6 Flight Friendly Recipes


You know the old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." This certainly applies when it comes to in-flight food. Leave your meal options up to airlines and airports and you'll likely become victim to tasteless, overpriced fare. So why risk the disappointment and insult? Pack your own homemade snacks instead. Here are 6 easy-to-prepare (and TSA-friendly) recipes that will spice up your seat back tray table.


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Sea-Salt Maple-Caramel Popcorn

Why It's Great for Travel: The sweet and salty kernels of carmel corn are the perfect indulgence for a cross-country trip. However, I had to fork over several dollars just for a small bag. For just pennies a pop, this snack has been recreated with maple syrup and sea salt.

If you want to be especially decadent, use fleur de sel. No matter what, this popcorn is so satisfying and addictive that you'll forget you're flying in economy class.

Yield: About 12 to 13 cups

12 cups popcorn (already popped)
¼ cup coconut oil (or butter)
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. 1.Preheat oven to 250°F.

  2. 2.Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. 3.Place popcorn in a large bowl.

  4. 4.Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan on low heat. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, and sea salt, and let it come to a boil (do not allow mixture to smoke). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

  5. 5.Drizzle mixture over popcorn and fold to coat.

  6. 6.Pour popcorn mixture onto baking sheet, spreading it into a single layer. Bake in oven for 15 minutes to set.

  7. 7.Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, then break into small pieces.

Stone-Fruit Oatmeal Square

Why It's Great for Travel: Filled with natural fruit flavors but not overly sweet, these oatmeal squares can serve as a quick afternoon snack or ready-to-go breakfast treat for an early-morning flight. Even better, they can be baked and frozen in advance so you won't have to scramble to prep right before you depart. Just take one or two out of the freezer as you head to the airport and allow them to thaw on your way. The recipe is also quite versatile. You can use any stone fruits, such as nectarines, peaches, or plums, making the squares especially ideal in summer (though pretty much any fruit, including apples and berries, can be substituted as the seasons change).

Yield: About 9 squares

3 medium nectarines or peaches (or 6 plums), sliced ⅛-inch thick
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup light-brown sugar, lightly packed
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. 1.Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. 2.Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

  3. 3.In a small bowl, toss fruit slices with granulated sugar. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then drain.

  4. 4.In a large bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or a large fork, then stir in egg and vanilla.

  5. 5.Firmly press half of the crumble mixture into pan. Set remainder aside.

  6. 6.Layer fruit slices on top of crumble mixture in pan.

  7. 7.Pour remaining crumble mixture on top of fruit slices and gently press down until even.

  8. 8.Bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes, rotating pan after 15 minutes, until crumble is golden brown.

  9. 9.Allow to cool, then cut into squares. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then freeze for later use.

Orange-Cranberry "Red-Eye" Muffin

Why It's Great for Travel: Many experts advise that after a red-eye flight you should fight the urge to nap, and instead try to get on with your day. To keep you going, here is an energy-packed muffin loaded with nutrients and flavor. Ingredients include orange juice for vitamin C, antioxidant-rich cranberries, protein- and magnesium-filled pumpkin seeds, and whole-wheat flour and bran for energy-boosting carbs. Plus, these muffins are practically guilt-free since they are low in sugar and fat.

Yield: 12 muffins

2 teaspoons orange zest (from about 2 large oranges)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from same oranges)
½ cup wheat bran
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup light-brown sugar, plus extra for muffin tops
¼ cup apple sauce
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped*
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, shelled

*If using dried cranberries, be sure to hydrate them with hot water (then drain) before using.

  1. 1.Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. 2.Prepare a muffin pan with paper liners.

  3. 3.Zest both oranges, then squeeze out juice. Reserve 1 cup of juice and 2 teaspoons of zest and set aside.

  4. 4.In a large bowl, mix wheat bran, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.

  5. 5.In a separate bowl, whisk reserved orange juice, apple sauce, canola oil, and vanilla.

  6. 6.Gently mix wet ingredients into dry, then fold in orange zest, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Do not over mix.

