This Tailgating Menu Will Score Big

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Choose from these tailgating recipes to build a game day menu that will make you the MVP of the party, no matter what happens on the field!

A tailgating spread set up at the back of a car.


When it comes to a tailgate, it’s a toss-up as to which is the true MVP of the day: the game or the beer. Still, a tailgating menu of snacks and entrees is a must to stay well-fueled as you cheer (and chat; hey sometimes the company is more exciting than the game itself!).

You can’t lose with any of these low-fuss, prep-ahead, and crowd-pleasing recipes. So stock up on a 12-pack or two and select from these tailgate recipes to assemble a spread that will surely win you the award for entertainer of the year.

Wisconsin Beer Brats

Simmered in plenty of onions and (you guessed it!) beer, this is the quintessential tailgate main dish. Serve with a tray of condiments such as relish, sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard so each guest can garnish as desired.

A platter of brats served with onions, ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut.

More main dish ideas

Chili Dogs

Hot and hearty, chili dogs are a fun, customizable main dish option for kids of all ages. Choose your chili and keep it in a slow cooker on Game Day. Serve with all your favorite toppings and pile that puppy to the moon!

A chili dog on a plate with a pickle and chips.

Choose your chili

A tailgating spread set up at the back of a car.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Baked beans (or as my mom calls them, “brown beans,”) are a staple at all tailgates, barbecues, and potlucks. This version is enough to make the day before and keep warm in a slow cooker at your event, and they really do taste better than the ones from a can.

Slow cooker baked beans in a small white bowl.

More favorite sides

Cowboy Caviar

Every tailgate needs a dip recipe, and this fresh and colorful Cowboy Caviar is a Midwestern staple. Stir it together the day before and refrigerate until party time to allow the dressing to infuse into every bite. Serve with copious amounts of Homemade Tortilla Chips.

Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.

More delicious dips

Puppy Chow

Delightfully messy and loaded with chocolate and peanut butter flavor, this no-bake cereal treat is the Midwestern dessert to serve at your next tailgate. Be sure to make a double batch so someone else doesn’t intercept the last serving before you get your fix.

Puppy chow on a beige platter.

More sweet treats

Caramel Corn Recipe

Transform air-popped popcorn into a sweet and addictive treat with just a few baking staples. This easy homemade Caramel Corn Recipe makes an excellent food gift or favor as well as a stellar game-day or…

1 hour 5 minutes

Jello Shots

For an extra festive touch to these sweet vodka shots, select Jello flavors that match your team’s colors. Prep them entirely up to 3 days ahead, then chill the “shot glasses” on a tray for easy transport to the tailgate party table.

Various colored jello shots in clear portion cups.

Bonus beverages

Bloody Mary Bar

Lazy weekends and holiday mornings call for a Bloody Mary Bar with homemade mix and all the savory pickled stuff you can find. It’s a total crowd-pleaser; from the purists to the meal-in-a-glass folks, everyone…

2 hours 10 minutes
View Recipe

Slip on that jersey, grab the pop-up chairs and yard games, round up the ingredients for these tailgating recipes and get ready to take home the hosting trophy!

A tailgating spread set up at the back of a car.
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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