Every season has its own signature flavors. But as much as we love fresh summer salads and hearty winter soups, there’s something about the cozy flavors of fall that make it the tastiest time of year.
And while fall is known for its comfort foods — warming your hands on a mug of spiced latte, tucking into a classic pumpkin pie under a knitted blanket, or jazzing up your morning oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon — it’s also the perfect time to experiment with bold autumn flavors and exciting new recipes.
Stock up on seasonal berries and fall spices, because we’ve pulled together a list of the best fall flavors — and a few recipe ideas that’ll help you savor those chilly fall days and fill your kitchen with delicious seasonal scents.
1. Pumpkin Spice Blend
Obviously, no list of fall spices would be complete without this mix of fall flavors, which typically includes some combo of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. But while you may be tempted to make a daily trip to Starbucks to enjoy the pumpkin spice latte while it lasts, that can leave you sipping more sugar than you bargained for.
Instead, whip up a healthier version of your favorite latte at home with this pumpkin spice latte recipe. If you’re short on time, you can also just mix a teaspoon of pumpkin spice blend in with your coffee grinds, or scoop it into a shot of espresso, and fill your kitchen with that heady PSL aroma.
2. Fresh Pumpkin
While the list of fall flavors in pumpkin spice blend doesn’t actually include pumpkin, this winter squash deserves its own spot on the list. You can’t really dabble with fall flavors and not mention fresh pumpkin.
For a simple way to add pumpkin to your plate, just slice it up, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, and roast until it’s tender. You can add it to curries, or use it fresh out of the oven to bring a touch of warmth to salads.
Another way to get more fresh pumpkin in your life is to use pumpkin purée in your baking. Pumpkin protein muffins are a nourishing breakfast treat with 6 grams of protein. And a pumpkin pizza with kale puts a festive fall spin on a pizzeria slice.
After noshing on sweet blueberries and strawberries all summer, it’s time to switch up your berry game. Cranberries are a great alternative — and just like summer berries, cranberries are brilliantly versatile and can be added to smoothies, salads, and healthy fall desserts.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up, as these adaptable berries can be served fresh, dried, warm, cold, or as part of a sauce or a dressing. Bring a homemade cranberry sauce to your holiday dinner, or make a sweet and savory side dish of roasted butternut squash with cranberries, and feta. Or create a festive fall cocktail using honey cranberry rosemary simple syrup. However you serve them, cranberries add a tangy fall twist to your recipes.
As the days get shorter and colder, you might be craving something sweet to lift your spirits. Skip the processed sugars and sweeten up your favorite fall desserts the natural way with maple syrup.
A drizzle of maple syrup is a great way to add fall flavor to your favorite snacks, like banana bread oatmeal or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. And it’s not just for desserts — maple syrup can also take your favorite savory dishes, like cedar plank salmon with a maple glaze, to the next level.
Figs have a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with salty or acidic foods — try a fig salad with honey lemon dressing or roast sweet potatoes with figs and goat cheese. The combo of sweet and savory is perfect for a cozy weekend brunch snuggled on the sofa. Or just drizzle baked figs with a bit of balsamic vinegar for the perfect addition to your cheese board.
This herby heavyweight is one of the most bold and unique flavors in your spice rack, and adding a sprinkle or a sprig is a surefire way to instantly transform a dish. If you’re hosting a friendsgiving dinner, rosemary-orange roast turkey is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Or serve up a side dish of rosemary roasted yams. And a few sprigs of rosemary can also add fall flavor to any roasted veggie recipe.
7. Apple and Cinnamon
Whether you sprinkle cinnamon on your hot chocolate or snack on some cinnamon roasted almonds, any recipe featuring this spice will instantly make you think of fall.
But it’s hard to top the classic combo of cinnamon and baked apples. It instantly takes home-cooked comfort up a notch — if you need proof, try these apple cinnamon protein pancakes or baked apple cinnamon oatmeal. Drizzle with maple syrup (because you can never have too many fall flavors!) and serve with berries or chopped nuts for the ultimate pick-me-up on a cold morning.
Nutmeg is another essential spice to add to your pantry this fall — but go easy, because nutmeg has a powerful kick that can overpower a dish if you’re not careful. Just 1/4 teaspoon of this spice adds a ton of fall flavor to glazed yams.
Whether you choose pods, seeds, powder, or extract, vanilla is one of the most effective ways to boost an otherwise bland snack. Take your favorite summer snack into fall with vanilla berry coconut popsicles, or make a batch of homemade vanilla frozen yogurt — the perfect snack for cozy nights in.