Camping food is not only for the Great Outdoors … it is AWESOME for tailgating parties! We’ve got the perfect tailgating food ideas whether you are at the big game, throwing a party at your campsite, or, in your own backyard!
What To Bring For Tailgating
Before you plan your menu, verify everything you want to do is permitted. Create a packing list prior to your event, here are a few items to get you started:
Cooking Gear, Fuel & Accessories
- Portable stove with ample fuel
- Portable grill with ample fuel
- Portable smoker with ample fuel
- Electricity source
- Cooler for holding raw and cooked food at safe temperatures (get tips on how to pack a cooler efficiently)
- Folding table
Cooking, Eating & Drinking Utensils
- Serving trays
- Cutting mats
- Aluminum foil
- Bottle opener
- Can opener
- Paper towels
Condiments + Recipe Ingredients
- Salt & pepper
- Hot Sauce
- All ingredients for the tailgating recipes you will be making in the parking lot
Cleanup Items & Safety Equipment
- Sanitizing wipes
- Trash bags
- Fire extinguishers
- Bug repellent
- First Aid Kit
- Warm clothes, shoes and a blanket if you are attending a football game in cold weather
A comprehensive camping checklist is a good tool to help you prepare the items you need to bring for tailgating. Grab a copy of our FREE Ultimate RV And Tent Camping Checklist.
Tailgating Rules At Stadiums
If you are lucky enough to be tailgating in the parking lot at the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, you can usually find recycling programs. They often have FREE recycling bags for tailgaters!
The use of charcoal grills and oil fryers are often prohibited at large stadiums. Propane grills and stoves are usually acceptable. Some stadiums allow the use of portable tailgate pellet grill smokers too.
Be sure to plan your menu with all of the rules in mind. You don’t want to show up with food to cook on a charcoal grill and find out that you can’t use it after you arrive!
Camp Stove Ideas For Tailgate Menus
We use our propane camp stove frequently in the summer when we can’t have open flames due to wildfire restrictions. Here are some of our favorite camp stove recipes that are also great when tailgating.
Our family LOVES chili, that’s why we have so many different recipes for different versions! After years of begging my brother-in-law for his recipe, he finally shared his family secrets! He starts with a homemade spice blend that has a little kick, adds ground beef, Italian sausage and a touch of beer. It simmers for at least 2 hours and once we start, we can’t stop eating it!
Our other chili recipes include:
This is my award-winning recipe that uses ground beef and ground Italian sausage.
This white chili is made with ground turkey and has a mild Mexican flavor profile.
You’re probably thinking … didn’t she just tell me about a white chili recipe? Yes, I did. But I have two of them. This one is made with cubed chicken breast meat and has a rich and creamy texture.
You won’t need to worry about cold food storage space for this simple recipe … it uses only non-refrigerated ingredients! Canned chicken, corn and pinto beans are the base for this quick meal.
These beef sandwiches require NO prepping and only use 3 ingredients. They cook low and slow making them tender and delicious.
We call these “10 minute tacos” because they are ready so fast!
When you start with ground beef, andouille sausage and a few strips of bacon, you can’t go wrong. This one-pot meal also adds potatoes, canned diced tomatoes, green beans, corn, green chilies and pinto beans for a satisfying dinner.
We made this family-friendly version of jambalaya the is not too spicy. It features chicken, sausage and shrimp in a thick tomato sauce.
Boil some chicken broth on your stove. Add farfalle pasta and cook till al dente. Then, stir in sliced pre-cooked chicken, fire roasted tomatoes, cream cheese and some Cajun spices for a yummy meal.
No pre-boiling required! This classic comfort food is filled with carbs and protein, perfect for colder weather. The pasta combines with the beef, beans, tomatoes and cheese to make a flavorful meal.
Tailgate Grilling Menu Ideas
The nice thing about easy camping grill recipes is that you can use a propane grill or a charcoal (if allowed at the stadium) grill.
This incredibly flavorful snack is great for munching before you bring out the heavier bites.
Flatbread is a great finger food and can turn from a light appetizer to a full meal depending on what you top it with.
These shish kabobs marinate about 4 hours after only a few minutes of prepping. You can grill them over a portable grill or use a portable stove with a grill pan.
Although this is one of my vegetarian camping recipes, it completely satisfies the meat-lovers in my family!
Tailgate Smoker Recipe Ideas
Small portable tailgate smokers are great for smoking food at different locations. Here are a few of our favorite camping smoker recipes.
We combined ground beef, bacon, onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers, spices and three types of beans to make this classic meal in a portable tailgate smoker.
Combine chicken drumsticks with a simple spicy dry rub and smoke 2 hours for a yummy treat. Add BBQ sauce if you want but it is not necessary!
