Make-Ahead Game-Day Recipes

Game-changer: These recipes worthy of the big game can all be made ahead of time, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the action! We've got your all-star party-food lineup, including dips, sandwiches, chili, meatballs, brownies, and even punch.

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  • 1 of 33

    Chicken Wings Five Ways

    Load up your slow cooker with chicken wings before your fellow cheerleaders arrive and crank up the heat to high for two hours. At halftime, broil the wings 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!

  • 2 of 33

    Jalapeno Popper Dip

    Fried poppers won’t make it through the game without getting soggy, but this creamy bacon and jalapeno slow cooker dip can stay on warm for hours. Scoop it up with pepper strips, tortilla chips, or, you know, a spoon.

  • pickle poppers 3 of 33

    Pickle Poppers

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

  • hummus, side, appetizer,  
4 of 33

    Fluffernutter Dessert Hummus

    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 creme and chocolate. Blend it up a couple hours before the game, then chill until you plan the coin toss.

  • Slow Cooker Beer Bread 5 of 33

    Slow Cooker Beer Bread

    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, then pair a slice or two with any dip or soup on the party spread.

  • 6 of 33

    Mini Margherita Pizzas

    Slice up the crusts up to a day ahead, then this easy app is just a matter of top and bake for 10 minutes. Lay out sauce, cheese, and garnish options for a BYOP (build your own pizza) snack break.

  • Tangy Molasses Barbecue Ribs 7 of 33

    Tangy Molasses Barbecue Ribs

    A sweet and spicy dry rub combined with a low-and-slow 10-hour braise in the slow cooker and a zingy barbecue glaze makes these saucy pork ribs irresistible. Time it so they finish cooking right around the time guests arrive, slice into individual ribs, and serve with extra sauce (and plenty of napkins).

  • 4 Ways With Waffle Pops 8 of 33

    Waffle Pops Four Ways

    Snack on a different waffle pop creation each quarter! You have allegiance to one team, but we bet you won't be able to pick your No. 1 among the waffle toppings: s'mores, PB&J, birthday cake, and cereal milk. All are winners! Cook the waffles the morning of the big game, then stack 'em high and set near an assembly line of drizzles and sprinkles.

  • BBQ Chicken-Pineapple Pizza 9 of 33

    Barbecue Chicken-Pineapple Pizza

    This semi-homemade slow cooker pizza beats delivery every time—and makes your whole house smell amazing! Stack thawed store-bought dough high with barbecue sauce, rotisserie chicken, cheese, and pineapple and “bake” it for a few hours during the pregame party.

  • 10 of 33

    Chocolate Almond Butter Fruit Dip

    Beat the clock with this 15-minute nutty Greek yogurt dip. If that's not quick enough for you, blend it up the day before the game and store in the fridge until it's time to kick off.

  • 11 of 33

    Sangria

    Punches are perfect 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. Coach revelers to top off each serving with a splash of lemon-lime soda or sparkling water just before taking the first sip.

  • 12 of 33

    Make-Ahead Taco Salad Cups

    Saute up 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 Mexican snack. Then it's just a matter of warming and loading on the veggies and cheese.

  • Cookies and Cream Cookies, cookies, chocolate, dessert 13 of 33

    Cookies and Cream Cookies

    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).

  • 14 of 33

    Bacon-Wrapped Smokies

    Sweet, salty, and utterly delicious, these sugary meat skewers won't last long at your game-day buffet. We recommend making a double batch—just store the uncooked skewers in your fridge up to 24 hours before you bake them!

  • 15 of 33

    No-Bake Energy Poppers

    Stay well-fueled throughout the match with these whole grain oat bites. They're loaded with dried fruit and nuts for energy. Roll up a tray-full up to a week ahead. They’re bite-size so you won’t need to take a timeout to enjoy a popper and the plays on screen all at once.

  • 16 of 33

    Caramelized Onion Dip

    Kick off your game-day party with a revamped classic: onion dip! Caramelizing the onions infuses sweet, rich flavor in this creamy spread—and you can make it 24 hours ahead of time, too.

