Genius Recipes

70 Genius Recipes for Fall (A Comfort Food Playlist)

Apple cakes and cozy casseroles, here we come!

September 15, 2021

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

You're looking at 70 of the very best fall recipes out there—all wearing a Genius Recipes badge of honor—to bookmark now and start making just as soon as you pack away the beach umbrella.

For starters? Apple cakes, cozy casseroles, roasted squash up the wazoo, and not one but two mac and cheeses. I know 70 recipes sounds like a lot to parse when you're still probably recovering from your last sunburn of the season (I've been writing this column for 10 falls now—I have a lot of favorites!). So I divvied them up into handy sections for all your autumnal needs, from Quick School-Morning Breakfasts to Mix & Match Sides to Comforting Mains That Feed a Crowd.

Quick School-Morning Breakfasts

1. 15-Second (Creamy!) Scrambled Eggs

Supersoft, custardy eggs used to take 15 minutes of patient stirring over low heat, until Mandy Lee from the blog Lady and Pups found a handy pantry workaround.

2. Fried Eggs with Yogurt, Lemon & Herbs

Not only has Julia Turshen taught us a bright new breakfast, her egg-frying method is an especially smart (and un-splattery) one, as well.

3. Soy Sauce–Marinated Eggs

Throw together a batch of these on Sunday and you'll have a real breakfast-on-the-go waiting for you every morning. (Sorry, energy bar, you are not real breakfast.)

4. Olive Oil & Maple Granola

No more puzzling over ingredient lists of $6 boxes of breakfast cereal at the grocery store! This will quickly become everyone's favorite granola—and the only skill needed to make it is to stir.

5. Roasted Applesauce

Why have we always made applesauce in a big pot on the stove when we could be making it (faster, toastier, and more apple-y) in the oven?

6. The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

For people who can't eat gluten, this dense, seedy bread is life-changing. And for people who can, it still makes a darn fine piece of toast.

7. No-Knead Peasant Bread

Joining the no-knead revolution gets even simpler when you bake in a buttered bowl—and makes a crust no sensible person would tear off and leave behind.

Laid-Back Weekend Brunches

8. Kabocha, Olive Oil & Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

You know that classic squishy, cozy pumpkin bread? This is the same lovable loaf—except pastry chef Nicole Rucker ratchets up every flavor, then splashes a genius, extra-glossy glaze over the top.

9. Slow-Baked Broccoli Fritatta

The key to fritattas that won't go dry or tough on you? Turn the oven down just a tad.

10. Best Ever (Vegan) Waffles

There is a whole block of tofu in these waffles. You won't know it.

11. Buttermilk Mochi Pancakes

Swap a little rice flour into your pancakes and they'll taste richer and milkier (but not enough to be chewy like mochi, despite the name).

12. Swirly, No-Yeast Cinnamon Buns

These fluffy cinnamon buns require zero yeast know-how, all because Violet Bakery (yes, the Royal Wedding bakers!) didn't have space to proof doughs and needed an easier way.

13. Roasted Pumpkin Butter

This supersmooth butter roasts in the oven to concentrate its powers, and lets you use any hard squash you hauled home. Smear on cinnamon buns, biscuits, and other brunch players.

14. Potato Scallion Cakes

Finally, a potato cake recipe that works with any leftover mashed potatoes, no matter what seasonings you threw in. A highly recommended Thanksgiving weekend breakfast.

Cozy Soups & Stews

15. 15-Minute Creamy, Vegan Tomato Soup

Of all the brilliant recipes J. Kenji López-Alt has created for the Food Lab at Serious Eats, this pantry-based, lightning-quick soup is the one he makes the most.

16. Seared Broccoli & Potato Soup

Here's how to bring out both broccoli's fresh green and deep roasted sides (and show your average, one-note broccoli-cheddar soup how to live).

17. Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter & Sage

Unsurprisingly, splashing brown butter into warm, puréed fall soups is a very good idea.

18. (Vegan) Cauliflower Soup

The creamy depth you'll get from little more than caulifower, an onion, and a lot of water will shock you. (Hint: It's just because of the free-flowing pectin in cauliflower.)

19. White Bean Soup with Garlic & Parsley

This might be the best thing you can make with a can of beans in, oh, about 10 minutes.

