Of all the seasons in the year, few are as inspiring for cooking as fall. From warm apple cider to savory turkey with all the trimmings, and vegetables like squash, Brussels sprouts, and corn to round out a complete dinner, putting anything less on a plate just doesn’t seem right.
Instead, get into the autumnal spirit with these comforting, warming entrees. We’ve rounded up 24 of our favorites—divided into vegetarian, gluten-free, and meat-based options for your convenience. Happy cooking!
When temperatures start to drop, it’s time to turn on the oven—fall is the perfect opportunity to roast the array of hearty vegetables that have come into season. Here, roasting cauliflower with a little olive oil and red pepper flakes caramelizes the edges and gives the florets a slightly nutty flavor. Pair with tagliatelle pasta coated in a thick parmesan sauce.
In fall, regular spuds pale in comparison to colorful sweet potatoes. Instead of eating them fried or mashed, though, try something a little different by stuffing them. In this recipe, sauteed kale and spinach add a hearty dose of greens, while the avocado packs in healthy fats. A garlicky tahini-turmeric dressing finishes off the dish.
Few things are more comforting than shepherd’s pie warm from the oven. Our version swaps in lentils for beef and puréed parsnips for mashed potatoes to keep it completely veggie-friendly. It still has all kinds of tender, stewed vegetables like carrots and celery, plus herbs like thyme, rosemary, and parsley, so all the familiar flavors stay right in place.
There’s a key to cooking crisp and soggy-less tofu every time: Press it under something heavy for 15 minutes to remove any excess moisture. Follow that tip after marinating the protein with cayenne pepper and orange juice called for in this recipe. Then, cook and serve with thick soba noodles, baby bok choy, and a touch of toasted sesame oil for a filling Asian-inspired dinner.
It may not be as visually enticing as pasta, but polenta deserves just as much love. The silky, creamy corn porridge can be downright irresistible—especially when you melt parmesan cheese and stir into the bowl. We like topping ours with lemony sauteed kale and cherry tomatoes stewed in olive oil for a gourmet, but easy, weeknight dinner.
Made from only sea kelp and water, kelp noodles have all the texture of angel hair without the carbs. That also makes them naturally vegan, gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly. However, kelp noodles don’t have a lot of taste on their own, so they do best in dishes with big, bold flavors—like this Korean noodle stir-fry seasoned with garlic, onion, coconut aminos, and sesame oil.
This bowl combines two vegetarian protein powerhouses—lentils and quinoa—for one satisfying entree. Curried lentils are sweetened with a little honey to bring on the heat, while a bright carrot-beet slaw adds freshness and balance. Add plenty of fluffy quinoa to round out the dish. Pro tip: Double the recipe to prep a week’s worth of healthy lunches.
Taste the rainbow. Not the candy kind, though. Instead, opt for this vibrant yellow coconut curry filled with colorful vegetables, including Japanese eggplant, green beans, heirloom cauliflower, carrots, and bell peppers. With just a touch of heat, the curry is mild enough for anyone to enjoy, but to cut the spice even more, serve over brown rice.
Dinner recipes with meat
Talk about a quick weeknight dinner. These homemade meatballs slathered in marinara take just 15 minutes to make from start to finish. It’s all thanks to a genius shortcut: Using a high-quality, store-bought tomato sauce instead of going homemade. Topping the dish off with melty mozzarella and fresh basil takes it to the next level.
The latest hot sauce to hit the scene is harissa, a garlicky hot chili paste common in Tunisian cuisine. It can be used as a marinade for just about any protein, but it especially tastes great on roasted chicken. Here, we’ve mixed the sauce with honey, lemon, and more garlic, then poured it over the poultry. If you need a respite from the spicy notes in this dish, go heavy on the cooling yogurt-mint sauce.
Tagine, or slowly simmered Moroccan stew, might be the ideal food for a chilly fall evening. An array of warming spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger season the succulent chicken thighs, while tart lemon slices and briny green olives balance things out. It takes two hours of cooking time, but it’s all worth it for the deep development of flavors. Serve over quinoa or rice for a complete dinner.
