Tailgate Party Menus

When we think of a tailgate party we think of the crowded parking lot of the stadium or arena of your favorite sports team or performer. But consider these tailgating party menus anytime you want to open up your trunk, wagon, jeep or SUV to the hungry public.

You can host a tailgating party near the lake, in the park, even in your driveway for a neighborhood block party.  The menu and food you choose must travel well and taste good at room (or parking lot) temperature.


Transporting Food

Before the fans, fun and food of the tailgate party you need to plan how to transport perishable and nonperishable food items. Be mindful of maintaining the quality and safety of the food you will be serving:

  • Wrap meats, poultry and seafood securely to prevent their juices from getting into other foods
  • To cushion and protect food items and breakables, use what you have on hand such as dish and bath towels, blankets, bedspreads and pillows. All clean of course
  • Bubble wrap and other types of packing material will stabilize and insulate foods during transport
  • Keep lightweight and delicate items like butter, eggs and pasta all together packing the heaviest items on the bottom

To keep cold foods cold

  • Insulated bags and thermal chests and containers are obvious choices for maintaining hot and cold temperatures. They are sold with and without gel cold packs
  • For large quantities of food, ice is better then gel packs and blocks or chunks of ice are more effective then ice cubes
  • Make sure foods are well-chilled or frozen before placing in insulated bags, ice chests or containers
  • In a chest or insulated bag, put in a layer of ice, the food, then a top with a layer of ice
  • Use freezer strength Ziploc bags as “cold packs”. Fill the bags with water and flatten to freeze. Be careful not to overfill the bags
  • Freeze bottles of water which will be consumed later. Be sure the bottles are kept very clean in the process and layer them underneath and on top of cold foods

To keep hot foods hot:

  • Aluminum foil is great for retaining heat especially when hot dishes are double wrapped
  • Cook hot dishes as close to departure time as possible. Immediately double wrap with aluminum foil
  • Pack hot foods (and cold foods for that matter) together so the dishes keep each other hot (or cold)
  • Use layers of newspaper, clean throw rugs, thick bath towels and comforters as insulators
  • Only put out small amounts of foods at a time and keep the bulk of the foods at safe temperatures

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Score big with this one! Flavors all over the place with not a lot of sweat. The pimento cheese is also amazing on burgers, grilled sandwiches, burgers and pasta.   

Apple Sangria, Spicy Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, Beers

Really Good Pimento Cheese Spread
Serve with hard or soft pretzels, crackers or crostini

Crab Fritters with Green Goddess Dressing

Salami and Coleslaw Sandwiches or Vietnamese Ham Sandwiches

Fresh Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad
I always love to serve a vegetable or fruit salad, even on game day!

Big and Delicious
Prepare the brisket at home 1-3 days in advance. Wrap brisket slices in foil and reheat on grill. Serve on hard rolls with the onions and your favorite accompaniments

Onion Smothered Brisket Sub Sandwiches

Chicken Chili Quesadillas

Vegetable Kebabs with Greek Marinade
Lamb Skewers with Grainy Mustard Dipping Sauce

Tortellini and Sautéed Vegetable Salad

Chocolate cookies with strawberries, apples or pear slices

Just Right Tailgate Menu
Super simple last minute tailgate menu idea.  Cook chicken breast at home and keep (mostly warm) tightly wrapped in foil or grill as desired. 

Super Simple Lime Chicken Breast

Potato rolls, pita bread or flour wraps for making sandwiches

Condiments such as mayo, mustard, fresh tomato and shredded lettuce, thinly sliced red onion

Store Coleslaw, Potato Salad or Pasta Salad

Chips, Dip, Salsa

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Super Cool
Not everyone can or wants to use a grill for their tailgate party.  Try these recipes that can be served cold or at "parking lot" temperature.  

Olives, pickles, pickled onions and peppers

Chicken Pecan Salad Sandwiches on Mini Croissants

Black Bean Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta Cheese

Watermelon or Pineapple Slices

 Peanut Chocolate Cookies


Cozy Twist

Purchase ready-made soup or make your own. For the chicken wings, double or triple the recipe to prepare 20 to 36 wings. Any of the dessert
choices would be a sweet ending

Tomato or Potato Soup

Bourbon-Glazed Beef Roast
Teriyaki Flank Steak
Serve Kaiser rolls with mustard and onions or "as is" with your favorite potato salad or coleslaw

Orange Chicken
Use wings or drumettes and add zest and seasonings to the mustard mixture. Coat the chicken with this mixture prior to grilling.

Ham and Black Bean Salad

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti, Cookies of Lemon Cake


Sausages and Shrimp Fest

 Italian Sausages
Serve with flatbread, rolls, bread and mustard

Green Bean Pasta Salad

Honey-Lime Shrimp

Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake


Simply Special
What could be easier? Pack the boiled shrimp in a container. Place container on top of a Ziploc bag filled with ice. Serve with cocktail sauce and saltines. 

 Pan-Fried Onion Dip
Serve with chips, tortillas, pita crisps

Juicy Sliders
Favorite Burgers

Creole Boiled Shrimp
Pack in a container on top of a Ziploc bag filled with ice. Serve with cocktail sauce and saltines

Luscious Lemon Tart with Almond Crust 

All Bases Covered

This satisfying menu brings something for everyone. Start off with all the usual nibbles, snacks and beverages. End this feast with anything chocolate!

Grilled Trout With Olive Butter

Chili Barbecued Chicken Recipe

Big Easy Burger

Grilled Shrimp and Grapefruit Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

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