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Tailgating recipes: Sandwiches, dips, sliders, chili dogs and more

Go big or go home.
/ Source: TODAY

Football season is finally here! To kick off the festivities, chefs Ace Champion and Sarah Grueneberg are going head-to-head on the TODAY Food Loves Football series. Chef Champion is cooking up winning recipes for the Green Bay Packers, while chef Grueneberg is preparing delicious dishes for the Chicago Bears.

Chef Champion highlights Wisconsin's cheese by making mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, creamy crab dip and fried cheese curds. Chef Grueneberg beefs things up for Chicago with Italian chili dogs, meatball sliders, grilled steak skewers and braised beef sandwiches.

Ace Champion's Green Bay Grub

This mind-blowing sandwich was a winner at the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship! It combines the melty goodness of mac and cheese with the crispy crunch of a traditional grilled cheese. It's filling, well balanced with flavor and a sure crowd-pleaser.

The combo of smoky bacon, spicy peppers and melted cheese makes for the perfect football appetizer. The tangy raspberry sauce helps temper the heat and adds a touch of sweetness. You'd never guess that these indulgent bites are also keto-friendly, low-carb and gluten-free!

I love this recipe because it highlights the great cheeses Wisconsin has to offer and features zesty Creole spices and crab, a nod to my New Orleans roots. It's a great dip that can be made the day before and packs a big flavor punch.

Port Wine Cheese Curds

These crispy, cheesy, flavorful morsels are sure to become your go-to game-day recipe! The port wine gives it that little extra something for a true party in your mouth.

Sarah Grueneberg's Bears Bites

Bolo Dogs

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Bolo Dogs

Sarah Grueneberg

This is my Italian take on a chili dog. It's a great entertaining dish because guests can add their own toppings and use as little or as much as they want. The marinated peppers, creamy burrata and hearty ragu turn these dogs into a truly satisfying meal.

Braised Italian Beef Sandwiches

Even though this recipe takes some time to make, all the love and effort you put into it will be well worth it. Plus, the braised meat is very versatile, so you can use any leftovers to serve over steamed rice, polenta, potatoes or pasta.

Pepperoni Meatball Sliders

These are not your average sliders. Stuffing the mini buns with meatballs makes them as fun to eat as they are delicious. The meatballs also have a secret weapon of their own: Spicy pepperoni joins the meat mixture for an unexpected burst of flavor.

Italian Steak Skewers

I love this recipe because it's a satisfying snack that's easy to eat and cook. It's a good, protein-forward item for your tailgate party that'll also give you energy for the big game.

If you like those football-friendly foods, you should try these recipes:

Beer Brat Reuben Sliders