Skewered, marinated, meaty and sweet recipes for your next tailgate

Tailgating season is upon us. Tailgate parties are one of the better traditions that occur alongside football games, if you ask us, because there’s plenty of food and beverages for all to share. And if you’re a fan of a particular local football franchise, the tailgate is often the highlight of the game-day experience.

What will you bring to your next tailgate? You might have your traditions set in stone, but if you’re looking for a few new ideas, scan the recipes below — they’re a mix of things skewered and marinated, meaty and vegetal, made ahead and assembled last minute. (Plus some sweets, for good measure.)


Pineapple-Rum Turkey Kebabs. Ideal fare because of their extreme versatility — use chicken instead of turkey, clean out your crisper drawer and cut up cubes of bell pepper or zucchini, and slip in a few chunks of pineapple or nectarines. Bring some flatbread and sweetish barbecue sauce to serve.

(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Jerk Chicken and Pineapple Skewers. These make for punchy little morsels, thanks to a marinade of habanero, lime juice, scallions, thyme, allspice and a few other ingredients. Bring the bag of marinating chicken pieces with you to the tailgate, with a separate container full of the chopped vegetables and pineapple. And don’t forget to pre-soak the skewers!

For more things skewered, see: Grilled Potato, Onion and Bacon SkewersApple Cider Glazed Turkey KebabsPomegranate-Glazed Lamb Kebabs; Vindaloo-Marinated Pork Skewers; and Tempeh Kebabs With Minty Cilantro-Lime Sauce.

Burgers and other meats

(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Perfect Smash Cheeseburgers. You can be the hero who buys boxes upon boxes of Shake Shack burgers and brings them to the party, slightly colder and less fresh than intended, or you can be the hero who makes the burgers fresh, so they’re steaming hot and the cheese is still dripping when your pals bite into them. The choice is yours.

(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Chipotle Honey-Marinated Steak. Let sirloin or skirt steak chill out in its marinade for up to 24 hours before grilling.

You may also be interested in: Stuffed Beef BurgersIced Tea-Brined ChickenSausage, Peppers and OnionsSpiced Chicken WingsSpicy Beer Mustard, to top your favorite hot dogs or bratwurst.


(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Grilled Maple-Marinated Portobello Mushrooms. Marinate these for one to six hours in a mixture of maple syrup, soy sauce and vinegar, then toss them on the grill.

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes. Make it easy on yourself and use a vegetable grilling basket for these tender, charred potatoes. You could also make the garlic butter at home, then toss the warm potatoes in it gate-side.

See also: Charred Carrot DogsGrilled Vegetable Po’ Boys; and Steamed Corn on the Grill.

Make ahead (and warm up there)

These are the recipes for those who are tasked with bringing something and those who’d rather kick back with a beverage than tend a grill. Think foods that can be made ahead in a baking dish, so that they transport easily and just need to be warmed up. Also, desserts.

(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Washington State Hot Dogs. Hot dogs bake with a few sliced tart apples, a little mustard, light brown sugar and a fair amount of cheddar. Bake it in an enameled, metal or aluminum baking dish at home, then reheat it on the grill.

(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken. It’s low in calories and fat, but you don’t have to tell anyone. Make it all at home, then bring it to the parking lot in a dish that can go on the grill to reheat. And don’t forget the sauce!

(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Philadelphia Tomato Pie. All you have to do with this bready, focaccia-based pie is show up — it’s served at room temperature.

You may also like: Tex Mex Frito Slab PieSpeedy Homemade Hummus; and Dill and Mint Yogurt Dip.

(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Fireball Whisky Cake. This, well, this pretty much speaks for itself. Other good dessert contenders: Coca-Cola CakeBlueberry Cake SquaresPumpkin Spice Cake; and Texas Sheet Cake.

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