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cottage food community


Illinois recently passed an amendment to their previous law, so they now essentially have two different laws in place. This page covers the older law (still in effect), which is for “cottage food operations”. The new law is for “home kitchen operations,” which you should use if you want to sell baked goods outside of farmers markets. Aside from being able to sell outside of farmers markets, the new law is more restrictive than this older one.

This law only lets you sell cottage foods at a farmers market, and you can sell up to $25,000 or products per year. The startup cost for your cottage food operation could be as low as $100, but it could be higher if your local health department has decided to charge fees for registration and an inspection. This law is also very specific about what types of food are allowed, but it includes the most common ones.

A new bill (HB 2486) in 2015 aims to improve this law in a few ways. It would raise the sales limit to $36,000 per year, would allow some types of on-farm sales, and would let the health department add to the allowed food list.


At the point of sale, you must put up a prominent placard that says “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.” (this is in addition to placing that statement on product labels)

Allowed Foods

The laws explicitly state which kinds of pies, jam, jelly, preserves, and fruit butters are allowed — please check the bill in the Resources section below to see the full list.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more


Sales are limited to $25,000 per year

If the $25,000 per year limit is not enough, you can sell baked goods as a home kitchen operation and make an extra $1,000 per month.



You must register with the health department before selling cottage foods under this law, and usually there is no fee to do so. The department cannot charge more that $25 per year for registration.

Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate

You must take a class and receive a “Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate” from the health department, which is about 15 hours long and costs at least $100.

By default, the only requirements for a cottage food operation are a no-fee registration and a certificate. However, an individual health department has the option to charge a fee (up to $25 per year) for registration and mandate a home inspection, which may also incur a fee.

If you are only making baked goods, you can bypass the above requirements by becoming a home kitchen operation.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens."

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, IL 73531

Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)

Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy

Produced on 5/26/2015


In addition to (or instead of) your home kitchen, you can use another residential or commercial kitchen on your property.


Law Dates
January 2012
SB 0840
June 2014
HB 5354
June 2014
HB 5657
This page was last updated on


I am looking into starting a beef jerky business. I would do all the cooking (dehydrating) in my kitchen. What are the regulations on this? Do you have some resources about this?

Could you give some examples of what baked candies are, and do you happen to know what the rules are on chocolates? (I’m assuming you need a commercial kitchen to be able to sell them) Also do you know if blondies or types of bars such as lemon bars are allowed?

    Most candies use a stovetop cook method, but there are some that use an oven cook method… mochi is the only one coming to mind right now. Most candies, including chocolate, are not allowed under this law, and you do need to use a commercial kitchen to produce them.

    Blondies should be allowed. Lemon bars are more like a custard and are likely not allowed.

I recently had the idea of selling my home roasted coffee at local farmers markets. Upon further research I found out that home roasted coffee isn’t allowed, but homemade, dried tea leaves are—go figure! I found a recent bill in Illinois General Assembly (HB2486) and wrote the house sponsors and Senator Brady along with my local House Rep. Tim Butler asking them to amend this.Tim Butler’s office just called me this morning to inform me they will be contacting a few Senators involved (bill is now in Senate) to get an amendment for home roasted coffee! How cool is that! Nothing has passed yet, but you can keep track of the bill by going to:

    Ethan, you can see some of the reservations I have about this bill on the home kitchen operation page.

    However, it’s a large bill, and I hadn’t really realized the improvements it would make to the above law, so thanks for pointing that out. It looks like the addition of coffee would be something the dept would add after the fact, which might take some time to happen. However, there is hope!

    Doesn’t matter much to me, I’ll be doing the coffee gig again as I have for the past 12 years.

    Thanks for your work, Ethan. Maybe my criminal enterprise will be legal before long.


    UPDATE: Received an email last night from Rep. Tim Butler’s office! Amendment is being drafted by legislative research unit. Should only take them a day or two. Then amendment will be filed by Sen. Brady next day the Senate is in session (they are typically in Monday-Friday until May 31). Making progress, people! You can keep track of the bill by going to:

Hello David,

Im new to IL (chicago) and I make human consumable dog treats. Meaning all my ingredients are edible by people. What are the laws in Cooke County for kitchen needs as well as if they can only be sold at a farmers market (summer only then) rather than being able to deliver them year round or online? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I am interested in starting a company to sell raw organic super-foods. Can you give me some resources, from wheat I have read it would be illegal to make and sell out of my home. Do I need to find a commercial kitchen to rent our space? I also need a packaging company in illinois, any ideas? Thanks!

Hello David, so i am not allowed to sell baked goods or any other, straight from my house. I must sell them from a farmers market with permit.

    Hi I have not been able to reach anyone from cook county but I did speak to someone from my municipality. I was informed today that Cook County do not allow home kitchen operations. It messed up that a law was passed but no one can use it.

