10 (Easy) Tailgate Recipes
So Good You’ll Hate to Leave the Lot

Love tailgate food? They say the season is won 10 yards at a time, so here are 10 easy-to-make tailgating recipes to get you and your team (of friends) started off on the right foot.

Best of all, these will come together faster than a blitz down the field—and they’re sure to win you a first down at the party.

Enjoy!

(p.s. When you’re done with these, don’t miss my football party recipes download!)

Pimiento Cheese Sliders via Holley Grainger Nutrition

Pimiento cheese sliders

Dress a basic hamburger—and take it to the next level of tailgating yum—by adding my special “lightened up” pimiento cheese to 1/8 pound sliders. When the cold pimiento cheese hits the steamy burger and begins to melt, magical things happen. (And just wait until you pop them into your mouth.)

Pimiento Cheese Sliders
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ideal for tailgating or a summer cookout, these Pimiento Cheese Sliders take your basic hamburger to the next level. Top hot sliders with creamy Lightened Classic Pimiento Cheese, bacon, and your other favorite toppings.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 sliders
Ingredients
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 whole wheat slider buns, split
  • ½ cup Lightened Classic Pimiento Cheese*
  • Toppings (optional): lettuce, tomato, pickles, caramelized onions, jalapeño slices, bacon
Instructions
  1. Combine ground beef, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly.
  2. Lightly shape into eight thin mini-patties.
  3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.
  4. Add patties; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning once.
  5. Place burgers on bottoms of buns. Top with 1 tablespoon Lightened Classic Pimiento Cheeseand other desired toppings.
Notes
PLAN AHEAD

If you're into planning ahead, the pimiento cheese can be made ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It also can be frozen for up to 1 month so consider making a double batch so you always have some on-hand. Burgers can also be shaped into patties so they're ready to throw on the grill when it's time to eat.

JUST A NOTE ABOUT COOKING SLIDERS...

Because sliders are smaller than traditional burgers, they are often overcooked and can quickly become hockey pucks! I like to form my burgers into a 1-inch patty and then indent the center with a thumb print. This keeps them from turning into little baseballs. Also, make sure to use a meat thermometer so when the burger reachers 160 degrees, they're ready to be taken off.
Turn up the heat at your tailgate with spicy Buffalo Chicken Wraps. Enjoy the flavor of traditional buffalo wings (plus celery and carrots, of course) as bite-sized pinwheels.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

If you love the flavor of buffalo wings but don’t want to bother with the hassle of making them before a tailgate party, try these bite-sized pinwheels. For even more convenience, make them the day the day before the game, then slice them before you leave.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Turn up the heat at your tailgate with spicy Buffalo Chicken Wraps. Enjoy the flavor of traditional buffalo wings (plus celery and carrots, of course) as bite-sized pinwheels.
Author:
Serves: 5 wraps
Ingredients
  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1-2 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 5 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1½ lb shredded cooked chicken (about 1 deli rotisserie chicken)
  • ½ cup buffalo wing sauce (I like Franks)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup carrots
Instructions
  1. Soften cream cheese in microwave then mix with blue cheese. Spread 2-3 tbsp cheese mixture evenly on each wrap.
  2. Combine chicken and wing sauce and stir until combine. Sprinkle chicken evenly over tortillas then add chopped celery and carrots.
  3. Roll up each tortilla tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to eat, cut the ends off each roll and slice into 1-inch pinwheels. Each roll up should yield about 5 to 6 pinwheels.

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tenderloins

Pistachio Crusted Chicken Tenderloins

The combination of pistachios and panko here creates a crust that’s to die for, with an amazing taste and texture that makes you forget they’re not fried. Even better, these tenderloins are ready in less than 30 minutes—and you can make them ahead, then pop them back in the oven just before you go tailgating.

