Comfort food is made for times when you need a little extra oomph in your day. Whether you need a pick-me-up around mealtime, you're hanging out with good friends and family, or the temperature just dropped, it's always a great choice.
We love that comfort food has its roots in tradition, community, and family. Check out these easy comfort food recipes that taste just like home.
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Well, that depends on who you ask! All different communities, countries, and cultures have their own idea of what food is comforting. In the U.K., it's beans on toast. Canadians love Poutine (fries topped with cheese curds and gravy), and Taiwanese opt for Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice). In Nigeria, it's Puff-Puff (deep-fried dough). Typically, across cultures, you'll find that the best-tasting comfort foods are high in fat or sugar, energy-dense, and not excessively nutritional (although that's not always the case).
For all intents and purposes, we will stick to popular comfort foods in the United States. Here are some typical comfort food entrees that you may find served at restaurants:
But the big question: What is America's number 1 comfort food? Fun Fact alert! According to a study conducted by Harris Poll, 15% of Americans list pizza as their favorite comfort food. That's nearly double that of any other food choice! Tied for second place was chocolate and ice cream, both with 7%.
I have three words for you: Crock Pot Meals. And just because you make it in a pot, that doesn't mean it has to be soup or stew. There are plenty of delicious set-and-forget slow cooker meals that you can prep ahead, then have it ready when dinner time comes! Chicken and dumplings, buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy, beef stroganoff, spaghetti and meatballs, loaded nachos, lemon butter chicken, pork BBQ, beef stew, and Mexican casserole are all some of my easy family favorites. One-skillet meals are great, but the slow cooker is truly one of the greatest innovations for the busy mom.
Garlic, basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh herbs-- these flavorful ingredients really make Italian dishes some of the most delicious in the entire world.
Fettuccine Alfredo: This Italian pasta dish is made of fresh fettuccine tossed with butter and parmesan cheese. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a creamy, rich sauce coating on the pasta. Add a protein like chicken or shrimp, and you have a hearty, flavorful meal that anyone would love.
Baked Ziti: This popular casserole made with ziti pasta, a Neapolitan-style tomato-based sauce, sausage, and vegetables is the perfect one-dish meal for busy weeknights and picky eaters, too! Don't forget to pack on the parmesan for plenty of flavor!
Lasagna: We love this cheesy dish stacked with layers of thin flat pasta alternating with fillings such as ragù, vegetables, cheese, ground beef, and seasonings and spices such as garlic, oregano, and basil. My mom's trick? She uses no-boil lasagna noodles to save time. You can even make it in the slow cooker in a pinch! If you want to replace the slow cooker with an Instant Pot, Check out this recipe for Instant Pot lasagna that you can make in no time!
I've had my fair share of comfort foods in my life. Family is one of the most important things in the world to me, so a homemade comfort food meal that I get to share with my family is twice as special. Check out some of my favorite foods that take me right back to mealtime in my mom's kitchen, starting with a recipe Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole:
The perfect easy comfort food casserole for a chilly fall night.
cooked and drained
cooked and diced
shredded mozarella cheese
cooked and chopped
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together ranch dressing and alfredo sauce in a medium bowl until combined.
Mix the mozzarella and cheddar together in a small bowl.
Grease bottom and sides of a casserole dish with butter or baking spray.
Add half of the pasta and half of the chicken and top with half of the ranch/alfredo sauce.
Stir to combine and sprinkle with more of the cheese blend. Reserve a small amount.
Add the rest of the pasta and remaining chicken and top with remaining sauce.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese blend and bacon.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.
What's even better than baked potatoes? Twice-baked potatoes, of course! Start by placing 8 washed baking potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with canola oil and bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees F. Slice 2 sticks of salted butter into pats and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of bacon bits and 1 cup of sour cream. Remove the potatoes from the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees F. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then scoop out the insides into the mixing bowl. Leave a small rim of each potato intact for support and place the hollowed-out shells on the baking sheet.
Smash the potatoes into the butter, bacon, and sour cream. Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese, 1 cup of milk, 3 sliced green onions, 2 tsp of seasoned salt, and freshly ground pepper and mix well. Fill the shells with the potato filling, top shredded cheese for garnish, and pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Add any extra toppings you want, like a drizzle of aioli, chimichurri, or sour cream! If you use smaller potatoes, this works great as a side dish!
