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cottage food community


Wisconsin is different from every other state in that they allow homemade canned goods, but they don’t allow homemade baked goods.  Also known as the “Pickle Bill”, this law was modeled after their neighboring state’s law, except that Minnesota’s law does allow baked goods as well as canned.

Wisconsin’s pickle bill is the most restrictive cottage food law in the United States.  Aside from the food limitations, producers can only have up to $5,000 of sales per year, and they may only sell at farmers markets and other community events.  All sales must be made in-person and go directly from the producer to the consumer.  Home producers are allowed to make jams, jellies, pickled goods, sauces, and any other canned goods that are acidic enough to be safe (needs a pH under 4.6).

However, there is no registration process or cost necessary to start selling.  The law exempts producers from needing to get a license, though the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to test their product for safety and take some training to educate themselves on safe production practices.

Wisconsin tried passing an amendment (AB 182) in 2014, which would have increased the sales limit and allowed baked goods, but it did not pass.


A sign must be displayed at the place of sale that says “These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”

Allowed Foods

All products need to have a pH level of 4.6 or below.  The Department of Agriculture recommends the use of a pH meter or lab testing.

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 $5,000 per year


Although no training is required, sellers are encouraged to educate themselves about safe canning practices. More information can be found in the “Training” section of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspection"

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WI 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 6/30/2015


Although there are no official workplace requirements, the Department of Agriculture encourages sellers to maintain safe sanitation practices in their kitchen and keep records of the products they produce.  More information can be found in the “Record-keeping” and “Sanitation” sections of the Ag Department’s home canned foods page.


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I make a delicious homemade barbque sauce however, I use ingredients such as ketchup and worchester sauce. These sauces are already permafrost by companies such as Heinz. How would I go about listing them on the ingredient list? please let me know. Thank you!

I would like to know what the rules are for selling gum paste flowers from my apartment in WI. As they dry like porcilin, and are not eaten, I am not sure if they fall into an edible item but would rather be safe than sorry. I am intending to lable them with “not intended for consumption” along with all the ingredients used in making them so it is clear that they are safe to be placed on cakes. That is if the law allows for the sale of them to begin with.

    I’m not sure, in this case. If they are intended for consumption, then I know they can’t be homemade, but since you’re just producing inedible decorations, there may be fewer requirements. I’m unfamiliar with the requirements for selling items intended to be placed on food, and I recommend you contact your health dept.

    Fresh, uncut herbs (and other produce) should be fine, but I don’t think you can sell home-dried herbs, since that requires processing. Sometimes ag depts are very lenient for dried herbs, but I don’t know if that’s true for Wisconsin or your area… you should check with your ag dept about this.

When selling canned foods at a farmer’s market, does it have to be your own produce? I go cherry picking for example and create pie fillings. Can I sell these since it is not my produce or does it need to come directly from my farm?

What if I “give away” my baked goods? I’m thinking of doing something like having people buy a can of pop or bottle of water at $4-5 and getting the option to take a dozen homemade cookies for “free”. Or is this work around accounted for?

    I’ve heard of this kind of hack a number of times. It’s a classic technique used by school kids who “sell plates” to fundraise, and then those plates just so happen to have brownies on them. The health dept usually turns a blind eye to something like that.

    However, most states actually specify that food can’t even be given away unless it’s for a charitable cause. It would not be okay for a hotel to promote their business with homemade cookies, and it wouldn’t be okay to promote your drink business that way either.

    I don’t know if the workaround is fully accounted for, but ultimately, in my mind, it comes down to motive: are you trying to sell drinks or cookies? If you’re trying to sell drinks, then you shouldn’t need the cookies. And if you’re trying to sell homemade cookies, please realize that there are laws in-place that prohibit that activity. You might not agree with the law, but that doesn’t change the law, right?

I have baked several Wedding cakes for friends & family. My grandson is getting married & wants me to bake his cake, but the place where he is getting married & holding the reception says it has to be a licensed baker. How to I obtain this?

