Tasty, Vegetarian-Friendly Treats for the Ultimate Tailgate Spread

Cookbooks are out and recipes are pinned as race goers plan the perfectPimentoCheese tailgating spread for the 73rd running of the Iroquois Steeplechase, set to take place on May 10. Lesley Lassiter, the gifted cook and blogger behind lesleyeats.com joins us today to provide her favorite vegetarian-friendly tailgating recipes. These party-ready dishes will have your guests’ mouths watering come race day.


Springtime means a lot of interest in dining al fresco again. I get asked lots of questions about vegetarian and vegan options for picnics, tailgate parties, and outdoor parties around this time every year. Vegetarian—and particularly vegan—recipes are great choices for outdoor parties since spoilage is a far lesser concern with meat-free menus. I also like to focus on the recipes for items that are easy to eat one-handed in case your other hand is occupied with either your plate or a drink. Most of these recipes are easy to make as well.

One of my favorite party foods to serve is finger sandwiches. Pimento cheese is a must, but English-style cucumber sandwiches are also fantastic. You can make them simpler by just using Ranch dressing as a spread. Egg salad finger sandwiches are fantastic, too if the weather’s not too hot. If you’re feeling ambitious, try these Barbecue Jackfruit Sliders, a fun and delicious vegetarian version of pulled pork sandwiches. A fun bread to serve on its own is this very tasty Sriracha Cheese Bread (also known as Rooster Bread). Another bread recipe with an Asian influence that’s sure to impress is this recipe for Scallion Pancakes.

If it wasn’t already clear that I’m a fan of pre-made dough, then this recipe for Cheddar and Pear Crescent Roll-ups will prove it. But they are so very good, even when they’re cold! And even though it’s not finger food per se, it’s always a great idea to have hummus. Sabra and Tribe both make great hummus, but I like to make this Citrus and Roasted Garlic Hummus. Pita chips and raw vegetables are great for dipping, but I do love to dip potato chips in hummus, too!

Jackfruit BBQA few of my friends also have great vegetarian party foods on their blogs that are worth checking out. The Chubby Vegetarian has a lot of great recipes that will really make you hungry whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Definitely check out Justin’s recipe for Baked Cauliflower “Wings.” And Nashville foodblogger Beth of Eat. Drink. Smile. gets special requests to make these Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews with just about every party invitation, I think. They’re fantastic and so simple! Another Nashville foodblogger Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil has a great recipe for Rosemary and Smoked Salt Roasted Almonds, which are a great to have around for easy snacking. You can easily make your own herb blend with dried rosemary and smoked salt if you don’t have the mix Lindsay specifies.

Finally, no party should be without some sweets. You can’t go wrong with cookies, but for a little something different, try these Chocolate Twists or these Biscoff Krispie Treats, which are easier to make than with a traditional recipe since you use Marshmallow Fluff instead of marshmallows. Make a double batch, though—they will disappear quickly!

Lesley Lassiter is the author of lesleyeats.com, the vegetarian food blog she started to answer the question “What do you eat?” Among her favorite things are ripe tomatoes, tea roses, and the Oxford comma. A native of Memphis, she now lives in Nashville with her omnivore husband and cheese-etarian daughter. You can also find her online on the Nashville Scene’s Bites food blog.