Indian queso
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Keep your keto tailgate game on point with these helpful tips, tricks, and recipes for a low-carb, keto-friendly tailgate party this weekend. 

If you’re trying to keep it keto, fall (football season) is a bit of minefield. For starters, the cold weather has us all craving dem’ starchy comfort foods. Then Thanksgiving busts in, bringing an onslaught of dreamy carbohydrates and sugary sweets with it. And, of course, there’s football—that glorious junk food-filled Sunday tradition that’s oh-so-American, and oh-so-good. It’s all enough to send any diet packing, nevermind the regulation-heavy keto diet.

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If you’re one of the many who have joined the (keto) movement, you know getting your body into a state of ketosis (and staying there) is a tricky business. And if you’ve put in the time (and exercised the restraint) to get there, you’re not gonna want to give it all up for a few lousy beers and plate of chili nachos, right?? Well…maybe, but the good news—as it relates to the keto-fication of a tailgate menu—is that meat and cheese are cornerstones of the trendy keto diet, and a lot of what people expect during that game day anyways.

Related Reading: The Best Trader Joe’s Items for Easy AF Tailgating | 10 Tips for Tailgating in Cold Weather

So worry not! We’ve got ideas, and lots of low-carb or no-carb recipes for throwing a delicious keto-friendly football watch party with so much cheesy, meaty deliciousness, nobody will know the difference.

Snacks & Apps

Queso and Keto Chips

Lisa Fain

You’re going to want some salty, cheesy indulgences and, lucky for you, cheese is fair game. Bust out the Instant Pot or slow cooker to keep the queso from congealing throughout the game. Check out our guide to Healthier Queso and get a Texas Queso recipe or the above Indian Queso with Jalapeno Chutney recipe from Lisa Fain (aka, The Homesick Texan)—but be sure to sub in a low-carb, gluten-free flour (like almond flour) for cornstarch when thickening.

If you’re not into the cheese scene (and we’re certainly not judging) there is an amazing vegan queso imposter on the loose that tastes an awful lot like the real stuff.

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Guacamole Bar

Westend61 / Getty Images

Avocado is truly the crown jewel and face of the keto movement. It’s high in healthy fats and low in carbs. Consider making a couple guac variations since people just can’t seem to get enough. You can start with a standard base and then add fun mix-ins like crab meat, shrimp, diced ahi tuna, or bacon. Get our Easy Guacamole recipe to start, and our Dungeness Crab Guacamole with Endive recipe for guac inspiration a-plenty.

When in Doubt…Just Wing it!

Grilled Maple-Mustard Chicken Wings recipe

Chowhound

Wings are perhaps the most classic sports snack that you don’t really even have to do much to in order to make them keto. Check out our guide to healthier baked chicken wings, but be careful to focus on the Alton Brown method of steaming for achieving that crispy skin and leave out the flour coating. Get our very keto-friendly Easy Buffalo Wings recipe.

Related Reading: Prep for Success: How to Do Keto Without Stress

Bigger Things

Keto Chili

chili con carne recipe

Chowhound

Chili is a sleeper when it comes to keto busters and beans are mostly the culprit, although somewhat-high-in-sugar tomatoes share some of the blame. Since you’re ditching the beans, feel free to amp up the onion and pepper count (maybe add a few different kinds/colors) or add in some diced zucchini for texture. Trust us, it works! Read our guide for Making the Best Keto/Paleo Chili.

Related Reading: Low- and No-Sugar Cookbooks for Keto, Paleo, and Diabetic Diets

Buffalo Chicken Dip

buffalo chicken dip recipe

Chowhound

Buffalo chicken dip, or “buff chic dip” as it’s known in my Rhode Island hometown, is another keto recipe that gives hope we might actually be able to pull this off. Totally addicting, is how I would describe it, and guests will surely agree. Just make sure to be careful with dipping devices. Celery sticks are best, and swap out the bread or crackers for these nifty keto chips. Get our Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.

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Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce be the first to tell you that lettuce cups OR wraps can add a lot of fun wiggle room to a keto snack menu. Anything from steak and cheese to pulled pork (with a low-sugar BBQ sauce) can nestle up in those babies and keep the carb count down. Get our Lettuce Wraps recipe.

Drinks

While historically light beers are certainly better than others (Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra being among the lowest in carbs), take this as an opportunity to explore more interesting boozy bevs.

summer tea cocktail with Grand Marnier

Chowhound

There is some low-sugar, keto-friendly wine on the market, but if tailgating doesn’t feel much like a wine affair, how about some large batch cocktails? Try to keep them low-sugar, of course, like vodka (or even slightly carb-ier whiskey) and unsweetened peach tea with fresh lemon juice. Get the Not-So-Sweet Tea Lemon Bourbon Cocktail recipe.

Keto Concerns

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Header image courtesy of Lisa Fain

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