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Payment Processing for Cottage Cooks

You can start a cottage food business in your own kitchen as long as you understand your rights and responsibilities under the laws in your state. This article explores payment methods for cottage food businesses and other relevant facts to help your cottage food business thrive.

What Is Cottage Food?

Cottage foods are approved by your state to be sold in an unlicensed kitchen. This could include foods you make in your single-family home. Not all food qualifies for this type of business. For example, most states specify the types of food that you can sell. Typically, they list foods that don't require temperature controls for safety. Examples include the following:

What Is a Cottage Food Business?

Cottage food businesses include small scale bakeries and other operations typically run out of your home. Rather than being subject to commercial restaurant standards and health codes, they can follow cottage food laws mandated by state legislatures.

There are many things to keep in mind when you’re learning how to start a cottage food business. For example, when marketing a cottage food business, it helps to package your food in attractive ways that emphasize the homemade nature of the goods without compromising safety or cleanliness.

One of the most important details when it comes to figuring out how to sell cottage food is choosing the right payment processing for cottage cooks. While some payment processing companies offer free payment processing for small business owners, others charge high fees or percentages for online payment processing for small businesses.

We’ll review the best online payment processing for small business and discuss the best ACH payment processing for small business entrepreneurs. Additionally, you will do much better online if you can handle small business credit card processing.

ACH Processing

Instead of using a credit card, some customers might be open to transfers between checking accounts. There are billions of ACH payments that take place every year. The fees vary for this service, but they are cheaper than both debit card and credit card payment processing. So, they are an effective way to receive payments online or in person.

There are many ACH processing companies out there. We recommend finding a reputable company that will process both debit and credit transactions. Although many providers charge an add-on fee for this service, you can find some that will include it at no charge with your account.

Although it's not free, PaymentCloud gets our vote for the best ACH processing provider. They have competitive prices and other strong features for small businesses. If you have a high-risk business, you will find that PaymentCloud is extremely open to doing business with you. If you have a hard time processing credit cards, you will find PaymentCloud’s virtual terminal simple and convenient when it comes to processing ACH payments.

Pros of this service include specialization in high-risk businesses such as cottage food businesses. It also charges no account setup fee and has excellent customer service. You will probably find the rates reasonable and the fees low. However, by all means, shop around for the best ACH payment vendor in your area.

Best Payment Processing Apps

You probably already know that there are apps that allow you to transfer money from person to person without involving credit cards or exchanging account numbers. Of these, we reviewed Castiron, PayPal/Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, and Stripe to give you an idea of what to look for in a payment processing app.


Castiron is a new player in the cottage cook software market. Unlike the other options in this list, Castiron is built specifically for food businesses. Castiron allows you to build a simple ecommerce website to sell your homemade artisanal food. You can set up your website, add photos and products, manage your inventory, accept payments, and more — all in one place.


Castiron processes payments via Stripe. You can accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB cards using Stripe. You can also use it with your Apple Pay or Google Pay account. Stripe charges a base fee of 2.9%.


Venmo uses social networks that allow friends to exchange payments. It's owned by PayPal and doesn't charge any fees to exchange payments with another individual. However, it charges a 3% fee to process credit card payments. Additionally, if you want the funds right away, you will pay a 1% fee. Otherwise, it takes a few days to receive the money in your account. Note that recently, Venmo has changed the way it operates for businesses. The service used to be free to use, but now customers should mark business payments as such to avoid being removed from the platform.

It's simple to use. You link a bank routing and account number or credit or debit card to your online account.

Some researchers have found that Venmo and other companies share your information with marketing firms. However, it's unclear which firms are better or worse than others. Therefore, we suggest that you base your decision on customer service, fees and ease of use.

Cash App

Owned by Square, Cash App is popular among retail businesses and shows potential for accepting payments at your cottage food business. It's free to exchange payments with people, but it takes up to three days for the money to transfer to your account. Expediting the payment will cost 1.5% of the payment amount.

You can link a debit card or Bitcoin account to your Cash account, and you can also invest in stocks directly from the app. Although the app is very easy to use, some reviewers complain about poor customer service support.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay requires an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to use. It allows you to send money to people with apple devices. It's a bit convoluted to set up, and you need to associate your debit card with the app instead of a bank account. You'll have to jump through some hoops before you can actually start using the account. However, it does allow you to use a debit card via messaging, which is very convenient.

It takes one to three days to transfer funds into your bank account from Apple Cash. Although the service is free, you will pay a 1% charge to make an instant transfer. It may be a bit more secure than the other apps discussed so far.


