35 Game Day Recipes: Easy Finger Foods & Party Appetizers!

collage showing a collection of game day recipes including buffalo wings, smokeed cream cheese, nuts, shotgun shells and burnt ends

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While you don’t want to outshine the game day action, we reckon our list of game day recipes will cause some distraction.

We’ve got you covered with seven different flavors of wings, cheesy bites, spicy finger foods, and messy finger-licking appetizers. All recipes are cooked on the grill or smoker, although you can use the oven, and we won’t tell anyone.

Easy Game Day Recipes on the Grill or Smoker

These recipes were all intended to be done on the grill or smoker, but there’s no reason you can’t do most of them in your oven.

1. Smoked buffalo hot wings

smoked buffalo wings on a white plate

Oh, buffalo hot wings, how we love you, especially paired with blue cheese dipping sauce!

We use the low and slow method to cook these wings and show you the tricks to guarantee ultra-crispy skin and tender juice meat.

Recipe: Smoked buffalo hot wings

2. Smoked pig shots

smoked pig shots cooking on the grill

It’s a shot glass packed with flavor: bacon, Kielbasa, cheese, and diced jalapeños. 

A little fiddly to prep, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be pushing them out in no time. Just remember to make more than you think you should because these shots will disappear really quickly.

Recipe: Smoked pig shots

3. Jalapeño cheese squares

jalapeno cheese squares

If you are watching your carb intake at the moment, then here’s a good option.

These jalapeño cheese squares are low-carb and keto-friendly and don’t lack any flavor thanks to bacon, cheese, and jalapeños.

So, don’t feel left out this game day; whip yourself up a batch and enjoy a snack with that low-carb beer.

Recipe: Jalapeño cheese squares

4. Smoked shotgun shells

smoked shotgun shells stacked on a wood cutting board

A simple, but tasty, barbecue snack.

Who’d have thought you could cook pasta on your smoker?

Well, you can, and we can vouch for the fact that they are delicious. How can they not be? Manicotti tubes stuffed with ground beef and cheese, wrapped in bacon, and brushed with BBQ sauce. The ultimate BBQ snack.

Recipe: Smoked shotgun shells

5. Smoked candied nuts

smoked candied nuts

Kick off that first beer with a handful of these crunchy, sweet, and savory candied nuts.

With only four ingredients needed, these are simple to make and only require 90 minutes in the smoker.

Make a big batch, as they last for around two weeks in an air-tight container, but try keeping your hands off them for that long!

Recipe: Smoked candied nuts

6. Redneck nachos

redneck nachos

If you’re looking to have a bit of pulled pork leftover, then give Redneck nachos a go.

All your favorite BBQ flavors piled together in one dish: pulled pork, BBQ sauce and, smoky beans.

What makes these nachos special is the homemade crispy fried chips. They add a bit more effort than opening a bag of Doritos but are well worth it.

Recipe: Redneck nachos

7. Smoked chicken wings with garlic parmesan sauce

cooked garlic, butter, parmesan wings on a plate

Crispy, cheesy, and garlicky, what more could you ask for in a wing?

Wings are always the perfect appetizer for adults and little hands alike.

But why just an appetizer? Wings make a great meal, great tailgate and picnic food. We like to pair these garlicky good things with our crispy smashed potatoes with horseradish sauce or our best pasta salad for bbq.

Recipe: Smoked chicken wings with garlic and parmesan

8. Hot honey smoked cream cheese

smoked cream cheese with hot honey and bacon

There are some delicious textures and flavors going on here: silky smoked cream cheese with BBQ seasoning, crispy bacon, and sweet, warm honey.

Add your favorite cracker, corn chip, or veggie dippers, and you’ve got yourself a simple but flavorful appetizer.

Change up the topping if you like by using pepper jelly, bacon jam, or a sweet chili sauce.

Recipe: Hot honey smoked cream cheese

9. BBQ pulled pork with Carolina vinegar mop sauce


If you’re looking at putting on a spread for the game, not just snacks, you can’t go past pulled pork.

