The best fall recipes you need to try

You can just feel it, can't you? The summer flew by quicker than any summer you've had before. One day, you were pottering along on a balmy mid-August afternoon, and the next, somehow, it was mid-October. Now, it's colder. It's darker. The green is gone from the leaves. For better or for worse, fall is here.

And let's not kid ourselves — it's always a shame to say goodbye to those sunnier days. But that doesn't mean you need to let the changing seasons bring you down. After all, fall is a time of roaring fires and golden trees. It's a time of rainy days and warm scarves. It's a time of change. Most of all, though, it's a time for really good cooking.

The best fall recipes are hearty, warming, plentiful, and — most of the time — a little sweet, too. These are the kinds of dishes that make the coming winter seem just a little less scary and the vanishing summer just a little less tragic. These are the best fall recipes you need to try.

5-ingredient copycat Costco rotisserie chicken recipe

Ask any American, and they'll tell you that the most important event during the fall is Thanksgiving. Of course, Thanksgiving is thought of as the turkey holiday and has been for almost as long as Thanksgiving has been a thing. But we're here to put an end to that once and for all because chicken is demonstrably, empirically, evidently, and indisputably superior to turkey in practically every way. How? Well, according to GQ, "chicken tastes better than turkey. It just does! And the bird's smaller size means more even cooking, and you can fit more than one of them in a standard oven, and when was the last time you tasted a crispy bit of chicken skin? Chicken skin is delicious. You should have some for Thanksgiving."

Can't argue with that, can you? And even if you don't fancy a chicken on Thanksgiving, there's nothing stopping you from rustling up a fall chicken recipe once the weather closes in.

Luckily for you, our rotisserie chicken Costco copycat recipe near-perfectly replicates one of the best grocery store chickens out there. It uses a salt/garlic/paprika/pepper spice mixture to get just the right flavor balance, features a few top tips to perfect the roasting process, and, most importantly of all, is incredibly easy to perfect. Have it for Thanksgiving, have it for Sunday dinner. Have it for breakfast, for all we care. But whenever you do have it, one thing's for sure: You'll be glad you did.

Copycat Panera chicken noodle soup recipe

For all the lovely boons of fall, one thing nobody enjoys is getting ill. Sadly, as the year draws on, it seems practically inevitable that you're going to fall prey to a cold or the flu. What does that mean? Well, it means a few days wrapped up in bed, taking fever reducers, and eating your rapidly diminishing body weight in chicken soup.

Yes, a good bowl of chicken soup can put a smile on the face of even the most afflicted of bedridden convalescents, so it's always good to go into the season with a decent recipe to hand. Enter our copycat chicken noodle soup fall recipe, a replication of the (frankly superb) version served at Panera bakeries around the country.

It's devilishly simple to make, and although you'll need a good deal of ingredients to get it just right, there's plenty of room for customization if you can't get out to the store. At its heart, all you really need for this is some egg noodles, a heap of veggies, some decent seasoning, and of course, a few chicken breasts. It's also dairy and gluten-free and could easily be totally vegan if you get your hands on some egg-free pasta and some decent vegan chicken pieces. Throw it all in a pot or an instant cooker, give it a little kitchen magic, and you'll be feeling better in no time.

Butternut squash stuffed shells recipe

The butternut squash is one of the quintessential fall vegetables — only beaten out by pumpkin or maybe sweet potatoes. Even if you're not feeling particularly seasonal, by the time you've tasted just a little bit of squash, you'll be pretty much bursting with autumnal glee.

Sometimes, though, it can be tough figuring out how best to use a butternut squash. If you're fully over the idea of throwing it in a stew or soup, however, you could always mix it up with our butternut squash stuffed shells fall recipe. The concept is almost irresistible: It's creamy, mashed squash, spiced sausage, cheese, and fresh spinach brought together and stuffed into pasta shells. Everything is done properly (no pre-cut squash or second-rate sausage here), so it's guaranteed to have that gorgeous fresh feel, and the combination of melted ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan is decadent to the extreme. But sometimes that's exactly what you want, isn't it?

Better yet, the whole thing comes slathered in a butter and sage sauce to give that perfect finishing touch to — let's be honest — an already delectable dish. This one should work equally well as a lunch or a dinner, too, so you can crack it out whenever you feel like it. Which will probably be often.

Thanksgiving pizza recipe

Alright, calm down, it's not that weird. Let's consider two facts. Firstly, everybody always has leftovers after Thanksgiving. Secondly, everybody loves pizza. Both are true, right? So why wouldn't you use your leftovers as toppings for some kind of pan-Atlantic Pilgrim-Italian mash-up?

If you're the kind of person who likes to play it safe with a margherita, you can probably look away now because our Thanksgiving pizza fall recipe is about as off-the-wall as they come. The dough is kneaded and baked like any other pizza, but you won't find any tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese here. Instead, this pizza utilizes a mixture of mashed potatoes, goat cheese, and cheddar cheese on the base before being topped with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and more goat cheese. The result? A bold and hearty pizza that really shouldn't work — but somehow totally does.

