Find a local pick your own farm here!

Looking for Illinois Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Illinois in 2023?  Scroll down this page and  follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.  If you are having a hard time finding canning lids, I've used these, and they're a great price & ship in 2 days.

If you have questions or feedback, please let me know! There are affiliate links on this page.  Read our disclosure policy to learn more. 

Illinois Cottage Food Laws and Regulations: How to sell your homemade foods in Illinois

Illinois Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the cottage food law: January 2012.
Revised in 2014, revised in 2015 and expected to be revised for 2018. The Cottage Food Operation law (P.A.097-0393) allows certain foods made in home kitchens to be sold at Illinois farmers' markets with limited regulation.

Then it was revised again in 2022, expanding where food items could be sold.

The purpose of the law is to promote and support the Illinois agriculture and cottage food industries.

Which foods are subject to the Illinois Cottage Food law?

Foods prepared for sale by a Cottage Food Operation: only non-potentially hazardous baked goods, fruit pies, jams, jellies, fruit preserves, fruit butters, dry herbs, dry herb blends, and dry tea blends intended for end-use consumption are permitted. Here is a list:

  • Jams, Jellies, and Preserves: Fruits are naturally high in food acid. Only high acid jams, jellies, and preserves made from the following fruits are permitted: apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants, or a combination of those fruits.
    Additional notes and restrictions: 
    • Any other jams, jellies, butters, or preserves not listed may be produced by a cottage food operation provided the recipe has been tested. The testing must be conducted by a commercial laboratory at the expense of the cottage food operation. The lab report must document that the product is not potentially hazardous, containing a pH equilibrium of less than 4.6 or has been specified and adopted as allowed in administrative rules by the Department.
    • Low Sugar Jams and Jellies: The best practice for low sugar jams and jellies or those using sugar substitute is that they be processed only in a boiling water canner for a minimum of ten (10) minutes and not by any other methods unless water activity is determined by a commercial lab to be less than 0.85.
    • What about other flavors? Any other jams, jellies, or preserves not listed may be produced by a cottage food operation provided their recipe has been tested and documented by a commercial laboratory as containing a pH level equilibrium of less than 4.6.
  • Baked Goods: Baked goods, such as, but not limited to, breads, cookies, cakes, fruit pies, and pastries.
  • Fruit Butters: Only high acid fruit butters are permitted. Fruit butters made from: apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, and prune. Any other fruit butter not listed may be produced by a cottage food operation provided their recipe has been tested and documented by a commercial laboratory as containing pH of less than 4.6. and water activity of less than 0.85.
  • Fruit pies that are permitted: High-acid fruit pies made of apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, orange, nectarine, tangerine, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, red currants, or a combination of these fruits. Fruit pies not listed above may be produced by a cottage food operation provided their recipe has been tested by a Commercial Laboratory and documented by the laboratory as containing a pH equilibrium of less than 4.6

If your food product does not meet the definition of a Cottage Food:

Don't give up. You may still be able to make and sell it commercially, through a startup approach.

First, you may be able to rent space in a local licensed commercial kitchen.

Second, if that doesn't work, you may be able to get a co-packer to make the food for you.

See this page for detailed information about selling foods that do not meet the Cottage Food definition

Prohibited foods

The following are among those NOT allowed as a Cottage Food product: It's possible this list could change, You can see the most current list of prohibited cottage foods on Illinois Extension’s website:

  • fried doughnuts, fried pies, crepes or pancakes
  • Meat and dairy products,
  • canned vegetables,
  • pickled products,
  • raw seed sprouts, jams
  • Preserves and jellies made from watermelon
  • Butters made from pumpkin, banana, and pear
  • Baked goods: pumpkin, sweet potato, custard or any cream pies, cheese cake, or any pastry with a potentially hazardous filing or topping -
  • Heat treated plant food,
  • baked or boiled potatoes,
  • cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes, cut melons, garlic and oil mixtures
  • Cut or pureed fresh tomato or melon.
  • Frozen cut melon.
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.)
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • Shellfish and crustaceans (shrimp, crab, clam, etc.)
  • Shell Eggs
  • Milk and milk products
  • Heat-treated plant food (cooked rice, beans, or vegetables)
  • Dehydrated tomato or melon.
  • Wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Kombucha (fermented tea).


