What Can I Make?

California has a list of approved cottage foods that is more diverse than probably any other state. A lot of different foods can be made, but many cannot. What can, and cannot, be made for sale under a cottage food license in CA?

Approved foods include the standard baked goods like muffins, cookies, and cakes, but also nut butters, dried herb and salt blends, popcorn, and more regional or ethnic foods such as fruit empanadas and tamales, churros, and tortillas. Many more foods also are approved to be made in a home kitchen–cotton candy, dried vegetable soup mixes, chocolate covered marshmallows, and more. And the list keeps growing! Recently, certain fruit infused balsamic vinegars were added. To see all the currently approved products, click here.

Foods that make the cut are those which are non potentially hazardous meaning that they are essentially ‘shelf stable.’ Without refrigeration, they are unlikely to foster growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Technically, they are foods that have a pH or water content that will not support growth of pathogenic bacteria. (Such foods can still carry pathogens if prepared poorly, but not support its growth. Be sure to follow safe food handling procedures.)

Adherence to the approved list of foods is very strict and you should consult the official CA approved Cottage Foods list to see if your product category is listed. As a general rule we have observed the following:



If you are wanting to make products like these, you should confirm with the health department that your products are, or are not, approvable under a Cottage Food Operator permit. If not, you will need to work out of an inspected commercial or rental kitchen.

Many times, substitutions can be made using whole milk, soy, coconut, or almond milk, or vegan products to get your recipe to qualify as a cottage food product.

Otherwise, there are so many other foods that ARE allowed as cottage foods in CA that you can easily find products to make or repackage in your home kitchen.

Roast coffee. Fry donuts. Shave chocolate. Check out the list and see how you, too, can have a home-based business!


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    • * on May 2, 2017 at 11:23 am
    • Reply

    If my cupcakes call for ganache but instead of heavy cream I would use whole milk, would that be ok? Another alternative I’m thinking is olive oil. Thank you so much for your help!

    • Alice Urrutia on September 20, 2017 at 10:10 am
    • Reply

    I have a cottage food license and would like to make fresh salsa. I understand that I must prepare and package it in a commercial kitchen. we have a commissary that I can rent space from. My question is how do I go about adding it to my list.

    1. You cannot add salsa to your cottage food product list, no matter where it is made.

    • Guillermo on January 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm
    • Reply

    Can I make Ice Cream under a CFO? If so, how can I start the process to get a permit? if not, can you please provide information on what type of license to get?

    Best regards

    • Kelley Delotch on February 5, 2018 at 3:07 pm
    • Reply

    Can I sell homemade berry syrup? What about herbal tinctures made with alcohol or glycerine?


    • carlos on April 13, 2018 at 11:20 am
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    i am going to be making protein bars. i don’t see my specific ingredients listed on the approved list, but none of them need to be refrigerated. is there someone i can contact with a list of my ingredients who can tell me if they would be approved or not?

    • Mark on June 3, 2018 at 12:56 am
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    I want to sell decorated cookies – the icing uses Wilton’s Meringue Powder. Is meringue powder still not allowed? Just wondering since buttercream has been approved (no eggs, no cream, no cream cheese) and it can also use meringue powder as a stabilizer. Thx!

    • clayton on March 2, 2019 at 4:53 pm
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    It states no cream, would milk be considered a cream in a frosting prep?

    • phuong-dung ho on June 18, 2019 at 1:21 pm
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    Is it possible to make nougats for either Class A or B for Cottage Food in San Diego?

    • Kellie Dickinson on July 8, 2019 at 12:10 pm
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    If I used coconut cream from canned coconut milk for filling/frosting my cakes, would I be allowed to make/sell from home under Cottage Food Operation?

    Thank you so much! I can’t find the answer to this question anywhere.

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