Cold Inflight Catering Ideas for Aircraft without Oven or Microwave

Working on an aircraft with no oven or microwave can be both a blessing and a curse! You don’t have to worry about whether a steak is cooked to perfection or whether the sauce was the premium temperature. But it can be challenging as often there is little space to prepare or store catering and with no facility to heat up food or chill food – a lot of catering options are already out of the window. Thankfully, there are some things you can try, that are still tasty, surprising and easy to prepare that will save you from the invariable salad and sandwich fare.

Of course, fruit and cheese platters are always useful for most flights unless over 3 hours, as you want to make sure of not giving anyone food poisoning. Instead of trying to do a full three-course meal, look at different platters and styles for easier service – a tapas platter, a Middle Eastern tasting plate or Asian street food tray. These add lots of variety and are easy to serve and store. Of course, this will also be down to guest choice, if they have requested any preference and also the flight time. There is also the classic afternoon tea service which is easy to serve and very satisfying. On another English theme, a ploughman’s lunch plate could be another classic addition for a light lunch. Breakfast can step away from the boring continental style and step up to a granola bowl and smoothie, for example and courgette and feta muffins. Just think of food trends and how you can diversify the norm.

Cold soups, such as gazpacho or avocado and lime soup, would be something healthy yet different and offer a tasty fresh hit. Instead of the usual Caprese or Greek salad that we rely on so much, how about a healthy layered super food salad (like the salad jar concept that has been popping up recently?). Quinoa, beetroot, chick peas, spinach and feta, presented in layers is a good example of this concept. Another twist on the salad jar is the noodle soup jar – a jar or glass dish can be packed with dried or fresh noodles, vegetables, stock and spices and just add boiling water to ‘activate’ the noodles and broth.

If sandwiches are the only option, think creatively, “How can I change that concept?” Mixed wraps (Asian, Mexican, classic) would be a good alternative to the standard sandwich platter and are easy to eat. Vietnamese summer rolls with a dipping sauce, keeps it fresh and simple. A filled Middle Eastern-style pita with falafel, tzatziki and salad can be both filling but light. Open sandwiches or large deluxe canapés can be a luxurious and fast treat on a short flight.

Of course, if hot food is requested (winter mornings especially can be a challenge) it can be possible to order something hot (eg. omelets) and have them brought to the aircraft piping hot. The same applies to something like sushi, which can be delivered on ice to keep it chilled. However, the quality won’t be as good and you risk serving something sub-standard, but as a passenger request, it can be the only viable solution. If hot soup is requested, it will keep for up to 3 hours in a flask, if you have the space to store them. If there is no option to think outside the ‘catering box,’ then we have to think of a new approach to the problem – what can we do as regards serving hot or cold food? As a general rule, hot food should always be served hot and cold food cold, nothing in between. Sometimes we have to be reactive instead and make a decision to tailor the guest’s wishes in order to provide a quality product but meet their satisfaction.

Having limited facilities on your aircraft can be very challenging but you can use it to your advantage and still be very creative with your catering and offer your guests something different and unexpected. Creativity is crucial for any corporate flight attendant when there is a challenge – no oven, no fridge – no problem!


If you have any questions about this article, contact Tricia Green at

This is an article by guest author Tricia Green, Head of Cabin Services and industry expert based in Cyprus. Any thoughts expressed in this article are entirely Tricia’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.

If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact

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