Game Day Grilling: Foods for your Football Party

By Chris Wilson
Person with spatula grilling over flame

It’s almost as much fun to chow down as it is to Gator chomp. Whether it means slow smoking a batch of Razorback ribs or grilling some Gamecock wings, there is nothing better than a fan feeding frenzy on football party food during game day. After that, a win on the field is the gravy on top.

The truth is that Dad can even rescue a game-day-gone-bad with some good eats. Whether enjoyed at home or while tailgating, grilled foods go with football. Here are some tips for your tailgates for this season’s games.

Choose your fuel

First, pick the fuel for your grill. Some believe charcoal imparts a tasty smokiness to the food. It can also be fun to hang around the grill as the fire burns. Others prefer the ease and cleanliness of using a propane grill, which creates no ash and has a fire ready in a few minutes. Electric grills and smokers are also useful. Wood chips or chunks can be used with any fuel source to add a rich, smokey flavor to meats.

Clean the grill

Make sure your grates are clean. This is often forgotten, but having burned bits from last Tuesday’s dinner can ruin Father’s football food. For that reason, the double-secret Dad method for cleaning a grill grate is now unveiled. Wrap a slice or two of bacon around the end of barbecue tongs and wipe it across hot grill grates while the grill is on. The bacon removes a great deal of char and should be discarded. Then, using half an onion on its flat side like it is a sponge, scrub the hot grates. It smells great and it will have your grates ready for cooking.

It’s one thing for people to be sick over the outcome of a game, but food-borne illness is not a joke. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended internal meat temperatures on its web site ( Meat thermometers help ensure food safety and properly cooked food tastes better.

Of course, the possibilities of what to cook are endless. All dads should have a couple of these down in the repertoire:

What to grill


Chicken can be thrown onto hot grill grates and then cooked over medium heat. The best part about chicken is that it takes on so many flavors. Experimenting with different marinades or sauces with grilled chicken is fun. Thighs stay particularly juicy on the grill.


Salt and pepper on the patty and the burger is ready to cook. Burgers are simple, but always a hit.


Like chicken, steaks can be thrown onto hot grates and cooked over medium heat. Be careful because steak can dry out if it’s cooked too long. Be sure to ask any guests how they prefer their steak to be cooked. If you prefer finger food for football, turn grilled steak into burritos or Philly cheese steaks.


Because there is not much meat, ribs can be very unforgiving when grilled improperly. Ribs must be cooked over low temperature (200-250*F) for hours to avoid having tough meat. Baby back ribs are cooked for five hours and spare ribs for about six hours. Rub them with spices or a premixed spice rub before cooking and save the sauce for when the ribs are ready. A smoker is an ideal tool for cooking ribs.


Vegetables can be fun football party food, too. Zucchini and eggplant sliced lengthwise, onions, mushrooms, peppers of all kinds, tomatoes and many other vegetables are tasty when grilled. If it looks too small to grill, thread it onto skewers or try a pan that can be used on a grill.


Related articles:

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Turkey Avocado Burgers

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