    I’m pretty sure almost all counties don’t allow HKOs. The health dept wasn’t really a serious about this law to begin with, and I think the health dept knew all along what they were doing by passing a law that didn’t do anything until specific counties took action. There was a lot of support to pass Chloe’s bill, so they found a way to allow her county without actually allowing a law in the state. Just try to pretend that Illinois doesn’t have a law that lets you sell from home.

Hi David,
I am totally confused regarding the cupcake law. I called my county -dupage county – and was told that it was legal for me to sell cakes from home as long as the ingredients were labelled and I made less then 25,000 a year. But then someone else told me this is not the case. I was wondering if you knew any information.

Thank you in advance

    I think that person was simply mistaken or confusing/merging this law with the Home Kitchen Operation law. This law, which has a $25,000 sales limit, clearly states that sales may only be made at a farmers market. The Home Kitchen Operation law allows sales from home ($1,000 per month sales limit), but it’s looking unlikely that many counties will ever allow that law in their area.

HI David, We should touchbase sometime I am the ED of Illinois Stewardship Alliance we championed the Cottage Food law in IL and led the negeotiaions around it with the public health community so I could add some additional insights that might help regarding how to respond to some questions. I also want to point out that the “Home Kitchens Operations law” is in my opinion a joke it only authorizes counties to set-up such operations and no one should count on their local health departments and governments passing such ordinances, most likely only a few places in IL will people actually get to use it. Its super weak and very messy in fact it was so hastily put together that it actually prevents charitable bake sales at farmers markets now because now counties have passed authorizing ordinances yet. I wish instead they would have tweaked and amended IL Cottage Food Law instead of creating this new exemption but the sponsor did not listen to me.

With that said, I also wanted to point out that 2014 saw legislation that included changes to Illinois Cottage Food law proper that we pushed. HB5657 among other things caps registration fees at $25/year and changes the definition to include kitchens in out buildings in addition to a home kitchen.

    I’ll touch base with you. The ISA has been invaluable to the cottage food movement in Illinois. Thanks for the update about the law… I hadn’t noticed!

    I agree that the Home Kitchen Operation law is somewhat of a joke, though it’s nice to see at least some activity in the area. Because it’s so limiting, I opted to move it to a separate page instead of changing this one. Hopefully this law will eventually change to allow more venues and effectively override the HKO law.

What laws apply to the production of pickles. I have a refrigerator variety that I would like to market. My initial target audience would be farmers markets and seasonal venues such as fall farmstands etc. Can anyone provide guidance on where to start. I’m already assuming that I would need a licensed kitchen.

I make cakes for friends and family. I also donate one at Christmas for a bake sale that is for our local depot restoration . Am I illegal by doing this?

As a result of the new law, I’m concerned about my product I want to create and sell from home. I purchase dry herbs, grind them up and make seasoning blends. Is that still permitted or no?

    The new law adds to, rather than replaces, the old one. So anything that was allowed before is still allowed now. But remember that the old law only allows sales at farmers markets.

With all the confusion regarding the Home Kitchen law, I spoke to my state rep to get the actual effect of the law. I followed up with his aide and received this response:

Hi Kathleen,

This new section of the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act will only apply in locations where the local health department or governing body has adopted an ordinance that authorizes the direct sale of baked goods. In other words, local health departments and other regulating bodies will decide whether to allow home kitchen operations in their areas of jurisdiction by ordinance, shall they choose to do.

Give me a call when you have the chance and we can set up a time for you to meet with the representative. Thank you.

Robert Flinn
Legislative Aide
State Rep. Marty Moylan, 55th District

For the most part this means that most of us are right where we were to start with. I encourage everyone to continue with the Sweeten the Deal initiative. Bake or prepare your foods and bring them to your reps and senators. Explain that the Kitchen Food law is not doing what they intended. Be respectful, courteous, and friendly. In addition, a similar trip to visit your local county officials and health departments could also help. Until another amendment is passed, getting local ordinances passed is our best bet. Rep. Moylan did not think that passing another amendment would be out of line, or necessarily that difficult. Keep up the visits and phone calls, emails and letters. We can make this happen! And cooks, while the bakers were included in this recent amendment, we want you included in the next one, so please visit and let’s Sweeten the Deal!

    The law Kathleen is referring to is described here: Home Kitchen Operation

    And thanks Kathleen for all you’re doing in Illinois. I agree that an amendment to the cottage food law is needed… just a very simple change to expand the venues would be a good start, hopefully with a section that prevents local governments from avoiding the law. After that, you may focus on the sales limit. It shouldn’t be that hard, but for some reason, Illinois seems pretty stubborn.

    Thanks Kathleen for ur effort,
    Thanks David for giving us updates
    I live in Lake county Illinois, everytime i cal them ask abt this new law, they are talking only abt “Cottage food Operations” only to Farmer’s market withe the sanitation certificate, i explained them whole process over the phone but still talking the same thing after listening me . so what exactly i should do i know whether they passed an ordinance in my county.. Thanks

    You’ll know they have an ordinance if they say you can sell from home. If they’re not saying that, then you have to keep asking/informing.

