Your Ultimate Tailgate Menu

Game Plan: Tasty food ideas for any given Sunday

Jalapeño Poppers

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

It's time to go tailgating, getting together with friends, popping open some drinks, and cooking up some great food. Can you think of anything better? Whether you are gathering with fellow fans for a parking lot party, or hosting friends and family at home on any given Sunday, we've got recipes that are ideal for any big game day or Super Bowl party. You'll find dishes that are easy to make, and packed with big flavors, including buffet favorites, some that you can transport or serve from a slow cooker, grill on-site, or easily tote along to outdoor events. We've even included a few desserts and drinks to keep you happy and hydrated.

Want to do your part for the planet, while enjoying a parking lot party? Follow our tips for a zero-waste BBQ or picnic.

  • 01 of 27

    Non-Alcoholic Sangria

    Virgin Sangria - Mocktail Recipe

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Say hello to virgin sangria, a fruity, refreshing drink everyone can enjoy, including kids. This virgin sangria recipe pays homage to the flavors of classic sangria, using red grape juice as the base instead of its fermented cousin, red wine.

  • 02 of 27

    Keto Margaritas

    Keto Margarita

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

    Did someone call for margs? Our keto margarita recipe lets you kick back on game day with a tequila cocktail, while sticking to your diet. The secret ingredient is a simple, homemade, low-sugar orange syrup that and replaces the triple sec usually found in margaritas. You can scale up the recipe to make a big batch for serving straight up, or blended with ice.

  • 03 of 27

    Cardinal Punch Mocktail

    Cardinal Punch Mocktail

    The Spruce

    Fizzy, fun, and filled with fruits, sparkling cardinal punch is a family-favorite party drink. The winning combo of cranberry, lemon, and orange juices topped with ginger ale offers a fresh taste that's hard to find in bottled juice blends, and mixes up in just a few minutes. You can keep a pitcher of the juice mix in the fridge, and then top it off with soda when guests arrive.

  • 04 of 27

    Easy Chelada With Mexican Beer

    Easy Chelada With Mexican Beer

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

    The combination of Mexican beer with lime has long been a favorite. If you are ready to step beyond stuffing your Corona bottle with a lime wedge, then you have to give this easy chelada recipe a try. It has all of the same great flavors, but it is more of a properly mixed drink than a dressed-up beer.

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  • 05 of 27

    Keto Nachos

    Keto Nachos

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Keto nachos will satisfy all of your cheesy, crunchy cravings without sacrificing your eating plan. Low in carbs, and high in flavor and crunch, they start with keto tortilla chips, and then are layered with shredded chicken, queso, guacamole, and other favorite nacho toppings. Scale up the recipe easily to feed a crowd.

  • 06 of 27

    Baked Frank's Buffalo Chicken Wings

    Frank's basic buffalo hot wings recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Although there are many stories as to why the crispy and saucy chicken wings are called Buffalo wings, most stories point to Buffalo, NY. Classic Frank's hot sauce, a mild-in-spice sauce, has been an ingredient used for decades in creating the succulent sauce that coats the wings. We swapped the fryer for the oven to make a simple variation on classic Buffalo chicken wings, equally tasty but without the extra calories from the frying oil.

  • 07 of 27

    Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

    Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Cheesy, meaty, warm, and gooey, Philly cheesesteaks became famous for good reason. We transform the beloved Philadelphia sandwich into fun and shareable sliders that are easy eating for a game-watching crowd. For the desired melt-in-your-mouth filling, use a very sharp knife (or a kitchen mandoline) to slice the steak very thinly, and be careful not to overcook.

  • 08 of 27

    Jalapeño Poppers

    Jalapeño Poppers

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Crispy jalapeño poppers stuffed with gooey cheese are a fantastic and savory game day appetizer. Unlike other pub-style poppers, this recipe bakes to perfection in the oven, so you can cook the peppers all at once, without the oil and mess of frying.

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  • 09 of 27

    Spinach and Artichoke Dip

    Spinach and Artichoke Dip

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Need a perfect appetizer for a football-watching crowd? Nothing beats a big bowl of creamy spinach and artichoke dip. You can make it easily on the stovetop, or throw it in the crockpot if you want to set it and forget it. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or baguette slices if you're fancy.

  • 10 of 27

    Guacamole Deviled Eggs

    Guacamole Deviled Eggs

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This South meets south-of-the-border appetizer is a mash-up of your favorite creamy guacamole dip, and popular deviled eggs. They are sure to disappear quickly from your tailgate buffet. Give these eggy bites a kick by adding some minced fresh jalapeno, if you like.

  • 11 of 27

    Walking Tacos

    Walking Tacos

    Kristina Vanni/Eric Kleinberg

    "Walking taco" is the name for a dish that has everything you love about a crunchy, hard shell corn taco but served out of a chip bag for ease and portability. All you have to do is open up an individual-sized bag of corn chips and then fill it with all of your favorite taco fillings and toppings.

  • 12 of 27

    Pizza Pull Apart Bread

    Pizza Pull Apart Bread

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Score big at game-watching parties with our easy, cheesy pull apart pizza bread. Hearty, garlicky dough bites are great for sharing, and these are stuffed full of cheese and pepperoni to please pizza lovers. Most of the ingredients are premade and available from grocery stores, so it's all about quick assembling and baking.

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  • 13 of 27

    Sonoran Hot Dog

    Sonoran Hot Dog

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Sonoran hot dogs are a street-cart staple in southern Arizona. They were originally from the state of Sonora in Mexico and the Mexican vibes definitely shine through. A large, soft roll (traditionally called a bolillo) is split down the center, toasted, and stuffed with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, avocado, a variety of sauces, and—of course—a hot dog.

  • 14 of 27

    Game Day Chili

    Game Day Chili

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    When you're rushing to get ready for a tailgate party, our game day chili recipe makes life easier. Satisfying and hearty, it's a snap to throw together with common pantry ingredients you likely have in your kitchen. Ground beef and red beans make it hearty (or swap in ground turkey, if you like), and tomatoes and dried spices bring in extra flavor and color.

  • 15 of 27

    Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

    Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Amazing stuffed peppers with all the great flavors of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich are a party-winning dish, and gluten-free to boot. Shaved steak, caramelized onions, and bell peppers go into the filling, along with optional sliced mushrooms, and a topping of shredded cheese.

  • 16 of 27

    Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

    Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    Why choose between potato and egg salad for your party buffet, when you can have both in one dish? Small, colorful, firm potatoes and chopped hard-boiled eggs make this a delicious and fun potato salad. The creamy, dilly dressing brings this easy game day salad all together.

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  • 17 of 27

    Keto Pulled Pork

    Keto Pulled Pork

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

    This keto-friendly pulled pork is loaded with savory flavor and meet everyone's needs—both dietary and flavor needs. You can easily turn this into a slow cooker situation by following similar direction to this recipe. Serve it with almond flour tortillas, coleslaw, sliced dill pickles, and extra barbecue sauce for a self-serve bar, and invite guests to help themselves.

  • 18 of 27

    Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

    Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Chicken thighs are less expensive than chicken breasts, and boast juicier, more flavorful meat. Our grilled BBQ chicken recipe calls for dunking bone-in chicken thighs in a quick marinade, and then tossing them on the grill, brushed with a simple, homemade sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce. It's a no-fuss way to serve BBQ chicken at parties, and can be made on a portable gas grill.

  • 19 of 27

    Bisquick Sausage Balls

    bisquick-sausage-balls-4778066-08

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Bisquick sausage balls are an easy, hearty appetizer loaded with herbs, and cream cheese. It’s the ideal, no-plate-needed appetizer for any of your holiday celebrations or Super Bowl parties. They mix up in less than five minutes, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. 

  • 20 of 27

    Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

    Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Air fryer macaroni and cheese balls are so insanely good, you won't believe they're not deep-fried. The air fryer is awesome at transforming breaded mac-and-cheese balls into bite-sized bundles that are crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside. Keep them warm in a low oven for a home-based game day buffet, or transport them wrapped in tinfoil for an outdoor tailgate party.

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  • 21 of 27

    Vegetarian Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

    Vegetarian Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Our plant-based black bean and sweet potato chili is every bit as warm, comforting, and hearty as beefy chilies. It's rich in nourishment, with nourishing sweet potatoes, carrots, black beans, tomatoes, and bell pepper, and gets great flavor from dried spices. Make it for game day, and serve leftovers for a meatless Monday dinner, or a yummy vegan meal on any day.

  • 22 of 27

    Queso Wings

    Queso Wings

    The Spruce / Morgan Walker

    We took classic chicken wings and mashed them up with basically everything you love about nachos to create these insanely delicious queso wings. Coated in a queso cheese sauce made with Velveeta, diced tomatoes, buffalo sauce, garlic, and paprika, and topped with pickled or fresh jalapenos, they are a great addition to any sports viewing party.

  • 23 of 27

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    Easy Black Bean Salad

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    It's the salad that always gets gobbled up at picnics, potluck dinners, and barbecues. When the recipe has "easy" in the name you know it's going to be a good situation for everyone. The colorful medley of beans, red onion, corn, and fresh herbs looks appealing on the table, too.

  • 24 of 27

    Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

    Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    The bold tastes of bacon, tomatoes, and ranch-style dressing make this creamy pasta salad a sure-fire winner. Our recipe makes a big batch of pasta salad and it's easy to double for a game day crowd. Feel free to add in some shredded cooked chicken or beer-steamed shrimp.

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  • 25 of 27

    Football Cupcakes

    Football Cupcakes

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Score a touchdown at your tailgating event, or a Sunday night football party, with sweet and moist football cupcakes. Iced to look like miniature footballs, these chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting are the perfect dessert for sports-watching, and can be prepared with store-bought cake mix and canned frosting to make your life easier.

  • 26 of 27

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Indulge your inner child with our addictive cookie dough dessert dip. It's basically everything you love about raw chocolate chip cookie batter, but is completely safe to eat, because it's made without eggs, and uses heat-treated flour. Serve with graham crackers or pretzels for dipping.

  • 27 of 27

    Tailgate Hand Pies

    Tailgate Hand Pies

    Kristina Vanni

    Your next tailgate will be a little bit sweeter with these adorable football-shaped hand pies! They look involved, but all you need is a box of frozen puff pastry and a football cookie cutter. Of course, if you don't have a cookie cutter, the football shapes can also be cut freeform by using a sharp knife.