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Let’s go team!
It’s finally fall, and you know what that means—FOOTBALL. Between professional, college, local high school, and fantasy games, you could be celebrating nearly every night of the week. Phew, you’re going to need sustenance to keep up your energy and excitement! Whether you’re truly tailgating in the stadium parking lot or are watching from the comfort of your living room (“homegating,” it’s a thing!), we’ve got recipes for you. Check out our 53 tailgate food ideas, then throw on your jersey, put on some face paint, and let’s go TEAM!
If you’re doing a traditional tailgate outside the stadium, you’re going to want to get bundled up and cozy. Don’t just layer up in your team’s best merch—bring the warmth with all the best game day comfort foods too. We’re talking chili, pulled pork, queso dip, nachos…the works. Got a grill? Lucky you! Average burgers and dogs are great for summer, but for football season, you’re gonna want to really bring the flavor. Try our sloppy joes, our garlic bread hot dogs, our pull-apart cheeseburger sliders, our BLT dogs, or our burger foil packs to see how you can take your grilled foods to the next level.
Celebrating from home this season? You’re going to want finger foods that make it easy to eat before the game and once it starts and you’re glued to the couch. Pigs in a blanket and chicken wings are classic (so we’ve included multiple versions of each here), but you’ve got other options too, like our soft pretzel bites, our sausage balls, our ham and cheese pinwheels, and our sheet pan honey mustard pretzel chicken. You can never go wrong with dip either, so give our pub beer cheese, our sour cream and onion dip, our best-ever guacamole, or our cheesy mini meatball skillet dip a try too.
And don’t forget about desserts! There’s more to a game day spread than just savory options. Keep with the theme with our football cupcakes, brownies, and cookies, or lean on crowd-pleasers like caramel corn, puppy chow, or cannoli chips and dip. They’ll stand out as a welcome sweet treat whether your team’s winning or losing.
Want more tailgate ideas? Check out our favorite game day cocktails and dips, and then check out what your state’s favorite game day snack is too.
These are so easy to make with our perfect sugar cookie dough and icing, and everyone will love them! If you aren’t a football fan yet, these cookies will do the trick. If you’re looking for even more fun football desserts, check out this super-easy football cake!
Get the Football Cookies recipe.
Tiny hot dogs are perfect for literally any tailgate. There’s something very classic about the crescent roll dough flavor, so we tend to gravitate toward it, but puff pastry or even biscuit dough should work here too.
Get the Pigs In A Blanket recipe.
We’ve done beer cheese in a skillet with pigs in a blanket, over brats, on sliders, and even folded it into macaroni for the most genius comfort food ever. There’s one way we had never done it: COLD. 😲 It’s salty, creamy, cheesy, and as ridiculously simple to make as it is to scarf down.
Get the Pub Beer Cheese Dip recipe.
This is one of those nacho recipes that’s substantial enough to be dinner. THAT’S the kind of nachos we like. 😉 We prefer using store-bought pulled pork for these, but homemade would obviously be super-delicious.
Get the Pulled Pork Nachos recipe.
This cauliflower is the perfect answer when you have Buffalo wings on the brain but want to get more veggies on your tailgate table. It all comes together when you dip one into our perfectly creamy blue cheese dressing (but feel free to go with ranch dressing if you prefer!).
Get the Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower recipe.
Everyone loves little mini cheeseburgers. But have you ever made them? Flipping a dozen (or more) little patties is maddening. Enter: our brilliant little hack. Instead of forming each individual slider, we go pull-apart style, using a loose cooked ground beef mixture that’s seasoned like a good, juicy burger.
Get the Pull-Apart Cheeseburger Sliders recipe.
Making from-scratch caramel corn couldn’t be easier, but don’t be hesitated to rush it—baking at a low temperature for about an hour is key to caramel corn with that irresistible crunch.
Get the Caramel Popcorn recipe.
These ham and cheese pinwheels are made easy using store-bought crescent roll dough. They are chock-full of melty cheese and savory-sweet ham, topped with fresh parsley and toasty poppy seeds for texture and flavor you and your guests will love.
Get the Ham & Cheese Pinwheels recipe.
Queso fundido is the lowest effort, highest reward option for your tailgate party. Hot tip: go for Mexican chorizo here instead of the Spanish, which is usually dried.
Get the Queso Fundido recipe.
Originally created in Mexico but popularized in the American Southwest, Frito Pies (not actually pies) are tailgate food perfection. They take a lot of aspects of your favorite Tex-Mex taco supreme—ground beef, onions, cheese, jalapeños and a corn-based vessel— and makes them extra-portable!
Get the Frito Pie recipe.
This football cake has a crazy hack to get a perfect football shape without tedious trimming: Baking off a round cake and cutting a bit from the middle will give you a perfect oval to decorate as a football. 😍 For a fully football-themed game day party, serve it alongside our football bomb and brownies too.
Get the Football Cake recipe.
Leave fried wings to the pub—you don’t want to be stuck frying while the game is on! Give yourself a little extra time (these take about an hour) and bake them instead.
