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Healthy Tailgating at Home – Taco Bar

Tailgating food is doesn’t have to be unhealthy, enter – taco bar. Hosting a taco bar for a tailgate can mean a mix of purchasing pre-prepared ingredients and making a few easy recipes at home. The key to a successful healthy taco bar is to offer a variety of lean proteins and vegetables in a tasty way. The size of street tacos make them excellent for portion control. Consider offering mixed greens for guests who prefer a to make their tacos deconstructed in a salad format.

These easy and delicious options to pack in nutrients for everyone at your next taco bar:

  • Black beans
  • 2-ingredient slow cooker salsa chicken (recipe below)
  • Sheet pan fajita shrimp with pineapple and veggies (recipe below)
  • Mixed greens for salad
  • Salsas
  • Fajita vegetables
  • Cole slaw tossed in cilantro lime dressing with a kick (recipe below)
  • Cilantro lime dressing with a kick as a sauce (recipe below)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced onions
  • Pickled jalapeños or banana peppers
  • Low-fat shredded cheese
  • Avocados
  • Guacamole
  • Diced pineapple
  • Lime slices

For University of Michigan and Michigan State fans, flaunt your team colors with an A-maize-ing Pineapple Salsa with blue corn chips and a State Salsa Verde with white tortilla chips.

A-maize-ing Pineapple Salsa


  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced (or 2 cups diced yellow tomatoes)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve with blue corn chips for the Wolverine spirit.

State Salsa Verde

Check out this Spartan-friendly recipe and serve with tortilla chips.

Sheet Pan Shrimp and Fajita Vegetables


  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 various color bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and tail off
  • 3 tbsp store-bought low-sodium fajita seasoning or this homemade option


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray a sheet pan with oil. Place vegetables and shrimp on top then sprinkle seasoning over.
  3. Cook for ~8 minutes

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken


  • 1 12 oz can of salsa
  • 3 chicken breasts


  1. In a slow cooker, add the chicken and pour the can of salsa over.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Shred chicken using a fork or potato masher.

Cilantro Lime Dressing with a Kick


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a non-greased pan over medium-high heat, place jalapeño and garlic cloves until jalapeño is slightly blistered and garlic is browned.
  2. Combine all ingredients plus the jalapeño and garlic in a blender.
  3. Serve as a dressing, dipping sauce or to top tacos.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.

A Healthier Michigan
Author: A Healthier Michigan

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