Fall is known for its cozy mood, scented candles, warming stews, and, of course, pumpkin spice lattes. While many people wait all year to indulge in foods and beverages with beloved pumpkin spice, others complain that there's just too much pumpkin everywhere. Luckily, there are plenty of other popular fall flavors that aren't pumpkin spice that will add warmth and coziness to your meals and help you embrace the season's charm.
There can't be fall without apples. They're sweet, juicy, crisp, and highly versatile. And they just happen to be in abundance in the fall. From the classic apple pie and ice cream-topped apple crisp to savory stuffing-filled apples and hot apple cider, you'll love what they bring to the table.
Cinnamon is an ever-present ingredient in autumn cooking. Its woody, slightly sweet notes with a bit of a kick are typically enjoyed in coffee cakes, spiced cookies, and comforting porridges, among others. As an added benefit, numerous studies on cinnamon have shown that it can be quite beneficial for your health.1
The uniquely sweet notes of maple syrup are another popular fall flavor. Made from the sap of maple trees, it can sweeten and flavor much more than your morning pancakes. It perfectly complements both sweet and savory ingredients, adding a unique layer of deliciousness and coziness.
Pears are the slightly overlooked fall fruit. But their wonderful flavor and juicy texture can still steal the show on your holiday table. Add them fresh to a side salad, roast with root vegetables, or bake them to perfection under a delicious crumble topping.
Ginger is the secret ingredient in many fall dishes. Coincidentally, it's also added to most pumpkin spice mixes. Use it in zesty salad dressings, immunity-boosting smoothies, cozy stews, and seasonal cookies. But beware: you just need a small amount to enjoy maximum flavor.
Cloves are another favorite autumn flavor that enhances many holiday dishes. Most people enjoy their intense flavor and strong aroma in desserts and beverages like this mulled spiced apple cider. However, they are also a great match for fragrant marinades and other savory dishes.
7. Sweet Potato
The list of the most symbolic fall flavors can't omit sweet potatoes. Their creaminess and pleasant flavor can complement many savory dishes, like breakfast hashes and warming casseroles. What some may not know is that sweet potatoes are also the perfect ingredient in desserts, from mousses and cheesecakes to pies and brownies.
As expected from a spice of the ginger family, cardamom has a strong aroma and a potent sweet and spicy flavor. Most valued in Indian cuisine, it can add depth and richness to a wide variety of fall meals, like spiced cookies, apple crumbles, and lattes. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
As you can see, you can absolutely indulge in the fall flavors without the pumpkin spice mix. These eight alternatives will help you create unforgettable meals for cozy autumn days. As you do, you might discover your own flavor combinations that will become secret family recipes to be passed down for generations.
- Harvard Health Publications, Spice up your holidays with brain-boosting seasonings
- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Maple Syrup: Chemical Analysis and Nutritional Profile, Health Impacts, Safety and Quality Control, and Food Industry Applications, 2022
- Johns Hopkins Medicine, Ginger Benefits
- Oregon State University, Spices of India, 2013
- Tufts University, Time to Fall for Nutritious, Affordable Sweet Potatoes, 2013
- University of Colorado Boulder, 8 fall-inspired apple recipes
- Ohio State University, How to use herbs and spices to pump up flavor and nutritional value of food, 2022
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2023). Cinnamon. Retrieved September 23, 2023, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cinnamon