Healthy Tailgating Recipes

Jalapeno margaritas
Jeanine Donofrio

Love and Lemons logo

Ready to get back to game day? We’ve partnered with Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons to see how to cook up some tailgating MVPs that are as delicious as they are healthy.

‘Tis the season for tailgates and game day get-togethers. While I’m not a fan of any particular football team, I am a fan of good food and any reason to gather around it.

Today I’m changing things up from the typical game-day-grease-bombs with a lighter “game plan” of healthy tailgating recipes that includes many things I love that just happen to be on the healthier side. Although no one will know because it’s all so delicious… and hello, there are spicy jalapeño margaritas! Diet food, this is not!

Healthy tailgating recipes

First up—what’s a party without salsa! Here’s a fresh and hearty avocado salsa with black beans and grilled corn. Scoop it up with chips or serve it on the side of your marinated mushroom veggie kabobs. Don’t you love how all of the vibrant colors really pop in this blue low bowl?

Here’s a healthy tip: don’t stand right next to this one or before you know it you’ll eat the whole thing. Not that I’ve done that before, I’m just sayin’…

Marinated grilled vegetables

My secret (well, not so secret anymore) mushroom marinade is made of four easy ingredients: olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and black pepper. You can go crazy and add dijon mustard or other spices as you like, but this basic marinade makes grilled mushrooms that are, in my opinion, the perfect balance of rich, savory and tangy.

I also love making vegetable kabobs using these adorable barnyard skewers. No one said animals weren’t invited to the party!

Grilled vegetable kebabs
Homemade vegetable kebabs

Kick up your corn on the cob. I like to season mine with olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lime then spice it up with a little smoked paprika. Add a little cotija cheese if you like.

Seasoned grilled corn

Jalapeño Margaritas

Ingredients for Margarita

  • 3/4 cup good tequila
  • 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced, plus extra slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored cognac liqueur
  • Scant 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup, or to taste)
  • Lime slices for garnish
  • Sparkling water, optional

Ingredients for Simple Syrup

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part sugar


Pour the tequila into a mixing glass or small pitcher. Add the sliced jalapeño, 1/4 to 1/2 of it, depending on how spicy you want your margaritas. Set aside at room temp for 15 minutes (the longer you let the jalapeños infuse, the spicier it will be).

Make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine equal parts of sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. You can store any extra in the fridge for up to a few weeks.

Make the margaritas by mixing together the jalapeño-infused tequila, orange-flavored cognac liqueur, lime juice and 1/4 cup simple syrup. Taste. If you’d like a spicier margarita, add more jalapeño and let it it sit a little longer. Pour into glasses and add lime slices and jalapeños for garnish. For a lighter margarita, fill the glasses 1/2 full and add sparkling water.

Avocado Salsa with Black Beans and Grilled Corn

Serves 3-4 as an appetizer


  • 2 large avocados, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 plum tomato, diced or ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 ear grilled corn (from recipe above)
  • Generous amounts of coarse sea salt
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional


In medium bowl, mix together the avocado, red onion, tomatoes and black beans. Add a few generous squeezes of lime, a few pinches of salt and a dusting of smoked paprika, if using.

Slice the kernels off of the grilled corn cob and stir into the salsa. Season with more lime juice and salt, to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

Baby Bella Vegetable Kabobs

Makes 4 large kabobs


  • 8-10 whole cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, quartered and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Remove the mushroom stems and gently clean each mushroom by wiping the tops with a damp cloth.

In a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add the mushrooms and toss, using your hands to coat the mushrooms in the marinade. Set aside at room temp for at least 30 minutes.

Make the kabobs by threading the skewers with mushrooms, red pepper, red onion, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Add the kabobs to the grill and cook, rotating, until char marks form on each side and the mushrooms are tender (12-15 minutes total).

Remove from the grill and serve with Grilled Corn on the Cob and Avocado Salsa with Black Beans.

Grilled Corn on the Cob


  • 3 ears fresh corn, husked
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Squeeze of lime
  • Sea salt
  • Dust of smoked paprika
  • Sprinkle with cotija cheese (optional)


Heat a grill or grill pan to medium. Drizzle the corn with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place the corn on the grill and rotate it every few minutes, until char marks form on all sides. Remove the corn from the grill and add a squeeze of lime juice and a dusting of paprika. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, if using.

Want more healthy tailgating recipes? Check out the Crate and Barrel Party Appetizers and Salads Pinterest board!


  1. […] & Barrel, who so kindly provided us with the serving pieces & glassware for this post. Check out the full story we created for the Crate & Barrel blog along with some healthy tailgat… Jalapeño Margaritas   Print Serves: 4 margaritas […]

    August 21, 2015 | Reply
  2. […] more recipes perfect for a Game Day menu? Check out these healthy tailgating recipes from Love and […]

    January 8, 2016 | Reply
  3. […] For the recipes – click over to Crate & Barrel’s blog! […]

    February 7, 2016 | Reply

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