Before the big game: Are you ready for some…tailgate food?

Published 6:15 am Friday, August 25, 2023

By Kara Kimbrough

I have a confession to make. Unless it’s Homecoming and I want to see what the court’s gowns look like, I sometimes skip the main event and stay in the tailgate tent.

It’s too early to nail down any specific item just yet, and in the meantime, I’ve been perusing a column I wrote in 2016 on the occasion of Super Bowl 50. It almost killed me, but I managed to create, gather or edit 50 appetizer recipes to publish before the big game. Here are just a few of my favorites from that column to provide inspiration as tailgate…I mean football season, approaches.

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Delish Bacon-Onion Dip — Cook 2 thinly sliced yellow onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove onions and cool; fry 6 slices of bacon in same skillet. Chop bacon and cooked onions and combine with a cup of sour cream, 2 chopped scallions and seasoning salt to taste.

Spicy Football Spread — With mixer, combine 3, 8-ounce packages softened cream cheese, 3 cups cheddar, 1 cup of grated Romano cheese, 1 cup of sour cream, teaspoon of Worcestershire and dash of hot sauce. On plastic wrap, mold mixture into football shape or (or use a lined, medium plastic football dish). Place football on serving dish and cover with chopped toasted pecans and dried cranberries.

Old Bay Snack Mix — Toss together party-size bag of regular potato chips, 2 cups each Cheez-Its and Goldfish crackers and mini pretzels, ½ stick melted butter and a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes, stirring once.

Vegetable Pockets — Warm 12 pita pockets in the microwave. Snip off the tops and fill with a mixture of hummus, crumbled feta, chopped olives, cucumber, lettuce and tomato. (Can add sliced sandwich meat if you want). Serve with fresh dill dipping sauce.

Fresh Dill Sauce — Combine 1 cup each mayo and sour cream, 2 tablespoons dill weed, 2 tablespoons Beau Monde seasoning and 1 teaspoon minced onion. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Serve with Healthy Vegetable Pockets, sliced vegetables or crackers.

Better Than Store-Bought Pimiento-Cheese Dip — Mix ½ pound each grated cheddar and pepper jack, ¼ cup each mayonnaise and sour cream and 2 tablespoons diced pimientos. Season with hot sauce, onion and garlic powders and mix well; serve with crackers.

Touchdown Drumsticks — Combine a cup of jarred picante sauce, ¼ cup of honey, tablespoon of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon grated ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Brush half the mixture on 12 chicken legs (can use chicken tenders) in a foil-covered baking pan; bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn legs and brush with remainder; continue baking 20 minutes or until tender. Serve with picante sauce.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi and a travel agent. Email her at