30 Fall Dinner Ideas to Warm Your Soul & Fill Your Belly

From cheesy lasagna to hearty chicken stew, we've got you covered.

September 24, 2020
Photo by Mark Weinberg

As the temperatures begin to drop, a warm, homemade meal may be just what you need. Cozy up in your kitchen and make your family one of these loving recipes this fall. From a simple bowl of chicken noodle soup to a slow-cooker pork shoulder with brown sugar and balsamic glaze, you’re guaranteed to find a dish right for the occasion.

Making the most of the fall harvest, we’ve included a series of recipes featuring the freshest produce you can currently find at the market like: butternut squash, apples, and pumpkin. Don’t forget to make enough to save leftovers for the next day’s lunch—you won’t regret it.

Whether you’re looking to whip something up in under 30 minutes or are able to dedicate a couple of hours to make a ridiculously tender pork shoulder, you’re sure to find something you’ll like among these fall dinner ideas we’ve gathered up for you.

1. Simplest Chicken Noodle Soup

Sometimes all you need is a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup for the soul. This one only features two main ingredients—chicken and extra-wide egg noodles—that are perfectly seasoned using shmaltz (the rendered chicken fat from the homemade stock). Best of all, you can save this golden fat in a jar and refrigerate for up to five days or freeze for months for later use.

2. Souped-Up Tomato Soup

Sure to please both the kids and adults in your family, this easy, creamy tomato soup pairs perfectly with a toasty grilled cheese sandwich. This extra-tasty take on a classic tomato soup adds fire-roasted tomatoes, peppers, and caramelized onions for an enhanced depth of flavors.

3. Green Chile & Chicken Posole Soup

Typically eaten during special occasions like New Year’s Eve, this delicious Mexican soup calls for a celebration whenever it’s made. When making this smoky, spicy soup, avoid purchasing store-bought, canned chiles that tend to lack flavor. Instead, roast the mild green Poblano peppers over an open flame, or broiler, to char the skin for an extra layer of flavor.

4. Curried Cauliflower Soup

Budget-friendly and easy to make, add this comforting soup to your weekly meal prep routine during the cold, fall months. Turn very economical ingredients—like cauliflower, onions, and stock—into a delicious creation, with the help of a few powerful spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

5. Myrtle's Meatball Recipe

Even the most novice of cooks can quickly master this cozy, comforting meatball and spaghetti dish. Make this a staple for your fall dinner plans, and serve up juicy, tender meatballs with a tangy, and sweet, tomato sauce that is infused with rosé wine. Instead of the signature Italian breadcrumbs most meatball recipes call for, this one opts for rolled oats for a gluten-free alternative.

6. Seared Salmon with Cinnamon & Chile Powder

Though this recipe might seem exaggeratingly easy, it yields a subtle, yet elegant and complex flavor profile from the warm spices like cinnamon and chile powder. The author recommends pairing the seasoned fish alongside a glass of Pinot Noir to best enhance the flavors of this dish.

7. Short Rib Chili

This chili recipe really takes things to the next level with the grass-fed, beef short ribs that are trimmed and cut into chunks, and stewed in a puree of chiles, spices, fire-roasted tomatoes, and rich dark beer. Amp up this meaty chili, with lighter, brighter toppings like cilantro leaves, sour cream, thinly sliced radishes, and pickled jalapeño peppers for a meal that will be hard to forget.

8. Chicken Tenders With Apple Cider Sweet & Sour Sauce

Feel like a kid again with this grown-up version of a classic TV dinner. Crispy, chicken tenders are paired with a homemade apple cider sweet and sour sauce to put your favorite fast food chain to shame. And, we definitely won’t blame you if you’re caught sneaking into the kitchen for some leftovers to satisfy any late-night cravings, either.

9. Apple Cider Braised Chicken

Fill your house with the aromas of fall with the flagrant ingredients of this cider braised chicken. Made with fresh apple cider, rosemary, and garlic, this recipe will act as the perfect precursor for the holidays to come. Serve atop a heaping serving of warm, garlicky mashed potatoes to bring a smile to your guest’s faces.

