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2018 Circle City Classic Tailgate

Brayden Bridgeman

Tailgating brings two of America’s favorite activities together: grilling and watching sports. And you can be mobile with both. It’s no wonder then that 80 percent of the nation tailgates annually, according to a study by Quicken Loans Racing and Beckon Media posted on HungryFan.com. The top three tailgating stadiums are Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri and Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York. But you don’t need to go to a big-ticket game to enjoy a tailgate. All you may need is an SUV, truck, a pavilion, a grill—of course, the food and a few other items. Here are some tips for the ultimate tailgate.

 

Pack Utensils + Grill Tools In A Toolbox

barbeque duck meat

Source: Jordan Lye / Getty

There is a lot more to pack for a great tailgate than many realize (which we’ll get to). Throwing everything in separate bags leaves you with a lot to carry and an unorganized setup. A large toolbox is the perfect item for packing tailgate tools in. It has tons of convenient compartments, closes up securely and has a large carrying handle. Plus, its hard sides keep the contents secure in transit.

 

Pre-cut toppings

Toppings for burger

Source: Hillary Kladke / Getty

You’ll thank yourself for pre-cutting toppings the night before the tailgate. You don’t want to waste an hour dicing and slicing while you’re trying to enjoy the game and your company. So before game day, prepare:

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced onions
  • Diced onions
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Chopped green onions

 

Pre-form burger patties

Preparing Bacon Cheeseburger Bowls

Source: LauriPatterson / Getty

If your making custom burgers, form the patties the night before. This will save you a lot of time the day of the tailgate. Once your patties are formed and seasoned, pack them between sheets of parchment paper. You can stack several layers, with a sheet between each, on top of a baking sheet. And put an additional baking sheet on top to weigh them down.

 

Use A Beer Box For Condiments

Diebels

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A six-pack box from beer bottles makes the perfect holder for utensils like A-1 sauce, ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. Don’t throw out these boxes as you clear the beers. If you have several tables at your tailgate, each one can use a six-pack box with condiments.

 

DIY Food Warmer

Tasty BBQ Meats

Source: SolStock / Getty

Nobody wants a cold burger, but by the time your people go back for seconds, there’s a strong possibility that’s what they’ll get unless you keep feeding the grill with charcoal. Make the burn going a little longer by using wood chips to sustain the heat.

 

Tailgate Packing List (non-food items)

Paper towel

Source: annick vanderschelden photography / Getty

The moment you cook away from your kitchen you realize just how many items you use every day. Packing these non-food items will help you do everything you need to do from preparing to cooking to serving your tailgate treats:

  • Trash bags
  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic utensils
  • Mixing bowls
  • Serving utensils
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
  • Grilling mitts
  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • Skewers
  • Tongs
  • Spatulas
  • Bottle/can openers
  • Hand sanitizer

 

Tailgate packing list (edible essentials)

Hot Dog and Fries with Pickled Jalapeno's and Sauerkraut

Source: LauriPatterson / Getty

In addition to the main ingredients you choose, like chicken, burgers, hotdogs or sausage, don’t forget the essential condiments that you’ll need to put the final touches on your food:

  • Seasoning (salt, pepper, chili flakes, cheese, garlic salt, smoked paprika)
  • Olive oil
  • Pickles
  • BBQ sauce
  • Ketchup/mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sauerkraut
  • Salsa
  • Dips
  • Hot sauce
  • Steak sauce
  • Ranch
  • Thousand island

 

Best Tailgate Foods

48 Hours Restaurant Review: The Roundhouse Taproom with "Frito pie" , 62 Peel Street, Central. 04MAR14 [MAR2014 48HRs ]

Source: South China Morning Post / Getty

Some of the best tailgate foods are handheld items that people can customize to their liking. This allows you to prepare the ingredients and then put them out for guests to assemble the finished product on their own. Some great tailgating foods like this include:

  • Tacos. (Prepare and put out: Ground beef, taco shells, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese and salsa.)
  • Sausages (Prepare and put out grilled sausages, grilled onions, bell peppers and jalapenos, toasted buns and condiments)
  • (Prepare and put out grilled patties, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, toasted buns and condiments)
  • Fajitas (Prepare and put out grilled + cut up chicken and/or steak strips, toasted tortillas, grilled onions + bell peppers, beans, rice, and salsa + guacamole)
  • Sloppy Joes (Prepare and put out toasted buns next to your hot pot containing the filling. Leave the pot on the “warm” setting)
  • Pulled pork sandwiches (Prepare and put out pulled pork in the hot pot on the “warm” setting with toasted puns and coleslaw and grilled pineapples for toppings)
  • Chili chees Frito pies (Prepare and put out chili in a hot pot on the “warm” setting, with single-serve Frito bags, sliced jalapenos, shredded cheese, diced red onions and sour cream
  • Chili bread bowls (Prepare and put out chili in a hot pot on “warm” setting next to individual sour bread bread bowls with the tops cut out, with diced green onions, sour cream and bacon bits)
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