Illinois has two different laws in place that allow the sale of homemade food. This page covers the older law, which is for “cottage food operations”. The newer 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 newer 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 $36,000 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 the most recent amendment allows the health department to approve more items.
In 2017, a new bill (HB 3063) passed which will improve this cottage food law in 2018 by allowing many more food items, and also by removing the sales limit. Products can still only be sold at farmers markets, though. You can read more about the changes here.
* Products with a locally-grown main ingredient can also be sold on the farm that grew the main ingredient, or delivered directly to the consumer.
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)
In addition to farmers markets, products that have a locally-grown main ingredient (such as strawberry jam with locally grown strawberries) can be sold on the farm that grew the main ingredient, or delivered directly to the consumer.
The laws explicitly state which kinds of pies, jam, jelly, preserves, and fruit butters are allowed — please check the bill to see the full list.
The health department has the ability to approve other non-PHFs.
If the $36,000 per year limit is not enough, you can try selling baked goods as a home kitchen operation to 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.
You must take a class and receive a “Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification” from the health department, which takes about 8 hours to complete and costs at least $35.
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 trying to become a home kitchen operation.
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 4/10/2020
In addition to (or instead of) your home kitchen, you can use another residential or commercial kitchen on your property.