Iowa Cottage Food Law

Ready to start your cottage food business in Iowa? There aren't many limitations on what you can make and sell, or on where you can sell your products. Keep reading for additional details on how to sell homemade food in Iowa.
Build Your Cottage Food Business Website
Where can you sell?

In Iowa, you can sell cottage food at farmers markets, at home, online, and via mail.

What kinds of food can you sell?

Iowa permits the sale of most types of homemade food, including perishable foods and items containing certain kinds of meat, baked goods, candies, and acidified canned goods.

What should be on my product labels?

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

Is there an income cap?

The sales limit for home food processing establishments is $50,000 annually.

Are there any special requirements?

All sales of cottage food products must be made directly to your customer, and interstate sales are not permitted. You must obtain a license and have your kitchen inspected.

Where can I find more information?

Contact the Food & Consumer Safety Bureau at 515-281-6538 or Learn more about Iowa'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.

Iowa Cottage Food Law

Are you a midwest resident looking to sell food items from your own kitchen? If so, you’ll want to pay close attention to these guidelines for selling baked goods from home in Iowa.

Within this post, we’ll answer plenty of questions including:

One of the more unique aspects about Iowa cottage food law is that the rules are quite old. In fact, the state has allowed for the sale of homemade edibles for the last forty years.

However, there are actually two different guidelines that you will want to pay attention to if you’re looking to start a food business at home. There is one for basic sales of non-perishable foods by producers and one for home bakeries. If you’re looking to start your own home bakery, understanding where you fall between these two is the first step.

The first cottage law license Iowa category is quite simple and includes a lengthy list of permitted items. Labeling requirements are very simple and there’s no need for a formal inspection prior to selling. But it is important to note that this category only covers non-perishable items. Additionally, you can only sell those items from your own home or at farmer’s markets.

The other option is to get an official Iowa home bakery license. This option allows for sales at far more venues, wholesale to restaurants, and even online. There is a cap on how much money you can earn in a given year, which is $35,000. An annual license renewal and home bakery inspection are required.

The catch? A home bakery license only permits you to sell baked goods at these venues and events. Candies like brittles, cotton candy, fudge, preserves, and others are not included in your license.

As you can tell, this can get a little confusing for savvy bakers and cooks that want to expand into multiple types of food.

For example, if you have this type of license you’re planning on selling baked goods at a farmers market, then you could also sell homemade fudge under the open category for cottage food sales in Iowa. But, you would not be able to sell that same fudge or even jars of fruit preserves to another business as wholesale.

And do you need a special Iowa food license for online sales, like from a home-based bakery website? According to Iowa cottage food laws 2021, as long as the items fall under your home baker license, then you’re fine. If they are under general cottage food permissions, then you cannot.

How do you get an in-home bakery license in Iowa? The home food establishment license Iowa requires comes from filling out an application from the Department of Inspections and Appeals. There is a $50 fee and the in-home bakery license must be renewed annually.

With an inspection, you’ll be monitored to ensure you’re using all proper food handling procedures. The inspection and your bakery license are only good for your in-home kitchen, meaning you cannot go to a friend or family member’s home to make products under your license. Pets are never allowed in the same kitchen during food preparations and smoking is also prohibited. While these are confirmed limitations, there might be others that you’ll want to double check before your inspection actually occurs.

You and anyone working for you handling food must also apply for an Iowa food handler’s permit. The cost is $10 and requires a brief training session on topics surrounding food safety. This is meant to be a catalyst for better education on proper methods of food preparation to prevent spoilage, which in turn protects the general public. This is a guideline that applies to the basic cottage food requirements and the home bakery license protocols.

Where can you sell products? Iowa allows cottage food makers to sell only for pickup from their own home and at farmer’s markets. Those with an official home bakery license may sell from their own home, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and at events. In-store sales, wholesaling to restaurants, and some online food sales are also permitted.

When labeling products, in-home bakeries and other establishments must label their products with a company name, contact address, and ingredients listed from the highest weight to the lowest. Your contact address on your label cannot be a post office box. Commercial products used in your items—like chocolate chips, for example—would have their ingredients list copied over and combined with yours. Net weight in ounces, grams, or both is also required to be on your label.

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.

