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Score a Touchdown With These Game Day Recipes

At home or at the parking lot tailgate, these dishes are all winners.

Theresa Gambacorta

Sep 14, 2023

Passion, team pride, and bonding with fan-tastic friends are at the heart of game day gatherings. Football feasts, like the game, should have bold energy and no-holds-barred action; snacking and grazing, dipping, digging in, and sharing comprise the greatest game day recipes for a game day get-together.

So, pass the Texas-style loaded sheet pan nachos, gather around an extraordinary charcuterie board, and get ready to crunch and munch with generous snacks that will have your friends and family cheering for the home team — and YOU!

We've huddled together and planned your Xs and Os for crowd-pleasing, lip-smacking game day appetizers, mains and sides, drinks, and desserts to keep you filled up over the course of the regular season, into the playoffs, and up to and through the Big Game.

Next-level apps for the win

game day recipes quesadilla

It's a toss-up as to which of these flavor-packed game day apps should kick off your tailgate at home party: Rich, tender-smoked brisket quesadillas enhanced with the zing of Pepper & Onion Relish, beer cheese, and jalapeno cheese sauce, or smoked salmon rillette — a decadent dip of smoky flaked salmon, lush sour cream, and tiny pickles that's just right for dipping vegetables, chips, and pita. Having both on offer is a touchdown no matter who wins the coin toss.

Dips are a snap!

Dip board for game day recipe inspiration.

Here are three steps to creating an easy snack board.

1) Choose a variety of jarred dips — from tangy raspberry honey mustard to creamy, rich sun-dried tomato with black truffle oil — for a range of flavors.

2) Transfer the dips to bowls (extra point for team colors) and set the bowls on a board.

3) Pick yummy scoopers, such as raw vegetables, crackers, chips, and pretzels, and arrange them to fill the gaps between the dip vessels.

Not only does this snack board look dynamic, and enticing, but stocking up on dips is an in-your-pocket move if you need to call a game day party audible!

Wings with a kick

Game day recipes with a plate of chicken wings.

Saucy, succulent, and crispy-skinned chicken wings are a classic game time menu must-have. And with Harry & David sauces, you can offer a delectable array of flavors in which to marinate your wings, from traditional buffalo wing sauce to the sweeter charred pineapple bourbon grilling sauce. And we love these oven-baked drumettes that capture the feeling and flavor of deep-fried wings without the grease.

“On" sides

game day recipes mac and cheese

No game day feast is complete without a hearty selection of colorful, tempting side dishes. From creamy truffle mac 'n' cheese to Mexican street corn to three cheese scalloped potatoes, we love the bold flavor and variety (and ease) of prepared side dishes to round out our menu. And for a quick and healthy alternative side for chicken wings (that still includes blue cheese), we love this fall pecan, pear, and blue cheese salad.

Super slow cooker

Game day recipes with two fajita subs.

The action on the field may be fast and furious, but low and slow is the way to go with these comforting chicken fajita subs. They're replete with bell peppers and topped with creamy homemade queso for a fantastic game day meal. Or use your slow cooker to create a hearty, smoky, satisfying, and budget-friendly BBQ baked beans side dish. And, best of all, slow cookers are a “set it and forget it" way to prep, so you won't be sidelined in the kitchen while the gang watches the game.

Home field advantage

Game day recipes with a stack of Cubano sandwiches on a wooden board.

Your guests will get a kick out of your game day recipes if you draw inspiration from the regional specialties of your opposing team. Here are five tasty ideas: mouthwatering South Florida-style Cubano sandwiches, black bean and corn Southwestern-style salsa, Maryland-style crab cakes, and tender sirloin for Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks (or make soft pretzels)!

Parking lot pigskin party

Game day recipes with ribs, burgers, hot dogs, and other dishes on a wooden table.

Pregame parking lot fun is a ball with your portable grill, and the Harry & David tailgate collection makes it even easier, with its half slabs of baby back pork ribs, Chicago beef franks, and your choice of USDA Choice or USDA Prime beef steak burgers. Make a large batch of warming apple cider and cranberry cocktail (transport it in a large thermos, and be sure to pack cups!) and enjoy the fresh fall air, smoky grilled meat, and game day vibes.

Game day vino

Game day recipes with a platter of chicken and vegetable kebabs.

Beer and brats make a great match-up, but you'll never fumble by choosing wine to complement the sweet, spicy, tangy, smoky flavors of your favorite game day recipes. Try a lightly oaked, crisp chardonnay to enjoy with the range of rich spice and flavors in your favorite sausages. Or unleash the dark fruit and herbal flavors of 2020 Harry & David Royal Crest Red blend to serve with a fall-inspired charcuterie board, and juicy chicken, steak, and vegetable kebabs.

Brownie blitz

Game day recipes with a cherry brownie topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce on a plate.

Brownies are an easy, portable, "everybody loves 'em" sweet. And we love these rich, dark chocolate cherry brownies — the fresh cherries are optional, or, in off-season, substitute a half cup of tart cherry preserves for a cherry boost! And here's a pro tip for cutting brownies from an 8-by-8-inch pan to control the serving size: Cut into eight large 2-by-4-inch brownies, 12 medium 2-by-2 1/2-inch pieces, or 16 bite-sized, 2-by-2-inch squares.

Ice cream with a kick

Game day recipes with three bowls of ice cream topped with pineapple salsa.

Sometimes just one play is a game changer — on the field and in the kitchen. Turn an ordinary bowl of ice cream into a spicy, kicked-up super (sundae) bowl by topping it with a spoon of fruit salsas for a touch of sweetness and heat. And if you serve it with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips, you'll be the MVP of game day recipes.

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