Gearing Up for Football Season: A Guide to The Best Tailgate Recipes from Schools and Stadiums Around the Country

Gearing Up for Football Season: A Guide to The Best Tailgate Recipes from Schools and Stadiums Around the Country

There’s more to the Big Game than just watching the quarterback score the winning touchdown. In fact, some might have even missed the touchdown dance because they were so immersed in the incredible stadium food served across America’s NFL and NCAA stadiums. 

If you’re like most sports fans, you’re gearing up for fall football. Are you having your buddies over for a watch party? Or are you planning a tailgate outside the stadium on gameday? We’ve put together a list of the best football tailgate recipes from sports fans and stadiums across the nation. Did your team make the cut? Read on to find out. 


  • Penn State University

  • University of Alabama

  • University of Wisconsin

  • University of Southern California

  • Dallas Cowboys

  • Denver Broncos

  • Chicago Bears

  • Kansas City Chiefs

Penn State University

Nittany Lions fans who have been to a home game have probably tasted stickies. These sweet treats were first introduced on campus by Ye Olde College Diner, and they’ve become a staple not just of football games, but of math majors and art professors, too. 

Stickies aren’t a grilled food, per se, but they’ll be a great dessert or halftime snack for your crowd if you're looking for tailgating recipes for large groups. You can create a homemade rendition of Penn State’s stickies over at the Food Network. They take a little prep work, but the payoff is huge. 

University of Alabama

Rolllllll Tiiiiiiiide! If you’re a Crimson Tide fan, you’ll love serving up a dish that Alabama is becoming well-known for: pulled barbecue pork.  The Sweet and Smoky Pulled Pork sandwiches served in Alabama living rooms across the state take only 15 minutes to prep – your slow cooker will do the rest. 

Start your butt on the grill, in the slow cooker or in the smoker well ahead of time. By kickoff, you’ll be serving up platters of sweet Southern goodness. For an even richer taste, rub your pork with Sweet Mama Bold BBQ Rub before smoking. 

University of Wisconsin 

Badger Beer Brats are a surefire way to celebrate your team’s win. But cooking Bratwurst means more than just throwing a few sausages on the grill. Before you grill your brats, first simmer them in onions and beer. You’ll love what a little lager will do to your Badger Brats. 

Remember: don’t boil your brats. Simply simmer them to avoid leaching out the flavor. Then cook over high heat with a Kick Ash drip pan beneath for a chargrilled, perfect addition to your tailgate party. 

University of Southern California

USC Trojans fans flock to El Huero post-game to grab a plate of celebratory carne asada tacos. Not headed to California this year? That’s okay. You can replicate the recipe at home. You can use grilled chicken, steak or even pork – whatever your fans prefer. 

Serve this tailgate BBQ recipe up in a warm tortilla, then top with guac, pico, chopped onion and sour cream. A drizzle of lime adds the perfect “kick” to your tacos, no pun intended. 

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys fans may not always agree on the draft picks, but most will agree that Texas style barbecue is the perfect football tailgate food. This recipe is for a Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce that you can use on your brisket, your chicken wings or your ribs. In other words, if you want a crowd-pleaser, this sauce is the ticket. 

While you’re smoking your meat, don’t forget to whip up a pecan pie – no Texas meal is complete without one. Use your mama’s recipe or head on over to for the Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie recipe. 

Denver Broncos

Those of you who grew up kicking back with family at the Mile High Stadium probably remember the oldies but goodies: oven-fired pizza, the classic hot dog and beer from local breweries. Recently, though, things have changed at Empower Field, and the concession stands offer a few new options. 

Our favorite is the Federal Boulevard Burger. Introduced just a few years ago, this burger has scored major points with Broncos fans. Better yet, there’s no recipe required. Make your favorite patty, grill it up and serve it on a brioche bun. Pepper jack cheese and green chili chutney top the burger to create what’s destined to become a “new” Colorado classic tailgate food. 

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

Chicago Bears

Soldier Field is known for the fact that it’s the oldest NFL stadium still standing. But true fans know the stadium for its Italian Beef Sandwich. Jed Gray from has posted a delicious recipe for this traditional Chicago treat, but we have two suggestions for improvement. 

First, don’t bother with the oven. Choose a cut of beef you can grill, and get the charcoal lit. The smoky flavor of the meat will only make your Italian Beef Sandwich that much better. Second, don’t waste your time making your own rub. Use the Sweet Mama Original BBQ Rub for a flavor that will have your crowd singing “Bear Down” for you.



Kansas City Chiefs

Last but certainly not least, the Kansas City Chiefs are on our list for the top tailgate recipes for football season. As you may have already guessed, our feature concession includes Kansas City barbecue, but with a twist. 

The Mac Shack KC, part of a larger chain, sells concessions at Arrowhead. Our favorite is the Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese, a dish so indulgent you’ll want to cry – and not just because of the 2021 Superbowl. 

Nestle Professional has a great take on the recipe, making the dish even richer and more satisfying. Check out the recipe for Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese Poutine at their website. Save room for dessert, though. Kansas City Mud Pie is on the menu for your tailgate party, and you won’t want to miss a single bite. 

Top Tailgate Recipes: Kick Off Your Party Right

Whether you’re headed to the stadium to cheer the boys on or will be playing armchair referee for the night, it’s no secret: the best tailgate recipes make the best tailgate parties. We’re not saying your team will win if you try these top tailgate recipes, but one thing’s for sure: you will.