18 Healthy and Delicious Foods For You Next Tailgate Party

Football season is back in full swing (YAY!) and one of the fun fan traditions of football is the tailgate party. Tailgating with friends is a lot of fun, but it can also a challenge for those folks who are managing their weight or who want to maintain a healthy diet. That is because most the fare are a tailgate party is food that is processed, fatty, starchy, or filled with sugar.

In this article, I’ll highlight recipes that eliminates much of the fat, starch, and sugars, but still fits in with the goals of a fine tailgate meal: Easy to make, transportable, and delicious.


Roasted Chili-Lime Chickpeas: Instead of reaching for a bag of chips (and a ton of starch and fat) why much of this crispy snack as a way to fulfill a desire for a salty munchie? Why does this recipe work? Chickpeas have a lot of protein and fiber (more than any chip), it is easy to make before an event and easy to transport, and you can change the seasoning flavors and create a variety of roasted chickpea snacks. Check out the recipe here: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/chili-lime-roasted-chickpeas

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños: Creamy-spicy finger food!! YUM! https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-stuffed-jalapenos

Avocado Chicken Salad: No mayo means that you don’t have to worry about this chicken salad immediately spoiling in the sun. And that avocado gives this dish a healthy creamy taste. https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/avocado-chicken-salad

Cheese plates: Cheese plates are always a hit, and they work so well for a finger food. If you are going to tailgate with food, be sure to use to keep the cheese cold before serving. And better yet, shop for a “cold platter”, a platter that can be frozen ahead of time and perfect for foods that must stay cold while they are sitting out.

Hummus: With so many good brands producing hummus, it is easy to grab hummus at the store and take it to a tailgate. Hummus is loaded with proteins and the good fats that your body needs.

Veggie Plate: Why have all that healthy appetizer food if you are going to ruin your diet with chips and/or crackers? A healthy alternative for dipping in hummus is a raw veggie platter filled with celery, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and carrots

Getting ready for the big gane!

Main Dishes

Cobb Salad Pizza – This is a really interesting twist on the standard pizza, and one you can easily make at a tailgate if you gook with a large outdoor grill and do some extra prep work before you leave the house. My recommendation is to cook the pizza dough and prep the veggies at home. Assemble the pizza and do the final 5 minutes of cooking at the tailgate.  https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/cobb-pizza

Beer Can Chicken – At many tailgates, you will find folks cooking burgers, sausages, or hot dogs because they are easy to make.  My suggestion is to try this recipe for beer can chicken. Easy to make, and no one else will be cooking chicken like this in immediate area. Your friends will be happy you cooked this. https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/tangy-beer-can-chicken

Air-Fryer Buffalo Wings: Who doesn’t love wings? One problem with cooking wings at a tailgate in the left-over oil. Why not use an air fryer? If you have power to your tailgate (generator?) then plug in that air fryer and put some wings on the table. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/274220/air-fryer-buffalo-wings/

Skewers/Kebabs: To me, skewers are the perfect food for a tailgate. You can prep them well in advance, they are easy to transport, you can make a variety recipes, and everyone likes a good skewer or kabab. Below is a list tasty beef, chicken, and veggie skewers you can cook at your next tailgate.

Grass-Fed Beef Sirloin Kebabs: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/grass-fed-beef-sirloin-kebabs

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Wasabi Mayo: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-chicken-skewers-wasabi-mayo

Ginger Chicken Kabobs: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/264026/ginger-chicken-kabobs/

Salsa Chicken on a Stick: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/263080/salsa-chicken-on-a-stick/

Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers: You may have friends who prefer to eat more vegetables. Give this a swing! https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-okra-tomato-skewers

Side Dishes

Roasted Asparagus with Walnuts, Parmesan, and Cherry Tomatoes: what a beautiful dish, easy to put together, and will brighten up any table. https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-asparagus-walnuts-parmesan-cherry-tomatoes

Grilled Watermelon Pizza: I thought this was a cool idea. Fruit, once it has been grilled, tended to become sweeter as the heat evaporates the water and concentrates the fruit’s natural sugar. Watermelon is about done for the season, but save this recipe for next summer: https://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/grilled-watermelon-pizza-recipe

Potato-Kale Salad: One of the few times I will recommend a starch like a potato. This salad is light and looks enjoyable. CAUTION, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of mayo, so don’t leave this out in the sun too long. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/263192/potato-kale-salad/

Mixed Fruit Bowl- Throw together what you have, be sure it is colorful, and every one will be happy you did. Fruits like pineapple and pitted cherries add bright pops of color and nice sweetness.

And a final message: Clean Up. Most fans are very good about cleaning up after a tailgate. And if you enjoyed yourself, one sure way to be invited back to a tailgate is to help everyone clean up after the festivities.  

If you have any other recipes you would like to share, please mention them below in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!