Illinois Cottage Food Law

Getting started in Illinois as a cottage food producer requires all products to be made in your primary residence and all sales must be direct to your customers. There are few limitations on what you can make and sell, and where you can sell your homemade food. Ready to take your cottage food business online? We’ll help you build an online store in minutes.
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Where can you sell?

In Illinois, you can sell cottage foods at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, home, online, and roadside stands.

What kinds of food can you sell?

Illinois permits the sale of bread, candies, condiments, dry goods, pastries, preserves, and snacks.

What should be on my product labels?

Labels must include allergens, business name, county name, date produced, ingredients, permit number, product name, and a note that your product was made in an uninspected kitchen.

Is there an income cap?

There is no limit to how much a home-based vendor can sell in Illinois.

Are there any special requirements?

Your products must be made in your primary residence, as commercial kitchens are prohibited. All sales must be direct to customer and there is no selling your products to other states.

Where can I find more information?

Contact the Illinois Stewardship Alliance at 217-528-1563 or Learn more about Illinois' cottage food laws here.

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*Cottage food laws change regularly — always double check the requirements for running a home-based food business with a legal expert or your local health department.

Illinois Cottage Food Law

Selling food from home is a great way to gain valuable experience in the food business. A homemade food business can also be an excellent way to earn more money, do what you love, and make a name for yourself by providing delicious goods to customers! If selling homemade food has been your dream, and you're wondering how to start a food business from home in Illinois, you can now enjoy liberating cottage food laws in Illinois!

Cottage food is food that is homemade and can be sold directly to consumers. Cottage food laws are different in various states, but in general only allow the sale of non-perishable and non-hazardous foods. These are foods that are considered safe at room temperature and that do not have to be refrigerated in order to prevent food-borne illnesses. These illnesses are what cause what is commonly known as food poisoning. Such foods can include:

  • Baked goods without cream fillings
  • Dried herbs
  • Spices
  • Pre-packaged goods
  • Candies
  • Cake mixes

...and much, much more. The specific foods allowed per state vary widely, with some more liberal states even allowing the sale of raw meats and poultry, which traditionally were not allowed. Similarly, some states might allow the sale of canned goods while others do not allow such products.

Illinois, like many other states, views baked goods as being okay to sell, which is why their cottage food laws might also be known as "cupcake laws." The Illinois cupcake law 2019 allows the sale of non-perishable baked goods. Sadly, only 8 out of 102 counties in Illinois allow the sale of cottage food. Unlike other states, the home kitchen operation law Illinois has states that cottage food can only be sold if the county allows it. A cottage food license application must be filed with that local health department. The cottage food license application Illinois requires for its residents might have varying fees, or might be free depending on the county. For instance, the Cook County cottage food application is free!

Cottage food laws also differ in terms of where food is allowed to be sold. For instance, in California, a Class B cottage food permit can allow someone to sell retailers. In Illinois, cottage food cannot be sold to retailers and can only be sold directly to consumers.

It's also important to distinguish between the different cottage food laws Illinois has. These two laws are the:

  • "Home kitchen operations" laws. Also known as HB 5354, allows for the sale of non-hazardous foods outside of farmer's markets. However, it is more restrictive than Illinois cottage food law 2020 in terms of what food can be sold.
  • "Cottage food operations" laws. Known as HB 3063, the cottage food laws Illinois 2021 are a little bit different. Under this "Cottage food operations" law, people can sell slightly more food products, however, they must only be sold at farmer's markets.

There have been improvements in both laws. For instance, the cottage food laws Illinois 2020 has are far better than the original bill of 2012. New amendments expanded the list of foods that could be sold, and also removed an annual sales limit of $36,000.

Like Illinois, states also put limits on the annual amount of sales you can have, while others do not. Illinois is quite different in this regard. The annual sales cap for cottage food Illinois residents could sell was at one point $1,000 per month according to the Illinois cottage food bill 2021. Illinois is the only state that put an annual cap on their food in a given month rather than per year. However, a new bill named the home-to-market act sb2007 that will go into effect in January 2022 will now get rid of the sales cap!

