Tailgate Times

Delicious Tailgate Timesavers

By Kristin Woods
Regional Extension Agent

Finger foods are perfect for keeping football party guests happy before, during, and after the game. They are portable, easy to handle, and offer guests the option to try a wide variety of foods. The possibilities are endless—meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables of all imaginable types can be engineered to be grill-friendly.

Here are a few ideas that will help make your football party a touchdown.


  • Roll pieces of sausage in thin bacon, use a toothpick to hold the roll together, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill on low heat until the sausage and bacon are fully cooked.
  • Slice jalapeños long-ways, remove the seeds, and then fill with a mixture of cream and cheddar cheeses. Top with a dash of Cajun seasoning for a special twist. Grill until the cheese is melted and slightly brown on top. At this time of year jalapeños can be super hot, so try parboiling them before stuffing to reduce the heat.
  • Slice peppers, mushrooms, okra, tomatoes, squash, and anything else in your vegetable garden. Marinate for a few minutes in your favorite mixture (Italian dressing works great). Grill until light brown.
  • Wild game is another grilling favorite. Try using small strips of venison cubed steak to wrap a slice of jalapeño and a chunk of cream cheese. Then wrap the venison in bacon. Put a toothpick through the middle to hold everything together. Grill until the venison and bacon are fully cooked.
  • Sliced pineapple, peaches, and strawberries can be put directly on the grill for a unique finger food. This sweet treat is sure to be a hit.
  • For the kids, try something simple like pieces of hot dog on a toothpick.
  • For dessert, s’mores are excellent to grill. Just put a little chocolate and marshmallow between two graham crackers, wrap in aluminum foil, and warm on the grill until the chocolate and marshmallow are melted.

Food items such as these are great to cook a few at a time throughout the game. The great thing about these ideas is that the prep can be done the day before so that your cook isn’t stuck in the kitchen all day.