Here are all the best winter recipes to stay warm this season! Soups, pasta bakes, casseroles and salads will keep you going all winter long.
Winter may be gray and frigid, but one of the best ways to thrive in this season? Cooking up warming winter recipes! This season may boast less fresh produce than the summer, but it’s equally as delicious. Whip up a fragrant pot of soup on the stovetop, or pop in a hearty pot pie with golden flaky crust and earthy gravy. Winter salads are full of varied colors and textures, from vibrant pink pomegranate to fiery blood orange and darky leafy kale.
Here are all the best winter recipes to stay warm all season! Some of the seasonal ingredients you’ll see featured are:
Is there any winter recipe cozier than a pot pie? There’s nothing that says “Let’s make it through the season!” more than a pot pie. This one's got a ton of winter veggies, pesto and Parmesan in the filling, which makes for a filling that smells (and tastes) incredibly savory and earthy. Top that with a crispy, flaky crust, and it’s crazy delicious.
Here's a winter recipe that's the other side of the coin: a quick and easy dinner! Yes, we dare say: this recipe is lightening fast. In just 25 minutes you have a fast and easy dinner recipe. 25 minutes! All you have to do is cut one onion: otherwise it’s dump and stir. Even better: the flavor is fantastic! There’s nothing about it that tastes like a short cut. It's full of warming, wintery goodness.
Another best winter recipe, and probably our top fan favorite, is this thick and creamy wild rice soup! It's almost impossibly creamy, packed with flavor and full of tender veggies and hearty rice. White beans and cashews bring a creamy body and loads of plant-based protein. Everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe—it’s that good.
How can you go wrong with lasagna in the winter? This recipe is darn good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece!
This vegan shepherd’s pie is one of the best winter recipes: the dinner recipe version of wearing a fuzzy sweater and drinking hot mulled cider. Yes, it's cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. Then a fluffy layer of Yukon gold potatoes, topped with fresh rosemary. It’s layered together in a baking dish and then baked until golden. (It's also plant based.)
Here's a winter lentil soup that's bursting with flavor! It’s full of hearty red lentils and root vegetables, and the broth is swirled with red curry paste and coconut milk. With all the texture and flavor going on, it feels rich and luxurious. But at the same time it’s a healthy, plant based meal!
Who wouldn’t want all the flavors of a supreme pizza wrapped up in a cozy bowl? This pizza soup recipe is sublime. The broth is flavored with pizza sauce, tomatoes, and a little Parmesan to make it creamy. The toppings are swimming along inside: bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms, making for a savory pop that surprises you in every bite. Serve with garlic toast, grilled cheese or simply crusty bread and it’s a meal you’ll want to make over and over…and over.
Welcome to our new favorite way to use this winter squash in a recipe. Butternut squash mac and cheese! Why add this mighty squash to your favorite pasta? Well, three reasons. The first is simply to have an excuse to use this fall ingredient in your kitchen! Butternut squash also lets you use less cheese and adds fiber to this traditionally starchy dish. But most of all…it’s just delicious. The squash gives the cheese sauce a sweet undertone and makes it extraordinarily creamy.
Let's hear it for risotto! The smell alone of this winter squash risotto bubbling away is reason enough to cancel all your plans and make this recipe! The tender, caramelized roasted squash makes sweet pockets in the creamy Parmesan rice dotted with sage. And that smell of shallots sautéing in butter, with a splash of white wine? DIVINE.
Here's a whole grain side dish to add to your winter recipe ideas: farro! Farro is an ancient grain with a chewy texture similar to barley. This farro with mushrooms is bursting with flavor from the savory mushrooms, garlic, and fresh thyme and oregano. Add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and some grated Parmesan cheese and well, its pretty heavenly.
Our favorite winter squash? It’s not the noble butternut, or the trendy noodle-like spaghetti squash. It’s a unique underdog that’s even more delicious…the delicata squash! It roasts up into beautiful half-moons, with edible skin (no peeling!) and a sweet flavor that’s something like a sweet potato. Even better, it’s quick to cook: just 20 minutes in a hot oven! It's like a healthy spin on French fries.
Ready for the best EVER homemade mac and cheese? It’s really worth pulling out the superlatives here! Making this comfort food from scratch makes it taste infinitely better than the kind from a box. Want to impress everyone? This homemade mac and cheese tastes homey and cozy, with the best gooey, cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs.
