Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas?

Posted by Damian Roberti on

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas?




Marketing Food Online participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Our Blogs are for informational purposes only seek legal advice if needed.





Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

 Since it was first passed in 2011, the Texas Cottage Food Law has changed and grown. In 2019, the Texas Legislature made the biggest changes.
Before 2011, it was against the law to sell food that someone made in their own home kitchen. But in that same year, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) worked to pass the first Texas Cottage Food Law. This law let people sell a few low-risk foods to people who had to go to the producers' homes to buy them. The law was changed in 2013, and the most recent changes, which were filed as SB 572, will take effect on September 1, 2019.



The Texas Cottage Food Law lets people sell certain foods they make in their own homes without having to get a food manufacturer's license, use a commercial kitchen, or worry about health department inspections.
On this page, we answer these frequently asked questions (use the links to jump to that section):


Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas


Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas


What are the rules for a home-based food business?
Cottage food businesses must meet all of the following requirements under the new law. Several are talked about in more depth in this book.

Only sell "non-potentially hazardous" (NPH) or "non-time and temperature controlled for safety" (non-TTCS) foods. TTCS stands for "time and temperature controlled for safety.""
Sell straight to customers.
Make the food in your home kitchen, not in a separate building or facility, with appliances made for home use.
We don't sell more than $50,000 worth of these foods each year.
have a food handler's card that is still valid.
Food should be packed in a way that keeps it from getting dirty, unless it is too big or bulky to fit into normal packaging, like a wedding cake.
Labels should say who made the food, what allergens are in it, and in clear language that the food was made in a kitchen that wasn't inspected.



Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas
In 2019, the Texas Cottage Food Law changed in a big way. Before, only certain foods were allowed to be made at home and sold directly to customers. Now, any food that isn't on the TTCS list can be made at home and sold directly to customers. The list of foods in the bill is no longer a list of everything that can be eaten.
Non-TTCS foods have what's called "low water activity," which is similar to "moisture content" but is a more scientific way to measure the amount of water that bacteria and mold can use to grow, and a low pH level, which also stops dangerous microorganisms from growing. Basically, foods that aren't TTCS are ones that you wouldn't normally keep in the fridge. But, as we'll talk about in the next section, not all shelf-stable foods are safe.
The new law says that these foods can be eaten:




Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

Cakes, cookies, breads, pastries, and other baked goods that don't need to be kept cold. Below, you can find more information:
Candy (including chocolate, chocolate-dipped pretzels, etc). (including chocolate, chocolate-dipped pretzels, etc.).
nuts with and without coatings.
nut butters that haven't been roasted.
fruit butters See if you want to learn more.
Canned jams and jellies fruit pies.
Fruits and vegetables that have been dried out, like dried beans, popcorn, and popcorn snacks
Cereals, like granola, are included.
Dry blends
roast coffee or dry tea.
Herb mixes or dried herbs
Some extra rules apply to fruits and vegetables that have been pickled.
Some extra rules apply to canned foods made from plants that are acidic.
Fermented vegetables, as long as they meet a few other conditions.
Some extra rules apply to frozen fruits and vegetables that are whole and not cut.
Any other food that isn't controlled for time and temperature for safety (non-TTCS).

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

Even though it's clear that many baked goods aren't TTCS, sometimes it depends on the exact recipe, like with cream cheese frosting. Kelley Masters is a home baker and one of the main people who worked to get the Texas cottage food law passed. She has put together a PDF e-book of recipes that she has had tested to see if they are TTCS. Go to to learn more.
You will need to figure out if your fruit butter is high-acid, low-acid, or acidified:




Fruit butters with a lot of acid can be sold by cottage food producers without any extra rules. Apple, apricot, grape, peach, plum, quince, and prune butters are some of these.
Cottage food producers may not sell fruit butters with low acidity. This would include butters made from pumpkin, bananas, and pears.
Cottage food makers can sell acidified fruit butters if the final equilibrium pH is 4.6 or lower.
(For more information, see the section on foods that have turned sour.)





Do home-made foods have to be tested before they can be sold?
Most homemade foods don't have to be tested, and the recipes don't have to be approved by a health agency. Testing is only needed if: 1) it's not clear that the food doesn't contain TTCS; or 2) the food has been pickled, acidified, canned, or fermented (discussed in the following section). If either of these things happen to you, there are several labs in Texas that can test you. The list can be found at It is kept by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). .




Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

A&B Labs is in Houston, and their website is
Analytical Food Labs, Inc., in Grand Prairie, has a website at
Food Safety Net Services in San Antonio and Dallas,
I.E.H.-Quanta Labs, Selma,
Silliker Inc., Grand Prairie,





What are the new rules for pickles, canned foods with a lot of acid, and vegetables that have been fermented?
The Texas Cottage Food Law has specific rules for pickles, acidified canned foods, and fermented foods so that food safety risks, like botulism, can be avoided.
What kinds of food are okay?





