Make-Ahead Tailgating Recipes
Quick Green Chicken Chili
The secret to a lightening-fast chili is to keep it simple, with starchy, creamy Great Northern beans as the main bean and canned green chiles (already broiled, skinned, and chopped) as your heat source. We blend half the beans to build body, leaving the rest whole for texture. Precooked rotisserie chicken also saves time, but you could use any leftover protein, such as chopped cooked pork tenderloin or cooked ground turkey. Top the chili with creamy sour cream and crunchy radishes, or try diced tomato, cilantro, or sliced jalapeños. Serve with multigrain tortilla chips.
Spiced Whiskey Sour
Five-spice powder turns the classic whiskey sour into something special. You can double, triple, or quadruple the spiced sugar syrup and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Use in cocktails, or drizzle over hot oatmeal.
Savory Potato Salad
Simpler and tastier than many old-fashioned potato salads, this version features a fresh lemon-and-oil-based dressing instead of a mayo-laden dressing. Try to toss the potatoes in the dressing while they’re still a bit warm—they’ll absorb more flavor that way. The anchovy paste lends a deep umami hit that’s not fishy, just savory. Use a Microplane-style grater to create a smooth garlic pulp that doesn’t leave off-putting crunchy bits of raw garlic in the mix.
Habanero-Apricot Chicken Sandwiches
For slow-simmered flavor without the hassle, reach for your handy slow cooker. Habaneros contain more capsaisin (the compound that contributes spicy heat) than jalapeños, but removing the seeds and membranes lessens that heat considerably.
Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans
Skip the canned baked beans in favor of our fuss-free version, which saves up to 300mg sodium per serving. Adobo sauce and bacon build a smoky backbone, while peak-season peaches offer sweet contrast. Bonus: The beans will stay warm in a covered slow cooker for up to 2 hours after being unplugged.
Pan Bagnat Tuna Sandwich
Quality ingredients make all the difference here. Use premium canned or jarred white tuna, the best fruity olive oil you have, and garden-fresh veggies. We chop up the olives and capers and mix them into the tuna for a briny flavor hit that won’t slip out of your sandwich as you eat. Niçoise are small French black olives; kalamata olives will work just fine in their place.
Prickly Pear Punch
We like the clean flavor and mixability of silver tequila here. For a nonalcoholic drink, omit it and top with sparkling water.
Creamy Black Pepper Coleslaw
Cutting the cabbage coarsely gives the dish a different look from shredded-cabbage slaws. A full teaspoon of black pepper lends pleasant warm heat without overpowering. Make the dish up to a day ahead if you like—the veggies will stay crisp and the flavors will meld as the slaw chills.
A generous splash of light coconut milk enriches this dairy-free chowder, making it creamy while offering a faint sweet flavor that enhances the sweetness of the corn. A spoonful of flour also helps to thicken the broth; for a gluten-free version, you can try substituting 11/2 teaspoons cornstarch (you might need to simmer longer to get it to thicken). If you have leftover chicken or a rotisserie bird on hand, you can always use that instead of starting with raw chicken; you’ll want to use about 2 cups shredded or chopped chicken.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Brisket
Traditional Mexican barbacoa involves wrapping meat in banana or avocado leaves and slowly cooking it over hot coals, partially steaming the meat to tender perfection. This slow cooker version replicates the flavors and a bit of that traditional method: Chipotle chiles, ground cumin, and oregano offer bold, smoky flavor, and the beef brisket steams to tenderness as it cooks gently in the slow cooker. For tacos, serve the saucy barbacoa in tortillas with green and red onion, cilantro leaves, jalapeño slices, and fresh lime wedges. Or build yourself one awesome burrito bowl with those same components by putting them over brown rice or quinoa instead of in tortillas.
Roasted Asparagus With Walnuts, Parmesan, and Cherry Tomatoes
Asparagus is like a poster child for umami, high in the glutamates that create savory satisfaction. Ditto for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which also delights with its signature crunchy salt crystals.
We’re big, big fans of the hasselback technique. We’ve had smashing success with both baking potatoes and sweet potatoes hasselbacked apples (happlebacks!) were the logical next step—cinnamon-sugar butter between the layers, a crispy streusel sprinkle, and a dollop of ice cream on top. Simple, easy to make ahead, and delicious. I wonder what we’ll hasselback next?
Mushroom-Potato Salad with Miso "Mayo"
White miso is the umami-bomb base of the dressing that will have you licking the bowl. It's potato salad like you've never had before, guaranteed to steal the show at your next barbecue.
Cheesy Sausage Balls
This classic party appetizer will go quickly, so make double. Unlike typical sausage balls, this recipe has a hidden whole-grain secret: quinoa. That's right. Instead of using store-bought biscuit mix, we use cooked quinoa as the binder. If your guests can handle the heat, don't be afraid to use hot pork sausage. The extra flavor boost is worth it.
Double-Crust Apple Pie
A double crust seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.