So forget your turkey sandwiches or leftover casseroles, your pot pies and your hastily assembled salads. This year, put your scraps to good use and try out this utterly bizarre yet deeply satisfying adventure into the depths of Thanksgiving indulgence. If nothing else, do it just to see the look on your family's faces.

5-ingredient pumpkin pie recipe

Ah, the humble pumpkin. Does it get any more autumnal than this? Fall without any pumpkins just wouldn't be fall at all.

And so the pumpkin pie must be held up as the undisputed (okay, disputed) king of holiday pies. That's why it has been enjoyed in American households for Thanksgivings dating all the way back to the 18th century. Unfortunately, as a dessert, pumpkin pie can often be overlooked in a hectic Thanksgiving kitchen, especially if you're focused on other things. Simplicity is key, then, and nothing is simpler to make than our five-ingredient pumpkin pie.

Those five ingredients for this fall recipe are pumpkin puree, condensed milk, eggs, spice, and a pie shell (though obviously, you can make the spice and the shell from scratch if you so choose). The process is almost as straightforward as the ingredients list, too: Whisk together a filling, pour it into the shell, bake, cool, and serve. This recipe should serve around eight people, and you'll likely be able to have it ready in under an hour (though it'll need longer to cool) — meaning you can rustle it up on the side as you tend to other, more complex dishes. Great taste, easy to make. Basically, everything you could want in a good pumpkin pie.

3-ingredient apple cake recipe

Here's a question for you: What could be simpler than a five-ingredient recipe for pumpkin pie? Why, a three-ingredient recipe for apple cake, of course. Yes, if the pumpkin is the vegetable of fall, then surely the apple is the season's fruit. And although a nice apple pie will certainly hit the right spot, there's nothing wrong with shaking things up a little.

The good news is that, in order to bake yourself a delicious, fluffy, and filling apple cake, all you'll need is a few eggs, some decent cake mix, and a can of apple pie filling and topping. Pretty much all you need to do is mix it all together, throw it in the oven, and wait.

Obviously, some people have a little more time on their hands, and you might be tempted to go for the genuine article: proper filling, homemade cake mix, that kind of thing. If that sounds like you, you're in luck, because our recipe will also guide you through making an apple cake from scratch (of course, although it's also very easy to make, you'll need a fair few more ingredients to pull it off).

Nothing else to it, really. Serve it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream... and enjoy this fall recipe.

3-ingredient apple cobbler recipe

Another member of the Pantheon of Apple Desserts here. Apple cobbler is easily as strong a fall treat as apple cake or pumpkin pie and has the added bonus of being both super simple and relatively quick to bake.

Our three-ingredient apple cobbler recipe uses — you guessed it — three ingredients: apples, cinnamon sugar, and cinnamon rolls (with the optional extra of chopped pecans). The process is just as simple and outside of prep should be basically effortless. As it stands, this should be a great recipe for novice bakers who aren't necessarily comfortable concocting their own pastry or dough but want something that at least looks impressive.

The finished dish ought to taste just as good as a fully homemade peach cobbler, with the cinnamon sugar adding just enough extra spice and sweetness to really bring the whole thing together. The use of cinnamon rolls for the topping is pretty inspired too and will likely provide a quick-fix (read: lazier) option for cobbler fans after something a bit different to the usual fare.

As for accompaniments, the same goes for the apple cobbler as the apple cake: A little whipped cream or ice cream will really make this fall recipe pop. Perfect for a cozy, after-dinner treat.

Ghost brownies recipe

Yes, that's right, ghost brownies. It doesn't get much spookier than this fall recipe, folks. These spine-chilling little treats ought to be a fantastic addition to any spread on Halloween... or any other time of the year if you're just kinda into the macabre.

At its core, the best thing about this recipe is that it's insanely fun, surprisingly cute, and incredibly easy to pull off. We're doing everything from scratch, so you can be sure the quality will be top-notch, and — between the brownies themselves, the buttercream frosting, the white chocolate chips, and the jumbo marshmallows — we can guarantee it's going to give you, or your kids, one heck of a buzz.

The only really fiddly bit comes with the construction of the ghosts themselves, but even that's not too much trouble. You're basically painting a little face on them with black gel frosting and then covering them with buttercream. Aside from that, this is a standard (and delicious) brownie recipe, meaning it's simple, effective, and versatile too, being totally open to any kind of customization you might ordinarily bring to baking brownies. And hey, when Christmas comes around, you can turn the marshmallows into snowmen and a whole new batch. Any excuse, eh?

Pumpkin cream cheese sheet cake recipe

Back to the pumpkins with this nifty little fall recipe for pumpkin cream cheese sheet cake. The really big appeal here is that this recipe could feed pretty much an entire city. Despite requiring only a handful of ingredients and taking no longer than 40 minutes to prepare and bake, your finished dessert will serve a whopping 32 people. That's almost three football teams. Or an entire small wedding. Or yourself, 32 times, if that's the kind of mood you're in. Hey, we won't judge.

