Winter is a beautiful season and we know most of you are already daydreaming about cozying up with a bowl of something warm and delicious winter dinner. As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, it's crucial to adapt our diets to the changing seasons. Winter brings with it a unique set of nutritional needs, and incorporating the right foods can help keep us healthy and energized.
In this article, we have pulled together eight of our best winter foods to fill your belly and soul with warmth! Feel free to play around with different ingredients to make recipes that match your taste buds preferences or order some of the best gourmet food online if you prefer it over cooking at home.
Which Food Is Best in Winter?
Our bodies instinctively crave hearty, satisfying dishes and comforting meals that keep us feeling nourished and satisfied when the weather turns cold. The best winter foods tend to be hearty dinners that provide plenty of warmth and flavor through subtle spice, rich flavors, and filling ingredients.
Stews, chilies, roasted meats and vegetables, creamy soups and casseroles, homemade brioche, and fresh-baked bread are all excellent options. You can also go for superfood that includes satisfying whole grains like barley or farro along with protein from beef, chicken, or beans as they provide nutrients to power you through the long, chilly days ahead.
Slow Cooker Winter Meals
The slow cooker is a must for easy winter dinner ideas. In the morning, you can add ingredients like roast chicken, pork tenderloin, beef short ribs, or chicken breasts, and come home to a hot, comforting meal. Slow cooker dishes like creamy chicken noodle soup, chili, and hearty stews will infuse your whole house with cozy aromas on cold nights.
Weeknight Chicken Dinners
Quick weeknight chicken dinners make winter dinner prep easy. You can sauté chicken sausage with vegetables like broccoli, then serve over pasta with a creamy sauce. Bake chicken breasts with lemon juice, rosemary, and olive oil for a satisfying dish. Stir together a skillet meal with ground beef, shredded chicken, veggies, and sauce served over egg noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.
Sheet Pan Suppers
The sheet pan dinner technique requires minimal effort but delivers maximum flavor. Roasting meat and vegetables like chicken, pork, potatoes, squash, and broccoli on one pan creates a simple but savory taste. A sheet pan supper with chicken, olive oil, lemon zest, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts is a healthy one-dish meal for the whole family.
Warm up from the inside out with comforting soups. A hearty soup with creamy seasonal vegetables or a tasty broth with pieces of meat, tofu and root vegetables is total comfort food. Pumpkin or butternut squash soup with a swirl of cream is cozy. Chicken noodle and potato soup simmered with carrots and celery makes a soul-soothing dinner. Serving your soups with crusty bread is perfect for a cold winter day.
Casseroles let you easily combine ingredients like pasta, cheese, meat, and vegetables into a satisfying baked dish. Mac and cheese, chicken pot pie, or lasagna with ground beef and tomato bechamel sauce are ideal for feeding a crowd. Top casseroles with breadcrumbs and shredded cheese for extra flavor and crunch.
One-Pot Wonders and Stew Season
From chili to risotto to braised short ribs, cooking one-pot meals and stews makes winter dinner simple. You can braise meat and vegetables like pork, potatoes, and carrots in a Dutch oven. Make chili with ground beef and beans in the Instant Pot. Or roast pearls onions with carrots, mushrooms and bacon mixed with green lentils paired with a flavorful pork & bacon sausage and a touch of red wine. Cook risotto to complement a smooth and truffle white sausage called boudin blanc, or creamy pasta sauce in one pan on the stovetop. With minimal dishes to wash, cleanup is a breeze.
Warm and Cozy Desserts
Satisfy your sweet cravings with warm desserts perfect for winter. Baked apples, cobblers, crumbles, bread pudding, molten lava cake, and gingerbread are comforting treats. Serve winter desserts like custards, soufflés, and crumbles topped with ice cream. End your dinner on a sweet note with chocolate fondue for dipping fruit, pretzels, and marshmallows.
8 Winter Foods You Must Eat
1. Nutritious Root Vegetables
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips
- Roasting brings out natural sweetness
- Hearty additions to soups, stews, casseroles
Robust root vegetables should be in your grocery shopping for winter food. Heartier options like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, and beets are all nutritious, comforting choices perfect for winter meals.
As for cooking methods, toasting brings flavor and natural sweetness to vegetables, so try oven-roasting them tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper for a delicious side dish or dinner. Alternatively, incorporate them into soups, stews, pasta, and casseroles by dicing or mashing them into the dish as it simmers.
The fiber and nutrients in root vegetables will help fill you up and keep you warm all winter long. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and potassium, while turnips and parsnips provide vitamin C and fiber. Beets are a great source of natural nitrates that can boost exercise performance.
2. Creamy Soups and Casseroles
- Comforting bowls of broth
- Loaded potato soup, chicken noodles, butternut squash
- Easy chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie
A piping hot bowl of creamy soup or casserole fresh from the oven is a comforting meal and a great choice for cold weather. Some of the best winter soups like potato leek soup, soulful chicken soup, loaded broccoli cheddar soup, chicken and pumpkin soup, or creamy butternut squash soup will warm you from the inside out.
