Tailgating Recipes
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35 Finger Foods for Game Day Entertaining and Beyond

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Tailgating Recipes
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Party Favorites

Game day party hosts should always be prepared with a menu of easy-to-eat finger foods. These satisfying dishes are simple and cheap to make, ranging in price from about 50 cents a serving for always-fun popcorn or veggie sushi to about $4 a serving for sliders and ribs worth cheering for. Mix and match to come up with an ideal party spread without going over budget. Not into football? Try these 10 Super Bowl Alternatives on game day. 

Related: 12 Cheap Drinks for Game Day

Queso Dip
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Queso Dip

This easy slow-cooker recipe for queso uses just four ingredients. A large batch makes for an instant party hit that's much cheaper than any takeout option.

Recipe: Cookie Rookie 

Pigs in a Blanket
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Pigs in a Blanket

This classic party recipe is quick and easy to prepare with two ingredients: cocktail wieners and crescent rolls. To keep costs extra low, buy ingredients in bulk from a wholesale club such as Costco when making a large batch.

Recipe: Pillsbury

Mexican Layer Dip
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Bean Dip

Beans are cheap and filling, which makes this dip a good option for large, hungry crowds. A classic seven-layer-bean-dip recipe can be adapted for what's on hand and customized to taste. It doesn't even have to be seven layers — a dish of flavorful refried beans with some hot sauce on top does the trick.

Recipe: McCormick

Quesadillas
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Quesadillas

Quesadillas are a favorite game-watching snack and can be made with many different flavor combinations. This recipe for a classic cheese quesadilla is made in the oven to minimize hassle and cleanup. Serve with toppings and fillings of your choice.

Recipe: Add a Pinch

Chicken Meatballs
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Chicken Meatballs

Chicken is less expensive than red meats typically used to make meatballs, and makes for a lighter snack. This recipe uses a slow cooker to make the dish easy. This is an easy make-ahead option that can be kept warm until guests arrive.

Recipe: Chef Savvy 

Guacamole
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Guacamole

Guacamole is a favorite at parties, and one of the most nutritious options in a sea of fried and fatty foods. Using larger Dominican avocados, which are a brighter green and have smoother skin than Mexican Hass avocados, cuts costs. Or shop an ethnic market for good prices on Hass avocados a few days ahead of time, to ensure they have time to ripen.

Recipe: Allrecipes 

Macaroni and Cheese Bites
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Macaroni and Cheese Bites

People have long searched for a way to make mac and cheese a finger food. Rolling it into balls and deep-frying is one option. For a cheaper, hassle-free option, follow a recipe for mac and cheese "cupcakes" — small, handheld portions baked in a muffin pan.

Recipe: Chef in Training 

Carrots and Celery with Dip
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Crudité and Dip

Carrots and celery are inexpensive staples at grocery stores year-round. Combine with a flavorful, cheap, and quick onion and sour cream dip that beats premade mixes. This recipe works well with other veggies, too.

Recipe: Alton Brown 

Party Mix Snack
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Party Mix

Bags of premade party mix come with a ton of sodium, plus an extra cost for convenience. Serve more mix for less money with this recipe — or go freestyle.

Recipe: Chex 

Chips and Salsa
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Popcorn
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Popcorn

Popcorn, salty, and sometimes sweet, is the perfect crunchy food to eat by the handful while watching the big game. Pop super-inexpensive corn the morning of the party and dust with different flavors for a dash of variety.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen 

Spinach Artichoke Dip
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Spinach Artichoke Dip

Using frozen spinach and artichokes makes this recipe simple and cost-effective. Substitute more spinach and skip the artichokes, or vice versa. The cream-cheese base makes a tangy dish that always disappears fast.

Recipe: Alton Brown 

Kale Chips
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Kale Chips

Crunchy chips made from kale are just as satisfying as potato chips. Buying them from the store is costly and often means eating a bag full of preservatives. Follow this recipe to bake easy and inexpensive kale chips at home.

Recipe: Melissa d'Arabian 

Cheese And Cracker Platter
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Cheese and Cracker Platter

This classic party platter has stuck around for a reason: It satisfies with minimal effort and cost. A few types of cheese, such as a block of cheddar, a small wheel of queso fresco, and a wedge of brie, along with a box of crackers makes an easy snack centerpiece at any party.

Recipe: Life as a Strawberry

Vegetable Sushi
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Veggie Sushi

Raw fish can be expensive, intimidating, and potentially dangerous to work with at home, but veggie sushi is fun and easy to make, and costs just pennies per serving. These basic instructions are a good place to start. Make custom specialty rolls and dipping sauces to create a sushi platter as impressive as it is inexpensive.

Recipe: Allrecipes 

Mini Quiche
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Mini Quiche

A classic French dish, quiche is one of the least expensive snacks to make for a crowd, and baking it in mini-muffin tins yields perfectly bite-size, crustless versions. This recipe covers the basics, but feel free to customize with different fillings.

Recipe: Add a Pinch 

Flatbread Pizzas
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Flatbread Pizzas

Rather than order pricey pizza delivery, make pizzas from flatbreads and a variety of toppings. This recipe for a classic Margherita version is a good place to start. Set out bowls of toppings and let people make their own customized pizza.

