10 New Takes on Classic Tailgating Recipes

Get familiar with 10 game-day recipes—including pulled pork sandwiches and Frito pie—that will help you achieve tailgating domination.

  • Grilled Salsa. The beauty of making your own salsa is controlling the heat. Who knows how hot “hot” is when you read it on a label? Take back control and never be disappoited by a misleading label again. Use whatever chiles you like in this recipe, but remember that grilling them tamps down their bite.
  • Chinese Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Kale and Apple Slaw. Brown & braise pork. Shred & stir slaw. Toast buns. Heap, eat.
  • Party Pretzel Bites. Brioche-like soft pretzels in bite form that you can make ahead of time. You should probably serve them with mustard, but your guests may not even notice.
  • White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs. If you’re tired of hummus, it’s time to branch out to other creamy dips. White beans make a sturdy yet silky chip dip, while fresh herbs and lemon juice keep every bite feeling fresh. This is also great for spreading on wraps in case you’re looking to turn it into a meal.
  • Frito Pie. Ok, so this isn’t necessarily an “updated” classic, but it sure is the best version of frito pie we’ve tasted, and that makes it worthy of placement here. It’s Texas-style (no beans, no tomato) chili that you can heap into a Fritos bag and eat standing up. If that’s not dude food, what is?
  • The Elegant Hors d’Oeuvre’s Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Brown sugar, mustard, water chestnuts, and bacon are all you need to make these sweet, smoky bites. Skewer them up ahead of time (using long skewers instead of toothpicks, as shown), and then grill them once people start arriving. Or else, you’ll just end up eating them all yourself.
  • Sweet Pea Hummus. A bright spin on traditional hummus, this recipe features fresh green peas, lemon, and a hint of garlic. If you can open a can of garbanzos, you can make this.
  • Double Corn, Quinoa & Cheddar Muffins. Vegetarians will be happy to know that quinoa is a complete protein, so these muffins are actually meal-worthy. Add southern-style collard greens and you’ll have meat eaters ditching whatever else you brought to get a plate full of this southern duo.
  • Cubano Mixto. Salty, tangy, gooey—this sandwich calls for being pressed like a panini, but it’s even better grilled. Use a cast iron pan on your grill or hold it together with toothpicks, or risk losing some of that precious filling.
  • Fresh Fig Cornbread. Bake the cornbread ahead of time and warm it gently on the grill once everything else has finished cooking. The figs add moisture and just the right amount of sweetness. Think of this as a snack cake rather than dessert. Meaning, it will still taste good with your beer.

The only thing more embarrassing than warm beer at a tailgating party is serving the same burgers and dogs you made before every game last year. We’re not talking about shaking up your routine with Kaiser rolls or pretzel buns, we’re talking about a whole new regime. It’s time you took your tailgating food seriously. It needs to keep you going for hours of cheering in the stadium, and you’re going to need a solid base for all that beer. Here are our top picks for the new season.

Click through the gallery above to get new takes on classic tailgating recipes.

Written by Food52 (@food52)

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