Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales

Bake sales are tried-and-true fundraisers that rely on the irresistible appeal of home-baked treats to bring in the bucks for your group or cause. Of course, they also rely on good planning and organization. We have tips for pulling together a bake sale, and crowd-pleasing recipes to ensure your event is a sweet success.

Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales | Bake Sale Display

Photo by Meredith

How to Plan a Bake Sale

Planning Committee

Every successful venture needs a group to head it up, make decisions, and delegate responsibilities. Get your group together, choose a chairperson, and divide up the work. The main areas to organize are volunteers, equipment, publicity, and the baked goods to be sold.

But hang on, there’s one thing you need to do before anything else:

Food Guidelines
Check into local health regulations or school rules around selling home-baked food.

  • Some states require a special permit which is usually free of charge, but must be approved before the event takes place. Check the public health guidelines in your area ahead of time so you can complete forms and meet food safety requirements.
  • Some schools have adopted eating policies that could limit the types of food you sell or the time of day it is sold.


Many hands make light work. You’ll need bakers, sign-makers, donation-wranglers, folks who can set up and tear down, and people to sell the goods. Break down the day into shifts so volunteers don’t get burned out, and post the volunteer schedule so everybody knows where they’re supposed to be and when.

  • Keep a contact list of everyone who has volunteered and how they plan to contribute.
  • Go for a variety of baked good to avoid too much duplication.
  • Provide guidelines for packaging (check local public health guidelines for bake sales), and ask each baker to provide a card with the name of the recipe and whether or not it contains nuts.
  • Set a time and location for baked goods to be dropped off.
  • Some health departments require you to keep a list of each person who is baking and what they brought.
  • You’ll need a volunteer to check each item off the list as it arrives.

Essential Bake Sale Gear

  • Box of disposable food-handling gloves
  • Folding table(s)
  • Tablecloth(s)
  • Cash box with at least $25 in small bills and coins for making change
  • Trash bins with liners: 1 for garbage and 1 for recyclables
  • Big signs or banners so people can find you
  • Paper goods: plates and napkins
  • Plastic wrap or bags if buyers want to package the goods to take away
  • Prices printed on stickers, cards, or small flags

Location, Location, Location

Be where the action is. For school sports events, set up outside of the gym before and after games, or near the bleachers at the sports field. Or find out if your school has a designated area for fundraising activities. Really, any place that is easy to find and has a good amount of foot traffic will work.

Cause a Commotion with Promotion

Advertise your bake sale. Sign up a couple of volunteers to work on promotion; this can include getting a mention in the school’s morning announcements, newsletters, or local newspapers, and creating fliers and banners. Your success depends on your potential customers, so make sure they know exactly when, where, and why the sale is happening.

What to Sell

Cupcakes, brownies, and cookies are always winners, but any small, portable baked items are good bake sale candidates. Note that cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and muffins are easier to package and sell by the piece than are cakes and pies. You could even sell attractive jars of granola, bags of caramel popcorn, and homemade candy brittle. Scroll down for bake sale recipes.


  • For school fundraisers, decorate treats in school colors.
  • During the holidays, sell baked treats and cookie mixes packaged as gifts.
  • Sell whole cakes and pies for a higher price, or auction them off.


Check prices at your local bakeries to see how much comparable items cost.

  • Keep things affordable, and try to have a range of prices so anyone can purchase a cookie or a muffin.
  • Sell more items by pricing things in groups: “3 chocolate chip cookies for $2” or “Cupcakes $2 each or 3 for $5.” This will entice people to spend more money.


  • Place pretty name cards next to desserts along with the prices so people will know what the product is.
  • Make sure you clearly label items that contain nuts—a common food allergy concern.

After the Bake Sale

  • Send notes to volunteers and sponsors thanking them for their time and generosity.
  • Post a notice in the school paper with the results of the sale, and reiterate how the funds will be spent.
  • Ask for feedback on the event: what worked, what didn’t, what could be done differently or better next time.

Bake Sale Recipes for Success

Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales | Array of Cookies and Brownies

Photo by Meredith

Sweet Treats

Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales | Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Photo by Dianne

Breakfast Bake Sale

If your school has rules about serving only healthy foods, skip the cupcakes and brownies and have a breakfast bake sale with muffins, scones, and quick breads.

Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales | Apple Pie Muffins

Photo by ReneePaj

Find more 5-star recipes in our collection of Bake Sale Recipes.

Other Fundraising Foods

Smart Tips and Winning Recipes for Successful Bake Sales | My Amish Friend's Caramel Corn

Photo by Kim’s Cookin’ Now

Get more cooking tips and awesome food finds.