There's a reason a bowl of chicken noodle soup is one of our favorite meals when we're sick, and that's because it really hits the spot. Not only that, the aroma of chicken soup on the stove is one of my favorite smells in the fall. To a stockpot, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Put 1 cup of peeled and sliced (thin) carrots, 1 cup of sliced (thin) celery, and 1 cup of chopped onion into the stockpot and sauté for about 7 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and continue to saute for another 1-2 minutes. Then, add 8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (can substitute chicken stock or vegetable stock), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fresh thyme, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp pepper, and bring to a boil got 5 minutes (until veggies are fork-tender).
Add 12 oz. of dry, wide egg noodles and boil for another 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken breast, 3-4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves, and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Adjust seasonings however you'd like! Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.
The great thing about chicken noodle soup is that you can add any vegetables you'd like and make it more of a chicken vegetable soup. Sometimes I'll add chickpeas or edamame! My mom also likes to add red pepper flakes to her own for some kick. If you're looking for more fall soup ideas, check out my favorite butternut squash soup recipe! You'll find other fall favorites like a sweet potato soup recipe, lentil soup, and lots more!
The key to the perfect pork chops is finding the right marinade. My favorite recipe has 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1-1/2 tbsp minced garlic, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp Kosher salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Marinate your pork chops in a baking dish in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 12 hours. Grill your pork chops or roast them in the oven. I like to serve mine with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Everyone claims that they make the best chili. And that's how the good, old-fashioned American chili cookoff began. Whether it's a red chili or a white chili, spicy or mild, thin or thick, I think we can all agree that's it's best served with a big pan of hot cornbread. For my favorite red chili recipe, start by placing 5 strips of chopped, uncooked bacon in a large pot and cook over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and drain all but 1-1/2 Tbsp of grease. Add 1 large diced yellow onion, 1 chopped red pepper, and cook 3-5 minutes (until softened). Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add 1 lb lean ground beef, breaking apart with a spatula as you cook.
Once the meat is halfway browned, add 1 Tbsp of brown sugar, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder, 1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp onion powder, 3/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Add 1-1/4 cup of beef broth, 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 15 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 14.5 oz can of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, 1/4 cup of tomato paste, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and cooked bacon. Stir well, then bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve with toppings like sour cream, cheese, corn chips, or cornbread!
Why are kids always so resistant to meatloaf? I think it has something to do with the name. But don't they know it's hamburger meat, but just...better? Either way, with the right recipe, you'll have a hearty hit that everyone will be excited about. For the meatloaf, in a large bowl, add 1 lb lean ground beef, 1 cup dried bread crumbs, 1/2 cup diced yellow onion, 1/2 cup milk, 1 large egg (beaten), 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp dried parsley, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
Use your hands to mush and mix these ingredients together until well combined. Add the meat mixture to a greased loaf pan, then pat it into an even layer. Combine 1/4 cup of ketchup, 2 tbsp light brown sugar, and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar for the sauce. Bake uncovered for 55 minutes, then let it rest before serving. Serve with melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes and sauce!
Did you ever have a pot roast on Sundays? This recipe for a simple pot roast is a game-changer. Pour 1 Tbsp vegetable oil into a large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Season the 3-1/2 lbs of chuck roast with salt and black pepper. Brown the meat on both sides in the hot oil and transfer to a plate. Stir 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 cup diced celery, and 1 cup of diced onion into the pot, and cook and stir until vegetables start to release their juices, about 3 minutes; loosen any brown flavor bits on the bottom of the pot. Add 1/4 cup of butter, and cook until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Then sprinkle 1 tsp of dried rosemary, stir the vegetables, and return the roast to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid.
Roast in the preheated oven until the chuck roast is tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Season vegetables with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.
Nothing can turn your mood around like just the right comfort food recipe. What's your go-to comfort food when you're in the mood for something hearty and filling for dinner? Share your favorite recipes with the people you love on FamilyApp. Or, create a group to plan your next potluck where everyone brings their favorite comfort food!