Can You Take Tamales On a Plane? TSA 2024

Tamales are a yummy and satisfying snack that you can enjoy on your next flight, but can you pack Tamales in your carry-on luggage or do they need to be packed in checked luggage?

In this post I did some deep-dive research to tackle all your tasty questions, and cover everything you need to know about traveling with tamales, in carry-on and checked baggage, and from domestic to international flights.  

Let’s dive right in.

Can You Bring Tamales in Carry-On? (TSA Rules)

As the popularity of tamales continues to rise in the U.S, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have a clear statement on their website: “Tamales are good to go in both carry-on and checked bags”.

Here is a screenshot from the TSA website.

However, there is some additional info that you need to be mindful of when bringing Tamales or Tamales pies in carry-on. 

Make sure that your delicious tamales are in a clear, resealable plastic bag or container, so that the TSA officers can easily see what is inside the bags.

It is also wise to separate your tamales from other items, such as liquids, powders, or electronics, when going through the security checkpoint. 

This is because tamales and other foods might clutter your bag and block the X-ray machine from detecting other items in the bag.

This will also help go promptly through the security checkpoint.

I also checked the TSA social media to find some answers.

Okay (@Boozoonk) didn’t want to give up his grandma’s homemade Tamales.

The @AskTSA customer service answers: “Solid foods, including yummy homemade tamales, are allowed in carry-on bags with no quantity limitations.”

When taking liquids along with your Tamales you need to be aware of the 3-1-1 liquid rule, gels, and aerosols. This means that you can only bring containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, and they must fit in a single quart-sized bag

This rule applies to any liquid tamales products, such as tamale sauce, hot salsa, or cheese. 

So if you have any of these items, make sure they are within the size limit and fit in your quart-sized bag, or else you might have to throw them away.

For example if you have Tamales with Salsa in it, your Tamales will not be considered a liquid, but if you take Salsa separately it needs to be in small bottles of 3.4 oz or less.

Unless it is frozen solid.

This is what Sandy (@santrain) is planning to do.

Frozen salsa is allowed and must be frozen solid when presented for screening. If it’s slushy or has any liquid at the bottom of the container it must comply w/ our liquids rule

Can You Bring Tamales in Your Checked Baggage?

It is not probably a good idea to bring food in checked baggage, but if you want to bring extra tamales than you can fit in your carry-on, or you don’t want to cope with the hassle of the security checkpoint, you can always pack them in your checked bag. 

The TSA rules for bringing tamales in your checked baggage are much more relaxed than for carry-on. 

Just ensure that you use a good food canister or container to keep your Tamales fresh and ready to eat when you get to your destination.

Can You Take Tamales on International Flights?

If you’re flying internationally, you need to be aware of the customs rules of your destination country.

Some countries are picky about what food their guests can bring, especially cooked or prepared foods, into their territory.

This is because they want to prevent the introduction of pests, diseases, or invasive species that could harm their agriculture or environment.

If you bring tamales into a country that prohibits or restricts them, you might face fines, penalties, or confiscation of your tamales.

To skip this, check the customs website of your destination country or contact your airline to provide a detailed answer before you fly.

If you’re unsure whether you can bring tamales or not, it might be a good idea to enjoy them before your flight, leave them at home, or buy them at your destination.

Remember that the TSA will not answer your question about traveling with Tamales on international flights.

Their typical answer is always like this:

We manage the security screening operations for flights within or departing the U.S. Since your flight originates from outside the U.S., we advise asking your airline for guidance on packing your items. Customs and Border Protection manages entry procedures into the U.S. For their guidance on bringing food into the country, pls visit:”


Final Thoughts

You can bring Tamales, pies, and other Tamales food on a plane in either carry-on bags or checked bags.

Since Tamales are not seen as a liquid, they don’t need to follow the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rule, but Tamales sauce alone is restricted to 3.4 oz. And a pie sauce that isn’t in a pie could also be limited.

Hope this helps 

Happy travels