Baking chicken with vegetables is more than just a smart multitasking idea—it’s a foolproof way to keep the meat from drying out in the oven. Juicy cherry tomatoes work particularly well. For an Italian spin, add oregano, basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese to the mix. Enjoy the pairing on its own for a low-carb entree, or serve over a bed of linguine tossed with olive oil.
A half-hour is all the time it takes to whip up this simple weeknight dinner. Cooking the chicken and the rice simultaneously steams the meat while the rice becomes tender and fluffy. Aromatics like green chile, ginger, and garlic bring plenty of flavor to this otherwise relatively plain dish.
The combination of tender braised short ribs and creamy mashed potatoes is a classic. We’ve updated our recipe for Paleo eaters, though, swapping in low-carb cauliflower mash for the traditional spuds. Bust out the slow cooker for this one—the added hours of cooking the meat in bone broth, vinegar, honey, and bacon builds some incredibly complex flavors.
Marinating boneless beef rib eye in a combination of six ingredients—whole grain mustard, olive oil, thyme, garlic, sea salt, and pepper—infuses the meat with a tangy, herbaceous flavor. Before you put the beef into the oven, though, brown the edges in a saucepan on the stovetop—this crucial step achieves a caramelized exterior and tender, juicy interior.
Step one: Salt and pepper raw pork chops, then sear them in a cast-iron skillet. Step two: Blitz a batch of smoky walnut romesco sauce in your food processor—the red pepper, tomato, walnut, and olive oil sauce complements the chops perfectly. To make this batch a complete dinner, serve with roasted red potatoes and/or sauteed vegetables.
Going gluten-free doesn’t mean that pizza night is out of the question this fall. It just means you’ve got to think outside of the box. Take home this gluten-free crust mix, and make a simple, hand-kneaded crust. Then, top it off with plenty of mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and green olives for a simple yet delicious vegetarian pie.
Hearty and earthy, mushrooms definitely fit the fall flavor profile. Make them the stars of the show with this grain-free take on sliders. Since portobello mushroom caps just so happen to be the same size as burger buns, this is an ideal use for them. You can always experiment with different fillings, but we particularly enjoy caramelized onions, goat cheese, bacon, avocado, lettuce, and tomato.
You may have heard of cauliflower pizza crust, but to be honest, it can be tough to get it right. We prefer this vegetable swap, which uses halved zucchinis as pizza boats. All you have to do is cut open the veggie, roast ‘em, and top with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.
Don’t let the name turn you off. Fish balls are really just cod, shrimp, fish sauce, green onion, haricots verts, and ginger rolled into one. They’re a popular street food in Asia, but turn into a complete meal when served in this gingery miso broth with buckwheat soba noodles. It’s salty, savory, and warming on a chilly fall evening—and will give chicken noodle soup a run for its money.
Anchovies get a bad rap. Even if you don’t like them on pizza, you really ought to give them a chance in this flavor-forward gluten-free tart. Their brininess complements the equally salty kalamata olives nicely, while heaps of rich caramelized onions help balance out the dish. An almond flour crust studded with fresh thyme leaves brings it all together.
Roasting spaghetti squash for the first time is an awe-inspiring experience. It’s hard to believe the tough winter gourd will turn into noodle-like strands. Try it for yourself and then add these simple turkey meatballs made with fresh sage, cranberries, and pine nuts.
Butternut squash is so last year. Unusual winter vegetables—like kabocha squash—are all the rage in 2016. With the sweetness of pumpkin and the texture of sweet potato, kabocha works incredibly well in this easy pureed soup, and shallots and pancetta add just enough savory flavor. Serve it as an appetizer, or pair with a simple green salad for a light fall meal.
Five ingredients and 20 minutes—that’s all it takes to whip up this quick and elegant gluten-free pasta dish. The flavors of fresh rosemary and crimini mushrooms really shine after a quick saute in clarified butter. There’s no sauce, per se, but slicing into the poached egg allows the yolk to cascade over the quinoa noodles.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont