16 Essential Tailgating Recipes for Football Season

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Christine Han)

“Think of tailgating like a cocktail party, except the fancy cocktails and wine are Bloody Marys and beer” said my friend, and tailgating regular, as she guided me on what to bring to my first tailgate. Many years later, I can confidently agree — if you think about tailgating food as something that should be easy to eat with one hand and that will help balance out the beers and Bloody Marys, you can’t really go wrong. Here are 16 recipes to take to your next tailgate.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)


Pick a dip or two that can safely sit at room temperature for several hours or can be kept warm in a small slow cooker or dip warmer. Then go all out on chips, pretzels, bread, and veggies for dipping. It’s an easy way to please a crowd on game day.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)


These one-bite beauties are easy to make in big batches and even easier to eat with one hand. Most of these guys can also be made well in advance and warmed up on the grill or in a slow cooker aka your tailgating BFF.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)


For heartier fare, sandwiches are economical from a time and ingredient standpoint, plus you can easily eat them with one hand (while you hold a beer in the other).

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)


Here’s how to be a tailgate superhero: Bring dessert. Everyone else seems to forget that they’ll want a little sweet something when they near victory (or are about to taste defeat). Bars, cookies, and brownies are your best bets — they feed a crowd and are loved by all.