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