tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray
Tailgate Food Ideas
tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray

Football Season has always been synonymous with Fall at my house. Growing up, my mom and dad took us to college football games every Saturday. My dad played football in high school and received a football scholarship to Auburn University…and so I grew up knowing and loving football! We had season tickets which basically equated to a load of my childhood memories created with my parents, sister, and family friends. SEC Football is full of excitement- from making the drive to the game and passing all of the other fans on the way…we’d shake our orange and blue shakers at them…friendly car horns would say hello…and lots of exchanges of “War Eagle” and “Go Tigers”. Now, as an adult and a mom, I am amazed that my mother packed up a tailgate spread each Fall Saturday and loaded us in the car for the hour and a half trip. I am going to share some of the tips and recipes that I’ve learned from my mom along with ideas from some of my favorite blogging friends– with hopes it helps you plan your tailgate parties that you host at home or at the games!

  1. GRAZING BOARDS
large cheese board with fruit and crackers

My mom always had crackers and cheese to stave off any overly-hungry kids (or adults). The typical crackers and cheese dish from my childhood has definitely grown with more options available in our grocery stores. Cheese boards and grazing boards (also known as charcuterie boards) have become all the rage for good reason. You can stack a platter full of delicious options and feed a crowd for what feels like days. After you decide on a variety of cheese and crackers, add in fruits, vegetables, and even deli meats. Group larger, like foods together to start and then add smaller items to fill in where needed. This makes for a pretty presentation and an easy way to see what you may want to replenish (if you have extra).

My mom also always had dips for us eat- you can add them to the cheese board or let them stand out on their own. Below, I am showing you one of my favorite recipes from my friend at Bird’s Party

2. FOOTBALL CHEESE DIP (click for recipe)

football shaped cheese dip on wooden board with crackers pretzels and vegetables

For game days, my mom kept it simple by adding in our favorite chips or salty snacks. Sometimes she would combine them to make a party mix, which is always a hit. Snack mixes or party mixes make great tailgate food ideas because you end up with a big batch to feed a crowd- and there is something for everyone in the mixes! Below, I am adding one of my favorite tailgate snack mixes from my blogging friend at An Affair from the Heart...I think I like this one a little extra because it has my childhood favorite~ Bugles! Did anyone else love Bugles?

3. TOUCHDOWN SNACK MIX (click for recipe)

snack mix for parties with bugles goldfish chex cereal

And, this next recipe reminds me so much of my childhood. I just bought a bag of these crackers to make this and it made me reminisce a little. I used to love it when my mom made these- and they are very simple!

4. RANCH AND DILL OYSTER CRACKERS (click for recipe)

oyster crackers with dried ranch dressing and dill

Another part of my mom’s tailgate formula for success was to have sandwiches cut in half and placed on a platter. She often rotated between pimento cheese sandwiches and cream cheese and pineapple sandwiches. That second combo was such an odd one to me when I was a kid (it still seems a little different to me as an adult), but I loved it. I have always wondered if that was more common than I realize! Now, sliders are a popular choice and they are simple to make, too! Below, I am sharing my friend Courtney’s (Pizzazzerie) recipe for chicken sliders…

5. CHICKEN SLIDERS . (click for recipe)

tailgate-food-ideas-sliders-pizzazzerie

If you like to offer traditional tailgate fare with a twist, check out this brat recipe from Cheese Curd in Paradise, another food blogging friend…

6. WISCONSIN BEER BRATS (click for recipe)

wisconsin beer brats

For those of you who like to add a veggie sandwich option to your menu should try out this Po’ Boy from my friend, Molly, at Easy Cooking with Molly.

7. VEGGIE PO’ BOY (click for recipe)

veggie po boy sandwich

Side salads were also always on the menu for a tailgate when I was growing up. It differed depending on my mom’s choice of the week, but I mostly remember red potato salad being a go-to . My favorite side salad to make for my family is Chick Pea Salad. Everyone seems to like it, and it is healthy and fresh. I make this recipe for lots of occasions -it’s a great one for summer get-togethers, too.

8. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA BALLS (recipe below)

overhead view of individual servings of chick pea salad with tomatoes cucumbers black olives and cheese

Chickpea Salad Recipe

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz.) rinsed and drained

2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 can of small black olives, rinsed and drained

1 package of grape tomatoes, sliced into halves

1 small package of mini mozzarella balls, gently separated

1/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley

1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese for topping/garnish

Fresh ground pepper for garnish

Instructions~

Whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt in large bowl.

Combine chickpeas and next five ingredients in the large bowl.

Toss ingredients with oil mixture in the bowl.

When ready to serve, garnish with freshly ground pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese.

You can serve in one large bowl or serve individually in small cups or bowls.

Serves 6-8

If you would like to serve a Chickpea Salad with more fall flavors and colors, try this one by my blogging friend, Gloria, at Homemade and Yummy…

9. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH APPLES AND PUMPKIN SEEDS (click for recipe)

chickpea salad with apples and pumpkin seeds

Now that we have ideas for the bulk of the tailgate food, we can talk about dessert and drink ideas…

Sweets such as brownies, or other easy to slice desserts, are always a great choice. They may seem over-used, but you can dress up brownies in cute ways if you want…see these football shaped brownies by Bird’s Party…

10. FOOTBALL BROWNIES (click for recipe)

brownies shaped like footballs with white icing for the seams

Or, you can do like I did here and bake chocolate chip brownies or muffins from a mix (I use Ghirardelli) and add a cupcake topper…

11. CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS OR BROWNIES

chocolate chip brownie muffins with powdered sugar on top and a football cupcake topper

For drinks, I like to make a signature cocktail for those that enjoy a specialty drink. Making a drink to go along with the team colors adds to the spirit of the day. Here I made a red and black cocktail for Bulldawg Illustrated and The Southern Coterie…

12. TEAM SPIRIT COCKTAIL

signature cocktail for the university of georgia

If you prefer to stick with beer, Bird makes a mean FRUITY Beer Cocktail for something different…

13. FRUITY BEER COCKTAIL (click for recipe)

fruity beer cocktail with football coaster diy

For non-alcoholic drinks, I like to have a stock of water- flat water, sparkling water, and also a selection of BODYARMOR. My daughter got us hooked on BODYARMOR for flavored water – and we had a chance to sample several flavors when BODYARMOR asked if they could send us a variety of their drinks. I am especially happy with the natural ingredients of the products- along with the electrolytes when needed. Some of those college football games in the south get really hot and active- even for the spectators! Lol Load up a cooler or display the drinks in a spirited way and keep everyone properly hydrated!

14. BODYARMOR (click for flavor choices)

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

Luckily, we live within walking distance of some of the best match-ups of SEC games. We get to enjoy the excitement of game days and the tailgate food that is part of the tradition. Some people love football simply for the tailgate, and so it is fun to provide a pre-game meal that feeds a hungry crowd. I hope you use these recipes at your tailgate parties and beyond. And, if you would like more football party inspiration, click here, here, and here.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your game days and parties!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

Disclaimer: I received BodyArmor drinks to review but the opinions and words are all my own. I actually agreed to try more flavors of BODYARMOR because it was already a staple in our home, and I knew we liked it! For us, it is our favorite choice of hydrating drinks.

football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
Teaming Up with BODYARMOR Sports Drink

It’s funny how things happen sometimes…I created tailgate party ideas for Bulldawg Illustrated and was soon contacted by BODYARMOR asking if they could send drinks my way to try out for tailgate parties. Little did they know, my refrigerator was already stocked with BODYARMOR because my daughter loves it (and, I don’t know about you, but I am so happy to see a sports drink on the market that makes me feel so much better about my kids drinking it). And so, I said yes to BODYARMOR’s offer to send us a box of their drinks. My daughter’s favorite is Peach Mango and so we received lots of that flavor with many others to try, too!

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

My daughter is one of the photographers and trainers for her school’s football team which means she attends every practice and game -which made it a perfect chance to share the BODYARMOR drinks with some of the teammates. These guys were excited about the drinks and the photos which made it all the more fun! One of her friends in the photos is also in her media class- he loves cameras and video…I love how this opportunity was also an opportunity for them to put their media skills to use on the other side of the camera, too!

football player holding a BODYARMOR sports drink in his open palms and smiling
football player tossing bodyarmor sports drink in the air and catching it
football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
football player flexing muscle and drinking bodyarmor sports drink

I had to get the back of that jersey- I love it…

two football players drinking bodyarmor sports drink

football player holding helmet by facemask with body armor sports drink inside helmet
2 football players holding body armor sports drink vertically between their fists

These three are in media class together- based on this photo that just came together on the spot, I can only imagine how much laughing they do when they are all together (just in case you missed it, both of the girls in the photo are the team photographers/videographers and are included as official members of the football team).

3 teenagers like staristeps with bodyarmor sports drinks on their heads

They’re just all naturals…

4 teens posing with bodyarmor sports drink on each others heads
football player holding 2 bottles of bodyarmor sports drink close to his chest
two football players holding body armor sports drinks
football player with big smile drinking bodyarmor sports drink

Maybe you are like I was initially, and you are wondering what all of the hype is about BODYARMOR. Well…the ingredients are more natural such as coconut water and natural food colors. There are 3 different versions and so many different flavors. You can choose Sports Drink, LYTE Sports Drink, and SportWater. For replenishing lost electrolytes when exercising and quenching thirst, I am a BODYARMOR convert. It is a great drink option to put in the cooler for kids’ birthday parties and for tailgates, too. Where do you find BODYARMOR? Locally, I get it at Publix. You can find a store locator on the BODYARMOR website here and you can order directly from Amazon here.

football players and trainers posing with helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks
football player holding helmet full of BODYARMOR sports drinks

Disclosure: I said yes to receiving free product from BODYARMOR as it is always in our refrigerator- and then we had fun sharing the drinks and taking photos to post as a thank you to BODYARMOR. The product was free and the post and opinions are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which earns this blog a commission at no extra cost to you.

COUNTRY FAIR BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS

Natasha, an adorable two-year-old, celebrated her birthday with family in friends in the most fun way! I love the big, bright, beautiful cake! There are so many cute ideas in this party, so be sure to check out all of the details and enjoy a little slice of  life in the country!

Read More

SAFARI BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS

Hold onto your Safari Hats as you trek through this adventure of a party!  Beth Greeson always hosts the most fabulous parties for her son- and I was lucky enough to get to help pull it all together!  Beth’s enthusiasm makes the parties full of energy and pure fun for the guests!  

The cake (made by Kate Petronis of And Everything Sweet) was a stunner!

Read More

FOOTBALL BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS- GAME DAY

Set, Down, Hut!  Jennifer Kirlin, of Bella Grey Designs, put together this fantastic FOOTBALL PARTY and is sharing her ideas with us!  I love the backdrop of the serving table and all of the cute details!  The popcorn cones are one of my favorites at this party!  Be sure to check those out- I know kids and adults alike would love them!

Read More