Five Fall Comfort Foods: Cozy recipes to warm you up

Here in New England, it’s almost time to turn the heat on in the house. I say almost, because for many, pride, gumption, and just plain being ornery determine how long you go before actually flipping the switch.

September is out of the question. Early October, maybe, if you have trouble with your back or knees. You’re generally pretty safe confessing to warming the house to 65°F once Halloween rolls around.

No frost? Don’t bother to load the wood stove, sonny. No rime of ice on the edge of the duck pond? Leave that thermostat off, junior. If you can see your breath in the kitchen, go put on a sweater. Better yet, get busy baking and cooking, and you’ll be warm in no time. If right about now you’re picturing Granddad in his flannels and woolens, you’ve got it just right.

I’ve already turned my heat on, and yes, been called a wimp. I guess those name callers will just have to sit out in the cold while I bake away in happiness, making our favorite fall comfort foods to share with family and friends – no mittens and gloves required at the table.

Come see what’s on the menu.

Hot Popper Dip via

Comfort food #1: Hot Popper Dip

Perfect for warming up after soccer practice or nibbling during the game, our Hot Popper Dip features roasted fresh jalapeño peppers, rich cream cheese, and perky Parmesan. It blends together in a snap and bakes up while you gather your foam finger and vuvuzela to cheer on the team. Gooooooooaaaaaaal!

Pepperoni Bites via @kingarthurflour

Comfort food #2: Cheesy Pepperoni Bites

Craving pizza but looking for a shortcut? These Cheesy Pepperoni Bites are baking powder quick, no waiting on yeast. A bowl of soup, a platter of bites, and Netflix can be the perfect Friday night chill chaser. Unless of course you’re enjoying a classic horror movie – then bring on the chills, and a good Chianti.

Soft Bread Sticks via @kingarthurflour

Comfort food #3: Soft Bread Sticks

While chatting with my brother’s lady love the other day, she mentioned that “he’d be happy with a plate of bread and a bowl of pasta sauce for dinner.” And here I thought I was the black sheep of the family. Who knew we still had so much in common?

To me, a good marinara or meat sauce scooped up with Soft Bread Sticks is a perfect lazy-day meal. I’ll bookmark this for sure for the next time big brother Andy and Shirley come to town.

ClassicScallopedPotatoes via @kingarthurflour

Comfort food #4: Classic Scalloped Potatoes

You can’t think of comfort food without thinking potatoes. French fries may reign supreme with summer burgers, but once fall rolls around, it’s all about Classic Scalloped Potatoes. You’ll be happy to know our recipe makes enough to feed a hungry dozen at least.  Roast that chicken, bake that ham, and relax knowing everyone will have their fill.

Garlic Mac and Cheese via @kingarthurflour

Comfort food #5: Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese

Ah-ha! And here you thought I wasn’t going to mention mac and cheese! Perish the thought, and pass the pasta. If you’re looking to perk up your usual side dish, try our Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese. The bread crumb topping full of rosemary and garlic bakes to crunchy perfection, making a hearty dish you can be proud to serve at the back-to-school open house. Open house? Open wide!

OK, OK, now’s your chance. I know you’re itching to say “I can’t believe you forgot ______.” ” What?! No _______ on the list?”  Please, fill up the comment section below with your favorite comfort foods; we’d love to see them and share, too.

By the way, there’s one dish out there that’s so beloved, so classic, it has even has its own Wikipedia page. It’s been around since the 1700’s, but you’ll never catch me making it. I’ve tried to like it for years with no luck; I just can’t! Take a guess if you’d like – I’ll let you turn on the furnace if you get it right.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Greg

    Not a lasagne fan, MaryJane? Me neither. Too much cheese, and I’m actually just not all that crazy about pasta! But give me a big mug full of broccoli soup, and consider me comforted.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Ooooh, I love both of those. I haven’t made a lasagna in ages. Thanks for the reminder! My hubs doesn’t care for the broccoli soup, so that’s usually a treat for me when we eat out. I remember Friendly’s use to make a good cup. ~ MJ

  2. Margy

    A grilled cheese sammy and tomato soup. Cut the sandwich into crouton-sized bites, and float them in the soup. Tomatoey cheesy yum in every bite. Best thing when it’s cold, rainy and gray outside.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I agree with the “snow day lunch”, but never shall my sandwich be in my soup. Never, I say!!! ~ MJ

    2. PJ

      When I read the comment by Margy I thought, “Oooh! I have to remember that! I love dunking my grilled cheese sandwich in tomato soup.

