Airline food – how to do it

If you have ever wanted to know how to cook airline food here is your chance. United Airlines has released a cook book – yes that’s right. And no – it does not show you how to bake pretzels or roast peanuts. Admittedly it is based on the food served to its business class passengers (for the most part) – so quiet down all you hooligans in the back – and eat your pretzels!

Oh wait …. there’s more. They do have recipes for economy class food as well but one reviewer found them to be a lot of “oily pasta” dishes. Ah well – you can’t get it all people! This is science fiction you know – flying through the sky in a metal tube. C’mon.

So how good are the recipes – well overall the book has been received with a lot of hilarity….. One Mile at a Time (Tiffany) bought the book and checked out the recipes. Some of her thoughts are really funny ….

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Lebni, Saba, Hazelnut and Dill

“Brussels sprouts get a crunchy makeover in this adventurous starter. Quartering the sprouts allows them to fan out and achieve maximum crispness when fried, and dousing them in a few shakes of sweet Saba makes for the ultimate salty-sweet-sour bite.”

This recipe calls for both a candy thermometer and a deep-fryer, both things commonly found on planes that definitely produce easily-reheated meals. “

Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket

“Not a barbecue pit master? This savory centerpiece gives you the barbecue flavors you crave, but skips the smoke by sneaking in some liquid smoke with the braise instead.”

The acknowledgement that Boeing doesn’t typically include smoke pits in the galley might be the most reasonable accommodation in this book.”

So I guess the book does point out that these recipes are inspired by the food served on United and not necessarily identical – so don’t worry – there isn’t a smoke pit on your next flight.

Seriously though – airline food is just one of those things that you just have to get over – or pack your own. And on that note – I really don’t like sitting next to someone who has brought their own meal on board – sometimes people just don’t really think. Just translate this to that person at work who heats up their left over fish stew in the staff room microwave…. right? Flight attendants have to deal with this all the time. In an article in Insider magazine –

” Joyce Foley, a flight attendant with Hawaiian Air, identifies the most common offenders of too-fragrant food as eggs, tuna fish, anything too garlicky, and fast-food burgers. “

If it smells good at ground level – you know it is probably going to stink to high heaven at 35.000 ft. And don’t even mention sushi!

Now before everyone shouts at once – I know that lots of people have food allergies and have to, of necessity, pack their own meals. It also helps when you are travelling with children to pack some snacks or even a meal just in case.

Trip Savvy website has some good advice on what to pack for example granola bars, dried fruit, crackers and hummus. But I was a bit amused when I read the tip for taking chilled items. They suggested taking a bag of frozen veggies to keep everything cool. A bag of frozen veggies! On a flight! Oh so that is why there was a packet of defrosted peas in the seat pocket!


By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Hi Leslie,
    Last week I travelled from Capetown to Amsterdam and connecting to Calgary with KLM.
    They served meat balls in tomato sauce and beets on both flights – and it was good!!! I had it both flights = and lived to tell you……….


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