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The chocolate chip cookie is to desserts ... as the SEC is to college football.

10 Best Tailgating Desserts for Your Football Saturday

Nick Cole

As you’re planning your home tailgate this fall, don’t forget the dessert spread.

While your appetizers may be spot on and your main course to die for, desserts are an important piece of tailgate Saturdays. Maybe the most important to those with a sweet tooth.

It is one of the final memories of the day, often connected to the team’s win or loss — as you either snack to celebrate or grab a second helping to drown your sorrow.

Today, we’re going to look at 10 of the top dessert options for your tailgate this fall.

Oh, and by the way… these are in no particular order. Choosing your favorite among these desserts is as tough as picking your favorite Bulldogs player:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let’s start with Mr. Reliable.

The chocolate chip cookie is to desserts … as the SEC is to college football. The big dog on the block. The champ. And the one everyone else strives to be.

Most of you probably know someone who makes dynamite chocolate chip cookies. And they probably have a recipe that has been passed down for generations. But the truth is, you can probably make some yourself that will make everyone at your tailgate more than satisfied.

There are variations for folks who prefer more chocolate, extra chewiness or an added crunch, but Betty Crocker offers a pretty good “basic” recipe that you could start with here.

Fudge Brownies

Brownies for football (CMG file)

The question is not whether you should prepare some brownies for the Saturday tailgate, the question is: Which type of brownies should you prepare?

You may want to take a poll of the people who will be at the gathering, because opinions are likely to vary. Some will want them dense and chewy. Some may request fluffy, moist and cake-like. There may be people who want you to prepare a pan of each.

If that’s the case, we’ve found you Martha Stewart’s recipe for chewy and Hershey’s recipe for fluffy. You’re a winner either way, honestly.

Banana Pudding

This southern staple is a great tailgate dessert. Bring it in a big bowl, throw a serving spoon in there and watch people load down their plates with this creamy goodness all day long.

If you know anything about banana pudding, you know everyone who makes it has a strong opinion on the right type of bananas to use in the dish. Depending on who you ask, it could make or break the whole day.

Well, I’m not here to tell you how brown the bananas should be. You don’t need my inevitably inadequate banana analysis.

I’ll stick to the eating with this dish, thank you very much.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Individually wrapped mini-cakes and outdoor parties go hand-in-hand. So it only makes sense that we’d include cupcakes on the “best of” list for tailgate desserts.

While I chose strawberry cupcakes, you could certainly go different directions with options like chocolate, vanilla or about 300 other flavors.

Strawberry is my pick because the recipe I have for it infuses some fresh strawberries into both the cake and the icing. We have someone within our circle of friends who makes these, and they’re amazing. Every. Single. Time.

Pecan Pie

Much like we only chose one cupcake flavor, I tried to limit my pie selection to just one on the list. And that was hard, because pie is very good.

Pecan Pie (Bill Lackey/AJC file)

However, some may contend it is not the ideal tailgate dessert because it requires maintenance. Some pies are best with ice cream, which is a problem outdoors. Some need to be heated. And there’s the utensils needed to cut and eat, as well. It’s definitely not a finger food.

That being said, pecan pie is another southern staple that belongs at a SEC tailgate in the fall. Fresh Georgia pecans and a killer crust recipe are the keys to victory here.

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Bars

I’ll be honest, this is the only one of the list to which I’ve had only limited exposure. All I know is that I love peanut butter, I like butterscotch and I trust Trisha Yearwood.

The country music star turned Food Network expert touts this as one of her top tailgating recipes. And it has 5 out of 5 stars after 78 reviews!

With a 45-minute beginning-to-end prep period and only three steps to follow in the instructions, this one could be a low-effort success at the tailgate.

Coca-Cola Cake

You may have fallen in love with this one at a Cracker Barrel on the side of the interstate, but it’s definitely a welcomed addition to a football tailgate spread.

The cola infusion is supposed to take the moisture of the cake to the next level.

And while the country breakfast folks may not be sharing their secrets, there are some recipes on the internet that can help you replicate that moist cake flavor.

Lemon Bars

When it comes to the taste of lemon, most people either love it or hate it. But if there was ever a lemon-flavored thing that most people can agree to like, it’s probably lemon bars.

Loaded with sugar (granulated, powdered and probably some other sugar types I’ve never even heard of), there’s no doubt this is a sweet treat accompanying that sour, citrusy lemon taste. You can bake these in a pan and cut them into squares that would present well on the tailgate table.

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle (Renee Brock/AJC file)

If you can carry your contribution to the tailgate in a tin and not worry if it will break when you inevitably drop it on the way, I’d call that a win.

Peanut brittle is a sweet, crunchy and built for a “hands only” eating experience.

And while it looks like a project that took a lot of work, it’s actually not all that difficult to prepare.

Texas Sheet Cake

Let’s finish this list off with another southern favorite.

Texas Sheet Cake lovers know the biggest difference between this and regular old sheet cake is the size of the pan. Using a larger, shallower pan creates a thinner cake that really shines when you pour the frosting on top of it.

Here’s a good recipe for Texas Sheet Cake if you’re looking to try it on your own for the first time. Good luck!

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