There you are at your favorite NFL or college football team’s home game and you can’t do a damn thing about the final score. But the tailgate party before the game, that’s a different story. You are the quarterback in complete control, rising to superstar status every time you bust out the MiniMax Big Green Egg and smoke the competition.
You can even go big and buy a trailer hitch and secure rig that will haul your larger Big Green Egg to the local stadium or NASCAR tailgate, but it’s a ceramic object after all and that’s a risky proposition best left to the wily old veterans.
Maybe your old tailgate BBQ grill captain was traded to another city and you’re the parking lot rookie. Maybe you just got the urge to join the crowd. Either way, have no fear! We’ve got all the tips to show you how to deliver on the big day. Once your routine is established, every kamado ceramic cooker tailgate after that will be like instant replay and a blowout victory.
Tailgating By The Numbers
It’s all about the stats once you’re at the big event, so let’s start with some proper tailgating data to show why we are so hungry for some pregame food with friends and family.
240 million Americans tailgate, or 80 percent of the population.
78% use a tailgate grill to cook and charcoal is the runaway fuel of choice.
64% are ages 25-44, but people from all ages are having a good time.
93% of tailgaters prep their barbecue food at the sports venue.
13 billion meals and $35 billion in food and beverage sales per year.
100% chance that you are going to crush your tailgate after reading this.
Now Introducing Your Tailgate Cookout Checklist
Here are 10 tailgating tips, one for every yard to the next first down:
There are seven Big Green Egg sizes to choose from, and the consensus pick for the best tailgating ceramic cooker is the Big Green Egg MiniMax, hands-down. Get this and then spike the ball in the end zone. It’s powerful and portable with a sturdy and easy-grip carrier, and easy to stow into the back of your vehicle with some safe padding around the ceramic shell. Be sure to clean it out before leaving home so you don’t have to deal with ash removal.
This stand folds up for easy transportation so you can secure the MiniMax and cook without breaking your back to bend over. Buy it once and you’ll use it every tailgate. Fold it for storage when you get home or leave it in the back for regular outings.
You need some prep and cutting space out there by the stadium, and the portable Acacia Mini Max EGG Mates make sense because they are easy-on and easy-off. Cleanup is a breeze and they match your classic wood EGG handle so you’ll wow the crowd.
Whether you’re headed to the frozen tundra in Green Bay or a warm afternoon in Tuscaloosa, just remember that football is played in any weather. Choose a durable pop-up tent that is easy to open and close with a heavy-duty steel frame and a ventilated double-roof canopy. Make sure that you or someone brings the fold-up chairs and table pieces. Be prepared for anything and just make sure your hungry eaters have food that stands up to anything.
This is not the time to experiment with caviar or the foie gras delicacy you savored in Paris. It’s go time. Your group has waited all week to tailgate and then watch their beloved team, and they’re probably washing it all down with the same kind of beer that will triple in price when they walk through those turnstiles. You can get everything started in the right direction with the pregame tailgate food they love. Bring the meats, veggies, seasoning and sauces that it takes to get the job done right. We have recipes galore like these Spinach and Asiago Beef Burgers, Steak & Shrimp Recipes, plus 25 special Big Green Egg recipes to try.
6. Just Bring The Starter
I prefer to bring the tailgate kamado smoker pre-loaded. That means clean it before you bring it, and add enough charcoal, SpeediLight starter cubes and mesquite wood chips so it’s already ready to fire up the moment you hit the pavement. You don’t need to deal with a mess in the parking lot, unless you really want to impress your friends with your All-Pro ash removal and charcoal building skills. No one cares, they’re coming for touchdown passes and great food. Bring along a small, 10-pound bag of Jealous Devil Chunx Lump Charcoal in the vehicle just as an emergency backup, but you won’t need it. Bring a BIC lighter or long matches to light the fire, and as always never use lighter fluid or anything but quality lump charcoal with an EGG.
You’ll need your standard BBQ tools from home, a good BBQ mitt, and sauce pot and basting brush if you’re getting real fancy. Start with the basics and work your way up to expert dishes that are manageable and mind-blowing like an amazing chili or even pizza using your indirect heat apparatus. There is a whole world of add-on entertainment to consider, like this stuff from Tailgating Pros including the ever-present cornhole game. The sky’s the limit, but just make sure you bring the fundamental tools, and that includes whatever you need for quick cleanup because there’s a game to watch.
8. Bring Good Reusable Or Recyclable Dinnerware
Here’s where some special touches always pay off, even some team-logo cups and napkins. Bring a couple of XL trash bags, one for recyclable stuff and the other for landfill. Then just decide whether you want to reuse plates and silverware or recyclable materials. If you’re making meats they need to cut, don’t scrimp on the knives and make it enjoyable. This will be less expensive than the skybox dining experience inside the stadium, so live a little.
If it doesn’t double as a bottle opener, is it really a tailgating digital meat thermometer? This will do just fine to monitor the temperature, depending on how sophisticated you are getting with your party. If you’re making BBQ rib wings, one of these is a good idea. You want to be able to just close the lid and rely on your Big Green Egg thermometer to keep tabs on the food while you enjoy hanging out with your buddies and talking about the strategy about to unfold in the stadium.
Don’t forget something sweet to top it off before everyone heads for the gates. Kate’s Lemon Squares and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies will be a scrumptious way to make their mouths water for the next home game.
Big Green Egg also has their own tailgating checklist for even more gameday guidance if you’re NFL tailgating, college football tailgating, NASCAR tailgating, baseball tailgating, or even headed out for a BBQ camping cookout.
You don’t have to be at the stadium or racing circuit to put together a great tailgate event. Your own backyard is a great place to gather and fire up your Large Big Green Egg or XL Big Green EGG, followed by a watch party on your big screen TV. But they call it “tailgating” because people wanted to show up early and beat traffic, make some food to beat the high prices inside the stadium, and socialize for the ultimate fan experience. The tradition lives on.