49 Cheer-Worthy Tailgate Appetizers

Updated: May 15, 2024

Pack up the car, pop up the tent and pull out the table for this roundup of tailgate appetizers. They're game-day ready and perfectly portioned for sharing with all your rowdy friends.

If you’re searching for tailgate food ideas, it doesn’t get better than these recipes. After setting up your perfect tailgate party, lay out a buffet of finger foods and dips for guests to much on between rounds of cornhole and sips of beer.

Warm up winter football tailgates with hot appetizers like meatball sliders and football empanadas. You also can’t go wrong with the classic football food buffalo chicken dip.

Or, cool down a sweltering July baseball tailgatewith dill pickle dip, taco pinwheels and fruit salsa. Just make sure you don’t forget the mini hot dogs and a few snacks made with beer!

Whichever dishes you go with, these tailgating recipes are sure to fill up your guests before they head in for the big game. Until the game starts, keep them entertained with these tailgating games.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is the best buffalo chicken dip recipe! Whenever I bring buffalo dip to a tailgate or potluck, everyone asks for the recipe. —Peggy Foster, Florence, Kentucky

Check out these game-day foods too!

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Slaw-Topped Beef Sliders

When I’m in need of a fast-to-fix tailgate food idea, I relied on these delicious beef sliders. To speed prep time and avoid extra cleanup, I used bagged coleslaw mix and bottled slaw dressing. —Jane Whittaker, Pensacola, Florida

Also, check these mouthwatering crock pot appetizers which is super easy to make and perfect for a party or a Sunday afternoon get togethers.

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Spicy Honey Sriracha Game Day Dip

You can easily whip up this creamy, spicy and salty dip. I love dips for tailgates in the slow cooker—just turn the slow cooker to low once it is cooked and let your guests help themselves. No need to worry about the dip getting cold and having to reheat it. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Ham-Cheddar Cheese Ball

With the classic combo of ham and cheese, this spread is a year-round favorite at our house. For football tailgates, shape the ham and cheese ball into a football and add strips of Swiss for the laces. —Michele Moore, Mooresville, Indiana
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Meatball Sliders

These meatball sliders are a fun tailgate food idea. Made on mini Hawaiian rolls, they have a hint of sweetness to balance out all the wonderful Italian seasonings. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Dill Pickle Dip

My love for pickles led me to create this Dill Pickle Dip. It’s so easy to whip together. But be warned, it’s addicting! —April Anderson, Forest Lake, Minnesota
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Barbecued Party Starters

These sweet and tangy bites will tide over everyone until they can hit the game concessions. Set out some fun toothpicks to make for easy nibbling. —Anastasia Weiss, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
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Fresh Veggie Pizza

Don’t sweat it when it comes to tailgate food. Just carry in this colorful veggie pizza that’s topped with a rainbow of crunchy vegetables! —Brooke Wiley, Halifax, Virginia
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Slow-Cooker Cheeseburger Dip

This fun dip recipe uses ingredients that I always have in the fridge, so it's easy to throw together on short notice. —Cindi DeClue, Anchorage, Alaska
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Garlic Pizza Wedges

My friend made this tailgate food, and my husband and I just couldn’t stay away from the snack table! —Krysten Johnson, Simi Valley, California
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Dijon-Bacon Dip for Pretzels

With just four ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or fridge, this quick tailgate food idea comes together in a snap. If you like the zip of horseradish, start with a teaspoon or two and add more to taste. —Isabelle Rooney, Summerville, South Carolina
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Mozzarella Sticks

I’m particularly fond of these tasty mozzarella sticks because they’re baked, not fried. Cheese is one of my family’s favorite foods. —Mary Merchant, Barre, Vermont
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Loaded Cowboy Queso

Loaded Cowboy Queso is the ultimate football dip! This easy tailgate food idea is loaded with cheese, beer, black beans, tomatoes and sausage. I often serve it with homemade tortilla chips sprinkled with taco seasoning. —Becky Hardin, St. Peters, Missouri
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Bacon Cheeseburger Balls

The first time I served these, my husband and kids thought we were having plain meatballs. Then they cut into the flavorful filling inside! —Cathy Lendvoy, Boharm, Saskatchewan
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Taco Meatball Ring