Cheesy Sausage Roll-Ups
Roll corn tortillas around a sausage and seal with creamy, melty cheese. Top with jalapeños, which add a spicy kick to this childhood classic. Ready in just under 15 minutes, this quick weekday snack is also perfect for parties, picnics, and barbecues.
Zesty Green Goddess Dip
Because fresh herbs are increasingly available, you can make this tangy, peppery dip year-round. So skip the baked, greasy dips and replace them with a dip that highlights fresh veggies. The best part: you'll never have to turn on your oven.
Avocado Chicken Salad
Fresh, tasty, and delicious is how this 5-star Avocado Chicken Salad is commonly described. Mrs. Hartzell raves, “So delicious and easy! I could seriously eat this every day!” You’re not alone. We could, too. This particular recipe uses vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise but doesn’t lose its creamy texture, thanks to avocado. Salsa and fresh cilantro give this chicken salad its south-of-the-border flavors. So, instead of layering over a bed of greens, serve with tortilla chips for scooping and an added crunch.
This citrusy take on coleslaw is fresh and pleasantly spicy, an ideal side dish or burger or brat topping. Leave the seeds in more peppers for added fire, or seed all of them for a milder dish.
Here is a make-ahead chili that both meat lovers and vegetarians will love: It packs in all the classic flavors you want and is loaded with beans that give the dish a rich, almost meaty character. Serving this chili the next day lets flavors meld--if the beans soak up a lot of liquid overnight, you can add more vegetable broth or even water to thin out the stew.
Fresh summer peaches are a welcome addition to traditional lemonade in this easy, kid-friendly recipe. For the best and brightest flavors, make sure that your peaches are perfect ripeness.
This recipe has been a staff favorite since we first tried it 13 years ago. It's rich, savory, and super creamy, with a nice hit of garlic. We made a few small tweaks—increased the amount of spinach and decreased the mozzarella to lower the sat fat to an acceptable level.
Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork
The slow cooker makes easy work of this pulled pork recipe. Serve on hamburger buns, if desired, for a hearty and satisfying sandwich.
Tzatziki Chicken Salad
A classic Greek sauce of creamy yogurt and cucumber makes the base of this tangy salad. Make this part of a salad plate combo—offer a mixed green salad and a fruit salad to go with it.
It’s a quick snack to make before dinner. Throw all the ingredients into a food processor, give it a whirl, and presto−you’ve bought yourself an hour to make a meal. Healthy dippers include baby carrots, radishes, jicama, and sugar snap peas.
Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Dress up your deviled eggs with a little "Caviar of the South," also known as pimiento cheese.
Chunky Vegetarian Chili
This vegetable chili recipe is a great way to get kids to eat fiber-rich foods. It can be taken on camping trips or packed in a thermos for school lunches.
Hickory Pulled Pork
As many Southerners know, hickory wood chips offer an almost magical alchemy, yielding sublime flavor when combined with four simple ingredients. Serve with potato salad, coleslaw, and iced tea for a delicious summer supper.
Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili
Serve with classic condiments such as sour cream, chopped green onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. For a thinner chili, cook covered the whole time. You can prepare it a day ahead and refrigerate, or up to two weeks ahead and freeze (be sure to thaw the chili overnight in the refrigerator). Look for masa harina, the corn flour used to make tortillas, in the Latin foods aisle at the supermarket, or substitute fine-ground cornmeal. Use kitchen shears to cut up the tomatoes in the can.
Guacamole with Chipotle Tortilla Chips
Chipotle chile powder gives the crunchy chips a smoky kick that pairs well with the buttery guacamole. Use ground cumin or regular chili powder in its place, if you prefer. Prepare the chips up to a day ahead, and store in a zip-top plastic bag.
Light and Fresh Potato Salad
If you don't like mayonnaise, this is the potato salad for you. With a vinaigrette base, the recipe truly lives up to its light and fresh claims. To make matters even better, there's only 90 calories per serving. Eat up!
We love the look of mezze penne, a smaller version of regular penne, but you can use any short pasta you like. The “lettuce” in this BLT is actually tender baby spinach. You could also substitute peppery arugula or even baby kale.
This dip makes a delicious break from the overabundance of Halloween sweets. It's perfect for enjoying with fresh apple slices.
Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms
These pesto-filled, two-bite cremini mushrooms are perfect as an appetizer or as a side to grilled chicken or steak. The spicy Mexican-inspired pesto combines parsley, cilantro, pepitas, crushed red pepper and Cojita cheese for an innovative take on the traditional Italian recipe.
Quick Chicken-Corn Chowder
You can have this chicken and corn chowder on the table in less than 30 minutes. Sounds too good to be true, right? We guess you will just have to try it to find out.
Super Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
This recipe works will with almost any combination of vegetables. Traditional bell peppers and celery work great, but can also be substituted for broccoli slaw, chopped eggplant, and shredded carrots.