    Champaign County will not let me make my rock candy. However, I noticed that baked candy is allowed. If I bake the candy syrup to get to 300 degrees to harden is this allowed? Please don’t say contact my health department. I don’t think Mr. Roberts likes me. Most of the question in their FAQ were due to me. haha

    If the health dept is not allowing your product, there’s not much you can do about it. They are the ones responsible for ensuring the food safety in your area. It isn’t unreasonable for them to disallow rock candy. So since you don’t want me to tell you to talk to the health dept, I think you have three options: go commercial, operate illegally, or give up.

    I called the Lake County Health Department to ask about the “cupcake law” (Home Kitchen Operation) and got an answer that doesn’t make most of us happy. I also asked what would have to be done in order to change any opinions/laws. His response doesn’t leave me with much hope for any changes. This is all so disappointing. I was very excited to hear that Illinois passed the law and I know many other people who would benefit from it. Now we seem to be right back where we started.
    Here is his response to my inquiry:
    “The Lake County Health Dept. has not adopted an ordinance authorizing the direct sale of baked goods to the public. IL asked for input to this bill, but the bill was passed before the input was received. The result is what you see, with an impossible situation/condition.
    So far, there has been no momentum to reverse the decision to require separate commercial kitchens in homes that prepare food for the public. I have been here for 25 years and the decision has been consistent over that period of time.
    Most individuals decided to sell the baked items at farmers markets, or use a licensed commissary kitchen for food preparation.”

    Michelle, there will be some health depts that are just plain opposed to this kind of law, most likely because it adds work to their plate. This is why I’ve chosen to place the Home Kitchen Operation info on a separate page on this site, and keep the above law as the main info for Illinois. I think it’s also why Kathleen is still continuing to work on an improved cottage food law and is not satisfied with the HKO bill.

    It’s clear to me that you will not change any opinions in Lake County regarding this. If you want something changed, another bill in the state will need to be passed, amending the above law and allowing other venues besides farmers markets. Most importantly, the amendment needs to include a line that prevents individual health depts from disallowing the law. Other states, like CA and TX, have a line like this in their law. I don’t know why Illinois has some of the greatest resistance to these laws.

Hello everyone, while reading all the comments, I am still a little bit confused. I am currently a senior in High School and would like to sell homemade apple pies at our local farmers market. Do I need a food permit? If so, how much would it all cost to take the class, get the permit….etc.? This might be a stupid question…. If I was to go to a commercial kitchen to make the pies, etc, would I need a permit then?

I don’t want to spend a lot of money to start up because I don’t know if my pies would sell at the Farmers Market. I don’t want to go in the hole… (I know this is a business decision I need to make) however, if I could go with out a permit that would be awesome… Please let me know!


    I’d recommend that you become a home kitchen operation, if possible. If you have problems going that route, then you could spend the money to get trained and register under the rules above. Using a commercial kitchen will be more complicated and cost you more.

Where would I find information on whether or not Cook County has an ordinance allowing the sale of home baked goods? I live in Chicago City limits and know that sometimes the cities laws do not match that of the state. I would like to sell home baked good, specifically cupcakes, as my mother has her own business and does the same in Oklahoma under the Cottage Law for that state.

    This new law is actually an amendment to the food handling enforcement act. There is now a two tier system that would affect cottage food businesses. This new amendment is actually for a “home kitchen operation,” not “cottage food operation.” The home kitchen operation is defined as one that can not exceed $1,000 a month for the direct sale of non-potentially hazardous foods. The cottage food operation section still is in affect with all the same rules this website had on it before this amendment passed. You are still able to sell up to $25,000.
    For more see The cottage food section is near the bottom.

    The Illinois public act for a home kitchen operation states it is an amendment to the main law.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheryl, thanks so much — especially for the first link. That makes it much more clear as to how the new law fits into the statutes. I’ve now updated the page to make everything a bit more clear. I’ve actually brought the info about the older law back to this page, and I placed the new law on a separate page, since it’s only for bakers and many counties may never create an ordinance to adopt it. It would be nice if the law for cottage food operations could eventually be simply amended to allow all direct sales, in which case the new law would no longer be necessary.

Now that the governor has signed the bill into law we must shift our focus to county boards. Bring the Sweeten the Deal initiative to members of your county board. This means your cakes, cookies, breads or whatever you bake. Bring your goodies to the members and talk to them about what approving an ordinance allowing this bill to be enacted in your county would mean to you and your family. It is a shame we have to do this, but we’re so close now…let’s bring the law into your county and all the counties in Illinois!

