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Touchdown-Worthy Tailgating Tips and Recipes

Touchdown-Worthy Tailgating Tips and Recipes

The following recipe and photography is courtesy of Graham R. and his dog, Carl. For more of their delicious food ventures, visit them on Instagram @cookingwithcarrrl.

Football’s regular season kicks off soon, which means the most wonderful season of all is here… Tailgating Season! It’s a time of year filled with fun, food, good drinks, friends and the inevitable heartbreak of losing on a last-second field goal.

Every winning team knows you’ve got to have the right tools to earn that victory! Grab your playbook and get ready to study some X’s and O’s. Here are my must-have tailgating tools to ensure you win the bellies of your Dawg Pound!

Pit Barrel Cooker – Lightweight and easy to use, this is will have any rookie cooking like a seasoned-grilling vet. This charcoal cooker holds its temperature and requires minimal attention. Allowing you more time to explain why your Fantasy Football Team is the best there ever was!

Bone Suckin’ Sauce Seasoning & Rubs – These are found at Heinen’s and I always have them on hand just in case I need to bust out a trick play. The sauces are tomato-based and sweetened with molasses & honey. None of that performance-enhancing high fructose corn syrup!

Instant Read Thermometer – This is often overlooked and can lead to overcooked meals… talk about a flag on the play! A simple instant-read thermometer will give you the confidence that you’re serving your squad a perfectly cooked pregame snack. They are also helpful to keep an eye on the temperature of your cooker.

Fire Starters – Even the best of players need a fire lit under them from time to time. Your charcoal is no different! I use Fire & Flavor Biomass Starters. They are all-natural and get your charcoal up to temperature extremely fast. Not to mention no unappetizing lighter fluid smell/taste or smoke from old newspapers!

Aluminum Foil – You’ll need it more than you know. The real MVP of any tailgate.

Now it’s time to put our playbook to the test! Let’s fire up that grill and get this party started!

Cinnamon Game Day Fatty

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5-6 Hungry Tailgaters

This one is for the hardcore tailgaters, for those who show up early and make a day of it, those who “Wake up Feeling Dangerous”. Combine the Cinnamon Game Day Fatty with your hungry stomach and you’ll be fueled for the day events! This is the perfect breakfast to prep in advance. Set up your tailgating area, fire up the grill, and you’ll be celebrating your first touchdown in no time.


  • 1 pound ground breakfast sausage
  • 1 box Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake (will only use ¼ of the finished cake)
  • 1 tablespoon Bone Suckin’ Sauce Seasoning & Rub
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup + more for serving


  1. Preheat oven or grill to 300°F.
  2. Bake the crumb cake according to box instructions. Once cooled, crumble ¼ of the finished cake into little bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. Lay your sausage on plastic wrap. Smash & spread the sausage until it forms a large, thin, semi-rectangular shape. It is best to work with the sausage when it is very cold.
  4. Next, add your crumbled crumb cake to the center of the sausage sheet, almost like you’re filling a burrito. Pour the maple syrup over the crumbled cake.
  5. Carefully roll the sausage around the crumb cake, using the plastic wrap as help. Pinch the sausage closed. Next, sprinkle all sides with the Bone Suckin’ Sauce Seasoning & Rub. Wrap tight in plastic wrap and foil. Keep in the refrigerator overnight or place it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes before cooking. This will help this deliciously edible football keep its shape!

Note: If using a grill or smoker make note that this will be cooked over indirect heat. Cook for 1 hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Let rest for 5- 10 minutes. Slice and serve with extra maple syrup.

Click Here to print the Recipe for Cinnamon Game Day Fatty.

Sheet Pan Blue Cheese Nachos

Next time you’re assigned to bring boring ol’ chips to the party, remember these! These quick & easy Bacon Blue Cheese Nachos pack a punch. If there is one thing fans from Cleveland & Pittsburgh can agree on, its these nachos!


For the Pickled Peppers

  • 3 jalapenos, sliced
  • 3 red jalapenos, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Nachos

  • 1 bag Heinen’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
  • ½ cup blue cheese
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 package of Heinen’s thick-cut bacon
  • Salt & pepper to taste


For the Pickled Peppers

  1. Add sliced peppers, water, white vinegar, honey or sugar and salt into a saucepan, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture into a quart jar.
  2. Seal the jar and allow the peppers to sit for at least 24 hours before opening. These will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

For the Nachos

  1. Make the pickled peppers ahead of time ( see recipe above.)
  2. Cook the bacon and crumble into small pieces. Dice the tomatoes and onions then add salt & pepper to taste. Mix the tomatoes, bacon, onions & blue cheese.
  3. Line a sheet pan with foil (we are tailgating after all, who has time to clean!?). Spread the chips out evenly and top with the blue cheese mixture. Toss this on the grill while the coals are still hot for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and you’re good to go! Using a broiler works just as well and takes 2-3 minutes. Top with pickled peppers and dig in!

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Sheet Pan Blue Cheese Nachos.

Heinen's Grocery Store

By Heinen's Grocery Store

In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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