While it looks complicated, this attractive tailgate food idea is really very easy to assemble. My family loves tacos, and we find that the crescent roll dough is a nice change from the usual tortilla shells or chips. There are never any leftovers when I serve this at a meal or as a party appetizer!
—Brenda Johnson, Davison, Michigan
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Buffalo Chicken Crescent Rolls

My husband loves Buffalo wings, but they are so messy! These Buffalo chicken rolls are mess-free and always go fast at tailgates—and they’re much tastier than regular Buffalo wings, if you ask me. —Tiffinie Cichon, Gulfport, Mississippi
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Dill Dip

Be prepared—you’ll likely need to make a double batch of this delightful dill dip recipe. One batch is never enough when we have a tailgate. It tastes fantastic with just about any vegetable, so you can use whatever you have on hand as a dipper. —Kathy Beldorth, Three Oaks, Michigan
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Buffalo Chicken Wings

Hot wings got their start in Buffalo, New York, in a kitchen. Although there was no game on at the time, today spicy wings and cool sauces are traditional tailgate fare. Cayenne, red sauce and spices keep these tangy buffalo chicken wings good and hot, just like the originals. —Nancy Chapman, Center Harbor, New Hampshire
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Cilantro & Lime Chicken with Scoops

I came up with this tailgate food idea when I was preparing for a large party and I wanted a healthy Tex-Mex chicken to serve in tortilla cups. Serve it in tortilla chip cups or any other savory crispy cup you like. — Lori Terry, Chicago, Illinois
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Bacon Cheeseburger Slider Bake

I created this tailgate food idea to fill two pans because these cheeseburger sliders disappear fast. Just cut the slider burgers recipe in half if you want to make only one batch. —Nick Iverson, Denver, Colorado
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Hot Bacon Cheese Dip

I've tried assorted appetizers before, but this one is a surefire people-pleaser. The thick bacon cheese dip has lots of flavor and keeps my guests happily munching as long as it lasts. I serve it with tortilla chips or sliced French bread. —Suzanne Whitaker, Knoxville, Tennessee
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Cranberry Sauerkraut Meatballs

I tried these meatballs at a birthday party for a friend, and now I make them all the time. They are super easy to make and perfect for a potluck or a Sunday afternoon football game. —Lisa Castelli, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
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Taco Pinwheels

These pinwheels come together quickly when you start with leftover taco meat. They make an appealing tailgate food idea served with salsa, or a fun lunch option with a salad on the side. —Cindy Reams, Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
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Football Fest Empanadas

Classic empanadas from South America are pastries stuffed with beef or chicken, usually fried. That doesn't mean "classic" never changes. Chicken goes well with black beans, corn and jalapenos in this baked version with a southwestern spin. —Jane McMillan, Dania Beach, Florida
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Beer Dip

Ranch dressing mix flavors this easy dip packed with shredded cheese. It’s perfect paired with pretzels. Be forewarned, though—it’s hard to stop eating once you’ve started! This tailgate food idea can be made with any type of beer, including nonalcoholic. —Michelle Long, New Castle, Colorado
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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

I like to dunk these appetizer meatballs in blue cheese or ranch salad dressing. If I make them for a meal, I often skip the dressing and serve with blue cheese polenta on the side. —Amber Massey, Argyle, Texas
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Jalapeno Popper Spread

I've been told by fellow partygoers that this recipe tastes exactly like a jalapeno popper. I like that it can be made without much fuss. —Ariane McAlpine, Penticton, British Columbia
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Mamma’s Caponata

This is fabulous as a tailgate food idea, but you can easily turn it into a meal. Instead of having it on bread, serve it over warm pasta. —Georgette Stubin, Canton, Michigan
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Avocado Salsa

I was planning a tailgate and thought it might be fun to try a different kind of avocado salsa. This recipe was an absolute success. Scoop it up with chips, spoon it over chicken or steak, or eat it on its own! —Susan Vandermeer, Ogden, Utah
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Mini Mac & Cheese Dogs

We wanted to get creative with hot dogs, so we made a mac-and-cheesy one. Pile on the extra cheese, relish and even bacon. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Loaded Pulled Pork Cups

Potato nests are simple to make and surprisingly handy for pulled pork, cheese, sour cream and other toppings. Make, bake and collect the compliments. —Melissa Sperka, Greensboro, North Carolina
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Meat Lovers’ Snack Mix

Everyone will go wild for this at your next tailgate. My husband loves that it features all of his favorite guilty pleasure foods—salted meats, salted nuts and hot sauce. —Gina Myhill-Jones, 100 Mile House, British Columbia
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Bourbon Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs

When it comes to tailgate food ideas, it doesn’t get any better than deviled eggs with bacon—bourbon candied bacon, that is. See if you can resist them. We can’t. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Southern Pimiento Cheese Spread

A classic southern comfort food, this spread is a tailgate food idea that’s served with crackers, corn chips or celery. It is also smeared between two slices of white bread for sandwiches and as a topping for hamburgers and hot dogs. —Eileen Balmer, South Bend, Indiana.
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Antipasto Kabobs

My husband and I met at a cooking class. We have loved creating menus and entertaining ever since. This skewered tailgate food idea is always a hit. —Denise Hazen, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Chicken Cordon Bleu Sliders

Sandwiches are my favorite food, and I’m always looking for new ideas. I like sloppy joes and wondered whether I could do a fun riff on that with chicken. My family approved of the chicken cordon bleu sliders immediately! —Carolyn Eskew, Dayton, Ohio
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Obatzda (German Cheese Dip)

Obatzda, otherwise known as German beer cheese dip, is so delicious and creamy. It’s the perfect dip to make the night before a tailgate. —Beate Trinkl, Einsbach, Germany
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Italian Meatballs and Sausages

Here’s a wonderful nibble for a tailgate or any family function. The snack is so easy to prepare and also very tasty. I’ve doubled and even tripled the recipe for large groups. No matter how much I make, I always come home with an empty slow cooker. —Jan Kasinger, Graham, Washington
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Homemade Guacamole

I always judge a Tex-Mex restaurant by its guacamole. And although it's simple to prepare, it can go wrong oh, so easily. I've spent many years perfecting mine, to the point where I think it's better than most restaurants. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
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Caprese Salad Kabobs

Trade in the usual veggie platter for these fun kabobs. In addition to preparing these for tailgates, I often make these as snacks for my family. And because assembly is so easy, the kids often ask to help. —Christine Mitchell, Glendora, California
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Smoked-Almond Cheese Toasts

I created this tailgating food idea while planning the menu. Smoked almonds add a special touch to the chunky cheese spread.—Laura Murphy, Columbus, Mississippi
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Green & Gold Salsa

Edamame and corn give this unique salsa its unmistakable team colors. You can add a little salt if you like, too. A healthy alternative to creamy dips, it’s good for the extra point. —Maggie Lovat, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Skinny Quinoa Veggie Dip

Don’t let the name fool you. This good-for-you recipe may appeal to an athlete in training, but it has plenty of flavor to satisfy everyone. We use crunchy cucumber slices for dippers. —Jennifer Gizzi, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs

My daughter Sara loves spicy Buffalo chicken and deviled eggs, so I combined the two. Make and chill a day ahead so the flavors mingle. —Robin Spires, Tampa, Florida
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Slow-Cooker Artichoke-Spinach Dip

Little extras, like crumbled feta and red wine vinegar, take this creamy dip of artichoke hearts, spinach and Parmesan to the next level. Just throw the whole nine yards into a slow cooker and this dip is good to go on game day. —Alyssa Janis, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Ground Beef Taco Dip

What’s a football tailgate without taco dip? This version made with spicy ground beef and fresh toppings does not disappoint the die-hards. It is full of classic flavors and is a little extra filling for game day appetites. —Errika Perry, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Antipasto Bake

Stuffed with savory meats and cheeses, these hearty antipasto squares would satisfy an entire offensive line! The dish comes together quickly and bakes in under an hour, making it the perfect party bring-along. Introducing the all-stars in this ooey gooey appetizer: salami, Swiss, pepperoni, Colby-Monterey Jack, prosciutto and provolone. A crisp topping finishes it off. —Brea Barclay, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Loaded Baked Potato Dip

I never thought of using waffle-cut fries as a scoop for dip until a friend of mine did at a tailgate. They’re ideal for my cheesy bacon and chive dip, which tastes just like a baked potato topper. —Betsy King, Duluth, Minnesota
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Buffalo Wing Poppers

These buffalo chicken poppers combine the flavor of hot wings and jalapeño appetizers to make a snack greater than the sum of their parts. —Barbara Nowakowski, Mesa, Arizona