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cottage food community


Maryland’s laws are quite restrictive, only allowing cottage food businesses to sell at farmers markets or at public events, and limiting them to $25,000 of sales per year.  However, there are no licensing procedures or fees, so it’s really easy to get started.


The laws state that the food must be sold at “a location in a farmer’s market or at a public festival or event where raw agricultural products are sold”.

Allowed Foods

Honey must be unflavored.

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


Here is some info about state sales tax in Maryland. There may also be local sales taxes that need to be collected.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Made by a cottage food business that is not subject to Maryland's food safety regulations." (10-point type)

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, MD 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

NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)

If any nutritional claims are made, they must adhere to the federal labeling requirements.



Lisa Staley

Job Title
Chief of Department
Center for Facility & Process Review, Office of Food Protection, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Deanna Baldwin

Job Title
Food Quality Assurance, Maryland Department of Agriculture
Law Dates
October 2012
SB 550
This page was last updated on


Thank you for all of this valuable information. If I’m looking to make my small food business bigger and have to expand to a commercial kitchen, do you know how to go about finding one in or near Columbia, MD that has good ratings?

    If an internet search doesn’t turn up results for rented commercial kitchens, then you can ask restaurants, community centers, and large churches if their commercial kitchen could be rented in off hours.

Hi, I am currently a student at the Culinary Institute of America and am looking to start up my own business doing personal chefing to use my skills back at home, wanted to try and run through legalities but finding specifics has proven quite the challenge. I went ahead and emailed the contacts for the health and agricultural departments, if there is anywhere else I can look into any information is appreciated, I plan on selling mainly to family and friends starting up, but as it grows I don’t want to run into further issues that could jeopardize what I want to do.

    I believe that becoming a personal chef requires you to make the food in your client’s home. I don’t think there’s a way to sell food in Maryland that is made from your own home, unless it’s sold at farmers markets or other ag-based events. Although they may be slow to respond, contacting the health dept directly is the best way to find accurate info about becoming a personal chef.

Has the list of foods allowed been expanded over time to include things like vinaigrettes, hummus?
If no licensing is required, how does the state confirm any individuals sales? What are goose options for sales after the farmers market season has ended?

My question is: I think I understand the Cottage Food Law, however I must claify for self satisfaction. We do baked good (cupcakes). A local winery wants us to bring them to them to sample. Soooo, if they like our product can they sell them for us at their winery?? No mark up in price, just they time in distribution……

Any ideas on if alcohol is used in the process? I am looking to sell homemade grenadine, which has an ounce of vodka mixed in at the end. Is there a limit to how much alcohol is allowed, if any?

    I’m not sure about the alcohol, but I don’t think homemade grenadine itself (or any drink) would be allowed. You should contact the health dept to check.

Anybody know if I would be able to give away free samples of my food (wrapped and labeled) as a means of promoting my business? I have a local brewery interested in having me come in with my treats to give away along with business cards so I can generate some interest. Ultimately it’ll be a cottage food type of business at local farmers markets. Thanks!

    You should be able to give away samples when you’re selling at events, but I don’t think you can offer samples anywhere else.

Hello! Thanks for this website! I am interested in selling cottage foods at a new farmers market. Do I need a tax ID # and what types of foods need to be taxed? example would a 6 pack of cookies need tax collected on it? thanks!

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