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Starting a BBQ business from your backyard is a dream for many cooks without enough capital. However, making food at home to sell them requires official permits and procedures.

We know you are dying to know if selling BBQ from home is legal or not.

So, the main concern is, Is selling BBQ from home possible?

Yes. Selling BBQ from home is possible in 2 states in the US. They are California and Utah. These 2 states have authorized Micro-Enterprise Home Kitchen Operation. It legalizes selling meals containing meat from home.

But there are certain requirements and procedures for Micro-Enterprise Home Kitchen Operations. They differ from city to city. In our article, we’ll go through exactly how to do these.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s not waste any more of your cooking time and get right to it!

Can you Sell BBQ from Home?

Whether or not you can sell BBQ from home depends on which state you live in. California and Utah are the only 2 states in the US that permit selling BBQ from home. 

But it’s not that simple. There are a whole lot of procedures that need to be followed first. But before that, let’s clear out some facts about starting a business through home-cooking. 

You see, all 50 states in the US have a cottage food program. Cottage foods are non-hazardous shelf-stable foods. And these programs allow residents to sell homemade cottage foods to consumers.

There is a list of food items that fall under cottage foods listings.

But sadly, BBQ is not shelf-stable. It goes bad just after 4 days. That also makes BBQ a potentially hazardous food item. Thus, BBQ doesn’t fall under Cottage food listings. That’s why you cannot sell BBQ from home under Cottage Food Law in most states of the United.

But hold on! To make your day a little better, a law named Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations(MEHKO) was passed in 2019 in California. It was the first of its kind. 

MEHKO legalizes the sale of homemade meals containing meat. So, you get to sell a wider variety of food items including BBQ from home under this operation.

This law was later passed in Utah too in 2021. You can sell BBQ from home in California and Utah only. 

Selling BBQ from Home in California

California is the first-ever state to pass MEHKO. So if you live in California, you are a lucky cook indeed. But not that lucky, because not all cities and counties are authorized for MEHKO.

California has certain counties and cities that have passed the ordinances that authorize MHKO. Till now, 6 cities and counties have openly authorized MEHKO. They are:

  • Imperial Country
  • San Mateo County
  • Riverside County
  • Santa Barbara Country
  • Alameda
  • Solano County

These cities have openly opted for MEHKO. So, you can sell BBQ from home if you live in one of these states. However, they have their own requirements and procedures to set up MEHKO at your home. 

If you wanna sell BBQ from home, you need to take MEHKO authorization. This requires permits from the government. You also need to be approved first meeting certain guidelines.

Let’s have a look at the state by state in California.

Alameda County

You need a permit first to sell BBQ from home in Alameda. The permit is to be taken from Alameda County Department of Environmental Health (ACDEH). To take the permit, you need to download the MEHKO Standard Operation Procedure form. You can download it or take it from the ACDEH office in person. 

After getting hold of the form, fill it out. You can either mail it to them or submit it in person to the ACDEH office. You also have to give a permit fee of $696. After your payment has been secured, they’ll review your application. Then, an inspection of your private residence will be scheduled.

After the initial inspection gets done, you’ll get a permit to sell BBQ from home.

Imperial County 

The process of obtaining MEHKO in Imperial County is a bit different than in Alameda. First off, you need a permit from Imperial County Environmental Health. And to get that permit, you need to pass the Food Safety Manager Certificate examination.

Not only that, you also need to receive the Food handler certificate and Imperial County Health Card. Only after that, you can get the MEHKO permit to start your BBQ business from home.

You need to maintain some regulations once you get the permit. For instance, the food must be prepared and served on the very same day. You have the liberty to let your customers either dine in at your home or take outs.

Furthermore, you can only employ one full time employee for operations.

Riverside County

The process of getting MEHKO in Riverside County is similar to Imperial County. You need to submit the Standard Operating Form and the menu to the local area office.

After that, you need to obtain the Food Safety Manager and the Food Handler Certificate. This needs to be done for everyone involved in your business. 

Finally, you need to submit an application for operating a food facility.

If everything checks out, you’ll get the opportunity to schedule an inspection to get MEHKO.

San Mateo County

The rules and regulations for MEHKO in San Mateo are also quite similar to that of Imperial County. But here, no more than one full time employee can be hired. Also, you need to pass an approved Food Safety Manager and Food Handler Certification examination.

