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What to Grill for Game Day

What to Grill for Game Day

Maybe you’re headed to the stadium parking lot for a tailgate to remember. Or perhaps you’re all set up for a backyard barbecue, grilling up delicious creations for your guests to enjoy while watching the game on your TV or projector. Either way, one thing is for sure: the start of the season means smoke, fire and food can’t be far behind! Any neighborhood King of the Grill needs some go-to game day recipes in their back pocket. From beloved fan favorites to scrumptious alternatives you might not have considered, these game day winners are sure to score with your guests. 

1. Hot Dogs

It’s no fluke that hot dogs are a tailgate and backyard classic. Hot dogs are affordable and don’t take much time to grill, so they’re perfect for when you need to feed a bunch of folks quickly. Plus, like many of the most popular grill foods, they’re easy to customize: Your uncle can enjoy his Chicago dog loaded with pickles and mustard, while your buddy from down the street scarfs down an impressive number of chili cheese dogs. 

If you have a pellet grill that you typically use for big smoking jobs like briskets and ribs, you might wonder: Can you cook hot dogs on a pellet grill? Fortunately, that’s a big yes — Grilla Grills pellet grills can cook a whole batch of fantastic hot dogs all at once! Just set your Silverbac, Grilla or Chimp anywhere from about 375 to 450ºF, depending on how fast you want to cook your dogs and your preferred level of char. Use a meat thermometer to check the dogs’ internal temperatures and pull them off when most of them are around 160ºF.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got a Grilla Grills Kong kamado grill or another style of charcoal or gas grill, you already know what to do. Fire up that charcoal or propane, throw some hot dogs on and make sure you’ve got plenty of tasty toppings on hand! 

burger game day recipes

2. Burgers

Burgers are something of a miracle food — simple enough to cook in batches for game day, but with all kinds of opportunities for gourmet touches. Like hot dogs, they can work with a ton of different toppings, so your guests can make their burgers exactly the way they want them. Plus, as you probably know, they’re damn tasty!

What’s the secret to a perfect game day burger? First, make sure your ground beef has plenty of fat content to keep it juicy. A proportion of 70/30 is ideal if you’re cooking on a griddle like the Primate gas griddle, or 80/20 for any open-flame grill. Second, experiment with mixing other meat cuts, such as shredded short rib, to give your burger an edge in flavor. If you really want to go wild, people include everything from bacon to melted cheese in their burger recipes, and you can too! Seeking inspiration for your game day burgers? Check out these awesome recipes from Grilla:

  • No Flip Burgers: This pellet grill burger recipe is a great place to start for classic burgers, cooked low and slow for unbeatable smoky flavor and juicy texture. Get a big batch going a little while before your guests show up, and then serve and enjoy. 
  • Short Rib Burger: Time to get seriously savory. Cook some short ribs beforehand, and then blend the leftovers into your patties for a truly beefy (and totally unforgettable) game day burger.
  • Juicy Lucy Smokey Burgers: Remember that cheese-filled burger we mentioned? This is it, and it will blow your mind. Just remember: That cheese will be hot!

chicken wing game day recipes

3. Chicken Wings

There’s nothing like biting into a perfectly cooked wing and enjoying the tender meat, flavorful sauce and just-right amount of crunch. That is, of course, unless you’re biting into that wing and watching your team kick butt at the same time — which is why wings remain a game day classic.

While frying is the most common way to cook wings, smoking and grilling are increasingly popular ways to do it too! For one thing, you’ll dodge a lot of the extra calories that frying adds. Whether or not that’s a concern for you, there’s no denying that smoking and grilling also produce wings that are just insanely tasty! Like their fried counterparts, smoked wings take a huge variety of sauces and spices well — but Grilla Grills’ What Da Cluck rub is a great starting place since it’s specifically designed for awesome flavor on chicken.

Our Grilla Grills pitmasters have spent a long time perfecting their wing recipes — and we love sharing them with pitmasters all around! Here are a few of our favorites:

grilled pizza on cutting board

4. Pizza

Tired of ordering just-OK game day pizza that takes forever to show up? Start making your own on the grill, and you might never go back! It’s amazingly easy to cook your own pizza on either a pellet grill or a charcoal grill. A pizza stone for your grill is the only extra piece of gear you need. 

For the freshest and most delicious taste, we recommend starting with homemade dough, although a store-bought crust will work fine as well. From there, you’ve got a wealth of options on how to sauce your pizza and load it up with your favorite toppings. Much as you might order multiple pizzas on game day, consider making a few different pies so your guests can choose their favorite. To get the basics under your belt, see our guide to cooking pizza on a pellet grill, and make sure you’ve got a high-quality pizza stone available. Then check out these pizza recipes:

  • Basic Pizza Dough: Making your own fresh dough actually isn’t hard — just follow this recipe for a firm crust with outstanding texture!
  • Steakhouse Wood Fired Pizza: Get your gourmet on with this luxurious pizza recipe featuring three cheese, fresh herbs and a full pound of ribeye steak. 
  • Meat Lover’s Deep Dish Pizza: Feeding some serious appetites on game day? This tantalizingly thick deep dish pizza is loaded with everything a carnivore craves: pepperoni, ham, bacon and more!

