Tailgate Grill Ideas and Recipes

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Football tailgates are the best. I am sharing some of my favorite tailgate grill ideas and recipes today.

Tailgating is not reserved for stadiums. We love to set up a tailgate in our backyard and invite friends to watch a game. Wherever you are tailgating, I have some amazing tailgate grill recipes and ideas for you today! There are some surprises on this menu!

We are crazy sports fans in our house. It really doesn’t matter what sport we are watching, we love to invite friends over and make some delicious food!

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Gatherings

Tailgating is a national pastime and I have been to some tailgates that are pretty over-the-top incredible. Today, I am sharing some of my favorite tailgate grill recipes. Please feel free to enjoy them with or without a football game!

Tailgate Grill Menu

Grilled Chicken with a choice of

Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Compound Butter or Hot and Spicy Compound Butter

Impossible Sliders with Balsamic Onions

Eat the Rainbow Orzo Salad

Spring Greens Salad 

Cornbread with Brown Sugar Vanilla Compound Butter

Grilled Chicken with Compound Butter

Grilled chicken is a favorite at our house. It is simple and quick to make. I season the chicken with just a little salt and pepper and grill for about ten minutes per side. Depending on the size and thickness of your chicken, you will need to adjust the grill time.

Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the grill and immediately add a slice of the compound butter to the top while the chicken is still hot. This allows the compound butter to melt into the chicken. What is compound butter? Keep reading!

BBQ-Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken with Compound Butter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil for brushing

Instructions

    1. Sprinlke each side of chicken with salt, garlic, and pepper.
    2. Grill each side for about ten minutes (depending on the size and thickness), or until done.
    3. When it is almost done, lightly brush the chicken with olive oil.
    4. Remove the chicken from the grill and immediately add a slice of the compound butter while the chicken is still hot.

Compound Butter

Compound butter is such a wonderful way to infuse flavor, and I like to serve a few options so that everyone has choices. Sometimes my choice is both!

Compound Butter

Compound butter sounds heavy and decadent, but I have lightened it up by using dairy-free butter. I started using Country Crock Plant Butter when I went dairy free, and I am astonished that I can not tell the difference. It cooks, bakes, and tastes just like regular butter, minus the saturated fat. The plant-based butter products, available in both spreadable and sticks are made with olive oil, almond oil, or avocado oil. This is not a sponsored post, I just love this product. All of the taste, a lot less guilt!

Compound Butters

So, what exactly is compound butter? If you are not familiar with compound butter, it is a really easy way of adding flavor. It can be used on meat, bread, pasta, or anything you would use plain butter on!

The definition of compound is:

noun

/ˈkämˌpound/

  1. a thing that is composed of two or more separate elements; a mixture.

Compound butter is just that, softened butter with additional elements added to it and mixed together. Compound butter can be savory or sweet. 

Flavor-infused butter can be sliced into pats or served as a stick. It is important to keep them refrigerated until you are ready to serve so that they don’t melt or soften too much.

Here are some of my favorite Compound Butter Recipes:

Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Compound Butter

Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Compound Butter
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, add ¼ tsp salt)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs that you like, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, chives, etc. Make it your own. For this, I am using oregano and thyme.

Instructions

  1. Remove butter from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Chop ¼” off of the top of the garlic head (the pointy end, not the hairy end) so that the largest part of the cloves are exposed. Throw away the yucky part and the papery outer layers that fall away. Don’t peel away too much of the papery out layer as it helps the garlic head stay intact.
  4. Create a bowl with foil the size of the garlic head and place the head of garlic into it. Wrap/squeeze the foil bowl around the head of garlic and place it into a small ovenproof bowl. 
  5. Drizzle the top of the garlic with olive oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with foil and roast in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until garlic is soft and lightly browned.
  7. Allow the garlic to cool completely (so that it doesn’t melt the butter).
  8. While the garlic is cooling, using a small bowl, mix the softened butter and chopped herbs with a fork. 
  9. Once the garlic is cooled, the cloves will pop out of the head easily. Smash the garlic cloves until paste like. 
  10. Add the smashed roasted cloves to the butter and herb mixture and mix until evenly combined. 
  11. Scrape the mixture out of the bowl and place the mixture about 2 inches from the edge and at the center of a piece of parchment or wax paper (I prefer parchment). Roll the paper into a log. 
  12. Twist the ends of the parchment paper to seal and place in the refrigerator until serving time, at least 20 minutes.
  13. When ready to serve, you can slice it into small individual slices or serve in a dish for everyone to take as much as they want.