20. Vegan "Chicken" Pho

Andrea Nguyen's brilliant hack for a richer vegetable pho stock without chicken? Why, it's our favorite health-food superstar: nutritional yeast.

21. Pasta Con Ceci

Another happy thing to pull out of a bare pantry, and the reason I sizzle tomato paste in olive oil whenever I run into a pesky flat-tasting soup or stew.

22. Italian Bread & Cabbage Soup

This cheesy, brothy masterpiece is layered with crusty bread like lasagna. It is unreasonably good. (Don't skip the anchovy!)

Fall Salads Featuring Squash & Co.

23. Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese

You wouldn't think melting cheese over salad like nachos would be a good idea—but you should also just trust the chef who started the kale salad craze (we didn't think that was a good idea at the time either).

24. Warm Potato Salad with Vinegar & Chorizo

If you could turn salt and vinegar potato chips into a warm, comforting salad, then this would be it.

25. Lentils with Yogurt, Spinach & Basil

Both a bright and perky lentil salad, and a game plan for better desk lunches all week.

26. Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette

A fancy-seeming salad with an impressive trick up its sleeve: You can mimic expensive wine vinegars by soaking red onions in average grocery store stuff.

27. Kale Salad with Roasted Squash, Almonds & Cheese

Back in 2012, eating raw kale still surprised people. Even now, with the kale salad peak behind us, this one (with its two kinds of cheese!) holds up.

28. (Leftover) Turkey Hash Salad

Notwithstanding the bacon-poached garlic cloves, this salad is a very refreshing post-Thanksgiving meal (and leftover turkey destination).

29. Warm Squash & Chickpea Salad

This simple, sturdy salad hugged with garlicky tahini dressing is entirely vegan (but doesn't seem to know it).

Mix & Match Sides

30. Crispy Soy & Ginger Roast Potatoes

When I first saw this recipe, I had to know if the crisp would hold up against such a generous, flavorful soak, and it does. Like a good Buffalo wing, the dressing seeps in without softening too quickly, while the shreds of chewy ginger and sweet twists of green onion give more textures for your fork to chase.

31. Baked Sweet Potatoes With Maple Crème Fraîche

A surprisingly simple one-pan technique for first steaming, then roasting makes sweet potatoes the best version of themselves—perfect for a splashy Thanksgiving side, or just dinner.

32. Roasted Potatoes with Paprika Mayo

Crispier roasted potatoes with one simple step, plus a zingy dressing you can stir together from the humblest of ingredients.

33. Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

The internet said this would be the best broccoli of our life—and it wasn't wrong.

34. Shortcut Polenta

By kick-starting your polenta in the morning, at dinnertime it cooks up creamy and comforting in a fraction of the time.

35. Classic Mashed Potatoes

The order you add ingredients to your mashed potatoes (for Thanksgiving or otherwise) matters—choose the right adventure and you'll end up with more buttery flavor, without tipping in more butter.

36. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette

A spicy fish sauce vinaigrette and a big bunch of fresh herbs is exactly what your Brussels sprouts (and your same-old Thanksgiving spread) needed.

37. Cheddar & Black Pepper Cornbread

This tender cornbread's secret is that, deep down, it's got the heart of a scone.

38. Potato Dominoes

An elegance of form we didn't know potatoes could have, with crispy edges for days.

39. Mushrooms in Pickle-Brine Butter

The brine in your pickle jars in the fridge is liquid gold—a secret ingredient no one will be able to pinpoint in these fancy-tasting mushrooms.

40. Roasted Butternut with Spicy Pickled Onions

Just when your fall diet seems to fade to beige, bright orange slabs of squash and ombré pink pickled onions are here to save the day.

41. Easier Potato Gratin

Not only is there no need to carefully layer potato gratin, you can jump-start the cooking on the stovetop before tumbling into a casserole for a much faster bake time.

Comforting Mains That Feed a Crowd

42. Slow-Roasted Chicken With Extra-Crisp Skin

This is a best-of-all-worlds roast chicken. Extremely tender, rotisserie-esque meat, plus the crispiest skin imaginable, in one simple recipe. Unheard of! It’s also just about impossible to overcook and extra-easy to carve, and not one bit will go to waste—all thanks to one of the more surprising Genius tricks yet.

43. Sticky Balsamic Ribs

Baby back ribs you don't have to cook low or slow for almost-fall-apart tenderness. And that sticky (but not-too-sweet) glaze doesn't hurt.

44. Braised Chicken with Salami & Olives

There may never have been a more deeply flavored braised chicken. Here's why: It uses not just simple salt for seasoning but powerful ingredients preserved in salt, like salami and olives.

45. Pork Shoulder Ragu

For good reason, Jenny Rosenstrach calls this the Instant Dinner Party: Make your ragu the night before (the active cooking time is extra efficient, since you start with browning a single hunk of pork shoulder instead of smaller bits). Then, just boil pasta and reheat the sauce the night you want to party.

46. Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Pitch-perfect craggly crust. Can be made ahead and held in a low oven without sacrifice. Oh, and you get to see just how fast an onion sautés when you're doing it with all the salt you'll need for the brine (fast).

47. Shrimp Gumbo

Any gumbo is more within reach when you bake your roux to a rich, dark brown in the oven (instead of stirring constantly on the stovetop).

48. Baked Macaroni & Cheese

This is the ne plus ultra of gooey yet crusty, creamy yet sharp, comforting as all get-out baked mac and cheeses. The cute little croutons on top are a swap for the traditional crispy breadcrumbs that are technically optional (but how could you resist?).

49. Really Good Spaghetti Bolognese

Traditional bolognese simmers very gently for a very long time, but Nigel Slater mimics that tenderness by adding mushrooms and a wee bit more cream.

50. Mushroom Bourguignon

This vegetarian dinner party stunner makes you question why the beef gets all the glory in a classic boeuf bourguignon—it should clearly be the mushrooms (silver medal: pearl onions).

51. Dry-Brined Roast Turkey (The Judy Bird)

This simple technique was so good at making roast turkey that wasn't prone to overcooking and drying out (and that actually tasted like turkey) that Russ Parsons ran variations on the recipe in the L.A. Times five Thanksgivings in a row.

Speedier Weeknight Dinners

52. Whipped Hummus With Roasted Carrots & Za’atar Oil

Cookbook author Hetty McKinnon thought she'd ruined her hummus after accidentally dumping a whole can of chickpeas, juice and all, into the blender. But she discovered a luscious, super-smooth texture she’d never seen in hummus before, all without peeling chickpeas or invoking baking soda.

53. Skillet Lasagna

When you make lasagna (well) in a single skillet, you can have gooey, saucy comfort any night you particularly need it.

54. Oven-Fried Chicken

In the morning, throw your chicken in a salty ice water bath. In the evening, toss it in flour and make the best fried chicken you didn't have to fry.

55. Garlic Lime Oven-Baked Salmon

Yes, the garlic and lime and chile brighten up this speedy salmon dinner. But the trick for grating a jalapeño is one you'll take to any recipe you don't feel like stemming and chopping for.

56. Creamy Lemon Pasta

As lemon juice and cream mingle with egg noodles, this pasta essentially makes its own sauce. And oh, is it a good one.

57. Ginger Fried Rice

Fried rice made from cold leftover rice is handy—when you have just the right amount of cold leftover rice. This one gets plenty of texture from the crispy ginger and garlic and fried egg, even if you need to cook the rice fresh.

58. Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion

This three-ingredient wonder proves that you don't need to simmer marinara all day (or even chop the onion!) to get a pure, bright tomato sauce much better than anything from a jar.

59. Pan-Seared, Thick-Cut Steaks

If landing a perfect medium-rare makes you nervous, then this rule-breaking method will soothe you: Flip your steaks every 30 seconds or so (really) for a more evenly cooked middle. Throw in some arugula and squashed potatoes for my favorite speed-luxury dinner.

60. Parsi Burgers

The secret to not-at-all dry turkey burgers (or chicken or pork burgers) is to load them up with tons of fresh herbs, ginger, and chile. Eat them with a big salad and baked potato, or in more classic burger form.

61. "Cacio" e Pepe

This untraditional spin on cacio e pepe makes it easier to emulsify a sleek, noodle-coating sauce because here the salty, umami "cacio" element isn't pecorino cheese, but miso, which melts effortlessly.

62. Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Make Martha Stewart's Macaroni & Cheese (above) when you have time and want to serve a big, happy crowd. Make Melissa Clark's stovetop version when you don't.

Autumnal Desserts!

63. Teddie's Apple Cake

We still don't know who Teddie is, but we know they made one very lovable apple cake, just sweet and spiced enough. Freeze it, gift it, divvy it up for a bake sale.

64. Baked Caramel Pears

With five ingredients and about 20 minutes, you can have a very fancy-looking, very fall dessert (and gluten-free, should you need it).

65. Brazilian Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)

This traditional Brazilian cake's batter is made by whizzing raw carrot chunks with oil, sugar, and eggs in the blender (yes, it blends perfectly smooth!), which makes a lovely, orange-tinted pound cake that goes very well with the handsome chocolate glaze poured over the top. The orange-black palette also makes it an accidentally perfect Halloween dessert.

66. Spicy Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies

Inspired by Nutella, this crisp-chewy cookie is stirred together in one bowl and just happens to be gluten-free.

67. Caramelized Pumpkin Pie

For a deeper (and less canned) pumpkin flavor, this recipe cooks the pumpkin down in a saucepan until it turns a shade darker. And, despite baking hotter and in less than half the time of the back-of-the-can recipe, a good dose of cream makes it much less likely to crack if it's overbaked.

68. No-Stress, Super-Flaky Pie Crust

I love Stella Park's simple, intuitive pie dough technique so much that I made it the default pie crust for every recipe in Genius Desserts. You won't need a food processor or years of butter-pinching experience.

69. Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies

Inspired by the texture of a vintage recipe that called for shortening, Rose Levy Beranbaum worked in brown butter, which has a similar structure—but tastes much better.

70. Chocolate Cloud Cake

This flourless chocolate cake collapses on purpose, and then you fill its moussey middle with whipped cream. It will look amazing served at the end of any holiday dinner, no matter what happens along the way.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jeanne Tupper
    Jeanne Tupper
  • Kathy
  • eileen
  • Sswinter1
  • Kata
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Jeanne T. September 17, 2021
That was yummy. How adorable. Loved seeing her. She will be a great helper.
Kathy September 15, 2021
thanks Kristen! loved watching you cook with your daughter, I have 3 grown girls and it was fun to watch!
eileen August 22, 2019
Thank you Kristen for all your hard work compiling this lovely collection. Now my husband, family and I get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your presentations are done so that a novice cook can do them without fear of failure. Plus it gets us out of our old routines. Thank you, thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!
Kristen M. August 22, 2019
Thank YOU, Eileen for taking the time to write this sweet note—made my day!
Sswinter1 August 22, 2019
So many wonderful recipes. The only problem I have with them is that we are two Senior Citizens and our appetites are small. Fixing many of these recipes means a lot of leftovers and/or food I’d have to feed to the animals here before it would go bad. Questions: Do these recipes freeze well? Can they be adjusted downward to serve 2?

Who would I contact at a company like Pillsbury to see if they might consider offering some of their products that are packaged for 2 people instead of 4 or 6? I hate wasting the food. Thank you!
Kristen M. August 22, 2019
Hi Sswinter1, I hear you. I'm still only cooking for myself and my husband (the baby doesn't need real food—yet) usually. Many of these are great for either enjoying through the week or freezing, or can be scaled down. If there's a recipe that's catching your eye that you're not sure about, let me know (or ask on the Food52 Hotline for other home cooks' opinions). I'd also recommend checking out my colleague Eric Kim's column of small-batch meals (and beautiful writing) in Table for One:
Nancy September 20, 2021
Sswinterl - there are other resources out there to help you concoct small meals. Two approaches I find helpful:
• books for small kitchens or people just starting out (counterintuitive but sometimes very good).
• prep ingredients not whole meals, then store mostly in fridge or freezer and use as needed.
Kata August 21, 2019
Hi Kristen,

You did a great job at curating a wonderful selection of autumnal recipes and meals. My mouth is watering. I can’t wait to get cooking.

Kristen M. August 22, 2019
Thanks so much, Angela! If you try any, I hope you love them.