Tailgate parties are an incredibly fun and entertaining way to celebrate during or after a great game. Win or lose, you can have a good time with friends, family, and anyone else you want to invite.
Some things, and Football is one of them, are just better in a group.
If your Blackstone is a critical part of your tailgater plans though, there are a few things you should be thinking about before the big day.
Here’s what you should consider:
Things To Know Before Your Tailgater This Season
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you're planning a tailgater. Not only do you need to know how many people you're cooking for and how much food you're going to need, but you also need to know some things about your Blackstone and its care and maintenance needs before the party.
We’ve selected a mix of things you need to consider, from general advice and party planning to Blackstone-specific tips to make sure you’re prepared.
Before we get started, if you’re still learning how to cook on your Blackstone, you’ll want to take a look at our top tips for cooking on a griddle, straight from celebrity chefs who love them.
What Size Blackstone Do You Need?
Look, if you have enough space in your truck to bring the 36" Blackstone, I salute you.
And if you are rolling out your 36" Blackstone to the tailgate every weekend you are likely already a tailgating legend who doesn't need any tips.
But for most people the 22" or the 17" is going to be a bit more manageable to get tot he tailgate. And you will still be able to make a good bit of food.
How Much Propane Do You Have?
One of the most common rookie mistakes in planning a tailgater is checking on how much propane you have on hand. Your Blackstone won’t work without it, and while propane is readily available, you don’t want to have to make an embarrassing trip to the store.
In general, it's a good idea to have a tank and a backup tank, especially if you're going to be cooking a lot of food or feeding a lot of people.
Check the level in your main tank, and make sure the backup is working and full. Assuming you have a reasonable size tank for the size of your Blackstone griddle, you should be in good condition.
How Well-Seasoned Is Your Griddle?
Another important thing to check when you’re dealing with a Blackstone is the seasoning on the griddle itself.
Your griddle should have an even, relatively slick, unscratched layer of seasoning across the whole surface. If the seasoning looks a little thin, has scratches, or has sticky areas, you might want to re-season the whole thing before the big day.
Checking the seasoning on your griddle every few months is important even when you aren’t getting ready for a party. It should be a normal part of your pre-party routine when you’re getting ready for a tailgater.
What Is The Weather Going To Be Like?
This isn’t just about your Blackstone, but it’s an important part of planning a tailgater.
Starting about a week before the big day, you should be checking on the weather. Don’t just look at the chance of rain or snow. Outdoor temperatures and wind can also make a big difference in how your griddle cooks and performs.
Colder temperatures mean that you'll need to heat your griddle more slowly, and you may need a higher cooking temperature as well. Wind means that you might have to set up a shelter around the griddle to keep wind from getting into the heating elements and putting out the flame.
Tents, shelters, using vehicles or buildings as windbreaks can make cooking outside on your griddle a lot easier, but you need to plan ahead if you want to have them available.
What Tailgating Accessories Do You Need?
This isn’t just a matter of choosing what you want to bring with you, it’s also about figuring out what kind of food you’re going to be cooking. Do you need tongs? More than one set? What about a spatula? Will you want to clean your griddle on-site, or would you prefer to give it a quick scrape and then deep clean it at home?
In general, you should have at least 2 of every cooking tool you're going to need. If you’re planning on making something like skewers for your tailgater, try to bring 1.5 times as many skewers as you expect to need, since it’s easier to deal with extras than to try and cook with too few.
Having duplicates of your most important tools helps make sure you have enough to get by, and means that you have what you need even if something breaks.
Plus, if you find out about a last-minute allergy or dietary restriction, having a spare spatula or set of tongs can help prevent cross-contamination.
What Are The Heat Zones On Your Griddle?
Blackstone griddles, like all griddles, have different heat zones. Depending on what model you have you could have heating elements with different temperature settings, or you might have a single temperature control, but areas of the griddle that are a little hotter or colder thanks to their proximity to the heat.
Knowing where your heat zones are is critical for food placement, especially if you’re cooking a lot of food at the same time.
Often, you’ll want to put meat products on the hottest parts of your griddle while you’re cooking, and vegetables and fruits should be on the cooler portions of the griddle.
Knowing heat zones can also help you control how quickly things cook and know where to move finished food to keep it warm without overcooking it.
If you haven’t already learned about the heat zones on your griddle, now is the time to learn them.
What Are Your Guests' Food Restrictions And Preferences?
This might seem like a basic step in party planning, but it’s easy to forget when you’re getting ready for a tailgater.
Make sure you reach out to everyone expected at your tailgater and ask whether they have any food allergies, restrictions, or even just foods that they don’t like.
The best thing you can do is try to make sure there is a little something there for everyone, even if you’re still cooking with things that someone might be allergic to, won’t eat, or doesn’t like.
Asking about what level of food separation people need is also important. For instance, someone who is allergic to shellfish might need you to cook their food before cooking any shellfish products or might need a separate set of utensils.
Some vegetarians or vegans might also prefer you use different utensils for their food than you use on meat products.
Having 2-3 mains and 2-5 sides for a tailgater can make it a lot easier to cater to everyone’s taste and dietary preferences.
Where Are You Tailgating?
Having a plan to deal with the physical space where you are tailgating is a good idea as well. Are you cooking at home? Your driveway? A friend's driveway? Outside a stadium? In a public park?
Knowing where you are planning to go, and what kind of shelter or lack of shelter is going to be available, can make a big difference in how you approach the tailgater. It can even change what kinds of food you want to be cooking, especially if the weather is going to work against your Blackstone.
How Are You Transporting and Storing Food And Ingredients?
Another important thing you need to plan for is how to transport food and ingredients, both to and from the tailgater. Coolers, food boxes and bags, even cake boxes and Ziplock bags, can all be important for moving your food to the party and taking leftovers home afterward.
If you have leftovers that guests want to take home, do you have containers for them to put it in? Preferably something they won’t need to give back.
Having a plan for how to safely transport food in coolers or other containers, and preventing cross-contamination at your tailgater, is an important part of keeping your food safe and making sure no one gets sick after your party.
Who Is Bringing The Trash Can? Who Can Help With Cleanup?
You need a lot of things for a successful tailgater. If you’re looking to hold an outside tailgater it might be a good idea to work with other people at the party to know who is going to bring different parts of the setup.
If you're bringing the food and the griddle, who is going to bring the trash can? Who is going to help with the cleanup? Do you need tents or shades? If so, who is going to bring them, get them set up, and help take them down at the end of the party?
Who is bringing the drinks?
Breaking up the responsibilities for a tailgater so that no one person has to be responsible for everything is important to help avoid burnout, make sure everyone has a good time, and encourage everyone to have more tailgaters in the future.
How Many People Can You Cook For Simultaneously?
This is one of the most important considerations when you’re planning a tailgater.
How many people can you cook for, on your griddle, at one time? Do you need a second griddle or grill? Should you plan for some of the food to be pre-made and served cold?
If everyone arrives at the tailgater and wants a burger at the same time, can you make that happen?
Even if the answer is no, that gives you important information and can help you feel better prepared in the moment.
Good preparation is half the battle.
Enjoy Your Tailgater Without The Stress!
If you keep these things in mind before throwing a Blackstone tailgater, we’re confident that you’ll have a great party without all the stress and last-minute concerns about things working out right. Not sure what to make for your next tailgater? Well you can pull a page out of our favorite Healthy Super Bowl Recipes, or you can try one of the 25 Best Blackstone Recipes for more Blackstone-specific inspiration.