Grill Masters Club Guide to Tailgating

Grill Masters Club Guide to Tailgating

Tailgate season is upon us! There’s nothing like loading up your grill, chairs and coolers and heading to the stadium to enjoy parking lot revelry with other fans.

If you’re getting ready to tailgate in the parking lot, this guide will provide some tips and recipes to help you plan and execute your game-day tailgate party like a true Grill Master.


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Tailgate Tip: Get a Headcount

First thing’s first: You need to know how many people you plan on feeding at your tailgate party! There’s no need to made a huge spread if you’ll only be feeding a few.

Of course, you can plan on a little extra if you’re the type who likes to make friends in the parking lot – your food might just turn a stranger into a friend.

Tailgate Tip: Make Your Own Ice

If you have access to a freezer and fresh water, you can save money by making your own block ice at home with recycled plastic juice or milk jugs.

Unless you’re making cocktails or mixed drinks (which we don’t recommend, keep it simple!), you probably won’t need cubed ice. This is where you can save some money by recycling your milk and juice jugs to use as block ice.

The best containers to use are the larger juice containers (64oz – 128oz) with the plastic handle . The container itself is thick enough, and the plastic handle under the cap will make for easy handling.

If you have a smaller cooler, use smaller bottles. However, the bigger the bottle, the longer it will stay frozen.

Step 1: Save your plastic containers
Step 2: Rinse them out a few times in the sink
Step 3: Fill them with water
Step 4: Freeze them
Step 5: Put them in the bottom of your coolers
Step 6: Save money on ice

It’s free ice, and when it melts, it’s contained. One of the biggest benefits is a dry cooler. With this approach, there’s no need to keep draining the cooler, which is often helpful if you’ve got foodstuffs inside. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

If you’re hosting the tailgate, you can always ask your attendees to contribute by bringing a bag of ice. It will only cost them a few bucks, and they won’t mind, since you’re the one doing all of the heavy lifting for their pregame enjoyment! This way, you’ll be covered if you want to enjoy beverages over ice.

Tailgate Beverages

Everyone knows that a tailgate isn’t truly a tailgate without adult beverages! Namely, beer. If you know your preferred brand, stick with it. We suggest going with a “session” beer, one that goes down easy and has a low ABV (alcohol by volume) – shoot for 5% or under.

If you’re a true Grill Master, you’ll pair your beverages to the dishes and types of food you’ll be serving. Learn how with our Meat & Beer Pairing Guide.

If you are expecting guests who are mindful of carbs, fat, sugar and so-on, a seltzer beverage might be something to consider. They’re all the rage these days, and can offer guests a beverage that’s refreshing, light, and often fruity. A few popular options include:

If you’re in the market for a hard seltzer for your tailgate party, check out this article to explore a full breakdown of the best seltzers for 2022, including ABV percentages, calories, tasting notes and more.

Cocktail Recipes

Mint & Basil Lime Cocktail Recipe

If you’re interested in serving cocktails and mixed drinks at your tailgate party, here are a few recipes:

BBQ Pit Boys Big Hoss Bloody Mary
From the BBQ Pit Boys' Return of the Pit Boys box, we've included Kansas City Smoke Rub and Habanero Smoke Sauce in this recipe. Tasting a wild cocktail makes you feel happiest. An inspired cocktail like no other.
Check out this recipe
Crimson Michelada feat. Bravado Spice Crimson Hot Sauce
This Crimson Michelada has levels: Sour, spicy, and refreshing! It's a natural progression of Mexican-style dressed beers. Like most in Mexican cuisine, it incorporates salt and lime to to deliver a truly elegant mixed drink.
Check out this recipe
Crimson Michelada Recipe
Mint & Basil Lime Cocktail with Smoked Ice feat. Bold BBQ Smoke Ems™ by Bear Mountain BBQ
Ever had a cocktail with SMOKED ICE?! Probably not, but it's time to kick up the flavor and cool down with this Smoked Mint & Basil Lime Cocktail using Bold BBQ Smoke Ems™ by Bear Mountain BBQ.
Check out this recipe
Mint Basil Lime Cocktail Recipe
The Pickled Mutha's Margarita
The pickle connoisseurs among you will like this. For a sweltering summer's day, this Pickled Mutha's Margarita is the ideal drink.
Check out this recipe

P.S. Always make sure you bring enough non-alcoholic drinks for the designated drivers and those who are underage. Also, it’s a good idea to take water on when you’re drinking alcohol — alcohol dehydrates.

