Teeny Tiny Entertaining

How to Turn a Quick Costco Trip into a No-Cook Game-Day Tailgate

updated May 11, 2022
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Costco food items for tailgate party.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Headed to a tailgate with a small (vaccinated) group this fall? Pop into a Costco first. Flash your membership card and it’ll be easy to show your team spirit later. Sure, you can get all the pop-up tents and folding chairs you need at Costco, but you can also get all the necessary menu items for a quick and easy, no-cook tailgate. That’s right — no cooking at all. See, I’m planning on a party of eight to 12 for my first tailgate of the season. It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted that many people, so I’m letting Costco do the cooking. Everything on this menu comes ready-to-serve, so all that’s on my plate is the task of arranging the platters.

This means that throwing a tailgate is as simple as swinging by a warehouse store on your way to the game. Ready? I’ll show you how to turn one Costco run into the ultimate no-cook tailgate for eight (or more!) of your closest friends and fiercest rivals.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

The 5 Costco Essentials for the Ultimate Tailgate

  • Dip: What’s a party without a dip? Take your pick of prepared dips from the deli section. Some ideas include garlicky guacamole, spinach artichoke dip, hummus, and pimento cheese.
  • Chips: One can’t survive on dip alone! Pair a jumbo-sized bag of chips with the pre-made dip. Go for the classics combos here: tortilla chips with guacamole, or potato chips with spinach artichoke dip.
  • Sandwiches: Leave the sandwich assembly to Costco’s chefs. They swirl meat, cheese, and veggies into hearty wrap roll-ups like nobody else.
  • Meaty finger foods: Rotisserie chickens get all the attention, but did you know that you can also pick up warm BBQ ribs and chicken wings from the deli?
  • Sweets: Cookies are always a solid closer to the end of a hard-fought game. Thankfully, Costco’s cookies are hall-of-fame-worthy.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

What I Got at Costco for a No-Cook Tailgate

I went shopping with the above formula in mind, aiming to pick out at least one thing from each category. Here’s what I picked up this time, but I’m excited because I know that the variety of finger foods, snacks, appetizers, and dips at Costco is unmatched. So I know that I could go back another week and plan a similar but wildly different menu. Just ask someone else to bring the drinks!

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip, $8.69 for 31 ounces
  • Cape Cod Potato Chips, $6.39 for 30 ounces
  • Roasted Chicken & Swiss Roller Tray, $5.99 per pound ($10.82 for a tray with 12)
  • St. Louis Style Dry Rub Ribs, $8.49 per pound (about 2 pounds per package)
  • Mesquite Seasoned Party Wings, $6.99 per pound (2 to 3 pounds per package)
  • Variety Pack Cookies, $7.99 for 24

Total: $64.85