  • "baked" goods? To cook (food) by dry heat without direct exposure to a flame, especially in an oven (e.g. bread, muffins, cakes, rolls, cookies, crackers).
  • "Cottage food operation" means a person who produces or packages non-potentially hazardous food in a kitchen of that person's primary domestic residence for direct sale by the owner or a family member, stored in the residence where the food is made.
  • "Farmers' market" means a common facility or area where farmers gather to sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally produced farm and food products directly to consumers.
  • "Potentially hazardous food" means a food that is potentially hazardous according to the Federal Food and Drug Administration 2009 Food Code (FDA 2009 Food Code) or any subsequent amendments to the FDA 2009 Food Code. Potentially hazardous food (PHF) in general means a food that requires time and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation. In accordance with the FDA 2009 Food Code, potentially hazardous food does not include a food item that because of its pH or Aw value, or interaction of Aw and pH values, is designated as a non-PHF/non-TCS food in Table A or B of the FDA 2009 Food Code's potentially hazardous food definition.
  • "primary domestic residence" - It is the place where you live, whether you own the home or are renting. So, a house, an apartment, condominium or a rental home all could be a primary domestic residence. It does not include group or communal residential settings, such as group homes, sororities or fraternities or second homes, vacation homes or motor homes (if they are not your primary residence).

Licensing and training

Anyone preparing or packaging food for a home-based food operation must complete an American National Standards Institute accredited Certified Food Protection Managers course and exam. Once certified, the operator must register with their local health department, which requires filling out an application, listing the foods intended for sale, and paying any applicable fees.

  1.  The name and residence of the person preparing and selling products must be registered with the local county public health department where the cottage food operation resides.
    Listing of Local Illinois Health Departments
  2. The person preparing and packaging must hold a current CFPM certification from an ANSI accredited Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certification courses and passing the exam. As of 2018, students will not need to apply for the additional Illinois FSSMC certificate.
    See the list  below, last updated March 2021, or see American National Standards Institute (ANSI Food Handler Training Certificate Programs.

    ANSI-CFP Accreditation Program (Accredited)

    # Organization ID
    1, Inc.
    Learn2Serve® Food Protection Manager Certification Program
    2 AboveTraining/
    Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) Exam
    3 National Registry of Food Safety Professionals
    Food Protection Manager Certification Program
    International Certified Food Safety Manager
    4 National Restaurant Association
    ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification Program
    5 Prometric Inc.
    Food Protection Manager Certification Program
    6 The Always Food Safe Company, LLC
    Food Protection Manager Certification

  3. Note that if you are in Chicago, Chicago has its own registration process. Illois sample cottage foods labelFor questions, please email

Labeling requirements

Cottage Food Production Operations must label all of their food products properly, must conform to the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act

  • Name  of cottage food operation  and unit of local government in which the cottage food operation is located.
  • Common name of product and weight
  • All ingredients listed in descending order by weight, including any color, artificial flavor, and preservative, l
  • Allergen labeling  as specified under federal labeling requirements.( must identify: - Milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, and tree nuts Allergens may be listed as part of ingredient list OR As allergen statement, such as, "contains, ." as separate list after ingredients )
  • Date product was prepared or processed
  • The identifying registration number provided by the local health department on the certificate of registration and the name of the municipality or county in which the registration was filed.
  • Both a statement on the label and at a point of sale placard that must read, in prominent lettering: “This product was produced in a home kitchen not inspected by a health department that may also process common food allergens. If you have safety concerns, contact your local health department.”

