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A tailgate party is a perfect time to celebrate and enjoy delicious food with friends and family while supporting your favorite sports team.
Because foods like chips, hot dogs, cupcakes, and fried chicken tend to dominate tailgate menus, it can be hard to find nutritious options on game day.
Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these foods from time to time, some people may want to bring a more nutritious option to the party.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for delicious and healthy tailgate-friendly foods that are sure to hit the spot and keep you and your friends fueled throughout the big game.
This article lists 15 healthy tailgate food options.
If you’re heading to a large tailgate party, you’ll want to bring along a dish that can feed a crowd — like the following dishes.
1. White chicken chili
Chili is a staple at tailgates, especially during colder weather.
While most chilis are tomato-based, this white chicken chili recipe from Well Plated by Erin is made with a base of chicken broth. It features nutritious ingredients like white beans, chicken breast, and garlic.
Because chicken breast is an excellent source of protein and since beans contain both protein and fiber, this dish is sure to keep you and your friends full throughout the game.
Adding sources of fiber and protein to meals and snacks can help you feel fuller for longer — which is essential when you need energy to root for your favorite team (
The website allows you to double or even triple the recipe, which comes in handy when cooking for a large group.
2. Stuffed pepper casserole
Casseroles are a fan favorite. Plus, they’re hearty enough to satisfy a hungry crowd.
This stuffed pepper casserole from Eating Bird Food is packed with healthy ingredients like brown rice, ground turkey, spinach, diced tomatoes, bell pepper, and cheese.
It’s simple to make and requires just one pot. You can also make it in a CrockPot if preferred.
3. Mediterranean chickpea and farro salad
Step up your tailgate salad game with this crowd-pleasing Mediterranean chickpea and farro salad recipe from Hummusapien.
Unlike typical game-day pasta salads, this hearty dish is made with farro, a whole grain that’s a good source of fiber and minerals like iron and potassium (
It’s bursting with flavor from olives, onion, parsley, and feta and is high in plant-based protein thanks to the chickpeas. You can double or triple the recipe depending on how many people you’re planning to serve.
4. Grilled skewers
Skewers, also known as kabobs, are a perfect choice for a tailgate party. They’re versatile, easy to make, and are sure to please a crowd with different taste preferences.
If there’s a grill available at your tailgate party, you can prep them at home in large batches and grill them when you’re ready to eat.
Try out these delicious skewer combinations for your next tailgate party:
At a tailgate, finger foods are a must. People like to have the option to grab a quick bite while they’re socializing. Plus, because finger foods tend to be small, they’re often easy to make in large batches.
Here are a few finger foods that make perfect tailgate noshes.
5. Deviled eggs
Deviled eggs have it all. They’re savory, creamy, packed with protein, and are oh-so-satisfying.
This deviled egg recipe uses Greek yogurt instead of mayo, which adds more protein and a tangy twist to the recipe without changing the characteristic creamy texture.
The addition of mustard and paprika gives the dish a powerful punch of flavor, which will help them stand out amongst other tailgate food options.
7. Buffalo chicken meatballs
These buffalo chicken meatballs from the Real Food Dietitians make a tasty dinner, lunch, or tailgate finger food.
To make them easier to handle at the tailgate, simply make them a bit smaller and stick in some toothpicks or skewers.
Not only are they delicious, but they’re also loaded with veggies like diced carrots, onions, and celery. In other words, you can rest assured you’re getting a decent serving of veggies, even on game day.
They’re also gluten-free and paleo, making them a suitable option for those following these diets.
8. Salad pinwheels
Salads can be hard to eat when socializing at a tailgate party.
Conveniently, you can shrink your salad into bite-sized portions by creating pinwheels.
Simply stuff wraps with salad ingredients of choice, roll them up, slice them, and secure them with a toothpick so they stay together.
Try out delicious pinwheel recipes like Greek salad pinwheels and chicken and avocado roll-ups or create your own combo with your favorite salad components.
9. Turkey sandwich kabobs
The irresistible combination of turkey, cheese, pickles, and crunchy veggies make these turkey sandwich kabobs from the Reluctant Entertainer an ideal choice for a tailgate party.