    This is a terrible law for people who want to do things by standards already put in place . Just because you have a store front doesn’t give you an advantage because of all the overhead. Also think of all the taxes that will not be collected because of false revenue claim or not claiming at all. Good publicity for the governor. Terrible for small businesses trying to make it on business

    It’s common for small businesses to be up in arms when a cottage food law gets enacted (although Illinois’ law is still very restrictive compared to other states). Ultimately the reality is that it doesn’t really hurt the small businesses the way they think it will. Brick and mortar stores have many advantages (visibility, greater product selection, no sales limit, catering capabilities) that put them on a different level from these microbusinesses. This is why, even in states that have no sales cap, successful CFOs eventually drop the low overhead advantage and become brick and mortar stores.

My dad has been making salsa for years now and everyone loves it. My brother and I are trying to get him to sell it because we know it will be a big success. I’ve read up a lot on your website and some others and it is unclear to me still if the salsa can be sold at a farmer’s market in Illinois. Must it be tested by a commercial lab first to check if the ph level is below 4.6? Are there any other requirements that I need to be aware of?

After reading this I’m a little saddened. I really want to make specialty kimchi, but I don’t see pickled foods listed.

I’m not ready yet to make to become commercial, can I make and sell kimchi under the cottage law if I use a certified kitchen? Also this product sealed can last for 6 month if refrigerated, can I store it at home in a dedicated commercial refrigerator? Lastly I live on the boarder near St. Louis, Missouri if I want to sell there am I subject to their laws also?

    You must use your home kitchen to use the cottage food law, and you’re right that kimchi is not allowed. If you already have access to a commercial kitchen, then getting a commercial license might not be so difficult. You also wouldn’t be able to sell in Missouri without a commercial license.

I guess I didn’t realize how stringent the rules for baking and selling were. In seeing this, I am very disappointed in knowing that I have been doing things illegally. I am wondering if I were to make the items and the person gives me a “donation”, does that fall into “illegal” status, or just knowingly sneaking around the illegal status? I know that basically still makes me illegal, but would that give me a standing if anyone ended up knocking on my door because of violating the law? That was a lot of mess to try to ask simply, is there a way to get around this law? :)

    Yeah you’d still be illegal, and there’s really no way to get around it. There may be an exemption for a nonprofit, but you won’t be able to capitalize on that. Would you still be illegal if HB 5354 passed?

    If it passes, David, it makes me legal. They just ran a story this week here locally and interviewed me. It seems like it should pass which would be exactly what I’m needing!

    The governor signed it and it now law! But, first your health dept has to create an ordinance to allow you to do it… something that could take awhile.

    Yes, I’m realizing that and know that our local government is not known for doing anything quickly or effectively. :( So frustrating to be so close, yet STILL not be able to do it! And, also frustrating to watch coverage of it here and watch them make it seems like it’s a done deal and we can just start baking away, when that is entirely untrue. :( And, though there is conflicting reports, do we just have to label that it came from a home kitchen AND list the ingredients? Some say both, some say only the first.

    Just for the record, I don’t think ANY government is known for doing anything quickly and effectively. :)

    All the law says is that your label needs to state that it was made in a home kitchen. I think if only that statement was on your label, you’d be legal.

We are a nonprofit senior community in Naperville and we have two annual bake sales to raise money for the senior’s entertainment funds. Are we exempt from the cottage industry laws?

Things are happening in Illinois! Hb 5354 has been passed by the House and is going to the Senate. The bill appears to be aimed mainly at bakers but it is a big chink in the armor of the current restrictive cottage food law in our state.

I urge all cottage food producers to bring a sample of your delicious home made product to the office of your local state Senator. Talk about how the current law affects you and how an improved law would improve your situation and business. The petition has over 2,800 signatures at this point so we do have a lot of support.

Now is the time to sweeten the deal and make your cause memorable. When it is time to vote your Senator will remember you and maybe your visit will be the encouragement needed to pass the bill – maybe even expand it to include more home produced products. Please everyone, we can do this by working together!

    That’s awesome Kathleen! You are doing great work in Illinois. I have now added a page on here for that:

    I will add a word of caution. This looks similar in some ways to Oklahoma — a state which also seems unnecessarily opposed to a cottage food law. In that case, the law was worded in a way to give the health department complete control over the interpretation of some elements of the law, especially venues. The OK law says more about allowing out-of-home sales venues than this IL bill does, but their health dept still interpreted it to disallow sales from anywhere outside the home. I wouldn’t want you to put all this work into it and end up with a law that’s more restrictive than the current one. If you are expecting sales to be allowed anywhere, it probably won’t happen unless that’s specifically clear in the bill.

    I also see they slipped in some text about the law only being active in counties that allow it. This is different than any other law I’ve seen. Some laws don’t have any language about this at all, and then counties will disallow the law and citizens can’t do anything about it. Some states have prevented this from happening by including language that disallows counties from overruling the law. But in this case, it looks like the IL lawmakers are making it extra clear that health depts can stop this law if they want to. I’ve never seen that happen… it’s almost like they’re trying to prevent the law from taking hold. I know you probably don’t have any control over this, and you need to pick your battles… it’s just unfortunate that they themselves are chipping away at this bill.

