Autumn is one of the best times of the year to get creative in the kitchen. When the days get cold and dark, there’s something incredibly comforting about cooking soups and stews, hearty pies and casseroles, and delicious desserts – and it can take the edge right off those chilly evenings!
With autumn comes a harvest of some of the most comforting, complex flavours – pumpkin, apple, pear, squash, cranberry – and preparing a warming meal after a crisp autumn walk is the ideal way to celebrate the changing seasons.
So if you’re looking for cooking inspiration, look no further. Here are 10 autumn recipes.
1. Sausage casserole
A casserole might be the perfect autumn dish. As the weather cools, many of us begin to crave warming, filling foods, and casseroles are a great way to make use of all the beautiful vegetables that come into their own at this time of year. Plus, casseroles are usually cooked in one dish, meaning there’s minimal clear up required, and more time to spend curled up on the sofa!
Adding sausage to a casserole adds that extra bit of indulgence, and our very own warming sausage and bean casserole is a quick and easy way to stay warm during the colder months – plus it freezes well too.
If you want to keep your casserole veggie, why not try this hearty vegan casserole from BBC Good Food? It’s a great way to use up all the odds and ends you have lying around in the kitchen.
Have a watch of the video below for more sausage casserole inspiration!
2. Pumpkin lasagne
Of all the ingredients that evoke autumn, pumpkin is surely the most popular. There are dozens of great ways to eat pumpkin – in soups, stews, or simply roasted – but a rather more unusual way is to make a pumpkin lasagne.
There are few people who don’t like lasagne: it’s comforting, filling, and if you’re careful with your ingredients, it can be very healthy too! Making a pumpkin lasagne is a delicious way to give this classic dish a satisfying autumnal twist.
You might want to try making Jamie Oliver’s pumpkin lasagne, which is packed with slices of roast pumpkin, sweet red onions, chestnuts, and fresh sage, and then topped with a bechamel sauce, cheesy breadcrumbs, and pancetta.
Or you can keep things plant-based (and gluten-free!) with this pumpkin and mushroom lasagne by Lazy Cat Kitchen, which is stuffed with caramelised pumpkin, protein-packed lentils, minced mushrooms, roasted walnuts, and a dairy-free bechamel sauce.
Have a watch of the video below to see how to make Jamie’s lasagne!
3. Shepherd’s pie
Shepherd’s pie has got to be a contender for one of the most comforting and warming autumn meals. Coming in from the cold and sitting down to a plate of piping hot, mashed-potato-smothered shepherd’s pie can be a tonic for the soul – and in spite of its reputation as comfort food, it can also be very nutritious too.
Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb (and cottage pie with beef), but the great thing about this dish is that there are dozens of different ways to make it.
To cook a traditional lamb-based shepherd’s pie, why not try this no-fuss recipe from BBC Good Food? If you’re trying to cut down on cholesterol, you might want to swap red meat for white meat, like in this turkey and vegetable shepherd’s pie by Tastes of Home.
Or you can omit the meat altogether and make a veggie shepherd’s pie. This vegan shepherd’s pie by Jamie Oliver is packed with lentils, mushrooms, and chickpeas, and topped with fluffy sweet potato mash and crisp breadcrumbs.
Have a watch of the video below to find out more about making a veggie shepherd’s pie!
4. Apple, cranberry, and cinnamon pie
Getting home after a bracing-yet-chilly walk to be greeted by the smell of homemade apple pie baking in the oven is one of this season’s unique joys. Plus, in autumn there are so many apples to choose from – Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious – that making an apple pie is even more enjoyable. The only thing that could possibly make this dessert even more mouthwatering is to add a dash of cinnamon and a handful of cranberries.
This apple, cranberry and cinnamon pie by Sally’s Baking Addiction looks as good as it tastes – and making your own pastry and creating pretty decorations for the crust can be very therapeutic. The addition of orange and cinnamon to the apple and cranberry gives this pie a gorgeous spicy-yet-fresh taste – and served with a dollop of cream or scoop of ice cream makes it even better.
If you’d like to make a dairy-free version of this pie, check out our article, the best dairy-free baking alternatives. Or, to make a crumble alternative rather than a pie, have a watch of Gordon Ramsey’s video below.
5. French onion soup
A good soup has the ability to soothe, and on dark autumn days, tucking into a bowl of homemade soup is wonderfully restorative. As an added bonus, it’s one of the easiest and cheapest types of meals you can make. Plus it freezes well, is a perfect starter, and – when it’s paired with some warm, crusty bread – works just as well as a main. It’s also endlessly versatile and is a great way to use up any old veg you have sitting around.
There are enough soup recipes around that you could make a different recipe every day and not run out of options – but one of the most hearty has got to be French onion soup. Though it started out as a simple peasant dish made from onions, water and stale bread, today most recipes are much more indulgent.
The key to perfect French onion soup is to cook the onions slowly so they caramelise but don’t burn. Then, top with cheesy garlic bread for maximum deliciousness.
Why not have a go at this recipe by RecipeTin Eats? Or, to see how a Frenchman makes French onion soup, have a watch of the video below!
