17 Winning Tailgate Recipes for the Ultimate Game Day Spread

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All-American Barbecue Chicken
Photo: Peter Krumhardt

When it comes to sports, there's nothing like accompanying your cheering section with some amazing tailgate food. Of course, grilling burgers and hot dogs are classic, but there's so much more to offer. Here you'll find a slew of tailgate recipes including irresistible homemade dips, finger-lickin' good barbecue, and even tailgate desserts. Kick off a championship party season with this winning mix of tailgate recipes.

01 of 17

Bonanza Bean Dip

Bonanza Bean Dip
Colleen Duffley

Start pre-game festivities by scooping up this Southwestern-style munchie. Lime-and-jalapeño-spiced guacamole is the hidden surprise in this favorite standby. Don't forget seasoned chips or baked tortillas for digging in.

02 of 17

Best-Ever Burgers

Best-Ever Burgers
Karla Conrad

Burgers are the ultimate tailgate food and we've got you covered with this top-rated recipe. The key to making the tastiest grilled burgers is not overworking the mix and keeping the seasonings simple to let the meat shine. We can smell these juicy burgers on the grill already.

03 of 17

Pickle Poppers

Pickle Poppers
Hannah Bigot

Finger foods served cool (rather than heated up) make the best tailgate snacks. This tangy tribute to jalapeño poppers stuffs baby dill pickles, cream cheese, cheddar, and some diced hot peppers. A slice of deli meat completes the package.

04 of 17

Tangy Sour Cream and Onion Dip

Tangy Sour Cream and Onion Dip
Carson Downing

Skip the store-bought tub and give your friends a dip that will get the party started. This must-have tailgate food brings plenty of tang with sour cream, mayo, and Greek yogurt in the mix. It obviously goes great with chips and veggies, but you could also try it as a burger topper. Make ahead and store up to 24 hours in advance.

Buy It: Tailgating Table with Insulated Cooler ($50, Amazon)

05 of 17

Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
Blaine Moats

Slow cookers are perfect for making delicious tailgate food with ease. Pork sirloin roast is cooked to perfection and drowned in a zippy sauce made of reduced root beer, garlic, and chili sauce. Add a few dashes of hot sauce for a kick.

06 of 17

Ranch Potato Chip Snack Mix

Ranch Potato Chip Snack Mix spilling out of red containers on green background
Carson Downing

You can't cheer on your team without a slew of tailgate snacks. Skip the bagged stuff and create a homemade snack mix flavored with America's favorite dressing—ranch! This tailgating recipe (which serves 24 people) combines both regular potato and sweet potato chips, rye chips, pretzels, and mixed nuts. Coated in a butter-ranch mix, you might need to make more than one batch.

07 of 17

Rootin'-Tootin' Hot Dogs

Rootin'-Tootin' Hot Dogs
Blaine Moats

What better way to make plain hot dogs stand out than with a homemade sauce. Our rootin' tootin' tailgate recipe combines root beer, onion, ketchup, vinegar, and spices for a stellar topping. (Make the sauce a day in advance to save time.) Come tailgate day, grill your favorite franks or brats. Serve with that rich, tangy sauce and all the toppings you desire.

Buy It: Coleman RoadTrip 225 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill ($224, Amazon)

08 of 17

All-American Barbecue Chicken

All-American Barbecue Chicken
Peter Krumhardt

Get a head start on the game day menu by prepping one of our best tailgate recipes for the grill the night before. The chicken soaks up a ton of flavor from the homemade marinade. Tote the meaty chicken pieces to the game and grill to perfection. Serve with the homemade barbecue sauce for a finger-lickin' good meal.

Buy It: LUNCIA Insulated Casserole Carrier for Hot or Cold Food ($23, Amazon)

09 of 17

Easy Monster Cookie Bars

Easy Monster Cookie Bars
Jason Donnelly

If you have 30 minutes, you'll be able to get this irresistible treat ready for game time. We kept the ingredient count low here thanks to purchased refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough. Stirring in candy-coated chocolate pieces, some oats, and peanuts (optional), you've got a seriously delicious tailgate dessert on your hands.

Buy It: OXO Good Grips Freezer-to-Oven Safe 3-Quart Glass Baking Dish with Lid ($23, Amazon)

10 of 17

Pull-Apart Piggy Bread

Pull-Apart Piggy Bread
Matthew Clark

Say hello to your new favorite way to enjoy hot dogs at your tailgate party. Instead of toting the dogs, buns, and the fixings to the game, wrap them up like pigs in a blanket with pickles for the relish taste. Bake them monkey bread-style in a fluted pan and serve with ketchup and mustard.

Buy It: Fluted Cake Pan ($13, Walmart)

11 of 17

Ultimate Brownies

Ultimate Brownies
Andy Lyons

You can't go wrong with these tailgate desserts. Our brownies are worthy of their "ultimate" title due to the use of two kinds of chocolate (dark chocolate pieces and unsweetened chocolate squares. If you're feeling extra indulgent, try one of the stir-in ideas such as wine-soaked fruit or ground ancho chile powder.

12 of 17

Mix 'N' Match Chicken Wings

Mix 'N' Match Chicken Wings
Andy Lyons

Get the napkins ready! This messy, yet super delicious grilled tailgate recipe was created to serve a crowd. Our customizable wing sauce and dip variations allow you to make five to six pounds of wings just the way you like. Make them up to 24 hours in advance to have them ready for a quick 20-minute go on the grill before game time.

Buy It: Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill ($71, Amazon)

13 of 17

Easy Tailgating Punch

Easy Tailgating Punch
Jason Donnelly

For a family-friendly tailgate drink to go alongside the cooler of beer, make a batch of this tangy punch. All you need is a couple of cans of juice concentrate, ginger beer, and ice and you've got a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage to wash down those burgers and hot dogs. Add some orange slices to the pitcher for extra eye appeal.

14 of 17

Chicken Bratwurst and Onions with Broccoli Slaw Salad

Chicken Bratwurst Onions Broccoli Slaw Salad
Jacob Fox

No grill? No problem! This easy tailgate recipe for bratwurst bypasses lighting up the grill and gets them nice and juicy in the slow cooker. Broccoli slaw tossed in a homemade buttermilk dressing makes the perfect fresh topper.

15 of 17

Game Day Chili

Game Day Chili
Andy Lyons

This tailgate chili recipe will definitely get high scores from everyone. Rather than a mix of dry spices, this tailgate recipe features a puree of chile peppers, beef broth, and dried plums (yes, prunes!) for an unforgettable flavor base. A bit of smoked paprika and bittersweet chocolate are added to give the slow cooker tailgate food a rich, smoky flavor.

Buy It: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook and Carry Programmable Slow Cooker ($117, Amazon)

16 of 17

Football Cookie Dough Pops

bunch of football cookie dough pops
Hannah Bigot

One bite of this fun tailgate dessert will have everyone yelling "touchdown!" The edible cookie dough pops are made from a gluten-free mix of oats and almond or coconut flour. (Make sure your oats are marked gluten-free for anyone with allergy restrictions.) Complete the easy tailgate snack by dipping in melted chocolate and pipe on white chocolate laces.

Test Kitchen Tip: No piping bag? Simply add melted chocolate to a plastic storage bag and snip off the tip.

17 of 17

Million Dollar Dip Pockets

million dollar dip pockets
Rachel Marek

If the cheesy, bacony, mayo-filled dip is your tailgate food of choice, just wait until you try this creative take. By stuffing it into a homemade flaky dough, your favorite rich dip instantly turns into a portable snack. If you somehow happen to end up with leftovers, you can easily recrisp them in your air fryer.

Buy It: Farberware 3.2-Quart Digital Air Fryer($39, Walmart)

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