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From taco dip to puppy chow, here are some popular tailgate recipes for football season

It can be hard to cheer on your favorite team on a hungry stomach, but it's okay- we've got you covered with some easy, delicious recipes for any tailgate.
Credit: Adobe Stock

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Football season is officially upon us! 

It can be hard to cheer on your favorite team on a hungry stomach, but it's okay- we've got you covered with some easy, delicious recipes for any tailgate or pre-game snack. 

Whether at the game or on the couch, these snacks are sure to be crowd-pleasers... even if it's just a party of one! 

Ham and cheese sliders

It's a fast and easy favorite that's entirely customizable to your needs! Here's what you'll need for this recipe: 

  • Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • Deli ham
  • Swiss cheese
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • Poppy seeds
  • Dried minced onion
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper 

Preparation is fairly simple with just five steps, according to food blogger Averie Cooks

  1. Using a large serrated knife, slice the rolls in half in the shape of a hamburger roll. Don’t pull the rolls apart and slice them individually because you want to keep them connected. 
  2. Layer the ham and cheese onto the bottom ‘slab’ of rolls, then place the top ‘slab’ back on. 
  3. Whisk together the melted butter, mustard, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Brush over the top rolls. 
  4. Before baking, you MUST let the sliders sit for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. This gives the butter mixture time to soak into the bread and flavor it. 
  5. Then, bake the sliders in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and serve! 

Restaurant-style salsa with chips

According to The Pioneer Woman, restaurant-style salsa is just a bit smoother than your typical salsa because it's blended. Here's what you'll need: 

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cans (10 ounces) Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeño, quartered and sliced thin
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 c. cilantro (more to taste!)
  • 1/2 whole lime juice
  • Tortilla chips or cheese nachos, to serve

And the best part of this recipe? It's just two simple steps! 

  1. Combine the whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeño, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in the blender of food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like—Ree Drummond with the Pioneer Woman recommends 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
  2. 2Refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Macaroni Salad

It's creamy, tangy and super addictive! This quick and easy meal can be served right out of the fridge or cooler! Here's what you will need, according to The Pioneer Woman: 

  • 4c. elbow macaroni 
  • 1/2c. mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp. red wine or distilled vinegar 
  • 3tsp. sugar, plus more or less to taste
  • 1/4tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • Plenty of black pepper
  • 1/4c. milk, plus more if needed
  • Splash of pickle juice, plus more to taste
  • 3 whole roasted red peppers, diced, plus more to taste (can also use pimentos)
  • 1/2c. black olives, finely chopped
  • 6 sweet/spicy pickle slices, diced (about 1/2 cup diced)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (white and dark green parts)

This recipe serves 12 and is ready in just 25 minutes! 

  1. Cook the macaroni in lightly salted water according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
  2. Mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Splash in enough milk to make it pourable. Splash in pickle juice for extra flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  3. Place the cooled macaroni in a large bowl and pour in 3/4 of the dressing. Toss and add more dressing if you'd like. (The dressing will seem a little thin, but it will thicken up as the salad chills.)
  4. Stir in the roasted red peppers (or pimentos), olives, pickles, and green onions. Add more of any ingredient if you'd like more stuff going on! At the end, splash in a little more pickle juice and stir.
  5. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with sliced green onions to serve!

Cowboy Nachos

This recipe may be a bit more involved, but fans say it's worth the extra work! Cowboy nachos include tons of taco favs into nachos... how could it get any better? Here's what you'll need, according to myrecipies

The directions for this savory treat are as follows: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Cook first 4 ingredients and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

  2. Cook brisket in hot oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in taco sauce and pan drippings; cook 2 minutes.

  3. Divide chips, bean mixture, brisket mixture, cheese, and 1 cup Pico de Gallo among 3 pie plates.

  4. Bake at 425° for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately with remaining Pico de Gallo and desired toppings.

  5. *1/4 cup beef broth may be substituted.

  6. Pico de Gallo: Stir together 6 plum tomatoes, chopped; 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion; 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro; 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice; 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced; 1 garlic clove, minced; and 1/2 tsp. salt. Makes 3 1/2 cups. Hands-on time: 15 min. Total time: 15 min.

  7. Note: Nachos can be baked as directed in 2 batches on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, topping each batch with 1 cup of Pico de Gallo.

