Thanksgiving travel: Here are the holiday foods you can bring through TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to screen more than 30 million passengers during the 12-day Thanksgiving holiday period, which kicks off Friday and concludes on Tuesday, Nov. 28.  

But before you agree to bring a family favorite food item to contribute to the Thanksgiving holiday table, the agency said it’s important to think about how you’re planning to transport it. 

According to the TSA, most foods can be carried through a TSA checkpoint, but there are some items that will need to be transported in checked baggage.

Here’s a look at what you should and should not bring through TSA.

Thanksgiving foods that can be brought through TSA

TSA said if the holiday food is a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint. 

However, if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag.

  • Baked goods. Homemade or store-bought pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and other sweet treats.
  • Meats. Turkey, chicken, ham, steak. Frozen, cooked or uncooked.
  • Stuffing. Cooked, uncooked, in a box or in a bag.
  • Casseroles. Traditional green beans and onion straws or something more exotic.
  • Mac ‘n Cheese. Cooked in a pan or traveling with the ingredients to cook it at your destination.
  • Fresh vegetables. Potatoes, yams, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radishes, carrots, squash, greens.
  • Fresh fruit. Apples, pears, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, kiwi. 
  • Candy.
  • Spices.

Since food items often need additional security screening, the agency said it is best to place those items in an easily accessible location of the carry-on when packing them. The food items should be removed from your bag and placed in a bin for screening at the checkpoint.


Passengers pass through the TSA security checkpoints prior to boarding their flights at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado. (Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

If you need to keep items cold during your trip, the TSA said that ice packs are permissible, but they must be frozen solid and not melted when they go through security screening.

Thanksgiving foods that should be packed in checked baggage

  • Cranberry sauce. Homemade or canned are spreadable, so check them.
  • Gravy. Homemade or in a jar/can.
  • Wine, champagne, sparking apple cider.
  • Canned fruit or vegetables. It’s got liquid in the can, so check them.
  • Preserves, jams and jellies. They are spreadable, so best to check them.
  • Maple syrup

You can download the free myTSA app, which has a "What can I bring?" feature that allows you to type in an item to find out if it can fly.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.