Thanksgiving dinner foods you can and can’t get through the TSA


The holidays, especially the Thanksgiving holiday, are some of the most popular times of year for Americans to travel.

Families and individuals travel by car, bus, cruise and plane year after year during the most popular weekend getaways for travel.

Traveling can be quite tiring, especially on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Traffic is a nightmare as millions of people flee metropolitan areas at the same time.


While it’s much easier to travel alone, families tend to plan their trips for when schools are out and work is winding down for the long weekend. Making sure the whole family is packed with everything you need before the day of the trip is a must.

You’ll need the essentials including clothing, comfortable shoes, hygiene products, electronics, and more — but you may also want to consider packing food for your trip.

Thanksgiving trip

Travelers queue at the southern security checkpoint as traffic increases ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at Denver International Airport in Denver. (AP photo/David Zalubowski)

Whether you’re stocking the necessities for nursing a baby, stuffing your bag with edible gifts for your host, or even considering taking leftovers home — especially on short flights, you should know what food and drink you can and can’t bring through TSA.

The Transportation Security Administration has an overview of the food and drink you can take on board via their website. A six-page list of permitted foods is available on the TSA’s dedicated “What Can I Bring?” web page tool.


Travelers can also type their items in the search bar to find out what food can be brought or needs to be checked in.

But you may be dying to know about Thanksgiving-themed foods, which ones to bring with you, and which ones to leave behind.

Man serving Thanksgiving turkey

One host is shown serving Thanksgiving turkey to his friends while eating at the dinner table. (iStock)

“Whether it’s a first choice meal or leftovers, the same rules apply,” the TSA said in a statement to Fox News.

“If you’re planning on traveling with special food to contribute to a Thanksgiving meal or traveling with leftovers, make sure you follow these simple rules to ensure your food can be taken with you: If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump or pour it on and over. than 3.4 ounces, pack in a checked bag,” added the TSA.

“For example, jams, jellies, cranberry sauce, sauces or drinks in quantities of more than 3.4 ounces must be checked in checked bags. Cakes, biscuits, pies, meats, casseroles and other solid foods can be carried in carry-on baggage in unlimited amount.”

Thanksgiving food that can be brought through the TSA checkpoint

    • Homemade or store-bought baked goods
    • Frozen meat, cooked or raw
    • Casseroles
    • Mac ‘n Cheese cooked in a skillet
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Fresh fruit
    • Candy
    • Herbs and spices

Each airline passenger is permitted to pack one liter of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in one carry-on bag; however, individual containers may not exceed 3.4 ounces.

This rule applies to beverages, spreads, and cooking sprays.

The TSA recommends packing substances such as any liquid in a bag to be checked in.

If the traveler manages to find a liquid cooking utensil that fits under the threshold of a 3.4-ounce container, it can be placed in a quart-sized clear bag that can be resold in a carry-on bag.

Alcoholic beverages containing more than 70% alcohol (over 140 proof) are prohibited in carry-on and checked baggage, according to the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration, a TSA spokesperson told Fox News.

Thanksgiving food that must be packed in checked baggage

    • Homemade or canned cranberry sauce
    • Homemade or packaged sauces (jars/cans)
    • Wine, champagne or apple cider vinegar
    • Canned fruit or vegetables
    • Preserves, jams or jellies
    • maple syrup

Nearly every solid food is allowed as carry-on or inspected item, including cooked, raw, or store-bought foods and powders.

For food that requires refrigeration or freezing to prevent foodborne illness, ice packs are allowed, but must be frozen solid and not melted by the time you reach the TSA checkpoint.


On longer flights, dry ice may be used — but must not exceed 5.5 pounds per passenger and the packaging must be clearly marked and ventilated in accordance with FAA procedures, a TSA spokesperson told Fox News.

Flammable items are not permitted in carry-on or checked baggage for safety reasons.

Cake fireworks are also not allowed on board, which fall into the same category as fireworks, according to the FAA.

Last but not least, to make sure it’s easier for you to get your Thanksgiving food through the checkpoint, the TSA recommends using clear plastic bags and similar containers.

That way, items can be safely removed from carry-on bags when inspection time comes.

Alexandria Hein of Fox News contributed to this report.

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