20 Best Gas Station Snacks for Any Road Trip

You don't have to take a cross-country road trip to find the best gas station snacks. But it doesn't hurt!

You may think of gas stations simply as a place to fuel up, but most people buy more than gas. Whether you’re on a long road trip or picking up a hoagie lunch from Wawa, gas station food can provide a much-needed source of energy.

To save you time, we found the best gas station snacks and other convenience foods, taking into account taste and (sometimes) healthfulness. We’ve also included suggestions for ways to make your own versions of these snacks if you have time before you hit the road.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

As far as summer snacks are concerned, few things hit the spot better than a cold, creamy ice cream sandwich. And since it’s not exactly easy (though it is possible!) to bring your own ice cream sandwiches on a long car ride, grabbing these frozen treats from a gas station is your best bet.

How to make it at home: There are so many different ice cream/cookie combos you can use, but for the iconic chocolate/vanilla version found on your neighborhood ice cream truck, this recipe for Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches can’t be beat.

Hickory Ham & Cheddar Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets can be an ideal handheld meal to enjoy in the car, as long as you’re careful not to roast your taste buds on their magma-hot insides! The Ham and Cheese variety is the original Hot Pocket, introduced way back in 1980 when these microwaveable meals-for-one were still called Tastywiches. The fact that they’re still popular at gas stations over 40 years later is a testament to just how tasty these ‘wiches are.

How to make it at home: For a healthier (but more time-intensive) alternative, make your own Hot Pockets and pack them for your trip.

Nutella Sticks

What could possibly be more irresistible than a cup of Nutella? How about a cup of Nutella with bite-sized cookie sticks meant for dipping? If you run out of cookies before you’ve finished scooping every last bit of Nutella, no one will judge you if you use your fingers instead.

How to make it at home: Use a pizza cutter to cut homemade sugar cookie dough into tiny batons. Bake until golden brown, cool completely, and serve with a jar of store-bought Nutella for dipping.

Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for a snack to munch on for hours, it’s hard to beat a bag of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. These snacks may be small, but they’re packed full of vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats. However, some varieties may be high in sodium, so if you’re watching your salt intake, grab a bag of roasted, unsalted seeds.

How to make it at home: For something more exciting than plain ol’ salted seeds, try this recipe for garlic pumpkin seeds with a touch of celery salt.

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels

Chocolate Coated PretzelsAneese/Getty Images

Why choose between a salty snack and a sweet snack when you can have both? Whether they’re gently drizzled with chocolate, like wafer-thin Pretzel Crisps, or fully enrobed like Hershey’s Chocolate Dipped minis, you can’t go wrong with this delicious gas station snack.

How to make it at home: This chocolate-covered pretzel recipe works great with twisted pretzels of all sizes.

Andy Capp’s Hot Fries

Potato chips are great, but they’re an everyday snack that can be found pretty much anywhere. An adventure like a road trip calls for an extra-special gas station snack, so instead of your usual potato chips, grab a bag of spicy Hot Fries, which look like shoestring french fries but crunch like chips.

How to make it at home: Though it’s easy to make your own potato chips and french fries, Andy Capp’s Hot Fries—which are made from a mix of potatoes and corn—are a snack food that’s impossible to perfectly recreate at home.

Cracker Jack

close-up of caramel popcornAnthonyRosenberg/Getty Images

By me some peanuts and… well, you know the words. This addictive mix of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts was first introduced in 1896, but became synonymous with baseball after the song Take Me Out to the Ballgame—the unofficial anthem of America’s pastime—was written in 1908.

How to make it at home: Even though Cracker Jack is made with peanuts, you can make this caramel corn recipe with any sort of nuts you wish.

Cheddar Cheese Cracker Combos

If you were a kid in the 1980s, chances are you have a soft spot in your heart for Combos. These tiny crunchy cylinders come with either cracker, pretzel or tortilla shells, and are stuffed with savory fillings like Buffalo blue cheese and spicy honey mustard. Though they’re all tasty in their own special way, Cheddar Cheese Cracker Combos taste like a tray of cheese and crackers in bite-sized, poppable form.

How to make it at home: You can’t make Combos at home, but you can make these sesame cheese crackers, which are equally delicious.

Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts can be eaten cooked or uncooked, and they aren’t messy, which means they’re great for situations when cleanliness is an issue, like in rental cars. There are literally dozens of different flavors of Pop-Tarts and naming “the best” is a hot-button debate, but it’s safe to say that Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts are a crowd-pleaser that can make anyone a happy camper.

How to make it at home: These homemade Pear-Berry Breakfast Tarts are like gourmet Pop-Tarts!

Cheez Balls

Cheese (or “cheez”) snacks come in all sorts of shapes, flavors and textures: crunchy squiggles, puffy doodles, crispy cones and crunchy crackers. But for the ultimate in orange powder-coated whimsy, there’s nothing quite like throwing a feather-light Cheez Ball into the air and trying to catch it in your mouth.

How to make it at home: Making Cheez Balls is best left to the professionals, but for a cheesy packaged snack you can make yourself, check out this recipe for homemade Cheez-Its.

