The busiest traveling day of the year may have come and gone, but you still have more car adventures ahead of you this holiday season. If you've ever tried to grab a snack on the go, you know that driving and eating isn’t always easy. We're here to change that because we believe that you shouldn't have to lower your food standards just because your traveling. These 18 snacks are the best foods to dive into on your next road trip, or morning commute. Happy dining and driving!
Popcorn is a great choice for the car: You can take a handful and concentrate on the road without much fuss. This recipe with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and aromatic extra-virgin olive oil with freshly ground black pepper is way more delicious than the standard stale bagged version you’ll find at the gas station.
2. MINI ROASTED VEGETABLE BURRITOS
Pack a burrito for the road! Easy to hold with one hand and full of tasty roasted vegetables, this recipe has red and green roasted peppers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and cumin, for extra flavor. Use small six-inch flour tortillas to make mini burritos that you can easily pack in a Ziploc or some tinfoil.
Photo and recipe from Food Republic
Try out our butternut squash and goat cheese hand pies for a great easy-to-take-on-the-road snack. With cumin, butternut squash, coriander, and goat cheese, they are small, savory, self-contained vehicles of deliciousness.
4. TAMARIND TRAIL MIX
This trail mix is packed with protein and is a lot more interesting than your normal peanuts and raisins mix. Cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, tamarind paste, and tomato paste add a ton of interesting flavors, and coarsely chopped dried mango is a delightfully unexpected addition.
Recipe and photo from Kitchen Konfidence
5. CHEESE CRACKERS
These homemade cheese crackers are so good you’ll wonder why you ever ate Cheez-Its or Goldfish on the road instead. You can substitute whole grain or spelt flour to make them even more nutritious, and onion powder adds some nice seasoning alongside the grated sharp cheddar.
Photo and recipe from Leite's Culinaria
You won’t reach for the bag of Rold Gold after you try these amazing soft pretzels (though dipping sauces aren’t recommended while driving). Pretzels are a lot easier to make than most people think and have very few ingredients, things that you probably already have on hand: flour, water, yeast, salt, butter, and sugar. You can make the traditional pretzel shape or get creative and make any shape that suits your fancy.
Photo and recipe from Catch My Party
Our recipe for this seasonal favorite is foolproof, and sometimes you want to snack on something sweet while you’re on the road. These are a lot better for you than any packaged cookies (no preservatives, less salt, no artificial flavorings) so you don’t have to feel guilty if you pack a few and stow them in the glove box.
8. HOMEMADE VEGGIE CHIPS
Homemade veggie chips are a great healthy alternative to potato chips, and if you make a big batch you can keep them around for on-the-go snacking. Use a mandolin to make thin, uniform vegetable slices, and you can try anything from rutabagas to parsnips, carrots, and beets.
Photo and recipe from A Beautiful Mess
9. MINI CALZONES
These mini calzones from Food & Wine are stuffed with pepperoni, pesto, and ricotta—Mario Batali knows what he’s talking about. Pizza is one of the most beloved road foods but also the hardest to safely eat while keeping your hands on the wheel. These are the perfect solution to your pizza craving when you’re eating on the run.
Recipe and photo from Food & Wine
10. BANANA CHIPS
Savory spiced banana chips are easy to pack and a lot safer to snack on than trying to peel a banana with one hand while maneuvering through traffic. Try adding different spices and increasing the amount of heat (cayenne, red pepper flakes, curry powder) until you find your perfect blend.
Recipe and photo from Taste Junction
Your favorite childhood snack is perfect to pack for your road trip. You can use any kind of fruit—fresh or frozen—and add lemon or lime juice to adjust the flavors. Make a big batch and cut it into thin strips: It’s like you made your own Fruit by the Foot!
Grapes are not only portable but easy to grab from a container while keeping your eyes on the road, a must when eating while driving.
Photo from HI-Drate H20
What is easy to hold in your hand, stuffed with cherries, and healthy to boot? Homemade granola bars! Check out this highly customizable recipe from CHOW.com, and try adding dark chocolate chunks to make it even more delicious.
Want to eat your favorite sandwich in the car without looking like you got into a fight with a salad bar? Put your favorite sandwich filling in a tortilla wrap! CHOW.com can get you started with this wrap stuffed with lentil hummus, squash, and pomegranate molasses.
Muffins are great road food for their minimal messiness and portability. These delicious spiced zucchini muffins from CHOW.com provide a little bit of sweet and a little bit of healthy.
16. CHEESE STICKS
Cheese sticks are small, easy to eat, and can be made from just about any variety of semihard cheese you can buy, be it mozzarella, Colby, or pepper jack. Buy them prewrapped from the store, or slice and wrap them at the beginning of the week so you can grab and go before hitting the road.
Photo from The Todd & Erin Favorite Five
Crackers are great to eat on the road, adding a nice crunch to your daily drive. Try these crispy rye crakers from CHOW.com for the perfect on-the-go snack.
Munching on potato chips while driving is a no-brainer. Kick up your road-meal game a notch by making your own. CHOW.com has a great sweet potato crisp recipe that uses smoky paprika to play off of the potatoes' sweetness.
Header image from Gigabiting / All other images by Chris Rochelle/CHOW.com unless otherwise noted.
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.
Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master's in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.