Ultimate Tailgate Tips

You want your tailgate to BE ULTIMATE. We want to help. Here are 60 tips to make your game day party an event to remember.

#1

If you’re packing the morning of the game, someone is already taking the best tailgating spot. Pack the night before.

#2

When emptying your vehicle to make room for tailgate supplies, it’s a good idea to make sure your jumper cables stay in the car.

#3

Do you have a bottle opener for your tailgate? Good. Do you have four? Better.

#4

Ice in your cooler lasts longer if it has less work to do. Refrigerate beverages overnight before packing up for game day.

#5

A frozen water bottle is like a giant ice cube for your cooler. Then it becomes water. What’s the old saying? Two birds, one water bottle?

#6

Check that you have your ticket at home. Check again at the tailgate. Because knowing where you left it will not get you into the stadium.

#7

Bring plates and silverware to your tailgate in a plastic bin with a lid. Seal it tightly on the way home when it’s full of dirty dishes.

#8

Roughly 96% of tailgate problems can be solved with duct tape, hand sanitizer, and a permanent marker.

#9

If you tailgate every week—like you should—make a checklist of items. Laminate it. Frame it. Lock it in a safe. Just don’t lose it.

#10

Plan your game day menu days ahead of time. Browse our recipes. You don’t have to do this alone. We’re here for you.

#11

You’re tailgating all day, right? You check scores on your phone, right? Bringing a phone charger sounds like a pretty good idea, right?

#12

Bring more trash bags to your tailgate than you think you’ll need. Because sometimes, trash bags become ponchos.

#13

At any tailgate, it’s easy for your sunscreen to become everyone’s sunscreen. Bring extra.

#14

Footballs. Horseshoes. Cards. If it can be caught, tossed, or otherwise played outside, bring it to your tailgate.

#15

Don’t invite bacteria to your tailgate. Keep cold foods cold (below 40°F) and hot food hot (above 140°F).

#16

Don’t sit on the cooler. And don’t forget to bring chairs to your tailgate. Or someone else is going to sit on the cooler.

#17

T-bone, flank steak, ribeye—not sure which you need for game day? Come talk to the folks in our Meat department. They love this stuff.

#18

Bring an extension cord. Actually, bring two. You know what? All of them. Bring all of the extension cords.

#19

Veggies? Or grilled veggies? Now you’re tailgating. A little olive oil keeps vegetables like asparagus, eggplant, and squash from sticking.

#20

Always tailgate with a clean grill grate. Forgot your brush? Grab some foil. Crumple it up, pinch it with tongs, and scrub away.

#21

Smooshing burgers with a spatula? Amateur move. Keep the juice in the burger until it runs down your tailgaters’ chins.

#22

Over-flipping burgers toughens the meat. So flip once, and only once, while cooking to an internal temperature of 140°F.

#23

Give your grill ample time to heat up before donning your game day apron. This is a good time to stretch your burger-flipping arm.

#24

Let’s talk grill marks. Put your steaks down at an angle. After a little while, turn 90° for diamond grill marks. Now just flip and finish.

#25

Resist the urge to flip steak over and over again. Letting it sear on the outside locks the juices inside, and makes tailgaters happy.

#26

Wait 5 minutes after taking steak off the grill. This lets the juices settle back into the meat, and is a fun way to tease your guests.

#27

Grate advice: Clean your grill grate before grilling on game day. Oil it, too. Otherwise, that meat is going to stick. Count on it.

#28

Keep hand-formed patties cold on game day to help them stay together on your grill grate.

#29

Say no to puffy tailgate burgers. Use your thumb to make an indent on top of your patties before grilling and they’ll even out as they cook.

#30

One question you should never have to answer at your tailgate: You seriously didn’t bring any hot dogs?

#31

One question you should always have to answer at your tailgate: You seriously brought 3 kinds of mustard and 8 toppings for the hot dogs?

#32

Game day grilled corn: Pull down the outer husks and remove the silk. Fold the husks back up and soak in water for 10 minutes. Grill.

#33

Form burger patties the night before and freeze between wax paper to save time. Throw them straight on the grill at your tailgate.

#34

Toasted buns: Further proof that if you can grill it, you should grill it. That’s just Tailgating 101.

#35

Meat pieces on kabobs stay juicier longer when they’re just touching. Not that they’ll last very long at your tailgate anyway.

#36

Know what potato salad from the Publix Deli looks like in a bowl? Potato salad that no one has to know came from the Publix Deli.

#37

Tailgate Cooler One: raw meats. Tailgate Cooler Two: cooked meats. Never do they mix.

#38

Slaw goes great with your pulled pork sandwich. It’s even better when it goes on your pulled pork sandwich. That’s ultimate tailgating.

#39

Chili: the ultimate tailgate food. Delicious on its own, and better when combined with hot dogs, burgers, nachos, or baked potatoes. Bravo.

#40

Skewer and marinate kabobs the night before your tailgate. You’ll save time, and increase your odds of dreaming about kabobs. Mmm, kabobs.

#41

Flying a big helium balloon attached to a long string is a good way to help friends find your tailgate.

#42

Playing the “Macarena” at full volume is a bad way to help your friends find your tailgate. Effective, though.

#43

Be good tailgate neighbors. If they like the other team, be good neighbors but talk about how ugly their uniforms are behind their back.

#44

Set up your tailgate near a public restroom if possible. And bring toilet paper. We shouldn’t have to explain this one.

#45

Your friends will ask you what they can bring to the tailgate. Ice. You need ice. Don’t even check the cooler. You’re running low.

#46

Know what’s more fun than postgame traffic? Postgame tailgating.

#47

Ever opened a cooler, then another, and another looking for a specific drink? It takes less time than that to label each cooler on game day.

#48

Know exactly where you’re tailgating? Send your guests directions the night before. Winging it? Send directions as soon as you park.

#49

Extinguish any kind of flame before leaving your tailgate for the game or to go home. An ultimate tailgate is a safe tailgate.

#50

Wherever you tailgate, know the rules first. Are you allowed to grill? Are generators permitted? Is loud music okay?

#51

Pack a toolbox with tailgate essentials like grill tools, bottle and can openers, sunscreen, and of course, your duct tape, hand sanitizer, and permanent marker (see tip #8).

#52

Spending your tailgate time slicing veggies is a drag, so slice and pack your burger toppings in advance.

#53

Fill a six-pack holder with your favorite condiments. Just don’t take a giant swig of hot sauce by accident.

#54

Pack a mini first-aid kit.

#55

Consider wind direction when you position your grill. You’re trying to blow the smoke toward the other team’s fans, not yourself.

#56

Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser as a hand-washing station.

#57

Hang a paper towel roll from the tent struts using a bungee cord.

#58

Turn a cardboard beer case into a toss-away drink container. Be sure to line it with a plastic bag, or it will be more like a melt-away drink container.

#59

Set up a DIY toppings bar so people can customize their hot dogs.

#60

Serve specialty drinks in your team’s colors with matching cupcake liner lids to keep insects out.