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

Washington State Cottage Food Laws, Regulations and Facts

Date of the enactment of the Washington State cottage food law: 2011. In 2016, changes were made to the Cottage Food Operation Rules that included expanding the type of products allowed, increasing the sales limit, and allowing for rolling permit expirations. Under the cottage food law, there are certain types of low risk food products that may be produced and sold out of your home kitchen with no inspection or licensing requirements. Products sold with the "Cottage Food Permit" must be considered "low risk" and can only be sold directly to the end consumer at places such as farmers markets, farm stands and seasonal events (e.g., harvest festivals) or through CSAs.

Which foods are subject to the Washington State Cottage Food law?

Any non-potentially hazardous products (as determined by WSDA) that are baked, fried, or cooked on a stovetop or other electronic device designed for cooking food are allowed, such as:
  • Low risk baked or fried products that are cooked in an oven, on a stove top, or in an electric device designed for cooking food, including: Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits, quick breads, muffins;
  • Cereals, trail mixes, or granola;
  • Cakes; including celebration cakes such as birthday, anniversary, and wedding cakes:
  • Pastries; Pies (except custard style, pies with fresh unbaked fruit, and pies requiring refrigeration after baking);
  • Sweet breads made with fresh fruit or vegetables are allowed as long as the fruit or vegetables are incorporated into the batter and oven-baked.
  • All frostings or glazes must have a cook step or be made with ingredients (such as a large amount of sugar) that when combined are stable at room temperature and won't spoil.
  • Cookies or bars;
  • Stove top candies such as fudge, peanut brittle, caramels, taffy, marshmallows, etc.;
  • Molded chocolates and products dipped or coated in chocolate;
  • Donuts, tortillas, pizelles, krumkake, kale chips and similar products.
  • Tortillas;
  • Potato chips, kale chips, etc;
  • Cereals, trail mixes and granola;
  • Nuts or nut mixes;
  • Crackers;
  • Snack mixes;
  • Some frostings;
  • Standardized jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters are allowed. However, the Cottage Food Operation Permit specifies that they must be made with low risk recipes, with sugar and only certain types of fruit. This page has much more information for jams, jellies, preserves and fruit butters in Washington State
  •  Recombining and packaging of dry herbs, seasonings, and mixtures (e.g., dry soup, teas, coffees, spices, seasonings) is allowed.
  • Vinegar and flavored vinegars are allowed.
  • Candies cooked on a stove top or in a microwave (temperature monitoring with candy thermometer is required).
  • Molded candies and chocolates;
  • Products dipped or coated with candy or chocolate coatings;
  • Fudge or Fudge-like candies; Caramels; Nut Brittles; and Taffy and marshmallow-like candies;
  • Jams, jellies, preserves and fruit butters (made according to the standards set by FDA in 21 C.F.R 150.)
  • Recombining or packaging of dry herbs, seasoning and mixtures that are obtained from approved sources, Including teas, bread mixes, soup mixes and dip mixes
  • Small batch roasted coffee beans (The roaster cannot be commercial size and generally must fit on a kitchen countertop)

Food products that are NOT allowed as Cottage Foods in Washington State:

Products not allowed under the Cottage Food Permit are

  •  Fresh or dried meat or meat products including jerky;
  • Fresh or dried poultry or poultry products;
  • Canned fruits, vegetables, vegetable butters, salsas, etc.;
  • Fish or shellfish products;
  • Canned pickled products such as corn relish, pickles, sauerkraut;
  • Raw seed sprouts;
  • Baked goods which require any type of refrigeration such as cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or pastries with cream or cream cheese fillings, fresh fruit fillings or garnishes, glazes or frostings with low sugar content, cream, or uncooked eggs;
  • Milk and dairy products including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and yogurt;
  • Cut fresh fruits or vegetables;
  • Food products made from cut fresh fruits or vegetables;
  • Food products made with cooked vegetable products;
  • Garlic in oil mixtures;
  • Juices made from fresh fruits or vegetables;
  • Ice or ice products;
  • Barbeque sauces, ketchups, or mustards; and
  • Focaccia-style breads with vegetables or cheeses.
  • Products made with meat, poultry or fish products
  • Beverages
  • Food products not for human consumption such as dog treats

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


  • Cottage Food Operations  or CFO is defined as "a person who produces cottage food products only in the home kitchen of that person's primary domestic residence in Washington and only for sale directly to the consumer."
  •  Cottage Food Products In Washington, "cottage food products" are "non-potentially hazardous baked goods, jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters as well as other identified non-potentially hazardous products." In general, non-potentially hazardous foods do not need to be refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth that can make people sick.
  • "Home Kitchen" is a "kitchen primarily intended for use by the residents of a home. It may contain one or more stoves or ovens, which may be a double oven, designed for residential use."
  • "Domestic residence" is a "single-family dwelling or an area within a rental unit where a single person or family actually resides. A domestic residence does not include: (a) A group or communal residential setting within any type of structure; or (b) An outbuilding, shed, barn, or other similar structure."
  • Potentially Hazardous Foods are those "requiring temperature control for safety because they are capable of supporting the rapid growth of pathogenic or toxigenic microorganisms, or the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum." Washington State Sample Cottage Food Label

Labeling requirements

Products that are produced and sold with the Cottage Food Operation Permit must include the following information on their labels:

  • Name of Cottage Food Operation.
  • Physical address of Cottage Food Operation.
  • Product name.
  • Ingredient list, including a break down to the smallest sub-ingredients.
  • Identification of any allergens (e.g., wheat, eggs, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish).
  • Weight or volume in U.S. measures.
  • The statement: "Made in a home kitchen that has not been subject to standard inspection criteria."

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?