  3. melanie tenney

    Chicken Soup would be my guess as to the missing comfort food!!
    Really enjoy your writing and your sense of humor! Add to that the great recipes you post and its no wonder I’m a fan!!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I LOVE chicken and rice, creamy chicken and rice in my soup, but I don’t like chicken noodle soup. Weird, huh? I think I’m more creamy than brothy.
      Thanks for the lovely compliments, too. Just the thing to keep me warm today. 🙂 ~ MJ

  4. sandy

    I loved this blog. Having lived in Connecticut for a while I can identify with not turning the heat on. We carry that tradition on even now that we live in PA. We do use, however, the fireplaces. I love to cozy up to the fire and relax.
    For me cool weather comfort food has to include a creamy seafood chowder served with corn muffins. The chowder can be fish, shrimp, or clam, but it has to be creamy. It will warm you all the way to your toes.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      We’ve been making chowder with fish, and shrimp and clams, so all the goodness in one pot. In fact, I may have to put that on this weeks dinner list! ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      ooooh, sounds great. My husband has his dad’s chili pot, which was his mother’s. Yay, chili. ~ MJ

  5. Monica

    Oh, I’m definitely in the lasagne camp. But wait, maybe I’m in the roast chicken camp? Or the chicken soup group? Hmmm! Good thing fall and winter here in the Hudson Valley last a loooong time. Bring it on!

  6. Monica

    I forgot to add corned beef hash topped with poached eggs. One of my mother’s specialties. Warms my insides just thinking about it.

  7. waikikirie

    Oh MJ….I think we are sisters-from-different-mister. I too am not a fan of the chicken noodle. Just like you, love the creamy and enjoy the rice, but noodles, not so much. I thought I was the only “weird” one. You brother sounds like my husband. I could just put a bowl of my sauce in front of him with some GOOD bread and he’d be as happy as a pig-in-poo.
    Comfort food for me is a good pot roast dinner. Hubster doesn’t like pot roast (can’t believe I still married him) so I usually order that out. Another comfort food for me is homemade soups. In fact, will be trying a new potato one tomorrow.
    Trying to guess what it is you don’t like…….Will be interesting to see.

  8. Barbara

    Tell me more about the cheesy pepperoni bites! Specifically, can they be made without the cheese powder, do they freeze well, and can you eat them at room temperature? I’m always looking for lunchbox snacks for my boys, and these might make a welcome change from muffins…

    1. sandy

      I have had great luck freezing the pepperoni bites. I make little drop mounds on parchment (like a mini drop biscuit), freeze them until hard and pop them in a zip bag. I then pull out what we need and bake them still frozen. I reduce the oven heat a little and watch the bottoms so they don’t get too dark. I do use the cheese powder. I bought it especially for making these and it was worth it. They are a great snack and great with soups. We eat them warm and at room temperature, but in reality, they get eaten so fast they are usually warm. My grandsons love them.

  9. Danni

    What about pot pie? When I make chicken pot pie, ALL my kids come home and bring friends! There is something about the flaky crust and creamy gravy encasing the chicken, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms (yes, I put them in!), onions and peas that puts smiles on everyone’s face.

  10. Debbie

    Risotto has turned into my comfort food. Creamy, cheesy, and can be made whatever meat/seafood/veggies you have on hand. And of course a good fudge brownie.

  11. Jeanne

    Fall is falling here in Kansas now, too. Our family is in the minority heating with wood so we’re more like the classic go-put-on-a-sweater Nor’East Coasters than our friends and neighbors. One of my favorites is a lightly curried creamy pumpkin chowder with lots of caramelized onion and hominy added in. It’s a great way to have pumpkin without all the spice and latte for a change. I’m an ex-pat Mainer (Maine-iac?) who has lived all over the US and I still count fall and winter in New England as my favorite time and place.

  12. Jean Damato

    It has to be baked beans. The old timers made it on Saturday so they wouldn’t have to cook on the Sabath. My grandmothers taught me.

    1. kat

      My great grandfather owned a bakery in Boston in the early 1900s. From what I’ve been told, women would come with their bean pots on Saturday night and they would stay in the oven until they were picked up on Sunday. God bless you, Jean.

  13. Chris

    I’m highly lactose intolerant, so avoid a lot of the cheezy comfort foods. But I have discovered I can eat sheep’s milk cheese and goat’s milk cheese in small quantities, so I make a soy milk béchamel and dollop 1/2 tsp’s of chevre on top of the meat layers in my lasagna. I use the crock pot to cook it all day, so I don’t have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles, and it turns out very well.

