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Tennessee Domestic Kitchen

Cottage Food Law

Tennessee has updated their laws to exempt basic home-based food processors from a license and kitchen inspection. However, they still allow home-based food businesses under the domestic kitchen law, which allows indirect sales to restaurants and retail stores. A domestic kitchen is much more difficult to setup, requiring training, permits, plans, and a home inspection. Domestic kitchens are limited to 100 units of sale per week, and pets are never allowed in the home at any time.


Catering businesses, including made-to-order cakes (like wedding cakes), are regulated by the health department, so they are not allowed under this domestic kitchen law.

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Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

Selling made-to-order items (like birthday cakes, wedding cakes, custom cookies, etc) falls under catering, and you need to contact your health department to learn how to sell those items.

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



The limitation of sales is “100 units of sale per week”. A unit of sale means whatever quantity the product is sold in. For instance, one jar of jelly could be one unit of sale, or a case of 12 jars could also be one unit of sale. A pie could be one unit of sale, and two slices of pie could be two units of sale if they’re sold separately.

Pets can never be allowed inside your home.


Food Safety Certification

Before registering, you must take a food safety certification course, which can be completed online and costs $75. The ag extension at the University of Tennessee occasionally offers in-person courses for $100.

Product Processing Plans

For each of your products, you need to list all of the processing steps you take to make it. This is similar to the list of instructions on a recipe, without the ingredient amounts.

Domestic Kitchen Request Form

You need to submit a domestic kitchen request form, which includes a list of all of your products, production processes, and labels.

Food Manufacturer License

You need to submit a Food Manufacturer License, which costs $50 per year. To request a license form, contact Mike Brown (contact details below).

Home Inspection

After applying, a local authority will inspect your home kitchen. Once approved, you can start selling your goods.

Private well testing

If your kitchen gets its water from a private source, it must be tested annually to determine its safety.

Business License

Contact your county or city to determine if you need to obtain a business license.

Home Occupation Permit

You need to check the zoning requirements for your area by contacting your planning division. You may be required to get a home occupation permit.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, TN 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)

NET WT 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)

Lot dates or numbers must also be included on the each label. In the case of a food safety incident, lot dates allow the product to be traced back to the problematic batch.


Anyone that is not an employee of the operation may not be in the kitchen while food processing for the business is occurring.

Supplies for the business must be kept separate from those for personal use. Perishable supplies must also be kept in a separate refrigerator. The lighting in the kitchen must be shielded or shatter resistant.

Hair nets must be worn by all individuals working in the kitchen, and they cannot be wearing loose jewelry or nail polish, nor chewing any gum.

Other workplace requirements are detailed in the law.



Food & Dairy Regulatory Services

Department of Agriculture
Box 40627 Melrose Station
Nashville, TN 37204
Job Title
Principal Secretary
Food Science & Technology, University of Tennessee
201A Food Science & Technology Building
2510 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4539
Contact Nancy about food safety training

Mike Brown

Job Title
Outreach Coordinator
Department of Agriculture
Contact Mike about licensing
Law Dates
January 2007
TCA 53-1-207

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Starting a cottage food business?


Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Cottage Food Business

(Some of them just might surprise you!)


I want to commend you on the thoroughness of this listing for Tennessee and its requirements for producing items through a domestic kitchen. It’s really helpful to me!
Thank you!
Marilyn R.