For many of us, the holiday season is synonymous with flying. While there are perks to hopping a plane to visit faraway relatives (a road trip can be a tall order), one of the downsides is that you can’t take a to-go plate of leftovers home—or can you? To clear things up, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) just announced which Thanksgiving foods can board with you. Read on to find out which essentials you can carry through security and which need to be checked.
Flying This Thanksgiving? You Can Bring These Foods on the Plane Home, Says TSA
Basically, if it’s a solid item, it can go through a checkpoint. If it’s a liquid (or if it can be spilled, spread, sprayed or poured and you have more than 3.4 ounces of it), it should go in a checked bag. If you’re taking food in your carry-on, pack it in an easily accessible part of your suitcase, since food often requires additional screening. If your leftovers need to stay cold, you can fly with ice packs, as long as they’re frozen solid and not melted when you go through security. If you aren’t sure about an item, check the TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” feature or Tweet your question to @AskTSA.
Thanksgiving Foods That Can Be Carried Through Security
- Baked Goods: Think pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and other desserts.
- Meats: That means your grandma’s famous turkey, chicken, ham or steak can fly, whether it’s frozen, cooked or raw.
- Stuffing: Cooked, uncooked or still in the box or bag it came in.
- Casseroles: From potatoes au gratin to green bean casserole, crispy onions and all.
- Mac and Cheese: Cooked and ready to reheat or all the ingredients you’ll need (minus the liquids).
- Fresh Produce: Bring on the sweet potatoes, broccoli, apples, Brussels sprouts, squash, pears and more.
- Candy: In case the kids’ table isn’t feeling pie.
- Spices and Seasonings: For whatever you need to cook once you land.
Thanksgiving Foods That Need to Go in Your Checked Bag
- Cranberry Sauce: Whether it’s fresh or jellied, they’re both still liquids according to TSA.
- Gravy: Homemade, jarred, canned—they all need to be packed away.
- Wine, Champagne or Sparkling Apple Cider: Any beverages need to be in a packed bag, and you should bring some break-proof packaging to keep the vino in the bottle and off your clothes.
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables: Due to the packing liquid in the cans, these need to be checked.
- Preserves, Jams and Jellies: Spreads count as liquids when it comes to flying.
- Maple Syrup: The secret ingredient in this year’s sweet potato casserole needs to be packed away in your checked bag.
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.