Looking to put together the perfect game day menu? Here's our definitive collection of football food, organized into nine of our favorite menus. From lightened-up appetizers to comfort food to vegan and keto-friendly spreads, we've got you. Plus tips and tricks for a fun, easy, crowd-pleasing party.
Game day should be easy
When we think of game day gatherings, we think relaxed, easy fun. We think:
- Hearty recipes that range from indulgent to stealthy-healthy
- Food that pairs well with beer
- A combination of bite-sized apps and snack foods, really good dips, comforting mains like chilis, soups, mac and cheese, and pulled chicken
- And, of course, low-key desserts.
For once in a lifetime of recipe roundups, I haven't included any cocktails, because BEER.
Game day party tips
Game day gatherings around here are all about friends, food, and football. There's not a lot of room in the day for anything else. Which is kinda great, because it makes party planning simple.
I'd recommend just a few strategies
- Make a lot of the food ahead of time. Many of these recipes can be made in advance.
- Game day is a great time for a potluck. Have everyone bring one dish and a six-pack of beer. (Or have half your guests bring a dish and the other half bring drinks.)
- Commandeer a big swath of countertop for your buffet, or use a big folding table.
- Don't forget nonalcoholic beverages.
- Carve out a couple of spaces in addition to the TV area: a place for introverts to escape for a bit, and a separate place for chatters to hang without interrupting the game.
Game day menu options
I hope you'll find a whole menu here that works for you. If you'd rather, feel free to pick and choose to create your own! Between all of these game day menus, I've included most if not all of Umami Girl's best football food, so there should be plenty to choose from.
Table of contents
1. Lightened-up appetizers
Game day really shines with a buffet of classic appetizers. Our baked versions of these favorite recipes, if I do say so, taste even better than the originals. They're also better for you (while still indulgent-feeling) and much easier in terms of both cooking and cleanup.
- Crispy baked buffalo wings
- Potato skins: classic (pictured) or French onion soup
- Baked jalapeño poppers
- Baked turkey meatball sliders
- Baked mozzarella sticks (not pictured)
- Perfect popcorn
- Sarah Kieffer's brownie cookies
Bonus round: How about some:
2. The classics
These crowd-pleasers are great for kids and adults alike. Why mess with success?
- Knorr spinach dip in a bread bowl
- Crispy baked chicken tenders
- Shake Shack burgers
- Baked fries
- Peppers & onions
- Levain bakery chocolate chip cookies
3. Mexican/Tex-Mex inspired
It was hard to choose favorites from among our Mexican- and Tex-Mex-inspired recipes, so feel free to peruse them all. But these choices are easy to serve on a casual buffet and offer a nice variety of flavors.
- Next-level nachos or, hey, totchos
- My perfect guacamole (and maybe some pico de gallo)
- Quesadillas (vegetarian or shrimp)
- Refried beans
- Esquites (Mexican street corn salad) or elotes (on the cob)
- Chicken poblano soup (or try chicken and white bean chili)
Bonus: Strawberry agua fresca is a fabulous nonalcoholic drink. And for dessert, head to your local Mexican bakery, or try one of these.
4. Instant Pot-friendly
Eager to use your Instant Pot to simplify your party menu? Here are three great ways to use it, plus two no-cook recipes — and some of the world's most popular cookies (which you'll make in the oven). You can make the chicken and collard greens in advance and reheat in the microwave at serving time, then serve the mac & cheese right out of the IP.
- BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches
- Mac & cheese
- Collard greens
- An epic fruit platter
- Neiman Marcus cookies
5. Comfort food
Even when it isn't game day, I firmly believe that the best parties are comfortable. Here's how to lean into comfort food in a big way.
- Butternut squash soup
- Chicken tenders (or make them sandwiches)
- Baked mac & cheese
- Simple & savory kale salad
- Buttermilk cornbread muffins
- Classic fudgy brownies
Low in carbs and high in flavor, these recipes will keep you satisfied on the big day.
- Buffalo wings
- Charred shishito or padron peppers
- Jalapeño popper dip
- BLT deviled eggs (or see all our deviled eggs here)
- Cobb salad
- Asian-inspired pork meatballs
Keeping it plant-based is easy with our gorgeous array of vegan game-day favorites. It was hard to choose just a few, so I've included some extra options below.
- Perfect guacamole (or try our vegan queso) with chips
- The ideal popcorn with olive oil and nutritional yeast
- Cheesesteaks, banh mi, or burgers
- Salt and vinegar potatoes or fries
- Pinto bean or Instant Pot chili
- An epic fruit platter (sub cashew cream or coconut cream for the dairy in the chocolate sauce)
8. Quick & easy
If you're short on time or just don't feel like putting in too much effort in the kitchen, I hear you! Here are some favorite quick and easy football recipes that maximize satisfaction while minimizing the workload.
- Knorr spinach dip in a bread bowl
- BLTs, tuna salad sandwiches, or turkey avocado sandwiches
- Potato salad
- Naan pizza Margherita
9. Platters & boards
If you're in the mood for a giant, show-stopping buffet, it's easier than you may think to put together a variety of beautiful platters. Even I have never made these all at once, but no one's stopping ya if you want to. Maybe take a photo and tag @umamigirl on Instagram if you do!
- Cheese board
- Fries platter
- Bagna cauda and crudités
- Burrata platter
- Deviled egg bar
- Fruit platter with dark chocolate dip
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