30 Tailgating Recipes To Feed a Crowd On Game Day

By   

View as:

Tailgating snacks including hot wings, pigs in a blanket, queso, and chips
Photo credit: mphillips007/istockphoto

FOR THE WIN

For many, food is one of the most important parts of the ritual of tailgating, and for others, it's the only part that matters. These delicious, easy, and cost-efficient recipes will help you feed your group of friends and family. Most recipes don't require plates or cutlery to keep the focus on the camaraderie and the game rather than the dishes. From savory to sweet, and of course boozy, there's something for every kind of game day party.
Hot wings
Photo credit: Fudio/istockphoto

WINGS

Is it even game day if there are no wings? Traditional wings are fried to get crispy on the outside before being sauced, but this recipe yields crisp wings by baking, which means you save money on oil needed for deep frying, and time and hassle by putting a large batch in the oven. Use both racks for one massive batch to take with you.

Recipe: Inspired Taste

Soft beef taco
Photo credit: ahirao_photo/istockphoto

TACOS

Serving tacos to a crowd is all about setting up the taco bar. Even off the bed of a pick up truck, it's easy to have tortillas, protein, and a few fixings to assemble and eat. Keeping all the toppings in one container makes it easier to manage containers and lids.

Recipe: Style Blueprint

Nacho Casserole
Photo credit: MSPhotographic/istockphoto

NACHO CASSEROLE

Turn this game day essential into a tailgating hit by repurposing the flavors of nachos into a casserole. Rather than foregoing nachos altogether, enjoy the flavors in a one-pan dish that will only get better as it sits and the flavors meld.

Recipe: Delish

Queso with chips
Photo credit: Karimala/istockphoto

QUESO

Everyone loves the idea of eating queso, but the idea of making it in small batches to keep up with demand can be a hassle. Using a slow cooker to make a large batch all at once makes it a no-brainer to bring to your next tailgate party.

Recipe: Brown Eyed Baker

Pigs in a Blanket
Photo credit: radebg/istockphoto

PIGS IN A BLANKET

The ultimate party food, this classic is always the first appetizer to disappear. The key to making them quick and easy to churn out is by using whole sausages and cutting them, rather than wrapping individual small weenies. This also saves on dough, while ensuring the perfect ratio in each bite.

Recipe: Beantown Baker

Chili with cheddar cheese
Photo credit: Fudio/istockphoto

CHILI

Chili is comfort food at its best, and no one does chili quite like Texas. There's plenty of room for experimentation, but when serving a large group, it's always safe to go for the classic meat-based style of chili. One perk is that you can make it in advance, and it will only get better as it sits.

Recipe: Hormel Chili Cookoff

Chicken quesadillas
Photo credit: Sapunovaphoto/istockphoto

QUESADILLAS

If you're not careful, making quesadillas can turn into a full time job while the game goes on and you are stuck flipping cheesy tortillas. Take a tip from the pros and cook a batch of them all at once in the oven. You'll get gooey centers and outsides that stay crisp for hours.

Recipes: Recipe Tin Eats

Cheeseburger sliders
Photo credit: rez-art/istockphoto

ONE-PAN SLIDERS

Mini burgers are delightful, which is why this recipe that allows you to make a dozen at once with a mostly hands-off process is a dream come true. By baking the meat in a pan, rather than grilling individual patties, you save time and keep the juiciness inside the meat. Once assembled, pack in foil to keep them warm.

Recipe: Host The Toast

Onion dip with potato chips
Photo credit: caelmi/istockphoto

ONION DIP

The longer it sits, the better the flavor gets, which makes this an easy make-ahead dish. Since opening a bag of chips is super easy, be sure to make enough of this dip to last even if the game goes into overtime. Leftover dip can always be used later to add flavor to simple weeknight meals.

Recipe: The Pioneer Woman

Bowls of flavored popcorn
Photo credit: LauriPatterson/istockphoto

POPCORN TRIO

Moderating snacking and calorie intake is not the goal of game-day noshing, but it can help to work in a few lighter options, at least to save room for dessert if nothing else. Flavored popcorn is easy to make in the hours before the game and set out in large portions for an easy quick fix.

Recipe: The Kitchenthusiast

Snack mix
Photo credit: LauriPatterson/istockphoto

BACON SNACK MIX

Essentially an excuse to munch on bacon, bacon snack mix makes a crunchy and satisfying delivery of big flavors in casual form. A few seasonings plus the regular cast of characters in snack mix, and of course, crisp baked bacon make this easy to whip up. Mixing the bacon in with other ingredients gets more bang for the buck so that everyone can enjoy bacon goodness.

Recipe: Home With Heartland

Cocktail Meatballs
Photo credit: Zoryanchik/istockphoto

COCKTAIL MEATBALLS

Bite-sized meatballs that don't need cutlery are convenient and widely beloved. Easy to transport and serve out of one dish, they are an easy way to include cooked protein to your tailgating lineup. You can make this dish even easier by starting with premade frozen meatballs, just be sure to thaw beforehand.

Recipe: Add A Pinch

Sweet and Spicy Nuts
Photo credit: JacobVanHouten/istockphoto

SWEET AND SPICY NUTS

Nuts deliver a lot of the same satisfying fat and umami richness of meat, but with a more nutritious edge, for those who want to stick to healthy eating even on game days. By using a combination of sweet and salty flavors, all of the cravings are satisfied. Baked in the oven, it's easy to make multiple servings in one batch.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Mac and Cheese Muffins
Photo credit: Mc&Chs (14) by Robyn Anderson (CC BY-NC-ND)

MAC AND CHEESE MINI MUFFINS

Mac and cheese is what everyone really wants to eat, and this version is both easy to prepare in large quantity, and even easier to eat without leaving a ton of dishes to clean up. The key is lining the mini muffin tins with breadcrumbs for optimal shape holding.

