Cookware & Cutlery

How to Grill at a Tailgate

How to Grill at a Tailgate

Tailgating before football games or other sporting events – or even when watching games at home – has become this generation’s version of picnicking. And grilling is the fans’ favorite method for cooking at the parking lot. A little planning and attention makes for safe grilling. These tips come from “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home.”

First, decide what kind of grill you prefer: gas or charcoal. There are advantages to each. Gas grills require no preheating before you start cooking, you do need to carry a propane tank. Charcoal grilling gives that great outdoor flavor to your food, but fans will have to wait for the coals to get ready to cook.

If you choose a portable gas grill, follow this checklist while packing for the game:

            Full propane tank.

            Small wrench and screwdriver to check connections from the tank to the grill when you set it up.

            Wire brush to clean the grates.

            Long matches or other firestarter.

            Before lighting the gas grill, check to make sure the hoses are properly connected and that there are no gas leaks. Your grill should come with instructions on how to do this.

For charcoal grilling fans, check off this list:


            Firestarter cubes (Weber makes one kind) or a chimney starter (you stuff newspaper in the bottom and place the coals on top). Avoid carrying lighter fluid for safety reasons. If you choose instant-lighting charcoal that is already permeated with lighter fluid, you won’t need either of these. But some people find that the pre-soaked charcoal gives an off flavor to the food. These types of coals also do not stay hot as long as conventional charcoal, so consider how long you’ll need to be cooking. If you use a chimney starter, place it on a paved or gravel area, not on grass – it will get very hot.

            Long matches or other firestarter.

For either kind of grill, prepare the area before lighting it. Select an even surface, preferably free of flammables like leaves or grass. Also, keep it a good distance from your car. Cover the area under the grill and to a radius of a few feet with heavy-duty aluminum foil to protect it from sparks. Keep children, pets and rowdy tailgaters away from the grill, and watch it at all times. Carry along a fire extinguisher for extra insurance.

When the cooking is done and it’s time to head for the game, do not pack up the grill until it is completely cool. If you used charcoal, don’t dispose of it in a dumpster or store it in your car until it is completely cold. If necessary, let the grill sit near your car (disconnect the propane) until you return after the game.