Helpful info for a healthier lifestyle
Tailgating Recipes

Tailgating Recipes to Score Major Points

September 13, 2016

I remember when the only “tailgate” we knew about was the hinged back of a pick-up truck that could be lowered for easy loading (I learned how to drive in a pick-up so of course I know what a tailgate is!). Then came “tailgating” as it related to driving, when someone is following you much too closely. You know what I mean – it has happened to all of us.

But let’s get real. We are here to talk about the fun kind of tailgating since it’s September, a time when tailgating is synonymous with falling leaves, football and food. Yes, food and all kinds of it!

Tailgate foods have historically (from my experience over the years) not been very healthy. Fried chicken, chili with loads of meat and cheese, juicy (aka fatty) hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, gooey dips, sugar-laden drinks, etc. The days of chowing down on lots of not-so-good-for-you foods is no longer required or even fun in my opinion. Be it in the parking lot at the game or in the comfort of your living room, it makes no sense to overindulge with your guests to have a great tailgate party. That’s why I’m suggesting some tailgate recipes that are healthier alternatives to more traditional tailgating food.

Because of recommendations from health professionals to significantly cut back on the amount of calories we consume from added sugars, all of these recipes use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products as a sugar substitute.

Included in the tailgating recipes below, is an example of a drink recipe that delivers great taste and a huge sugar calorie savings. The Southern Iced Tea recipe below uses one cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated rather than a cup of sugar. That means you could save as much as 678 calories per 40 fluid ounces or about 113 calories per serving!

Tailgating Recipes to Score Major Points

Check out these delicious tailgating recipes below.

Instead of fried chicken:
This is a time-saving recipe for sweet and spicy chicken sliders.  BBQ Chicken Sliders

Sweet ‘n Spicy BBQ Chicken Sliders Recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 12


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (from 1 large carrot)
  • 12 slider buns


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ketchup, ¼ cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, water, and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and add chicken. Cook, covered, until chicken is warmed through and sauce has reduced, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, remaining ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, and SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated in a medium-sized bowl. Add shredded cabbage and carrots and toss to coat.
  3. Top each slider bun with chicken and slaw and serve.

Instead of a meat-based chili, go veggie:
This vegetarian recipe is a festive hearty dish perfect for large gatherings.  Veggie Chili

Santa Fe Veggie Chili Recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 16; Serving Size: 1 cup


  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped red and yellow bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with thick tomato puree
  • 1 (19 ounce) can black beans, undrained
  • 2 (19 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn


  1. In a large, nonstick, stock pot, heat olive oil. Sauté peppers andonion over medium heat until onions are translucent (5-8 minutes).
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and slowly bring to a boil. Cover pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot.
  3. If hotter/spicier chili is preferred, increase the amount of ground cayenne pepper to 1 teaspoon, and the amount of chili powder to 7 teaspoons. If sweeter chili is preferred, increase the SPLENDA® Sweetener to 2/3 cup.
  4. Serve with SPLENDA® Hearty Corn Cakes.

Instead of traditional red chili, go white:
This Tex-Mex White Chili is a chicken-based chili that swaps out red tomatoes for green tomatillos.

Instead of heavy dips:
Swap out store bought sour cream dips for this homemade version made with SPLENDA® Sugar Blend. Serve this Sweet Chipotle Dip with vegetable chunks, pretzels or low-fat chips.

Instead of sugary drinks:
Give this sweetened iced tea (that I mentioned above) and Long Island Iced Tea a go!  Southern Iced Tea

Southern Iced Tea Recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 6; Serving Size: 6 fl. oz.


  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 family size tea bags
  • 1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • Optional Flavoring: 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional Garnish: mint sprigs, lemon slices


  1. Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil. Pour over tea bags; cover and steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags, squeezing gently.
  2. Stir SPLENDA® Sweetener into tea; add remaining 2 cups of water. Add lemon juice, if desired. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with mint and lemon slices, if desired.

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe  Long Island Iced Tea
Servings Per Recipe: 1; Serving Size:12 fl. oz.


  • 1 cup ice
  • 0.5 oz. Tequila
  • 0.5 oz. Vodka
  • 0.5 oz. White Rum
  • 0.5 oz. Triple Sec/Cointreau
  • 0.5 oz. Gin
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 squeezes (0.75mL) SPLENDA ZERO Liquid Sweetener
  • 1 oz. diet cola


  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add all ingredients except for the cola to the cocktail shaker. Cover and shake well.
  3. Pour cocktail into a glass and top with cola.
  4. Serve immediately.

These are just a few of many recipe ideas you can use to make your tailgate foods score extra points. If you want to cut calories from added sugar in your recipes and in your day, offers a variety of resources that you’ll want to check out. For example, the chart “How to Cut 100 Calories” is extremely helpful.

Finally, as outlined in another one of my blogs, it is easy to calculate sugar “calorie savings” for yourself when replacing full sugar with a SPLENDA® Sweetener. Keep in mind that a cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated has 678 fewer calories than a cup of sugar.

You also can find many more recipes that use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in the recipes section on

Game on!

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Sue Taylor is a consulting nutritionist with more than 35 years of experience. She is passionate about sharing her nutrition knowledge and fondness for good, healthy food. Sue will put relevant information in consumer terms and provide valuable perspective to clear up misinformation and confusion about nutrition and food safety

September 13, 2016  |  POSTED BY: Sue Taylor, MS  |  IN: Cooking & Baking


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