For this year’s final Meal of the Week, I count down my top 10 airline meals of 2022.
To be clear, these are only the best meals I have enjoyed over the last year, not my top 10 all-time list. I traveled all over the world in 2022 and experienced so many superb airline meals that it was hard for me to narrow the list down, but I’ve done my best. My focus is only on main courses and as you’ll see, reveal my great love for lamb.
I’m in the midst of a blockbuster review of my spring trip to the Middle East and many great meals were enjoyed on that flight which I have yet to write about in detail.
I will start with an honorable mention for a very delicious dish that just missed the cut but represents my best non-business/first class meal in 2022.
Mushroom + Butternut Squash Ravioli In Eurowings Premium Economy Class
I don’t eat much pasta anymore, but ordered it on a recent Eurowings longhaul flight and found the mushroom sauce and butternut squash ravioli to be one of the best pasta dishes I have had all year.
10. Grilled Wild Sea Bass In Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class
In my experience, you cannot go wrong with anything on the Turkish Airlines menu. I enjoyed a delicious sea bass dinner from Los Angeles to Istanbul.
> Read More: Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class – Still A Pleasure
9. Rack Of Lamb In American Airlines 777 Business Class
Kudos to American Airlines for its excellent rack of lamb served on my Doha to New York flight.
> Read More: American Airlines 777-200 Business Class Review [DOH-JFK]
8. Salmon In Qatar Airways 777 Business Class
Salmon is one of the most delicious fish when prepared correctly (and also one of the worst when overcooked). My salmon was perfect on Qatar Airways.
> Read More: My Flawless Qatar Airways 777-300ER Qsuite Flight
7. Lamb Shoulder + Cavatelli In JetBlue A321 Mint Business Class
JetBlue catering is (almost) always phenomenal and my lamb shoulder with a side of cavatelli from LAX-JFK was delicious.
> Read More: JetBlue A321 Mint Business Class [LAX-JFK]
6. Slow Roasted Short Rib Of British Beef In British Airways 787-10 Business Class
There’s nothing like a British roast and this beef dish, served with baked potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, was delightful.
> Read More: First Impressions: British Airways 787-10 Club World Suites
5. Beef Tenderloin In JAL 777 First Class
My highest-quality cut of beef came on JAL when I flew first class from Los Angeles to Tokyo. A fabulous meal (and that was but one of many courses).
> Read More: First Impressions: JAL 777-300ER First Class
4. Rack Of Lamb In Qatar Airways A350 Business Class
The way to my heart is via herb-encrusted rack of lamb. This dish was phenomenal on Qatar Airways.
> Read More: Qatar Airways A350-1000 Business Class Review [DFW-DOH]
3. Fennel-Cured Salmon In SAS A320 Plus
It is hard to describe how delicious this dish was (“fennel-cured salmon with potato salad with sweet mustard and dill dressing, served with lemon cream, dill-flower-infused red cabbage, and nigella seeds”), but it was an amazing combination of flavors.
2. Steak + Lasagna In JetBlue A321 Mint Business Class
Usually, a great medium-rare steak or lasagna is alone sufficient for a meal, but on JetBlue you receive both…plus salad and cheese and dessert. JetBlue does catering so well.
> Read More: JetBlue A321LR Mint Business Class Review [JFK-LGW]
1. Braised Australian Lamb Shank In Delta Air Lines A350 Business Class
Yes, my best meal of the year was on a US carrier, Delta specifically. The lamb shank I enjoyed from Detroit to Amsterdam was simply perfect, as were the scalloped potatoes served on the side.
> Read More: Delta Air Lines A350-900 Business Class Review [DTW-AMS]
I am very thankful for all the great meals I enjoyed this year and look forward to many more in 2023.
What was your favorite airline meal in 2022?
I’ll have to give my win to a “beef tart” for dinner in DL F going from BOS to SAN. It was more “pot roast with mashed potatoes” than “tart”, but it was quite good.
I had (and loved) that same Delta meal in January! Happy holidays
Where’s the Italian Ragu?
