Tailgating may seem simple enough – crack open some beers, fire up a portable grill, and get stoked to cheer on your team. But tailgating has evolved into a sport of it’s own with increasingly elaborate foods and set-ups. If you’ve been out pre-gaming in a parking lot recently then you may have seen massive grills, flat-screen TVs, bass-heavy speakers, portable generators, and even hot tubs. At the end of the day it’s all about good food (kept hot), cold drinks, and lots of fun.
For the top tailgating tips, we turned to YETI ambassador, pitmaster, and owner of Meat Church BBQ Matt Pittman. Here he shares his expertise for how to create an elevated tailgating experience that will impress without the stress.
1. Prep Ahead
This advice stands whether you’re packing your kid’s lunchbox or a cooler for tailgating, but Pittman suggests always prepping – and even loading your coolers – the night before the game. “I find it much more relaxing and enjoyable to trim my meats, chop my veg and ice my beer in advance so I can focus on having a good time with friends,” he says.
Pittman also likes to smoke big meats like brisket, pulled pork, or ribs overnight then transport them in a YETI tundra to the game. As he says, “that way you can focus on having a good time and not having to cook in the parking lot.”
2. Get the Gear
The right gear makes a huge difference in your tailgating experience – there’s nothing more disappointing than a warm beer or cold food. For keeping meat hot for hours, Pittman turns to YETI Tundras. “I typically fold the latches inside the cooler for the first 20 minutes to stop the cooking process of my big cuts such as brisket and pork shoulder,” he says. “After 30 minutes I close the Tundra securely and they will hold meats above safe temperatures for hours.”
Pittman uses YETI ramblers with mag lids to transport seasonings or to heat and hold condiments like BBQ sauces. And he says that YETI Hopper soft coolers are great to carry smaller grilling items, such as sausages or wings.
3. Stay Chill
If there is one indisputable measure of successful tailgating, it is how cold your drinks are – which isn’t easy considering the fact that you might be out there for hours. Pittman suggests adding bagged ice as well as YETI ice into your Tundras “to really help make your beer (or drinks) hand cramping cold.”
4. Ditch the Clean Up
Tailgating, obviously, is not the time to break out the fine China. “Disposable boards and cutlery are a must to cut down on what you have to wash post game,” suggests Pittman. “Nobody wants to spend all their time cleaning up after the big game.”
5. Go-To Tailgating Food
To keep things simple yet delicious, Pittman turns to chicken wings as his go-to tailgating food. “You can grill or smoke them all the same with an all purpose seasoning. After they are done (165 degrees internal) you can toss them in various sauces (e.g., hot, bbq, sweet Thai chili) and play to a large crowd with different tastes.” Now that’s a winning suggestion.