North Carolina Cottage Food Law

Getting started in North Carolina as a cottage food producer requires you to submit an application to the Department of Agriculture and get a home inspection before selling. There are few limitations on the types of food 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.
Build Your Cottage Food Business Website
Where can you sell?

In North Carolina, you can sell cottage food at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, home, online, restaurants, retail stores, and roadside stands.

What kinds of food can you sell?

North Carolina allows bread, candies, condiments, dry goods, fermented foods, pastries, preserves, and snacks to be sold.

What should be on my product labels?

Labels must include business address, business name, ingredients, net amount, and product name.

Is there an income cap?

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

Are there any special requirements?

Pets may not be present while making your product. You must submit an application to the Department of Agriculture and get a home inspection before selling.

Where can I find more information?

Contact a NC Food Compliance Officer for more details at 984-236-4820. Learn more about North Carolina's cottage food laws here.

✉️ Subscribe to get food business growth tips, business inspiration, and event invites.

*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.

North Carolina Cottage Food Laws

If you like the idea of cooking food from home and selling it, and you're based in North Carolina, then you need to know about North Carolina cottage food laws. These laws apply to any food produced in your home for sale. If you’re wondering “Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home,” the answer is yes. There are no designated food operations that do not need permits in the state of North Carolina. Everything is regulated to some degree.

The least cumbersome foods that actually can be sold from home are on a pre-approved list. They include baked goods, jams and jellies, candies, dried mixes, spices, pickles and some sauces and liquids. If you want to sell anything that is not on this list, you will need a commercial food license.

If you just want to stick to foods that are on the cottage food list, you will still need a permit. You can see details regarding cottage food permits in the next section.

Permit to Sell Food From Home in NC

You have to have a permit to sell food from home in NC. There is an application process, and it will take you through several steps. North Carolina health department food service regulations govern these steps and what is and is not allowed for commercial home cooking.

The first step is reading the instructions available on the North Carolina government website. There is a list of minimum requirements before you can even begin the journey. Only certain foods are eligible, and some plans will not be compatible with regulations no matter how hard you try.

Once you know if your foods are even permissible, you can review the food safety requirements for approval. They are numerous, and one good example is that there can be no pets in the home at any time while you produce food for commercial purposes.

Assuming you can match the safety requirements, you need to check local zoning restrictions. If your house is not eligible for business operations because of zoning, you will have to petition the local government for an exception.

Additionally, your water has to be certified by the state. If you get water from a municipal source, a copy of your utility bill will suffice. If your water comes from a well, the well has to be tested by a state-approved professional.

After all of this, you can develop your business plan. With the plan, you can produce your food labels, which are required by the state.

When you have completed all of these steps, you can fill out your cottage food license application. If the state approves your application, you will get a food permit for NC.

Join Castiron 100% risk-free

Explore our tools for free during a 14-day free trial. Start building your website, create your custom order forms, even start taking orders and payments... then decide if it’s for you.

Commercial Kitchen Requirements North Carolina

NC commercial kitchen requirements will dictate how your kitchen operates. The requirements are vast and strict, and they cover a wide range of aspects of your kitchen. Even if you meet all of the requirements, there is still no guarantee that you will be granted a permit for cooking from your home.

The first major regulation pertains to water and wastewater. In particular, every commercial kitchen needs state-approved wastewater management. You also need hot and cold clean water running to the facility. In particular, hand washing stations must have hot and cold water.

Equipment regulations apply to food storage and cleanliness. North Carolina food truck requirements match cottage food regulations on this part. Every kitchen must have refrigerator and freezer food storage onsite. You must also have adequate shelving and dry storage. For dishwashing, the facility must have a three-compartment sink or an automatic dishwasher.

For home kitchens, you also have to maintain a wash facility for mops, a designated handwashing sink, restrooms and waste storage.

Commercial kitchen requirements for North Carolina are vast, and the NC health inspection checklist can help you ensure that you keep up with them. If not, you will be in violation of NC food code 2021.

What is Cottage Food in North Carolina?

North Carolina, like most states, prohibits the sale of potentially hazardous foods, which are typically foods that require refrigeration.

In general, these foods are permitted to be sold from a home kitchen in NC:


  • Bagels
  • Biscuits
  • Breads
  • Brownies
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Doughnuts
  • Muffins
  • Rolls
  • Scones
  • Sweet breads
  • Tortillas


  • Baked candy
  • Brittles
  • Chocolate
  • Cotton candy
  • Fudge


  • Honey
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Nut butters
  • Oils
  • Pickles
  • Salsas
  • Sauces
  • Vinegars

Dry goods

  • Cereals
  • Coffee beans
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Mixes
  • Pasta noodles
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Dried tea


  • Cones
  • Empanadas
  • Other Pastries
  • Pies


  • Caramel corn
  • Chocolate-covered items
  • Crackers & Pretzels
  • Fruit leathers
  • Granola
  • Kettle corn
  • Marshmallows
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Popcorn balls


  • Fruit butters
  • Jams
  • Jelllies
  • Certain fruit preserves
  • Marmalades

Build a websitefor your food business

Castiron makes it easy to start selling your homemade food online. No coding or design skills required.

Start 14-day free trial

No Credit Card Required

Graduation is fast-approaching, are you ready?