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55 Make-Ahead Tailgating Recipes That’ll Feed a Crowd

Make game day a breeze with an easy tailgate food or two! These potluck apps and sides can be thrown together before the game for everyone at your tailgate to enjoy.

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Bacon Cheddar JalapenosTaste of Home

Bacon Cheddar Jalapenos

Take these cheesy, fiery appetizers straight to the grill so you can add a touch of smoke. We pass them with bowls of guacamole and sour cream. —Wayne Barnes, Montgomery, Alabama

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Barbecued MeatballsTaste of Home

Barbecued Meatballs

Grape jelly and chili sauce are the secrets that make these meatballs so fantastic. If I’m serving them at a party, I prepare the meatballs and sauce in advance and reheat them right before guests arrive. —Irma Schnuelle, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

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Antipasto KabobsTaste of Home

Antipasto Kabobs

My husband and I met at a cooking class. We have loved creating menus and entertaining ever since. These make-ahead antipasto skewers are always a hit. —Denise Hazen, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Dilly Veggie Pizza

Dilly Veggie Pizza

Always popular at special events and a cinch to prep, this is one of my favorite ways to use leftover veggies. You can change the mixture to match your kids' tastes, and it's just as yummy the next day. —Heather Ahrens, Columbus, Ohio

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Overnight Layered Lettuce SaladTaste of Home

Overnight Layered Lettuce Salad

This classic is a family favorite from a church cookbook I've had for 40 years. The bacon adds a fabulous crunch. —Mary Brehm, Cape Coral, Florida

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Swiss Mushroom LoafTaste of Home

Swiss Mushroom Loaf

I'm always prepared for recipe requests when I serve this outstanding stuffed loaf. It's excellent not only as an appetizer but also as a side for pasta or chili. —Heidi Mellon, Waukesha, Wisconsin

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Fresh Corn & Avocado DipTaste of Home

Fresh Corn & Avocado Dip

I alter my sister's dip recipe by adding finely chopped jalapeno for a little heat. It's a different way of serving corn as a dip that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until serving. —Pat Roberts, Thornton, Ontario

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Parmesan-Pretzel CrispsTaste of Home

Parmesan-Pretzel Crisps

I usually have the ingredients on hand and it is so easy to make, guest's really think you have gone the extra mile. —Pauline Porterfield, Roxboro, North Carolina

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Apple-Gouda Pigs in a BlanketTaste of Home

Apple-Gouda Pigs in a Blanket

For New Year’s, I used to make beef and cheddar pigs in a blanket, but now I like apple and Gouda for an even better flavor celebration. —Megan Weiss, Menomonie, Wisconsin

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Grilled Red Pepper DipTaste of Home

Grilled Red Pepper Dip

We grill peppers with rosemary and garlic, then blend them with sun-dried tomatoes for a creamy spread to pass with pita chips. —Donna Alwine, Bloomington, Indiana

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You're-Bacon-Me-Crazy Potato SaladTaste of Home

You're-Bacon-Me-Crazy Potato Salad

It isn't a summer cookout without potato salad, but the stuff from the deli just isn't our thing. I toyed with many recipes until I developed this one. Now if I even mention grilling or barbecuing, it's my family's top request for a side. —Paul Cogswell, League City, Texas

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Chicken & Bacon Roll-UpsTaste of Home

Chicken & Bacon Roll-Ups

My children like these so much that they ask for them every day for lunch during the summer. Whenever I have leftover chicken or turkey breast, this is a delicious way to use it up. —Patricia Nieh, Portola Valley, California

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Caramelized Ham & Swiss BunsTaste of Home

Caramelized Ham & Swiss Buns

My next-door neighbor shared this recipe with me, and I simply cannot improve it! You can make it ahead and cook it quickly when company arrives. The combo of poppy seeds, ham and cheese, horseradish and brown sugar makes it so delicious. —Iris Weihemuller, Baxter, Minnesota

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Summer Chicken Macaroni SaladTaste of Home

Summer Chicken Macaroni Salad

For sunny, lazy days, I make a loaded macaroni salad that’s like three salads in one. The mix of fresh veggies, sweet peaches and crunchy pistachios is a surprisingly delicious combo. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada

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BBQ Turkey MeatballsTaste of Home

BBQ Turkey Meatballs

What's a party without meatballs? We have these at all our big gatherings, but they also work great for an easy weeknight meal. This recipe can also be made with ground beef or even store-bought meatballs. —Lisa Harms, Moline, Michigan

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Wheely-Good Pasta SaladTaste of Home

Wheely-Good Pasta Salad

Red pepper pieces accent this yummy side dish, and the pasta wheels really drive the theme home. —Amber Kimmich, Powhatan, Virginia

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Lime-Honey Fruit SaladTaste of Home

Lime-Honey Fruit Salad

Nothing is more refreshing to me than a seasonal fruit salad enhanced with this simple honey-lime dressing. —Victoria Shevlin, Cape Coral, Florida

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Mushroom PalmiersTaste of Home

Mushroom Palmiers

I found this recipe while working at a small-town museum in West Texas. It was the appetizer for a fundraiser a long, long time ago, and it’s still a huge hit at parties. Frozen puff pastry helps make it easy and impressive. The palmiers also freeze well. —Judy Lock, Panhandle, Texas

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Crunchy Vegetable DipTaste of Home

Crunchy Vegetable Dip

I love to try new recipes, and this one was a big hit with my family. It's great as an appetizer or for a light lunch. —Dottie Miller, Jonesborough, Tennessee

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Slow-Cooked Italian Meatballs

Slow-Cooked Italian Meatballs

What I love about these meatballs is that they can be served as an appetizer right out of the slow cooker, or alongside your favorite pasta. They also make a delicious sandwich. —Jason Romano, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

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Grilled Italian SandwichesTaste of Home

Grilled Italian Sandwiches

I made this for a family gathering and everyone raved about it. It's a fun recipe to grill for a crowd and can be adjusted according to everyone's favorite sandwich fillings. —Tammy Kriz, Marshall, Minnesota

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Southern Cornbread SaladTaste of Home

Southern Cornbread Salad

To feed a crowd, especially when I want to make a good impression, I make this eye-popping cornbread salad. It’s beautiful in a trifle bowl. I love it in summer, when we can make it with our own garden produce. —Debbie Johnson, Centertown, Missouri

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Cucumber Fruit SalsaTaste of Home

Cucumber Fruit Salsa

Our garden always gives us way more cucumbers and tomatoes than we know what to do with. But we’ve learned how to handle the unexpected with a surprise of our own. This is our pretty, fresh way to use up the bounty. —Anna Davis, Springfield, Missouri

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Black Forest Ham Roll-UpsTaste of Home

Black Forest Ham Roll-Ups

We love to entertain at home and the office. Ham and cheese rolled in tortillas make a quick and easy appetizer that's easy to transport. —Susan Zugehoer, Hebron, Kentucky

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Deluxe Hash Brown CasseroleTaste of Home

Deluxe Hash Brown Casserole

My son-in-law gave me the recipe for this hash brown casserole, which my kids say is addictive. It's an amazing make-ahead dish.—Amy Oswalt, Burr, Nebraska

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Crab Crescent Triangles

Crab Crescent Triangles

When some friends who love crab were planning a party, I created this recipe for them. The comforting baked bundles wrap up a cheesy seafood filling in convenient crescent roll dough. —Noelle Myers, Grand Forks, North Dakota

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Appetizer Tortilla PinwheelsTaste of Home

Appetizer Tortilla Pinwheels

A friend gave me this recipe, and whenever I serve these tortilla roll ups, people ask me for the recipe, too! The cream cheese pinwheels can be made ahead of time and sliced just before serving, leaving you time for other last-minute party preparations. —Pat Waymire, Yellow Springs, Ohio

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Cranberry Appetizer MeatballsTaste of Home

Cranberry Appetizer Meatballs

For a memorable meatball party snack with a tangy non-traditional sauce, I suggest this recipe. The meatballs are mouthwatering.—Jim Ulberg, Elk Rapids, Michigan

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Make-Ahead Hearty Six-Layer SaladTaste of Home

Make-Ahead Hearty Six-Layer Salad

This salad is an all-time favorite. I reach for the recipe whenever I need a dish to pass. It’s easy to make, can be assembled ahead of time and looks great. —Noreen Meyer, Madison, Wisconsin

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Pesto Pull-Apart BreadTaste of Home

Pesto Pull-Apart Bread

I combined some of my favorite flavors in an easy bread to complement our Italian meals. I make the pesto, oven-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, but store-bought versions work too. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (Field Editor),

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Tangy Watermelon SaladTaste of Home

Tangy Watermelon Salad

The refreshing blend of watermelon, red onions and a splash of citrus always does me proud at picnics and potlucks. I like to prepare it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to blend, and I use the rind as a colorful serving bowl. If you're short on time, simply substitute any bottled citrus vinaigrette. —Alisha Duncan, Blanchard, Oklahoma

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Easy Macaroni SaladTaste of Home

Easy Macaroni Salad

This hearty pasta salad is sure to please appetites of all ages—and it serves a lot of folks! —LaVerna Mjones, Moorhead, Minnesota

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Sage & Prosciutto Pinwheels

Sage & Prosciutto Pinwheels

I love, love, love to make appetizers and I especially like this recipe because I can make the rolls ahead, freeze them, and then slice and bake when needed. —Kate Dampier, Quail Valley, California

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Marinated Mozzarella & Tomato AppetizersTaste of Home

Marinated Mozzarella & Tomato Appetizers

Inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant, this simply sensational combination should marinate for at least three hours—the longer the better. —Mary Ann Lee, Clifton Park, New York

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Rustic Tuscan Pepper BruschettaTaste of Home

Rustic Tuscan Pepper Bruschetta

If you love sweet red, yellow and orange peppers, pair them with fresh mint for a cold kitchen appetizer. Marinate for up to one hour before assembling. —Noelle Myers, Grand Forks, North Dakota

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Sun-Dried Tomato Goat Cheese EmpanadasTaste of Home

Sun-Dried Tomato Goat Cheese Empanadas

I created this appetizer because I entertain a lot and wanted something simple but special. People like these empanadas so much! I always make extra. —Lynn Scully, Rancho Santa Fe, California

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White Pizza DipTaste of Home

White Pizza Dip

I first served this dip during a Super Bowl party, and boy, did it disappear fast. It's a great addition to a snack table because it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to pop it in the oven.—Molly Seidel, Edgewood, New Mexico

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Spectacular Overnight SlawTaste of Home

Spectacular Overnight Slaw

To come up with this dish, I used a number of different recipes, plus some ideas of my own. It's great for a potluck because it's made the night before and the flavor keeps getting better. Whenever I serve it, I'm inundated with recipe requests. —Ruth Lovett, Bay City, Texas

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Buffalo Chicken Deviled EggsTaste of Home

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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Veggie Ranch Tortilla PinwheelsTaste of Home

Veggie Ranch Tortilla Pinwheels

These terrific bite-size appetizers are always a hit wherever I take them. They're easy to make ahead of time, and are a great addition to other party fare! —Lori Kostecki, Wausau, Wisconsin

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Veggie Chopped SaladTaste of Home

Veggie Chopped Salad

My husband's aunt gave me this recipe back in the '80s, and it's been a staple at our house ever since. I like to make it a day ahead because some time in the fridge makes it even better. Be sure to save yourself some leftovers, too. —Madeline Etzkorn, Burien, Washington

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Deli-Style Pasta SaladTaste of Home

Deli-Style Pasta Salad

Pasta provides a base for this tongue-tingling make-ahead salad. It has lots of fresh and satisfying ingredients topped with a flavorful dressing. This pasta salad is terrific to serve to company or take to a potluck. — Joyce McLennan, Algonac, Michigan

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Fruit and Cheese KabobsTaste of Home

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

We came up with this fresh and fruity summer snack idea. It's easy to make ahead and carry to the ballpark, beach or playground, and the cinnamon-spiced yogurt dip adds a fun touch kids love. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Summer Macaroni SaladTaste of Home

Summer Macaroni Salad

When we grill, my mother asks me to make this summer pasta salad. To make it extra creamy, I like to keep a small amount of dressing separate and stir it in just before serving. —Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland

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Chunky Mango GuacamoleTaste of Home

Chunky Mango Guacamole

When serving a crowd, double or quadruple this guacamole. The onion, tomato and mango can be chopped in advance. Add avocado just before serving. —Diana Nienberg, McComb, Ohio

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Fiesta PinwheelsTaste of Home

Fiesta Pinwheels

Whenever I serve this make-ahead, easy pinwheel recipe, they disappear fast. When a friend at the office shared them with me, I knew in one bite I'd be taking her Mexican pinwheels home for the holidays. —Diane Martin, Brown Deer, Wisconsin

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Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili DipTaste of Home

Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili Dip

Longing for that Buffalo wing thing without the bones? This do-ahead dip freezes well in individual containers, so you can pull them out when you want to spread a little cheer. —Brenda Calandrillo, Mahwah, New Jersey

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Zesty Marinated ShrimpTaste of Home

Zesty Marinated Shrimp

These easy shrimp look impressive on a buffet table and taste even better! The zesty sauce has a wonderful spicy citrus flavor. I especially like this recipe because I can prepare it ahead of time. —Mary Jane Guest, Alamosa, Colorado

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Make-Ahead Sausage PinwheelsTaste of Home

Make-Ahead Sausage Pinwheels

Filled with sausage, sweet pepper and cream cheese, these roll-ups are excellent for unexpected visitors, a cocktail party or a halftime snack. Besides being easy to make, they can be done way ahead and kept in the freezer. All you have to do is pop them into a hot oven! —Cindy Nerat, Menominee, Michigan

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Creamy Grape SaladTaste of Home

Creamy Grape Salad

Everyone raves when I bring this refreshing, creamy salad to potlucks. For a special finishing touch, sprinkle it with brown sugar and pecans. —Marge Elling, Jenison, Michigan

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Pizza Oyster CrackersTaste of Home

Pizza Oyster Crackers

This quick and easy snack is a favorite of my kids. I always include a baggie in their lunch boxes. —Carol S Betz, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Slow-Cooked Peach SalsaTaste of Home

Slow-Cooked Peach Salsa

Fresh peaches and tomatoes make my salsa a hands-down winner over store versions. As a treat, I give my co-workers several jars throughout the year. —Peggi Stahnke, Cleveland, Ohio

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Layered Garden Bean SaladTaste of Home

Layered Garden Bean Salad

For easy entertaining, cover and refrigerate the salad a few hours before guests arrive so you don't have to bother with last-minute assembly. Turn it into a light lunch by adding sliced rotisserie chicken, salmon or tuna. —Melissa Wharton, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Barbecued Bean SaladTaste of Home

Barbecued Bean Salad

This tangy, hearty salad is a refreshing dish to serve at a summertime picnic. Mild spices blend nicely with the beans and garden ingredients. Be prepared to bring home an empty bowl. —Linda Ault, Newberry, Indiana

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Grilled Firecracker Potato SaladTaste of Home

Grilled Firecracker Potato Salad

I can eat potato salad like crazy. A little spice is nice, so I use cayenne and paprika in this grilled salad that comes with its own fireworks. —Ashley Armstrong, Kingsland, Georgia

Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.

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