Divine Dinner Party

Football Tailgating Menus, Recipes and Food Ideas

When the professional football season is upon us, tailgating menus become the subject of much discussion! At least, if your home is anything like mine.

Tailgate Party Time- Tailgating Menu
More and more each year, tailgating (and making fabulous tailgating food!) has become a culture unto itself-- one that draws thousands of people into a parking lot, each of which bearing their "specialty" feasts. Some of the tools for tailgating have become as cherished as a secret family recipe. In fact, tailgating food has become a pretty profitable industry, with some items (like grills and supplies) costing thousands of dollars.

Now, that's serious business!

Who Does Tailgating?

Tailgating is, of course, all about watching the game! Or is it?

It seems that a lot of people who attend tailgate parties are there only for the food and socialization! Estimates say that about a third of those who come to a tailgate event never go into the stadium to see the game. Which can actually be a good thing. Even people who don't have tickets to see that game can come and enjoy your fabulous food and tailgating menu.

What Kind of Tailgating Party are You Planning?

The kind of tailgate menus you can pull off will probably be based on these three elements:

  • 1. The equipment you have available
  • 2. The space in your vehicle for equipment and food
  • 3. The weather on gameday

Supplies for Making Tailgating Food

If you walk through a tailgate party site, you'll see everything from the tiniest hibachi to a full size smoker and satellite dishes.

Don't even have a portable grill? If you do some preparation at home, you don't need tons of equipment to have fun and great food. You don't even need anything to heat food up if you don't want to-- tailgating menus can be like a glorified picnic if that's what you want.

The main concern with tailgate menus --both hot and cold-- is, of course, food safety. Please be sure you have an adequate way of keeping food cold, and cooking it thoroughly if you plan on cooking out for a tailgate party.

Tailgating Food and Recipe Planning

Grilling at a tailgate party

Now that you've got an idea of the scope of your tailgate party, it's time to put together your tailgating recipes and menu. You can do one big meal, if you like, or you can spread the food out into courses. Have fun with it, and most of all... keep it casual.

There are people out there who do gourmet tailgating menus, and they're wonderful... but no matter how fancy your food might be, keep the service of it casual and fun.

Tailgating Recipes for Appetizers

Appetizers and finger foods are a nearly perfect tailgate food. Why? Because they're as portable as the party itself. You can grab an item and keep mingling, socializing and checking out everyone's layout. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Marinated Mushroom Appetizer for a Tailgating Menu

This is such a great tailgating snack recipe to have all ready and cook on the grill.

1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions: 1. To make the marinade for the mushrooms, take extra virgin olive oil red wine vinegar. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and oregano.

2. Put this into a food storage bag.

3. Thread each mushroom onto a sprig of rosemary (spearing the mushroom first with a wooden skewer makes it easier).

4. Place mushrooms in a bag to marinate. Then you can just grab and go, grilling the mushrooms on site.

Main and Side Dish Ideas for Tailgating Menus

To make putting together your tailgating food as easy as possible, I suggest doing as much preparation on your main dish at home as possible. Coat your steaks, set up the surf and turf sticks, brine the chicken, form your burgers and so forth.

If you're only bringing a small grill, I'd also suggest that you offer a max of three grilled options, and a few cold options. This will make space on the grill while still giving hungry eaters plenty of variety.

You can find some great all-American tailgating recipe ideas at:

Or think of adding some of the great foods below to your tailgating menu. Play around with different combinations of foods and ideas... have fun with it!

Tailgating Main Dishes

Tailgating Side Dishes

Side dishes should be ones that you can easily fit on your grill or that you can serve cold right out of the cooler. If everything on your tailgating menu has to be cooked, you'll quickly be overwhelmed! Try out:

Five Bean Salad Recipe for a Tailgate Party

Bean salad is a very durable, tasty, and easy addition to your tailgate menus.

Bean Salad for a BBQ or Tailgating menuIngredients:
1 C. cooked white beans
1 C. cooked kidney beans
1 C. cooked yellow beans
1 C. cooked green beans
1 C. cooked garbanzo beans
1 C. frozen corn, thawed
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp. celery ceed
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/4 C. white vinegar

Instructions: 1.Take each white beans, red kidney beans, yellow beans, green beans, garbanzo beans and corn and place in a large, easy-to-transport salad bowl.

2. To this add red onion, mustard seed, celery seed, sugar, and white vinegar.

3. For the best flavor leave this in your refrigerator over night before the game.

Desserts for a Tailgating Menu

Choosing a dessert or five to finish up your tailgating menu is generally pretty easy-- there are lots of good options out there, and almost all of them can be made ahead. Some of my favorite tailgating desserts are:

Tailgating Menus and Parties in American History

Historically speaking, tailgate parties probably began with college football – particularly after game celebrations taking place adjacent to the field. Nonetheless, this wasn't he first time people thought about making food vehicle-based and mobile. Look to the Texas Chuck wagon scene as but one example where the kitchens would have made some modern tailgaters green with envy.

By the 1980s the tailgate party had become an American institution nearly as traditional as apple pie. People were now traveling from town to town, dragging their grills behind them. As people reach their parking spot, a flag illustrating that family or group may be hung, and everyone sets out to get the equipment in place. Soon the air is filled with rich smells of all those wonderful tailgating menus cooking and being enjoyed...

Free Newsletter and Monthly Downloads

Crock Pot Crockpot Dinner RecipesSign up for my free newsletter, and get a free e-cookbook or other fun download sent right to your inbox every month. Plus, you'll get access to all kinds of goodies you won't find on the website!

Want your download now? You'll get a free Crockpot Cooking eCookbook just for signing up!

Sign up below.




I won't sell your email, spam you, or do
anything else to make you hate me. Seriously.


You Might Also Like...

Planning a big tailgating party for the game? We've got lots of ideas for recipes and menus for a tailgate. Check out:

Barbeque Recipe Ideas


Picnic Recipes

Tailgate Party

Coming Up...

Hippity, Hoppity,
Easter's on its Way

The date for Easter falls on April 20th this year!

Take a look at Easter Dinner and Party Planning for recipes, edd dye tips, assembling Easter baskets, and more!

And plan to make this adorable...

It's so cute, it may be the best thing you do this Easter.


Share and share alike! If you have a great dinner party idea or tip, send it in!

After all, what better way to pass on your knowledge than to share it with other hosts and hostesses?

| Homepage | What's New at DDP | Contact Us | Privacy Policy |

Return to top

Copyright© 2007-2015 by Divine Dinner Party.com.  All rights reserved.