Make-Ahead Game-Day Recipes That Will Make You the MVP

Cookies and Cream Cookies
Photo: Blaine Moats

Game-changer: Many of the best game-day recipes can be made ahead of time, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the action. Draft any or all of our MVP make-ahead football foods onto your party line-up, including a versatile game-day wings recipe, cozy casseroles, game-day chili recipes, crowd-pleasing brownies, and spirited punches.

01 of 25

Chicken Wings Five Ways

Chicken Wings Five Ways
Jason Donnelly

Load up your slow cooker with wings before your fellow cheerleaders arrive and crank up the heat to high for two hours. At halftime, broil the game-day wings recipe and toss with one of our five sauce options (we're partial to the smoky barbecue). The ultimate halftime entertainment is of the edible variety, don't you think?

02 of 25

One-Pot Cuban-Style Barbecue Pulled Pork

Cuban-Style Barbecue Pulled Pork sandwiches
Adam Albright

This football Sunday recipe looks like a classic pulled pork sandwich. But it tastes a lot like a pressed Cuban sandwich, thanks to pickles and mustard in the mix. Prep it in your slow cooker (10 hours on low or 5 hours on high) for a low-stress feast.

03 of 25

Pickle Poppers

Pickle Poppers
Hannah Bigot

The original recipe calls for cooking these poppers, but this game-day recipe is just as good wrapped, rolled, and eaten chilled. Up to two hours before your party, assemble the cheese-stuffed pickles, layer on the ham and jalapeño jam, and refrigerate until party time. (Simply skip step three in the instructions.)

Buy It: Tastefully Simple Sweet Pepper Jalapeño Jam ($14, Amazon)

04 of 25

Texas Chuck Roast Chili

Texas Chuck Roast Chili
Jason Donnelly

This meaty, spicy game-day chili recipe is the perfect pairing for a gridiron match, be it professional, collegiate, or a heated high school rivalry. Featuring a whopping three pounds of hearty beef chuck roast, this satisfying dish will fuel your home team for all four quarters. It preps conveniently in your slow cooker—or pressure cooker if you're crunched for time.

05 of 25

Deep-Dish Cheeseburger Pizza Casserole

Deep-Dish Cheeseburger Pizza Casserole
Jacob Fox

If you're struggling to decide between deep-dish pizza or cheeseburgers, turn to this prep-ahead casserole. It combines the best elements of both into one make-ahead game-day recipe. Pizza crust, sauce, sausage, and toppings team up with beef, cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Best of all, you can build the 12-serving feast up to 3 months before the big game and keep it on ice.

06 of 25

Tangy Molasses Barbecue Ribs

tangy molasses barbecue ribs
Blaine Moats

A sweet and spicy dry rub combined with a low-and-slow 10-hour braise in the slow cooker and a zingy homemade barbecue sauce glaze makes these saucy pork ribs irresistible. Time it so they finish cooking right around the time guests arrive. Then all that's left to do to complete the make-ahead Super Bowl food feast is to slice into individual ribs and serve with extra sauce. Don't forget plenty of napkins.

07 of 25

Fluffernutter Dessert Hummus

Fluffernutter Dessert Hummus
Hannah Bigot

Just like a well-trained athlete, this dessert dip gets better with a bit of time. With chickpeas and peanut butter boosting the protein level, this snack sneaks in a bit of nutrition alongside the sweet marshmallow crème and chocolate. Blitz it up in your food processor a couple hours before the game, then chill the make-ahead game-day food until the coin toss.

08 of 25

BBQ Chicken-Pineapple Pizza

BBQ Chicken-Pineapple Pizza
Blaine Moats

This semi-homemade slow cooker pizza beats delivery every time. Bonus: It makes your whole house smell incredible, too. Stack thawed store-bought pizza dough high with barbecue sauce, rotisserie chicken, cheese, and pineapple and "bake" the game-day slow-cooker recipe for a few hours during the pregame party.

09 of 25

Peppery Italian Beef Sandwiches

Peppery Italian Beef Sandwiches
Andy Lyons

Wake up and pregame in style to cut down on party time stress. This football Sunday recipe is designed to simmer in the slow cooker 10 to 12 hours, which ensures flavorful, tender beef. Or for a mid-day match-up, set and forget the beef mixture overnight, then turn to "keep warm" to keep the succulent sandwich filling toasty until you need it.

10 of 25

Chocolate Almond Butter Fruit Dip

Chocolate Almond Butter Fruit Dip
Andy Lyons

Beat the clock with this 15-minute nutty Greek yogurt dip. If that's not quick enough for you, blend the game-day recipe up to 24 hours prior to kickoff and store it in the fridge until it's time for a healthy-ish snack or dessert. Pair with sturdy pieces or slices of fruit, or our fave: graham cracker sticks.

11 of 25

Sangria

Sangria
Jason Donnelly

Punch recipes are ideal for parties so you can focus on the game and your guests instead of playing mixologist. We're particularly fond of this fruity red sangria since it gets tastier and more infused as it chills for up to 24 hours. Top off each serving of this make-ahead game-day recipe with a splash of lemon-lime soda or sparkling water just before taking the first sip.