Fruits or vegetables that have been pickled are kept fresh in vinegar, brine, or a similar solution with a pH value of 4.6 or less.
Plant-based acidified canned foods, which are defined as foods with a finished equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or less that have been heated and then put in an airtight container.
Fermented vegetable products are low-acid vegetable foods that have been affected by microorganisms that make acid as they grow and lower the pH of the finished product to 4.6 or less. For quality reasons, you can put these things in the fridge (i.e., to slow the fermentation process once the necessary pH is achieved).

The Cottage Food Law does not allow the following pickled or fermented foods:



Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

Any kind of meat product
Pickled eggs
Cultured tofu
Fruits that have been turned into alcohol
Kombucha, Kefir, or other dairy products that have been fermented.

Use of approved recipes: For pickled, acidified canned, or fermented foods, a cottage food producer must use a recipe that (1) comes from a source approved by DSHS; (2) has been tested by a properly certified lab to confirm the final equilibrium pH; (3) is approved by a qualified process authority; or (4) has been tested in your own home.
As of July 1, 2019, the following sources for recipes have been approved by DSHS:

Cooperative Extension at the University of Georgia has updated The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 Edition.





Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

You can find a list of approved recipe sources, process authorities, and accredited laboratories at
If you choose option 4, you must test each batch of product with a calibrated pH meter to make sure that the final product has an equilibrium pH of 4.6 or less. You can get a calibrated pH meter at stores that sell supplies for making food or even on Amazon for a reasonable price.
Labeling and keeping track of this type of food:
For each batch of canned foods that have been pickled, fermented, or made acidic, you must:

Put a unique number on the batch and
Keep a record of the following things for at least a year:

The number of a batch
The recipe the maker used
Where the recipe came from or how it turned out in tests
The date on which the batch was made

Cucumbers that have been pickled don't have to follow the rules above. This is because of a strange historical fact: pickled cucumbers, but not other pickles, were allowed without any extra rules under the old cottage food laws.
What about fruits and veggies that have been frozen?
Under the cottage food law, you can also sell frozen fruits and vegetables that are raw and not cut up. There are two more requirements:

They must be kept at a temperature of no more than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and delivered at that temperature or lower.
They have to be labeled or come with a bill that says the following in at least 12-point font: "Safe Handling To avoid getting sick from bacteria, keep this food frozen until you are ready to eat it.""



Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas
The Cottage Food Law says that some foods can't be sold.
Under the Cottage Food Law, you can't sell foods that have been pickled or fermented. Other foods that you can't sell under the Cottage Food Law are:

Products made from meat, poultry, or seafood, like beef jerky.

(Even though jerky can be stored for a long time, it is regulated by the USDA because it is made from meat, so it can't be made under the state's cottage food law.)
Milk and cheese
Foods that need to be kept cold, like cheesecake, tres leches cake, pumpkin pie, and meringue pies, sprout from raw seeds.
Drinks: juices, coffee, tea, and so on. (Note that you can bring coffee beans and tea bags, but not ready-to-drink drinks.)
ice products and any other food that needs to be controlled by time or temperature to stop bacteria from growing

Food for pets: Most pet food isn't TTCS, but the cottage food law doesn't cover it. The Office of the Texas State Chemists, Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service, is in charge of making sure that animal food is safe. For more information, you can call them at (979) 845-1121 or go to their website at
Remember that when we say "not allowed under the cottage food law," we're talking about things that people who make food in their own homes and sell it as "cottage food" cannot legally do. With the right licenses from the health department, these products can still be made and sold in commercial kitchens.
What does "direct-to-consumer" mean?
Before, people who made food at home could only sell it in certain places. SB 572 has taken away this restriction. Cottage food businesses can sell anywhere in Texas as long as they sell directly to the consumer. A cottage food business may also be able to deliver its goods to customers.
People have asked us many times what "direct to consumer" means. The person who makes the food in their own kitchen must sell it directly to the person who buys it. Most of the time, family members are included in a CFO. Since there can be workers in a cottage food business, the CFO would also include one of those workers. An employee is someone you pay to do a certain job. The employer has to pay at least the minimum wage, is responsible for what the employee does on the job, and usually has to take out payroll taxes, etc. A worker is not another business (like another person who runs a cottage food business), a freelancer, or a third party.



