1. Cooking

Foods to make for an at-home football tailgate

The Super Bowl is coming up. Here's how to tailgate at home.
You can whip up chili (red, white or vegetarian) the day before your event, of that morning. Be sure to put out toppings (tortillas, sour cream, cheese, etc.) that allow guests to customize their bowls
Shutterstock You can whip up chili (red, white or vegetarian) the day before your event, of that morning. Be sure to put out toppings (tortillas, sour cream, cheese, etc.) that allow guests to customize their bowls
Published Jan. 22, 2019

Now that we know which teams will be facing off in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, it's time to think about some no-muss, no-fuss food options to tailgate at home during the big game — a spread that will please your guests without you having to attend to it all night.

Tampa's Bartaco, the street food chain in Hyde Park Village, has even tried to coin the term "homegating" to sell its party packs of three different taco selections and sides that can be preordered for the game, starting at $75. (Call (813) 258-8226.)

But there is something to be said for creating a tailgating atmosphere indoors.

The best tailgating foods are portable and easily eaten while standing up, which is a good option for a house party, especially if you don't have seating for a dozen around your dining room table.

There are three different approaches. You can set out all the ingredients to let the guests build their own plates to suit their tastes. You can do the work for them so all they have to do is choose from a neat platter. Or you can make a big pot of something meaty ahead of time and have it waiting for them on the stove or in the slow cooker.


A participatory meal in which everyone makes their own creation can get almost competitive when there's a nice selection of toppings.

Taco bar: Set out the tortillas and have fillings such as beef, shredded chicken and black beans. (Have some salad bowls and dressings ready if guests would prefer taco salads.) Then lay out a few different salsas, guacamole, peppers and onions, shredded cheeses, corn, lettuces, tomatoes and sour cream.

Shrimp boil: It only takes about a half-hour to heat up a flavorful pot of water with potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp and more. (See recipe below.) Drain and dump the whole mess of food onto a newspaper-lined table and let the guests grab what they like. Have melted butter and cocktail sauce ready in small bowls.

Rice bowls: With a large pot (or two) of rice, there's a world of choices on what to set out: Korean beef, pork, mushrooms, cucumbers, green onions, carrots, kimchi. Or go Mexican with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp or black beans. Have things like cilantro, sesame seeds and lime wedges and a variety of sauces to drizzle on top.


Sliders: The mini-hamburger craze shows no signs of slowing, and why should it? The small size of the sandwiches means you can try a mini burger, a chicken slider or some pulled pork and barbecue sauce without feeling like you gorged.

PREVIOUSLY: Sliders three ways

Food on a stick: The ideal tailgating dish is one that is mobile and fun. And nothing fills that bill like food on a stick. The best part is you can make skewers the night before. Here are some ideas:

• Make a deli tray on a skewer by threading cubes of turkey, ham, cheddar cheese, a cherry tomato and a mini gherkin pickle.

• An Italian skewer consists of wrapping salami slices around cubes of mozzarella. Thread the cheese cubes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, marinated button mushrooms and olives on skewers, then marinate the skewers in good Italian dressing the night before.

• Skewer cold shrimp alternately with pineapple chunks and roasted red bell pepper slices and put out cocktail sauce for dipping, or drizzle on some store-bought pesto for added flavor.


Did you get sucked into the Instant Pot cult? Join us, we have soup. But you can also use your slow cooker or stovetop to make something meaty ahead of time and let people help themselves.

Chili: You can make it three ways: red, white and vegetarian. Even better, you can make it the day before or in the morning to let the guests help themselves. Provide extras like rice, cheese, crackers, tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped fresh jalapenos and cilantro.

Instant Pot Taco Soup: Simply brown the meat and dump the rest of the ingredients into an Instant Pot. Put it on the soup setting for 20 minutes and it's done. Serve with such toppings as cheese, sour cream, avocado and Fritos.

Crispy Cheese Wafers: Try these for hearty dips or chili or just for snacking. A variation on the Southern staple of cheese straws, they would go especially well with cream cheese dips and hot pepper jelly. This version includes puffed rice cereal, which makes them lighter and crunchier than other versions.


Instant Pot Taco Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (15.25-ounce) can corn

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 packet dry ranch seasoning mix

2 packets taco seasoning

2 ½ cups beef broth

Set the Instant Pot to "saute" and add olive oil. Once hot, add the ground beef and onions; cook until meat is browned.

Turn off pot and drain meat. Add the meat back in and add corn, beans, Rotel, diced tomatoes, ranch seasoning and taco seasoning. Add beef broth and stir.

Put on the lid and set the valve to "sealed." Press the "soup" button and set timer for 20 minutes.

Once the soup is done, turn valve to "quick release." Serve with shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream and Fritos.



Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid

3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained

1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained

Green onions and sour cream, for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or sour cream, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Whole Foods Market


Hearty White Chili

1 whole medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles

2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed

4 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed

1 whole jalapeno, sliced

1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

3 cups cooked chicken, from breasts, boneless thighs or a combination

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons cornmeal

Grated Monterey Jack cheese, to taste

In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes in a swirl of olive oil. Add chopped green chiles, then beans. Pour chicken broth into the pot. Add sliced jalapenos. Season with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add chicken, then let cook for another 15 minutes.

Mix milk with cornmeal in a small bowl, then pour into the chili. Cook for an additional 10 minutes to thicken. Check seasonings and adjust, adding more cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper if desired.

Add some Monterey Jack cheese to the pot and stir to melt.

Serves 8.

Source: Adapted from


Crispy Cheese Wafers

½ pound (2 cups) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put two racks in the middle and lower third of the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cheese and butter on medium speed until blended. Add flour, salt and cayenne and beat until the dough holds together. Add cereal, stirring with wooden spoon to combine. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and press with a fork to form crosshatch. Place two sheets in the oven at a time and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.

Note: These can be made in advance, cooled completely and frozen.

Makes 4 dozen.

Source: Eat Drink Delta by Susan Puckett (University of Georgia Press, 2013)


Shrimp Boil

This recipe is open to interpretation, and you can add more shrimp if you'd like or even other shellfish. The sausage is optional, and can be spicy or mild.

4 pounds new red potatoes

3 medium onions, peeled

6 quarts water

1 (3-ounce) bag crab boil seasoning spices

4 tablespoons liquid crab boil seasoning (such as Zatarain's)

4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

2 pounds hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

6 ears corn, halved

4 pounds large fresh shrimp, shell-on, peeled and deveined

1 cup melted butter

1 cup shrimp cocktail sauce

Add potatoes and onions to a large pot, then add 6 quarts water and all seasonings.

Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn and return to a boil. Cook 5 more minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

Drain and dump the whole mess of food onto a newspaper-lined table and let guests grab what they want. Have melted butter and cocktail sauce ready in a number of small bowls.

Serves 12.