    Does this bill replace the current law for farmers markets?

    this is awesome! Just found out about this..hopefully it gets past…I am finding out that trying to bake and sell your product without a commercial kitchen is very hard and expensive in Illinois

ive sold at farmers markets in north carolina and tennessess. in reference to labeling- if the items were in a case that only i could handle, then i only had to label the tray of the items on display. is this the same in illinois or do you have to bag and label each cookie, cupcake or group of items?

    Both TN and NC are much more lenient with their cottage food laws. I haven’t heard about specific labeling requirements in IL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were more strict, and you had to label everything at home. You can call the health dept for further clarification.

Can only unfrosted baked goods be sold at farmers markets in IL? for example, muffins but not cupcakes….unfrosted cakes?

    Frosted cakes are usually fine as long as the frosting doesn’t require refrigeration. For instance, a standard powdered sugar and milk frosting would be okay. Buttercreams are sometimes borderline, so you should check with your health dept about those.

These posts have been very helpful as I attempt to develop my cottage food industry. Thanks!

I do have two questions which I’ve not completely understood from other comments here. First, where/how can I promote my business outside of farmers markets? Currently I’m advertising on my website that I’m selling at these venues, but I’m wondering if I can hand out flyers, posters, etc to some neighboring establishments my presence at our local market. Second, a friend of mine who owns a local cafe has asked if she could hire me as an independent contractor to make bread for their restaurant, using my recipes, but cooking out of their inspected kitchen. I already have my FS license, as does she, but are there additional permits/requirements I need to reach before I can do this? And if so, can I advertise my brand at her store? My local health department is currently between inspectors, and the current authority on cottage food industries was not able to answer this question.

Sorry for the long post! Thanks again.

    You can advertise however you’d like, including all of the above.

    I don’t know the answer to the 2nd question, but I do believe that you’d need to be an employee of the restaurant. If there is such a thing as an independent contractor chef, then I would think you’d need to have your own food license and insurance. My guess is that being an employee is the safest and easiest option.

I was turned into the health department in Vermilion county for doing cakes and cookies out of my separate shop from my house because my sister was posting them on rummage sale sites. There were 154 of us thAT RECEIVED A CALL THEY SAID i CAN ONLY DO THIS FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND THAT IS WHAT i HAVE BEEN DOING BUT WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT i AM LEGAL. wELL THE hEALTH DEPARTMENT TOLD ME MY SHOP NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED JUST LIKE A restaurant. Which would mean an inspection along with putting in a three compartment sink. Which I don’t understand because most of what I do is baked in disposables. Sorry for all the capitals the shift button stuck. I do have an EIN number for my business but want more information on this.

    The health dept is exactly right… in Illinois, you can do hardly anything without a commercial kitchen and license. Even when making cakes and cookies for family and friends, it is illegal to sell them.

The way I read the law, there does not seem to be any room for interpretation, and the Cottage Food registration form in my county (DuPage) seems to reflect that. I had originally assumed that I could sell home roasted coffee as a cottage food, now it seems that isn’t the case. This law seems overly constrained.

    So Charles, what do we do to fix this mess? Surely you and I can’t be the only two coffee roasters stunned to see that most “non-potentially hazardous” food item on the planet (roasted at the temperature paper burns, brewed around boiling point) wasn’t enumerated in our omniscient legislators’ tidy little list. :-/

    Ironically, the health departments (municipal, county) have let me roast at home (I do that the night before, because queues for brewed coffee are too long to allow me to roast and bag at the market) until this law passed. Now they’re enforcing. Because legislators suddenly like cupcakes (and the publicity that goes with liking them), the rest of us get thrown under the bus. :-\

    Because I’m now obliged to roast at the market, I can’t do custom (small batch) roasts for customers who might wish to order something special for the following week. Technically, I can’t easily do my workflow for brewing beans. Nor, apparently, can I use the deep freeze to cache roasts for later brewing.

    What has always interested me, though, is that Cook County doesn’t have the resources to enforce all these laws. The degree of control required to actually enforce them simply doesn’t exist. It’s this pretension to control coupled with the impracticality of doing so that’s a ridiculous mark of statists run amok. The net effect is that enforcement becomes arbitrary and the whim of local regulators rules (because it’s their schedule that’s at work).

    Needless to say, the effect on respect for the rule of law suffers a serious blow. Well, that’s what do-gooder statists can expect when they consider the liberty of others to be a threat to the common weal.

    At some point, it stops becoming about food at all, and becomes a conflict between those who would govern and those whose consent of that governance wears thinner as innumerable statutes multiply across jurisdictions, obliging the vassals to pledge fealty at every turn of commerce.

    Not that I have any strong opinion on the matter. ;-)

    Charles and RASQUAL, I just wrote a letter to my State of Illinois House Representative and State Senator. I also sent a similar letter to legislator who sponsored this bill in the first place. I’d love to share to letter with you so you can also write to your State of Illinois House Representative and State Senators.

