The best tailgate party food is always well received! These game day party recipes are long time favorites for football fans, and those of us who just show up to the party for the food (and the Big Game commercials!) Read on for the top 10 foods for a great tailgate party, or celebrating at home!
There is truly no end to the types of food that can make it to a tailgate party or game watching party.
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This year, my daughter is attending a SOUPer bowl party, where guests bring different soups to share. Sounds like a great idea to me!
If you’re not too keen on soup, or want to keep things traditional, here’s an extensive list of the best tailgate party foods: all classics, but some new ideas to bring to the party you’re attending or hosting.
Best Tailgate Party Foods
created by Christina Conte
Buffalo/hot wings are almost synonymous with tailgating parties. They’re much easier to make than you would think (especially if you use this recipe), and only require a few ingredients. While you can heat them up before the big game, they taste just as good when you take them out to tailgate or picnic.
Pizza is a great addition to any game watching or tailgating celebration, but almost mandatory for a Big Game party. While pizza delivery will be popular on that special Sunday, there is another option. Delicious if served hot or at room temperature, this recipe for homemade authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is so delicious because of the dough and quality ingredients.
You can absolutely prepare the pizza ahead of time, and make individual pizzas any size you want, or opt for a sheet pan version for bulk serving ease! You can also make potato pizza for a delicious twist on the pizza theme!
3. Dips and Chips
Dips are an essential snack for Martin Short (OMITB) and to have with any football match. Luckily, I have a hefty list for you!
1. Salsa Fresca
Salsa is a no-brainer for any large gathering, but have you ever thought to make it yourself? It’s much easier than you might think, and tastes so much better! And all you need are these glass containers that are so much better than plastic to store your food (and made in USA.)
It’s spinach artichoke dip… need I say more?
This recipe for blue cheese roasted pecan dip involves the perfect amount of creaminess to crunch ratio, and probably isn’t on anyone else’s menu.
This poblano guacamole uses a whole lemon, for a citrus forward, delicious dip that’s always one of the best tail gate party foods!
French onion dip is classically the easiest dip to make, usually with a packet of french onion mix and sour cream. However, here is a recipe to make it from scratch, with spices you probably already have at home!
7. Pita Chips
Did you know you can make your own pita chips at home? It’s easier than you think, and you can make them plain or garlic-flavored!
4. Chili (One of the Best Tailgate Party Food!)
This chili is fast and simple to make. Just throw all of the ingredients into a pot, simmer, and you have an easy, hearty meal for your guests (cheese optional, although always encouraged).
Even if you’re not a huge chili fan, or if you don’t eat red meat, this white chicken chili is a great option. It is so flavorful and is quite different than your traditional chile con carne. I make Cynthia’s recipe on repeat through the winter an my family loves it, too!
For anyone hosting vegetarians, it can be tough to find something that doesn’t include bacon or meat in your best tailgate party food spread. This chili is even kid friendly in terms of spice levels! You can even make it in an Instant pot.
5. Cheese/Grazing/Vegetable Platters
1. Veggie Tray
There’s nothing worse than eating more than your share of calorific game day foods and craving a vegetable when there are none in sight. Don’t overlook a simple veggie tray. They can be show-stopping and incredibly appreciated!
This no-cook, assemble-only cheese and smoked salmon board looks super fancy, but there’s really nothing to it!
Ever wondered how to elevate your tailgate party? Here’s a simple step-by-step breakdown from Cynthia at What a Girl Eats. Wrap it up and take it with you for “girl dinner” style game party celebration! Just add bubbles!
4. Cheese Board
A cheese board is different from a charcuterie board. Learn the basics of what (and what not) to include on a cheese board. You can add these football picks and make it super festive for the Big Game!
Warm cheese? Fabulous. With truffles? Divine!
6. Nachos (Is this on Your List of Best Tailgate Party Food?)
Nachos are one of the easiest and most versatile foods to make, and you probably have most ingredients in your kitchen/pantry. This recipe is for classic nachos, but feel free to add whatever toppings you and your guests are craving. Best part is, this is easily prepped beforehand and only needs to be popped in the oven.
Pinwheel sandwiches are incredibly easy to make, and they look so fun and colorful. It’s also easy to crank out many of these sandwiches with only a few sheets of flatbread.
2. Pulled Pork
Simple, classic, juicy pulled pork is always a good idea (this recipe is made in a crock pot for easy entertaining.)
Sliders are a great idea for a large group, and can really elevate the look of your party food.
Want to impress your tailgating or game party guests? Make the easy gyro meat ahead of time and slice it thinly. Then just make a gyro assembly line with pita bread, gyro meat, tomato slices, lettuce, onion and tzatziki sauce for everyone to help themselves! They are really so delicious!
8. Hot Dogs/Sausages
Mini sausage rolls can be as small or large as you want, but having them bite sized is a great idea for large groups. They look gorgeous in a spread and taste even better. Serve with HP sauce and impress any Brits who may be around.
Bacon wrapped anything is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
If you’re grilling, then these Italian sausage skewers are a must-make. Use mild or hot sausages with peppers and onions for a delicious change to the normal game party foods.
Brats on the grill (or pan) are a super simple option for beefing up your game day spread.
Hot dogs aren’t only for baseball season. Elevate yours with krautslaw: a combination of sauerkraut and cole slaw! Who even knew? Thanks, Camilla!
9. Hot Bites
Salty, cheesy, spicy! Bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers are easily made ahead and baked day of. Don’t be afraid of them being too spicy, too, as the cheese cuts the spice as well as the removal of the seeds during prep. They are truly one of the most classic and best tailgate party food!
Bacon lover? You’ll adore these stuffed mushrooms. However, if you’re vegetarian, they’re still great without the addition! (Tip: bacon wrapped olives are a great hot bite, too.)
This meatball recipe is so satisfying, and easy to make in large quantities. Serve on its own, in buns, or on skewers for easy access to your mouth! It’s one of the best foods for game day, for sure!
Cheese + bread + garlic = happy guests. Made in the air fryer, too–SO easy. I bet this will make it onto a lot of people’s best tailgate food list!
10. Best Tailgate Food Sweet Treats
Every one needs a little sweet treat after all the savory offerings, so here are a few options.
Why wait until a birthday to make a cookie cake? You can decorate it to cheer on your favorite team, or just enjoy the cookie and commercials.
2. Taylor Swift’s Chai Cookies
If you live outside of Los Angeles and similar climate cities, it will probably be a chilly February. These chai cookies are a cozy addition to any spread. My daughter said that she’s had people seek her out at parties to compliment these cookies, and ask her for the recipe. To top it all off, they’re very simple to make!
I don’t need to tell you that brownies will always be a hit at a game-watching party. Bake them with or without nuts.
And last, though certainly not least, I leave you with this caramel popcorn recipe. Not to be mistaken for kettle corn—this recipe has a lighter, sweeter flavor that just melts in your mouth. Even self-proclaimed caramel corn haters have approved of this recipe.
Happy tailgating, Big Game watching, or simply enjoying eating all the best party food and may the best tailgate party food, er— team, win!
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