Note that the health department has rules about being able to sell anywhere. It doesn't mean that the regular rules of the city don't apply. For example, if your city doesn't let people set up tents on the side of the road to sell things in general, you can't do it just because you run a cottage food business.
You can't sell in bulk as a cottage food business, so you can't sell to restaurants, grocery stores, or any other business.
Internet & mail-order sales:
Before, home food producers couldn't sell their food over the Internet. Under SB 572, you can sell things on the internet under certain conditions, which are easier to understand if you think about what the cottage food law is all about: The direct producer-to-consumer relationship creates transparency and accountability, so the health departments don't have to get involved in transactions between small-scale businesses and their customers. Even though they are technically "direct-to-consumer," internet or mail-order sales where the buyer and seller have never met don't fit this model.
Under SB 572, small businesses that make and sell food can take orders and payments over the internet or by mail if:




Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

So that at least one part of the interaction is in person, the cottage food operator brings the food to the customer in person. Before taking payment for the food, the operator gives the customer the required labeling information (which we'll talk about next). This can be done by putting the information on your website, in your mail-order catalog, or by "otherwise communicating" it to the consumer.

Your home address does not need to be on your website or in your mail-order catalog. As is required for all cottage food transactions, your address still needs to be on the product's label (see next section).
The law makes it clear that people who run small food businesses can deliver to their customers in general. So, it makes sense to use delivery options like shipping or hiring a driver if the transaction takes place in person instead of online or by mail. But if the deal is done over the Internet, the delivery must be done in person, as we've already talked about.
What are the rules for labeling?
On the package of every cottage food item, there must be a label with the following information:

name and physical address of the operation that makes food at home;
The usual or common name for the item is
If a food is made with a major allergen, like eggs, nuts, soy, peanuts, milk, or wheat, that ingredient must be listed on the label. Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

The package must have a label that can be read and is attached to it. For items that don't come in a box and are big or bulky, you must give an invoice or receipt with the same information. Other than the producer's home address, the information must be given to the customer before payment is taken for online or mail-order sales.




Selling honey and mixtures of honey
In the first version of the 2019 cottage food bill that was filed, it was clear that producers of cottage foods who sold honey had to follow the labeling rules in the Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 131, Subchapter E. Even though that part of the bill didn't make it into the final bill, it also doesn't exempt people who make food in their own homes from the Agriculture Code, so it still applies. In short, a person can't sell a product with the words "honey," "liquid honey," "strained honey," or "pure honey" on the label unless the product is made entirely of pure honey.




Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas

Also, a person can't sell anything that "looks like honey and has a picture or drawing of a bee, hive, or comb on its label unless the product is made entirely of honey." And if you sell a product that has honey and other things in it, the ingredient list has to be clear and "honey" can't be the most important thing. You can read the law here.
How do you get a food handler's card and what are the rules for employees?
A person who makes food at home must take an approved food handler's course and finish it. Many local groups offer this course, and you can also take it online. The online version of the course usually costs between $10 and $20, while the in-person version usually costs more. A food handler's card is good for two years and must be kept up to date.





A person who wants to make food at home only needs to take and pass the course. Under the Cottage Food Law, you do not need to register your food handler's license with the local health department.
A small business that makes food at home may have workers. Anyone who handles or prepares the food must either have their own food handler's card or be directly supervised by the producer. Direct supervision isn't needed for people who live in the same house as the producer.
What does the health department in my area do?
A cottage food business does not have to get a license or register with the state or local health department.





The state and local health departments are told to keep track of any complaints about cottage food operations. They are not allowed to look into these kinds of complaints or do inspections. The only exception is that state and local health departments can still shut down any business, including a cottage food business, that poses a serious and immediate threat to human life and health.
If the health department doesn't have a warrant, a person who runs a cottage food business doesn't have to let them come into the home and check it out.
If the state or local health department says you can't sell goods you made at home, the first thing you should do is print out the law and show it to the person you've been talking to. Getting in touch with the City Council or County Commissioners is the next step if that doesn't solve the problem. Make sure to get a written record of every conversation. In extreme situations, you may need to hire a lawyer. FARFA helps its members get through this process by giving them advice.
Does it matter what the local zoning laws and HOA rules are?
The 2013 cottage food law says that a county or city can't ban a cottage food business because of where it is located. The city doesn't need a zoning permit or a business license from a person who runs a "cottage food" business.
Neighboring property owners still have the right to take action against the cottage food business if it bothers them or if they have other legal claims against it.




The law doesn't say anything about the rules set by private homeowners' associations (HOAs). HOAs usually care about how the outside of the house looks, but they don't care about what goes on inside the house. For instance, a lot of people sell Mary Kay products and other things from their homes. If your HOA has rules about home-based businesses, you might be able to avoid a fight if you don't put any advertising or other obvious signs of your cottage food business on the outside of your house or yard.
What else about business should be thought about?
The state law doesn't talk about the following things, but cottage food producers often ask about them:

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas