10 Tailgating Recipes You Can Make Ahead of Time

Tailgating Spicy Taco Cheese Ball
Photo: Melissa Goff

The only thing more important than the football on game day is the tailgating food. If you're trying to get a head start on tailgate planning, what's easier than a recipe that you can make the night before and have ready to serve immediately the next day? These recipes can all be prepped, cooked, or baked ahead of time and served either at room temperature or with a quick slow cooker reheat at the tailgate. Scroll through to find the easiest appetizers, hearty mains, and desserts that will keep you out of the kitchen and let you enjoy game day.

01 of 11

Easy Pepperoni Bread

This delicious pepperoni bread is so easy to make with frozen bread dough. Fill it with cheese, pepperoni, and spices, and bake it the night before. Serve at room temperature the next day — or with a side of warm pasta sauce in the slow cooker.

02 of 11

Slow Cooker Chili

high angle looking down at a small bowl of chili, topped with green onions and cheddar cheese
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

You can't show up to a chilly tailgate without a nice steaming pot of chili. But, why do all that work when you can let your slow cooker do it for you? Make the recipe the day before, then throw it back in the slow cooker to heat up while you set up your tailgate.

03 of 11

Tailgating Spicy Taco Cheese Ball

The humble cheese ball is the easiest make-ahead snack that is a true crowd pleaser. This version is loaded with Mexican cheese, hot taco seasoning, and pickled jalapeños for the perfect spicy bite.

04 of 11

Million Dollar Dip

This decadently cheesy dip tastes like it's worth a million dollars, hence the name. Just cook the bacon, combine the ingredients, and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

05 of 11

Super Crab Sandwich

Switch it up from the typical ham and cheese sliders and try a cold sandwich instead. This crab sandwich has imitation crab meat, cheese, avocado, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts and is sure to be the talk of the tailgate.

06 of 11

Sweet and Crunchy Popcorn Snack Mix

Every tailgate needs a sweet and salty treat. Try this snack mix that includes Crispix, Golden Grahams, Reese's Puffs, popcorn, M&M's, peanuts, and peanut butter. Believe us, you won't be able to stop eating it.

07 of 11

Pizza Dough Pretzels

These shortcut soft pretzels utilize refrigerated pizza crust to make the quickest and easiest snack ever. Serve the pretzels at room temperature with mustard or a hot beer cheese from your slow cooker.

08 of 11

Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork

slow cooker Texas pulled pork sandwich with grilled corn and slaw

Pulled pork is such a tailgate classic. Make up the meat the day before, then quickly heat it back up in your slow cooker when you're ready to serve. Of course, you'll probably have to skip the toasted bun step — unless you have a grill handy!

09 of 11

Football Spread

This flavor combo may sound a bit odd, but recipe creator bdweld says it's always a hit at parties. It combines beef-flavored ramen noodles, mayo, jalapeños, shredded chicken, and hot sauce for a spicy, creamy treat that's delicious on crackers.

10 of 11

Seven Layer Bars

close up view of a stack of Seven Layer Bars on a plate
Melissa Goff

Sure, most desserts are made ahead, but it doesn't get much easier than these Seven Layer Bars that are made directly in a 9x13-pan. No need for a mixing bowl, spatula, or spoon. Just pile each layer on top of one another and enjoy the chewy, gooey bars when they're done.

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