In order to get MEHKO permission in San Mateo County, you need to first review MEHKO guidelines. These can be found on the San Mateo County Health website. If you are applicable according to the guidelines, submit the permit application and SOP form.

You also need to check the planning department or county building if there are additional permits needed.

If everything seems okay about your application and payment of fees, an inspection will be made. Upon the completion of inspection, you will receive the authorization of running MEHKO at home.

Santa Barbara County

In Santa Barbara County, there are some unique requirements for MEHKO unlike the others. The maximum number of meals that you can sell in a day is 30. This is to be done regarding a maximum of 60 meals per week.

In addition to these, the maximum amount that can be earned or received through sales is $50,000 yearly. So you can’t have more sales than that. For more information, visit their website.

To get the permit, you need to submit a Plan Check Application with fees to the EHS. If approved, they will do an inspection like the other states and you need to pass it. A pro tip, the household activities need to be limited during MEHKO operations.

Solano County

The process and requirements to get MEHKO in Solano is almost similar to Santa Barbara County mentioned in the previous section. 

You need to fill out the Standard Operating Form of Solano and submit it along with fees to the Environmental Services Division.

Some mentionable requirements are also a maximum of 30 meals per day and one full time employee.

Selling BBQ from Home in Utah

Utah is the second state in the US that legalized MEHKO. Unlike California, Utah has authorized MEHKO in all the cities. So you can definitely sell BBQ from home in whichever city you live in.  

But there is a rule here. The Municipality cannot authorize more than 15% MEHKOs of the number of restaurants in larger cities. And for smaller cities, it’s 30%. By this, MEHKO authorization depends on the restaurant numbers in the cities of Utah.

To set up MEHKO in Utah, you need to get a permit from the Local Health Department. The local health department must have jurisdiction over the area your home is situated at. All the requirements to be a part of MEHKO would be given by the Health Department. So contact them.

Not to mention, the health department will charge you a fee to obtain the permit to sell BBQ from your home. Keep in mind that this is an annual fee. You need to renew it every year.

If approved, you can start your operations. However, the Health Department can inspect during operating hours of any day.

What Next?

Sigh, all these procedures and permits must be really exhausting for someone. But that’s not all obviously. Getting these official works done was really just the initial phase. Now you have all the permits but no resources?

Well, we got that one sorted out for you too.

To sell BBQ from home, you’ll need some solid kitchen utensils. Through our expert experience in BBQ, we have got the best ones for you.

A BBQ grill is the most important weapon for selling BBQ from home. Let’s have a look at some of the best BBQ Grills out there.

Image Product Name Compatibility with Home Kitchen Space Perks of Using Price
backpac Royal Gourmet CD1824E 24-inch Charcoal BBQ Grill Moderately Big. Perfect for a larger kitchen area or backyard. 474 sq inches cooking area, Stainless steel warming rack, Adjustable charcoal pan for temperature control. Order from Amazon
backpac Weber 50060001 Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill,Chrome Compact. Perfect for small spaced home kitchens. Comes with a side thermometer to check temperature. Easy to assemble. Order from Amazon
backpac MASTER COOK 3 Burner BBQ Propane Gas Grill, Stainless Steel Fits in the kitchen nicely. Comes with an integrated piezoelectric ignition system with 3 Stainless Steel burners Order from Amazon

You see, there aren’t limits to what you can use to make the operation efficient. But we covered the most essentials and basics. Have a good run in your selling BBQ from home, good people!

FAQs

What foods can and cannot be sold as cottage foods?

The foods that can be sold as cottage foods are: Dried food, dried pasta, dried vegetables, non perishable veggies, etc. ON the contrary, the foods that can be sold as cottage foods are: processed meat, fermented meat, dairy, etc.

How do you legally sell home cooked food?

You can legally sell home cooked food by obtaining a permit from the health department. You might also need a food manager and food handler certificate. Lastly, you need to pay annual fees and pass the kitchen inspection.

Conclusion

We hope we’ve been able to clear your doubts regarding selling BBQ from home. We tried to explain everything as simply as we could.

Thank you for staying with us till the end. If you have any further queries, do let us know in the comment section.

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