If you do happen to be catering to over 30 people, you might be glad to hear that pumpkin cream cheese sheet cake is incredibly easy to make, with no nasty surprises in store or fiddly segments along the way. The final product should be light and fluffy, with a lovely sweet and savory mix thanks to the cream cheese, pumpkin, and cinnamon all playing off against each other. It's not your average fall dessert, that's for sure, but it's good, regardless — which is lucky, considering you're going to end up with enough to keep you going for weeks.

Slow cooker baked apples recipe

Just in case you've perfected your apple cobbler and your apple cake and, somehow, you still have a whole heap of apples left over, we've got this slow cooker baked apples recipe that should make good use of the rest.

Because this fall recipe uses a slow cooker, the prep is incredibly quick and easy, but the cooking time itself is very long indeed — three hours, to be exact — making this a good dish to leave on throughout the day. It also means that you have to do basically nothing after the prep is finished, which is always a plus. You're going to be flavoring your apples with cinnamon, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and apple pie spice, which will all come together as part of an oat mixture inside each apple.

Once they're done, the recipe recommends a dollop of Greek yogurt, some ice cream, or some whipped cream to go on top. It's really as easy as that, and aside from a little apple coring at the beginning, requires pretty much zero baking know-how to get right. Serve them as a mid-afternoon snack or a light dessert after dinner, and you'll have people clamoring for more. How do you like dem apples?

Copycat Dairy Queen pumpkin pie Blizzard recipe

Dairy Queen Blizzards are practically legendary on the fast food dessert scene (yes, that's a thing), and for good reason: They're sweet, they're satisfying, and they're filled to the brim with sugar. What more could you want?

Once the fall comes around, Dairy Queen offers a truly wonderful pumpkin pie Blizzard. But who needs 'em? 'Cos we've got our own fall recipe. Our copycat Dairy Queen pumpkin pie Blizzard follows Dairy Queen's recipe almost to a fault and should help you to effortlessly recreate your favorite autumnal fast food dessert. It'll only take five minutes or so to make, with absolutely zero prep involved, so you can rustle one up at less than a moment's notice. All you'll need is the right ingredients, a blender, and a heart of gold, and you'll be getting the best Dairy Queen has to offer from the comfort of your very own kitchen. Winner.

Copycat Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew recipe

Pumpkin spice mania has got to be one of the longest-surviving trends in the food world. Even today, countless coffee shops around the world sell their own variations on this particular treat, with the most famous — and arguably the most popular — being found at Starbucks.

Now, although the pumpkin spice latte sits at the forefront of the pumpkin spice trend, there are a few other versions to be found, including our very own copycat Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew. Although the fall recipe itself suggests enjoying it in the mid-summer, there's no reason you can't make yourself a cup in the early autumn when the weather hasn't quite turned.

Luckily, our version is cheap and easy to make. You'll have to make both the vanilla syrup and the pumpkin spice syrup yourself if you really want to get as close to the Starbucks version as possible, but that extra effort is worth it because the result really will be just like the real thing. This isn't too complicated a process either, and as long as you know what you're doing, you shouldn't run into any trouble.

Then again, if the cold winds of autumn do start to creep in, you could always take the syrups we use in this recipe and use them to make an actual latte. Because what you'll end up with, of course, is a bona fide pumpkin spice latte — which should provide the perfect treat for the season.

Copycat Starbucks pumpkin bread

Starbucks has a particularly stellar reputation when it comes to fall treats, and their pumpkin bread is one of their absolute best. Just in case it's not convenient to get yourself over to your nearest branch, though, we've got the perfect copyright recipe.

This is a gorgeously spongy, perfectly autumnal slice of pumpkin bliss, topped with seeds (if you prefer) and easy to make in just over an hour. It'll take a good few ingredients to get just right, and some — such as pumpkin spice or pepita seeds — might take a little effort to get hold of. It'll be more than worth it, though. The finished product is light and moist and should have a golden-brown crust that works perfectly with those seeds.

All in all, it's a fantastic addition to your roster of fall baked treats, one that'll impress your friends as easily as it'll satisfy your own cravings. And, of course, it should go great with that Starbucks copycat cold brew. What could be better?

Instant Pot pumpkin pie recipe

If you're lucky enough to own an Instant Pot, you'll be well aware just how easy it can make life in the kitchen — and how recipes that might once have been tricky and complex can suddenly become a total breeze to pull off.

So let's say you're living the dream: You've got yourself an Instant Pot, it's the middle of fall, and you're really jonesing for a pumpkin pie. Well, a decent Instant Pot pumpkin pie recipe would make things pretty much perfect right about now, wouldn't it? This pumpkin pie isn't just quick and easy to make — it also benefits from a wonderful texture and a gorgeously autumnal, sweet, dark, slightly spiced taste.

Even better, we've also included a little hack to make sure your Instant Pot pumpkin pie comes glazed with the same caramelized top that you'll find on oven-baked pie but doesn't usually coalesce during an Instant Pot cook. It basically involves a sprinkle of sugar and a quick trip to the broiler ... but you didn't hear that from us, yeah?