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tenderloins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tenderloins are a weeknight staple in our household. Add them to your menu rotation and I guarantee you they'll be a mainstay week after week!
Serves: 1 lb chicken tenders
Ingredients
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb chicken tenders, trimmed
  • ¼ cup dijon or honey mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with an oven-safe rack.
  2. Place pistachios in a plastic bag and crush with a meat mallet until finely ground. (You can also put them in a food processor but banging them with a meat mallet until ground is a fun activity for the kids!) Combine crushed pistachio with panko and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine chicken tenders and mustard and toss until they are completely covered. Working one at a time, add chicken tender to pistachio mixture and press into mixture until evenly coated. Add chicken tenders to rack spacing evenly so they do not touch.
  4. Bake for 18 minutes or until chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest portion of the chicken. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.
  5. (Note: if you're out of panko, sub for flour. You'll still get a delicious crust but they won't be quite as crispy as panko.)
TaquitosPlated5

Beef And Cheese Baked Taquitos

Taquitos… The name means “little tacos,” but round here we think they’re delicious no matter what you call them. But they’re not exactly the healthiest tailgate food: they’re typically fried, and even ignoring that, their nutrition numbers aren’t great. These ones are made with smart ingredients and baked, which means they’re healthier than you’d think. Plus, you can make them ahead of time, then pull them out of the freezer when you’re in a rush on game day.

Beef and Cheese Baked Taquitos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Skip the froze, store-bought taquitos or greasy fried restaurant ones and make your own speedy Beef and Cheese Baked Taquitos for a party-ready snack or appetizer. Ingredients
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ¾ - 1 cup mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1½ cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 15 6” corn tortilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook 5 to 7 more minutes or until done. Drain liquid from meat.
  3. Stir in enchilada sauce, spinach, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in cheese.
  5. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  6. Warm tortillas per package instructions.
  7. Spoon 2 tbsp of beef mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly from the top. Line all taquitos on baking sheet. Spray top with cooking spray or brush with additional olive oil.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes until brown and crispy.
Looking for a quick appetizer or dinner to throw together last minute? Try my crock-pot sweet and sour meatballs. I bet you already have most of the ingredients!

Slow Cooker Sweet And Sour Meatballs

If you’re in a crunch for time, here’s another savior: these slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect “fix it and forget it” tailgate recipe. Simply throw the ingredients in your slow cooker and let it do the cooking for you while you get ready for the game. (And hey… If that involves face paint, I won’t judge.)

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Looking for a quick appetizer or dinner to throw together last minute? Try my crock-pot sweet and sour meatballs. I bet you already have most of the ingredients!
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 26 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 bag of frozen meatballs (24-26 count)
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar (or regular vinegar)
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • garnish with green onions optional
Instructions
  1. Place frozen meatballs and chopped red bell pepper in a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
  2. In medium sized bowl, whisk together all other ingredients to create your sauce.
  3. Pour the sauce over the meatballs cover and heat on low heat for 2 hours.
  4. Stir and turn the heat to high. Heat the meatballs for 1 hour to thicken the sauce.
Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

Beef And Butternut Squash Chili

This recipe proves it—you CAN make tailgate-worthy chili in less than 45 minutes. Of course, if you have more time, you can let my beef and butternut squash chili simmer longer to allow the flavors more time to marry. But hey, if you’re going to miss the party, you’ll appreciate every second this tailgate recipe saves you.

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Sweet butternut squash, smoky roasted red peppers, and spicy chili beans add big flavor to this simple, one-pot Beef and Butternut Squash Chili recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Chili
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butternut squash cubes
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons. olive oil
  • 1 (16-oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon. garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 (8-oz) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained (such as Rotel)
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (27-oz) can chili beans
  • ½ plain low-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
Instructions
  1. Place squash in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add water to a depth of ½ inch. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at HIGH 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and red pepper; cook 3 minute or until onions are tender. Add beef, garlic powder, and chili powder; cook 5 minutes or until browned; stirring to crumble. Add butternut squash, tomato sauce, and remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Top with Greek yogurt.
IMG_4127 copy

Loaded Sweet Potato Skins

While this recipe may look lengthy, the beauty of it is that the steps overlap so you can get all of your prep done while the sweet potatoes are baking.

Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 10 sweet potato skins
Ingredients
  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • ½ lb bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 cups raw spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Set aside to cool. Increase temperature of oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Cook bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until browned and crispy. Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. Wipe pan with paper towel leaving about 1 teaspoon of drippings. Add spinach and cook until wilted (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Cut cooled potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the flesh into a bowl, leaving about ¼ inch border inside the skin.
  5. Set a baking rack on the foil-lined baking sheet and place the sweet potatoes on it skin-side up. Brush each skin with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until skins are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Combine 11/2 cups sweet potato flesh, the wilted spinach, half of the cooked bacon, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Gently stir in 11/2 cups cheese.
  7. Fill each sweet potato skin with the sweet potato mixture and sprinkle evenly with the remaining bacon and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted then broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the tops are slightly brown.
  8. Top each skin with the rest of the cheese and bacon. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with sour cream for dipping.
Notes
For football stitches: Put ¼ cup sour cream in a condiment squeeze bottle and draw on each potato.
A healthier twist on the classic sugar cookie fruit pizza.

Healthy Fruit Pizza

Here’s a dessert that’s pretty enough to serve at a dinner party… but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring it to the parking lot or serve it at half-time. Trust me, your tailgating friends will fight over it. With an oatmeal-like crust and a yogurt sauce, this is one of my favorite tailgate recipes—and it’ll soon be one of yours, too.

Healthy Fruit Pizza
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Looking for a dessert that will please both the adult and kid table? This Healthy Fruit Pizza fits the bill. Pretty enough to serve at a dinner party and fun enough to sneak in some fresh fruits for the kids. This healthy dessert pizza is a win win!
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup old fashion oats
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup canola or coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp of sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey, very ripe banana, etc)
  • 1 kiwi
  • ½ banana
  • 1 peach
  • 1 container of blueberries
  • 1 container of strawberries
  • 1 container of raspberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a round pizza pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, old fashion oats, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  3. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg and add vanilla, and canola oil.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until ingredients combine.
  5. Press batter onto pizza pan lined with parchment paper. The dough may be too small for the size of your pan. If so, just form the dough into a round shape.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes or until the "crust" is golden brown.
  7. While the crust is baking, combine Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and sweetener in a small bowl.
  8. Take crust out of the oven and let cool.
  9. While the crust is cooling, cut kiwi, banana, peach, and strawberries.
  10. Spread yogurt mixture on top of the crust and decorate with fruit.
Pizza Crescent Rolls great for tailgating

Pizza Crescent Rolls

Nothing says “party” like pizza, but showing up to a tailgate party with an extra-large pie? That goes against the spirit of the thing—people expect you to put some effort in at least. Well, “some” effort is all it takes to whip up these pizza crescent rolls. They couldn’t be simpler, and the taste is addictive.

Pizza Crescent Rolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup pizza sauce
  • 2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2½ oz sliced pepperoni
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 8-oz crescent roll cans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor except for crescent rolls. Process until the ingredients until well blended together. The mixture will be thick.
  3. Unroll and separate triangle crescent roll dough pieces onto an ungreased baking sheet. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of pizza sauce mixture on each dough triangle covering the entire triangle in a thin layer (use more mixture for larger triangles as needed).
  4. Roll up each triangle starting from the widest end and rolling towards the tip.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
Jalapeno_Plated2 copy

Chicken Enchilada Jalapeño Poppers

This tailgate recipe gives the venerable jalapeno popper a Mexican twist. Here we dial way back on the cream cheese, and add ground chicken, cheddar cheese, and enchilada sauce. The spicy-but-not-too-hot jalapenos give these a nice kick—and the Mexican flavors bring to mind real enchiladas.

Chicken Enchilada Jalapeno Poppers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16 poppers
Ingredients
  • 8 jalapens, halved with seeds removed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ lb ground chicken
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup enchilada sauce
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add ground chicken, salt and pepper and cook until chicken crumbles and is no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. While chicken cooks, add cream cheese to a small bowl and soften in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix enchilada sauce, ½ cup cheddar cheese, cream cheese, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder. Add cooked ground chicken and gently mix.
  5. Line baking sheet with foil and line with jalapenos cut side up. Fill each half with enchilada mixture to edge. Sprinkle with extra cheese.
  6. Bake for 18 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes until tops start to brown. Serve immediately.

Hungry for more football food?

Mix it up at your next party! My “skewers, dippers, stackers, and sippers” collection features party appetizers that come together with just minutes of work—and taste like you spent hours! Download your copy of my Tailgating Moves: Football Party Recipes” printable!

Football party? Wow them with these 10 easy-to-prepare tailgating recipes.