  7. 7.Using a ¼-cup scoop or measuring cup, portion out batter into muffin pan. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of each muffin.

  8. 8.Bake in oven for 20 minutes, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Apple And Brie Sandwich

Why It's Great for Travel: Like the triangular sandwiches you find in trendy takeaway food joints like EAT, and even gas stations, this version with Brie and apple is super convenient, just as portable, and undoubtedly fresher. The secret is using butter as a moisture barrier to prevent the sandwich from getting soggy. It's best to use whole-grain bread, which tends to be firmer and less spongy than white. And by wrapping the sandwiches in wax or parchment paper instead of plastic, air will be able to circulate, preventing moisture from getting trapped and leaving you with mush by the time your flight departs. This sandwich is delicious on its own but you can add sweet apricot-ginger chutney to dress it up for a trip.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

  1. 1.Core and thinly slice apples about ⅛-inch thick. Place apple slices in a medium-sized bowl, then sprinkle with lemon juice. Let drain on a clean lint-free towel.

  2. 2.Cut Brie into ⅛-inch-thick slices.

  3. 3.Spread butter evenly on one side of each slice of bread.

  4. 4.On one slice of bread, butter side up, layer chutney (if using), Brie, and apple slices, and then top with another slice of bread, butter side down. Repeat for three remaining sandwiches

Apricot-Ginger Chutney

Yield: About 1 cup

½ cup dried apricots
½ cup water
½ cup light-brown sugar
⅓ cup orange juice
2½ tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. 1.Place apricots in a medium bowl.

  2. 2.Bring water to a boil and pour over apricots; let sit 15 minutes, then drain and allow to cool. Finely chop apricots, then place inside a small saucepan.

  3. 3.Add brown sugar, orange juice, cider vinegar, and grated ginger to the saucepan, then boil gently until thickened (about 10 to 15 minutes).

  4. 4.Season with salt and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze.

Coconut-Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bar

Why It's Great for Travel: Store-bought granola bars tend to be more like candy bars than health food, so it pays to be able to hand-pick your ingredients. In this from-scratch recipe, it uses mainly brown-rice syrup—which is relatively low on the glycemic index—as a sweetener instead of corn syrup. It also adds flaxseed and wheat germ for additional nutritional benefit. And since it's nut-free, it's extra plane friendly. The best part about these bars is that no actual baking is required—perfect for time-pressed travelers.

Yield: 15 to 18 bars

1 cup dried cherries
1 cup hot water
1 cup crispy brown-rice cereal
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
6 tablespoons wheat germ
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown-rice syrup
¼ cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup mini dark-chocolate chips

  1. 1.Line bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

  2. 2.Place dried cherries in a small bowl and pour hot water over them. Let sit for 15 minutes. Drain cherries, then roughly chop and set aside.

  3. 3.In a large bowl, mix rice cereal, oats, shredded coconut, ground flaxseed, wheat germ, and salt; set aside.

  4. 4.In a small saucepan, combine brown-rice syrup and brown sugar. Bring to a boil (do not allow mixture to smoke). Take off heat and add vanilla. Fold into dry mixture, being very careful since syrup will be extremely hot. Cool slightly, then fold in cherries and chocolate chips.

  5. 5.Press mixture evenly into prepared baking pan. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours, then cut into bars while still cold.

Oven-Dried Apple Chips

Why It's Great for Travel: Lightweight, fat-free, and filled with concentrated flavor, apple chips just might be the most virtuous airplane snack. Plus, they are a cinch to make. There is very little prep work, and while the apples take several hours to dry, you can spend the time doing other important things such as packing for your trip. Even better, you can make them months in advance; just store them in an airtight container once they are completely dried.

Yield: 30 to 40 chips

4 apples, cored and sliced into 1/8 -inch-thick rings
2 tablespoons lemon juice

  1. 1.Preheat oven to 200°F.

  2. 2.Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. 3.Place apple slices in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Pat dry with a clean towel.

  4. 4.Arrange apple slices on baking sheet and bake in oven for about 3 hours, until apples are dry. Allow to cool.