Kind Bars

If you’re looking for a healthy gas station snack, Kind bars have you covered. With a dose of healthy fats, high protein content and a smattering of vitamins, Kind bars are one of our favorite low-cholesterol snacks. They also rank among our Test Kitchen’s favorite healthy granola bars.

How to make it at home: It’s easy to make your own bars at home and you can customize them to include your favorite ingredients. Try these Dried Fruit Energy Bars or Jennifer Garner’s healthy granola bars.

Chex Mix

Chex Mixpenguintempura/Getty Images

Why wait for a party to munch on everyone’s favorite party snack? You can find bags of premade Chex Mix in your gas station’s chip aisle, and in many more flavors than the classic recipe you know and love, like honey nut and spicy dill.

How to make it at home: Chex Mix is so easy to make! Try our recipe for homemade Chex Mix, then allow yourself to get a little crazy in the kitchen to make it your own.

TastyKake Hand Pies

It’s hard to pick only one flavor of hand pie as the ultimate gas station snack. Perhaps it’s all-American apple pie? Custardy coconut cream? Tart, tangy lemon? Now that the famous Philadelphia-area bakery’s snack-sized pies are (finally!) being sold nationwide, you can conduct your own highly-scientific taste test the next time you’re out on the road.

How to make it at home: Once you’ve mastered making these hand-held apple pies, try other fruit fillings, like cherry, peach or blueberry.

Old Trapper Old Fashioned Beef Jerky

Beef jerkyJuanmonino/Getty Images

Beef jerky has always been one of the best gas station snacks, and it’s not hard to see why—it’s chewy, salty, satiating and packed with protein to keep you fueled up. Our official Taste of Home taste testers tried several different brands in their search for the best beef jerky, with one brand making a big impression for its great homemade taste.

How to make it at home: While many homemade beef jerky recipes require dehydrators or other fancy equipment, you can make beef jerky in the oven. Try it with our Teriyaki Beef Jerky recipe.

Chocolate Frosted Mini Doughnuts

Food magically becomes more fun when it’s mini, and when the food in question is doughnuts, the fun factor goes off the charts. You can usually find several different flavors of mini doughnuts at gas station convenience stores—like powdered, glazed and crunchy brown sugar streusel—but if you’re looking for something to dunk into a hot cup of gas station coffee, a chocolate frosted doughnut is pretty hard to beat.

How to make it at home: If you don’t like deep-frying at home, try air-fried doughnuts instead, then dip them in one of these delectable doughnut glazes.

Jumbo Dill Pickles

Looking for a savory snack that’s cool, crisp and refreshing? Next time you’re at the gas station, head to the refrigerated section where they keep the premade sandwiches and grab an ice-cold, individually wrapped dill pickle. Though their high sodium content keeps pickles out of the “health food” category, they’re still one of the healthier gas station snacks, and are rich in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.

How to make it at home: You can easily make your own pickles, but why stop with just cucumbers? You can turn all sorts of fruits and vegetables into pickles, like carrots, asparagus—even blueberries!

BelVita Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

You can’t really go wrong with peanut butter anything on a road trip—it’s salty, sweet and straddles the line between “health food” and “junk food.” For a healthier take on the classic peanut butter sandwich cookie, grab a pack of belVita peanut butter-filled breakfast biscuits. Not only are they lower in sugar and higher in fiber than traditional cookies, but they’re made with whole grain flour, which complements the peanut butter with a hint of toastiness.

How to make it at home: To make these peanut butter sandwich cookies taste a bit more like BelVita, swap out the all-purpose flour for an equal amount of whole wheat flour.

Charcuterie

Believe it or not, charcuterie has become a gas station snack. You can find packaged trays of sliced meats, cheeses, olives and other delectable accoutrements in the same refrigerated section as premade sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and other cold grab-and-go items.

How to make it at home: Give every person in the car their own individual charcuterie board and there won’t be any fighting over the last bite of cheese.

Twizzlers

If we’re being honest, isn’t all gas station candy the perfect snack? You may not enjoy your favorite sugary treats every day, but when you’re out on the open road, it’s a great opportunity to indulge. A pack of chewy Twizzlers is ideal for enjoying in the car—they’re not messy to eat, great for sharing and easy to hold onto while driving.

Don’t miss our full list of easy to pack road trip snacks!

Nachos

Nachos and Melted Cheese.mcpix/Getty Images

Sure, they’re sloppy and not remotely good for you. But gas station nachos are a classic that stand the test of time, no matter how tastes may change. Big gooey glops of electric orange nacho cheese are an absolute must. Past that, jazz up your nachos with olives, pickled jalapenos, diced onions and whatever other free toppings your gas station offers.

How to make it at home: Making a platter of these incredible skillet nachos is even easier than getting into the car and driving to the gas station!

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Allison Robicelli
Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated food and recipe writer, humorist, and the author of four (quite good) books. Her writing credits include the Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, Eater, Food52, The Takeout, and other major publications. Before becoming a full-time writer, she spent over a decade as a working chef, and was the co-owner of the acclaimed Robicelli's Bakery in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to food and comedy, she also writes about history, parenting, and cannabis. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, two teenage sons, and four patient cats.