11 Recipes for Cozy Dinners on Cool Nights

Let’s get cozy with comforting, family favorite dinners. We’ll make use of seasonal ingredients, as well as pantry staples to keep the chill at bay. Warm up to sheet pan chicken with spicy harissa, vegetarian chili, mac and cheese, pork tenderloin and more!

The season is slowly transitioning from summer sun to cool fall days and I am ready for it.

I always look forward to this time of year when the smell of chili simmering on the stove and cornbread in the oven draws the family together both in the kitchen and around the table.

Family-friendly meals are simple during fall. Turning on the oven with delight, I reach for sheet pan meals, stovetop classics, and soups we haven’t eaten in a year. Fall offers the chance to dig in once again to apples, root vegetables and pantry staples that the whole family enjoys. Read on for simple, cozy, family-friendly meal ideas.

Sheet Pan Meal with Chicken

Sheet pan dinners are one of my favorite weeknight meals. Combining protein and vegetables all on one pan allows the vegetables to take on the spicy, smoky flavor of harissa, plus less dishes to clean! Harissa is either a paste or ground spice. The paste is preferred but ground harissa works too. Just add two tablespoons of olive oil and mix together before proceeding with the recipe.

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Vegetable Meatless Chili

A big pot of vegan chili is just what a cool evening needs. This version is bursting with roasted vegetables, beans and spices. Roasting the eggplant before adding it to the pot, keeps it from getting mushy. Chili is a great make ahead meal and it also freezes well. Make a batch on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch or dinner throughout the week. Serve with no-knead bread.

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A bowl of creamy potato soup recipe

Creamy potato soup is one of the first recipes I make once the weather turns cooler. The addition of homemade croutons and freshly crisped bacon is an easy sell for the whole family. Plus, it’s on the table in less than an hour. Win!

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Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Casserole

Everyone in my family loves rice. Turning this side into a whole meal? Yes please! This recipe uses pantry staples and aromatic basmati rice, but other varieties can be used instead. You may need to adjust the liquid so take a peek during cooking to double check.

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Broccoli Cheddar Mac Cheese

Homemade mac and cheese is an easier and more forgiving meal than you may think! Use any hard or semi-hard cheeses in place of the sharp cheddar. Gruyere, smoked cheddar and white cheddar are great options. Spiral pasta or any short noodle works in place of the macaroni as well.

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Beef Noodle Casserole

I like to keep a stash of egg noodles in my pantry for those nights when a cozy casserole is a must. Thankfully, this recipe serves a crowd, which means there will be enough left for the next day’s lunch. I appreciate the variety of vegetables baked into the casserole, while maintaining a short 10 minute prep time.

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Sausage, Peppers, and Onions recipe

The title explains it all: Italian sausages, bell peppers and onions simmered along with crushed tomatoes for an easy, versatile meal. Serve it over pasta or inside a hoagie. There isn’t a wrong answer.

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Pork Tenderloin with Apples

It’s apple season and I want to make the most of it with this pork tenderloin and sauteed apple dinner. This meal requires zero marinating time or pre-planning to get on the table and that’s a win in my book. Tenderloins cook quickly so keep an eye on them once they hit the oven.

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Puerto Rican Stewed Crab

Nothing against crab cakes, but this quick stew is a better fit for the cooler weather of fall. Look for a mix of lump, backfin, and claw meat or buy and steam fresh crab. Either way, you won’t regret it.

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Baked Fish and Chips Garnished with Fresh Parsley

Oven baked fish and chips scratches the “I really want fast food” itch. Thankfully, its ready in less than an hour. The coating is crispy thanks to pre-toasting the panko crumbs. Brilliant!

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Sweet Sour Chicken

My child who “doesn’t like chicken” will eat it in stir fry any day of the week. The juicy chicken is irresistible coated in this quick sweet and sour sauce. The recipe uses pantry staples and includes pineapple and bell peppers. Serve with rice.

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Rachel Knecht

Rachel tests recipes for Simply Recipes, teaches a kid's cooking class, and develops the content for Baking with Rachel.

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4 Comments

No Image11 Recipes for Cozy Dinners on Cool Nights

  1. Maria Betânia F. Champagne

    A sheet-pan harissa chicken with carrots and cauliflower, that’s where I will start! Miam, miam, miam, comme on dit ici en France.

  2. Marie Snow

    Love all your recipes.

  3. Carol

    What a great group of fall comfort food recipes! ❤️

  4. Maxine

    I am on my way from work and my mouth is watering just reading the recipes