Admittedly, it takes a while to smoke the pork butt, but this no-wrap method is one of the easiest ways to do it, and you end up with juicy, tender meat that’s been basted in our spicy, vinegary Carolina mop sauce.

To make this a real meal, we like to serve it with Southern style coleslaw, macaroni salad, pasta salad, or smoked mac and cheese.

Recipe: BBQ pulled pork with Carolina vinegar mop sauce

10. Smoked jalapeño popper dip

smoked jalapeno popper dip

This is a great take on a favorite BBQ staple, the jalapeño popper. Creamy, cheesy, and spicy. The big flavors also defy the effort put into it.

The classic flavors of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeños thrown into a casserole dish, smoked until it is all melted and gooey, stirred up, and served with whatever takes your fancy: tortilla chips, pretzels, crackers, or veggies

This is a great large-scale dip, perfect for a crowd.

Recipe: Smoked jalapeño popper dip

11. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

bowl of smoked jalapeños poppers on table with dipping sauce

Take this already punchy side dish of jalapeño poppers and elevate it even more by wrapping it in bacon and adding a smoky flavor by cooking indirectly over hot coals.

You can prepare these ahead of time and then pop them in your BBQ for a quick 30-minute cook during half time.

If you’re looking for a flavor bomb to serve your spice-loving guests at your next cookout, these nuggets will hit the spot.

Recipe: Bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers

12. Smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce

smoked wings with alabama sauce

If you’re looking for finger-licking good wings, these ones are hard to beat with that delicious tangy Alabama white sauce slathered all over them.

To ensure we get crispy wings, we’ve used the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven. It’s great because you can smoke the wings on a low setting using wood pellets for that wood-fired flavor and then crank up the temp to a broil setting to get them nice and crispy. 

Recipe: Smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce

13. Teriyaki beef jerky in the dehydrator

Terkiyaki Beef Jerky

This is definitely one of THE best things to snack on during a game with a cold brew in hand.

Like us, you probably don’t realize how overpriced jerky is at the store. And do we really know what’s gone into making that stuff?

To make it at home is pretty simple. Marinate some thin strips of beef in teriyaki sauce and our very own Smoke Kitchen Honey Garlic rub, or you could try our Best Prime Rib rub. Pop them in the dehydrator, and within five hours, you’ve got yourself an inexpensive pile of jerky, and you know exactly what’s gone into it.

Recipe: Teriyaki beef jerky in the dehydrator

14. Pickleback chicken wings

pickleback chicken wings

We have a few wing recipes to share, and this one is up there for its unique flavor and crispy skin.

To start with, the wings are marinated in pickle juice to inject that pickleback shot flavor, then dried out to ensure crispy skin.

We’ve then given them a toss in some bourbon before applying our BBQ rub and a drizzle of honey. The bourbon enhances the smoky honey flavors brilliantly.

Cook over charcoal and serve with Ranch or blue cheese sauce for a match made in heaven.

Recipe: Pickleback chicken wings

15. Bacon-wrapped crackers

bacon wrapped crackers on a white plate

Yes, you read it correctly, bacon-wrapped crackers. We weren’t convinced before we made them, but they are seriously moreish.

We used club crackers, but you could use saltines or Ritz. Simply wrap them in thinly sliced bacon, sprinkle with a little brown sugar or maple, then BBQ for about 50 minutes until the bacon is nice and crispy.

A simple yet very tasty snack.

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped crackers

16. Chili oil chicken wings

plate full of chicken wings with chili oil suace

We’re veering off with an Asian-style wing here, just to spice things up!

Super easy to make. The spicy chili oil can be prepared ahead of time, up to a week in advance. Grill the wings till nice and crispy, then give them a quick toss in some chili oil.

These wings won’t be the only thing you drizzle the chili oil on either. Try it on eggs, noodles, dumplings, and more.

Recipe: Chili oil chicken wings

17. Grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp

a hand holding a bacon wrapped shrimp

These are definitely finger-licking shrimp!

We’ve used Florida Gulf Shrimp from Snake River Farms. Wrapped them in some streaky bacon and seasoned with BBQ rub. Smoke them on a charcoal grill, then give them a nice coat of BBQ sauce. Sweet, salty, and smoky.