    There might be an exemption for baked items that are donated, rather than being sold. You should call your ag or health dept to confirm that the venue really does need you to be licensed.

    The problem is that a food establishment cannot offer homemade items, though many food establishments are probably willing to overlook that. To get officially licensed, you will need to produce the item in a commercial kitchen and get a license from your health dept. It’s actually a fairly complicated and expensive process, where you go through training and specify your production processes and plans. This process is intended for food businesses.

    Since you are not setting up a business or selling your cake, you might ask the venue if it would be sufficient to simply make your cake in a commercial kitchen (probably by renting it), without needing to become officially licensed with the health dept. You might even be able to use their commercial kitchen, assuming they have one.

Is it illegal to serve a wedding cake prepared by a bakery without some kind of permit?…How do I obtain a permit if one is necessary?

    Are you serving the cake as a form of catering business? If you’re making money on it, then I think you need to have a permit from the health dept, but I’m not really sure.

    I don’t think a home kitchen can also be a commercial kitchen. You would have to build a commercial kitchen somewhere else on your property if you want it to be at your home.

Hi, I am in WI and find all this information very confusing. I make loose leaf teas and not sure what part of the law I do or do not fall under. It appears I don’t fall under the cottage food law, but what do I need to follow?

I have been a professional cake decorator and teacher for 25 years, having retired recently. As you can imagine, I always bake cakes for my childrens’ birthdays and if we go to a restaurant to eat, I take along the cake. I have never brought a cake of they offer birthday cakes for sale there. Recently, I made a reservation for my son’t birthday and was informed by the manager that I would not be allowed to bring a homemade cake. I would have to use a commercial baker. Please refer me to the law that supports this claim. I suspect that he is referring to the law that says it is currently illegal to make and sell baked goods from your home. But I believe that bringing a cake someone made to serve, in a restaurant, to family members only does not fall under this law. If I am not selling this cake, is it true that the law does not apply? Thanks!

    It’s quite likely that the manager is correct. I assume the place you’re going (restaurant?) is a food establishment, and those have to abide by specific rules. It’s probable that the previous places you’ve been to have simply ignored or been unaware of the law pertaining to this, especially since they were not offering the cake themselves. Here’s the most pertinent line from Wisconsin’s Food Code:

    Food prepared in a private home may not be used or offered for human consumption in a food establishment. — 3-201.11(B)

Our town has an online farmer’s market and homemade goods selling page on Facebook. Would that qualify as a public venue for selling canned goods? Of course pick up or delivery of product would be person to person. I haven’t done it yet, but would like to participate if it’s legal.

    I think that if the sale transaction happens online, then it wouldn’t be allowed. Listing your business there and doing sales at the farmers market would be legal.

I am wanting to sell handmade wafer paper flowers that are placed on cakes. The wafer paper itself is edible/food safe. Can I sell them from my own kitchen as food safe, but not edible?

    Since you’re not producing something intended for human consumption, you wouldn’t be using a food law (as you already know, those wouldn’t be allowed under this law). I’m really not sure what the requirements for food safe products are, or homemade crafts in general. I think you should talk to the health dept to make sure you’re not crossing some kind of line.

I make homemade vanilla. It is not “canned” and contains alcohol. It is sealed. I’m having trouble finding regulations surrounding this.

I have a small commercial coffee roaster and roast out of my home. Can I sell fresh roasted coffee at a farmer’s market? If yes, do I package whole beans at home? What if I need to grind for customers? Grind at home or bring a grinder to the market? Thanks for your time.
p.s. I live in Wisconsin but live on the Michigan/Wisconsin boarder. Do the same answers to the questions above apply to both Michigan and Wisconsin?

If you build a home addition and create a separate ‘commercial’ residential kitchen that could be inspected, would this be legal?

    In some states that is legal… I’m not sure about WI. It can be really expensive though… most states require a bathroom to be in the same building, plus hundreds of other requirements.

