Winning Tailgating Recipes

College football and food have always been linked. How tailgating began is debatable—some claim it dates back to Roman times; others say the idea sprang from spectators gathering to picnic on a hill while watching the Civil War battle of Bull Run, in 1861. Union Army supporters showed up with some food and drinks and loudly cheered on the soldiers while hanging out in their carriages. They sang fight songs, took bets on how long the battle would take, and even caused a traffic jam when the battle was over — all classic tailgating practices. Regardless, what’s clear is that in 1869, before and after Rutgers played Princeton in what is considered the first college football game, the fans were as interested in the picnics going on around the field as they were in the game itself.

Nowadays, tailgates have evolved into mobile feasts: face-to-face social networks where complete strangers bond over food and drink, and everyone is eager to share. Here are some tailgating recipes that score.


• 1 pound ground beef
• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 (8 ounce) jar prepared salsa
• 1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink. Drain off grease.

Spread the cream cheese in an even layer in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Spread a layer of salsa over the cream cheese, then cover with a layer of ground beef. Top with slices of processed cheese and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until heated through. Serve hot.


• 8 ounces cream cheese softened
• 8 ounces sharp cheddar grated
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon season salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2-4 teaspoons buffalo wing sauce

Beat the cream cheese and shredded cheese together until smooth. Add in spices, and wing sauce, beat until well combined.

Serve immediately with crackers or refrigerate until ready to serve.


• 1 (17 ounce) package refrigerated cooked beef roast au jus
• 2 cups frozen peppers (yellow, green, and red) and onion stir-fry vegetables
• 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
• 1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 2 cups coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with carrot)
• 1/2 cup pepperoncini salad peppers, stemmed and chopped, plus 2 tablespoons drained liquid
• 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
• 12 small rolls, split

Place beef and juices in a medium saucepan; break up any large pieces. Add stir-fry vegetables, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and the crushed red pepper. Heat through just to boiling.

Meanwhile, for slaw, in a medium bowl, combine coleslaw mix, pepperoncini peppers and liquid, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

To serve, spoon meat mixture on roll bottoms. Top with coleslaw mixture; add roll tops.