Hot Sauce and Tajin Compound Butter

Compound Butter
Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ stick of salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, add ¼ tsp salt)
  • 2 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Tajin chile lime seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Remove butter from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, mix butter, hot sauce and tajin seasoning with fork. Mix until evenly combined. Adjust to your taste level for heat. If you like it hot, add more of the hot sauce and tajin. If you like the essence of hot, leave as is.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro and mix until evenly combined. If you are offended by cilantro, leave it out.
  4. Scrape the mixture out of the bowl and place the mixture about 2 inches from the edge and at the center of a piece of parchment or wax paper (I prefer parchment). Roll the paper into a log. 
  5. Twist the ends of the parchment paper to seal and place in the refrigerator until serving time, at least 20 minutes.
  6. When ready to serve, you can slice it into small individual slices or serve in a dish for everyone to take as much as they want.

These compound butters are so yummy, you will want to put them on literally, everything. Chicken, steak, pasta, vegetables, baked potatoes. You can also use the roasted garlic butter on bread to make amazing garlic bread!

Impossible Sliders

Sliders are another favorite in our house and they are a great tailgate grill menu item. We discovered plant-based Impossible burgers recently and honestly, it is impossible to beat them! You can use whatever type of meat you like, but definitely give Impossible burgers a try!

For this menu, I am making Impossible Sliders with Balsamic Onions. Balsamic Onions are like an onion jam and are so, so yummy on these sliders. Their intense flavor elevates any dish you are serving. They are great on burgers, chicken, or steak and I have also served these onions on top of Boursin cheese as an appetizer.

Impossible Sliders with Balsamic Onions

Impossible Burger sliders
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 Package of Impossible Burger Meat formed into slider patties
  • 1 Package of King's Hawaiian Slider Buns
  • 2 Sweet Onions, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBL Brown Sugar

Instructions

  1. Form Impossible Burger meat into slider sized patties. Refrigerate until you are ready to grill.
  2. In a saute pan, over medium/low heat, add the Balsamic Vinegar and Brown Sugar.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Once the vinegar and sugar are combined and sugar is dissolved, add the sliced onions.
  5. Mix onions until coated.
  6. Cover the saute pan and cook until onions are soft and tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. These onions can be rewarmed when ready to serve.
  9. Put Impossible Sliders on the grill and cook until browned and to your desired doneness.
  10. While the sliders are grilling, warm butter in saute pan and brown slider buns.
  11. Assemble sliders as you would a burger.
  12. If the onions havve cooled, rewarm before serving with silders.

Rainbow Orzo Salad

Rainbow Orzo Salad

While I am not a huge fan of pasta salad, I do love orzo pasta salad. Orzo pasta is more like rice than pasta. It is perfect for warm weather meals (fall is still hot in Southern California) and it is wonderful cold as well. You can also make an entire meal out of it by adding grilled chicken, salmon, steak, or any other protein that you have on hand. 

For my orzo pasta salad, I pack it full of vegetables to make it as healthy as possible. I read recently about “eating the rainbow” and it really stuck with me. I am such a visual person that this concept helped me visualize the fruits and vegetables I am consuming or maybe more importantly, not consuming.

Each day, my goal is to eat the rainbow; fruits, and vegetables in every color. Each color provides an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that benefit overall health. I wish I had known about this when my children were small! 

Health Benefits of Each Food Color

  • Red: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, may help reduce sun-related sun damage;
  • Yellow and Orange: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, supports eye health, may help lower risk of heart disease and cancer;
  • Green: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cruciferous veggies may help lower risk of cancer and heart disease;
  • Blue and Purple: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help improve brain function, may help lower the risk of heart disease, neurological disorders, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
  • Dark red: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help support athletic performance through increased oxygen intake; may lower risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers;
  • White: anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, may help lower the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and other cancers.

Rainbow Orzo Salad

Orzo Vegetable Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Orzo Pasta
  • 1 Package Cooked, Shelled Edamame
  • 6 Spears Asparagus, blanched
  • 10 Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 Purple Carrots, sliced into circles
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 Orange Pepper, sliced into ribbons
  • Champagne Vinegar Dressing
  • 3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

    1. Cook orzo to package directions, approximately 8-10 minutes.
    2. Blanche asparagus for about 5 minutes in boiling water.
    3. While orzo is cooking and asparagus is blanching, slice/chop vegetables
    4. Slice cherry tomatoes in half.
    5. Slice radishes thinly.
    6. Slice purple carrots into round circles.
    7. Slice red, yellow, and orange peppers into ribbons (length of pepper, top to bottom)
    8. Once orzo is cooked and drained, put into the refrigerator to cool.
    9. While orzo is cooling, mix your dressing together.
    10. Once orzo is cooled and you are ready to serve, combine the orzo and all of the vegetables in a bowl. Toss lightly to combine.
    11. Add dressing to your taste and lightly toss again.