Make a batch on a really chilly night or Sunday dinner so that you can reheat bowls all week long. Casseroles are also ideal as winter food, as they allow you to combine proteins, veggies, and decadent sauces into one hearty baked dish recipe. You can try classics like chicken pot pie dish, and casserole dish recipe, or shepherd's pie dish with beef and mashed potatoes.
3. Healthy proteins like Eggs, and Fish
- Breakfast frittatas, hearty strata
- Baked salmon cakes, fish stews and chowders
- Provide protein, vitamins D, B12
Be sure to incorporate healthy proteins like eggs and fish into your winter food rotation. Not only are they nutritious, but you can prepare them in warm, comforting ways that make them perfect for chilly months.
Eggs are a breakfast staple, but consider using them in dinner dishes too, as baked frittatas loaded with vegetables or creamy stratas to warm your tastebuds. You can prepare fish in the form of creamy salmon cakes, creamy fish stews or chowders with a creamy sauce and scrambled eggs, or baked cod topped with breadcrumbs or roasted vegetables.
4. Cauliflower and Broccoli
- Thrive in cold weather
- Roast cauliflower, add to soups
- Stir fry or bake broccoli
- Provide fiber, vitamins C and K
Cauliflower and broccoli deserve a special mention in our food for winter collection. These vitamin-packed crucifers thrive in chilly temperatures, making them one of the nutritious and budget-friendly options for hearty winter meals. Their fiber will help fill you up, while their bright color energizes gray winter days.
Cauliflower is incredibly versatile – you can roast it up for a flavorful side dish or for dinner, add it to soups and stews, or rice it and use it in place of carbs in dishes like cauliflower fried "rice." Broccoli is right at home in casseroles, chicken and broccoli stir fry-fries, omelets, pasta bakes, pasta, and more.
- Porridge warms on cold mornings
- Add oats to baked goods like muffins
- Mix into smoothies for extra nutrition
Oatmeal is a top choice for us as a super winter food. The healthy and hearty whole grains in oats are just what your body craves during cold months. Oatmeal can warm and fill you up on chilly winter mornings better than almost any other breakfast food.
While old-fashioned oats make for a comforting bowl of porridge, there are endless ways you can enjoy oats when the weather gets cold. You can bake oats into muffins and quick bread, or add them to pancake and waffle batters for a nutrition boost. You can even put oats in smoothies or blend them into your coffee for a frothy, warming beverage.
6. Whole Grains
- Barley, farro, brown rice
- Simmer barley for soup, use farro instead of rice
- Fiber, nutrients, lasting energy
Be sure to stock up on nutritious whole grains to enjoy warm flavors in your food for winter. Hearty whole grains like oats, barley, farro, and brown rice make excellent additions to your meals when you need warmth and comfort.
You can simmer ground beef in a big batch of beef barley soup or mix barley and chicken into a wintry salad with roasted veggies and melted cheese. Farro is ideal in place of rice in dishes like stir-fries, egg noodles, pilafs, pasta, and stuffed peppers and chicken. Brown rice gives you fiber and nutrients in your favorite casseroles, pasta, or chili recipes.
7. Sweet treats like custard desserts or healthy nuts
- Fruity crumbles, cobblers, custards
- Pistachios are protein-packed grab-and-go snack
- Lift spirits on cold days
Winter is also the perfect time for sweet treats like fruity crumbles, and old-fashioned custard desserts. Eating these cozy, wintry foods is a simple combination and tasty way to fuel your body and lift your spirits until warmer weather returns. For a simple snack, protein-packed pistachios make for a perfect grab-and-go or a beautiful addition to your winter food for dinner. Their satisfying crunch and bold, nutty flavor are ideal when you need a nibble to warm you up between meals. A one-ounce serving of pistachios provides 6 grams of plant-based protein along with fiber, vitamin E, potassium, and beneficial antioxidants.
- Sizzle up sausage for soups, stews, and pizza
Hearty foods like bratwurst sausages or Toulouse sausage are satisfying options in your food for winter. Good sausages provide a good dose of protein and fat to help keep your energy levels up. You can sizzle up sausages to top a pizza or pasta dish or cook bratwurst with roasted potatoes and root vegetables, or Toulouse sausage in a comforting bean stew “Cassoulet”, or chorizo to mix into soups, stews, and casseroles.
How to Maintain a Healthy Diet in The Winter?
Focus your winter diet on nourishing whole foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats for meals. Go easy on heavy, greasy foods like fried items, fast food, and frozen processed entrees loaded with sodium, which can make you feel weighed down. It's important to stay hydrated during the winter months, so avoid excess caffeine and alcohol which can be dehydrating
Winter is one the best seasons to enjoy the warm and cozy specialties this season has to offer when you are mostly cooped up indoors and have some extra time to prepare homey and tasteful meals. However, if you are not the best cook at home, you can always ask for advice from your local grocers or order quality meals and accompaniments from a trusted online supplier. Whatever your food styling style, stay warm and healthy!