Here is a free Microsoft Word label template which you can download and edit.  These labels are already formatted to fit on Avery Template 22820  Print-to-the-Edge Oval, Labels 2" x 3-1/3", 8 per Sheet, Glossy White. You can get the label stock online (see at right). 

Where may Cottage Food Production Operations sell the food products?

As an Illinois cottage food operator, you must sell products directly to the consumer. Sales avenues include, but are not limited to:

  • Farmers market
  •  picked up from the private home or farm of the cottage food operator, if the pickup is not prohibited by any law of the unit of local government that applies equally to all cottage food operations in a municipality with a population of 1,000,000 or more, a cottage food operator shall comply with any law of the municipality that applies equally to all home-based businesses;
  • picked up from a third-party private property with consent of the third-party property holder.
  • Fairs, festivals, public events, or online
  • Delivery to the customer

You cannot sell your foods to a

  • retailer for them to resell
  •  to a restaurant for use or sale in the restaurant.
  • on consignment,
  • to wholesalers,
  •  to brokers
  • or other food distributors who will resell the cottage foods.

Other requirements

 Gross receipts must not exceed $36,000 per year.

Other foods may be permitted under certain circumstances, which may include recipe testing at a commercial lab, acidifying low-acid products, providing a written food safety plan to the local health department, or maintaining product refrigeration throughout transport and holding.

Several food categories have additional guidelines:

Canned Tomatoes or Canned Tomato Product

(1.6) In order to sell canned tomatoes or a canned product containing tomatoes, a cottage food operator shall either:

(A) follow exactly a recipe that has been tested by the United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Home Food Preservation or by a state cooperative extension located in this State or any other state in the United States; or
(B) submit the recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory according to the commercial laboratory’s directions to test that the product has been adequately acidified; use only the varietal or proportionate varietals of tomato included in the tested recipe for all subsequent batches of such recipe; and provide documentation of the annual test results of the recipe submitted under this subparagraph upon registration and to an inspector upon request during any inspection authorized subsection (d).

Fermented or Acidified Food:

(2) In order to sell a fermented or acidified food, a cottage food operation shall either:

(A) submit a recipe that has been tested by the United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Home Food Preservation or a cooperative extension system located in this State or any other state in the United States; or
(B) submit a written food safety plan for each category of products for which the cottage food operator uses the same procedures, such as pickles, kimchi, or hot sauce, and a pH test for a single product that is representative of that category; the written food safety plan shall be submitted annually upon registration and each pH test shall be submitted every 3 years; the food safety plan shall adhere to guidelines developed by the Department.
(3) A fermented or acidified food shall be packaged according to one of the following standards:

(A) A fermented or acidified food that is canned must be processed in a boiling water bath in a Mason-style jar or glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
(B) A fermented or acidified food that is not canned shall be sold in any container that is new, clean, and seals properly and must be stored, transported, and sold at or below 41 degrees.
See Fermented Foods to learn more about fermentation.

Baked Goods with Cheese:

(4) In order to sell a baked good with cheese, a local health department may require a cottage food operation to submit a recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory to verify that it is non-potentially hazardous before allowing the cottage food operation to sell the baked good as cottage food.

Food operators are encouraged to reach out to their local health department or Illinois Extension office for guidance and clarification when in doubt.


"Allergen labeling", as specified in federal labeling requirements means:

  1. The operator must identify if any of the ingredients are made from one of the following food groups: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. If there is an ingredient made with a wheat based product, the operator has the following two options:
    • Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following ingredient listing: whole wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. In this example, the statement 'whole wheat flour and enriched wheat flour', meets the requirements of the federal law as food allergens.
    • Include an allergen statement ("Contains") after the ingredient list. For example, a white bread, with the following ingredients: enriched wheat flour, whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains wheat and milk.
      The "Contains": statement must reflect all the allergens found in the product. In this example, the sodium caseinate comes from milk and the enriched wheat flour and whole wheat flour are from wheat.
  2. Special requirements for tree nuts labeling for allergens
    If the cottage food product has tree nuts as an ingredient you must identify which tree nut you are using.