You can make them in large batches. Feel free to change up the types of veggies or leave out the cheese to accommodate different taste preferences or dietary restrictions.
The fresh vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while the turkey and cheese are good sources of protein and fat. Combined, this makes for a balanced tailgate choice (
10. Stuffed mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms are a satisfying, vegetarian-friendly dish that can work well at tailgate parties.
The mushrooms make a great finger food option for game day since they’re bite-sized and can be made with just a few simple ingredients.
Try out these healthy and tasty tailgate-friendly stuffed mushroom recipes at your next tailgate party:
If you’ve been tasked with making dessert for a tailgate party but want to make something a bit more nutritious, you’re in luck!
There are plenty of delicious, healthy desserts and sweet snacks that are tailgate party-friendly.
11. Grain-free sweet potato avocado brownie bites
These bite-size grain-free sweet potato avocado brownie bites from the Real Food Dietitians are sure to satisfy a hungry tailgating crowd.
Because they’re made with sweet potato, avocado, eggs, coconut flour, and walnuts, they’re much higher in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals compared with traditional brownie bites. They’re significantly lower in sugar, too (
The website allows you to double or triple the recipe if you’re preparing for a larger crowd.
12. Homemade Twix bars
If you think it’s difficult to recreate Twix bars at home, think again.
This homemade Twix bar recipe from Bakerita only requires a handful of ingredients like almond butter, dates, coconut flour, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Plus, it takes just 30 minutes to make.
The result is a crunchy, chocolatey, chewy bar that’s paleo and vegan-friendly.
Compared with traditional Twix bars, these bars are also much lower in sugar (6).
13. Ice pops
If you’re looking for a tailgate-friendly dessert that will help partygoers beat the heat, try making a batch of ice pops.
Ice pops are ideal for tailgates in warmer weather and can be made with or without alcohol, allowing everyone to enjoy them.
All you need is ice pop molds and a few simple ingredients.
Here are some delicious boozy and non-boozy ice pop and ice cream bar recipes that are low in sugar:
- No-added-sugar pina colada popsicles
- 4-ingredient strawberry coconut milk popsicles
- Boozy popsicles with watermelon, mint, and aqua fresca
- Boozy bourbon chocolate popsicles
To keep your ice pops frozen, bring them to your tailgate party in a cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs.
14. Lemon bars
Lemon bars are always a hit at parties. They have a tangy, yet sweet flavor and a rich, sunny color that stands out next to run-of-the-mill desserts like cupcakes and donuts.
Minimalist Baker’s creamy vegan lemon bar recipe is lower in sugar and higher in fiber than traditional lemon bars — but tastes just as delicious.
They’re made with nutritious ingredients like cashews, almonds, and oats, and are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You can serve them full-size or cut them into smaller pieces for bite-sized tailgate-friendly treats.
15. Fruit and cheese boards
For a smaller tailgate gathering, try making a fruit and cheese board.
You can customize fruit and cheese boards to your liking. For instance, make it sweeter with dessert dips and chocolate or savory using cheeses and salty pairings.
You can also try making individual fruit and cheese cups if you’re feeding a larger crowd.
Here are a few ideas for fruit and cheese board combos that will please both sweet and salt-loving palates:
And try adding these fun, nutritious sweet dips to your the boards:
Tailgate menus don’t have to revolve around hotdogs and hamburgers! Show your friends and family your culinary skills by preparing a dish that’s both tasty and nutritious.
The meals and snacks on this list are balanced sources of fiber, protein, and fat. Plus, the suggested sweet treats are lower in sugar and higher in many nutrients compared with most traditional tailgate desserts.
Still, rest assured the dishes won’t disappoint when it comes to flavor.
Try out one or more of the recipes listed above the next time you’re invited to a tailgate party.
Just one thing
Try this next time: Whether you’re heading to a tailgate party, barbecue, or holiday gathering, don’t skip meals in order to “save calories” for later.
Fueling your body regularly with balanced meals and snacks can help prevent overeating and keep your blood sugar stable.
If you’re heading to a party later in the day, have a balanced breakfast with plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats so that you can feel energized and enjoy yourself with friends and family.