It’s time to plan menus, load up those smokers, pack up the grills, fill the coolers and head to the stadium. But before you do, we’re here to help you elevate your game in 2015 with the following expert tailgating tips from a seasoned panel of NBBQA members.

Plan Your Menu

Create a written menu plan, and do as much prep work as you can in advance.
Sweet Baby Ray | Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue & Catering

When to Sauce

Apply a dry rub and cook your meat, then use the BBQ sauce for a last-minute glaze.
— Dr. BBQ | Ray Lampe

Spritz with Apple Juice

Generously coat meat with dry rub before grilling. Spritz with apple juice halfway through to caramelize the dry rub, prevent dryness, enhance flavor and improve tenderness.
— Lee Ann Whippen, Chicago Q

Grilled Meat 101

Keep the lid closed for thick cuts of meat and open for thin cuts. For optimum juiciness, let the meat rest after grilling. The thicker the cut, the longer the rest time.
— Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

Use Coolers as Hot Boxes

Wrap your finished smoked meats in aluminum foil, then a towel and place in a dry room temperature cooler just big enough to hold the meat.

— Mark Lambert, Sweet Swine O’ Mine

Build a Nacho Bar

Set up a nacho bar by grilling pre-marinated steaks and chicken breasts on site and bring all the toppings from home.
Diva Q | Danielle Dimovski

Safety First

Pack disposable sterilized wipes to clean hands and wipe down surfaces as you switch from handling raw foods to cooked foods.
— Patrick Murty, Company 7 BBQ

Be Clean and Green

Use disposable cutting boards, especially if working with raw chicken.
— Chris Jones, Colins Creek Barbecue


How do you and your friends prepare for a tailgate? Tweet us at @MediaplanetUSA or let us know in the comments below!