How the state deals with complaints

What would the state recommend if a complaint is received and significant food safety violations are found at the cottage food operation?

In the event of a consumer complaint or foodborne illness outbreak, upon notice from a different local health department, or if the Department or a local health department has reason to believe that an imminent health hazard exists or that a cottage food operation’s product has been found to be misbranded, adulterated, or not in compliance with the conditions for cottage food operations, the Department or the local health department may:

Inspect the premises of a cottage food operation in question;

Set a reasonable fee for the inspection; and
Invoke penalties and the cessation of the sale of cottage food products until it deems that the situation has been addressed to the satisfaction of the Department or local health department; if the situation is not amenable to being addressed, the local health department may revoke the cottage food operation’s registration following a process outlined by the local health department.


Beyond the requirements, common sense, good practices and reducing liability suggests you should do the following.


Take the ServSafe® training classes for Manager and employees, the 7th Edition Book that accompanies this course should be purchased here.. 

Testing of pH

​It's best to use a pH meter, properly calibrated on the day used. I use this one, which is reliable and inexpensive. And this pH meter is really good, but isn't always available.
Short-range paper pH test strips, commonly known as litmus paper, may be used instead, if the product normally has a pH of 4.0 or lower and the paper's range includes a pH of 4.6.

Record-keeping is suggested

Keep a written record of every batch of product made for sale, including:

  • ​Recipe, including procedures and ingredients
  • Amount canned and sold
  • Canning date
  • Sale dates and locations
  • Gross sales receipts
  • Results of any pH test


Although inspections are not required, you should consider doing the following:

  • ​Use clean equipment that has been effectively sanitized prior to use
  • Clean work surfaces and then sanitize with bleach water before and after use
  • Keep ingredients separate from other unprocessed foods
  • Keep household pets out of the work area
  • Keep walls and floors clean
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to keep insects out
  • Wash hands frequently while working
  • Consider annual testing of water if using a private well

Best Practices

  • Allergen:  Most state home baking acts require an "ingredient statement" and/or an "allergen listing" on the label of the bakery item for sale; but if your state does not, you should anyway. The eight major food allergens are
    • milk,
    • eggs,
    • fish,
    • crustacean shellfish,
    • tree nuts,
    • peanuts,
    • wheat and
    • soybean.
  • Cross-allergenicity: There are also ingredients available, even flours, that can cause a cross-allergenicity. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology explains cross-allergenicity as an allergic reaction when proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance. For example, consumption of lupine flour may trigger an allergic reaction to peanuts, and cricket flour may trigger an allergic reaction to shellfish. Again, providing such information might be a beneficial marketing tool and help keep potential consumers safe.
  • The 2 Hour/4 Hour Rule -  Anyone wishing to make and sell refrigerated bakery items should remember to follow the "2 Hour/4 Hour Rule." This is a system that can be implemented when potentially hazardous foods are out of temperature control (temperatures greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during preparation, serving or display for sale. The rule guidelines are as follows:
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for 2 hours or less, then it may continue to be used or be placed back in the refrigerator.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, it needs to be used quickly or discarded.
    • If a potentially hazardous food has been out of temperature control for more than 4 hours, it must be discarded.

More resources:

More information about specific fruit allowances:

You may combine specifically allowed fruit products if all the fruits are allowed in that form.

An asterisk (*) means the product is neither specifically allowed nor prohibited. That means if you want to make and sell such a product , you must, at your own expense, submit the recipe to a commercial laboratory to be tested and documented as non-potentially hazardous (that is, it has a pH less than 4.6).