Tailgate Food & Recipe Ideas

Classic tailgate foods are finger foods – utensils not required. Here are some of our favorite recipes that are pretty straightforward, and can be accomplished in the parking lot.

Tailgate Appetizers

Buffalo Beer Cheese Dip

From buffalo dips to smoked baked beans, delight your fellow tailgaters with these delicious appetizer recipes.

If you’re into creamy pimento cheese, consider the recipe from Mis Rubin’s Seasonings below — it’s a family recipe that’s been passed down!

Terrapin Ridge Farms' Hot Pepper Bacon Jam Cream Cheese Appetizer
Roasted red pepper puree, jalapeno peppers and real bacon combine to create an addictive jam, that is Terrapin Ridge Farms' Hot Pepper Bacon Jam with a brick of cream cheese perfect for an appetizer. So easy, but so good. Perfect for any occasion!
Check out this recipe
Blonde Beard’s Buffalo Beer Cheese Dip
Delight your fellow tailgate party-goers with a delicious buffalo dip from Blonde Beard's.
Check out this recipe
Buffalo Beer Cheese Dip 500px

Smoked Baked Beans With Bacon
Big flavors from this quick throw together smoked baked bean recipe, plus add-ins to suit all taste buds.
See Recipe at
Smoked Baked Beans With Bacon

Mis' Rubin's Creamy Fish Magic Pimento Cheese
This recipe came straight from Mis' Rubin's Seasonings. It's a family recipe, one handed down by the owner's own grandmother -- so make sure you do it justice!
Check out this recipe
BBQ Pit Boys Bacon Whiskey Venison Chili
If you're looking for a tasty chili for those back country hunting and fishing days check out Pitmaster Handzee cook up a hearty whiskey chili.
Check out this recipe
Blonde Beard's Black Magic Deviled Eggs
Growing up in Georgia, deviled eggs were always on the table. We had to try them buffalo style and, damn, sure glad we did. 
Check out this recipe
Blonde Beard's Black Magic's Buffalo Mac N' Cheese
What's better than Mac & Cheese? Buffalo Mac & Cheese. This savory, spicy, cheesy dish shared by Blonde Beard's will quickly disappear from your table. 
Check out this recipe

Chicken Recipes for Tailgating

Chicken — it’s classic tailgating fare…I mean, who doesn’t love buffalo wings? We’ve been lucky enough to come across a great number of chicken and chicken wing recipes, and we’ve got you covered with recipes that will really elevate your chicken wing spread on gameday.

Chicken Wing Recipes

Buffalo Hot Wings feat. Missing Link Spice Rub

PS Seasoning's Bourbon-Glazed Chicken Wings
Seasoned with On the Rocks Bourbon Pepper and a bourbon and maple syrup-based glaze, PS Seasoning's Bourbon-Glazed Chicken Wings are an irresistible treat.
Check out this recipe
Grilled Buffalo Hot Wings feat. Missing Link Spice Rub by Bow Valley BBQ
Use Bow Valley BBQ's Missing Link Spice Rub to take your buffalo wings to the next level.
Check out this recipe
Buffalo Hot Wings feat. Missing Link
Pickleback Wings feat. The Backyard – Better Burger Seasoning by PS Seasoning
Treat yourself and friends to delicious wings inspired by the shot + chaser combo of whisky and pickle juice.
Check out this recipe
Pickleback Wings Recipe feat. The Backyard - Better Burger Seasoning
Grilled Pineapple Papaya Chicken Thighs feat. Pineapple Papaya BBQ by Torchbearer Sauces
Enjoy the sweet flavors of pineapple and papaya with this grilled chicken thigh recipe that calls for Pineapple Papaya BBQ by Torchbearer Sauces.
Check out this recipe
Torchbearer Sauces Grilled Pineapple Papaya Chicken Thighs