Recipe: Taste Of Home

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Photo credit: 1MoreCreative/istockphoto

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Somehow even more flavorful than actual buffalo wings, this dip combines all of the flavors of traditional wings into a scoop and eat dip. This dip makes it possible to enjoy buffalo wings while never putting your beer down.

Recipe: Homemade Hooplah

Baked Ziti
Photo credit: wsmahar/istockphoto

BAKED ZITI

The original big-party dish, baked ziti combines the best of all possible foods worlds with plenty of carbs, cheese, and sauce. Made in large trays, this hearty stick-to-your-ribs dish can satisfy a lot of hungry people with a humble and inexpensive pasta dish.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

French bread pizza
Photo credit: LauriPatterson/istockphoto

FRENCH BREAD PIZZA

Taking a few minutes to whip up a batch of oven-baked french bread pizza is quicker and cheaper than ordering delivery. Once baked, the pizzas keep well for a while, thanks to the french bread, which won't get soggy.

Recipe: Kitchen Gidget

Pork and Pineapple Skewers
Photo credit: sitriel/istockphoto

PORK & PINEAPPLE SKEWERS

Skewers make it easy to eat without using up too many utensils or plates, and they also offer easy serving to a lot of people with just a little prep time. This recipe uses a grill to get bold flavors, though oven baking would also work.

Recipe: Saveur

Cheese spread in a small cup with crackers
Photo credit: MSPhotographic/istockphoto

SPICY BEER CHEESE

This popular craft beer bar menu item is simple to make, and can even help use up odds and ends of leftover cheese. The relish in this cheese is optional, and can serve as a jumping off point for other creative additions.

Recipe: Foxes Love Lemons

Hummus Sandwich
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

HUMMUS

Homemade hummus is so much more delicious, and cheaper, than store-bought that once you make it, you'll never go back. You could stick to one large batch of classic, or divide into smaller batches and present a trio of flavored hummus.

Recipe: Real Simple

Elotes
Photo credit: Rimma_Bondarenko/istockphoto

MEXICAN STREET CORN

Corn on the cob tastes just as good room temperature as it does warm, which means once a platter of these tasty bites comes out, you can leave them there as a self serve snack during the game. Using a miso butter instead of mayo can be a fun way to play up the umami flavors even more.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Deli pinwheels
Photo credit: Pinwheels by Maggie (CC BY)

DELI PINWHEELS

Skipping the bread not only takes care of anyone who is watching their carbs, it also means that a deli platter won't get soggy by half time. It's also easy to turn simple ingredients into a beautiful display of grab-and-go bites.

Recipe: Chew Nibble Nosh

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Carrots
Photo credit: boblin/istockphoto

CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE

If you're going to offer a proper entree, a one-pot meal is in order, like corned beef and cabbage. Bulking up tender tasty meat with potatoes and cabbage is healthy and cost efficient. As the recipe states, choosing the meat is the most important step.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

Cornbread Muffins
Photo credit: LauriPatterson/istockphoto

CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Cornbread is satisfying on so many levels, and can also be made in different flavors to become more of a sweet or savory snack. Baking them in individual muffin cups makes them easy to pass around while minimizing crumbs from cutting up one large loaf.

Recipe: Once Upon A Chef

Set up for making tacos in a bag
Photo credit: Walking tacos by Jodimichelle (CC BY-SA)

TACO IN A BAG

If a taco bar is not right for your crowd, consider individual snack sized bags of corn chips. Adding toppings directly inside the bag of chips and serving with a fork for easy eating, this is the kind of comfort food you indulge in every once in a while.

Recipe: Just A Pinch

Bloody marys with celery
Photo credit: vladans/istockphoto

BLOODY MARYS

Now that rosé season is over, it's time to upgrade to a hearty cocktail like the bloody mary. Arrange a fixings bar with crudite, seafood, and various pickles to make it fancy, or just serve a pitcher of pre-made drink mix to cover the basics. Keep the booze separate so people can add their own or leave it virgin.

Recipe: Chowhound

Glasses of Michelada
Photo credit: Mizina/istockphoto

MICHELADA MIX

Considered the champagne of beer cocktails, micheladas are a Mexican tradition of instantly upgrading any beer. The mix of spicy, sour, and salty makes the beer more refreshing and satisfying. Keep the mix on hand so people can serve themselves as they like.

Recipe: Ever In Transit

Glass pitcher and glasses of pink lemonade
Photo credit: sveta_zarzamora/istockphoto

PINK LEMONADE BEER PUNCH

Can't decide between lemonade and beer? Don't! Have both with this beer punch. While it sounds a bit crazy, the flavors combine really well for a tasty and light beverage that can be sipped all game long.

Recipe: Draft

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Photo credit: bhofack2/istockphoto

CHOCOLATE DIPPED PRETZELS

Team colors on cupcakes are adorable, but admittedly a lot of work for a large group, especially considering how fast they will be devoured. Dipping pretzels will require a bit of lead time, but can be done quickly, and produce a lot of sweet and salty dessert bites at once. You can even use your team colors as part of the display!

Recipe: House Of Nash Eats

Football Cookies
Photo credit: Tailgate Food by David Steltz (CC BY-SA)

FOOTBALL COOKIES

With the help of a basic cookie dough recipe and a cookie cutter, these themed treats are easy to churn out in volume. Skip the intricate and labor intensive royal icing and keep decoration simple with team colored sprinkles to save time and keep the flavors focused on the most important part, the cookie itself.

Recipe: Real Simple

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.