  1. Can nonprofit organizations produce and sell cottage foods? No. Nonprofits do not have a primary domestic residence, and therefore do not qualify as cottage food businesses.
  2. Can I make and sell sweet breads, muffins or other baked goods made with homegrown/fresh fruits and vegetables like zucchini, carrots, apples, and strawberries?
    Yes, as long as the fruits or vegetables are incorporated into the batter and properly baked, packaged and labeled.
  3.  Can homegrown produce be canned and used for making baked goods, like sweet breads, at a later date?
    No, but you can use commercially canned products for baked goods, like canned apple pie filling. Home-canned products are not approved for production under the cottage food law, with the exception of some types of jams, jellies and fruit butters.
  4.  Can I freeze fresh homegrown produce and use it for making baked goods, like sweet breads, at a later date?
    Yes, as long as the frozen fruits or vegetables are minimally processed (washed and cut only) and then incorporated into the batter and properly baked, packaged and labeled.
  5. Can I produce and sell fresh raw prepared and/or cooked vegetable products, like salsas, tomato sauces, spaghetti sauces, or foccacia bread with roasted vegetables?
    No. Food products made with fresh raw prepared and/or cooked vegetable products do not qualify. Cooked vegetables, whether from fresh, frozen or canned are considered a potentially hazardous food/temperature controlled for safety (PHF/TCS) food. Under the Illinois Food Code, cooked vegetables must be held either hot (above 135°F) or cold (below 41°F). They can't be stored at room temperature, which makes them ineligible for production as a cottage food operation. Cut fresh tomatoes that may be in cold prepared foods, e.g., salsa, is a PHF/TCS. Primary domestic residence kitchens cannot be used for processing produce (e.g., wash, cut or slice) for ready-to-eat service.
  6. Can I make freezer jams?
    No. Freezer jams do not fall within the exemptions allowed as they have to be maintained frozen.
  7. Can I press and sell cider as a cottage food operation?
    No. Cider is not an acceptable item. Actually, no beverages are allowed to be produced. Are honey and maple syrup covered under the cottage food law? No. Honey and maple syrup producers should contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at (217) 278-5900.
  8. Will I need to meet local zoning or other laws?
    Possibly. The cottage food exemption only exempts you from the health department requirements of permits and routine inspections. Contact your local unit of government (village/city/county) to determine if there are local regulations that will affect your business.
  9. Do I need to collect and report retailer's occupation tax (sales tax) for my cottage food business?
    Possibly. Cottage food businesses, although exempt from food permitting requirements, may meet other provisions of law regarding businesses, including tax law. You may need to maintain sales records and may need to provide them to the Internal Revenue Service, Illinois Department of Revenue, farmers' market sponsor or for village/city/county sales tax collection.
  10. Are there any liability exemptions?
    No. It is your responsibility to assure that your foods are safe, unadulterated and properly labeled. Contact your attorney and/or insurance representative for advice.
  11. Should I initiate a recall or market withdrawal of my foods if found to be misbranded (e.g., did not declare milk on the label) or adulterated (e.g., foreign object in food)?
    You should consider a press release or other public notice. See the following FDA website:
  12. Can I offer samples? Yes, with conditions. There is now a Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate, see this page. The law is found here Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code 750.4300 
    Effective July 15, 2015, a Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate is required to sample your food product at a Farmers Market, without having to get a separate license from the local health department (applies to samples only). The Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate is required for all persons who engage in performing tasks such as unpacking, cutting, slicing, preparing or distributing food product samples. Certificates are not transferrable between individuals and are valid for 3 years from issue date.
  13. More FAQs can be found here and here
  14. Another summer and FAQs is presented here.

Questions? Contact Information:

For more information, contact


Scaling up?

If you decide you would like to wholesale your products, which is not allowed under the cottage food law, you are ready to move to the next step and become a wholesale food processor. Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at (217) 278-5900.

Going retail?

 If you would like to operate a retail business, you must operate from a permitted, inspected kitchen and obtain a health permit and applicable city food licenses. Contact the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District/Champaign County Public Health Department at (217) 373-7900 or (217) 363-3269 or see the plan review and permitting section on the food safety page.