Football season is here, so it’s time to step up your tailgate game. For an easy, interactive way to serve food at the next football party, try a themed tailgate bar. And if you want to bring the kickoff fun to your office, it’s easy to put together the perfect tailgate bar—either on your own, as a potluck or with the help of local restaurants.
Football party snack ideas
From baked goods, bagels, and sushi to antipasto, popcorn, burgers, and waffles, here are a few party recipe suggestions for a creative, interactive snack bar perfect for your next super bowl party.
DIY skewer bar
Always a crowd pleaser, food on sticks—meats, cheeses, and vegetables—combine savory, sweet, or tangy flavors for tasty, colorful skewers that appeal to any palate. Set up ready-to-eat dishes of various cheeses, seasonal vegetables, and pre-cooked or par-cooked meats (suitable for a quick grill). Each person can then assemble skewers to their tastes.
- Cheese: Use small rounds or cubes of mozzarella, halloumi, provolone, or cheddar
- Vegetables: Mushrooms, cherry or grape tomatoes, chunks of summer squash or zucchini, pickles, artichoke hearts, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers
- Meat: Chicken, lamb, pork, sliced sausage, steak, shrimp, meatballs
Falafel and hummus bar
Popular in Middle Eastern and North African cultures, falafel is a simple but flavorful dish of ground chickpeas and seasonings. Fried or baked, this savory snack starts with a crunch that yields to a soft, flavor-packed inside. Hummus, falafel’s partner in crime, is a staple food throughout much of the Mediterranean world. Traditionally made with chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, and tahini (a paste made from roasted sesame seeds), hummus adds flavor and smooth, creamy texture to falafel bowls or wraps. Falafel and hummus provide different types of both with various seasoning combinations along with an array of bright, tasty toppings and add-ons, such as:
- Diced tomatoes
- Feta cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Marinated onions
- Chopped nuts
- Roasted red peppers
- Sliced avocado
- Chile relish or hot sauce
- Breads (flat breads, artisan breads, and gluten-free breads all work great)
- Whole-grain crackers
- Veggie sticks such as cucumber spears or rounds, celery, carrots, and bell peppers
Mini taco bar
The humble taco is a favorite because it’s customizable yet simple: Fill a tortilla with whatever you want and enjoy. Make your taco bar do double duty and put out tortilla chips for a nacho bar.
- Warm soft tortillas (wheat and corn) and hard taco shells
- Tortilla Chips
- A variety of proteins, such as ground beef, chorizo, tempeh, chicken, carne asada, fried or blackened fish, etc.
- Shredded lettuce and/or cabbage
- Topping like sour cream, hot sauce, pico de gallo and salsas of varying flavors and heat levels
- Two to four cheeses such as cotija, cheddar, and queso
- Black beans and/or pinto beans
- Diced veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and red onion (plain or marinated)
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Fresh cilantro
Bento box bar
At its most basic, a bento box is a Japanese-style lunch box (commonly used by schoolchildren, but plenty of adults head to work with one too). Bentos are distinct for their use of many components, as well as their beauty and cuteness. Simple foods are perfectly portioned and pleasingly presented in each small compartment.
The traditional method for packing bento boxes follows a 4:3:2:1 ratio:
- Four parts rice
- Three parts side dish or protein
- Two parts vegetables
- One part pickle or a small dessert
Offer each guest a container with small compartments (you can find disposable boxes too), and then let them choose how they want to fill it. A bento box snack bar can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, using:
- A range of fish, meat, or tofu dishes
- An array of Japanese-style cooked or pickled vegetables
- Two to three choices for simple desserts
While you can make a Japanese-style bento, it isn’t your only option. The bento style has also been adapted for burgers, salads, and even pizza and pasta dishes.
Bloody Mary bar
While a Bloody Mary isn’t a snack itself, the right toppings—and a long skewer to hold them all—is the perfect way to snack while you enjoy a tailgate cocktail. Offer either one Bloody Mary base, or get creative and include two to four different options with varying amounts of some or all of the following:
- Tomato juice
- Tomatillo juice
- Lemon juice
- Tabasco sauce
- Olive brine
- Clamato juice
For a fully stocked Bloody Mary bar on game day, mix and match the following accompaniments:
- Lemon and lime wedges
- Pearl onions
- Pickled beets
- Cherry tomatoes
What tailgate snack bar will you feature at your football party?
Whether catered or DIY, a tailgate snack bar can taste as great as it looks and offers your friends and coworkers a fun way to enjoy their party food before, during or after the big game.