Our Five Faves

Best tailgate food

Posted August 18, 2014


— Whether in the parking lot tailgating or sitting at home on the couch with friends, football and food go hand-in-hand. For those that choose to head to the stadium for the classic tailgate, planning and preparation are key – and not all items have to derail the diet. As one colleague at WRAL said when asked about his favorite gameday foods, “Tailgating is not just for fat guys.”

There are unlimited options when it comes to car-side cuisine, but I will offer up five of our faves.

Traditional Grillers: Burgers, dogs and brats – They are gameday grilling staples. Kids and adults alike can get down with the most identifiable of entrees. Add cheese, condiments and buns for the easiest of options or get crazy with bacon, chile, avocado and anything else you desire. For the really fancy, try making a spicy corn relish or a three-pepper sauerkraut. (Grill required).

Color Coordinated Foods: There are thousands of different vegetables in the world – paving the way for a color-coordinated veggie platter. And for the Duke, Carolina and ECU crowds seeking team-color veggies, Oregon State University researchers have even managed to create blue and purple tomatoes. But don’t limit yourself to veggies. Tint your dips with team colors and consider a team-colored cocktail.

Meat-in Dips: There are some excellent dips to be had at a tailgate and the best part is you can get your protein while to fill your chip. While cheese dip, salsa and ranch are always go-to’s, you need to branch out. Meat-in dips bring heartiness to any tailgate. Buffalo chicken dips are more than just growing in popularity, they are growing in varieties and temperatures. A sausage and cheese dip, baked and served with tortilla chips is a little more labor intensive and will need to be prepared ahead of time, but is delicious. And for the bacon lovers, there are endless options, including a bacon-onion dip that pairs well with veggies.

Diet Delectables: Salads are not always associated with tailgates, but the different varieties that can be easily-prepared and well-kept are vast. Consider bringing a whole head of lettuce to create wedge salads. Take to the flames and there are unlimited ways you can create a grilled veggie medley. Or my personal favorite meat-less munchies: Stuffed mushrooms.

Diet Breakers: A lot of the focus at the tailgate is on the meal and the beverages but don’t forget the dessert. While a tray of cupcakes and a bag of Reese’s are easy items to bring along, do they really put that pregame smile on your face? How about mini football cakes wrapped in chocolate? Seriously, it’s quite simple: Bake a cake, tear off pieces of the cake so they are shaped like footballs, put the pieces on popsicle sticks, dip the footballs in melted chocolate, add laces with icing, enjoy.

What tailgate foods are a must for you? Share your favorites and maybe some recipes in the comments section.



Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • moppie Aug 19, 2014

    Being from the beach, we always brought some seafood with us to tailgate. Cold boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce is always a crowd pleaser. For the more adventurous, I would make oyster shooters. I'd pre-shuck a few dozen raw oysters, then put a raw oyster in a shot glass with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of Texas Pete and then fill it to the rim with bourbon. Now that's gooooooood tailgating!

  • UpChuck Aug 19, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Topped with some cold beer.

  • Justin Case Aug 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Mr. Schoonmaker, more substance, please. :-)

  • research9 Aug 18, 2014

    Pig. With a side of pig. Topped with pig. Maybe a little cole slaw.