June 9, 2023


Food loaded for bear

45 Comfort Foods for a Cozy Fall Meal

Comforting Fall Dishes


Fall is the prime time for cooking comfort foods. As the weather gets colder, hearty soups, stews, and recipes that simmer for hours are finally welcome. Meals that are eaten out of a steaming bowl make everyone feel cozy, and fall produce such as pumpkin, squash, apples, and Brussels sprouts are all popular, cool weather eats. When you want an easy, comforting meal this fall, try any of these simple casseroles, baked goods, hot beverages, and snacks.

Related: 28 Fall Recipes That Showcase Seasonal Fruits and Veggies.

Chicken Divan


Who doesn’t love the combination of chicken, broccoli, and cheese? Top it off with plenty of creamy sauce and bake until bubbly, and you’ve got chicken divan. Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save time.

Recipe: Spend with Pennies

Tater Tot Hotdish


For those not from the upper Midwest, tater tot hotdish is a casserole baked with tater tots on top. This version is made with ground beef, vegetables, and cream sauce for a hearty, filling meal.

Recipe: I Am Baker

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Tomato Soup


Tomato soup and grilled cheese is childhood comfort food for some. Once you make your own tomato soup, which is much easier than you might think, you’ll never go back to the condensed stuff. This recipe has only five ingredients and uses canned tomatoes so you can make it all year long.

Recipe: Cooking Classy

Related: 30 Cheap and Easy Soup Recipes to Stretch Your Food Budget

Loaded Baked Potato Soup


Anything with the word “loaded” in the title is bound to be good. This baked potato soup is thick and filling, and gets topped with bacon, cheese, and green onions, like a classic baked potato.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Pot Roast


It’s heaven to come home from work to a house filled with the smell of pot roast from the slow cooker. This classic recipe is seasoned with thyme and includes potatoes — no side dish required. Put it in the crockpot in the morning, or prep it the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight until cooking.

Recipe: Dinner Then Dessert

5-Ingredient Chili


Chili is great football-watching food, but it can take all day to make. Try this pared-down, basic version that uses just five ingredients and cooks in no time. Set it out with a toppings bar so guests can customize it while they watch the game..

Recipe: Gimme Some Oven

13 Regional Chili Recipes to Try This Fall

Chicken and Dumplings


Chicken and dumplings are perfect for fall because they’re so comforting in a big bowl. Make them in a slow cooker with this creamy version with shredded chicken breast. It uses canned biscuit dough as a time saver.

Recipe: Delish

Baked Macaroni and Cheese


If there is ever a time to ditch the box and turn mac and cheese into a casserole, it’s fall. Start by making a simple, creamy cheese sauce while the pasta cooks, then mix it all together and bake. Add toasted breadcrumbs on top if you like crunch.

Recipe: Feast and Farm

Related: We Tried 13 Kinds of Store-Brand Mac and Cheese and These Are the Best

Maple Smoked Brisket


Don’t let the name fool you: This brisket recipe is made in an Instant Pot, not a smoker. It uses maple sugar, smoked paprika, and liquid smoke to give it a smoked flavor. Normally a brisket would have to cook all day, but this recipe takes only 50 minutes in an Instant Pot.

Recipe: Bare Root Girl

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes


You don’t have to save sweet potatoes just for Thanksgiving. Try this healthy, easy side dish of steamed sweet potatoes with an Instant Pot. They take no time at all, and you can top them with butter and a little brown sugar.

Recipe: Add a Pinch

Easy Meatloaf


There’s not a meal more comforting than meatloaf and mashed potatoes. This recipe uses bottled barbecue sauce to add flavor and, as the glaze on top, it cuts down on the ingredients you need to measure and chop.

Recipe: Jo Cooks

Beef Stew


Cutting the beef in this recipe into small pieces makes it cook faster, becoming tender in only about 30 minutes. Carrots, potatoes, and onions add flavor and substance, but the interesting part about this recipe is that egg noodles are cooked right in the pot, making fewer dishes to clean afterward.

Recipe: Martha Stewart

Swedish Meatballs


Forget Ikea and make your own Swedish meatballs at home. Make the meatballs larger so you don’t have to roll as many, and make the creamy gravy in the same pan you used to cook the meatballs to capture all that flavor.

Recipe: The Recipe Critic

Related: Delicious Foods Worth Buying at Ikea — and Some to Skip

Beef Stroganoff


For those who grew up with Hamburger Helper, there’s a lot to like about this recipe for ground beef stroganoff. It’s still simple and made in one pot, but instead of a sodium-filled seasoning packet, it’s got white wine and paprika for flavor.