Seriously though – the fact that you mostly fly United and they aren’t on this list once says something. If Kirby can order 700 new planes I think they can also give the catering a little more budget.
Yes. The falafel and of course the cheeseburgers were contenders for the top 10, but nothing else and they simply did not make the list. But you’re right – the fact that I fly several UA flights for every flight on another carrier is telling (and sad). And it’s not like I have a US carrier bias because AA, DL, and B6 made the cut.
Wow, I am absolutely amazed that intra-Europe SAS Plus made this list. If it was a Worst 10 list, I wouldn’t be surprised. I can’t recall a single intra-Europe SAS Plus meal in the last decade that I actually liked. Some were passable and most were edible, but a lot were just vile. The best part of SAS Plus F&B is that everything from the BOB menu is free (drinks, booze, and snacks).
Oh, wait. The reindeer/cheese rolls are actually not bad. IIRC, they serve those (instead of meals) on short Nordic flights and on long-haul as a mid-flight snack.
There was a second SAS intra-Europe entry, the “eye of round,” that almost made the cut as well. I love the cuisine on SAS.
I have to say that Delta meals offered on Delta One are very very good. They send out an email a few days before the trip so one can order in advance. I had several of their dishes this year (including the one you mentioned above) and they were all way above my expectations.
One quick comment on your note about not eating much pasta anymore. As an Italian, I am always shocked to see how Americans eat pasta here. Pasta is typically served as a first course, or primo, in Italy, before being followed by a meat or fish based main course – the secondo. Thus, pasta portions in Italy are small (around 4 oz) and very different from what is served in “Italian” restaurants in the US. People associate pasta with calories and people getting fat but Italians are not fat at all. It is all about quantities and balance. Pasta should never be the main course.
Have you ever watched the Sopranos? They’re all fat on that show. Are you saying tv land is different than real life?
Seriously though, I haven’t spent nearly as much time with Italians as the French but I assume similarities due to proximity? Years ago I worked in France for a year and ate daily with them. Although the portions were small, over a five course meal they consumed a lot of calories in food and wine (even at lunch). I never understood the French paradox and how they remained not fat. Sure they walk more but I just don’t think the calorie math added up.
I was always envious of them for that reason, but I never got used to the three hour restaurant dinners. It’s just so unamerican!
Search for Mediterranean diet. Search for Blue Zones. France is not part of any of those. French food is amazing but full of fat. Every sauce has heavy cream. Don’t get me wrong, Italians eat calories but there is a balance. Italian breakfast is very light, meals are many courses but in small portions. Pizza? Nothing to do with what you eat in the US. Neapolitan pizza has a very thin dough. I am not criticizing any diet but mainly responding to Matthew when he said he is not eating much pasta anymore. As I said, pasta should never be the main course.
Smaller portion sizes is true for most of Europe. Not just Italy.
Come on, but let’s face it, the best meal on an airplane isn’t as good as a mediocre higher end steakhouse. Not sure what the infatuation is with barely edible food you would send back at a restaurant.
But if it makes you happy, no harm, no foul.
In most cases, you are right, but airplane food certainly can be just as good as food served on the ground.
nice to see what airlines are serving. I’m flying business on Turkish and the sea bass looks good.
Kind of sad that a meal on SAS Plus beat the food on ANA, Qatar, and Turkish.
Interesting that the Delta meal tasted the best, since out of all of them, it did look like the sloppiest mess.
I know you are writing about air travel but I still think you can get better food in a restaurant.
Or maybe there’s some fascination with airplane food?
It’s an aviation blog.
But I do disagree with your premise. The food you receive on top carriers is just as good as a nice meal on the ground.
Sadly, I don’t have a nominee but am compelled to comment upon how utterly disappointing my family found the meals in Air France Business Class SFO – CDG and return. The regular meals that my wife and I had bore no resemblance to decent French food; my daughter’s special meal was awful.
WHATS UP WITH YOU AND DELTA?
THAT TRAY PRESENTATION LOOKS LIKE A COACH MEAL!
Wasn’t pretty at all, but oh so delicious.