With football season in full effect during the holidays, it makes perfect sense that you combine holiday and tailgating food. Whether you are hosting a tailgate around Christmas or hosting a Christmas party with your tailgating crew, these recipes are the best of both worlds. They are simple to make, delicious, and will wow your crowd. Here’s a tailgating food list of recipes that are ideal for Christmas or Christmas recipes perfect for your next tailgate–depending on how you look at it. Let’s get cooking!
Serve A Delicious Three-Course Meal
Starting off our Christmas tailgating food list, we have this perfect menu. This menu includes a delicious shareable appetizer, a savory main course, and of course a sweet treat for dessert.
Let Inside Tailgating plan the meal for you, or at least get you brainstorming for how to pull it together. Keeping it simple but delicious will allow you the time and energy to focus on what the holidays – and tailgating – are all about, enjoying time with family and friends.
Our meal plan includes an appetizer, main course and dessert that combine the best of holiday traditions with the practicality and ease of tailgate entertaining: cheese fondue for the appetizer, beef tenderloin on the grill for the main course, and pecan tassies for dessert.
1. Appetizer: Cheese Fondue
Cheese fondue is a tradition many families enjoy over the holidays, and it’s served hot.
- clove garlic cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup Gruyere and/or Emmentaler cheese. Shredded should make about 5 cups.
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1 lemon
Dippers for Cheese Fondue
- Chunks of fresh bread
- Fresh Veggies, like grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms
- Charcuterie meat
A true win-win Christmas recipe for a winter outdoor gathering! While it’s not the best time to be sharing a fondue pot, a gloves-wearing host or hostess could do the dipping and serve various cheesy items on individual plates, or you could divide the fondue into individual bowls.
2. Main Course: Grilled Beef Tenderloin
Hands down my favorite Christmas meal is beef tenderloin, and my late stepmother Betty made the absolute best I’ve ever had.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin
- Small mixing bowl
- Sharp knife
- 1 2 lb. beef tenderloin, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Serve on the side:
- chimichurri sauce
I’ll honor her memory by not attempting it in my oven this year – that got me a smoky kitchen the last time I did – but even I’m not afraid of this grilled version from Weekend at the Cottage. Grilling has got to be the best way to cook beef tenderloin anyway, so in my mind it’s a must for a Christmas homegate.
3. Dessert: Pecan Tassies
A finger food for dessert is a bonus in this setting, but who doesn’t want a delicious slice of pecan pie with a big Christmas meal?
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp bourbon, optional
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Pecan Tassies are the perfect compromise. Southern Living chose them among its 35 Vintage Christmas Recipes and calls them a cross between shortbread cookies and a bite of pecan pie.
Add Some Sides
Christmas and tailgate cooking have a lot in common. For both, you want something delicious that can be made easily while also satisfying a crowd.
So putting together a fast and easy spread for you and fellow fans is a must. Fortunately, there are a ton of great things you can make on your tailgating grill that are delicious and take only a few minutes to make. Here are 14 of our favorite tailgating sides that can be whipped up in minutes.
Get the recipes for all 14 sides here to plan your Christmas tailgating food list.
Take A Note From New England
New Englanders know how to make great food to warm you up on a cold day. This clam chowder recipe is ideal for serving at Christmas.
On Christmas Eve this past year, our family prepared New England-style clam chowder for our pre-Christmas Day feast. It was exceptionally good and inspired this post. We promise we won’t let any of the air out of this wonderfully presented recipe from Mary-Frances Heck for bon appetit.
New England Clam Chowder
- 8 Lb Cherrystone Clams, scrubbed
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 8 Oz Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 Celery Stalks, minced
- 1 Large Onion
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced
- 2 1/2 Lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and washed cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Tbsp Cornstartch
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper, Chopped Chives
Get some fresh clams if you can find them. Boil them up right in the parking lot, makes for great FUN. If you are looking to save yourself some time for parking lot festivities, preparation may be done ahead of time. Or, you could get there early and get cooking – exciting! ENJOY.
Another thing that tailgating and Christmas cooking have in common are clever cocktails. If you’re hosting a large crowd, a punch is the perfect thing to serve. This Pepperdier Christmas Punch brings all the holiday flavors together so everyone can enjoy the spirit of the season.
Pepperdier Christmas Punch
- punch bowl
- 8-10 glasses
- measuring cup
- 6 oz. Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky infused with raisins
- 8 oz. Scottish Breakfast Tea
- 6 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 4 oz. Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif
- 2 oz. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
- 1 oz. Lejay Creme de Cassis
- 3 Tbsp Oleo Saccharum Sparkling Wine
- Garnish: Rosemary + Cranberries + Orange Slices + Bay Leaves
This punch is inspired by traditional Scottish Christmas pudding, loaded with rich flavors of dried fruits, such as raisins and apricot.
Whip Up Some Eggnog
Eggnog is a holiday standard. Now it’s definitely not for everyone, but if made right, it’s a really delicious option for Christmas. Here is our favorite eggnog recipe to try for your tailgating team.
Angela’s Eggnog Cocktail
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- ice cream scoop
- 4 martini glasses
- course sparkly sugar
- 2 c. eggnog very cold
- 1/2 c. brandy chilled
- 1/2 c. almond flavored liqueur chilled (I used Amaretto Di Saronno®)
- 3 large scoops frozen vanilla ice cream
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- ground cinnamon for garnish
Need a little something to make the wrapping session more fun? Or something to serve family and friends as they arrive in town? Or something that says “Christmas” at your tailgate? It’s time to break out an eggnog cocktail. We found a great recipe at “a farm girl’s dabbles” for “Angela’s Eggnog Cocktail.”
Love Eggnog? Try This Peruvian Christmas Drink
Love eggnog but want to mix it up? Try this recipe for a caspiroleta. This South American Christmas classic is similar to eggnog, but uses pisco instead of brandy. It’s super tasty.
- mixing bowl
- Spoon or whisk
- 2 oz. Pisco Portón
- 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups whole or 2% milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extracts
- Ground cinnamon
It’s Christmas time… and while we’re sipping on eggnog in the U.S., I bet you’re wondering what people are drinking in… Peru! Wonder no more. They are drinking Caspiroleta, a Peruvian take on eggnog.
Christmas and tailgating are a perfect match. When you’re cooking for a large crowd whether for the holidays or the game, easy, fast, and delicious recipes are the key to success. Comment below or tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show us which recipe you use or share your own holiday favorite cocktail recipes perfect for your tailgate or homegate fun.