Recipe: Chowhound

Stuffed Pepper Soup


Stuffed peppers are delicious, but they can be a lot of work. Instead, make stuffed pepper soup. All of the same ingredients are chopped and put on the stove for a thick, comforting dish that’s great for bread dipping.

Recipe: Taste of Home

Ravioli Lasagna


Lasagna is one of the ultimate comfort foods, but it takes all day to make. Try ravioli lasagna instead, which uses frozen ravioli in place of the pasta and ricotta cheese in lasagna. Add some ground beef, jarred marinara sauce, and extra cheese and it’s a great, easy shortcut.

Recipe: Iowa Girl Eats

Pineapple Chicken


If Chinese-American food is comforting to you, try this easy slow cooker recipe this fall. Chicken thighs are braised in a pineapple and soy teriyaki sauce until they’re falling apart. Serve it over rice with broccoli on the side.

Recipe: Budget Bytes

Mashed Potato Green Bean Casserole


This dish is a mash-up of two great comfort foods into one casserole: cheesy mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Sounds like a new Thanksgiving tradition, doesn’t it? The sharp cheddar and fried onions on top are a must.

Recipe: Meal Planner Pro

Sunday Gravy


In Italian-American families, Sunday gravy refers to the pot of tomato sauce and meats slow-cooked on the stove all day. This version includes pork ribs, Italian sausages, and beef stew meat. Mix the meaty sauce with pasta and fresh basil and serve the meats on the side.

Recipe: Platings and Pairings

Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie


Instead of taking the time to roll out pie dough, use this chicken pot pie recipe that has a simple, biscuitlike topping. It’s just as comforting as a traditional crust and holds all the creamy filling in just fine.

Recipe: Spend with Pennies

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole


When in doubt, add some ranch seasoning. That’s the motto of this easy casserole that uses ranch-seasoned chicken breast. Add the chicken to a casserole dish along with crumbled bacon, uncooked rice, cheeses, broth, and cream, and it bakes into an impressive casserole that takes no time at all to put together.

Recipe: Delish

Chili Mac


Chili mac is a kind of shortcut chili. Everything is made in one pot, including macaroni noodles, which cook in the flavorful chili liquid. Cheese is stirred into the mixture at the last minute, ensuring it’ll be extra cheesy when served.

Recipe: Southern Bite

Tuna Casserole


Some people love tuna casserole — if that’s you, give this recipe a try. It forgoes the typical canned cream soup sauce for a simple homemade version thickened with flour. Egg noodles, peas, and albacore tuna complete the dish, which is finished with crispy breadcrumbs on top.

Recipe: The Stay at Home Chef

Country Sausage Gravy


There’s nothing better to warm you on a cool fall morning than biscuits and sausage gravy. Most people don’t realize that sausage gravy is simple to make. Just brown some sausage, add flour and milk, and simmer until thick and creamy. Serve over your favorite biscuits.

Recipe: Self Proclaimed Foodie

Pumpkin Soup


It’s easy to have pumpkin overload in fall, but adding curry is a great way to cure it. Saute some aromatics and fragrant curry powder, then add canned pumpkin, broth, and coconut milk. It’s a simple recipe with unique flavors that are great in cool weather.

Recipe: Delish

Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes


Sheet pan dinners are a trendy way of making simple meals. Everything goes on one sheet pan and bakes in the oven. This version includes chicken marinated with rosemary and cinnamon along with plenty of fall vegetables.

Recipe: Well Plated

King Ranch Chicken Casserole


Loved by Texans, King Ranch chicken casserole is like a layered Tex-Mex chicken lasagna. Make it as a way to use up leftover cooked chicken, or use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Creamy sauce, cheese, and corn tortillas make this a comforting casserole.

Recipe: My Recipes

Inside Out Stuffed Cabbage


Like stuffed peppers, it’s easier and faster to make stuffed cabbage without actually stuffing anything. This recipe uses lots of ground beef, chopped cabbage, and rice for a more stew-like dish. Bonus: It’s got cubed butternut squash for an extra blast of autumn.

Recipe: Taste of Home

Alfredo Sauce


It’s hard to beat the comforting properties of alfredo sauce on pasta. It’s surprisingly easy to make, so there’s no reason not to make it this fall. Cream, butter, and plenty of Parmesan cheese are all that’s necessary, but feel free to add chicken, shrimp, or any vegetables for variety.

