Between apples, pumpkin, squash, and cranberries, autumn brings not only crisp days but countless options for thrifty and delicious dishes that capitalize on seasonal fare. Whether you're gathering the family for Sunday dinner or headed off to an autumn potluck, these easy recipes will satisfy the palate — and the pocketbook.
Switch up the tailgate-favorite pigs in a blanket with this recipe that features breakfast sausage, frozen puff pastry, and a few spices. Forego the fresh spices for dried to make it even easier.
HOT BEER CHEESE DIP
Summer crudités pale in comparison to the creamy richness of this dip that's as easy as it is crowd-pleasing. Pass the crusty bread.
ORIGINAL BRAT QUESADILLAS
Quick and easy, this taste treat uses a package of bratwurst and just a few simple ingredients such as German-style mustard, Muenster cheese, and pickles to offer a singular twist on the traditional all-ages fave. Slice up to serve a crowd.
EASY STUFFED MUSHROOMS
Warm finger foods rich with hearty flavors are a sure-fire way to kick off a dinner party. Pillsbury's take on stuffed mushrooms had one reviewer commenting, "Why have I never thought of this before?!"
BACON-WRAPPED STUFFED DATES
HOT BEAN DIP
Refried beans, taco seasoning, green onions, and two cheeses combine for a flavorful south-of-the-border kick. Don't expect leftovers.
THE PERFECT FALL CHEESE BALL
A cheese ball seems to be the never-fail dish to bring to ... well, most any event where you have to bring a dish. This version is not only flavorful but catches the eye with its pumpkin-themed presentation.
Recipe: Family Fresh Meals
BUTTERNUT SQUASH APPLE SOUP
Recreate a bistro experience in your own kitchen with this comforting dish from Simply Recipes founder Elise Bauer that gets a little kick from a tart apple. Shop for pre-cut veggies on sale — or do the work yourself. It's worth the effort.
Recipe: Simply Recipes
QUICK AND EASY VEGETABLE SOUP
A few kernels of the last of summer's fresh sweet corn add a crunch to this soup that's a breeze thanks to cost-effective ingredients including canned chicken broth, juice, and diced tomatoes.
CLASSIC EASY PUMPKIN SOUP
This fall classic pleases palates around the world — we're loving the recipe from Australian food blogger Nagi who graciously provides options for fresh or canned pumpkin as well as vegan substitutions.
Recipe: RecipeTin Eats
QUICK AND EASY TURKEY NOODLE SOUP
Save this one for a post-Thanksgiving, tummy-warming treat. In a pinch, substitute store-bought stock for homemade.
Recipe: Farm Flavor
CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP
We can't say enough about the powers of a steaming bowl of soup. At just 60 calories per serving, this virtuous spin gets its richness from reduced-fat sour cream. So clever!
WAFFLE FRY POT PIE
Fall and comfort food just go together, and this twist on the classic pot pie turns basic chicken breasts (buy in bulk and freeze the rest, as you will make it again) into a hearty dish thanks to canned veggies, canned soup, frozen pie crust, and the signature waffle fries.
Entertaining a crowd or heading to a potluck? This recipe for chili is a stick-to-the-ribs dish that will leave your diners happy and your wallet unhurt.
Recipe: Budget Bytes
Chicken is one of those dishes that can be routine — or with a little imagination become something memorable. This recipe falls into the latter category thanks to simple, thrifty ingredients that include canned cranberry sauce and bottled salad dressing.
Recipe: Kraft Recipes
SLOW COOKER ROAST BEEF
Billed as costing "less than 72 cents per person," this dish relies on staples such as chuck roast, potatoes, carrots, onion, and spices with the slow cooker doing its magic.
Recipe: Grocery Budget 101
Real Simple has a list of "8 Celebration-Worthy Cinnamon Cocktails" that all start with a simple cinnamon-infused syrup — basically sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks. Our favorite offering features vodka and Kahlua. Yum!
Recipe: Real Simple
Just a Pinch Recipes makes no bones about its thrifty approach. And that's found in this twist on the dish that has been keeping stomachs warm and happy for ages — one that features instant mashed potatoes, canned soup, and mixed vegetables.
Recipe: Just a Pinch Recipes
EASY LENTIL STEW
Pantry staples form the heart of this dish, which can easily become a vegetarian entrée by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. This recipe comes together in an hour.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
SPARKLING APPLE TEA
For those who want their autumn sips without alcohol, this recipe amps up store-bought sparkling apple cider — often a steal in the grocery store — and adds just lemon juice, black tea and cinnamon for a memorable seasonal sip.
Recipe: Serious Eats
BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND TURKEY RICE CASSEROLE
Brussels sprouts have that rich, savory appeal — add ground turkey and pantry staples for a dish that looks elegant and will leave your guests asking for the recipe.
ONE POT CHILI MAC AND CHEESE
Canned beans, canned diced tomatoes, and elbow macaroni — we all know these are budget-stretching ingredients. This dish takes those basic ingredients and whips up a tasty meal in 30 minutes.
Recipe: Damn Delicious
MAPLE BOURBON OLD-FASHIONED
A well-stocked bar will need only to add a wonderfully seasonal ingredient — maple syrup — to create this twist on a cocktail stalwart.
No one wants to dig into a bubbling tray of lasagna when the temperature's topping 90. Come October, it's quite a different story. This Southern Living recipe offers the easiest of approaches to this all-time Italian favorite.
