwhelming. The key clearly communicates potential allergies or dietary restrictions, as well as the Chef’s favorites, sides, and the whole color scheme works well throughout. *Chef’s kiss!*
Orwashers – New York, New York
Orwashers in New York City lets their breads and pastries speak for themselves. Prioritizing high-quality, professionally-shot photos of their products, Orwashers’ menu is almost entirely visually focused – and for good reason! One look at those black and white cookies and I’m already on my way to place my online order.
Bien Cuit – New York, New York
Bien Cuit, in New York City, takes a much more simple approach, opting for an easy-to-read, no-frills style. Classy and elegant, this menu is as chic as the city itself – proving that a black-and-white color scheme can be just as powerful and intriguing as brightly colored displays. But don’t be fooled – if you find yourself dying to know just what a pear frangipane tart could possibly be, their strong social media presence is ready and waiting to fill in any visual gaps.
Lost Larson - Chicago, Illinois
At Lost Larson in Chicago, rather than offering one static menu, anyone interested in swinging by to pick up some treats can view the most up-to-date bakery offerings on their site each day. Customers can trust that whatever pastries they add to the cart are baked fresh, and having a dynamic menu like this one also adds an element of excitement and intrigue – you never know what will still be available, so better plan your order early (and often!).
Hewn - Libertyville, Illinois
Hewn, located just north of Chicago in Libertyville, Illinois, is known for its artisan, made-from-scratch breads – and its menu reflects the rustic coziness of its warm, freshly baked goods. By organizing their offerings by day of the week, Hewn’s carry-out-only menu harnesses a sense of routine, and instills in its viewers the feeling of stumbling upon a tried and true community staple – as if you’d see the same people stopping by every day to pick up a fresh loaf of challah or sourdough for dinner that night. By providing all of the information their customers will need to plan their visit at the outset, and including descriptions for each type of bread below their daily menus, Hewn ensures their guests have everything they need to plan, and thoroughly enjoy, their bakery experience.
The Blue Willow – Wellfleet, Massachusetts
In Wellfleet, Massachusetts, The Blue Willow’s menu incorporates a handwritten wall menu and labels to perfectly reflect its quaint, beach town surroundings. Clearly communicating the treats they’re selling and their prices, while adding a casual touch that makes guests feel comfortable and at ease – this menu is exactly what a bakery-by-the-beach should feel like.
85C Bakery Cafe – Austin, Texas
The menu at 85C Bakery Cafe in Austin checks all the boxes - well-organized sections categorized by bread, cake, and drinks, high-quality professional photos, simple and easy-to-navigate layout, clear item names and descriptions, and even pop-out descriptions that list out every ingredient so guests can plan for any allergy or dietary restrictions. Another perfect lesson in bakery menu development!
Buttermilk Drop Bakery – New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’re ever in need of catering services in New Orleans, look no further than Buttermilk Drop Bakery. With a strong and consistent color scheme, incorporation of the bakery logo, a list of items long enough to offer a diverse selection but not so long as to overwhelm potential customers, easy-to-read fonts, and explicit instructions and contact information for next steps on pricing and ordering, this menu is a clear, concise recipe for success.
Dozen Bakery – Nashville, Tennessee
Dozen Bakery in Nashville, Tennessee incorporates the best of all menu worlds – crisp, aesthetically pleasing fonts, minimalist spacing and colors, well-organized menu categories, easy-to-find prices, a perfectly-sized selection of pastries, and one beautifully composed croissant, buttery-flakiness and all.
There’s only one thing left to say – bon appetit!
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