What Thanksgiving Food Can You Bring on an Airplane?

Staff Writer
Bring the pie, but say no to the leftover gravy…

Hoping to bring home a jar of your grandmother's delicious cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving? If traveling by air, you might have to reconsider your plan...

While the chaos of the airport, possible storms, and airplane delays probably are on the top of your list of things to worry about when prepping for your Thanksgiving travels, you might also want to stop and think about a few other details. What about that pumpkin pie you promised to bring over to your mother’s house? Or how about your grandmother's delicious cranberry sauce that you definitely want to bring back home with you after the Thanksgiving holiday? Can these be brought on the plane?

Flying with food is not always the easiest, and knowing what you can and cannot bring on board, and what to check and what not to, can be a lot to take in. In order to ease your pre- and post-Thanksgiving food transportation by air, we compiled a list of foods and edible gifts that you should remember not to bring as a carry-on item (unless you can settle for the 3.4-ounce limit — but who want’s just 3.4 ounces of cranberry sauce?). To compile the list we used the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) helpful list of no-go food items, and recommend that you always confirm with the TSA about possible changes and updates to the carry-on rules and regulations.

The good news? Yes, you can probably bring a turkey on the plane if you really want, and the pumpkin pie can come, too. Just remember that food items might have to go through additional screenings and must be properly contained. Mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts are also all right, so that box of leftovers can definitely be your post-Thanksgiving in-flight meal.

So go ahead and pack the pumpkin pie, but leave these "liquid-like" food items at home, or pack them securely in you checked luggage:


Cranberry sauce


Creamy dips and spreads (sorry, no cheese dip or peanut butter!)

Jams and jellies

Maple syrup

Oils and vinegars

Salad dressing




Wine, liquor, and beer

Gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams, and salad dressings)


Remember, if you have wrapped gifts, security officers might need to unwrap them if for any reason your bag triggers an alarm during the screening process. Just to be on the safe side and avoid the hassle of re-wrapping presents, you might want to save the present-wrapping for after the flight, or ship them to your destination beforehand. And when it comes to the turkey — just remember that transporting meat is often restricted if flying in or out of the United States, so if you're hoping to bring a turkey over to your friends in Europe, you might have to rethink your plan.

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For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal’s Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving.