Tailgate Appetizers

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Tailgate Appetizers

Getting the right assortment of tailgate appetizers can really help set the tone for your sports party. The nature of the appetizers will be dictated in part by the sport that you’re watching, and whether you’re truly tailgating in the parking lot or cheering on your team at home.

A football tailgating party will focus more on hot and spicy food to counteract the cold weather outside, while a baseball-themed get-together will require more cold cuts and finger foods. Either way, your appetizers shouldn’t be too filling and should have fairly simple tastes.

Warm Dishes

When the weather gets cold, you know it’s time for football. Before getting on with your tailgate appetizers, spare a thought for the players who have to compete in the freezing conditions, and for your guests who will need hot dishes to keep them warm during the game:

Courtesy of Megan Chromik
  • Potato wedges – Potato wedges are a great alternative to french fries, as they offer a lot more carbs for a cold day. Warm them up even further by sprinkling them with paprika before baking them in the oven. You may need to serve some sour cream alongside the usual selection of sauces for those people who don’t like spicy food.

  • Nachos – You can start simply by grating some sharp cheddar cheese over some tortilla chips and baking them in the oven until the cheese melts. For a more sophisticated look and taste, try adding salsa to the mix, as well as slicing some jalapeno peppers between the layers of chips. If no vegetarians are among your guests, fry off some beef in chili oil and cumin, and layer the meat with the other ingredients before baking.

  • Kebabs – Some of the best tailgate appetizers are those that are easy to make and prepare. Kebabs can be made beforehand using either metal or bamboo skewers, or you can leave the ingredients out so that your guests can make their own. Be sure to have a hot grill that will cook any meat thoroughly before serving.

Cold Dishes

In the summer it’s time to think about baseball and being outside in the sunshine. Your selection of tailgate appetizers should consist of cold items to counteract the heat:

  • Chips and dips – The chips are the easiest part of this appetizer, as you just need a few big bags from the grocery store. The dips can be as simple as salsa or sour cream or as complex as making your own layered dip with cheese, refried beans and guacamole. If your dip involved cooking, make sure you leave enough time for it to cool down.

  • Deviled eggs – Given that you can eat deviled eggs in one or two mouthfuls, they are perfect appetizers. The spiciness also makes them a good starter for a Mexican-themed meal as it prepares your guests’ palates for hot and spicy food. You may also need to make some with less chili powder for those guests who prefer milder tastes.

  • Flavored breadsticks – you can buy breadsticks covered with rosemary, cracked pepper or garlic for extra flavor. However, they aren’t hard to make, as you just need some simple bread dough that you cut into sticks. Cover them with a drizzle of olive oil and your preferred topping and bake until golden brown. Serve alongside your favorite dip.

Regardless what type of tailgate appetizers you choose, the one golden rule is to make more than you can possibly imagine needing. Sports games usually involve drinking alcohol and chatting, both of which are conducive to snacking and eating more than you should. The last thing you want is to run out of food at your tailgate party.

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