Tailgating Tips & Recipes

I’m the first to admit that my minivan wasn’t exactly on my top-ten list of dream cars. But, when you have four kids, you do things that make your life easier, not cooler. At least that’s what I thought… 

Turns out, my minivan is pretty awesome and it does more than haul my kids (and groceries) around town. It’s the perfect vehicle for tailgating and over the years, my minivan and I have perfected the art of tailgating.  

Whether we’re tailgating with the kids at a local high school football game or we’re heading back to an alma mater to pregame with college friends, I’ve got the tips to ensure you have an easy and tasty party on wheels.

Tip #1: Bring more supplies than you think you’ll need

Items you should always have on hand: garbage bags, cleaning wipes, hand wipes, paper towels, paper plates and bowls, disposable silverware, ladle, bread knife, spatula, tongs, duct tape, bungee cords, matches, a corkscrew, hot pads, plastic storage bags, and basic seasonings.

If you’re the consummate tailgating host, you should probably just keep your supplies packed and ready to go in a clear plastic storage bin.  

Tip #2: Pack condiments in six-pack containers

Upcycle six-pack containers and use them as totes at your next tailgating event. They’re not only perfect for condiments like ketchup and mayo, but you can also use the dividers to organize cutlery and napkins for your guests.

Tip #3: Use proper cooler etiquette

Start with a clean cooler!  Be sure to keep uncooked meats separate from other foods.  I like to use a designated Harris Teeter freezer bag for this purpose.  I also like is to use frozen Harris Teeter water bottles in lieu of extra ice in the drink cooler.

Tip #4: Always keep emergency supplies on hand

Whether tailgating or not, you should always have a first aid kit in the car filled with bandages, wipes, antiseptic, gauze, tweezers, latex gloves, painkillers and eye wash. You’ll be able to mitigate most minor incidents with these supplies.  When tailgating, bring jumper cables and consider getting a small fire extinguisher canister.  Better safe than sorry!

Tip #5: Bring great food that’s easy to serve

Harris Teeter has a great variety of platters that you can order in advance and pick up on your way to any event.  Bringing any of the Harris Teeter fruit and veggie trays, nuggets, deli sandwiches and cookie platters will definitely make you VIP of your next tailgate party.

If you’re looking to go the homemade route, I love these three recipes for flexibility, portability and ease.

Sausage and Tater Tot Breakfast Burritos

Make these the day before and warm them up over low heat on your grill to serve at morning tailgate parties!


  • 2 cups Harris Teeter Tater Bites, cooked according to package directions
  • 16 oz. Harris Teeter Mild Pork Sausage
  • 8 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • ⅓ cup half and half
  • 15 oz. can Harris Teeter Southwest Style Refried Black Beans
  • 8 Burrito Grande Harris Teeter Tortillas
  • 2 cups Harris Teeter Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions


Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and bring it to medium high heat. Add the sausage and cooked until completely cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon on to a paper towel lined plate.

To the skillet (with the reserved fat from the sausage), our in the eggs, stirring occasionally until they just begin to set. Pour in the half and half and stir continuously until the eggs are completely cooked.  Remove from the heat.

Lay out a single tortilla.  Spread a thin layer of beans down the center, then top with a portion of cooked sausage, Tater Bites, eggs, cheese, tomato and scallions. Fold up the edges, the roll them up, burrito-style.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

To cook on a grill:  After folding tortillas, wrap each burrito individually in aluminum foil. When ready to serve, place them on a grill, over low heat, until warmed through and the cheese is melted. Cooking times will vary depending on the heat source.

To cook in an oven: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place each prepared tortilla on the baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.

Individual Seven-Layer Dip Cups

Dips are way easier to serve when you pre-make them in individual portions!  Plus, you can double-dip your heart out!


  • 15 oz. can Harris Teeter Southwest Style Refried Black Beans
  • 1 oz. package Harris Teeter Mild Taco Seasoning
  • 1 cup prepared or homemade guacamole
  • 8 oz. Harris Teeter Sour Cream
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • 1 cup Harris Teeter Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Sliced black olives
  • 8 Harris Teeter Plastic Cups
  • Harris Teeter Tortilla Chips


In a small bowl, combine taco seasoning with refried black beans. Divide amongst the cups. Create a second layer with the guacamole, a third layer of sour cream. Drain excess liquid from the fresh salsa, and then layer that into the cups. Top the salsa with the cheese. If making these in advance, refrigerate them until ready to enjoy.

Before serving, sprinkle on tomatoes, onions and olives. Serve with chips.

Slow Cooker Brats & Peppers

Heat these up before you leave for the party and they’ll stay warm for hours. Or, if you’re a frequent tailgater, you can get an inexpensive power inverter so you can use your slow cooker and other appliances in your car.


  • 3 packages of smoked bratwurst (like Boar’s Head)
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, cored and sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cored and sliced
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1 12-oz can of beer (or beef stock)


Place the sliced veggies in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Add enough oil to a large skillet to coat the bottom and heat it over medium-high heat. Adding the sausages in batches, brown them on all sides then place them in the slow cooker. Add garlic powder and cayenne, then pour the beer overtop.

Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-6 hours. Serve brats and peppers on buns with your favorite toppings.

Katie Harding is the publisher of Forks and Folly . A self-taught cook and die-hard foodie, Katie lives in Charlotte with her husband and three boys. Besides cooking and eating, she loves craft beers, running, and napping.