Beef Recipes for Tailgating

Will beef be making an appearance at your tailgate party? We sure hope so! Here are some of our favorite burger and beef recipes you can whip up in the parking that are guaranteed to hit the spot and impress your guests.

Uncle Bubby's Reverse Seared Pit Beef
Pit beef can be bottom or top round roasts that are smoked rare and sliced thinly.
Round roasts are generally inexpensive, and while not the most tender of cuts, they’re incredibly flavorful and make for a great meal when you use the right combination of seasonings and sauces and slice it properly.
Check out this recipe
Blue Cheese Roast Beef Sliders feat. Bigfoot Bold BBQ Sauce
These delicious roast beef sliders are easy to make and feature Bigfoot Bold BBQ Sauce from Bow Valley BBQ.
Check out this recipe
Bigfoot Bold BBQ Sauce Recipe
Martha's Cheesy Kansas City Beef Buns by BBQ Pit Boys
Martha's stuffed meat buns recipe is easy to do using these simple tips shown here by the BBQ Pit Boys. If you like meaty and cheesy you have to check this out!
Check out this recipe

Burger Recipes

Classic Smashburgers Recipe

Classic Smashburgers feat. The Backyard – Better Burger Seasoning
These thin, diner-style burgers are exactly what the name says: burgers that have been smashed!
Check out this recipe
Classic Smashburgers Recipe
State of the Union Smash Burger feat. BBQ Pit Boys Kansas City Smoke Rub
Smash Burger? That's correct, the smash burg is both fast and simple to create, as shown by the BBQ Pit Boys, plus it has that traditional diner flavor.
Check out this recipe
Lane's Black and Blue Smash Burger
Lane's recipe for the ideal Black and Blue Smash Burger is one you won't forget or regret making. For breakfast, lunch, and supper, smash burgers are a staple. Double-patty burger with brioche bread and Lane's Sorta White sauce and mix, topped with bacon, egg, and cheese.
Check out this recipe

Pork Recipes for Tailgating

Looking for a great bratwurst recipe? We’ve got you! Check out Bear Mountain BBQ’s world famous brat recipe below. You can cook it right on your existing charcoal or gas grill using their Smoke Em’s wood chip packets (which are included in our Return of the BBQ Pit Boys and Smoke & Spice boxes, available for purchase on demand!). Bear Mountain’s Smoke Em’s packets provide a clean and easy way to quickly achieve smoke flavor without a full-on smoker.

Bear Mountain BBQ's World Famous Smoked Brats & Onions
Well, they may not be world-famous (yet!), but they are famous here at Bear Mountain BBQ for good reason! This brat recipe is quick, easy, and insanely delicious. Trust us, you're really going to want to try these!
Check out this recipe

Want to go the extra mile? Looking to impress the entire parking lot? Then delight your guests with some smoked pork belly! Here are two absolutely delicious recipes to choose from. The skewers might serve you better in the parking lot, but the burnt ends are to die for!

Pork Belly Burnt Ends feat. Old Pit Dust by Red Dirt Rich BBQ
In the BBQ world, pork belly is a delicacy and nothing could be better than sweet, sticky cubes of wonderful fatty bliss.
Check out this recipe
Chipotle Cherry Jalapeño Glazed Pork Belly Skewers
If you're looking for a new take on BBQ, this recipe is a great place to start! It's flavorful and savory with a slight kick from the rubs and sauces.
Check out this recipe

Pulled Pork Recipes

Mrs. Griffin's Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe

Pulled pork is a classic tailgate dish. It’s something you can take the time to smoke in the comfort of your own home the day before, then refrigerate and reheat in the parking lot to feed hungry guests.

