Tips to Tailgate at Home

August 15, 2012

woman tailgating

This football season, you don’t need tickets to enjoy the hottest grid-iron games with friends, family and food fresh off the charcoal grill. Fire up the grill for a tailgate party with all the sights, sounds and smells of the stadium in your own backyard. Gather up the home team and consult these smart game-day strategies.


  • Avoid a False Start: One of the most common mistakes made when lighting a charcoal grill is allowing the lighter fluid to soak in before lighting the coals. Instead, add lighter fluid following lighter fluid directions, lighting immediately and letting the coals burn until they are covered in ash (about 15 minutes). Or, simply light the briquets in one easy step and be ready to cook in about 10 minutes with Kingsford® Match Light® Instant Charcoal Briquets.


Here’s our own Drew McGowan with a ‘how-to” video on lighting up the perfect coals.



  • Don’t Get Caught Offsides: Plan ahead so your food is ready to serve 30 minutes to an hour before game time. Although we all love standing outside enjoying the smells of the grill, let’s not forget the reason for your tailgate party – to watch the game! Also, don’t wait until after the game to clean your grill as grease will be much more difficult to remove the longer it sits on the grates.


  • Even the Playing Field: To ensure a more uniform doneness, let the meat come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Also, the internal temperature of most meats will spike at least five degrees after you remove it from the grill. Let it sit or “rest” undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes before serving to allow the temperature to equalize and reabsorb the internal juices.


  • Maximize your Protection: Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy so you can spritz flare-ups, which can blacken your food. Another way to prevent your grilled meats from burning is to use a marinade. Try KC Masterpiece® marinades for a great way to add flavor to grilled chicken or pork.


  • Run the Reverse: Add flavor to your summer salads by mixing them with grilled vegetables. The intense heat brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables that will leave your guests asking for seconds. Add the finishing touch by topping your salad with new Hidden Valley® Farmhouse Original salad dressings.


  • Instant Replay: One of the perks to hosting your own tailgate party means enjoying the leftovers! From chicken tacos to Philly cheese steak sandwiches, there are limitless options for what you can fix with the meat your guests don’t finish. Simply refrigerate your leftovers in GLAD® food storage bags and get creative in the kitchen the next day.


  • Avoid Multiple Turnovers: When cooking steaks or burgers on the grill, turn the meat just once. For steaks, turn them when the juices start to bubble on the uncooked side (the clearer the juice, the more well-done the meat). Your burgers are ready to flip when you can you lift the patty from the grate without the meat sticking.


  • Home Field Advantage: Combine two game-day traditions at your tailgate party – grilling and pizza. Grilled pizza is a creative alternative to delivery when hosting guests for the big game. Plus, you can fire up another pizza on the grill immediately instead of having to wait for the delivery guy.

  • Plan for the Season: Buying in bulk is a great way to not only plan for future tailgate parties during the season, but to save money as well. For example, hit up the club stores for a large carton of vanilla ice cream to have on hand – simply top a scoop with grilled fruit to make a quick and delicious dessert.


For more ideas, check out our tailgate recipes at






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