40 Favorite fall comfort food recipes

fall foods image
© Jaymi Heimbuch

Our best recipes for autumn, when we crave warm, comforting food to counter the falling leaves and frosty bite in the air. These recipes offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Appetizers and Sides:

1. Pumpkin spice cream cheese spread
"Sweet and creamy, this is a great pumpkin pie-like spread to pair with sliced apples, a breakfast bagel, crackers or anything else you might think of. It's great for breakfast, a sweet snack, or even as a dessert when spread over something like a pumpkin quick bread. I topped it with just a little sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon."

2. Sweet potato cornbread
"Nothing like an amazing cornbread made from scratch and served hot out of the oven! This cornbread has the crunch of stone-ground corn, the sweetness of sweet potato, and a fluffy lightness in the center that can't be beat. I also love the vibrant orange-yellow color the sweet potato lends to it. Beautiful!"

3. Pumpkin cheddar scones
"I love scones, especially during fall and winter when cold weather makes baking all the more enjoyable. These scones are a welcome autumn treat, with both the wonderful flavor of pumpkin pie with the added cheesy yumminess of cheddar. They're wonderful with a hot mug of coffee or tea on a chilly weekend morning. I highly recommend making a bit of cinnamon-honey butter to go with these. Yum!"

4. Savory bite-sized quinoa and kale patties
"I love a good quinoa patty. I've made a few versions over the years, and there seems to be countless ways to make these with both sweet and savory flavors. This version is one that even meat lovers could appreciate, since they are so dense from the bread crumbs. Usually I make quinoa patties without the bread crumbs as they are lighter and more crumbly, and you can modify this recipe to do the same thing -- but if you like your patties dense and firm, I recommend keeping them in."

5. Crispy zucchini pancakes
"These little pancakes are crispy and delicious, and make excellent appetizers or a side dish for brunches. Made with just a few basic ingredients, these can be whipped up in a matter of minutes."

6. Baked Pumpkin Fondue
"Good friends gather around the fondue pot just waiting to see who'll be the first to lose their bread chunk--it's usually me. But this recipe has the bread baked in, so you can focus purely on the eating. Yum!"

7. Spicy pumpkin hummus
"A great appetizer that captures the spirit of autumn, and takes only a couple minutes to make! I topped it off with a sprinkle of paprika and sesame seeds, and paired it with some black pepper crackers. It's delicious!"

8. Goat Cheese and Pumpkin Fondue
"Get ready for Halloween with this simple fondue recipe. I mean, what is not to love, it is fondue! And you can even say it is "healthy" fondue as it has less cheese than a regular fondue--okay, you really cannot say that. But it was a good try."

9. Simple and easy navy bean bread
"The process is very simple -- no intimidating steps or warnings that you'll ruin the whole thing if you don't knead properly or have it rising at the perfect temperature. Any newbie to breads can make this recipe successfully. Coming out of the oven, the bread had a thin, delicately crunchy crust, and the hot fluffy inside with its mild, yeasty flavor was pure heaven."

Main Dishes:

10. Caramelized butternut squash with hazelnut-sage pesto
"This was a delicious, simple meal. The delicately sweet flavor of butternut pairs perfectly with the nutty, herby pesto that tops it. My only change is that I used a crumbled feta for the pesto, instead of the ricotta salata that the recipe called for. Other than that, it is pretty much perfect as a side dish, or even a main when paired with a light salad and perhaps some steamed vegetables."

11. Spinach lentil ragout over pasta
"What stands out about this recipe is how much the cinnamon adds to it. The lentils are simmered with a cinnamon stick, and while subtle, the flavor they absorb makes all the difference in the dish as a whole. It brings a wonderful depth and complexity to the flavor, without anything actually tasting like cinnamon. This plus the spice from the cayenne pepper create an outstanding dish that would otherwise run the risk of being rather boring."