Spring Greens Salad

You can never have too many veggies, right? In addition to the Rainbow Orzo Salad, I also included a traditional spring greens salad in my tailgate grill menu. I load mine with spring greens, cherry tomatoes, lots and lots of avocado, and homemade Gluten-Free croutons with a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Spring Greens Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons and Oil and Vinegar Dressing

Green Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag Spring Greens
  • 1 Box Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 Avocados, diced
  • Gluten-Free Homemade Croutons
  • 4 Slices Gluten-Free Bread
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (I use plant based butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon Bosari Seasoning (or garlic powder)
  • Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chopped Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry spring greens, place in the serving bowl.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes.
  3. Add avocado.
  4. For Homemade croutons, place slices of bread in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove once browned and crispy.
  5. In a saute pan, melt the butter and Bosari seasoning (or garlic powder).
  6. Mix together until the butter and the seasoning is melted and combined.
  7. Add the bread slices and cook on both sides so that the seasoned butter is absorbed.
  8. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  9. Once cooled, chop into cubes.
  10. For Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing, mix the oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and garlic together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Add croutons to bowl and toss with dressing when ready to serve.

Brown Sugar Vanilla Compound Butter

Ingredients for Brown Sugar Vanilla Compound Butter

To balance all of the savory items on the menu and to add just a hint of sweetness, I am also serving cornbread with my favorite Brown Sugar, Vanilla Compound Butter. I was served a similar sweet butter at a restaurant once and was obsessed with it until I figured out the measurements to replicate it.

I used a cornbread mix, but feel free to make the real deal. Either way, this Brown Sugar Vanilla butter is perfect on it. I will warn you, you might want to make double the cornbread. This sweet compound butter is so amazing, you will be scrounging in your kitchen cupboards to find something to put it on.

Brown Sugar, Vanilla Compound Butter

Vanilla Brown Sugar Compound Butter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter (I used plant-based)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix brown sugar and vanilla extract together.
  3. Heat until combined and smooth.
  4. Let the brown sugar and vanilla mixture cool so that it doesn't melt the butter.
  5. Once the brown sugar and vanilla mixture is cooled, add to a small bowl with the softened stick of butter.
  6. Mix together with a fork until evenly combined.
  7. Scrape the butter from the bowl and place it onto a piece of parchment paper, about 2 inches from the edge and at the center of the paper.
  8. Roll the butter in the parchment paper into a log.
  9. Twist the ends to seal and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is compound butter?

Compound butter is a mixture of butter and other ingredients. Compound butter can be used on top of cooked meat, vegetables, or fish.

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10 Comments

  1. Leslie,How is the renovation on your beach house going? Can’t wait to hear about it!
    Love all these recipes!
    Carol Sargent

  2. Hi, these sound good but Impossible fake meat is GMO, made from genetically engineered soy protein which is one of the heaviest sprayed (round-up/glyphosate), and a host of other lab made ingredients.

    1. There are a lot of meat alternatives that work with this recipe, feel free to choose your favorite!

  3. Your table looks so lovely and so inviting. Am definitely going to try your chicken breast recipe and burgers, but real meat, and balsamic onions. You are so creative and high energy, I think. Keep going, because when you age or get arthritis, things change and its depressing to not be able to do as before. You must get up very early every day, am I right? Many people have more energy early in the day. Thank you for this lovely blog. Enjoyed it very much. Marianne

    1. Thank you, Marianne! I hope you enjoy the recipes. (P.S. I do get up very early, it’s not always easy!)

  4. Can’t wait to try the Orzo salad…have not done compound butters before either, but I going to try for this weekend . Your dishes are always easy prep , delicious, and amazing…like YOU ! hugs!

  5. This is just what i needed today!!! These are all things we would normally eat but elevated with “Leslie Tweaks”
    Getting the plant based Country Crock next trip to the store!
    Thanks for reminding me how much I love compound butter, but I gave it up for health considerations, but now I’m jumping back on that bandwagon!

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