10. Pork Brined in Rum & Cider with Apples

Get your brining practice in before the big day with this pork shoulder brined in a blend of rum, cider, salt, and spices. The end result is a savory, aromatic pork shoulder balanced by sweet, sautéed apples infused with onion, rosemary, rum, and cider.

11. Roasted Eggplant & Sautéed Greens Lasagna

This make-ahead lasagna is ideal for busy weeknights for a no-hassle dinner made in just a few minutes. Make this vegetarian dish days before and stash in the fridge until ready for use. Though this recipe calls for roasted eggplant and sautéed greens, the recipe creator notes that you can use just about any vegetable like: roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, sautéed beet greens, and roasted cauliflower.

12. White Lasagna with Swiss Chard, Leeks & Gruyère

This decadent and delicious lasagna recipe calls for cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Combining three of the best cheeses—Gruyère, Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh mozzarella—the creator says this dish is essentially an elevated mac and cheese that can (and should) be eaten for breakfast (with a fried egg on top), lunch, or dinner.

13. Cheese Fondue Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin

Surprise your special someone with a romantic, stay-at-home date night featuring a cheese fondue stuffed roasted pumpkin that will definitely set the mood. Fill a hollowed pumpkin with Emmental, Gruyère, cream, and honey, and roast until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Pair with slices of your favorite seasonal apples like Pink Lady or Fuji, and a warm, toasted baguette.

14. Chickpea, Pumpkin & Sage Stew

If you feel a bit under the weather, this fragrant stew will help quickly bring you back to life. Made with vibrant ingredients like pumpkin and chickpea, that are bound together with the herbal aromas of sage, this dish definitely suits the fall theme. Shorten the time you spend in the kitchen by using canned chickpeas, canned pumpkin purée, and quick-cooking pasta (like ditalini) for an even speedier prep time.

15. Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna with Pumpkin Béchamel

This recipe embodies comfort food like a warm hug. The layers of kale, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, and pumpkin-infused béchamel melt together between the sheets of lasagna noodles to form a decadent fall dinner you won’t want to miss out on. Make the most out of this year’s fall harvest, and transform your tough gourd into a smooth and creamy sauce inspired by Julia Child’s classic béchamel recipe.

16. Short Rib & Pumpkin Chili

Inevitably, you’ll likely be left with a surplus of pumpkin at one point or another this fall season. Make sure no gourd is left behind with this luxurious short rib and pumpkin chili that boasts a medley of flavoring weapons like Spanish pimentón, gochujang, unsweetened chocolate, and espresso. Don’t be daunted by the lengthy ingredient list, it’ll all be worth it in the end. Trust us!

17. Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder With Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glaze

Exhume your slow-cooker out of the dusty kitchen corner to make this brown sugar and balsamic glazed pork shoulder that will fall apart with the touch of a fork. Slow-cook for just about four hours for a succulent, juicy hunk of meat to serve alongside roasted carrots or white rice.

18. Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

This recipe is the perfect balance between salt, acid, fat, and heat, with a special secret ingredient that is guaranteed to go undetected by the picky eaters in your family. The fatty chunks of stewing meat absorb the juices from the tangy, sweet tomatoes and tomato paste, that pair perfectly alongside the diced vegetables that add texture and bite. The acidic red wine and vinegar help brighten the rich flavors from the meat. However, it is the star, secret ingredient—the anchovies—that really help add salty, briny, and buttery notes to this decadent stew.

19. Ethiopian-Inspired Spicy Chicken Stew

A variation of the Ethiopian dish called doro wat, this spicy chicken stew certainly does not lack flavor. Made with over ten aromatic spices like fenugreek and clove, this recipe will fill your home with tantalising smells that’ll make you drool. For a more traditional experience, serve this soup with the injera, a spongey, Ethiopian flatbread, or simply layer over a bed of roasted cauliflower.

