Tailgating is its own sport. Think about it: early mornings, cooler packing as complicated as the toughest Tetris game, a playlist stacked with pump-up jams, crafty signs, clean jerseys, hats, napkins, plates, mugs. I mean, really. Tailgating for the game or race is a big deal, and it takes a lot of running around, prep work and team spirit … and some really good food.
Whether you’re gearing up for the big race or camping out for the big game, we’ve pulled together our best tailgate recipes and tips so you can pull together the best tailgate on the lot.
Plan a Winning Menu
Take a little time to look over recipes you’ve pinned, posted and torn from magazines, looking specifically for finger foods that are easy to eat (and don’t require you to bring hundreds of utensils). Once you’ve made your tailgate menu, call in your squad. Divvy up responsibilities and create a prep and cooking schedule. For example, plan to assemble and refrigerate dips and veggies the night before, and toast sandwiches and quesadillas first thing in the morning.
Don’t want to wash your lucky shirt? Fine by us. Need to whisper the same prayer before every race? Do it. Have to drink two cups of coffee from the same mug by 8 a.m.? We won’t stop you. Thinking about making those crazy good wings you had at the last tailgate? YESSS. Definitely yes. Make those for sure.
As sports fans, we do what we can to help our teams win, even if that means wearing dirty clothes or getting buffalo sauce all over our faces … and fingers … and arms. Chicken wings are the ultimate fan-fare, and when you find a wing recipe that really rocks, it becomes part of your tradition.
Make Enough Food
If you think you have too much food, you have enough food. The last thing you want is to run out of food before the green flag even drops! Be sure to include some stick-to-your-ribs grub on your tailgate menu to keep people energized. As the days get colder, keep bellies full and bodies warm with classic comfort food. Play to the crowd with regional favorites, such as these Southern recipes. Bonus: chili and other make-ahead dishes like hot dips and meatballs can just simmer in the crock pot all day long. They’re ready to eat whenever you’re ready to eat!
Save Room for Dessert
It’s kind of my life motto, and tailgates are no exception – never forget the sweets! You don’t have to stay up all night baking an entire spread. A treat or two is plenty, and these simple desserts are perfect for tailgating. They might just become a tailgating tradition of their own! Bake them for every game, and they’ll become your signature bite too.
In the end, you can’t really control whether your team wins or loses. But you can have tons of fun trying! With these recipes and tips, you’re well on your way to a winning tailgate party. GO TEAM YOU!