Recipe: Let the Baking Begin 

Grilled Cheese
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Grilled Cheese

A plate of fresh grilled cheese sandwiches cut into quarters will disappear quickly at any party. This easy-to-eat finger food can be made simply with bread and a few slices of cheese, or spruced up with fillings from bacon to apple to onion jam.

Recipe: Modern Honey

Wings
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Wings

You can hardly gather a group to watch sports without ordering wings, but that adds up. This simple recipe for baked chicken wings makes crispy and tangy wings without fatty frying, and starting with bulk frozen wings is cheap enough to serve guests as many as they want.

Recipe: Bon Appétit 

Chicken Satay Skewers
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Chicken Satay Skewers

Made from inexpensive chicken, these easy dipping skewers are a light option that's full of flavor. Marinating the chicken overnight makes it tender and flavorful, so don't skip that step, but you can make the sauce and even grill the chicken ahead of time; just heat up the skewers before serving.

Recipe: Damn Delicious 

Slow Cooker Sausage and Sauce
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Sausage and Pepper Sliders

Hearty mini sandwiches are impressive yet can be easy to pull off. This sausage and pepper slider recipe cuts down on cost by using inexpensive Italian sausage as the meat with more filler from onions and peppers. Cooked in a large batch and assembled on small buns, they're quick and easy to serve.

Recipe: Taste of Home 

Ribs
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Ribs

Making ribs in the oven is an easy process that fills the kitchen with delicious and tempting aromas. This recipe for baby back ribs takes more than four hours, but they can be prepared easily ahead of time and kept warm in a low-heat oven. Buy in bulk from a wholesale club for quality meat at low prices and feast on ribs all weekend long.

Recipe: Allrecipes 

Stuffed Potato Skins
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Stuffed Potato Skins

One of the best things about potato skins is their adaptability. This version of the irresistible party food features broccoli and avocado cream rather than the more typical bacon and sour cream. Don't feel limited by the given ingredients — add favorite seasonal vegetables or whatever is in the refrigerator. Anything from kale and onions to shredded chicken is guaranteed deliciousness when loaded into a potato skin and topped with cheese.

Recipe: Ellie Krieger 

Jalapeño Cornbread
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Jalapeño Cornbread

Inexpensive to make, cornbread muffins get a kick from jalapeños, which offer just a touch of heat to offset the naturally sweet corn. They cost just a fraction of the price of ribs and chicken but can be just as essential to a game day celebration.

Recipe: Sally's Baking Addiction 

Pulled Pork
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Pulled Pork

Just five ingredients and eight to 10 hands-off hours of slow cooking make piping-hot and indulgent pulled pork. Serve it on slider buns.

Recipe: Southern Living 

Stuffed Jalapenos
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Stuffed Jalapeños

For friends who like their food on the spicy side, bite-size hot peppers are sure to liven up the festivities. Black beans, corn, and cheese come together to make these little poppers.

Recipe: Spicy Southern Kitchen 

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms
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Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Warm finger foods rich with hearty flavors are a surefire way to kick off a party. Pillsbury's take on stuffed mushrooms had one reviewer commenting, "Why have I never thought of this before?!"

Recipe: Pillsbury 

Red Pepper Relish
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Red Pepper Relish

Leave it to Martha Stewart to share a recipe that offers an incredibly simple yet sophisticated take on basic red peppers. This versatile creation can be served with hearty bread or as a sandwich condiment on game day. A batch will last four days in the fridge if prepared in advance.

Recipe: Martha Stewart 

Chicken Eggrolls
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Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls

Egg roll wrappers and cabbage are cheap ingredients. Mixed with other vegetables, pork, and seasonings, they become a satisfying treat. Use ground pork to keep costs low.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen 

Baked Carrot Fries
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Healthy Baked Carrot Fries

Craving french fries? Perhaps you'll settle for carrot "fries" once you taste this clever and healthy baked treat that comes together in a total of 30 minutes.

Recipe: 2teaspoons 

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates
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Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

Yes, bacon is always a favorite, but the flavors of this recipe take things up another level. While the creator suggests you mix and match, we're loving the suggested blue cheese, Brazil nut, and cashew option.

Recipe: The Healthy Foodie 

Cupcakes
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Cupcakes

A simple cupcake adds the right amount of indulgence to a party centered on finger foods. This recipe can make regular cupcakes or minis that are easy to pop in your mouth in one bite. Decorate them for the event to be extra festive.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen 

Cookies
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Cookies

These basic sugar cookies make a cheap and easy dessert that can be turned into themed, shaped goodies for any occasion. For instance, use an oval-shaped cookie cutter and decorate football cookies with icing laces.

Recipe: Allrecipes 

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas
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Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas

Ice cream for a crowd can be messy, but make-ahead, chocolate-covered banana bites are a tasty and cheap treat that will be enjoyed just as much.

Recipe: Epicurious 

Oreo cookie mousse ice-cream in edible cup
Oreo cookie mousse ice-cream in edible cup by the Baker & the School (None)