These make-ahead recipes are ready to eat straight out of the cooler. Simply open up containers, and you’ll have a crowd-pleasing spread.
We can’t say for certain, but we are pretty sure the event known as tailgating originated in the South. From humble beginnings of sandwiches and soft drinks served out of a cooler, much thought and planning now goes into tailgating recipes. This roster of crowd-pleasing favorites contains easy make-ahead recipes, such as Mini Muffulettas and Fipps Family Potato Salad, and ready-to-serve dips and spreads, including Bacon-Cheese Dip and Beer Cheese Spread. Let your local deli do the cooking and pick up tasty chicken tenders to use with Jalapeño-Mustard Dipping Sauce or Chicken and Honey Sandwiches. Classic tailgating recipes like Deviled Eggs and Smoky Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches team up with new players, namely Grilled Salsa and Whiskey Whoopie Pies, to give your tailgating menu the depth needed to satisfy your crowd throughout the game.
Graham Nut Clusters
Recipe: Graham Nut Clusters
You can never have too much snack mix at a tailgate! Serve Graham Nut Clusters in megaphones plugged with foil. Look for them at party-supply stores.
Recipe: Grilled Salsa
What's a party without salsa? Make yours one to remember.
Recipe: Bacon-Cheese Dip
Keep your game day party easy by making this tasty dip ahead of time.
This tasty delight has become one of our most preferred staples in Tex-Mex cuisine. Fresh avocado and lime juice are essential to this delicious guacamole recipe.
Tip: While storing in the cooler, keep your guacamole from changing color by placing a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture.
Jalapeño-Mustard Dipping Sauce
Recipe: Jalapeño-Mustard Dipping Sauce
Just before the game, stop by a grocer's deli counter or the drive-through of your favorite restaurant for fresh, hot chicken tenders and serve with this homemade dipping sauce. Make them festive with team spirit skewers. Simply cut flags from scrapbook paper in the shape of pennants, and tape them to wooden skewers.
Warm Gumbo Dip
Recipe: Warm Gumbo Dip
Just like any good Louisiana gumbo, this dip is thick and full of flavor.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Vegetable Stew
Perfect for chilly games later in the season, this savory stew keeps warm in thermoses until you are ready to chow down before the game.
Spicy-Sweet Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Spicy-Sweet Deviled Eggs
Mango chutney is the secret ingredient that makes these deviled eggs so irresistible. Snip and arrange chives for a fun garnish.
Confetti Pasta Salad
Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad
Feta cheese, grape tomatoes, and red onion give this pasta salad recipe Greek flair, and star ingredient dill adds a punch of flavor to the combination. Even though this salad is delicious immediately after it comes together, we recommend chilling it for a few hours in the refrigerator to enhance all the flavors.
Recipe: Italian-Style Sandwiches
Take your sandwiches a step up from ham and cheese with this out-of-the-ordinary recipe. Before heading to the game, spread goat cheese and pesto on ciabatta rolls and then add slices of pork, peppery arugula, roasted red bell peppers, and sliced red onion.
Southern-Style Cuban Sandwiches
Recipe: Southern-Style Cuban Sandwiches
Here's a smoky spin on a classic sub. Pick up sliced pork from your favorite barbecue restaurant.
Cobb Salad Sandwiches
Recipe: Cobb Salad Sandwiches
Start with a 12-oz. French bread loaf cut in half horizontally; scoop out soft bread from center of each half, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell to make filling the sandwich easier.
Chicken & Honey Sandwiches
Recipe: Chicken & Honey Sandwiches
This sandwich falls under the "hearty fare" category. It'll satisfy your hunger to win.
Eggs Benedict Sandwiches
Recipe: Eggs Benedict Sandwiches
This brunch sub is ideal for a late-morning kickoff.
Red Pepper Hummus
Recipe: Red Pepper Hummus
Roasted red bell peppers add a kick of color and flavor to traditional hummus. Go ahead and double the recipe; leftovers make a tasty sandwich spread.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dark brown sugar adds surprising richness to this cookie dough. Bake each batch 8 minutes for soft and gooey cookies, or up to 14 minutes for crisp results.
Blue Cheese Ranch Dip
Recipe: Blue Cheese Ranch Dip
This dip requires only four ingredients and five minutes prep time. Serve it with carrot and celery sticks, sturdy potato chips, and hot wings.
Smoky “Pimiento” Cheese Sandwiches
Smoked Cheddar, Gouda, and sun-dried tomatoes provide a terrific twist on traditional pimiento cheese. Spread on sourdough and dark wheat bread and cut into smaller sandwiches for easy pickup. Serve with grapes and apples.
Easy Snack Mix
Recipe: Easy Snack Mix
Stack cups in your team's colors next to this simple snack mix so that guests can help themselves.
Fipps Family Potato Salad
Recipe: Fipps Family Potato Salad
Round out your meal with this classic mixture of potatoes, eggs, mayo (Duke’s of course!), and spicy mustard. Make the recipe your own by adding sweet pickles, onion, celery, bacon, and fresh herbs.
Recipe: Beer-Cheese Spread
This recipe makes a lot, but it can be frozen for up to a month in four (10-oz.) ramekins. Try it over French fries, hot dogs, and chili.
Layered Spicy Black Bean Dip
Recipe: Layered Spicy Black Bean Dip
This flavorful recipe has a short ingredient list. Just layer cream cheese, shredded cheese, onions, olives, and tomatoes onto a store-bought black bean dip.
Lemony Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Recipe: Lemony Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Lemon juice adds fresh zip to this tasty dip. Use team colors for your table decor.
Recipe: Chile-Cheese Spread
Make this zesty starter up to three days ahead. Serve leftovers on sandwiches.
Chunky Chocolate Brownies
Recipe: Chunky Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate chunks make these brownies fudgy; use the 23-minute baking time to make them extra gooey.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Whiskey Whoopie Pies
Recipe: Whiskey Whoopie Pies
Freeze the assembled whoopie pies in zip-top plastic bags up to 3 weeks before your party. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
Recipe: Italian Skewers
These skewers are the perfect pickup appetizers for a crowd. The best part? They can be made ahead.
Turkey-Cheddar Kabobs With Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Save time by making crowd-pleasing Turkey-Cheddar Kabobs the night before. The kabobs are easy to pick up and eat even if you don't have a plate handy.
Ham-Stuffed Biscuits With Mustard Butter
Yeast biscuits—also called angel or bride’s biscuits—hold together well, so they’re a good choice to serve at gatherings. The so-Southern combination of ham and biscuits is always a hit!
Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe: Pecan Pie Bars
These chewy, bite-size bars require just 20 minutes of prep time.