How to Tailgate Like a Pro

What is it that draws thousands of people to stand around on asphalt, sometimes in the bitter cold and rain? Is it the infectious enthusiasm of fans in team colors? The spectacle of hilarious costumes and outlandish vehicles? The warmth of a charcoal fire? The vast array of tables spread with every kind of food imaginable from the chilled to the grilled?

We've tailgated at college and pro football games, soccer matches, car races, and even in the parking lots of theme parks and ski resorts. You can tailgate anywhere you're allowed to park your car, grill food, and enjoy a drink with friends. Tailgating means different things to different people. For some, it's all about team spirit and getting amped up for the game. For others, it's pure party time, a chance to eat, drink, and be merry. In the end, it just might be the collective experience of everyone doing it together that makes tailgating so special.

No matter what it means to you, tailgating can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be. Some folks bring a cooler of prepared food, some drinks, and team colors and call it a day. Others plan for days or weeks ahead of time, drive huge RVs to the game, set up big tents, or drag giant trailer smokers to the parking lot to serve the rabid fans. No matter how it takes shape for you, tailgating is a fantastic American pastime. Here's your ultimate guide to the gear, the recipes, and the planning tips that will make your next party in the parking lot the best ever.   

smoked and grilled buffalo chicken wings
Grilling Buffalo wings may sound like blasphemy but the results from this non-deep fried twist are simply amazing. By cooking this All-American Classic on the grill, you avoid the deep frying mess while also adding a deep, smoky flavor. The Buffalo wings start with indirect smoke before being crisped over direct heat. read more
flank steak tailgate meal
Here's a handy checklist for your next tailgating, camping or other offsite, outdoor barbecue party. read more
Tailgate scene at University of Alabama football game
Tailgating is kind of like car camping, but it's a party! Check out this list of cool tailgate gear you may not have thought of--beyond the grill and the food. Once you bring a wireless speaker to your tailgate party, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it! read more
smoked miso wings
Yes, Buffalo sauce tastes great on hot wings, but try some Asian flavors on your chicken wings with the deep, savory flavors of miso, sesame oil, and wood smoke. This recipe leans heavily on miso paste, a traditional Japanese ingredient rich in umami, the rich meaty savory flavor. read more
brat tub
Bratwurst are the signature food of Wisconsin and here's the recipe for creating perfect Touchdown Tailgate Brats simmered in beer and then grilled. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the sauce at home, chill everything, and then finish the brats at the game during your next tailgating adventure. read more
Kreuz Sausage
We need to change the way we think of sausages. Yes, most are tubes of seasoned and flavored ground meats and veggies in a casing, but many are patties. So if you broaden your horizons, this section gives you a lot of freedom. Take these recipes and have fun. read more
hot dog in a bun
The word sausage covers a wide range of foods, typically they are ground meats with spices and seasonings, often stuffed into a casing and shaped like a cylinder. Make the sausage and shape it any way you like, with or without the casings! No matter what shape it takes, the taste will be amazing! read more
tailgater
Reviews of Tailgate, Camping, Small, Lightweight and Portable Grills for the balcony, beach, tailgate party, hiking, cattle drive, Winnebago, or yacht. read more
burger cooked rare
Our growing section on hamburgers will help you understand all the angles in making big fat juicy steakburgers or thin crispy diner burgers, and the techniques are very different! We'll take you on a tour of the regional styles of hamburgers, and even give you the secret sauce recipe. read more
grilled lobster
Boiled lobster is good, but grilled lobster is better and here is the only recipe you need to make it happen! Undiluted by boiling water, the lobster flavor truly shines through when cooked quickly over live fire, not to mention the added smoky depth. Lobster is split in half, grilled, and basted with butter. read more

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Dave Joachim

AmazingRibs.com Editor David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than 45 cookbooks including four on barbecue and grilling, making him a perfect match for a website dedicated to the “Science of Barbecue and Grilling.” His Food Science column has appeared in "Fine Cooking" magazine since 2011. 

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