Want fun, unexpected dinner ideas now that it’s starting to feel like fall? Tailgating recipes! For real. Spread a picnic cloth across your table or kitchen counter, and try these tasty tailgating menu items for a snackable dinner your whole family will enjoy.
Looks like you’re the fun mom after all!
These recipes are quick and easy, and while they’re great for game day – whether you’re tailgating in the parking lot or watching from home – they’re also super fun for a random Tuesday night when you’re in the mood to give the kids a much-deserved homework break while you giggle over The Office while you eat. This is starting to sound like it has the makings of a new family tradition!
Tailgate dinner idea: Slider sandwiches
Who doesn’t love a slider sandwich? You can do tiny cheeseburgers or chicken tender sandwiches, or get more creative with these vegan barbecue jackfruit sliders at Neurotic Mommy. They are always a go-to recipe when I’m thinking tailgate or cookout. Yes, these are vegan, but you could use the same seasoning and sauce recipe for chicken or pork.
Or, for a different direction on the tiny-sandwich train, go with these very favorite melty Ham & Swiss sliders at Small Town Woman that are always a hit. Don’t even think about having any leftovers. You can prep these ahead of time—even the night before—then heat them up when you’re ready to eat.
Tailgate dinner idea: Delicious dips
Ok, hear me out: an array of dips and dippers and you’ve totally got dinner. This crockpot buffalo chicken dip at Two Healthy Kitchens is a nice way to get a little protein added to the spread, and then add some of these 10 homemade dip recipes or skinny snack dip ideas for more inspiration.
A cold dip, like this no-bake spinach artichoke dip at Fox Valley Foodie, even adds some veggies to the dip. And it’s downright delicious. Serve with pita, naan, or toasted tortillas, plus various crackers, corn chips, and veggies, and you’ve got an unconventional dinner (which hey, if you’ve got picky eaters, it can be good to go that route!).
Tailgate dinner ideas: Meatballs in the slow cooker
My kids’ request “grape jelly meatballs” when they’re in the mood for a fun, different dinner. This BBQ sauce recipe includes some grape jelly for sweetness, and they’re just delicious. This recipe at Monday is Meatloaf includes instructions for delicious meatballs, but we regularly use Gardein Meatless Meatballs for the vegetarians in our house and they’re just as good.
Adding some oven-baked fries (like sweet potato!), and hoagie rolls to make them into a sandwich, and you’ve got a quick mid-week dinner!
Tailgate dinner ideas: A charcuterie board, with a tailgating twist
You know we love a good charcuterie board here. From lunch charcuterie boards to holiday snack boards, we’ve got you covered. But this tailgate charcuterie board at Urban Cookery is next level. Hot wings, quesadillas, chips & queso, pigs-in-a-blanket…waffle fries! You really can’t ask for more from a spread of meat and cheese for dinner…maybe just add some roasted peppers, olives, and pickles so it’s not quite so much meat and cheese.
Tailgating dinner idea: Crispy chicken wings
Handheld foods are key when it comes to tailgating, and chicken wings are a top choice for my teen boys. But this recipes for crispy baked chicken wings at Amy Casey Cooks is a bit healthier than fried fare, but they’ll never know. Serve it with a range of dips, from blue cheese to ranch to honey mustard and barbecue, and serve some cold, cut veggies along with them.
Tailgating dinner idea: Nachos, nachos, nachos!
If you’re tailgating from home, or just really don’t mind taking a lot of ingredients to the game, this DIY nacho bar at What’s Gaby Cooking? is a fantastic find. With this setup, each person can get their own custom plate — or piece of aluminum foil — with exactly the toppings they want. You can toss them on your tailgate grill to melt the cheese, or stick them in the oven at home. Or, if you want to take a ready-made spread, you can check out any of our other party nacho recipe ideas.