Cottage Food products may be sold only to the consumer through direct sales from your home, at farmers markets, craft fairs and other public venues. Retail sales at stores and restaurants are not allowed. Cottage Food products cannot be sold to wholesalers, brokers and distributors; sales outside the state are prohibited.

While you can advertise your products on the Internet, and take orders and money over the Internet, you cannot ship products by mail or a courier service to consumers. Product delivery must be directly from the producer to the actual customer in a person-toperson transaction by the Cottage Food Permit holder within the state of Washington. For example, a cottage food operator can sell their cottage food products online and accept payment online, but pick-up must occur at either the cottage food operator's home OR the cottage food operator may deliver to the end consumer.

If you wish to wholesale or sell through a third party, you will need to acquire a WSDA Food Processor's License.

They may not be sold across state lines.  In other words,  only be sold within the state.

Summary:  Someone with a Cottage Food Permit can sell up to $25,000 worth of food in direct sales from:
• Your home
• Your farm stand
• Festivals
• Farmers markets
• Holiday bazaars
• Over the internet (but delivered in person at your home or the customers)

Products you advertise for purchase must be listed on your Cottage Food Operations Permit issued by the WSDA.

Other requirements

  • The fee is $230 (2019 cost) whether it is for a first time application or a permit renewal.
  • Cottage food operations may sell up to $25,000 of their cottage food products each year with the Cottage Food Operations Permit.
  • All cottage food products sold with the Cottage Food Operations Permit must be sold directly to the end consumer by the permitted Cottage Food Operator. Cottage food products cannot be sold to restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, bakeries, or wholesale to any other business.
  • Food worker card - Get the Washington State food worker card details here.

Overview of the application process

Washington State's Agriculture Department has the following pages to help with the application process:

Get the Washington State Cottage Food application packet here.   If there link doesn't work (hey, it's the government - the link frequently stops working, then use this application packet link for a copy of April 2020 version of the packet. This page currently has the complete step-by-step process.

Step 1:
Before you Apply
Step 2:
Completing your Application
Step 3:
After you Apply
Are my products allowable under the Cottage Food Rules?
Items that are not allowed
• What do I need to do before I apply?
• Floor Plan
• Packaging
• Labeling
• Equipment
• Cleaning & Sanitation
• Processing Dates & Sales Plan
• Child & Pet Management
• Review of your application
and inspecting the
Cottage Food Operation

Permitting Requirements

There are three specific requirements that must be met before you can get your Cottage Food Operation Permit. Copies or documentation of these tests or licenses is required to be submitted with your application.

  1.  Water Testing If you are on City, Community or other Municipal Water Systems you do not need to have your water tested, but you do need to submit a copy of a recent water bill at the cottage food address. If you are on a private water supply you will need to have the supply tested at least 60 days prior to permitting and at least annually thereafter. You must submit a copy of the test and written report that demonstrate the water supply is potable. Check with your local county planning or health department for more information. 
  2.  Food Worker Card Any person who will be working in your Cottage Food Operation must apply and receive their Food Worker Card (also known through as a Food Handlers Permit). This is available through your local county health jurisdiction or online at . For more information, please see the Washington State Department of Health "Food Worker Card" FAQ site:  . You must provide signed copies of a Food Worker Card for each person named on your application.
  3.  Master Business License In order to apply for the Cottage Food Operation Permit, you must have a Master Business License to do business in Washington. The name of the person(s) applying for the Cottage Food Operations Permit must be on the Master Business License. Your business license is also used to identify your business name and the address of your cottage food location for the permit and for your product labels. To apply for a Master Business License, go to:
  4. Additional Application Requirements In addition to the preceding requirements, the Cottage Food Operation Permit application asks for technical details, including a floor plan, production process, equipment and utensil list, cleaning and sanitation plan, processing dates and sales plan, child and pet management plan. Documenting the production process is typically the most time-consuming step for both the applicant and the Cottage Food permit review team. This step includes submitting each of your recipes in a specific format, documenting the prescribed processing and packaging steps, as well as submitting an example of each product label per the specific labeling requirements. Each recipe and label is thoroughly reviewed for compliance. For additional information, please see "Things to keep in mind when completing your application" at .
  5. Master Recipes It is possible to submit a single Master Recipe with variations if the base of the recipe (for example batter or dough) does not change but different add-in ingredients (like nuts, fruit, or chocolate chips) can be noted on the recipe. A separate label for each variation must be submitted. Cottage Food Permit Applications are limited to 50 master recipes. Add-in variations do not add to the recipe count.
  6. Timing The Cottage Food Operation Permit is good for one calendar year. It will expire one year after it was issued on the last day of the month it was issued. How long it takes to review and approve your application depends on how many recipes were submitted, how thoroughly the application has been completed, and how timely the applicant responds to notices and questions from WSDA. The application can be approved as quickly as two weeks, but could take up to six months. Additional recipes and labels can be submitted throughout the year for a cost of $15 ($30 application and $75 public health review). New products or product changes can be submitted each year with your renewal for no additional fee.
  7. Fees The annual application fee totals $230 and includes $75 for a public health review of the application, $125 for a WSDA on-site inspection of your kitchen, and a $30 processing fee for the application. The application fee is non-refundable and no refunds will be made after receipt of the Cottage Food Operation Application.
  8. Permit Process After your application has been approved by the public health review, WSDA will contact you to setup an on-site inspection of your kitchen and all identified areas of your submitted floor plan. The inspection typically occurs within 1 to 4 weeks after your application has been approved. When you pass the inspection, your Cottage Food Operation Permit will be emailed to you within 1 to 3 days. Once you have the permit in hand, you may begin producing your approved products for sale.


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

More resources:

Questions? Contact Information:

Please contact the WSDA Food Safety Program at