Travelers queue up at the south security checkpoint as traffic increases with the approach of the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Denver International Airport in Denver. 

Thanksgiving dinner foods you can and can't get through TSA


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

Families and individuals travel by car, bus, cruise ship and planes year after year during the most popular holiday weekend for trips.

Traveling can be taxing enough as it is, especially on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Traffic is a nightmare as millions of people are fleeing metropolitan areas at the same time.

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While it’s much easier to travel alone, families tend to plan their trips while school is out for break and work is winding down for the long weekend. Making sure the whole family is packed with everything you need prior to travel day is a must.

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

Travelers queue up at the south security checkpoint as traffic increases with the approach of the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Denver International Airport in Denver. 
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Whether you’re loading up the necessities for nursing babies, filling your bag with edible gifts for your hosts, or even considering taking leftovers home — especially on a short flight, you’ll need to be aware of what foods and drinks you can and can’t bring through TSA.

The Transportation Security Administration has a general overview of foods and drinks you can take with you on your plane ride via their website. The six-page list of permitted food items is available on the TSA’s dedicated “What Can I Bring?” webpage tool.

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Travelers can also type their items into the search bar to find out which foods can be carried on or need to be checked in.

But you might be mostly curious about Thanksgiving themed foods, which to bring with you, and which to leave behind.

A host is shown serving Thanksgiving turkey to his friends during a meal at the dining table.

A host is shown serving Thanksgiving turkey to his friends during a meal at the dining table.
(iStock)

“Whether first-run foods or leftovers, the same rules apply,” the TSA said in a statement to Fox News. 

“If you are planning to travel with special foods to contribute to a Thanksgiving meal or travel with leftovers, be sure you follow this simple rule to ensure your food can travel with you: If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it and it is in a quantity greater than 3.4 ounces, pack it in a checked bag,” the TSA added.

“For example, jams, jellies, cranberry sauce, gravy or beverages in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, cookies, pies, meats, casseroles and other solids can travel in carry-on luggage in unlimited quantities.”

Thanksgiving foods that can be carried through TSA checkpoints

    • Homemade or store-bought baked goods
    • Frozen, cooked or uncooked meats
    • Casseroles
    • Mac ‘n Cheese cooked in a pan
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Fresh fruits
    • Candy
    • Spices

Each airline passenger is allowed to pack a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in a single carry-on bag; however, individual containers cannot exceed 3.4 ounces. 

This rule extends to beverages, spreads and cooking sprays.

The TSA recommends packing away any liquid-like substance in a bag that will checked-in. 

If travelers manage to find a liquid cooking essential that fits under the 3.4-ounce container threshold, it can be placed inside a clear quart-sized resalable bag within a carry-on bag.

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

Thanksgiving foods that should be packed in checked baggage

    • Homemade or canned cranberry sauce
    • Homemade or packaged gravy (jar/can)
    • Wine, champagne or sparking apple cider
    • Canned fruit or vegetables
    • Preserves, jams or jellies
    • Maple syrup

Almost every solid food item is permissible as a carry-on or checked article, including cooked, uncooked, or store-bought meals and powders. 

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

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On longer flights, dry ice can be used — but it cannot exceed 5.5 pounds per passenger and the packaging should be clearly marked and vented according to FAA procedures, the TSA’s spokesperson told Fox News.

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

Cake sparklers are not allowed on flights, either, which fall under the same category as fireworks, according to the FAA.

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Last but not least, to ensure you have an easier time getting your Thanksgiving food through checkpoints, the TSA recommends using clear plastics bags and similar containers.

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

Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.



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