My petition, is nearing 2,700 signatures and I will soon be taking it to Springfield. I’m asking anyone interested to take your product to the local office of your state representative and senator and discuss the need for an improved cottage food law in Illinois. If we can inundate the reps all over the state with our awesome products, perhaps we can get this law changed to make better sense. Let’s show them what we can do and try to “sweeten the deal!”

No candy? That seems odd. And after reading the law I didn’t see where it really specifies what a farmers market is other than “A farmers market is defined as a common facility or area where farmers gather to sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally produced farm and food products directly to consumers.” So theoretically if there is more than one “farmer” at my house I can sell from home?

Great article! Thanks a lot! Just one question.

Am I allowed to sell home baked bread on internet (within IL and, mainly, other states)?
Thank you!

I have a friend who sells cookies out of her home. She takes orders for birthday, parties, etc. I was considering doing something similar but Am I reading it right to see that this is actually illegal? Only ol as ce can sell is a farmer’s market? Is this the same for cakes? Wedding, birthday, etc.

I recently opened an Etsy baking supply shop selling cookie cutters, cupcake toppers, etc. A lot of people with that type of shop seem to be selling sprinkles. They must be buying them in bulk and then repackaging them into little jars. I’m wondering if that would be illegal for me to do in Illinois since I would be doing it out of my house?

    That wouldn’t fall under the cottage food law, and I’m not sure what kind of permit you’d need to repackage bulk items. It’s possible that you wouldn’t be able to do this from home, but you should call the health dept to find out. It’s also worth noting that many of the homemade food businesses on Etsy are (at least partly) illegal.

I am working on putting together a list of food items that I would be able to sell at a farmers market and I’m rather new to the game. We’re working on getting all the needed paperwork and everything, and I have few questions.
Are doughnuts, scones, and coffeecakes allowed, or do they fall under the bread/biscuit category? Also, are Macarons considered a cookie? Are buns considered a bread item? And does cakes and cookies simply mean any cake or cookie is allowed, as long as it doesn’t have a hazardous filling/frosting?
Also- where does the label need to be on the packaged food item? Does it need to be on the top of the package, or is it alright on the side or bottom?

I have an online petition going in an effort to get our law changed in Illinois. If you email me at, I will send you the link so you can add your name to the petition. Also, I encourage you to share the link to your FB or other social media pages. If we all work together we have a much better chance of expanding our law.

Hi, if you use a co-packer for tea, that isn’t cottage is it? Also, does IL require that their Dept of Ag approve food labels?

    Yes, I believe this would be okay, as long as you are producing the tea at home, packaging it somewhere else, and then labeling it properly. The law says that a cottage food operation “produces OR packages” their items, so I don’t think both are required. Still, you should contact your local health dept to verify.

    I was able to include jams and butters, but had to have them tested at a laboratory for Ph levels. Although this is about a $100 or more cost to do, if you wish to have your preserves checked, you can then submit the results to the local health department for review and approval.

How does this apply to online ordering and sales promotion? I want to start a business from home that also includes savory items and offers both delivery and online ordering. What types of liscences would I need? What state offices would I need to make sure I’m in compliance with? I have no problem incorporating if necessary but want to do it from home and avoiding the FDA labeling requirements (at first). Suggestions?

    I was wondering this same thing but it does state above, under the list of places it may be sold, that internet is not an option. ..going to start looking in other states!

    You may advertise online, but you can’t sell there. Regardless, there is no legal way for you to make your items from home unless you are only selling at farmers markets (although there is the expensive possibility of building a commercial kitchen in your home — not sure if that will work in Illinois though). You should call your health dept to determine what your best options are.

    In many states it is, but it is not allowed in Illinois. For Illinois, if it doesn’t fall under one of the above categories, then it’s not allowed.

    That would be classified as a candy and would not be allowed. When they say they allow cookies, I think they are referring to baked goods only.

I can find no information regarding the restrictions for roasting whole bean coffee in home and selling it. Does whole bean coffee fall under the Cottage Law umbrella in Illinois?

    Phil, I just wrote a letter to my State of Illinois House Representative and State Senator to consider amending the law to add home roasted coffee. I also sent a similar letter to legislator who sponsored this bill in the first place. I’d love to share to letter with you so you can also write to your State of Illinois House Representative and State Senators.

    In every state that specifies it, the food must be intended for human consumption. I haven’t heard about Illinois specifically, but since they are a restrictive state anyway, I would be very surprised if they allowed pet food. You can try contacting the health department and asking, but I’m almost certain they’ll say no.


I was wondering if I would be allowed to sell drip coffee along with my baked goods at the farmers market? I just started selling baked goods and was wondering if I would be able to add coffee to make available to my customers.