It is also important to note that Iowa allows for those with an official bakery license to sell some perishable baked goods including meringue pies, cheesecakes, and more. The only caveat to this is that these items cannot contain meat.

In contrast to many other states, the cottage food laws in Iowa are far more friendly to those looking to sell baked goods from home. That’s likely to do with the state’s high population of farmers and the rich history surrounding the agricultural business in the area. That said, if you’re looking to start selling baked goods from home, understanding the guidelines we’ve included here is the first real part of the overall process.

Iowa Cottage Foods List

In Iowa, the list of foods permissible by cottage food laws is pretty expansive—which is likely fostered by the numerous farming communities within this region. Selling home-canned goods and selling honey in Iowa is allowed. It is also important to note that the items you’re able to sell varies between a general cottage food business and a licensed in-home bakery.

Here are a few other items that can be sold under the general current cottage food guidelines:

  • Breads and baked goods including bagels, biscuits, brownies, cake pops, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, donuts, macarons, muffins, pizzelles, rolls, scones, sweet breads, tortillas, and wedding cakes.
  • Candies such as brittles, buttercream frosting, chocolate, cotton candy, fudge, and truffles.
  • Condiments including honey, nut butters, oils, syrups, and vinegars.
  • Dry goods such as cereals, coffee beans, dried fruits, dried vegetables, herbs, mixes, pasta noodles, spices, seasonings, and tea leaves.
  • Pasties including churros, cones, danishes, empanadas, pies, tamales, and others.
  • Preserves such as fruit butters, chutneys, jams, jellies, and marmalades.
  • Snacks like candied apples, caramel corn, chocolate-covered fruits, crackers, pretzels, fruit leathers, granola, kettle corn, marshmallows, nuts, seeds, popcorn, and vegetable hips.
  • Other items like carbonated drinks, hard boiled eggs, and whole eggs.

This list is far more inclusive and specific than the cottage food laws for other states. Since Iowa’s guidelines are so specific, it is important to discuss your home-based food sales plans with your local jurisdiction if an item doesn’t explicitly fall into one of these categories. And the do seem to update their classifications on a fairly regular basis, too.

As of July 2022, perishable foods, sauces, pickles, meat jerkies, salsas, fermented foods, and juices are now permitted under Iowa cottage food law 2022.

As a side note, it is important to talk about honey. Do you need a license to sell honey in Iowa? The answer is no, as it is deemed a condiment under current cottage food laws. However, it is best to check with your local county for further guidelines on keeping and raising bees in Iowa.

Cottage Food Laws by State

How do Iowa’s cottage food laws compare to those in other states? Here are a few areas where these guidelines differ and what you need to know about each.

  • Ohio Home Bakery License: No additional permit is necessary, but home bakers are limited to where they can sell items. Some wholesale to restaurant options are available and a few perishable items are permitted.
  • Home Bakery License NY: In New York, out-of-state and some wholesale sales are allowed. However, certain items like chocolate-dipped candies are prohibited.
  • Home Bakery License California: Individuals can sell food from home in California as long as they meet certain guidelines. Shipping of food products within the state is allowed and there’s a two-class (A and B) system.
  • Home Bakery License Illinois: Illinois cottage food laws are restrictive in that they only allow sales at farmers’ markets.
  • Food Cottage Laws Delaware: There’s a $25,000 annual limit on cottage food sales and a special permit with home kitchen inspection is required.
  • Arizona Cottage Food Laws: In Arizona, the food cottage program is fairly lenient. It is free to sign up for, which is why over ten thousand home cooks have done so since the current guidelines went into effect.
  • Texas Cottage Food Law: Texas is one of the more lenient states when it comes to the type of foods permitted. Frozen items and some perishable products are allowed, plus shipping within the state and online sales are permitted.

Wondering about selling honey in various states? Here are a few additional guidelines to consider.

  • Selling Honey in Nebraska: Sales of honey packaged at home are restricted to farmers’ markets only.
  • Selling Honey in New York State: Honey is considered a condiment and on the list of allowable cottage food items in New York.
  • Selling Honey in California: Honey is considered a cottage food and can be sold according to ordinary guidelines in California.

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

Get started today... it's practically free! (limited time only)