These Are the Thanksgiving Foods You Can (and Can't) Fly With

Not every Thanksgiving food can fly in your carry-on — here's what can.

Man pulling cooked turkey out of oven
Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Can you bring a turkey on a plane? How about homemade pumpkin pie? Turns out, the answer is yes, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which outlines the Thanksgiving foods that can be brought in a traveler's carry-on and those that need to be checked.

Solid items including turkeys, steaks, hams, and other meat can be brought through TSA security — either cooked, uncooked, or frozen — along with fully made casseroles, stuffing, and mac and cheese, according to the agency. Travelers can also carry on fresh fruit or vegetables when flying to Thanksgiving dinner (think: green beans, yams, and cranberries), as well as spices to brighten up the meal. Baked goods (homemade or store-bought) like pies, including those with fruit filling, and cakes are also good to go in your carry-on.

Related: These Are the 5 Items Travelers Always Ask the TSA About

But not every element of a Turkey Day dinner can fly in your carry-on bag. Certain items, like cranberry sauce and gravy (canned or homemade), must go in a checked bag, along with festive tipples like wine, Champagne, and sparkling cider. When in doubt, refer to the TSA's 3-1-1 rule, which precludes liquids over 3.4 ounces.

For instance, not all canned foods are prohibited, but because they're often more than 3.4 ounces and because of how they appear on the X-ray, it's best to check or ship any canned items. Similarly, creamy foods like mashed potatoes must be 3.4 ounces or less and fit in a single quart-sized, zip-top bag. 

Travelers can visit the TSA's "What Can I Bring?" section and type in specific food items to verify whether or not they should be checked. And, if you can't find the answer on the TSA's website or Twitter, pack it in your checked bag or ship it to be safe.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About TSA Liquid Rules

Those who fly with perishable food should also ensure they store it properly. The TSA says ice packs, and other frozen liquids, are allowed on board, but they must be frozen solid when they go through security screening so as not to break the 3-1-1 rule.

The agency also warns travelers to pack well: "Food items often need some additional security screening, so TSA recommends placing those items in a clear plastic bag or other container when packing them at home and then removing those items from your carry-on bag and placing them in a bin for screening at the checkpoint."

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