I will admit, I don’t follow sports closely. But what I lack in knowledge about, say, football, I make up for in enthusiasm for all the meaty, cheesy, carb-loaded food that tends to accompany it. This tailgate season, I’m craving the essentials, the tried-and-true favorites. These recipes from our Recipe Finder are crowd-pleasers that will complete your tailgate spread.
Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip, above. Warm, spicy, creamy: This dip is all of those things. It’s also wonderfully nostalgic; a part of the spread that many look forward to. Serve it with crunchy veggies, chips or crackers, and don’t be surprised when there’s none to bring home.
Seven-Layer Dip. One of the mainstays of Tex-Mex, this dip builds flavor with every layer. If you like it spicy, feel free to adjust the jalapenos and salsa to your liking. Be sure your tortilla chips are sturdy enough to stand up to this substantial appetizer.
Chili Pasta Casserole. This dish has the best of both worlds: chili and baked pasta. A pot full of ground beef, beans, pasta and cheese is great fuel for a long day in the stands (stadium?). For a more traditional chili, you can always try this Tex-Mex Chili.
Bacon and Orzo Salad. Pasta salad is easy to transport and doesn’t need to be kept warm, making it an ideal tailgate dish. This one stars bacon, roasted red pepper, spinach, parmesan and orzo for a smoky, savory side that’s ready in a half hour. While it’s a bit lighter than a mayo-based pasta salad, the bacon and parmesan bring a salty richness that can compete with more traditional game day fare.
Chicken Wings With Shishito Peppers. Wings are almost synonymous with game day. These are dry brined and then grilled with shishitos for a crispy, spicy finger food that is a classic for a reason. They require a couple hours to prepare, but the result is more than worth it.
Vegan Pub Sliders. Tailgates tend to be meat-heavy events, but vegetarians and vegans can also get in on the fun with these vegan sliders. You can cook them on a nonstick skillet or toss them on the grill depending on your tailgate set-up. Dress them up with special sauce and vegan cheese.
Pepperoni Pull-Apart Bread. This pull-apart bread is perfect for tearing and sharing. It’s stuffed with pepperoni and cheese and brushed with sriracha for an extra little kick. Feel free to try different kinds of meat and cheese and customize it just the way you like.
Ultimate Brownies. The focus tends to be on savory foods at tailgates, but it’s always good to throw something sweet into the mix. Brownies are a natural choice as they’re easy to transport and share, but this rich, moist, chocolatey iteration in particular is sure to be a hit.