Tailgating Tips, Tricks, Hacks, and Recipes to Elevate Your Pre-GameAdam Brinkman
We don’t know which part of football season we like more: the game or the pre-game before the game. Tailgating is as American as football and hot dogs, and we’ve rounded up the best tailgating tips, tricks, and hacks we could find to make sure your tailgate party is the best it possibly can be!
Plus, if you read to the very end, we’ve included some of our favorite tailgate breakfast recipes!
5 Tailgating Tips and Tracks
These essential tips and tricks will help you plan an awesome tailgate party for you, your friends, and your family.
1. Always (Always) Plan Ahead!
If you only use one tailgating tip we give you, it should be this one. Make sure you plan ahead. Would you rather be standing by your grill, hurriedly preparing mediocre food while your friends stand around awkwardly waiting to eat, or would you rather do all that stuff the night before and put everything into an organized cooler?
Yeah, we thought so. Planning ahead doesn’t just pertain to the food, though; make sure you pack your vehicle with everything you need before leaving (propane or charcoal grill, beer, cornhole, insect repellant, hand sanitizer, etc.). Most importantly, don’t forget your tickets!
2. Have an Awesome Setup
Tailgating space is at a premium, so get there at least a few hours before the game and stake out your spot. Try to get a spot near public restrooms for convenience, and tie some balloons to your truck’s antenna, so your friends who drove separately can find you.
Cover the food with a canopy to keep it out of direct sunlight or in case bad weather strikes. Bring enough folding chairs for everyone and a wireless speaker for music. Additionally, we recommend using paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid as many dirty dishes as possible.
3. Prepare Food Ahead of Time
When it comes to tailgating, we encourage DIY whenever possible. Set up your table buffet-style, with a topping and condiment station for hamburgers, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches. If none of those tickle your fancy, you could try a taco bar, a breakfast bar, a chili bar, a nacho bar, a… you know what? We think you get the point.
Our only rule is if you can grill it, you should be grilling it, so throw your burger buns and veggies on the grill for extra flavor. When the temperature drops in the fall, you can become hugely popular at a tailgate by bringing warm drinks. Think jumbo thermoses filled with hot chocolate, coffee, apple cider, or even soup. If it’s warm, the people will love you.
Here’s a fun hack: sign up to be a Door Dash driver. They’ll send you an insulated bag, and you can use that to keep your food warm!
4. Bring Plenty of Fun Activities
Since tailgating is a day-long commitment, you need to have things to do outside of eating, listening to music, and arguing with fans of the other team why your team is better.
Any portable outdoor games are welcome. You can go the simple route with a deck of cards, frisbees, and a football, or you can impress your friends with a custom cornhole set featuring your team’s colors! Playing cornhole is classic backyard fun, and what’s the point of tailgating if you’re not turning the parking lot into your own backyard?
5. Bring EVERYTHING You Own
No, we’re just kidding. You don’t have to bring everything. However, we would argue that it is better to be safe than sorry. Here is a list of things you should bring to the big game, just in case.
- Bottle openers (obviously)
- Duct tape (always a staple)
- Permanent marker and masking tape (for labeling drinks and such)
- Bungee cords
- Paper towels
- Trash bags
- First aid kit
4 Clever Tailgating Hacks
When it comes to tailgating, we’ve been around the block more than a few times. Hopefully, those tips and tricks will help you plan a fun pre-game session. However, for the experienced tailgater, these hacks will help you level up your game and show your friends you really know what you’re doing.
1. Leave the Ice Cubes at Home
Forget using boring old ice to keep your food and drinks cold. Instead, embrace the way of the future and use plastic water bottles. Just pop a few bottles into the freezer overnight, then pack them in your cooler on game day. Not only will this chill your snacks, but you will also have fresh cold water to wash down the nachos and hot dogs once the ice melts.
2. The Best Way to Serve Drinks
Have you ever tried to walk through a crowd juggling your drink, your buddy’s drink, and their buddy’s drink, and you end up spilling them all over the pavement? Use a simple store-bought metal cupcake pan. The holes are just big enough for standard red solo cups, and your cup-carrying potential will surpass all others.
3. Green Dip, Not Brown Dip
Is your mom’s homemade vegan, organic guacamole turning brown under the sun? Well, fear not because there is an easy fix for that; just use lime.
Grab one from your local produce section, slice it up, and place the slices on top of the dip. The lime juice will keep the guacamole from turning brown. Snack away!
4. Mark Your Territory
You want to party with your friends, and your friends want to party with you. Find a way to call attention to your vehicle. Fly a personalized flag or get some balloons and tie them to your mirror. This way, you’ll never lose sight of where your car or truck is parked, and your friends can find you easily.
Bonus! 4 Delicious Tailgating Breakfast Ideas
For those who like to start the tailgate party early, you should have a collection of fun tailgate breakfast recipes. These recipes are some of our favorites. They are delicious, easy to prepare, require little tailgating experience, and will fill your body with vital pre-game energy and nutrients.
1. Tailgate Breakfast Sliders
These sliders are easy to prepare ahead of time, so you can stake out the best tailgating spot and start the fun early!
- 1 package slider buns
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- Bacon (cooked and crumbled)
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 tbsp butter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice the buns in half lengthwise and place them in a baking tray. Top the buns with 2 cups of cheddar cheese. Beat the eggs with the milk and cook them in a large skillet using 1 tbsp of butter.
Top the buns with eggs and bacon and place the tops of the buns on the bacon and eggs. Brush the tops with butter and bake the sliders for 10-15 minutes. Pull the sliders out of the tray and serve.
Recipe creds go to Delish.
2. Bacon Bloody Marys
Take a standard Bloody Mary recipe and elevate it by adding bacon!
- 2 oz Vodka
- 4 oz Bloody Mary mix
- Crispy fried bacon
- Celery stalk
- Dill pickle spear
Fill a 16 oz cup about halfway with ice, add the vodka and Bloody Mary mix, and stir until chilled. Now here’s the fun part: add the garnish! The celery stalk, dill pickle spear, and one or more slices of crispy fried bacon go into the cup. Throw in a few olives if you please.
3. Grilled Breakfast Burritos
These breakfast burritos are simple enough that you can make them right at your tailgating spot! Plus, we’ve approved them for your vegetarian friends. However, if you only have to satisfy carnivores, you can add some meat to them too! Try using chicken, sausage, or steak and cooking it ahead of time.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 large potatoes, diced
- 1 onion
- ½ bell pepper
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- 10 large flour tortillas
Heat some olive oil in a skillet on the grill. Fry the potatoes until cooked through. Add the onions and peppers and cook them until they are tender. Scramble the eggs into the vegetables.
Top each tortilla with cheese and part of the egg mixture, roll them up, and cook them for 10 minutes on a grill lined with aluminum foil.
4. Pancake Sausage Bites
Another make-ahead recipe that can easily be reheated on the grill and served in between early rounds of cornhole!
- 16 oz package of sausage
- Oil for frying
- 1½ cups pancake mix
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- Serve with maple syrup
Pour about 2” of oil into a pan on the stove and heat it to 350 degrees. Form the sausage into balls, about 1 teaspoon each. Cook the sausage until there is no more pink, remove them from the heat, and drain. In a bowl, mix the pancake mix with the eggs and milk until it forms pancake batter.
Pick up the sausage balls with a toothpick and dip them into the batter to fully cover, then dip them back into the oil to fry for about 1½ minutes or until done. Remove and drain.
To reheat, seal the pancake bits in a packet of foil and place on the grill until they’ve heated through, then serve with maple syrup.
Recipe creds go to the Hungry Housewife.