Our Top-Rated Tailgating Recipes
Tennessee Burger with Bourbon and BBQ Sauce
You can play with tradition in the South, but best not mess with it. There's no quinoa or fish sauce in this burger. It starts with caramelized onions, cooked low and slow. Some of the onions then get folded into the beef, keeping the patty moist and juicy. Next come salutes to barbecue and bourbon. Bacon adds savory crunch, while a shot of bourbon keeps the made-from-scratch sauce smoky and sweet.
Two-Cheese Veggie Nachos
Being vegetarian doesn't mean you have to miss out on tailgating snacks. With a bit of creativity (and a few Cooking Light recipes in your repertoire) it's quite easy to make a football party menu that serves veggie and meat eaters alike.
We love the double-cheese contrast in this nacho recipe: Shredded cheese melts into a bubbly blanket over the tortillas, while crumbly queso fresco covers the veggies with a salty kick. It's an impressive dish for coffee table dining—it's fun to keep it all on the baking pan and serve as a shared platter.
Chili-Corn Chip Pie
This recipe is a healthy version of Fritos Chili Pie. Often served from concession stands at fairs, festivals, and sporting events, this crowd-pleaser usually involves splitting the bag of chips open, ladling chili into the bag, and then topping with cheese, onions, and other garnishes.
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.
Blazin' Baked Beans
Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce add smoky-hot depth to these easy-to-make baked beans.
*Remember to check for gluten in chipotle chiles and barbecue sauce.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
The rich and creamy combination of bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar nicely contrasts the muted spice of the grilled jalapeños in these poppers. You’ll never guess these are lightened up! That’s why this recipe—a healthy, fresh alternative to the popular breaded and fried snack—is one of our favorite appetizers to make.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grilled Asian Drumsticks
This dip makes a delicious break from the overabundance of Halloween sweets. It's perfect for enjoying with fresh apple slices.
Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese
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!
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.
Seasoning fresh shrimp with a homemade jerk seasoning mix and grilling over medium-high heat for three minutes on each side is a sure-fire summertime entreé winner. Serve with a sweet fruit salsa that the kids will love.
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.
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.
Grilled Corn on the Cob With Roasted Jalapeño Butter
Charring the pepper eases the heat, yielding a versatile, not-too-spicy butter.