How to Keep Food Warm at a Tailgate

How to Keep Food Warm at a Tailgate

If your favorite team isn’t in the South, you know that tailgates are not always warm weather events. Sometimes you have to tailgate in the cold. Other times you are tailgating in downright freezing weather. I remember I went to a Christmas Eve game at Gillette and the wind chill was under ten degrees that day. Going to a game in the cold is not all that bad though. It can actually still be a ton of fun. You have winter jackets, hand warmers, feet warmers, gloves, hats, and pretty much everything else to keep you warm. You can even bring a portable heater along to your tailgate. One struggle you will have though is figuring out how to keep your food warm at a tailgate in the cold.

During the warmer months, you only really have to worry about keeping it fresh. Your food won’t go cold on you that fast when it is 90 degrees outside.

One part of keeping your food warm at a tailgate is choosing the right food. Maybe you want to consider options other than burgers and hot dogs because it will be tough to keep those cold longer. Some options that will be easier to keep warm would be chili, dips, or kielbasa, for example. Not only is this food easy to keep warm, it will also warm you up after being out in the cold for so long. Other than that, there are a few other things you can do to keep your food warm when it is cold out. We’ll go over some of the best options to help your keep your food warm. For more tips on tailgating in the cold, check out our article on how to stay warm at a tailgate!

Use a Crock-pot

Crock-pots are great for tailgating in the cold. They might not be as popular when the weather is warm but they’ll be a big hit in the cold. A crock-pot is also super simple to use. All you have to do to keep your food warm is plug it in and turn the heat setting to “warm”. You cannot mess it up. I would, however, make sure that you actually have the food cooked beforehand, especially if it is going to take a while. Some things can take all day to cook so you want to make sure you can actually eat it while you are tailgating.

Crock-pot food is perfect for cold weather tailgating. There are plenty of great options you can make in a crock-pot that will warm you up. You can even make these for your next game day at your party at your house. My favorite game day to keep to make in a crock-pot is by far buffalo chicken dip. Here is one of my favorite recipes. It is so easy to make and everyone will love it. All you have to do is combine all your ingredients and then cook it on low for an hour or 2 so it can combine and get warm. Then after that all you have to do it set your crock-pot to warm and you are good to go.

Buffalo chicken dip is not the only thing you can make in a crock-pot. Some other popular options include meatballs, kielbasa, and chili. All are really easy to make and incredibly popular game day foods. You cannot go wrong with any of those options. After you have been sitting in the freezing cold for hours, eating warm food out of the crock-pot will instantly warm you up.

Put Your Food in a Chafing Pan

Chafing pans are a great option for keeping your food warm. You do not need to buy an expensive reusable chafing dish. The disposable aluminum ones will more than get the job done here. If you are going to use it a lot though, it might be worth it to spend some money and get good reusable chafing dishes.

Like crock-pots, chafing pans are incredibly easy to use. The only downside is you can’t actually cook in them like you would with a crock-pot. If you are going to use a chafing pan, cook the food beforehand and then put it in the pan and cover it in tin foil. This will help retain some of the heat. Once you get to the tailgate, put the pans out on the table and light some chafing fuel underneath it. It’s as simple as that. Chafing fuel cans can last from 2 to 6 hours depending on the can you buy. To avoid a mishap, I would bring a few extra cans with you just in case one of them runs out.

What is good about chafing pans is you are not limited in what you can put in them. One of my favorite options is chicken wings. You can bake them beforehand and just keep them warm in the chafing pan. Other foods you can put in there would be mac n cheese, dips, and meats.

Thermal Cookers

Thermal cookers are another good option for keeping your food warm at a tailgate. Similar to crock-pots thermal cookers can cook food and keep it warm. They are also incredibly easy to use. All you have to do it heat up your inner pot before you leave and then place it in the outer pot. What is great about thermal cookers is they don’t overcook your food. You do not have to be a great cook to use a thermal cooker. One downside to thermal cookers is they are fairly limited in their use.

Thermal cookers are great options for chili and dips. Those are probably the extent of what you can make in terms of game day food but what makes the thermal cooker for keeping food warm at a tailgate is how easy to use it is and how easy it is to transport and set up. If you don’t have a generator, a thermal cooker is a great option for keeping your food warm at your tailgate. There are no cords and nothing to plug in unlike a crock-pot. If you are looking for something that is easy to use and set up, give thermal cookers a try!

Use Electric Warmers

Electric warmers take a little more effort to get set up but they are excellent at keeping your food warm at your tailgate. They do need to be plugged in to work but what is good about them is they are effective at keeping your food evenly warm. Unlike the chafing pans where the sides might not be kept as warm because the flame is under the middle of the pans.

Electric warmers are still a fairly basic set up. You have to fill the bottom with water according to the instructions. Some warmers have a fill line so you know much water to add. After you filled it with water you can turn it to whatever setting you like and let it warm up for a little bit. Once it’s warm you can put in your pans of food and cover them and you will be all set. When you are done, unplug the electric warmer and let it cool off for a while. Once it has cooled down you can remove the pans and dump the old water out.

As the name suggests, electric warmers are only used for keeping your food warm. So, make sure to cook everything before hand. First cook everything and put them in pans that fit the electric warmer. Then all you have to do when you is set it up on your table when you get to the tailgate. You can really put any kind of food in the warmers. I think it’s best used for keeping meats warm, like burgers and hot dogs, because it does a good job of evenly distributing the heat. Some electric warmers also have a surprising amount of space. If you have a large group with you, electric warmers will be particularly useful. If you don’t mind the extra setting up and are cooking for a crowd, an electric warmer might be worth a try.

Try to stay warm out there at your next tailgate. That means dressing warm and eating food that warms you up. Don’t forget the hot drinks either! Nothing will warm you up like a nice hot chocolate or hot coffee.

I hope you found this article on how to keep food warm at a tailgate. For more tailgating tips, be sure to check out the tailgating section of our blog!

Sam Rebinskas

Sam is the co-founder of Improve Your Gameday and loves all Boston sports teams.

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