Recipe: Southern Living
PORK CHOPS AND APPLES
For a no-fuss take on a classic taste pairing, this Betty Crocker recipe offers an easy — four-ingredient — interpretation that is done in less than an hour.
Recipe: Betty Crocker
THE BEST SLOPPY JOES
What's not to love? Easy on the wallet, a classic retro taste, and a simple recipe from a blog dedicated to spotlighting "modern home cooking with a Midwestern heart." It tastes even better if it's made the night before and heated up the next day.
Recipe: Culinary Hill
SPAGHETTI AND MEAT SAUCE
You want to give your family a satisfying hot dinner on a weeknight, but gourmet fare's not your style. This five-ingredient recipe doctors up prepared pasta sauce and keeps things simple — and satisfying.
Recipe: Ready Set Eat
FALL VEGETABLE EGG CASSEROLE
Breakfast for dinner doesn't have to mean a whole pancake, bacon, and egg production. This recipe from Oats & Sesame features Brussels sprouts and butternut squash with additional — and optional — seasonings. Easy and elegant.
Recipe: Oat & Sesame
Claire Robinson's recipe relies on just five ingredients — yes, she's the one behind "Five Ingredient Fix" — with yellow squash taking center stage. Joined by a bit of cheese and a cracker topping, this is one side dish that won't get pushed to the side.
Recipe: Food Network
WARM SPAGHETTI-SQUASH SALAD
This dish ups the profile of spaghetti squash with an easy recipe that puts the nutrient-rich vegetable front and center — with zippy accents including almonds, olives and feta cheese.
MASHED POTATO CASSEROLE
Potatoes, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon are featured in this dish. It's a cool-weather offering that will have you wanting to just sneak away with the whole dish and a big spoon.
Recipe: House of Yumm
EASY CHEESY ZUCCHINI GRATIN
Warm, gooey cheese ... an ingredient that's got us loving so many of these cool-weather dishes, and this one's no exception. Here, zucchini and onion team up with cheese and heavy whipping cream for a low-carb, gluten-free dish.
Recipe: I Breathe, I'm Hungry
SWEET POTATOES ROASTED IN COCONUT OIL
Signature flavor and easy prep are key to this offering. Sometimes, it's good to go simple. This dish also cooks up in less an hour.
IMPRESSIONIST WALDORF SALAD
TV chef Robert Irvine served this up during a "Dinner: Impossible" segment — apples, celery, walnuts, and red onion with a quick-in-a-blender dressing that's on the table in 15 minutes.
Recipe: Food Network
GREEN BEANS WITH CRANBERRIES
This is a dish as elegant as can be — and an easy way to mix up tired old green beans with some seasonal flair.
Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen
CURRIED CAULIFLOWER, APPLES, AND CHICKPEAS
Take three standard — and yes, perhaps boring — ingredients but follow this recipe for an exotic taste treat that may just become your signature side.
Recipe: Midwest Living
EASY APPLE CRISP
A half dozen apples, white cake mix (go store-brand) plus brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. This recipe is easy to remember — with a taste that's hard to forget, a winning spin on a classic dish.
LEMON-SUGAR GRILLED PINEAPPLE
A warm fruit dessert always hits the spot. Take advantage of fall grilling and whip up this three-ingredient tropical treat in moments.
FROZEN PUMPKIN MOUSSE PIE
Canned pumpkin puree and a gingersnap cookie-crust add up to ease of production in this heart-healthy, low-sodium and vegetarian option.
Recipe: Eating Well
EASIEST EVER BAKED STUFFED APPLES
Leave it to Rachael Ray to offer up a quick, inexpensive and delicious spin on one of fall's most beloved apple-themed desserts.
Recipe: Food Network
Another way to transition from summer to fall is with this tart little drink that's as easy as it is tasty. Ideal for parties as you can make a few batches and chill in advance.
Recipe: Ocean Spray
PUMPKIN-APPLE BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
Everyone seems to have some pumpkin pie spice around this time of year. It adds a real zip to this recipe, which uses everyday fall staples such as canned pumpkin, an apple, and a few oats for a hearty fall-themed start to your day.
Recipe: Kristine's Kitchen
Pure pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice — plus optional orange juice — create a moist muffin ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner dessert.
Recipe: Very Best Baking
CRANBERRY MAGIC BARS
Those bags of fresh cranberries seem to go on sale once fall is in full swing — and they're not just for cranberry sauce. These bars, jam-packed with good-for-you ingredients, are destined to become a family favorite.
MOLASSES SPICE COOKIES
Anyone who bakes likely has all the ingredients on hand for these fragrant cookies. Elise Bauer's interpretation is chewy — and memorable.
Recipe: Simply Recipes
TRIPLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN BREAD
You have to smile when you think of this quick-bread recipe. It's dessert, it's chocolate ... but it's also made with pumpkin. And that adds moistness — and, we think, an air of health. Sneaky, right?
Recipe: Spend With Pennies
PUMPKIN SPICE HOT COCOA
Pumpkin and chocolate team up again in this warming sip that's billed as a "great treat for a fall day, quiet evening or to share with friends and family."
CRANBERRY ST. GERMAIN COCKTAIL
St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, has become the ubiquitous ingredient in many a cocktail. If you've not yet invested, start with a small bottle — but one sip of this bright cocktail will likely convert you.
Recipe: Well Plated by Erin