  14. Linda

    The “comfort food” I don’t think is at all comforting is corn bread – too grainy and crumbly. Is this your “nevermore” food?

  15. Kris

    My guess for your non-comfort food is chicken pot pie. If that is it, I have to agree. Maybe it’s the not so fond memories of Swanson’s 1950’s frozen version where only the edge of the crust was edible.

    Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy is one of my favorites. Oh, did I forget a vegetable, oh wait, there’s potatoes 🙂

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I have to confess, those little pot pies are a guilty pleasure for me when no one is looking. Melissa hit it on the head earlier, I just can’t jump on the Shepherd’s Pie train. NoooOOoo! ~MJ

  16. Melissa

    I love the King Arthur Shaker Chicken and Noodles. It is so simple but so amazing! Pair it with any type of warm bread or the breadsticks made from the soft pretzel recipe and you can’t go wrong. I think that recipe would still be fabulous with some veggies in it, but my kids love it just the way it is.

  17. Melissa

    Oh and I forgot that everyone’s favorite around here, but mine,is Shepherd’s Pie. I cannot stand it, it is just gross to me. It’s locally popular, a special in many local restaurants, and something I just will not eat. That’s one comfort food that I find anything but comforting!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      OMG, Melissa!!! You hit it right on the head! My hubs thinks Shepherd’s Pie is THE best, but I can’t even be in the room with it. Thank goodness there are so many other good things to choose from. ~ MJ

    2. waikikirie

      I was going to guess shepherd’s pie……Is it the ground lamb that turns you off???? Because I don’t care for it made that way either, but substitute ground beef (and use a little beer) YUM….. It’s like an all in one meal (meat loaf, mashed potatoes, veggies, and even a beverage…)

    3. Margy

      I have fond memories of my mom making shepherds pie when I was a child. Always with beef (my dad was an Irishman who didn’t like lamb!). It was a filling and inexpensive meal for 4 growing children then. She died three months ago at the age of 86, and I find myself now wanting to reproduce that feeling of comfort and being cared for. I may have to make it this weekend.

  18. Evelyn

    Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. My husband used to make a mean meatloaf. Now we live in a retirement community and the meatloaf is only okay–

  19. RR

    An outstanding comfort-food combo: King Arthur’s own Oven-baked Chili along with your guaranteed, quick-n-easy Cornbread!

  20. LindaM

    Can’t get the Classic Scalloped Potatoes recipe to show up after clicking on the site. Is it a glitch on your web site. I am able to get all the other recipes on the web page.

    Hope you can find the glitch as they look delicious. My kind of “comfort food”.

    Thanks, LindaM

  21. Nancy

    Taco soup and corn chips with lots of cheese. Of course any kind of soup and mostly with cornbread crumbled in it. I love the recipes o. Kingarthurfour. I visited the store in Vermont and was blown away.

  22. Bridgid

    Just gotta put my two cents in – shepard’s pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef. Shepard’s pie is not gonna pass through these lips, but bring on the cottage pie!

    Fave comfort food? pot roast, or lasagne, or roast chicken, as long as there is a lot of gravy, and mashed potatoes, non-negotiable. And warm homemade apple pie with melted cheddar and vanilla ice cream. Maybe a little warm butterscotch on the side of the ice cream. 🙂

  23. Carolyn

    Favorite comfort meal is a big pot of beef stew, either with dumplings, corn muffins or drop biscuits. Any or all of them will do! I made it two weeks ago and mentioned it to my older two children (the third is away at college and doesn’t like stew, don’t know how that happened!), they both showed up for dinner, my son with his wife and my daughter with her fiancé. It was wonderful! My son lived in Vermont for awhile and I loved it…put me near your store and some awesome quilt stores. Now he’s back in NJ, which I like even more, but I miss my trips to VT!

  24. Brigette

    I love your writing, Mary! It’s palatable. 🙂

    My favorite fall comfort foods, in no particular order, are…

    Lentil and sausage soup, pot roast with potatoes and carrots, broccoli soup, chili and crackers, and mashed potatoes (any day).

  25. jt4short

    I agree with Melissa; Shaker Chicken is fabulous. I commented on that recipe that I made my family’s home made noodles successfully for the first time to go with that! But I also agree that one of the most comforting dishes to me is pot roast. In my family we’d again make those home made noodles to go with the pot roast.

  26. canderson

    A big kettle of American Chop Suey that is 3 days or more old and warm bread…count of ten and out!


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