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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.

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.

Learn about North Carolina's homemade food regulations, permitting, and the foods you can make and sell from home in the state.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie


Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets


Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.

Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.

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