Nothing sets off a football Saturday quite like the perfect appetizer.
If done right, these finger foods can keep your crowd happy and satisfied for an entire Saturday of Georgia football.
But which delicious pre-meal option should be at your tailgate this season?
DawgNation has 10 appetizers you should try this season. And with a 10-game schedule on tap, there’s the perfect amount of time to give them all a try.
10. Smoky Bacon Wraps
Let’s start things off with an enhanced version of the classic “Pigs in a Blanket” finger food.
Bacon always makes things better, and this is no exception.
The recipe, which can be found with cooking instructions at Taste of Home, calls for just three ingredients: bacon, brown sugar and smoked sausage.
9. Shrimp Cocktail
Seafood at tailgate? Why not? (Renee Brock/AJC file)
I’ll be the first to admit– Bringing seafood to a tailgate is an iffy proposition.
But 2020 is providing some of us with unusual football Saturdays, so this season may actually provide more favorable game-viewing environments to keep these ingredients at suitable temperatures. (Keep that glass half full, America!)
Grab your shrimp at Kroger and– if you want to get adventurous– use this recipe for making your own cocktail sauce.
8. Buffalo Chicken Dip
My wife makes a killer buffalo chicken dip that is a hit at all our parties, so I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t include it on this countdown.
She cooks chicken breast in our crock-pot with ranch, hot sauce, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Once fully cooked, she simply shreds the chicken, stir and serves with chips or crackers.
7. Roasted Jalapeno Poppers
This one is for those who prefer a little bit of heat from their pregame snack.
Food Network star Rachael Ray has an easy-to-follow recipe for these. Hint: There’s cheese, cheese and more cheese. Oh, and a basket full of jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro and some onion.
These bake easily in the oven, but you could also throw them on the grill at the tailgate.
6. Spicy Tailgate Meatballs
Meatballs, MVP candidate (AJC file)
If done correctly, meatballs can be the MVP of game day as a finger food.
While there are a host of meatball recipes that vary in levels of difficulty, the one I chose for this list is a spicy meatball that can be made with ground beef, chicken or turkey and served on a toothpick.
If you want a shortcut, Kroger has some pre-made meatballs available in stores. That should– at minimum– save you a few hours of prep work.
5. Fresh Guacamole
Avocados are a crowd-pleaser these days, and a guacamole dip is perhaps the best the avocado has to offer.
You can make a killer guacamole with just a few ingredients from the Kroger product department. Here’s a great recipe and step-by-step instructions to prep this fresh dish.
Make sure to have some tortilla chips and sliced veggies available for dipping.
If you want to combine recipes, this also would make a great topping for the grilled chicken quesadillas detailed below.
4. Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
This is my personal favorite on the list.
The key to a successful quesadilla is grilling and seasoning a high-quality chicken breast, measuring out just the right amount of cheese to go with it and giving it a Southern touch by buttering the tortilla ever-so-slightly prior to grilling. Peppers and onions are optional.
Slicing these up into mini-quesadillas makes for a great tailgate finger food.
3. Cheeseburger Sliders
This one may be controversial to some, because we’re flirting with crossing the line between finger food and meal here.
But in a football tailgate atmosphere, a plate piled high with fresh-grilled sliders definitely qualifies as finger food in my book.
The key is a quality Hawaiian roll or mini-bun to accompany your ground beef. Don’t skimp there.
And you don’t have to stop at cheeseburger sliders. Grilled chicken, barbeque or ham-and-cheese make excellent alternative ingredients for your gameday mini-sandwiches.
2. Smoked Chicken Wings
If you have the grillmaster chops to complete this dish, you’re sure to be the hit of the tailgate this fall.
Arguably the most coveted “finger food” in all of the land, nothing quite beats the taste of smoked wings that are so tender that they fall off the bone as you eat.
It takes skill, prep time and patience, though.
You can make these your own with a rub or a glaze. The Chunky Chef has a Bourbon BBQ Smoked Chicken Wing recipe that looks worth trying this fall, if you dare.
1. Rotel Cheese Dip
Cheese Dip never fails (Louie Favorite/AJC file)
There’s nothing that says “SEC football gameday” quite like the simple goodness of a rotel cheese dip and tortilla chips. You’re going to find some variation of this at nearly every tailgate across the league.
The beauty of it is two-fold:
1- Everyone– and I mean everyone— can make some version of this. Most recipes are just a handful of ingredients, which can be thrown in a crock-pot for low-maintenance preparation.
If you’re wanting a challenge, try it in a skillet on the grill. And maybe try mixing some peppers in there.
2- Ground beef is optional. You could, theoretically, make two completely different appetizer trays with this one by simply cooking up some ground beef to be added to a second batch of the cheese dip.