12. Late Harvest Pozole
Cold? Don't worry, I have the perfect thing to warm up those Popsicle-toes. This vegetarian pozole is big on flavor, easy to make and perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

13. Lentil salad with roasted vegetables and lemon-rosemary vinaigrette
"Though this recipe has three parts -- the dressing, the lentils and the roasted veggies -- it falls together quickly and easily." You can use any vegetables that are in season for this dish, making it perfect for fall harvest time.

14. Crunchy-topped lentil casserole
"This delicious dish embodies everything comforting about home cooking. Easy, filling, and something everyone at the table will enjoy, whether vegetarian or not. It is a wonderful way to get more lentils, a great superfood, into your diet!"

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Poppy Seed Butter Sauce

15. Butternut Squash Gnocchi
"Nothing quite captures the flavors of butternut squash like these pillowy dumplings. Dressed in a poppy seed and butter sauce, this dish is bound to be a fall-time favorite."

16. Hearty vegetable soup with pasta shells
"I love a good vegetable soup. There's something so cozy and satisfying about it. Great for any season, using any vegetables that are in the markets, you just can't mess it up -- you can only make it more interesting."

17. Roasted acorn squash with quinoa and mint salad
"A delicious fall meal that brings a little hint of summer back into the season. This recipe highlights a bright and balanced salad of quinoa, apple, mint, raisins, and arugula set inside sweet and smooth squash. This is an excellent dish for a lunch or dinner, and is as rustic and beautiful as it is scrumptious."

18. Hearty lentil soup with tomatoes
"It is incredibly easy (a big bonus for cooking it on a busy night) and makes plenty for leftovers. What took me by surprise was how spicy this dish is. Lentil dishes have a reputation for being a bit bland, but this soup packs a flavorful kick."

19. Polenta with savory tomato chickpea sauce
"There is a lot of room for flexibility with this recipe. For instance, you can choose what herbs, and how much, you'd like to use in the sauce. While Kelly had chives, basil and parsley on hand, I had fresh chives, basil, tarragon, rosemary and thyme in the fridge. The rich, earthy flavor of the tarragon added an unexpected depth to what would have been a fairly traditional tasting Italian sauce. The smell filling the kitchen was extraordinary. Try out any of your favorite herbs in this sauce and don't be shy with them -- the base of onion, celery and tomato can handle it."

20. Gnocchi Mac n' Cheese
"Mac n' cheese is somewhat of a guilty pleasure, no? Like, it almost feels wrong to eat it once you no longer live in the college dormitory; I said almost! But it is one of my favorite comfort foods and I do not plan to give it up anytime soon. Well, this recipe makes the dish feel a bit more "grown up" if you will."

21. Butternut squash galette with roasted garlic and thyme
"A galette is sort of like a pizza -- a pastry crust is piled up with flavorful roasted vegetables (or fruits) and baked until golden brown. It's a great rustic country dish, and is really easy to put together."

22. Baked mushroom risotto with caramelized onions
"I love a good risotto but had never made one myself from scratch until trying this recipe. Now this might just be my go-to recipe when I'm craving a deliciously savory version, now that I know how easy it is to create."

23. Baked Eggplant Manicotti
"The weather outside always determines what I am willing to cook. And with the cold and rain, a full day of cooking seems like the perfect medicine."

24. Mushroom lentil bourguignon
"The first thing my partner said when she tasted this dish is, "It tastes like beef stew." Little did she know that's exactly what it's supposed to taste like, proving this recipe can easily replace the well-loved traditional version. All the hearty, comforting flavor of a thick beef stew minus any red meat."

25. Baked polenta with roasted vegetables
"I've been looking for ways to cut back on wheat and eat more gluten-free options, so this baked polenta seemed like a great option as a substitute for a traditional lasagna, a favorite in this house. Anything loaded up with roasted vegetables is worth a try!"

26. Baked white beans with caramelized onions
"When I read the ingredients for this recipe my thought was, "That... that's it? Just that?" Indeed the ingredients list is surprisingly short and you wonder where the flavor comes from. But the secret is in how you cook the onions: until they're caramelized. Slowly cooking them in plenty of olive oil until they are a lovely golden brown brings out the sweetness, which adds so much to this casserole."

