Save Time, Money, & Hangovers
The Best Tailgate Food For Cold Weather

Although nearly half of the NFL schedule takes place during the fall months…

Football is essentially a winter sport.

Tailgating: Chili weather
Now this is chili weather!
By Jame Healy [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Oh sure, the average temperature for all 30 NFL cities may be 55.5° (Sept-Dec)

But for the 22 “cold weather” cities (average temp. below 60°) the 4-month average is 50°, dropping to a winterly 40° for the latter half of the season (Nov-Dec).

And while 8 teams play in domed stadiums, that doesn’t help the faithful fans that tailgate rain or shine, and yes, even in snow.

It gets cold while tailgating!

So NFL fans need to be prepared for all types of conditions, but since the majority deal with wintry weather more often than not, it’s important to know the best tailgate food for cold weather.

The best tailgate food for cold weather…

Does more than just keep you warm - if it were only about that, well, a heated blanket would do the trick.

Since the average NFL fan:

  • Is not a gourmet chef
  • Can only spend so much time outdoors before losing feeling in her extremities
  • Does her fair share of drinking
  • Has a limited disposable budget

…the ideal cold weather tailgate food should:

  • Keep you feeling full & satisfied
  • Keep you warm
  • Help slow your body’s rate of alcohol absorption
  • Be relatively easy to prepare
  • Not cost a day’s pay

So forget the veggie nachos and the meatless chili; you can eat healthy when you’re home.

Popular tailgate foods rated

We took 8 popular tailgate foods and rated them on 5 categories:

Ease/difficulty of preparation. (Prep) A lot of people still like to cook on site rather than at home, so ideally you should be able to prepare your tailgate food with just basic cookout equipment.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 = smoked ribs and 5 = bratwurst, sausages, & hot dogs.

Ability to reduce your body's rate of alcohol absorption. (AA)  Contrary to popular belief, alcohol neither raises nor lowers your body core temperature. It does however, make you drunk, and it’s in everyone’s best interest if you slow down that process.

While the mere presence of food in your stomach will help, but “The rate at which alcohol is absorbed depends on how quickly the stomach empties its contents into the intestine. The higher the dietary fat content, the more time this emptying will require and the longer the process of absorption will take.” *

Tailgate food: Pigskin!
Bacon-wrapped sausages  ©NFLCheapskate
Simply put slower is better, and foods containing fat, protein, and carbohydrates reportedly are excellent at slowing the absorption process.

However, that doesn't mean you should be guzzling cooking oil or serving up a deep-fried slab of bacon at the next game. 1 = raw veggies. 5 = Philly cheesteak, burnt ends.


Ability to help keep your body warm. (Warm) Foods that are abundant in niacin (animal liver, eggs, cheese) and spicy foods boost blood circulation thereby keeping your body warm. 5 = “Death” wings, 5-alarm chili.

Familiarity/popularity. (F/P) So you've discovered that yak meat is dirt cheap and bursting with protein, or that hippo intestines are really easy to cook and will keep you warm as toast, but what's the point if nobody wants to eat it?

Homer Simpson's favorite tailgate food People tend to stick with tailgate food that are either familiar to them or are well known.

Since this rating is extremely subjective it is weighted less than the other categories. 1 = venison or other wild game. 3 = pizza, burgers.

Cost. (Cost) If money was not an object then we'd all be dining on Kobe steak and lobster tails at tailgate parties. I'm talking about a realistic budget though. 1 = t-bone steak, lobster. 5 = hot dogs, beer-butt chicken.

  Prep AA Warm F/P Cost Score
Pizza 3 3 3 3 4 16
Chili 2 4 5 3 4 18
Buffalo Wings 4 2 5 3 5 19
NY Strip Steak 4 4 2 3 1 14
BBQ Ribs 1 3 3 3 2 12
Italian Sausage 5 5 2 3 5 20
Burnt Ends 1 5 2 3 3 14
Philly Cheesesteak 2 5 4 3 4 18

So if you consider yourself Joe Fan, then consider these foods tailgate party essentials that will save you time, money, & yes, hangovers.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Home > Top Cheap Tailgating Ideas > Best Tailgate Food For Cold Weather | Top of page

NFL Cheapskate

Stay up to date!


Best tailgating hacks
Best Tailgating Hacks… Ever

Best tailgate party gear
Top tailgate party gear ideas

Top Home Brew Kits
These Home Brew Kits Will Save You Money

Best Tailgate Party Games Under $100
Best Tailgate Games Under $100

Save on your next tailgate grill
Find a tailgate grill
that's perfect for you

Do-it-yourself tailgating tips
Do-it-yourself & save