Umami Girl’s definitive collection of tailgate food. Dozens of our favorite game day recipes, tips, and tricks for a fun, easy, crowd-pleasing party.
Game day should be easy
When we think of game day and tailgate food, we think relaxed, easy fun. 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, we haven’t included any cocktails, because BEER.
Tailgate 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.
We’d recommend just a few strategies
Make most of the food ahead of time. Almost everything on this list 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 Appetizers
Our favorite apps for tailgate parties
These easy vegetarian bites are make-ahead friendly. We actually like the baked version even better than the fried ones.
Not your average nachos. These are so good we sometimes eat them for dinner. They'll be gone in a flash.
An epic french fries platter is easy and FABULOUS.
These quesadillas make a great meal, and they can be cut into smaller wedges to serve as appetizers.
These vegetarain quesadillas make a great meal, and they can be cut into smaller wedges to serve as appetizers.
Tater tots, goooood. Nachos, goooood. What's not to love about combining them?
Here's another quick meal that doubles as an app when you cut it smaller. A fan favorite.
Like jalapeño poppers, we love these potato skins even more than their fried counterpart. Make them classic with bacon or vegetarian with shiitake bacon bits.
Why stop with regular potato skins when you can French Onion SOUP your potato skins?
Class up your game day just a tad with this tapas classic.
Game Day Dips
Our favorite dips for tailgate parties
Perfectly balanced and full of flavor, this is best-in-class guac.
Easy hummus kicked up a notch. A flavorful vegan option.
Our friends named this crack dip for good reason.
A classic that never gets old.
This vegan queso is off the charts.
An even more flavorful take on the classic hot spinach dip.
Game Day Chilis and Soups
Our favorite chili and soup recipes for tailgate parties
A quick, easy, vegetarian favorite. (The chili itself is vegan.)
Quick and easy, great flavor. You can make half the batch vegetarian if you like.
Such good, hearty soup that's 100% game-day appropriate.
This clean classic is fabulous on game day.
A big batch of hearty, warming, crowd-pleasing soup.
Game Day Instant Pot Recipes
Our Instant Pot recipes for game day are easy and dreamy.
Healthy, hearty, crowd-pleasing chili from the Instant Pot.
You won't find a better Instant Pot mac and cheese than this.
5 ingredients if you count the salt. Just so good.
Game Day Pizzas and Burgers
Our favorite pizza and burger recipes for tailgate parties
Win friends and influence people with these easy, fabulous burgers.
Make-ahead vegan burgers with a friendly flavor profile.
These fabulous veggie burgers can be dressed up exactly like their meaty counterparts.
Pizza on a sheet pan is great for game day.
This is my favorite pizza, period.
Game Day Snacks
Our favorite snack recipes for tailgate parties
Wildly popular for a decade, these potatoes will disappear in a flash.
Air pop your way into your guests' hearts.
Much-beloved, make-ahead friendly soft pretzels are a winner.
Game Day Desserts
Our favorite desserts for tailgate parties
We love our one-bowl brownies.
Blondies with a secret ingredient make a great pair with our brownies. Cut them small for game day.
A classic, always a favorite.
Make simple and simply perfect cupcakes for a crowd.