Nachos, Ribs, Burgers and More of Our Best Tailgating Recipes
Melissa Elsmo / Pioneer Press

Our 20 Absolute Best Tailgating Recipes

Enjoy this one-stop collection of all the great game day recipes you’ll ever need
Nachos, Ribs, Burgers and More of Our Best Tailgating Recipes
Melissa Elsmo / Pioneer Press

For a lot of football fans, game day doesn’t begin at kickoff; it actually starts hours and hours beforehand at the tailgate. Yes, you need beer, games and plenty of friends, but the No. 1 thing you need at your tailgate is food. From dips and bites to ribs, brats, burgers and more, here are 20 dishes you need to bring to your next tailgate.

Honey Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots

Honey Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Salty, smoky, sweet and crunchy, these honey-soaked, bacon-wrapped tater tots have something for everyone. And the three ingredients in this recipe’s name are the only things you need.

For the Honey Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots recipe, click here.

Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket

Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

If you thought pigs in a blanket couldn’t get any better, we have three words for you: everything bagel seasoning. Cream cheese and scallions bring even more NYC-inspo to this party-time classic.

For the Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket recipe, click here.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
NSC Photography/Shutterstock

You know it. You love it. Buffalo chicken dip is one of the best dishes to bring to any party, period, and it’s a must-have for any game day gathering, which includes tailgating.

For the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe, click here.

Salsa Fresca

Salsa Fresca
Fudio / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Also known as pico de gallo, this easy, no-cook salsa recipe is perfect for hot days at the very beginning of football season, especially when garden-fresh tomatoes are at their ripest.

For the Salsa Fresca recipe, click here.

Easy 7-Layer Dip

Easy 7-Layer Dip
Megan Betteridge/Shutterstock

Seven-layer dip is a classic no-cook dip that tastes equally good on pretzels, tortilla chips and corn chips. Now, black olives, the sixth layer of this dip, are controversial. If your fellow tailgaters aren't fans, swap those olives out for black beans, pickled onions or jalapenos, bell peppers or canned green chiles.

For the Easy 7-Layer Dip recipe, click here.

Pretzel Bites With Spicy Cheddar Dip

Pretzel Bites With Spicy Cheddar Dip
Courtesy of Blue Apron

Pretzels and cheese dip are a classic stadium food, but you can easily make pretzels at home and snack on them before the big game. Trust us; this recipe will impress your friends.

For the Pretzel Bites With Spicy Cheddar Dip recipe, click here.

Spicy Bacon and Black Pepper Baked Beans

Spicy Bacon and Black Pepper Baked Beans
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

Baked beans go well with everything, from burgers and barbecue to cold-cut sandwiches and fried chicken. This recipe truly calls for these to be oven-baked, but you could easily transfer them to a slow cooker for your tailgate.

For the Spicy Bacon and Black Pepper Baked Beans recipe, click here.

All-American Macaroni Salad

All-American Macaroni Salad
Carolyn Menyes/The Daily Meal

A picnic classic, this easy macaroni salad is great for tailgates when you don’t have access to a grill or slow cooker.

For the All-American Macaroni Salad recipe, click here.

Lemon Dill Potato Salad With Peas

Lemon Dill Potato Salad With Peas
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune

If you’re looking for a new twist on classic potato salad, this lemony dill potato salad with peas is your recipe. The lemon and fresh herbs add an irresistible brightness to the dish and make the mayo-based dressing feel lighter.

For the Lemon Dill Potato Salad With Peas recipe, click here.

Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese

Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

One of the all-time best recipes for cheese fiends, this ooey, gooey mac and cheese uses cheddar, Taleggio, fontina and Gouda to add tons of dimension to an all-time classic cookout side.

For the Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese recipe, click here.

Grilled Teriyaki Mango Skewers

Grilled Teriyaki Mango Skewers
Courtesy of National Mango Board

One of the best vegetarian-friendly grilling recipes, these teriyaki skewers have a mix of mango and veggies, and it surprisingly works. Serve as is or alongside other grilled dishes as a side.

For the Grilled Teriyaki Mango Skewers recipe, click here.

Messy Barbacoa Beef Nachos

Messy Barbacoa Beef Nachos
Melissa Elsmo / Pioneer Press

In our opinion, tailgating is all about the meat. Sure, you can serve nachos loaded with cheese, sour cream and salsa. Or, you can go the extra mile and make melt-in-your-mouth beef barbacoa to top your chips. This beef is one of our favorite slow cooker recipes and can also be used for tacos.

For the Messy Barbacoa Beef Nachos recipe, click here

Beer-cooked Bratwurst With Sweet Onions

Beer-cooked Bratwurst With Sweet Onions
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

Tailgating is practically a way of life in the fall in the Midwest, and these beer-cooked brats are about as Midwestern as you can get. Serve with a quick homemade sauerkraut and a punched-up Dijon mustard.

For the Beer-cooked Bratwurst With Sweet Onions recipe, click here.

Beef and Brat Chili With White Beans

Beef and Brat Chili With White Beans
Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune

When it comes to game day comfort foods, chili is the No. 1 draft pick. White beans and bratwurst add an extra layer of heartiness to this savory beef chuck chili.

For the Beef and Brat Chili With White Beans recipe, click here.

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
© Rosemary Buffoni | Dreamstime.com

Don’t leave out the vegetarians or vegans at your cookout. This three-bean chili is 100% plant-based but tastes just as good as a meaty chili.

For the Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili recipe, click here.

Cheesehead Sliders

Cheesehead Sliders
Courtesy of Beef - It's What's For Dinner

Of course, no tailgate would be complete without some good ol’ fashioned burgers. These bite-sized, cheese-topped sliders are the perfect patty for your tailgate. Their slider size means you have plenty of room for all the other grub on your plate.

For the Cheesehead Sliders recipe, click here.

Herb-rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Herb-rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

It may seem like a lot of work goes into buying and cooking the best ribs ever, but this herb-rubbed rib recipe proves that doesn’t have to be the case. The blend of spices makes these baby back ribs so flavorful, you don’t even need barbecue sauce!

For the Herb-rubbed Baby Back Ribs recipe, click here.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Courtesy of Jason Goldstein/Chop Happy

Pulled pork, made from pork shoulder, is a deeply versatile ingredient. Here, it’s seasoned simply with fresh herbs and white wine, elevating this classic game day recipe. 

For the Pulled Pork Sandwiches recipe, click here.

Not Dogs

Not Dogs
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Food styling by Joan Moravek

Yeah, you can grill up some franks or vegan hot dogs at your cookout, but what’s the fun in that? These Not Dogs are made with carrots, spices and chipotles in adobo, resulting in a classic smoky flavor. It's a creative vegetarian and vegan twist on a tailgate staple.

For the Not Dogs recipe, click here.

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
Teen00000 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Chicken wings and game day go together like peanut butter and jelly. This recipe is perfect for tailgates because the wings are cooked in a slow cooker. But if you want to cook your wings ahead of time and transfer them to a serving tray, consider some of our best wing recipes for game day.

For the Honey Garlic Chicken Wings recipe, click here.

More from The Daily Meal:

Our 50 Best Grilling Recipes

Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe, Nachos and More Game Day Snacks

How to Grill Burgers: Tips and Tricks for the Best Patties Ever

The Absolute Best Dip Recipes for Any Game Day

How to Grill Steak Perfectly Every Time