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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.   

Grilled Buffalo wings on a plate

No Mess Crispy Grilled Buffalo Wings

By:

Meathead

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.
Bratwurst in liquid with onions

This Brat Tub Beer Bath Will Elevate Your Sausage Grilling Game

By:

Meathead

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.
tailgate array of food

Tailgating And Camping Checklist

By:

Meathead

Here's a handy checklist for your next tailgating, camping or other offsite, outdoor barbecue party.
race car converted into a smoker

Tailgate Grills, Camping Grills, And Portable Grills Of All Sizes: Buying Guide, Reviews, And Ratings

By:

Meathead

Find the perfect portable grill for your needs with our extensive reviews and ratings These cookers are perfect for balconies, tailgating, camping, and more.

Cool Tailgating Gear to Step Up Your Gametime Party

By:

Dave Joachim

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!

Burger, Sloppy Joe, Salisbury Steak Recipes

By:

Meathead

Our growing section of burger recipes 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. Plus sloppy joes, Salisbury steaks, and more!

Hot Dog Recipes

By:

Meathead

Hot dogs are a type of sausage, which includes a wide range of foods. But hot dogs are specifically ground meat mixed with spices and seasonings stuffed into a casing shaped like a cylinder. From classic New York dogs to Chicago dogs to Cincinnati dogs and more, try our best hot dog recipes!

Sausage Recipes

By:

Meathead

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.

Dessert Recipes

By:

Meathead

Nothing brings the kids running faster than the aroma of brownies or a fruit-filled pie baking. Dessert maybe the last course but it's the one course that everyone looks forward to. How do you make dessert on a grill? We've got just the right recipes to put a crown on a great meal.

Party Planning: How Much to Cook for a Crowd

By:

Meathead

So you're cooking for a crowd. How much food do you need? Here's how to plan for a party or special occasion, including some basic rules of thumb and tips on how to handle dietary restrictions, how to prep ahead, and how to calculate the right amount of food so no one goes hungry.
Bacon Wrapped Meatballs

MOINK Balls, The Easiest Grilled Appetizer Ever

By:

Clint Cantwell

We'll bet you can't stop at just one of these tasty smoked bacon wrapped meatballs, a.k.a MOINK balls. This recipe is the perfect appetizer for any tailgating, couchgating, or backyard bash. The best part is that they are as easy to make as they are to eat!
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Miso wings on a plate

Smoked Miso Wings Take Any Party Over The Top

By:

Clint Cantwell

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.
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Cocktail wienies with toothpicks

Sandra’s Four Ingredient Candied Cocktail Wienies Recipe

By:

Meathead

Cocktail Wienies are great fun for parties. Here's a classic Southern recipe that's quick and easy. Taught to Sandra Aylor by her mother, this recipe has been made by family members at countless parties or pot lucks. Serve them in the slow cooker so they stay warm and guests eat them with a toothpick.
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

The Only Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers Recipe You’ll Ever Need

By:

Clint Cantwell

If you're searching for the perfect appetizer then you're sure to love this tested recipe for grilled bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers. Known in certain BBQ circles as ABTs, these cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped jalapenos are certain to disappear as soon as you serve them.
Grilled guacamole and tortilla chips

Hitting The Grill Takes Guacamole To Epic New Heights

By:

Clint Cantwell

Add a delicious smokiness to your favorite party dip with this recipe for grilled guacamole. Grilled avocados, limes, and onion are the key.
Bacon wrapped hot dogs on a platter

Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs Will Be Your New Best Friend

By:

Clint Cantwell

Stuffed with cheese then wrapped in bacon, this grilled hot dog recipe is a sure fire hit at any backyard bash. Inspired by Chicago's famed francheesie, our recipe skips the traditional deep frying in favor of the grill for a crisp bacon shell and deep smoky flavor.
Jalapeno bacon cheeseburger plated

Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño Bacon Cheddar Burger Brings The Heat

By:

Clint Cantwell

Experience a flavor explosion with this recipe for a sweet and spicy jalapeno bacon cheeseburger. A perfectly grilled burger patty is topped with sharp cheddar cheese, pickled jalapenos, crispy fried onions, thick cut bacon, and homemade balsamic ketchup. Layer it all on a pillowy pretzel bun for pure burger nirvana.
Chicago Italian beef sandwich

Better Than Chicago’s Best Authentic Italian Beef Sandwich

By:

Meathead

Classic Italian Beef Sandwiches are a popular regional specialty in Chicago and here is the recipe to make easy authentic Italian beef sandwiches at home featuring slow smoked beef, drippings, and peppers.
Grilled half lobster

Grilled Lobster Puts That Bland Boiled Stuff To Shame

By:

Meathead

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.

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Published On: 5/9/2019 Last Modified: 4/23/2021


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Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.
Click here for our review of this superb smoker


GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone


GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5″ x 29.5″ footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.
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Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners

3 burner gas grill

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Click here to read our complete review


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted


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Click here for more about what makes this grill special


The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One


The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review

 

Comprehensive Temperature Magnet With 80+ Important Temps

Amazingribs.com temperature magnet
Winner of the National BBQ Association’s product of the year award. This 8.5″ x 11″ magnet contains more that 80 benchmark temperatures for meats (both USDA recommended temps as well as the temps chefs recommend), fats and oils, sugars, sous vide, eggs, collagens, wood combustion, breads, and more. Although it is not certified as all-weather, we have tested it outdoors in Chicago weather and it has not delaminated in three years, but there is minor fading.

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