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28 Tailgate Food Ideas So Good, You'll Skip the Game

You'll be the most popular tailgate with these delicious recipes.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman
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It's football season! You know what that means, right? Well, football games, of course. But also, tailgating—which is arguably better than some of the actual games. With great tailgates come lots of beer and party games, but an awesome tailgate also consists of great food. And yes, we mean more than just chips.

Fun and exciting tailgates can make game day that much more memorable. It's a chance to indulge in some delicious foods with friends, family, and a parking lot full of like-minded fans. Whether you're a first-time tailgater or a seasoned pro, these recipes will give you (and your team!) the pregame boost you're looking for all season long.

Hot Dog Nuggets

Hot Dog Nuggets
Courtesy of Lil' Luna

The classic game day staple is a cinch with these two-ingredient bite-sized nuggets.

Get the recipe from Lil' Luna.

Seven-Layer Dip

Healthy 7-layer dip
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

You can't go wrong with a savory seven-layer dip, with its many textures and flavors. This version is packed with meat, veggies, and tons of seasoning.

Get our recipe for 7-Layer Dip.

Flaming Hot Cheetos Hot Dogs

Flaming Hot Cheetos Hot Dogs
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Grilled hot dogs will be extra fiery with the addition of these hot and spicy cheese crunchies.

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats.

Buttery Soft Pretzel Bites

Buttery Soft Pretzel Bites
Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

The ideal crowd-pleasing appetizer, these pretzel bites will pair perfectly with whatever you're drinking on game day.

Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

Healthy Ultimate Burger

Healthy ultimate burger
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This simple, easy-to-assemble hamburger cuts down on the mess of your ordinary burger, making it perfect for tailgating. The fact that it's healthy(ish) is just a bonus.

Get our recipe for the Healthy Ultimate Burger

Garlic Knots

garlic knots on a marble counter
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

You don't have to save garlic knots for pizza night. Instead, bring them to the tailgate and watch these lovable sides get devoured.

Get our recipe for Garlic Knots.

Smashed A.1. Swiss Burger

A1 swiss burger
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you have access to a cast iron skillet, these juicy smashburgers won't disappoint and will keep you satisfied til halftime.

Get our recipe for the Smashed A.1. Swiss Burger.

Brown Sugar Barbecue Baked Chicken Wings

Brown Sugar Barbecue Baked Chicken Wings
Courtesy of Inspired Taste

Wings and football are a match made in heaven. This baked take on the classic finger food contains powerful and delicious flavors, and can be portable for any tailgating event.

Get the recipe from Inspired Taste.

Football BBQ Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball

Football BBQ Bacon Ranch Cheeseball
Courtesy of Julie's Eats & Treats

You can't go wrong with a football-shaped anything on game day. Bacon, ranch, AND cheese all in one appetizer? You're golden.

Get the recipe from Julie's Eats & Treats.

The Easiest Coleslaw

Vegetarian cole slaw
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Every good BBQ includes at least one salad option, and coleslaw is always a winner. This light slaw mix is a nice way to offset some of the grease you're probably consuming.

Get our recipe for The Easiest Coleslaw.

Buffalo Wings

Healthy fiery buffalo wings
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you like a crunchy chicken wing that packs some heat, these traditional Buffalo wings will make you swoon.

Get our recipe for Best Ever Buffalo Wings and Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Grilled Corn with Coconut Curry Butter

Grilled Corn with Coconut Curry Butter
Claudia Sidoti / Eat This, Not That!

Make some room on the grill for this veggie staple, which is topped with a unique curry butter that will delight your senses.

Get our recipe for Grilled Corn with Coconut Curry Butter.

Smoky Crockpot Chili

Healthy crockpot chilli
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This hearty, meaty dish was meant for game day. This one offers just the right amount of heat and can be made in advance and kept warm in your crockpot all day.

Get our recipe for Smoky Crockpot Chili

Football Whoopie Pies

Football Whoopie Pies
Courtesty of The BakerMama

Is there anything more on-brand for a tailgate than these sweet treats? We think not.

Get the recipe from The BakerMama.

Pork BBQ Dip and Crunchy Chips

keto pork bbq dip and chips
Carlene Thomas/Eat This, Not That!

These keto-friendly pork rinds are a snack for the ages. Pair them with this meaty, well-seasoned dip to give you barbecue feels without even having to turn on a grill.

Get our recipe for Pork BBQ Dip and Crunchy Chips.

BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad
Courtesy of Averie Cooks

An easy make-ahead side dish that can be prepped in 15 minutes and goes well with just about everything.

Get the Recipe from Averie Cooks.

Fudgy Brownies

Low-calorie fudgy brownies
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

These rich and chocolatey treats are a must-have at your tailgate dessert table.

Get our recipe for Fudgy Brownies.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

Another classic Sunday football delight that works as well for a tailgate as it does an at-home viewing party.

Get the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

Low-calorie nachos with chicken and black beans
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Easy to make and easy to snack on, these nachos are everything you could want in a nacho dish. Plus, you're also getting tons of protein.

Get our recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Nachos.

Grilled Shrimp with Honey Garlic Marinade

Grilled Shrimp with Honey Garlic Marinade
Courtesy of Cooking Classy

Not a fan of burgers and dogs? You shouldn't have to settle for the side dishes. This grilled shrimp with a sweet marinade gives you all the BBQ vibes.

Get the recipe from Cooking Classy.

Chipotle Bacon Sliders

Low-calorie sliders 2 ways
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Name one time that you weren't delighted by sliders. These tiny, snackable joints are easy to manage with one hand, so you won't have to ask anyone to hold your beer.

Get our recipe for Chipotle Bacon Sliders.

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Chimichurri Dip

Grilled Veggie Skewers
Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Get your vegetable fix with these perfectly charred skewers, which are loaded with way more than onions and peppers.

Get the recipe from the Minimalist Baker.

Beer Cheese Dip

Beer Cheese Dip
Courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction

Another great game-day combo? Beer and cheese! This dip is perfect to pair with pretzels or chips.

Get the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac and Cheese Cups

Crispy crumb topped mac and cheese cups
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

All the beauty of mac and cheese, in a smaller, more portable version. These cups are easy to transfer and easy to eat in the parking lot of any game.

Get our recipe for Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac and Cheese Cups.

Cowboy Burger

Healthy cowboy burger
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

You don't have to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys to enjoy this loaded burger (although it may become your new staple tailgate food).

Get our recipe for the Cowboy Burger

Black Bean Dip with Roasted Squash, Garlic, Pumpkin Seeds, and Chipotles

Black Bean dip with squash, garlic, and chipotles
Courtesy of The First Mess

Not your average black bean dip, this one comes with seasonal ingredients that are readily available during football season.

Get the recipe from The First Mess.

Hoisin Beef Kebabs

Hoisin beef kebab
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you're looking to change up your typical hot dog and hamburger meat options for the barbecue, these beef kebabs have you covered.

Get our recipe for Tokyo-Inspired Hoison Beef Kebabs.

Cocoa-Coconut-Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

Cocoa coconut oat cookies with chocolate chunks
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Our recipe for Cocoa-Coconut-Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chunks is like your favorite chocolate chip cookie, dialed up to 11. Whether you're setting up tables of food and grilling with a huge group or just a few people, your tailgate menu is going to be the talk of the parking lot. If the rival team's fans try to crash your party, can you really blame them?

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Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla
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