The 20 Absolute Best Tailgate Recipes

Enjoy this one-stop collection of all the great game day recipes you’ll ever need

The 20 Absolute Best Tailgate Recipes

For many football fans, the actual sport is not the main event.

Instead, spectators gather together — whether at home or in the stadium parking lot — to pre-celebrate the event by cooking out, sharing a few drinks, and playing games with fellow die-hard fans.

Here we have a list of 20 of our all-time favorite tailgate recipes to will help you kick off your game day(s) the right way — while letting you have fun at the party instead of being stuck cooking.

Whether your team wins or loses, at least you will have checked off all of the major tailgating food groups: dips, fried things, wings, dogs, burgers, chili, plus a few grab-and-go desserts to snag as you head into the stadium or settle down in front of the HDTV.

7-Layer Dip

The “wow” factor of this dish comes from the generous amount of fresh cilantro and roasted poblano chiles. For this recipe, click here.

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

Put away the chips and try something else that satisfies your hankering for something crunchy. This healthy nut mix is super tasty and also happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Use a mixture of pine nuts, pecan halves, almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews, but feel free to deviate and get creative with your favorites. For this recipe, click here.

Bacon-Jalapeño Balls With Everything Carrots

Here, ground beef, salt, pepper, paprika, bacon, and sautéed onion and jalapeño are scooped into balls and baked. The meatballs can then be dipped in an awesome homemade sauce and enjoyed with everything-spiced carrots. For this recipe, click here.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This lightened-up Buffalo chicken dip is packed with veggies and loaded with flavor. It is the perfect cleaned-up version of your favorite hearty appetizer, and it can also be devoured as a main dish. Click here for this recipe.

Crock-Pot Jalapeño Spinach Dip

Everyone loves spinach dip, and this version with jalapeño is as easy as it is delicious. Just mix the ingredients together in the slow-cooker, and a little while later you’ll walk away with a savory, creamy, and deliciously spicy appetizer. Find the recipe here.

Roasted Garlic Guacamole With Custom Garnishes

At your next tailgate, lay out a create-your-own guacamole bar; just pre-make this guacamole, and lay out various toppings such as fresh cheese, jalapeñotomatillo salsa, lump crab, and/or crumbled bacon to allow customization. For this recipe, click here.

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Wings

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Wings


No tailgate is complete without Buffalo wings, and these spicy slow-cooker ones will have you out with the party instead of slaving over a deep-fryer. Check out the recipe here.

Smoked Jalapeño Poppers

An alternative to the deep-fried classic, these cream-cheese-stuffed jalapeños are wrapped in bacon and grilled to perfection. The combination of melted cheese, spicy jalapeños, and smoked bacon is insanely good. Click here for the recipe.

Breakfast Tailgate Dogs

Waking up early for a Sunday tailgate was never so delicious. Simply fry up some scrambled eggs and diced hotdogs, then scoop it into a toasted hot dog bun and you'll be fueled to cheer on your favorite team. For this recipe, click here.

Grilled Bratwurst With Spicy Mesquite Peppers and Onions

This dish is perfect for tailgating: Sauté the peppers and onions in advance and grill sausages at the game. Click here for the Grilled Bratwurst With Spicy Mesquite Peppers and Onions.

Hot Dog Bun Cheese Melt

Hot dogs, buns, and American cheese — can you think of three ingredients better suited for game day? Here’s a twist on that classic combination that turns a cheese dog into a proper melt for the next time you and your friends gather to root for your team. Click here for the recipe.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Sliders

Bacon and Blue Cheese Sliders


These sliders are guaranteed to disappear in minutes: The rich, salty flavors are so addictive, and who can resist the pull of meaty bacon? Click here for the recipe.

Pizza Sliders

Pizza Sliders


Bring together the best of two game-day foods — pizza and sliders — for the ultimate tailgating party dish. Check out the recipe here.

Slow-Cooker Teriyaki Chicken & Mac Salad Sliders

Tender, slow-cooked chicken, sweet teriyaki glaze, and a creamy macaroni salad; what more is there to say? Make these Slow-Cooker Teriyaki Chicken & Mac Salad Sliders with this recipe.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Shrimp Kabobs

Tailgating main dishes are usually heavy and laden with rich fatty flavor, so if you are in search of something that feels lighter but won’t skimp on flavor, try this recipe for Grilled Lemon Pepper Shrimp Kabobs, instead.

Pulled Pork Sliders

In this recipe, pork shoulder is soaked in a three-day brine to achieve the tenderest and moistest meat. To complete, just slather a soft bun with the pulled pork and top with creamy, crunchy coleslaw. For this recipe, click here.

Black Bean, Corn, and Turkey Chili

Ready in less than an hour, this satisfying rendition of chili tastes like it's been simmering all day long. Check it out here.

Jam-Filled Doughnuts

What makes these doughnuts so special is how easy they are to prepare: Take rounds of canned biscuit dough, fry them up golden, and then inject these instant "doughnuts" with delicious jam filling. For this recipe, click here.

Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters

Freshly popped popcorn is combined with marshmallows, melted chocolate, and chopped walnuts. Click here for the recipe.

S'mores Brownies

Once these simple boxed brownies are cooked through, they are topped with graham cracker crumbs, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips before being returned to the heat to melt and toast. Click here for the recipe.