I bake and decorate custom cakes and show them off on Instagram and Facebook. A lot of my friends have requested that I make them cakes for money. I have no intention on opening a commercial business and would only make the cakes in my spare time for extra income. What are the consequences if you are reported to have been selling cakes out of your home?

    I don’t know the specific consequences for your area, but generally, depending on the department, they’ll probably just give you a warning and ask you to stop. If they catch you again they could fine you. But that’s probably not going to happen… it’s more a matter of whether you feel it is right to do it. There is also the possibility that someone sues you for whatever after they consume your cake, and then you have no legal ground to stand on. Again, that’s unlikely if you’re only selling to friends.

I have sold homemade pickles at a farmers market but was wanting to offer them on eBay. But I use store bought pickles and flavor them. Would these be allowed since I’m not actually making the pickles. Thanks. Pam

    It might also make a difference that I do not actually do the pickling. I use purchased dill pickles and flavor them. Thanks.

    It would still not be allowed, because you are preparing them in your kitchen. You are not a reseller because you are modifying the food, even though you’re not pickling them yourself.

    Regardless, I suppose it’s worth noting that pickles are not allowed under Illinois’ cottage food law in general, so it would actually be illegal to sell homemade pickles at a farmers market too. But maybe you were already aware of this.

Is there a way one can sell pulled pork sandwiches or ribs at the farmer markets? If not where is the best place to begin selling those type of food items?

    You would not be able to under this cottage food law. You could do that if you went the route of becoming a commercial food processor. I’m not sure where you would go to get started with that process… maybe call your Health Department and they can guide you.

If a person was to make their food items in a commercial kitchen, rather than a home kitchen, would they then be allowed to sell their items through the online market or through other businesses? For example: Say I make gourmet cookies in my home kitchen and sell them at a Farmers Market, but a local business has come to me and wants to sell my cookies in their coffee shop, would I still fall under the Cottage food law in Illinois?

    Jenni, foods made in a commercial kitchen may be sold through other businesses or online. If you made cookies in your home kitchen, you would not be able to let a local business resell them. You must personally sell them at a farmers market, and that is the only place they may be sold, under the current cottage food law.

Is a flour & spice mixture (such as a coating for frying chicken) allowed? Also, what is the description of ‘farmer’s market’ where operators are allowed to sell?

    Definition: “Farmers’ market” means a common facility or area where farmers gather to sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally produced farm and food products directly to consumers.

    There is an exemption for that kind of activity and these cottage food laws don’t apply to you. You should be fine — you don’t need a license, but you may want to check with your county’s health department to see if they have any requirements, like special signage or something.

    David, can you point to the exception for the church bake sale? I’m reviewing the Illinois cottage food law and I can’t find an exception for anything. Thank you.

    Sarms, you won’t find the exemption in the cottage food laws… most states (if not all) have had exemptions for non-profits long before the cottage food laws ever came about. I tried looking around for the language that mentions this exemption, but I couldn’t find it. Sometimes laws are really hard to find online, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I think if you call your health department, they’ll be able to help you.

I was wondering about homemade extracts ( eg. Vanilla) and herbal tinctures. They are both made with 80% alcohol or higher and would most likely be safe from bacteria. What are the regulations on these types of items?

    Some extracts are allowed in some states, but not Illinois. Usually there are special laws and licenses that pertain to alcoholic or medicinal substances.

If my dad owns a coffee house / restaurant and I want to sell breads, cookies, and candies out of his shop and cook them in his kitchen do I need any license besides my food handlers license? And would I still follow the cottage food laws?

    You would not be able to follow the cottage food laws in this case, but you would need to get licensed beyond a food handlers license. Assuming your dad has a commercial kitchen that you could use for free, you’ve already got a leg up on most of the people out there trying to start a food business. There could still be a significant process and cost to starting your business, though… contact your health department and they can guide you in the right direction.

I noticed that canning of pickle products are not listed. This seems extremely strange considering the high acidity. This is quite dissappointing considering my plan to start up a business based on my mother’s pickling recipes…..sigh.

    Pickles are allowed in some states, but not many. It is true that pickles can be made perfectly safely, but in this case, the issue might be due to possible risks. You might be able to make it correctly, but others might not without the proper training and kitchen equipment. I’m not sure if botulism is a risk here, but that has certainly kept many preserved foods off of approved foods lists in the cottage food industry.

My family and I are relatively new to Illinois (via USAF). As a supplementary source of income, my wife has sold a variety of foods from our home. As I was looking through the list of foods authorized for sale, I noticed ice cream is not on the list. Why is ice cream not approved? Based on the rationale, would it be reconsidered?

    Ice cream is not approved in any state because it must be temperature-controlled. Cottage foods, as a general rule, must be shelf-stable at room temperature. Homemade ice cream, although delicious, will not likely make the list for many years, if ever. Sorry!