27. Mashed Potato Stuffed Bell Peppers
"Growing up, stuffed bell peppers were a staple. But I admit, I am not a big fan of rice (the way my mother makes them). So I am always looking for different ways to stuff a bell pepper."

28. Roasted potato frittata with onions and peppers
"You can easily leave out the cheese to make it slightly healthier, but it sure was tasty with some sharp cheddar mixed in. Garnished with a little bit of fresh thyme, or maybe some chives and this is a delicious meal."

29. Healthy mushroom and white bean soup
"With a cold wind bringing rain to San Francisco, I couldn't have picked a better day to cook up this delicious soup. It's perfect for a chilly day. There are only a few ingredients to this meal and it cooks up quickly, which makes it extra appealing as a last-minute-soup recipe."

30. Mini quiche with caramelized onions, mushrooms and feta cheese
"When I took the first bite of one of the quiches hot out of the oven, I was floored. I cooked the onions extra slowly -- for about 30 minutes -- so they caramelized and were incredibly sweet, a perfect counter to the salty feta for a boosted the flavor. The richness of it was surprising and after just a couple bites I was full. I gave an extra quiche to a friend who stopped by, who emailed me shorty after getting home with a photo of a plate with only crumbs remaining and the note, "Not even 3 minutes." I guess this quiche is a roaring success!"

31. Tomato bulgur soup
"One of the things I love most about making soups is they tend to be very forgiving. I'm an "ish" cook; not a big fan of precise measurements and I like 1-ish cup of this, 2-ish tablespoons of that. This recipe is one of those that allows such wiggle room."


32. Lavender Hot Chocolate
"After a night of great food, wonderful friends and amazing wine...what do you pair that with? Well, this hot chocolate of course. It is the perfect nightcap to almost any evening."

33. Healthy banana blueberry bread
"Okay, so the word "healthy" for this recipe is a tiny bit of a stretch. But this is indeed the healthiest recipe I've ever tried for a banana bread, and it still tastes as decadent as something with sugar and dairy in it. But this has zero refined sugar, zero dairy, and zero oils -- and, if you wanted, this could be made with gluten-free flour as well. So it's just about as guilt-free as you can possibly get for a sweet bread."

34. Basic granola recipe for quick and healthy breakfasts and snacks
"This recipe is both gluten free and can be made vegan as well. Plus it is customizable to your preferences for various seeds, nuts and fruits to add in. I've experimented with a few different granola recipes and this is one of the easiest and most flavorful that I've tried." It is also a perfect topping to ice cream or hot apple crumbles!

35. Beer Stewed Pears with Ginger
They are perfect on their own or make a great topping for waffles. Oh! You can even put them on ice cream.

36. Healthy pumpkin and spice quickbread with nuts
"There's nothing like a quick bread straight from the oven to ring in autumn. As the weather cools and harvest slips from summer fruits to fall vegetables, it's time to pull out the pie spices and start making some favorite comfort recipes. One of the things I love most about quick breads is how easy it is to make them vegan. Vegan versions have all the moist fluffiness and sweet flavor of old-fashioned recipes, with a fraction of the fat and refined sugars. They are also really easy to make gluten-free without sacrificing flavor or texture."

37. Beer-Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce
"These beer-poached pears are simply decadent."

38. Coffee Walnut Cookies
"For coffee lovers, there's nothing like pairing a cup of perfectly brewed coffee with a cookie made with, yep, more coffee."

39. Chocolate-filled peanut butter cookies
"Easy and quick to make, these peanut butter cookies not only use more healthful ingredients than traditional cookies, but they also hold a chocolaty surprise in every center. They're perfect for a quick dessert, especially to take to parties."

40. Fresh figs in cashew cream with toasted coconut
"Combining fresh figs with this cashew cream is a delicious simple breakfast or, when sprinkled with a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, an fantastic dessert."

40 Favorite fall comfort food recipes
Our best recipes for autumn, when we crave warm, comforting food to counter the falling leaves and frosty bite in the air. These recipes offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

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