These are great if you have a crowd to feed, and can be prepped earlier, so at half-time, all you have to do is throw them on the grill and then give them a baste.

Recipe: Grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp

18. Smoked fried wings with honey garlic sauce

smoked and fried garlic honey wings

There’s nothing worse than chewy wings. Smoking your wings first, then frying them ensures a smoky flavor and crispy skin.

Here, we’ve seasoned our wings and smoked them for an hour. Deep fried them for a few minutes, then tossed them in a delicious spicy honey garlic sauce.

Get your napkins ready!

Recipe: Smoked fried wings with honey garlic sauce

19. Smoked beer cheese dip

smoked beer cheese dip

Spoiler Alert! This is not a diet recipe.

The title of this recipe is pretty much it: cheese, three different types to be precise, beer, and seasonings.

Melt it all down, and 45 minutes later, you have meltingly good cheesy comfort food. Serve this warm or room temperature with soft pretzels or crackers, or you could make your own Smoked pretzel bites to go with it.

Do you want some beer to go with that beer cheese?

Recipe: Smoked beer cheese dip

20. Poor man’s burnt ends

cooked poor man's burnt ends on butchers paper

Got a lot of mouths to feed, but not the budget? This is recipe is for you.

Easy to make, delicious, and affordable. They may be called poor man’s burnt ends, but can taste like a million dollars! 

We use chuck instead of brisket, and it makes a great substitute. Cubed up, seasoned, smoked, and then finished with barbecue sauce. You get the burnt end look, flavor, and tenderness.

Recipe: Poor man’s burnt ends

21. Smoked lemon pepper wings

Smoked lemon pepper wings

These wings have a nice tang from the citrus and a lingering heat from black pepper. A refreshing kinda wing, especially if you’re serving a lot of creamy or cheesy dishes.

We’ve thrown in a few tips on how to get these wings nice and crispy. And if you want an even bolder flavor, top the wings with more zest, lemon juice, and fresh cracked black pepper.

Recipe: Smoked lemon pepper wings

22. Smoked salmon burnt ends

smoked salmon burnt ends on white plate

Meet your new BBQ addiction!

These smoked salmon burnt ends take fish to a whole new level. Sticky and sweet, with a hit of lemon to offset the richness of the salmon and the heat of black pepper.

Serve these hot off the grill, cold on a grazing platter, or smashed on a bagel with cream cheese.

Recipe: Smoked salmon burnt ends

23. Hot dog burnt ends

hot dog burn ends

You thought you’d tried every burnt end? Maybe not.

Turn the quintessential hotdog on its end by giving it some seasoning, a little smoke, and then a good bath in some sticky, sweet BBQ sauce.

These little morsels can be whipped up in about 90 minutes and would be a great snack or appetizer at your next game day BBQ.

Recipe: Hot dog burnt ends

24. Smoked queso dip

smoked queso dip

Who doesn’t love hot, bubbly cheese loaded up with chilis, tomatoes, and spices?

This is a great dip to have in your arsenal. If you have a lot of mouths to feed, its got you covered. Whatever you’ve got can be dipped into it. You can even put on your chili dog.

Recipe: Smoked queso dip

25. Pepperoni pizza rolls

pepperoni pizza scrolls

All the taste of pizza in a little scroll.

These are pretty simple to make using store-bought pizza dough, pre-shredded cheese, and pepperoni. Into the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill for a quick bake, then finish off with a lick of garlic butter, and your done.

We like to serve them with a marinara sauce to really have the full pizza experience.

Recipe: Pepperoni pizza rolls

26. Smoked candied bacon

Easy to make and easy to serve. There’s nothing better than a beer in one hand and a slice of candied bacon in the other.

Use your favorite BBQ rub. We used Sucklebusters BAMM rub, which has a nice Habanero hit, or use our pork rub. A light sprinkle of brown sugar for some sweetness, then into the smoker for 20 minutes.

These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Recipe: Smoked candied bacon

27. Buffalo chicken dip

buffalo chicken dip in a skillet with garnishes on top

If you’re looking for a substantial dip, then this classic is the one.

