Holiday foods you can and can’t carry aboard your flight

When traveling this holiday season, be sure to follow TSA’s guidelines

Holiday Foods the TSA Will and Won't Allow in a Carry-On. If you're planning on bringing meal ingredients or left-overs with you on your holiday flights, this guide will come in handy. Will Allow:, Main-course Meats. Won't Allow:, Spreadable Cheeses. Will Allow:, Hard Cheeses. Won't Allow:, Gravy. Will Allow:, Mashed Potatoes. Won't Allow:, Cranberry Sauce. Will Allow:, Stuffing. Won't Allow:, Whipped Cream. Will Allow:, Pie. The general rule that we tend to tell people is that if you can spray it, sp

Nearly 40 million people are expected to fly over the Thanksgiving travel period, so you don't want to be the one who holds up the security line.

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Many travelers will be taking snacks or baked goods to share with family, and toting home leftovers on their return flights. If you don't want to feed the TSA agents, then it's important to know what the agency allows you to include in your carry-on bag.

“If you can pump it, pour it, spread it or spray it and it’s more than 3.4 oz., you need to put it in your checked bag,” said TSA spokesman Mark Howell.


No charcuterie board is complete without cheese. If you’re bringing a local favorite to share with family and friends, make sure it’s a hard cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano, sharp cheddars and provolone are all safe to take on the plane with you. Creamy cheeses — brie, ricotta, gorgonzola, etc. — are treated like liquids, however. You must either limit them to 3.4 ounces or put them in your checked bag.


If you’re bringing home plastic containers full of turkey, ham, roast beef or other meats, feel free to put them in your carry-on as long as there is no liquid. You can even take a whole bird on your flight, if you’re so inclined. However, frozen turkeys should be frozen solid, and any ice packs used to keep them cold must also not be melted if you take them in a carry-on.

If you plan to bring an heirloom knife to carve the turkey, it is not allowed in your carry-on bag.

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Potatoes, casseroles and dressing

Dried mashed potato flakes or dried mix are okay to bring in a carry-on, as are green bean casserole and cornbread dressing (or stuffing, if you prefer) in solid form.

Mashed potatoes are considered a paste and must go in a checked bag.

And if you planned to have gravy on your potatoes, you have to follow the 3.4 ounce rule for liquids, or put it in your checked luggage.

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Canned foods

If you're a fan of America's least favorite side dish, you'll need to check that cranberry sauce. Canned goods, including cranberry sauce, fruit and vegetables, usually contain too much liquid to be allowed in carry-ons. Whole fresh cranberries in fruit form are okay in carry-ons.


Feel free to include pie, cookies and candy as part of your carry-on meal, but they could be subject to additional screening. Whipped topping, and chocolate or caramel sauces will have to stay in the checked bag with the canned goods and gravy.

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The rule prohibiting carry-on liquids in bottles of more than 3.4 oz applies to alcoholic beverages as well.

Alcoholic beverages are allowed in checked bags, but each passenger is limited to 1.3 gallons in unopened retail packaging of beverages with more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol.

Mini bottles of alcohol in a carry-on must fit into a single quart-size bag. No alcohol higher than 140 proof (70% alcohol) is allowed aboard a plane, either in a checked bag or carry-on.

For more guidelines on what the TSA allows, go to the agency's website.

A TSA video on what’s allowed:


Sternos, or canned heat used to heat chafing dishes, are flammable and are not allowed aboard a plane in carry-ons or checked baggage.