All across the United States, people are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form a small but growing industry—the homemade or “cottage food” industry. The movement fits within a larger trend toward healthy eating and responsible sourcing, as consumers take greater interest in where their food comes from and who makes it. Selling cottage food has been legal in Idaho for many years, but the state updated and clarified its rules in 2016. The Idaho Food Code now includes standardized statewide procedures for Idaho cottage food producers.

Grades For Homemade Food Laws Idaho
Final GradeC+
Food Categories Grade D
Sales and Venue Restrictions Grade A-
Regulatory Burdens GradeB+

Idaho cottage food types

Food CategoriesIdaho
What Shelf-Stable Foods Can I Sell in Idaho?No restrictions
Can I Sell Refrigerated Baked Goods in Idaho?No
Can I Sell Meat in Idaho?No
Can I Sell Acidified or Pickled Foods in Idaho?No
Can I Sell Low-Acid Canned Goods in Idaho?No
Can I Sell Fermented Foods in Idaho?No

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Idaho cottage food producers may sell foods that are not time- or temperature-controlled for safety. Examples include, but are not limited to: baked goods, fruit jams and jellies, fruit pies, breads, cakes, pastries and cookies, candies and confections, dried fruits, dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures, cereals, trail mixes and granola, nuts, vinegar, popcorn and popcorn balls, and cotton candy.

Idaho cottage food venues

Sales and Venue RestrictionsIdaho
Annual Sales CapNone
Where Can I Sell Homemade Food Direct to Consumers in No restrictions
Can I Sell Homemade Food to Retail Outlets Like Restaurants and Grocery Stores?No
Online OrdersYes
Mail DeliveryYes

Idaho cottage food producers may sell their products at any venue, as long as sales are direct to Idaho-based consumers. Possible venues include farmers’ markets, roadside stands and special events. Idaho also allows home pickup and delivery of cottage foods, and online sales with mail delivery. Idaho cottage food producers may not sell their products at grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. Once an operation is up and running, Idaho does not impose an annual sales cap.

Getting started in Idaho

Regulatory BurdensIdaho
Inspections Required Before StartingNo
Are Local Ordinances Preempted or Overridden?No
License, Permit or Registration RequiredNo
Recipe Approval or Lab Testing RequiredNo
Food Handler Training RequiredNo

Getting started in Idaho is easy. The state does not require an inspection, permit or training for Idaho cottage food producers. All someone needs is a home kitchen and entrepreneurial spirit.

Idaho cottage food labels

Idaho cottage food producers must display a clearly visible placard at the point of sale or provide clearly legible labels on the product packaging that states: contact information for the cottage food operation and food allergen information. Placards and labels also must indicate that the food was prepared in a home kitchen not subject to regulation and inspection by any regulatory authority.

Idaho cottage food facts

Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts: 

  • Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent. 
  • Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy. 
  • Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
  • Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income. 
  • Cottage food empowers women. IJ cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
  • Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.

Idaho cottage food resources 

As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include: 

Tell your Idaho story

Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Idaho? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here… 

Support Idaho legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Idaho by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started… 

Defending homemade food freedom nationwide 

People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…

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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process.