5. Pulled Pork Butt

If you’ll have some time to prepare, a pork butt is one of the best meats to smoke to take your game day cuisine to a whole new level. One pork butt takes anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to cook, so a lot of pitmasters like to do their smoking on the day before, and then present their masterpiece on game day. Make sure you’re stocked up on wood pellets or whatever fuel you use before you start the smoking process. 

Once you’ve finished smoking the pork and shredding it with your meat claws, you’ll have pounds upon pounds of delicious pulled pork that’s good for a whole lot of different things. Pulled pork is amazing on nachos, tacos, pizza or basically any other game day food. Prefer to do it proper Southern-style? Add the BBQ sauce of your choice to the pork, and then whip up a few classic BBQ sides like cole slaw or mac and cheese to complete the meal. See some of our favorite pulled pork recipes here:

  • Simple Pellet Grill Pulled Pork: Whether you’re a beginner or an expert pitmaster, this pellet grill pulled pork recipe is a can’t-miss method for smoking a five-star pork butt.
  • Simple BBQ Pizza: This classic BBQ pizza combines pulled pork with BBQ favorites like red onions and (of course) Grilla Grills Thick & Bold BBQ Sauce.
  • Pulled Pork Nachos: Nothing says game day like nachos, and nothing makes nachos quite as delicious and indulgent as a heaping helping of pulled pork, pickled jalapenos and all the rest.

bbq ribs game day recipes

6. Ribs

Smoked BBQ ribs are another favorite for all kinds of sporting events. They’re an easy way to feed a crowd, and they have the rich, smoky, oh-so-satisfying taste of slow-cooked meat. We like to hit our game day ribs with Grilla All Purpose Rub before they go on the smoker, and then serve them with multiple BBQ sauce options on the side. 

Out of the two major types of pork ribs, baby backs are the standard choice for most pitmasters because these ribs tend to be leaner and more tender. Spare ribs, by contrast, contain more fat, which is why some people prefer their flavor. Meanwhile, there’s also beef ribs — big, chunky and a little more challenging to cook, but unbelievably delicious! Explore the world of ribs next game day with these recipes:

  • No Wrap Ribs: Not sure where to start with ribs? This straightforward but super-tasty recipe cuts straight to the chase and makes an A+ game day entree.
  • BBQ Spare Ribs: Master the art of spare ribs with this competition-quality recipe that makes a brilliant combo with our zesty Grilla Grills Gold n Bold BBQ Sauce!
  • Brontosaurus Bone Beef Ribs: Your guests might feel like they’ve stepped into The Flintstones when they see the chunky goodness of these dino-sized beef ribs!

jalapeno poppers with grilla grills rub

7. Snacks and Appetizers

Variety is another key part of crafting an epic game day meal. Besides the ribs and the wings and the burgers, it’s important to have some other fun stuff in your game day spread to change things up a bit. These are some of our favorite ideas that you can cook on your grill and/or smoker: 

  • Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip: Many fans will say that you’ve gotta have at least one dip at your game day party. And if you only have one dip, make it this one — the cheesy, spicy, savory MVP crowd-pleaser that everybody goes for first. 
  • Jalapeno Poppers: Stuffed jalapenos are the kind of tastebud-tingling snack that turns up the fun at any game day event. With our Grilla Grills jalapeno popper rack, they’re also super easy to make!
  • Smoked Pigs in a Blanket: Here’s a version of the craveable, crushable crescent roll classic that you can cook directly in your smoker grill. Remember to keep a variety of dipping sauces on hand for these!
  • Smoked Deviled Eggs: A little bit of low-temperature smoking brings a next-level flavor to these deviled eggs. Throw in some pickled jalapenos with them for a true big-league appetizer.

dessert game day recipes

8. Desserts

No matter what the final score is, you can always end with something sweet! Both our pellet grill and kamado grill models are excellent for baking, thanks to their heat retention and consistent cooking power. These are just a few of the delectable desserts you can smoke up on your Grilla Grill:

  • Grilled Apple Crisp: This cozy dessert will never, ever go out of style, thanks to its classic combo of spiced, buttery apples and crisp, crunchy granola. 
  • Smoked Cheesecake with Cherry Compote: Yes, you can smoke a cheesecake and, yes, it tastes amazing — especially when you’ve smoked a luscious cherry compote to go with it.
  • Smoked Fruit Cobbler (Peach & Blackberry): Add cobbler to the list of desserts that you can cook on a grill. In fact, we think you’ll like the results so much, you might only cook it on the grill from now on!

Shop Our Selection of Grills & Smokers

We’ve talked about a ton of amazing recipes today — but, somehow, there are still even more to discover! See all of our Grilla Grills pellet grill recipes here or check out all of our grills to discover how we’re evolving the game in pellet grills, kamado grills and more. 

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