30 Great Recipes for Game Day
No matter where team loyalties lie, fans unite every season for food-filled game days. These recipes will keep everyone coming back for more
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Chile con Queso
Back in 1939, Sunset published a dip recipe from reader M.K.C. of Elk Grove, California, for La Salsa con Queso—“a lively dish from Mexico,” as we described it, made with canned tomatoes, diced American cheese, and a whisper of fresh chile. While its origins are up for debate—Texas and Arkansas have also claimed the recipe—the dip (now called chile con queso, or simply queso) is still a crowd-pleaser. Our update on the classic, perfect for game day, is made with fresh hot salsa plus hot sauce—but keeps the Velveeta for that chip-coating cling.
Recipe: Chile con Queso
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Shrimp Jalapeño Poppers
Leyden is a Dutch cheese that's like gouda with cumin seeds mixed in. If you can't find it, use regular gouda and a few more toasted cumin seeds.
Recipe: Shrimp Jalapeño Poppers
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Cheddar and Bacon Mini Hasselback Potatoes
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Appetizers: Gabriel's Guacamole
This is the base recipe from Gabriel's in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is intended only as a jumping-off point: Add more seasonings to your taste. We preferred it with 1/2 teaspoon jalapeño, 4 teaspoons onion, and 4 teaspoons lime juice.
Recipe: Gabriel's Guacamole
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Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls
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Main dishes: Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
Soak chicken in a buttermilk brine for extra moist and tender results, then add subtle Indian-inspired spices for a go-anywhere feast that's miles from boring.
Recipe: Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
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New Mexico Green Chile and Frito Burgers
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Green Chile-Chicken Stew
This gently spicy "white chili" is best made up to two days ahead and reheated so it's perfect for a pre-planned tailgating menu.
Recipe: Green Chile-Chicken Stew
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Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
Bacon, fire-roasted tomatoes, and spicy smoked paprika give this easy-to-make chili a deep, complex flavor. While it's great right after you make it, it's even better the next day.
Recipe: Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
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Pressed Italian Sandwiches
These hearty sandwiches pack beautifully for toting along on a tailgate in the fall, and perfect for a picnic or the beach in the summer.
Recipe: Pressed Italian Sandwiches
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Devilish Chorizo Chili with Hominy
Not only is this chili easy to make ahead, it actually improves with time. If you like your chili very spicy, add an extra teaspoon of chipotle powder.
Recipe: Devilish Chorizo Chili with Hominy
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Using two different types of meet gives these nachos extra-savory flavor.
Recipe: Chorizo-Beef Nachos
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Radicchio, Roasted Pepper, and Provolone Ciabatta Sandwiches
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California Nicoise Sandwich
Inspired by the classic French salad, this fancy tuna sandwich takes a Western turn with sourdough and avocados.
Tailgate tip: Go ahead and make these ahead of time because they pack perfectly.
Recipe: California Nicoise Sandwich
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Frito Pie with Red Chili
What's not to love about this retro ground-beef chili piled onto Fritos, with all the fixings?
Recipe: Frito Pie with Red Chili
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Roast Chicken-Chipotle Nachos with Cilantro-Avocado Crema
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Grass-fed Burgers with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Top grass-fed burger with a sauce of smoked chiles, brown sugar, ketchup, molasses, orange juice concentrate, and garlic. The sauce is also excellent on grilled chicken and ribs.
Recipe: Grass-fed Burgers with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
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Potato Salad with Artichokes, and Green Bean, Hazelnut, and Mint salad
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The New Three-Bean Salad
No canned kidney beans here―and the flavors get even better if you start the salad a day ahead.
Recipe: The New Three-Bean Salad
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Spinach and Orzo Salad
This herb vinaigrette-dressed pasta salad keeps better than a mayo-based one from the deli—and tastes better too.
Recipe: Spinach and Orzo Salad
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Chicken, Corn, and Tomato Pasta Salad
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Tomato, Sweet Onion, and Parsley Salad
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Blue Cheese Cornbread
Add freshly cut corn kernels to your favorite cornbread batter along with blue cheese and chopped fresh chives.
Basic Cornbread Recipe: Cornbread
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Roasted Tomato and Three-Chile Salsa
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Poblano and nopales chimichangas
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Desserts: Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
Chewy, and big enough to share—though you may want every bite. For the richest flavor, use dark chocolate and cocoa such as Scharffen Berger.
Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
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Butternut Squash Spice Cake
Remarkably moist and tender, this cake gets its fall warmth from spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a hint of black pepper. Whole-wheat pastry flour adds nutrients without compromising taste or texture.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Spice Cake