6. Slow cooker chicken casserole
Autumn seems to be the most popular time of year to bake – but if you’re spending all that extra time creating delicious baked goods, you shouldn’t have to spend lots of time cooking dinner, too. That’s why slow-cooker dinners are absolutely perfect for autumn: you can pop your ingredients in the pot and get on making your delicious desserts. Plus, as an added bonus, your whole house will be flooded with mouthwatering aromas.
For something super creamy and indulgent, why not try making this crockpot chicken casserole and dumplings recipe by Delish, which makes things even quicker and easier by using a tinned cream of chicken soup? Or, if you’re happy to put a bit more time in and make it all from scratch, why not try this chicken casserole recipe from The Kitchen Sanctuary?
If you don’t eat meat but would still like to make a creamy casserole, try this cheesy potato and broccoli casserole by I Love Vegan.
Have a watch of the video below to see how exactly you can whip up your own chicken casserole.
7. Maple, pecan, and pear tart
Another dessert that’s an autumn favourite – particularly in the US, where it’s a Thanksgiving staple – is maple and pecan tart. Sweet, sticky, gooey and nutty, and wrapped in a moreish buttery pastry, maple and pecan pie is incredibly delicious. The only thing that could possibly make it more delicious is the addition of pears, which in the UK are at their absolute best during the autumn months.
Why not try this decadent maple, pecan and pear pie recipe from the Guardian, which is best served with double cream or custard? Or, if you’d like to make a classic maple pecan pie without pears, you could try this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
If you’re vegan or gluten-free, you don’t have to miss out on this fabulous dessert – just try this recipe from Making Thyme For Health!
To find out more about making the perfect maple pecan tart, have a watch of Jamie Oliver’s video.
8. Tuscan white bean stew
Stews are another autumn classic and, just like soups, they’re a great way to use up old vegetables you have left in the fridge, as well as those tins of beans in the back of your cupboard. On a chilly autumn evening, the only thing better than tucking into a thick bowl of stew is one that has chunks of bread in it – and crunchy croutons on top. And that’s why Ribollita – a white bean stew from the hilltops of Tuscany– might just be the ultimate autumn stew.
Ribollita originated in the Middle Ages when hungry peasants would take home their landowner’s stale bread and add it to their stews at home. Packed with kale, tomatoes, celery, and onions, ribollita is thickened with cannellini beans and bread, then drizzled with olive oil and a dusting of parmesan. It’s comforting, filling, tasty, and – because it’s packed with vitamins and fibre – incredibly nourishing.
This simple ribollita recipe from Bon Appetit looks delicious – and to make it vegan, you can just swap the parmesan for a plant-based alternative, or for maximum health points, nutritional yeast.
Have a watch of the video below to see a step by step guide to making ribollita.
9. Butternut squash, cranberry, and quinoa salad
Just because it’s autumn, it doesn’t mean we should turn our backs on salad and eat only warming, comforting foods. We might not crave salad as much in autumn as we do in summer, but with the right ingredients, an autumn salad will go down an absolute treat – and it’s the perfect meal if you’ve overindulged with pumpkin pie or maple and pecan tart!
An autumn salad should be filling, wholesome, and packed with seasonal ingredients – and this butternut squash salad ticks all three boxes. Not only is it packed with seasonal staples like squash, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds, but it also contains quinoa; an ancient, highly nutritional grain that gives the salad a lovely nutty flavour. Plus, this butternut squash salad recipe by Well Plated injects even more seasonal flavour by tossing the salad in a maple and dijon dressing.
If you love the idea of adding Brussels sprouts to your squash salad, check out the video below!
10. Pear and blackberry crumble
If you don’t fancy making your own pastry and want to make a quicker and easier autumn dessert – but one that’s equally delicious – why not make a crumble? Crumbles are fruity desserts with a topping that’s made from a crispy and buttery crumble, and just like pies, they’re perfect served with cream, ice cream, or a rich and creamy custard.
While summer crumbles usually contain summer fruits like strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, or blueberries, autumn crumbles are far better suited to seasonal fruits like pears and blackberries. This pear and blackberry crumble by BBC Good Food has a crunchy oat and nut topping, and is then smothered in bay-infused custard for a sophisticated twist.
If you’d like to make a low-fat vegan crumble, have a watch of the video below.
Though it can seem a bit bleak when the days start drawing in and the temperature drops, one of the best ways to keep your spirits up is to get creative in the kitchen. From warming soups and stews to slow-cooked casseroles, and heavenly desserts to wholesome salads, there’s an autumn recipe out there for everyone.
Cooking from scratch isn’t only a great way to unwind, it’s also a good way to use up leftover ingredients, save money, and be more mindful of what you’re putting in your body. And with the festive season only round the corner, there’s never been a better time to get cooking!
Are you tempted by any of these autumn recipes? Or do you have any of your own favourite autumn recipes you’d like to share with our readers? We’d love to hear about your cooking adventures! Join the conversation on the food and drink section of the Rest Less community forum, or leave us a comment below.