Simple – and Nice – Tailgating Recipes

Barb and Art Keown, longtime Virginia Tech Hokie fans, shared tailgating tips in a previous post. Here are a few of the Keowns’ favorite recipes for tailgating fare. Make-aheads are best.

tortilla wraps with chicken and fresh vegetables isolated on white

Bite-size Roll-ups (Art’s favorite)

When she takes these, Barb makes two versions: chicken and vegetarian.

Chicken Roll-ups

Lay out 4 soft tomato (because they’re orange) tortilla shells on aluminum foil.


  • 1/3 cup soft cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. jarred pesto; add this after mixing first 3 ingredients

Spread each shell with the above mixture.

Lay in each shell:

  • pre-roasted chicken across center of shell (chicken from grocery store deli or leftovers roasted at home; use equivalent of about 1/2 chicken total)
  • jarred roasted red peppers across center of shell (Drain really well between paper towels; moisture will destroy these roll-ups.)
  • fresh spinach, whole leaves across each shell
  • long, sliced bread and butter pickles, a whole row of slices across each shell – you want pickle in every bite. (First: drain and squeeze out moisture between paper towels.)
  • shredded cheese all the way across each shell.

After assembling, roll up each shell and enclose in aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours. Slice each chilled roll into bite-size pieces and put a toothpick in every bite.

Veggie Roll-ups

Lay out 4 soft spinach tortilla shells on foil.

Spread tortillas with roasted red pepper hummus (from grocery store) OR use the same spread as in the chicken roll-ups recipe above.

Essential ingredients for inside:

  • jarred roasted red peppers (again, drain well)
  • fresh spinach
  • canned black beans (drain well)
  • cheese
  • You can add any other vegetables, such as artichoke hearts or black olives, remembering the cardinal rule of removing moisture.

Follow instructions above for assembling, chilling, slicing, and toothpicking.

A Meatball Story

When Barb and Art got married 41 years ago, two of her mother’s friends gave them two identical chafing dishes. “We were dirt poor,” says Barb, and she asked her mother, “What are we going to do with these?” “Just keep them,” replied mom. “Someday you’ll find a use.” Some 25 years later came Hokie tailgating, and this popular recipe for meatballs:

Bake pre-made frozen meatballs according to package instructions.

Mix and bring to a boil a jar of grape jelly and a jar of chili sauce.

Add meatballs to sauce and refrigerate (if making ahead).

Before leaving for game, warm the meatballs and sauce, put them in chafing dishes, and cover with foil.

At the game, set up the chafing dishes, light the Sterno, and enjoy.

Other Ideas

Barb says she’s always surprised at how excited people get when she brings deviled eggs or Rice Krispies Treats.

Her tailgating collaborator recently brought 2 pork loins, grilled ahead of time at home, refrigerated, then sliced and set on the table. Beautiful, simple, and delicious on accompanying pre-packaged rolls.