In addition to sales limits, where you can sell cottage food (at farmer's markets or elsewhere), and difference in fees, there are also different requirements for obtaining a cottage food license Illinois imposes. To obtain an Illinois cottage food license, residents don't need their home kitchens inspected. However, departments might require them to take a food safety course. For example, the Chicago cottage food law requires residents to obtain a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) food service sanitation certificate. If selling food from home Chicago also requires artisans to register with the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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Although these laws might seem strict, the application process is fairly easy. Forms can be found online for your local department, such as the Mchenry County cottage food law license application that is available online along with a detailed guide on cottage food. If you're wondering how long does it take to get a cottage food license, it all depends on how quickly you can show your department you have your safety certificate and have proper labels.

The Illinois cottage food law 2022 also requires all products to be properly labeled. Labels for all products are required to comply with the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and must include:

  • Name and address of the cottage food operation
  • Common or usual name of the food product (cookies, biscuits, jam, etc.)
  • List of all ingredients, including colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives, listing in decreasing order of prominence by weight
  • The following statement: “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”

Labels are especially important now due to the new home-to-market act Illinois implemented. The same act that removed sales limits also:

  • Allows sales through pick-up, delivery, events, or other direct-to-consumer avenues
  • Doesn't require foods only be sold at farmers markets
  • Allows sales over the internet
  • Allows buttercream icing on cakes and other baked goods

Illinois Cottage Food List

For those wondering what is considered cottage food in Illinois, it is food that is non-hazardous and that doesn't need to be refrigerated in order to be safe to eat.

Allowable foods in Illinois include:

  • Fruit butters such as apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, prune
  • High-acidic fruit pies
  • High-acidic canned goods
  • Baked goods
  • Pastries
  • Scones
  • Cakes
  • Buttercream icing
  • Cookies
  • Jams and jellies that are highly acidic such as apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, strawberry, red currants,
  • Dry herbs
  • Dry spice blends
  • Dry tea blends
  • Dry pastas or noodles
  • Candies such as hard candy or caramel

Illinois, like many other states, also requires that all acidified foods, such as canned goods, have a pH level of 4.6 or below. Canned goods must also be in mason-style jars with new lids, and can include:

  • Syrups
  • Whole or cut fruit canned in syrup
  • Acidified fruit or vegetables
  • Condiments such as prepared mustard
  • Horseradish
  • Ketchup
  • Canned tomatoes

Illinois is also unique in that it specifies which food cannot be sold under the cottage food law, as opposed to which food can be sold. According to Illinois' cottage food laws, if it's not listed in the restricted list, it can be sold. Additionally, even if a food item is listed, you might still be able to sell it with permission and inspection by your local health department. Foods not permitted include:

  • Meat, poultry, shellfish, fish
  • Diary or eggs, unless it's an ingredient in a non-hazardous baked good or dry food
  • Garlic in oil
  • Spouts
  • Cut leafy greens, unless dried, acidified, or frozen
  • Pumpkin pies
  • Sweet potato pies
  • Cheesecakes
  • Custard pies
  • Crème pies
  • Pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings (buttercream icing now allowed however)
  • Frozen or cut melon
  • Alcoholic beverages like kombucha
  • Wild mushrooms

Cottage Food Laws By State

You should always check with your local health department in Illinois to see what specific rules and regulations they have for cottage food. Similarly, different states will have different cottage food laws than Illinois, including differences in inspection requirements, labeling, annual caps, allowed foods, registration process, and more! Below are some popular states and their cottage food laws.


Like Illinois, California also allows the sale of cottage food through the internet. They are one of only a handful of states that allow deliveries to be completed by a third-party like Postmates or Doordash. To apply for cottage food license California residents must specify how they plan to sell their food. A class a permit California food application allows food to be sold directly to consumers, while a class b applications allows food to be sold to retailers.


The Florida cottage food law 2021 also allows payments and sales over the internet. Like Illinois, artisans can also sell through farmers markets, from home, at roadside stands, through flea markets and through mail-order.


Indiana cottage food law has its pros and cons. The cons are residents can only sell at farmers markets and roadside stands. However, it's easy to start a business, as there are no registration, licenses, or fees to worry about.


The Iowa cottage food law is one of only a few that allows perishable baked goods to be sold. These include cheesecakes and baked goods with custard fillings. Iowa is also one of a few states that requires annual inspections and licenses for artisans to remain in business.


As of 2015, Minnesota allows the sale of non-hazardous foods without the need for a license. The MN cottage food list is fairly standard, and includes baked goods, candy, acidified canned goods, jams and jellies, and even fermented goods. All foods must have a pH of 4.6 or lower, much like in Illinois. Under no circumstances can people sell meats, dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, or seafood.

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