Can I sell these approved canned goods to my CSA customers since I am not meeting all of them face-to-face. They pick there boxes up at a separate location. It looks like if the new bill passes then it shouldn’t be a problem. Just wondering about the time being.

If the cookie bill is passed in the House will dry mixes still be illegal to prepare and sell from a home kitchen?

    The law above is already in effect, but I assume you’re referring to AB 182, which would allow other types of food (like baked goods). That bill just passed the Senate and now needs to move on to the House. Assuming that it does pass (which is probable, but certainly not definite), my guess is that it could take awhile to go into effect: possibly as late as the beginning of 2015, and possibly as early as July.

I don’t understand the label graphic. Why is a graphic for a baked good (cookies) used when it’s illegal to sell baked goods?

    Good point! I don’t know why I didn’t even think about that. It’s the sample label for every state, modified to show what components are necessary in the state. Wisconsin is the only one that strangely doesn’t allow baked goods (which I hope they change soon). Anyway, thanks for pointing it out and I’ll work on changing it for this page.

I was informed that people can sell any kind of food out of their home in the state of Wisconsin, as long as they don’t advertise their “business”, ie. putting up flyers, printing ads, etc. So, people can make things and sell them to others, but it has to be through word of mouth only. Is this true?

    My friend has asked me to do cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday party. I would be happy to do the cupcakes, as she is a friend, I love to do it, and she doesn’t have time to do it herself (2 kids under 3). She wants to pay me, but because I am not licensed and bake from home, I would only accept a donation (I am not going into business- I already have a job). Am I doing something illegal?

    In addition, she has a sister who is looking for a wedding cake- her baker (a relative) backed out last minute. I’m going to turn the job down- even though I feel sorry that someone backed out of her special day. Is baking a wedding cake for a donation illegal?

    If it is illegal to do these things, is there a law in the works that will change it? I keep thinking of school bake sales, birthday parties, etc.

    If by “donation” you mean they can pay you whatever they want, then this would be technically illegal, because this is for your personal profit. Baked goods sold for donations that support a nonprofit are typically exempt from the rules.

    However, since this is a one-time thing and for a friend, I don’t think you should worry about it too much. There is a bill on the table (AB 182), but it’s not advancing in the legislature right now.

I have thought about making fondant cupcake decorations. I would use store bought fondant instead of home made. Is there a way to do this legally? Maybe if I included some kind of label?

    Wisconsin only allows home canned goods. Other types of food items are not allowed to be prepared at home for a business. Even though you’re using store-bought fondant, you’d probably still need to prepare you decorations in a commercial kitchen.

I live in the state of WI and have been reading through all laws/bills (passed) pertaining to food preparation in the home. When it comes to repackaging existing food items, I cannot find anything that mentions that. An example would be, buying ham all ready prepared, slicing and repackaging into a different product. No cooking is performed and the product was all ready created. Looking to recreate a Lunchable type meal.

    It is possible to resell bulk items with much less overhead (especially prepackaged items)… you may only need a seller’s permit to do so. But if you are actually slicing a ham, then you are “preparing” that item, even though it came from a commercial kitchen. Because you are preparing it and it’s not a cottage food, this type of activity still needs to be done in a commercial kitchen and at that point you would be a regular food business. You won’t be able to find too much specific info online, and I’d recommend calling your local health dept.

    So, if I’m reading this right (and the post below this one). I could not create any type of “food in a jar” type mixes which takes already prepared ingredients (noodles, spices, flour, etc.) and package it into sterile mason jars and sell. AND, even if this type of product WAS allowed I could not sell it on Etsy or any other online venue. Correct?

    Strangely, that’s all correct. You are still considered “preparing” the items even though you’re only assembling them. I think this is because you are handling them in an uninspected environment. And these items “made” in a home wouldn’t be able to be sold online unless an amendment to the law allowed it. It’s likely that even with a good amendment, you wouldn’t be able to ship out-of-state with an Etsy sale.

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