Taco Dip

Something great about taco dip is its versatility. Not a fan of olives? Or, not a fan or tomatoes? Almost anything in this recipe is easy to remove or substitute, solidifying it as a game-day favorite! Here's what you will need, according to Sugar Spun Run:

  • 16 oz brick-style cream cheese softened to room temperature (455g)
  • 2 cups sour cream (450g)
  • 4 Tablespoons taco seasoning (this is a 1 oz packet of premade taco seasoning or you can use your favorite homemade recipe) (30g)
  • 1 cup finely chopped lettuce
  • 4 Roma tomatoes seeds removed, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup sliced olives (65g)
  • sliced jalapenos, pickled or fresh for topping, optional
  • 1 ¼ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar or Mexican cheese (145g)
  • Corn chips for serving

With a fifteen-minute prep time, this is an easy recipe that will easily feed some hungry tailgaters! 

  1. Combine softened cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl and stir together until creamed and well-combined (I like to use my electric mixer just to make sure there are no lumps).

  2. Add taco seasoning and stir well.

  3. Spread mixture evenly into a 9-10" pie dish.

  4. Top mixture with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, olives, jalapenos (if using) and finally evenly sprinkle with shredded cheese.

  5. Taco dip can be served immediately or can be covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spicy and delicious are two common words used to describe this crowd-favorite dip! Here's what you need, according to Erin Merhar with The Pioneer Woman: 

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 c. ranch dressing
  • 1/3 c. blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 c. chopped, cooked chicken
  • 2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
  • Veggie sticks and chips, for dipping

And then it's just three easy steps to make this tailgate specialty! 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Soften the cream cheese in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula until very creamy and smooth. Mix in the buffalo sauce and ranch dressing. Stir in the chicken, blue cheese, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, and one-half of the scallions.
  3. Transfer to a 1.5-quart casserole dish, such as an 11-inch-by-7-inch casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges are bubbly and the cheese is melted on top. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining sliced scallions. Serve with veggies and chips. 

Puppy Chow

Amongst all the savory, a sweet can be exactly what's needed! Puppy chow is an easy sweet treat to make that is also easy to transport and serve! Here's what you'll need according to two peas & their pod

  • Rice Chex Cereal – Chex Cereal is the classic ingredient in puppy chow. You can use Corn Chex cereal, I just prefer the rice cereal flavor. Crispix will also work, the shape of your puppy chow will just be a little different from the photos.
  • Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet chocolate chips, or milk chocolate chips.
  • Peanut Butter – Think JIF or Skippy for this puppy chow recipe! I highly recommend using creamy peanut butter and not natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter has excess oils and the puppy chow coating won’t set up properly.
  • Butter – I tend to use unsalted butter. However, if you want a little salty kick, salted butter works too.
  • Vanilla Extract – A little vanilla extract goes a long way in terms of flavor!
  • Powdered Sugar – a.k.a. Confectioners’ sugar. Powdered sugar gives the puppy chow the perfect sweet finish, along with its signature sugar-dusted look.

This is a long-lasting recipe as well, if stored in an air-tight container, it should last as long as two weeks... but good luck resisting the urge to eat it! 

  1. Prepare your chocolate and peanut butter mixture. Use a medium, microwave-safe bowl to melt the chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter together. Start with 1 minute on high, stir, and heat again in bursts, stirring in between until the mixture is smooth. Lastly, add in the vanilla extract.
  2. Place your Chex Cereal in a large bowl. You will need six cups of Rice Chex. A lot of recipes I’ve seen call for nine cups, but a friend once taught me that six is the magic number. It really maximizes the chocolate peanut butter flavor. I’m officially converted!
  3. Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the cereal. Stir the mixture GENTLY with a spatula, making sure to not crush the cereal. You want it to stay in whole, grabbable pieces! When the cereal is evenly coated, transfer it to a large Ziploc bag.
  4. Add the powdered sugar. You will need 1½ to 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, depending on how well-coated you like your puppy chow. Make sure to seal the bag before you give it a good shake! Kids love helping with this part. Shake your chow until all of the cereal is evenly coated in white.
  5. Pour the puppy chow out onto a big piece of parchment paper. Or wax paper. Spread the puppy chow in a single layer so it can cool without sticking together. Let it sit until the chocolate is completely hardened. To speed up the process, you can also spread it out on a tray and pop it into the refrigerator.

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