The key to a successful tailgate is good food, drinks, company, and weather (plus your team winning never hurts either). To make this happen, it's clutch to prep a lot of the food ahead of time so that you leave the simple stuff for the tailgate and can just enjoy yourself.
While there are essential tools and equipment that make this even easier, there are also a lot of recipes and steps that you can take pre-tailgate to make this experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Yes, of course there are sausages and burgers, which are great if you have a grill. But to mix things up, try bringing a variety of condiments and buns so that everyone is satsified. Throwing some grilled vegetables on never hurts, especially if you have a vegetarian in the crowd.
Snacks are always a power move; they encourage socialization by having people walk around while sipping on this and munching on that. Since dips are the ultimate snack and are always a crowd-pleaser, try making queso, 7-Layer Dip, salsas, or this Capitol Crack Dip. If you're looking for something heartier, make a casserole, chili, or these porchetta sandwiches — which are a great way to use leftovers (and if you don't have a grill, these suffice as a replacement for burgers/hot dogs). Side dishes that lean on the healthier side like coleslaw, and the quinoa salad below, help balance out some of the heavier dishes so you don't feel too weighed down. Plus, they are less filling, so you'll have more room for those drinks that you also made ahead.
When packing up a meal for a picnic, tailgate, or even a potluck at a friend's house, nothing beats hearty grain-based salads that can be made in advance...
— Allison Beck
I'm not a huge fan of dips. Except sour cream French onion dip. And chopped liver, I like that. And salsa. Hummus is pretty good too come to think of it...
— Arthur Bovino
This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dip is a tailgate classic — easy to make, with a little taste of something to please everyone in the crowd...
— Maryse Chevriere
A fresh, slightly Asian-inspired twist on traditional mayo-filled coleslaw, this recipe provides just the right amount of crunch and flavor...
— Yasmin Fahr
Deviled eggs go great with sports. You can make them in advance, there's minimal fuss, and you can flavor them with whatever it is you like...
— Jordan Pervere
The reason this works as a great tailgating or casual party recipe is that you can do most of it ahead, and also because guests can help assemble their own and even customize...
— Valaer Murray