Sometimes, finding a delicious, healthy snack in an airport feels impossible. Fortunately, you are absolutely allowed to bring snacks from home through TSA checkpoints—though pastes and liquidy foods (like yogurt or peanut butter) are subject to their 3-1-1 liquids rule and need to be under 3.4 ounces if in your carry-on.
For tasty ideas, we tapped nutritionist and healthy eating guru Tara Milhem to show us the go-to, homemade snacks she brings along on her flights. Here are six DIY airplane snacks Milhem swears by, recipes included.
1. Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas are an addictively crunchy travel snack that has high protein and fiber content to keep you full and nourished while you’re in flight. Bonus: Cayenne pepper provides a metabolism boost with a touch of spice. Pack this snack in a reusable bag (we like Stasher for these) and you’re ready to go!
- Heat the oven to 400°F and place a can of drained chickpeas in a bowl.
- Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well coated.
- Spread the chickpeas onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 30–45 minutes.
- Let cool before packing.
2. Cinnamon Baked Apple Chips
Replace your usual potato chips with these crunchy apple chips which, unlike some store-bought apple chips, are low in sodium and added sugars. Travel with them in an airtight container or bag, and they’ll stay fresh for days.
- Heat the oven to 200°F and thinly slice two apples.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the apples on the baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake the apples for 1 hour, flip the apples over, and bake for another hour.
- Once the apples begin to crisp and are no longer moist, remove them from the oven.
- Let cool and pack.
3. Tamari Roasted Almonds
Almonds are a great travel snack because they are easy to pack and won’t go bad en route—no matter how long into the flight you wait to break out your snack bag. They also have an incredible amount of nutrients and are known to help lower cholesterol, improve skin, and aid in weight loss. Instead of snacking on plain almonds, spice it up with tamari and transport yourself to Asia with this savory snack.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place 1 pound of raw almonds on the baking sheet and roast them for 15 minutes.
- Remove the almonds from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300°F.
- Toss the almonds with 3–4 tablespoons of tamari and roast for another 10 minutes.
- Allow the almonds to cool before storing.
4. Apricot Almond Protein Bars
Store-bought bars are convenient, but they can have a lot of added sugar and preservatives. These homemade apricot and almond bars combine protein and healthy fat to keep you full and fueled (bonus: they’re vegan and gluten-free). They fit easily in your bag and can be stored at room temperature. Pack them in a reusable container or bag and reach for a bar when you need a burst of energy.
- In a food processor, place 1 1/2 cups of raw almonds and pulse to chop.
- Remove almonds from the food processor.
- Rough chop 1 cup dried apricots and 1 cup Medjool dates, then add them to the food processor with a pinch of sea salt and process to combine. (Optional: Add 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder.)
- Once the apricots and dates are combined, add the chopped almonds and process until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and create an even layer of fruit and nuts.
- Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, cut into bars, and enjoy.
5. Sesame Cucumber Slices
These savory cucumber slices are hydrating, tasty, and super easy to whip up—an ideal option for a refreshing, salad-like snack that’s also easy to eat on an airplane (no forks required here, folks). Store them in a bag or small tupperware container.
- Place 2 sliced Persian cucumbers, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, a pinch of salt, and a small pinch of Aleppo pepper or chile flakes in a large bowl.
- Mix everything together, and add more salt as needed.
- Remove the cucumber slices and pack.
6. Green Hummus with Brown Rice Crackers
This snackable yet filling chickpea and avocado dip is the perfect balance of protein and fiber. Pair it with your favorite cracker or try brown rice crackers for a healthy alternative. The green hummus will keep well for a day refrigerated or a few hours at room temperature—so it’s most ideal for shorter flights (under five hours).
Pro tip: As hummus is considered a spreadable by the TSA, pack it in a small (no more than 3.4 ounce) container like the GoStak Containers by BlenderBottle ($9.20 for three; amazon.com).
- In a food processor, pulse one 12 ounce can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon tahini, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 garlic clove with salt and pepper to season, until smooth.
- Add 2 ripe avocados and a pinch of cumin and pulse again until creamy.
- Place in tupperware containers and pair with your choice of brown rice crackers.
Tips for packing your airplane snacks
Once you have your snacks prepared and ready to eat, you’ll want to make sure you pack them in a flight-friendly way and:
- Put any spreadable or liquidy food (like peanut butter or hummus) in a container that’s smaller than 3.4 ounces to abide by TSA’s liquids rules.
- Pack softer foods (like cucumbers) in a tupperware instead of a bag—it will help prevent them from getting squished.
- Foods that don’t need to be refrigerated are ideal for flights. However, if you do end up bringing anything you want to keep chilled, take a cue from the elementary schoolers in your life and pack it in a cooler lunch bag, such as the collapsible (and very effective) Daytrip Lunch Bag Cooler by Yeti ($80, yeti.com).
- Place your snacks in your personal item so they’ll be easy to reach in-flight.
This article was originally published in March 2015 and has been most recently updated on July 12, 2022 to include new information. Jessie Beck contributed to the reporting of this story.