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.


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


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.


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


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


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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?


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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).


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


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


Pack a mini first-aid kit.


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


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


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


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.


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


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