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Tailgating at Ole Miss

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Tailgating at Ole Miss


Football just got better: Here’s our ultimate tailgating party menu

It’s almost tailgating season, and we couldn’t be more excited to partake in the pregame ritual of drinking, socializing, playing lawn games and eating some great food. A successful tailgate truly begins with the food. Sure, you can just throw some burgers on the grill and crack open a can of beer, but with a little preparation your belly could be full with some delicious bites. We’ve put together the ultimate tailgating menu to help you get inspired for the upcoming football season. 

Below you'll find almost every single one of our favorite tailgate appropriate recipes, so don't feel overwelcomed! We just wanted to make sure you have all of these fantastic menu choices. Pick and choose different recipes from this guide to make tailgate party planning a breeze. If you’ve got a large group of tailgaters, we recommend splitting up the duties and having each person bring a different dish so all of the responsibility for food doesn't just fall on your plate (no pun intended). 

Start cooking and happy tailgate season!

Drinks, drinks and more drinks
Drinking is one of the most important activities during a tailgate party. Many of us stick to drinking beer, but if you want to step up your drinking game and make the tailgate more interesting we recommend making some stronger cocktails or sipping on a glass of wine. Southern Kitchen Chef Jeffrey Gardner recommends cocktails like a grown up jack and Coke or the maple bourbon smash. Think about making batched cocktails ahead of time so you’re not wasting time at the tailgate mixing up cocktails. Other easy — and mindblowing — outdoor cocktails that are simple to put together include beergaritas and bourbon prosecco spritzers. Cheers y’all!Small bites and handheld foods
Tailgating food is meant to be consumed with one hand — you need the other one to hold your drink. Appetizers and handheld snacks are the way to go at a tailgate. You can make some of these dishes ahead which will leave you more time to enjoy the tailgate. Some of our favorite handheld snacks include Proper Pepper pimento-bacon sliders, Frito pie bombs, classic deviled eggs, Coca-Cola glazed wings and leftover steak nachosDips also make a great pre-game snack. There are a variety of dips – warm or cold – that will fill you up before you play a round of cornhole. Some of our foolproof tailgating dips include spinach artichoke dip, Vidalia onion dip, easy buffalo chicken dip, Kentucky hot brown dip and you can’t forget about guacamole

Main dishes
You’re probably bringing the grill, but not every main dish at a tailgate needs to be grilled. In fact, most of these dishes can be cooked ahead of time and slightly warmed up and assembled at the tailgate. One of the best make-ahead dishes for a tailgate is tacos. You can cut up toppings and cook meat ahead of time and simply assemble and enjoy at the game. If you’re planning on grilling chicken or steak, tacos are a great option for a handheld main dish. We recommend making bourbon lime chicken tacos, chicken tinga tacos or Memphis BBQ pork tacos at a tailgate. 

When it comes to grilling on game day we recommend stepping out of the box. Beer can chicken, Coca-Cola glazed baby back ribs, Korean-style barbecue pork ribs and marinated grilled skirt steak will leave you happy until kickoff. 

Tailgates are a great time to break out your slow cooker and use it to keep foods warm throughout the day. Somewhere during the football season around late October the weather gets cooler and you’ll want to eat one of these warm dishes so you don’t freeze. You can make these dishes, like brisket chili, chicken & andouille sausage gumbo and quick and easy chili, ahead of time and simply warm them up and serve on game day. 

And, of course, we can’t forget about fried chicken. It’s pretty impractical to fry chicken at a tailgate, so fry your chicken the night before and serve cold or at room temp during the tailgate. You’ll be happy you took the time to make this beloved tailgate dish. 

Some dishes you can serve along with these main dishes on your tailgate spread include grilled Mexican street corn, bulldog caviar and red beans and rice.

Give us some sugar
We can’t go without a little sugar on game day. Just like our appetizers, we picked out some desserts that aren’t too messy and can be eaten with one hand. We also choose some boozy favorites to keep the drinking theme going throughout the tailgate. Make bourbon bacon chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie bars and Kentucky bourbon balls ahead of time so you can just grab them as you please throughout the tailgate party. 

The grill isn’t just for a burgers and steak. We love grilling veggies and other sides on the grill as well as some crowd-pleasing desserts. For a lighter grilled dessert, we recommend snacking on grilled peaches with a light almond cream topping. For the chocolate lovers in your tailgate group, Southern Kitchen’s cast iron s’mores skillet dip is an ooey-gooey dessert that can be enjoyed straight from the grill. 


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Rachel Taylor is a staff writer at Southern Kitchen. She moved to Atlanta earlier this year after graduating college in Maryland, and has been a digital audience specialist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politically Georgia, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She has lived in France and Italy, and loves to travel.