Below, we’ve included three different takes on pulled pork. Mrs. Griffin’s and Morgan’s Carolina Q can be purchased together in our Smoke & Spice box, allowing you to make dueling pulled pork dishes!

Puffed Up Red Dirt Pulled Pork
This delicious recipe features Red Dirt Rich BBQ's Old Pit Dust, the featured dry rub in our June 2022 BBQ subscription box, "The Spice of Life."
Check out this recipe
Red Dirt Rich
Mrs. Griffin's Smoked Pulled Pork
Enjoy the flavor of the South's oldest barbecue sauce, Mrs. Griffin's, in this classic barbecue dish!
Check out this recipe
Mrs. Griffin's Smoked Pulled Pork
Morgan’s Carolina Q’ “Boston Butt” Smoked Pulled Pork
This recipe comes to us via Douglas J. Morgan, Jr. of Carolina Q' BBQ Sauces and features their Sweet Hickory Sauce.
Check out this recipe
Morgan’s Carolina Q’ “Boston Butt” Smoked Pulled Pork

Portable Grills & Smokers for Tailgating

There are a ton of choices out there when it comes to the cooking equipment that will power your tailgate party.

If you plan on cooking during the tailgate party (and your smoker or grill isn’t on a trailer) — classic tailgating — here are some portable grills and smokers to consider.

Portable Gas Grills for Tailgating

Blackstone Original 22” Tabletop Griddle w/ Hood

Blackstone 22" Griddle

  • Dimensions: 23.6″ x 23.6″ x 13″
  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Small but powerful – 24000 BTUs across 362 sq. inches lets you cook a variety of foods at once
  • Patented rear grease management system allows easy cleanup and no mess operation
  • Upgraded control knobs provide precise temperature control and simple, quick piezo ignition
  • Included hood secures to the rear of the griddle for protection and easily lifts out of the way when in use

Camp Chef VersaTop 250 Single Burner Portable Flat Top Propane Gas Grill


The VersaTop Grill System is a handy 247 square-inches of flat top freedom. Equipped with Camp Chef’s True Seasoned, non-stick surface—it’s ready to cook when you are.

  • Overall Unit Dimensions: 17 in. x 18 in. x 8 in.
  • Griddle Cooking Surface: 247 sq. in.
  • Grease Cup: Holds 24 oz.
  • Total Weight: 24 lbs.
  • Griddle Weight: 15 lbs.
  • Total Output: 18,000 BTUs/Hr. Burner
  • Includes Flat Top Griddle
  • 14″ accessory compatible
  • Compact design
  • Leg levelers
  • Adjustable heat control
  • Grease management

Portable Charcoal Grills for Tailgating

Marsh Allen Cast Iron Hibachi Tabletop Charcoal BBQ Grill

Marsh Allen 30052 Cast Iron Hibachi 10 by 18-Inch Charcoal Grill

This BBQ Cast iron hibachi charcoal grill features two multi-positional cooking grids.

  • Cooking grids measure 9 x 15 inches
  • 181 square inches of cooking area
  • Features two multi-positional cooking grids
  • Great for owners with limited space

Portable Smokers for Tailgating

Traeger Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill

Traeger Portable Pellet Grill

Featuring a compact, portable design, it’s prime for balconies, tailgating or anywhere else you want to take 6-in-1 versatility and superior taste. And now it comes armed with Traeger’s Digital Arc controller for more precise, consistent temperatures and a Keep Warm Mode that keeps food fresh until chow time.

  • Fits: 2 Chickens OR 3 Rib Racks OR 12 Burgers
  • Total cooking space: 300 sq. in.
  • Total weight: 62 lbs.
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 8 lbs.
  • Max temperature: 450° F