PayPal is one of the largest peer-to-peer transaction apps. It takes one to three days for transactions to clear and if you want your money right away it will cost you 1% of the transaction amount. To use it, you associate your banking information or credit card with your PayPal account.

PayPal is so ubiquitous and works so smoothly on so many sites that it’s a top contender for cottage food payment processing.

Google, Facebook and Zelle are runners-up worth checking out if you try the apps above and find them wanting.

How to Get Around Cottage Food Laws? Don't.

If you're wondering how to get around cottage food laws, the best advice we can provide is to learn the cottage food laws in your state, which are mainly reasonable and meant to protect both business owners and consumers.

What Is Cottage Food Law?

Cottage food laws in California will be different than cottage food laws in Illinois. You'll still find many similarities in cottage food laws by state. For example, Florida cottage food law and similar laws in other states require proper labeling and do not allow cottage food business owners to sell their products wholesale.

Meanwhile cottage food law in Michigan only allows cottage foods made in residential kitchens to bypass the health code and other regulations applying to commercial food sales. Rather than getting around these laws, it's important to concentrate on providing safe, high-quality products that your customers will enjoy without ill effects.

Many states now have cottage food laws. Whether you need to brush up on the cottage food law in NY or Missouri cottage food law. It's important to realize that these laws are subject to change, and it's important to keep up with the latest regulations.

Louisiana cottage food law in 2020 can vary from the statutes that stood the previous year. For example, Louisiana greatly increased the list of foods that you can sell from a home kitchen in 2014. So, if you want to start a cottage food business in California, it's important to understand the cottage food law in California for 2021. This could vary dramatically from selling food from home in California in 2020. (Be sure to brush up on the California homemade food act too.)

Are you interested in selling food from home in Texas? It only takes a few minutes to scan through the state’s cottage food laws.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Cottage Food License?

The process for getting a cottage food license or permit also varies from state to state. For example, if you want to get a cottage food license in California, you have to complete a state-mandated course. It typically takes about three months.

How long does it take to get a cottage food license in Missouri? The state doesn't require a special permit or license, but your local municipality might.

Do I need a license to sell homemade food? Again, a by now familiar answer applies. It varies by state. For example, you need a home bakery license in Florida to sell your homemade goods.

How to get license to sell food? Remember that the laws are often different for home businesses selling food. You may need a license, permit, food handlers permit, or no license at all. Refer to your state website to begin your search for laws that may apply in your municipality or state.

Do I need a business license for a cottage food operation? You can start with your local government to find out if any regional laws apply to cottage food businesses. They will direct you to your state legislature if there are state cottage food laws that apply to you.

Do I need a license to sell homemade food in California? You need a permit from the County Health Department to sell food from your home. You also need a license to sell food from home in Illinois. The total cottage food license cost will depend on what permits and licenses you need to operate your business.

Do You Need a License To Sell Baked Goods From Home?

Baked goods sometimes have different rules than other foods. Below, will describe some of the licenses and permits required by different states. So, do you need a license to sell baked goods from home? In California, you need a permit from the County Health Department to sell food from home, including baked goods. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you do not need a permit to sell food from home in Texas. In fact, health departments in the state cannot interfere unless they receive a customer complaint.

As you can see, the requirements for a permit to sell food from home vary greatly. In some cases, food operations that do not need permits expanded during the pandemic. This includes food operations that do not need permits in California. However, it remains to be seen whether these lax standards will survive the end of the pandemic, especially in municipalities and states that require cottage food permits.

Do you need a permit to sell food from home? In normal times, you need to file a class A permit California food application to sell certain foods. Review the requirements for a class A cottage food permit in California prior to selling your home-cooked food at music festivals, fairs and similar events.

Best Selling Cottage Foods

Without a doubt, baked items are the king of cottage foods in many states. The reason baked goods make the list of best-selling cottage foods is their universal appeal. It's easy enough to obtain a list of cottage foods that include anything that does not have to be refrigerated or stored at specific temperatures to ensure food safety.

Here are just a few ideas if you're looking for ideas for selling food from home in NYC or anywhere that allows cottage food sales:

Are you interested in selling prepackaged food in California? Then you need to understand the rules for selling food from home in California for 2021.

As you can see, the cottage foods list in your state will vary from other states. Many counties and municipalities also have their own rules for selling food from your home, at festivals, and at farmers’ markets. So, is immensely important to educate yourself and find mentor groups so that you can stay up to date on the latest laws where you live.

Once you are familiar with the laws in your municipality and state, you can begin to apply the rest of your business model, including which payment method would work best for your business.

How you accept payment varies on business type, cottage food laws, and personal preference. Learn all about payment processing options for cottage cooks.

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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The Best Fit for Your Food Business

Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.

Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.

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