The Best Thanksgiving Dishes That Travel Well

updated May 1, 2019
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If your Thanksgiving plans involve travel, there is no reason to fret about what you’re going to bring. We have a delicious lineup of make-ahead holiday favorites that can stand up to the journey, no matter how far you’re traveling or how you’re getting there.

A few of our editors, who are no strangers to Thanksgiving day travel, also weighed in with some super-smart tips and suggestions on what they always make and how they navigate the roads and rails with side dishes and desserts.

Stuffing and Casseroles

As long as her host gives her the thumbs up for oven space right before dinner, Production Editor Lauren, likes to contribute a hearty lentil casserole to the Thanksgiving spread, when travel is required.

If your host can offer up some oven space to reheat your dish before dinner, stuffing (or dressing) and casseroles make great travel companions. And as long as it’s more solid than gel, stuffing is TSA-approved, so you can even take it on a plane.

Cranberry Sauce

This year I’m heading to New Jersey for my family’s Thanksgiving, and since I know stove and oven space is always at a premium, I’m sticking with a big batch of cranberry sauce.

If you’re driving or taking the train, consider nominating yourself to bring the cranberry sauce to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a must-have side that can be made up to days in advance, and doesn’t need to be reheated before dinner. If you’re worried about keeping it cool, pack your cranberry sauce in a cooler or cooler bag with a few ice packs.

Slaws and Lettuce-Free Salads

Be remembered as the person who brings something fresh and healthy-ish to Thanksgiving. Hearty slaws and salads that skip the delicate leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, and arugula) hold up well no matter how you’re traveling to your holiday celebration. If you have a long trek, use ice packs to keep your side cool, and just remember to hold off on adding the dressing or any crunchy toppings until right before serving. Our editor Faith agrees: Thanksgiving slaw or Brussels sprout salad are her favorite picks when driving to Thanksgiving.

Bread, Rolls, and Biscuits

Whether your driving five minute or five hours, bread and rolls are a great choice to bring with you. It’s an ideal side to make in advance, lasts well for a couple days, and is sturdy enough to hold up to any sort of travel. Plus, more carbs in the Thanksgiving spread is always a good idea!


If you’re traveling to your holiday feast, being on dessert duty is never a bad thing. While pies and cakes are indeed fair game to make it through the TSA checkpoint, there are also a slew of other travel-ready delicious, festive desserts. Assistant Food Editor Sheela brings pumpkin pie, but since she takes New Jersey Transit, she swaps her pie plate for a springform pan so her dessert is more protected for the journey.