This quick version of Poor Man’s Brisket Burnt Ends cooks for 5 hours in a portable pellet grill. Make the easy homemade Kansas City Dry Rub and Kansas City Style Homemade Old Fashioned Molasses BBQ Sauce days in advance for easy game day cooking.
These fall-off-the-bone tender “dino ribs” are beef short ribs that cook for 6 hours in a tailgate portable smoker.
These green beans are smoked at 225 F degrees with your other smoked meats. The bacon, onion and garlic are a winning combination here.
Make-Ahead Food Ideas
If you want to do most of the prep and cooking at home, consider these make ahead camping meals.
This ridiculously tasty potato salad is best after the flavors marry a few days. Make it at home for quick serving at the game.
This French dip is one of my “dump and cook” freezer meals. Just simmer this beef in the flavor-filled juice that you’ll use for dipping!
This Southwest Salad is great to serve with sandwiches. Make it a main course by adding some cubed grilled chicken. Make it at home and refrigerate up to 2 days.
This pasta salad has bold flavors with the feta cheese, Kalamata olives and pepperoncini peppers. Serve it as a side dish or add cubed grilled chicken to make it a main dish.
This fresh broccoli salad can be made days in advance and kept refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.
This easy cornbread is made with cornmeal and canned creamed corn. It can be made a few days in advance and travels well. Just slice and serve at the game-day party.
This is one of my “lazy cooking days” where we just hang out at the campsite and tend to a long-cooking meal throughout the day. If you make it at home, you can just reheat it at the game.
Wraps can be made ahead then wrapped in plastic or parchment paper for eating later. I don’t like making them more than about 12 hours in advance, otherwise they can get soggy.
This easy and sophisticated appetizer can be made several days in advance. It has a strong blue cheese flavor which is great for blue cheese fans. You can reduce the amount of blue and increase the amount of cheddar cheese for a milder flavor profile.
The combination of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff create a quick and easy base for these chocolate dipped cookie balls that can be made months in advance and frozen till ready for serving at the party.
Bake these brownies at home, then, cool, slice, wrap and freeze. They’ll be ready for quick serving after they’re defrosted.
Quiche is often served cold or at room temperature, making it the ultimate make ahead recipe.
Make this coffee cake at home, cool and wrap whole. Then slice and serve at the party. It makes a slightly sweet breakfast or dessert.
Breakfast Tailgate Food Ideas
If your game-day events start early in the morning, you might want to try a few of these awesome camping breakfast ideas.
3 basic ingredients cook in 8 minutes to make this simple breakfast. The bread has the flavor and texture of a buttery grilled cheese (without the cheese).
These California-style breakfast burritos combine avocado with the eggs, cheese, chorizo and potatoes … all wrapped in a tortilla making it really easy to eat.
Just-add-water pancakes turn almost gourmet! The secret is a super-simple peanut butter sauce. Kids of all ages like chocolate chips in their flapjacks.
You’ll be eating in about 15 minutes! Start with canned black beans, avocado, eggs, cheddar cheese and finish off with some prepared salsa for a quick and satisfying breakfast.
This is a fresh, homemade version of an Egg McMuffin. Combine a fried egg, bacon and cheese with a toasted English muffin for a quick breakfast that easily scales up to feed large crowds.
This simple one-pot skillet breakfast combines bacon, Southern style hash browns, green bell pepper, onion, eggs, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream and it’s ready in less than 1/2 hour.
These breakfast wraps combine bacon, avocado and scrambled eggs to make a quick, delicious meal.
Popular Tailgating Events
We can’t all have our team in the biggest game of the year but we can enjoy the tailgate food and party! Some of the most popular events include…
- Super Bowl
- Pro & College Football Games
- Pro & College Sporting Events
- Concerts & Music Festivals
Super Bowl Food Fun Fact…
- Question: How many chicken wings will Americans eat on Super Bowl Sunday?
- Answer: According to the National Chicken Council that number is an astounding 1.4 BILLION chicken wings! Source. Get the wet naps ready!
Themes For Tailgating
Tailgate parties can take on a distinctive personality that celebrates the event.
How To Celebrate Your Team
Teams (some of the most devoted fans support the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Ole Miss and Notre Dame)
- Prepare food and drinks that are in the team’s colors
- Use plates, napkins, eating & serving utensils in the team’s colors
- Create recipes using local/regional ingredients (crawfish, salmon, crab, Spam, potatoes, green chiles)
Local Food Styles & Recipes
- Southern (peach cobbler, fried chicken, pimento cheese anything LOL)
- Cajun (jambalaya, gumbo, dirty rice)
- Midwest comfort food (Chicago-style hot dogs, mac & cheese, cheese curds)
- Southwest (tacos, burritos, avocado and salsa anything LOL)
- Jimmy Buffett (Cheeseburgers in Paradise, spicy grilled shrimp and margaritas, of course)
More Fun Recipes
Get more inspiration for your next outing.