Chopped seasoned and smoked chicken thighs are combined with cream cheese, buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and shredded cheese. Pop it in the smoker until everything is melted, then serve with all manner of scooper: pretzels, tortilla chips, toasted pita bread, or potato wedges.

Recipe: Buffalo chicken dip

28. Hot and fast, smoked baby back ribs

smoked pork ribs slathered in BBQ sauce on a grey plate

Ribs are a quintessential game day food, and if you’re short on time, these ‘babys’ are ready in a couple of hours.

We’ve used baby back ribs as opposed to spare ribs for this recipe. They’re nice and meaty and cook faster.

A quick seasoning, then its in the smoker for an hour or so. Wrap for another hour, then baste with your favorite BBQ sauce. A quick caramelization then they’re good to go.

Recipe: Hot and fast baby back ribs

29. Jalapeño popper shotgun shells

jalapeno popper shotgun shells

We’ve taken your favorite jalapeño popper and turned it into a shotgun shell.

Manicotti pasta stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, spicy breakfast sausage, and diced jalapeños, wrap them in bacon, smoke for an hour and a half, then coat with your favorite BBQ sauce.

These can be made up to three days in advance, which is handy when you have a whole lot of other stuff to prep as well.

Recipe: Jalapeño popper shotgun shells

30. Smoked stuffed pepper poppers

smoked stuffed pepper poppers

If you’re not a spice lover or want to provide an alternative for those who aren’t, then these are a great non-spicy alternative to the jalapeño popper.

We’ve taken sweet mini peppers and stuffed them with creamy Boursin cheese then smoked them for 30 minutes until the peppers have softened.

You could serve them alongside jalapeño poppers, but we like to serve them with smoked brisket sausage.

Recipe: Smoked stuffed pepper poppers

31. Smoked Armadillo eggs wrapped in bacon

armadillo eggs

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this tasty appetizer is no exception.

Spicy jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, covered in flavor-packed sausage, then wrapped in bacon and finished with a BBQ sauce glaze.

The ultimate Texan BBQ delicacy.

Recipe: Smoked Armadillo eggs wrapped in bacon

32. Smoked Pigs in a Blanket

smoked pigs in blanket on a white plate with dipping sauce behind

Easy to make and even easier to devour, these bite-sized delights are perfect for football fans and foodies alike. Plus, they pair perfectly with your favorite dips and sides.

These smoked pigs in a blanket will be the MVP of your party spread

Recipe: Smoked Pigs in a Blanket

33. Buffalo Garlic Pig Wings

buffalo garlic pig wings

Looking for an alternative to chicken wings? These “Pig Wings” aren’t actually wings. By using pork shanks that have been French-trimmed, you end up with a tasty wing-like alternative.

Recipe: Buffalo Garlic Pig Wings

34. Smoked Pretzel Bites With Beer Cheese

Pretzel bites with beer cheese

Pretzel bites made from store-bought pizza dough are ideal for game days or casual get-togethers. Smoke them for a little extra flavor, and pair them with a rich, creamy beer cheese dip

This recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Recipe: Smoked Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese

35. Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Brats

The only way to beat a bacon-wrapped brat is to stuff it with cheese and then throw it on the smoker.

These only take 10 minutes to throw together and will be done in under an hour on your smoker or in the oven.

Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Chest Stuffed Brats

Here are a few of our favorite Game Day combos:

  • Wing party: Smoked lemon pepper wings, Smoked buffalo hot wings, Smoked fried wings with honey garlic sauce.
  • Nibble party: Smoked candied nuts, Teriyaki beef jerky, Bacon-wrapped crackers.
  • Dip party: Buffalo chicken dip, Smoked jalapeño popper dip, Smoked beer cheese dip.
  • Seafood party: Smoked salmon burnt ends, Grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp.
  • Spice party: Chili oil chicken wings, Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, Hot honey smoked cream cheese.
  • Just a mouthful party: Poor man’s burnt ends, Smoked pig shots, Smoked stuffed pepper poppers.
  • Substantail feed party: Pickleback chicken wings, Buffalo chicken dip, Hot and fast baby back ribs, Redneck nachos.

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