9 Takeout Tipping Rules

Takeout tipping is not mandatory, but it’s appreciated. If you decide to tip, 10-15% of the total cost is standard. If you’re cash-strapped, you can appreciate the services by leaving a positive review online and spreading the word to family and friends.

1. Tipping 101

The standard tipping rate is 15-20% of the total order cost. This is a general guideline, and you should adjust the tip rate based on the quality of service you received.

If you receive exceptional service, consider tipping on the higher end of the standard rate. If there were any issues with the order or the service was slow, you can adjust the tip rate downward. 

However, consider the circumstances before doing so. Was the restaurant busy? Don’t penalize them with a lower tip if you feel the circumstances were beyond the person’s control.

2. Takeout Tipping Etiquette

Unlike dining in a restaurant where tipping is customary, the etiquette around tipping for carryout is unclear. Different people have different perspectives on the issue

Some people argue that tipping for to-go orders isn’t necessary because the person preparing your order isn’t providing the same level of service as a waiter or waitress. Others believe that tipping is always appropriate, no matter the context, because it shows appreciation for hard work.

So, tipping for takeout is a personal choice. However, it’s worth noting that many restaurants have a policy of pooling tips, meaning that even the kitchen staff will receive a share of the extra dollars left by customers. 

3. How Much to Tip To-go Order?

takeout order transaction in process
Takeout order transaction in process

Since the pandemic, ordering takeout has become the norm. And with that comes the question of how much to tip to-go orders. The tipping rate is 10-15% of the total cost. While this may seem lower than you would tip at a sit-down restaurant, remember that the service is different. 

When dining in, servers take your order, refill your drinks, and ensure your overall dining experience is enjoyable. When ordering takeout, the focus is on ensuring your order is correct and ready for pick up. 

You can adjust the tip rate depending on the order size. For example, increase your tip if you’re ordering a large family meal or catering for an event. After all, the person who prepared and packaged your food put in more effort and time.

If you receive exceptional service, tip a little extra. If your order was ready ahead of schedule, show your appreciation with a higher tip.

4. Should You Tip on Home Delivery Orders?

Delivery drivers brave traffic, weather, and long hours to bring your favorite dishes straight to your doorstep. They ensure your food arrives hot and fresh, even if it means navigating through confusing streets and apartment complexes.

But despite their hard work, many delivery drivers are paid minimum wage or less. They rely on tips to make a decent living. That’s why you should show appreciation for their efforts by leaving a tip.

When you factor in the fact that many drivers get a low hourly wage, tipping becomes even more important. It ensures that drivers are fairly compensated for their hard work.

5. How Much to Tip for Home Delivery?

home delivery order transaction in process
Home delivery order transaction in process

There’s nothing quite like the convenience of having your favorite meal delivered to your doorstep on a lazy Sunday. But with that convenience comes a question that often goes unanswered: how much should you tip the delivery driver?

Tipping on food delivery orders is generally expected. The general consensus is to tip 10-15% of the total order cost. However, a few factors can influence how much you should tip. 

If you’re ordering a large family meal or catering for a party. Drivers must battle traffic and find parking if you live in a densely populated urban area. If you live in a rural area, drivers must travel long distances to deliver your food. All these factors require a higher tip.

6. Take-Out Tip Requests

You’ve just finished ordering your favorite dish for takeout, and as you’re about to pay, the restaurant worker asks if you would like to add a tip to your order. If you feel inclined to leave a tip, add it to your bill. If you don’t want to tip, politely decline by saying, “No, thank you. I’ll pass on the tip today.”

Tipping on takeout orders is a personal choice; you should never feel pressured. You’re not obligated to give a reason or explain yourself, but being courteous is nice.

7. Counter vs. Table Service Tipping

With the rise of online ordering and curbside pickup, tipping etiquette can sometimes be confusing. One question that often comes up is whether or not you should tip for counter service. 

First, let’s define counter service and table service. Counter service is where you go up to a counter, place your order, and pay for your food. There’s no table service involved, and you’re usually responsible for getting your drinks and utensils.  

Examples of counter-service restaurants include fast-food chains and coffee shops like Starbucks. Table service is when a waiter or waitress takes your order and brings your food to you at a table. 

Tipping for counter service is not required, but it is appreciated.

8. Beyond Cash

While most of us are familiar with monetary gratuity, alternative ways exist to express gratitude without reaching for our wallets.

Leaving a positive review is one of the most effective ways to show appreciation for good service. It doesn’t take much time and can significantly impact the restaurant’s reputation. In today’s digital age, online reviews carry much weight, and many rely on them to make dining decisions.

Complimenting the staff is another simple yet effective way to show your appreciation. A kind word or a smile can go a long way in making someone’s day. By expressing our gratitude to a server, we acknowledge their hard work and spread positivity and kindness. 

9. Support The Locals

It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit the service industry hard. From waitstaff and bartenders to delivery drivers and chefs, many service workers have experienced layoffs, reduced hours, and lower tips due to the pandemic. 

According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 65% of restaurant owners say that their sales have decreased since the start of the pandemic.

But we can help to keep local restaurants and businesses afloat during these challenging times. Here is how:

  • Tip generously: Tip more than you normally would. 
  • Order directly from the restaurant: Many restaurants rely on third-party delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash to stay in business. However, these services can take a large commission from the restaurant, leaving them with less profit. You can help them keep more of their hard-earned money by ordering directly from the restaurant.
  • Write a positive review: If you had a great experience at a local restaurant, write a positive review online. This will help to attract more customers.
  • Spread the word: If you have friends or family members looking for a place to order takeout, recommend your favorite local restaurant. 


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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