20. Spaghetti Squash with White Bean Ragu

A great, healthy pasta-alternative, spaghetti squash will help satisfy your carb cravings minus the hefty calories. The garlicky, white bean tomato ragu balances the sweet, slightly crunchy spaghetti squash noodles. Remember to make extra, you’ll want to save some for lunch the next day.

21. Roasted Pecan & Acorn Squash Soup

Looking to impress your dinner guests with a show-stopping appetizer? This recipe will certainly do the trick. Roasted, chopped pecans add a nutty bite to the sweet, and slightly caramelized acorn squash that is finished with a sprinkle of chipotle chile powder to add a pop of heat.

22. Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter

Sure to be a crowd-pleaser, this pumpkin and brown butter mac and cheese screams fall favorite. Best of all, it is finished on a sheet pan with a layer of cheddar, panko, and pumpkin seeds that goes into a piping hot, 475 degree Fahrenheit oven, to form a crispy, crunchy crust to contrast the textures of the creamy, rich sauce, and al dente noodles.

23. Mashed Potatoes With Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese

These heavenly mashed potatoes will convince you to never buy premade mash ever again. The light, fluffy russet potatoes are whipped to perfection with garlic and bay leaf-infused half and half. As if that wasn’t satisfying enough on its own, the recipe creator goes on to add caramelized onions and tangy goat cheese to create a mashed potato-lover’s dream.

24. Creamy Polenta with Sautéed Apples, Mushrooms, & Calvados

A correctly made polenta offers a luscious, creamy texture that is truly hard to resist. This recipe does that and much more. The smooth and buttery polenta creates a bed for the equally exciting toppings that rest above. Sweet Gala apples and earthy shiitake mushrooms are deglazed with Calvados (an apple brandy from Normandy, France), that are coated with an ethereal, sage-infused cream sauce.

25. Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

Co-founder and CEO of Food52, Amanda Hesser, recounts her entertaining story of the first time she tried making braised short ribs. With a little help from a friend, Blue Hill co-owner and chef, Dan Barber, shares his never-fail recipe and technique to master this classic dish.

26. Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Oat Pancakes

Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner? We certainly don’t make the rules! Enjoy a fall-themed stack of pumpkin flapjacks enhanced with autumn spices like nutmeg and clove any time of day. This gluten-free recipe is made using oat flour, ideal for those with dietary restrictions.

27. Pasta With Creamy Crushed Walnut Sauce From Heidi Swanson

End a hard day at work with a warm bowl of al dente pasta with a creamy crushed walnut sauce. Whip up this rich, nutty dish using a blender to grind the toasted walnuts and garlic into a chunky consistency. Then add a couple of cups of hot, starchy pasta water into your mixture to create an effortlessly delicious pasta sauce.

28. Crispy Cinnamon Beef Rice

Turn leftover rice into this Lebanese-inspired crispy cinnamon beef rice dish that will seduce you with its aromas. Crisp and spice the ground beef using copious amounts of smoky cinnamon, and rich, sugary pomegranate molasses. Make sure to scrape the tasty, burnt crisps that will form at the base of your pan that we guarantee your whole family will be calling dibs on.

29. Gnocchi Ripieni with Mushrooms, Parmesan & Thyme

Making pillowy-soft gnocchi can prove to be a daunting task. With the help of recipe creator, Meryl Feinstein from Pasta Social Club, creating these flawless potato dumplings won’t be a challenge with her gnocchi-perfecting tips. One of these genius tips includes baking the potatoes, as opposed to boiling them, to help keep the moisture levels at bay when making the dough.

30. Roasted Grape Salad with Wild Hog Bacon Vinaigrette

Proving that salads aren’t boring, this recipe uses the fat rendered from lardons of thick-cut bacon to create a delightful vinaigrette to coat the peppery leaves of the arugula. The roasted grapes add a light burst of sweet, juicy flavor to counterbalance the rich dressing. Top with toasted sourdough, crispy shallots, chewy bacon, and shaved Parmesan for a salad you won’t forget.

What's your favorite fall dinner? Let us know in the comments.

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Maki Yazawa

Written by: Maki Yazawa

Food Writer & Recipe Developer