12 of 25

Make-Ahead Taco Salad Cups

Make-Ahead Taco Salad Cups
Karla Conrad

No need to order tacos for delivery. Plan ahead on a day you have a few extra minutes to get a jump on this crowd-pleasing make-ahead football food option. Sauté up the turkey topping and bake the cute little tortilla bowls, then freeze them both for up to three months so you're never too far away from a handheld snack. Then it's just a matter of warming and loading on the veggies and cheese.

13 of 25

Cookies and Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies
Blaine Moats

Do you root for the chocolate cookie or the creamy filling? Both share the stage in these kid-friendly sugar cookies that can be baked in advance and stored at room temp for three days (or frozen for months). To make this game-day recipe even better, serve it ice cream sandwich-style with a scoop of vanilla, chocolate, or cookies and cream ice cream tucked between two cookies.

14 of 25

Bacon-Wrapped Smokies

Bacon-Wrapped Smokies
Blaine Moats

Sweet, salty, and utterly delicious, these sugary meat skewers won't last long at your game-day buffet. We recommend making a double batch of this toothpick appetizer. Assemble the uncooked game-day recipe up to 24 hours before kickoff, then store in the fridge until you're ready to bake them.

15 of 25

Chicken Cobb Wraps

Chicken Cobb Wraps
Blaine Moats

If you're tailgating, this wrap recipe is always a solid play. The make-ahead game-day food idea takes less than half an hour to prep—which you can do up to 24 hours early—and yields eight servings. Just like the classic diner salad, the filling includes chicken (we call for the rotisserie variety to save time), hard-boiled egg, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, and blue cheese. The easy green onion aioli is like a spreadable twist on green goddess dressing. Score!

16 of 25

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
Andy Lyons

Kick off your sporty party with a revamped classic: onion dip. Caramelizing the onions infuses sweet, rich flavor in this creamy spread. This is another make-ahead game-day recipe that actually gets better with time; the garlicky onions really permeate every last scoop of the sour cream mixture once it chills for 24 hours.

17 of 25

Mini Margherita Pizzas

Mini Margherita Pizzas
Kritsada Panichgul

Snack-sized pies? Sign us up. If you slice up the sneakily-store-bought crusts into squares the day before, then this is just a matter of topping and baking for 10 minutes. No wonder it's one of our best game-day recipes, according to BH&G For an interactive, customizable nosh, set out sauce, cheese, and garnish options for a BYOP (build your own pizza) snack break.

18 of 25

Slow Cooker Beer Bread

Slow Cooker Beer Bread
Jason Donnelly

Chances are you have a case of beer around for game day. Steal a bottle from the stash to stir up this hearty slow cooker bread that essentially cooks itself. A slice or two of this game-day slow cooker recipe makes for a perfect teammate alongside any dip or soup on the party spread.

19 of 25

Cinnamon Nuts

Cinnamon Nuts
Andy Lyons

Two weeks. Nope, that's not the time until the championship game or until there's another overtime match. That's how far ahead you can prepare this make-ahead game-day food idea so you can plan ahead and nibble on the cinnamon-spiced walnuts or pecans all playoff season long.

20 of 25

All-American Sloppy Joes

All-American Sloppy Joes
Jason Donnelly

Dish out all-American flavor for the biggest game(s) of the year. The zingy tomato sauce is key: We call for mixing in molasses, mustard, hot pepper sauce, and even beer! To get a headstart on this game-day slow-cooker recipe, marinate the cooked meat mixture in a bag overnight with all the additional ingredients, then dump the contents in your cooker in the morning.

21 of 25

Fudgy Football Brownies

Fudgy Football Brownies
Andy Lyons

No make-ahead football food menu would be complete with at least one pigskin-inspired dish. And these rich chocolate brownies deliver—while being a breeze to DIY. You can make 'em three days in advance and store in your fridge. Or, for the hard-core party planners, freeze them for up to three months.

22 of 25

Roasted Corn and Crab Dip

Roasted Corn and Crab Dip
Jason Donnelly

"I made this as my contribution to a large party. Of all the things there, this is what the hostess got the most rave reviews on. I'll be making it again for sure," raves one BH&G home cook. Treat your guests to a fan-favorite dip filled with smoky roasted corn, jalapeño-spiked Monterey Jack, and luscious crabmeat. Chill the craveable game-day recipe up to 24 hours before baking the hot dip to bubbly perfection.

23 of 25

Simple Stromboli

Simple Stromboli
Andy Lyons

Deli sandwiches are fine game-day fare, but golden-brown stromboli slices? That's make-ahead football food done in style. Layer in turkey, ham, spinach, olives, and cheese for a handheld entrée that will leave your pals cheering, regardless of the play on the field.

24 of 25

The Porcupine

Porcupine drink
Andy Lyons

Keep the peace with this make-ahead game-day recipe. Since it's spiked with both pale ale and Prosecco, beer and wine fans will cheer about this tropical fruit punch. Make the pineapple-rosemary shrub up to two days early, then invite the spirits come party time.

Buy It: Edward Pitcher ($40, Williams Sonoma)

25 of 25

Saucy Apricot 'n' Spiced Meatballs

Saucy Apricot-Spiced Meatballs
Jason Donnelly

These aren't your ordinary meatballs. Bits of dried apricots mixed into these tender, sauce-coated meatballs add an extra dose of bright, fruity flavor. The fact that they're make-ahead is just a sweet bonus.

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