  • 17 of 33

    Spicy Cuban Flank Steak

    Love sliders for game-day noshing? These zippy, relish-topped steak rolls elevate sliders to gourmet levels, and they're a breeze to prepare ahead! Just marinate the spice-rubbed meat in a bag the night before and transfer the contents to your slow cooker in the morning.

  • 18 of 33

    Chili-Style Salsa

    Every game-day get-together needs a bowl of chips and salsa. What makes this salsa unique is its fill of black beans and chili powder for a pop of flavor. Make this yummy salsa in advance, and can it for game days to come.

  • Cinnamon Nuts, nuts, cinnamon, walnuts 
19 of 33

    Cinnamon Nuts

    Two weeks! That's how far ahead you can bake up these cinnamon-spiced walnuts and pecans, so you can plan ahead and nibble on them all playoff season long.

  • 20 of 33

    Pizza Poppers

    These mushroom-based pizza poppers are a perfect bite-size appetizer for the big game. To make ahead, prepare as directed through Step 2 of the recipe. Cover and chill mushrooms and sausage mixture separately up to 8 hours and grill as directed.

  • 21 of 33

    All-American Sloppy Joes

    Dish out all-American flavor for the biggest game of the year. The delish tomato sauce is key: We mixed in molasses, mustard, hot pepper sauce, and even beer! To make it ahead in your slow cooker, just marinate the cooked meat mixture in a bag overnight with all the additional ingredients, then dump the contents in your cooker in the morning. Easy-peasy!

  • 22 of 33

    Creme de Menthe Brownies

    Add a little boozy decadence to the dessert platter with these ganache-topped brownies layered with rich creme de menthe filling. 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!

  • 23 of 33

    Roasted Corn and Crab Dip

    Treat your football party guests to a truly amazing dip filled with smoky roasted corn, jalapeno-spiked Monterey Jack, and sweet luscious crabmeat. Chill it up to 24 hours before baking to bubbly deliciousness.

  • 24 of 33

    Simple Stromboli

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

  • 25 of 33

    Beef and Black Bean Chili

    What's a football game without a meaty, spicy batch of chili? This satisfying version featuring hearty black beans as well as beef preps conveniently in your slow cooker and then freezes like a dream—up to two months ahead, if you'd like!

  • 26 of 33

    Peppery Italian Beef Sandwiches

    Sitting in the slow cooker for 10 to 12 hours ensures flavorful, tender beef, and these peppered Italian beef sandwiches prove it. Make the beef mixture and let it cook overnight. After cooking, simply keep the beef in your slow cooker on warm until ready to serve.

  • 27 of 33

    Pecan-Crusted Mojito Bars

    Your game-day guests will recognize the flavors of this booze-inspired dessert as soon as they bite in. Layer these minty lime bars between waxed paper to keep 'em moist, and they'll stay delish in your fridge for up to a week before your football party.

  • 28 of 33

    The Porcupine

    Beer and wine fans will cheer about this fruit punch that features pale ale and Prosecco. Make the pineapple-rosemary shrub up to two days before the bash, then spike it with beer and wine come party time.

  • 29 of 33

    Taco-Stuffed Peppers

    Jump on the stuffed peppers trend train with a flavorful beef taco filling. Make the beef mixture beforehand, and store in the refrigerator overnight before filling and baking the peppers the next day.

  • 30 of 33

    Chorizo-Pepper Hand Pies

    First we whipped up a cheesy mixture of chorizo sausage, tender peppers, and salty queso fresco; then we stuffed it in puff pastry rounds for portability. Keep a stash of these savory hand pies in your freezer for game time—or any time, really!

  • 31 of 33

    Saucy Apricot 'n' Spiced Meatballs

    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.

  • 32 of 33

    Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies

    A gentle swirl of a knife transforms brownie and cheesecake batters into an indulgent marbled bar that your crowd will go wild over. And we do mean crowd—one batch of brownies serves 42!

  • Next Slideshow Irresistible & Easy Pizza Recipes

    Irresistible & Easy Pizza Recipes

    Forget delivery! These homemade pizza recipes are so much better than bought -- and they're just right for a family dinner or a get-together with friends.
    Begin Slideshow »
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