Recipe: Buns in My Oven

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Fall is the season for Brussels sprouts, and roasting them is the best way to bring out their sweetness. Bits of them get charred, caramelized, and crispy, making even the most avowed sprouts haters fans.

Recipe: Well Plated

Cottage Pie


Cottage pie is similar to a shepherd’s pie, but instead of lamb it contains beef. Ground beef is used in this recipe to make it quick and hearty. Top the rich filling with mashed potatoes and bake it for a filling entree.

Recipe: Curious Cuisiniere

Butternut Squash Pasta


Pasta coated in a smooth, bright-orange sauce seems incredibly luxurious and complicated, but it’s really not. Simply boil the butternut squash, add some aromatics such as garlic and shallots, and puree in a blender. Add to some pasta, along with cheese and pepper, for a rich dish that’s actually pretty good for you.

Recipe: Jessica Gavin

Apple Pork Chops


Apples and pork are a classic combination, and apple season is the ideal time to put them together. Pork chops are seared and baked in apple cider. Dijon mustard and sage are added to the sweet pan sauce for even more fall flavor before being served over sauteed apples.

Recipe: Dinner at the Zoo

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


Don’t throw away the pumpkin guts after you carve a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween. Remove the seeds from the flesh and dry them. Then make this recipe for spicy, savory pumpkin seeds with worcestershire, cumin, and cayenne. It’s a great fall snack.

Recipe: Taste of Home

Related: 13 Things to Do With Pumpkin Guts After Carving

Mulled Cider


Making mulled cider in a slow cooker is the best beverage for a fall party, especially because it’s hot and ready whenever anyone wants a drink. This recipe includes orange and fresh ginger for a delicious twist on the usual cinnamon and cloves, and it can be made ahead of time, resulting in a house that smells fantastic all day.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Mexican Hot Chocolate


Spice up hot chocolate with Mexican flavors. Cinnamon, vanilla, and just a pinch of hot pepper powder give a unique twist on classic, homemade cocoa. Top it with plenty of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon.

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal


Baking oatmeal is a great, simple way to serve a lot of people at once or to make breakfast for your family all week. Adding canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice will remind you instantly that it’s fall. Serve a scoop in a bowl topped with milk.

Recipe: Budget Bytes

Apple Butter


Apple butter has nothing to do with dairy — it’s apples cooked down to a thick, butter-like consistency, and it’s delicious, especially on toast, oatmeal, or ice cream. Just throw a bunch of sliced apples into a slow cooker along with sugar and spices, and let it do its work. Your house will smell amazing.

Recipe: Brown Eyed Baker

Gingerbread Bars


Gingerbread cookies are delicious, but it’s a lot of work to roll out the dough and cut them into shapes. This recipe recommends patting the spiced molasses dough into a pan before baking. Then, use a cookie cutter to cut it into shapes or bar cookies.

Recipe: Land O’ Lakes

Pumpkin Bread


Instead of making muffins, which take extra time to portion into cups, try a quick bread loaf instead. This recipe for a simple pumpkin bread is easy: Just mix wet ingredients, add dry ingredients, and bake. It makes two loaves, so you can freeze one to eat later.

Recipe: King Arthur Flour

Caramel Pecan Pie Bar


The most difficult part of this gooey recipe is mixing a dough similar to sugar cookies and patting it in a pan. The topping includes tons of pecans, cinnamon, and dulce de leche, a canned milk-based caramel. It bakes up sticky, sweet, and luscious.

Recipe: A Spicy Perspective

Apple Dutch Baby


Dutch babies, a baked, pancakelike breakfast, look impressive, but they’re very simple to make. This version includes a ring of fresh apples in the batter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top. Breakfast guests will love this recipe.

Recipe: Your Home Based Mom

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

Robert Ingelhart/istockphoto

Baked French toast is a breakfast dish that makes any morning easier. Create it the night before, then put the pan in the fridge overnight. Bake it, full of cinnamon and raisins, the next morning and serve with maple syrup.

Recipe: Pastry Affair

Apple Crisp


A crisp is just as homey as an apple pie, but easier and faster to make. Just cut the apples and place in a pan, mix the topping, and sprinkle it on. Your house will smell like autumn while it bakes.

Recipe: Land O’ Lakes

Indian Pudding

Catalina-Gabriela Molnar/istockphoto

With a texture like a thick porridge and a fall spice flavor with cinnamon and molasses, Indian pudding may be the best fall dessert you’ve never heard of. It’s popular in New England, but the cornmeal-based dish that’s usually topped with vanilla ice cream should be a staple everywhere.

Recipe: Epicurious