Of course, no list of winter recipes is complete without the classic: butternut squash soup! This soup will amaze you because unlike most recipes, there's no heavy cream needed! The creaminess comes simply from the pureed squash along with a few secret ingredients. It makes a sweet, dreamy orange puree that will have you hooked.
Here's another winter salad idea that’s flavorful and versatile: arugula beet salad! It features jewel-toned roasted beets with baby arugula, all covered in a zingy citrus vinaigrette. Add thin-sliced shallots and toasted walnuts, and it tastes sophisticated with minimal effort. Use pre-cooked purchased beets to save time, or roast your own beets.
What's more of a winter recipe than braised vegetables? This quintessential wintery cooking technique makes magic with veggies. They taste like they’ve been roasting under a chicken all day long! But they’re totally meatless, bursting with flavor that takes cozy to the next level. These braised veggies are the perfect side dish to any main, with the jewel toned purple onion and orange carrot.
This Moroccan stew is cozy, hearty and full of flavor. Perfect for cold weather, it's warm spiced with cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and the chickpeas are simmered with tomatoes and chickpeas. Serve with side quinoa or couscous and a dollop of Greek yogurt, and it's an extraordinarily tasty meal.
Here’s a winter dinner idea that marries basic Italian flavors into a mess of garlicky, gooey goodness: baked rigatoni! It’s a pasta bake that’s got all the comfort of tomato sauce and cheese, but has intrigue and uniqueness in the flavors. The tomato sauce is full of garlic and a little fennel for meatiness, and it’s got lots of fresh peppery basil for a herbaceous kick. Cover it in gooey mozzarella cheese and you’ve got a dish that’s hearty enough to please any eater.
Here's a winter recipe that makes the season bearable: loaded potato soup! Who could pass that up? This one is impossibly creamy with delightful potato chunks. Old Bay gives it an irresistible undertone. It’s so easy to make: you don’t even need a blender! And the best part is the toppings. Use whatever you like best: like shredded cheese, sour cream and chives.
Last up in our warming winter recipes: try this split pea soup! Split pea soup might sound humble, but it’s pretty much the perfect winter meal. Really, split pea soup? Yes, this tasty soup has lots of virtues. First of all, it’s delicious: full of cozy, lightly smoky flavor. It’s a plant based recipe and because split peas have lots of plant-based protein, it’s very filling. Best of all, it’s very easy to make!
More winter ideas
The recipes above are ideas for meals: but what about drinks? Desserts? Here’s some more inspiration for the colder months:
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, kosher salt, baking powder, and sage. Cut the butter into pieces and drop it into the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to cut it into the flour mixture until a coarse meal texture is obtained.
Sprinkle the ice water over the flour, mixing gradually with fork until the dough sticks together. Add additional water by the tablespoon until the dough comes together with your hands, but is not sticky (add a bit more water or flour if necessary). Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate in a covered container until the filling is ready, or at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling: Slice the shallot into rings. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans in a strainer, shaking them dry. Place a large skillet over medium low heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallot and beans to the skillet in a single layer. Add a pinch of kosher salt and cook without stirring for 3 to 4 minutes until the bottoms are browned and crispy; the beans will pop a bit so you may want to use a splash screen if you have one. Stir and then cook without stirring for another 3 to 5 minutes until the beans and shallots crispy and fully browned (some may fall apart). Remove from heat and remove the beans to a bowl.
In the warm skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the potatoes, onion, pepper, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and may be lightly browned, about 10 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, reduce the heat to low. Add the oregano and flour and stir until the vegetables are coated. Add the vegetable broth, peas, and kosher salt. Stir for about 4 minutes until the broth thickens into a sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto, Parmesan cheese, and the crispy beans and shallots. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Pour the filling into a deep dish 9” pie pan or small baking dish, or into several smaller baking dishes. Fill it only up to the top so the filling doesn’t spill out: there might be a small amount of filling left depending on your pie dish and size of vegetables.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface until it is large enough to cover the pan. Work quickly as the dough is easiest to work with while it’s just come to room temperature. Drape the dough over the pan and remove excess dough. Lightly crimp the edges (it’s a rustic pie, so it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Cut 4 small slits to vent for steam in the center of the crust. In a small bowl, mix a few drops of water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lightly brush it over the dough.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is golden and crispy. Place a tray on the rack underneath to catch any spills. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.