What Foods Can You Carry on a Plane? The List Is Surprisingly Long.

updated Jul 20, 2023
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Airplane food notoriously gets a bad rap, and airport food is expensive. So what are your options for snacking or transporting perishables on your travel day? You might be surprised how many food items you can carry on a plane. 

The biggest hurdle is getting past security. Thankfully, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lists its dos and don’ts of bringing food to the airport. What exactly can you carry on the plane? Here are some answers — and fresh ideas.

According to the TSA’s website, you can transport most solid food items in your carry-on bag. This includes foods like breads, solid candy, dry cereal, nuts, cakes, sandwiches, and snack bars. Liquids are a little trickier, as you’ll have to pay close attention to how much you bring. The website states you can carry on up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of a variety of liquid or gel-like foods, including but not limited to the following:

  • Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Jams
  • Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Soups
  • Yogurt
  • Wine, liquor, and beer (TSA’s website suggests you “check with your airline before bringing any alcohol beverages on board. FAA regulations prohibit travelers from consuming alcohol on board an aircraft unless served by a flight attendant.”)
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When it comes to feeding your kiddos, the TSA website states that “baby food is allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags.” Additionally, “formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (to include purée pouches) are considered medically necessary liquids,” per the TSA. It’s recommended you transport formula and breast milk in plastic bottles rather than pouches and alert TSA if you have them. But the agency says it will find a way to screen plastic bags or avoid sending it through an X-ray machine if you wish to go that route. Finally, the TSA states your child or infant doesn’t need to be present in order to bring the supplies in your carry-on. (Even with the stated allowances, traveling with babies and toddlers can be stressful. You can consult the TSA’s guide on traveling with children for any other concerns.)

→ See the full list of food you can carry on the plane: Traveling with Food or Gifts – TSA

Note that plastic and round-bladed butter knives and forks are allowed in your carry-on. But if you’d rather play it safe, you can stick to meals that only require a plastic spoon or even just your hands (hello, PB&J!). 

Here are a few general ideas for foods and snacks that fare well on a plane.

  • Dried fruit
  • Sandwiches on hearty bread
  • Grain salads
  • Veggie calzones
  • Granola bars
  • Celery and carrot sticks with about 3 ounces of hummus
  • Applesauce packs (3.4 ounces or smaller)
  • Ploughman’s lunch (bread, cheese, cured meat, vegetable)

Whatever you pack, be considerate of your fellow passengers, which means don’t pack foods that have a strong odor (so maybe leave the fish and stinky cheeses at home).

More Ideas for Eating Well on a Plane