Get the Classic Buffalo Wings recipe.
There are lots of iconic game day foods—Buffalo chicken wings, chili, sliders, spinach artichoke dip—but none are more iconic or beloved than nachos. Loaded with beef, beans, two types of cheese, and a plethora of fresh toppings, these are sure to take your game day snacking to the next level.
Get the Nachos Supreme recipe.
With a veggie dip this good, you’ll get put in charge of all future crudités platters. It’s so easy to make and comes together in minutes. Serve it with all of your favorite veggies, good bread, or crackers.
Get the Veggie Dip recipe.
Overlapping the bread slices means you can fit more onto the sheet pan, and don’t worry—the melty Provolone and pressing these down (sort of like a massive DIY panini press) makes sure they still hold together. You could serve them as full-size sandwiches, but we like to slice them up both for more servings and ease of portability.
Get the Sheet-Pan Italian Subs recipe.
Jalapeño poppers are one of the easiest, most satisfying tailgate foods. Mix cream cheese with pepper Jack, stuff it in jalapeños, and wrap it all in bacon. In the oven, the cheese gets hot and melty and the peppers mellow slightly. The combination is PERFECT.
Get the Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers recipe.
Puppy chow (aka muddy buddies) is one of the easiest and most delicious snacks EVER. The only thing that could make them better is mix-ins—we love having a mix of sweet and savory, so pretzels, plain potato chips, or salted peanuts would make a great addition.
Get the Puppy Chow recipe.
If we’re being honest, we’re always looking for a reason to eat more potatoes. Imagine a loaded baked potato and potato salad coming together to make the ultimate tailgate side, and you’ve pretty much got it. Complete with crispy bacon, scallions, and cheddar cheese, this potato salad might just pull attention from the game.
Get the Loaded Potato Potato Salad recipe.
Part cheese dip, part meatballs, this skillet dip is not only delicious but a fun activity for the whole family before your tailgate. Gather up your little helpers, wash those hands clean, and get to shaping the mini-meatballs (or feel free to use store-bought if you can find ’em).
Get the Cheesy Mini Meatball Skillet Dip recipe.
Hot tip for these BLT-inspired hot dogs: To ensure the bacon stays wrapped while the dogs cook, secure ends with toothpicks. (Just remember to remove them before serving!)
Get the BLT Dogs recipe.
We make these foil packs for outdoor tailgates where we don’t want to deal with any extra mess. These are especially GREAT for families with picky eaters, since everyone can make their own personalized packet. Serve these straight from the grill, or add buns if you like.
Get the Burger Foil Packs recipe.
We love using muffin tins for genius hacks like this. These kid-friendly “cups” are pieces of white bread that get molded and then filled with a ground beef mixture that tastes just like a cheeseburger. Don’t forget to drizzle with your favorite condiments and top with a pickle chip.
Get the Cheeseburger Cups recipe.
Everyone needs a good pulled pork recipe, and this is the BEST. Insanely tender and loaded with BBQ flavor, you’ll dream about it (sandwiched between a soft potato bun) long after the game is over.
Get the Oven-Roasted Pulled Pork recipe.
This ingenious salad uses uncooked ramen noodles (plus their flavor packet) as croutons. If you’re making for an outdoor tailgate or BBQ, toast the noodles and marinate the cabbage and carrots ahead of time, and then toss everything together right before you head out.
Get the Ramen Noodle Salad recipe.
Turn your favorite chicken Parm into portable, poppable sliders perfect for game day. Betcha can’t eat just one!
Get the Chicken Parm Sliders recipe.
These bars are a cross between Rice Krispies treats and s’mores—and we’re OBSESSED. Swapping the Golden Grahams for Rice Krispies is a serious game changer. We literally bring them to every party, and soon, you will, too.
Get the S’mores Bars recipe.
In our opinion, the crunchier, the better. Which is why pretzels make the perfect chicken coating for these nuggets. The obvious and best dipping sauce? Honey mustard, of course. It’s a MUST.
Get the Sheet Pan Honey Mustard–Pretzel Chicken recipe.
Our slow-cooker white chicken chili couldn’t be easier, and we love the texture it takes on once the beans are partially mashed. It might feel weird to use a potato masher in your slow-cooker, but trust us, it’s worth it! This hearty chili will keep you full all game day long.
Get the Crockpot White Chicken Chili recipe.
On game day, you want something quick and easy — and CHEESY. So give the people what they really want. This twist on nachos comes together in less than 30 minutes and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Get the BBQ Chicken Nachos recipe.
Everyone has opinions about Mexico‘s most famous avocado-based dip: guacamole. Some, like us, keep it simple, while others like to go crazy on the mix-ins: spices, tomatoes, garlic, etc. If that’s your thing, this guacamole is the perfect jumping-off point. Add whatever you like!
Get the Guacamole recipe.
Best Tailgate Food Ideas – Easy Recipes For Tailgating – Delish
Delish editors handpick every product we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page.