I recently spoke to my state representative about the Illinois cottage food law. He was elected after the law was enacted and knew nothing about it. He could not understand why we can sell cakes at a Farmers Market, but not at home, and promised to look into it. I followed up with a letter that I am happy to share with other bakers. If you would like a copy of my letter, please email me at and put Cottage Law in the subject line. I will email you the letter I wrote and you may use it in full, edit it, or just use it as inspiration for a letter of your own. If we can get enough bakers to contact our representatives, maybe we can get our law expanded. I’ve already shared the letter with several bakers so we are on our way.

Is there a limit as to the number of participants involved in a Farmers Market under the cottage law? For instance a market has 25 participants in a farmers market/flea market out of 80 vendors present.

    Not that I know of. Generally, farmers markets give preference to actual farmers and produce, and they might have a separate, smaller section for other sellers (like cottage food operations), but I don’t think there’s any official limit or anything.

Do you know why rhubarb jams are excluded from the approved foods list? I thought rhubarb was a high acid food, since home canning books only specify using a hot water bath, not a pressure cooker. I know that the leaves have a very high oxalic acid content and would make a person pretty sick, but only the stalks are used in cooking.

    I’m not sure why. Vegetables are generally considered to be a higher-risk food to can, especially in regard to the potential of botulism. Because of this, the law’s authors might have just played it safe and only allowed fruits.

    However, everything you say is true. Rhubarb is very acidic and only needs the hot water bath method to be safe. I did a little research and couldn’t find anything that would indicate that rhubarb is susceptible to the kinds of risks that most other vegetables have associated with them. You could ask Illinois’ health department, but unfortunately, they probably can’t allow it until that wording comes out of the law. You might consider proposing a simple amendment in the next legislative session.

    Thank you for your answer. I’ll check with the health dept and see if I can get the ball rolling. Illinois is the land of Rhubarb, so it seems a shame to eliminate it in cottage foods sold at farmers markets

My neighbor bakes cakes and cupcakes and sells them out of her home through Facebook. Is this a legal business? If not, what is the process to report her business? And would any action be taken?

    The cottage food laws in Illinois would not allow this, and if she is using her home kitchen to make her home goods, then yes, it would technically be illegal. In many other states it would not be illegal, but Illinois hasn’t expanded their laws yet.

    An operation like this is extremely common. In fact, this is a reason given when a cottage food law is up for vote in legislature: essentially that the current laws, with their very high barrier to entry, are forcing so many producers under the table. It’s a sense of “people are doing it anyway, laws or not, so we might as well have laws that help hold them accountable.”

    What are your motivations to report this person? Has she gotten people ill? Is she running a large business that’s too big for her home? Is her business disturbing you (too much traffic in the neighborhood, for instance)?

    You might want to consider talking with this person directly about her motives. Maybe she is unaware, as many people are, that it is illegal to sell from home. Maybe she could help address whatever your concerns are. I can tell you with confidence that the health department is aware — very aware — that there are tons of businesses like this, in every state and county. I don’t know how much they’d react if you tried to report her… most departments are overbooked just with dealing with the legal businesses out there, especially as their funding has diminished in recent years. You’d probably make more headway talking to the individual.

    I know that if it were me, I wouldn’t bother trying to report it, and I might not even talk to her about it. Especially since she just does cakes and cupcakes… those are both cottage foods — non-potentially hazardous foods and unlikely to get anyone ill. Also, if she is directly selling to people who know her, then there is a good deal of accountability naturally happening there — might I say even more accountability for quality than a health department can guarantee? But the main reason I wouldn’t make an issue of it is because I know that if she were living in many other states, her operation would be totally legal, even without needing a basic permit in some. It’s a little unfortunate she lives in Illinois. I hope that helps.

I am glad that Illinois has a cottage food law. However, I am not happy that we are restricted only to farmer’s markets. I don’t understand why the scope wasn’t enlarged to include home, food stands, events, or mail order. We are required to have a food service certificate (which I have). People have sold their baked goods for years. The law restricts us to sales only a few months during the year, completely missing the holiday season. Are there special permits available to cover the holiday season?

    Karen, you would need to become a commercial processor to sell outside a farmers market — that would mean using a commercial kitchen, not your home one. Cottage food laws are generally intended to help someone start a food business more easily, until they can afford to get the proper permits to expand.

    However, many cottage food laws that are this restrictive have gotten amended and improved over time. Usually it takes a dedicated individual in the state to make this happen — Roxane in Louisiana is a good example right now.

    Thank you for your reply, David.

    I would not want to have a commercial business, just a home one. I remember a person who sold fruitcakes every year from home. It seems to be a missed opportunity for people who are wanting to supplement their incomes with good products to be able to sell at any time of the year from their homes. I would be willing to get a tax number and pay Illinois taxes. We could sure use it!

    Check with your local Farmer’s Market and see if they plan to go year round. I know here in Carbondale our normal farmer’s market runs April through Nov. There is a second market that opened recently that is year round having their winter market in the gym of one of the schools.

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