When cold winter nights set in, and you want to mix up your weeknight menu or need fresh ideas on hearty comfort-food dishes, this round-up is for you! Today, we have 31 winter dinner recipes that are easy to make, bursting with warm winter spices, and will warm even the pickiest eater from the inside out.
If you’re looking for inspiration for easy winter recipes, healthier versions of comfort-food recipes, and interesting family-friendly dinners with seasonal ingredients then this collection of 31 easy winter recipes will be your go-to list!
Along with some of our favorite winter dinner ideas we’ve also included a featured recipe: Winter Squash Tacos. It’s comforting, full of warm spices, and everything you want on a chilly evening.
What Is In Season In Winter?
One of our key goals at Healthy Seasonal Recipes is to help you find ways of cooking with seasonal veggies and fruits and other ingredients. This is a list of some of the foods that are in season in wintertime:
Cruciferous veggies: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and broccoli and other brassicas are all hearty winter veggies that can withstand frost.
Winter squashes: Thick skinned storing squashes like pumpkin, butternut squash and kobocha are all known as winter squashes. See our featured recipe at the bottom of this post for Winter Squash Tacos!
Onions and garlic: These are harvested in the late summer and fall and keep all winter. Shallots also fall into this category.
Root vegetables: Common roots include carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga and celeriac. Ginger and galangal and other roots used for seasoning and cooking are also in season in winter.
Mushrooms: One of our favorite ways of adding veggies to comfort food recipes is to use mushrooms! They’re a great way to healthify easy winter meals for family.
Peanuts and nuts
Shellfish: Oysters, mussels and other shellfish are great at this time of year
Tropical fruits and citrus: Grown in sunnier climates, oranges and other fresh citrus come into season in early winter and are available all winter long. Look for pineapple, mango and other tropical fruit too.
Persimmons and pomegranates: Look for these in your produce department. They are usually kept with other “exotic” fruits at room temperature.
Cranberries: Harvested in the late fall, cranberries are in season from late October through early winter.
31 Winter Dinner Recipes
When cold weather hits, we find ourselves craving those soul-satisfying casseroles. And while nothing satisfies better than traditional recipes, sometimes, you need to lighten or spice up a classic! So, here are our favorite lighter versions of family-friendly casseroles that are sure to please everyone around your table.
Chicken Divan is a rich and hearty casserole, but our version gets a healthy twist! Made without mayonnaise this creamy dish is made in one pot, and is loaded with big chunks of chicken, loads of fresh broccoli, and topped with a crunchy panko and parmesan cheese. It’s ready in under an hour and is the perfect cozy wintertime dinner.
When a comfort food mood strikes, whip up this homemade Chicken Shepherd’s Pie! With only 30 minutes of hands-on time, this hearty one-pan dish is relatively effortless to make. It’s packed with wholesome ingredients like leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover turkey in a creamy leek sauce and topped with sweet corn and creamy mashed potatoes for a healthy twist on a beloved classic.
One-skillet Chicken Gnocchi Bake is a cozy and comforting meal made with flame-grilled chicken and store-bought gnocchi. All ingredients are mixed in a creamy pesto sauce and finished off in the oven for that perfect bubbly, slightly crispy top!
A take on my grandmother’s classic! This protein-packed savory fish casserole with caramelized onions, nutty Swiss cheese, white wine, and breadcrumbs can be made with any flaky white fish. The best part is this casserole is on the table in under 45 minutes.
Healthy Vegetarian Dishes
Here are some of our favorite veggie-packed vegetarian dishes for you to try this winter. But don’t worry, they’re hearty and bursting with flavor that even your meat-loving relatives will leave the table feeling full and satisfied.
Vegetable Pasta Bake is a delicious vegetarian meal that even meat-eaters will enjoy! Loaded with fresh veggies and topped with ricotta and melted cheese for one cozy winter weeknight meal that’s ready in under 40 minutes.
Vegan Pad Thai is the perfect weeknight dinner! Quick and easy to make, this simple dish is full of bold Thai flavors that will satisfy all those Asian take-out restaurant cravings.
This Easy Chickpea Stew is full of warm North African spices, tender butternut squash, and winter vegetables. This vegan stew is not only hearty but tastes amazing and is on the table in just 35 minutes.
Traditional Italian bolognese gets a vegetarian twist! This hearty Vegetarian Mushroom Bolognese boasts earthy flavors with an extra silky texture that clings perfectly to pasta. The best part is that a food processor takes care of all the chopping, so this satisfying dish is on the table in under an hour!
A fun twist on a classic vegetarian lasagna, this Butternut Squash Lasagna is an impressive meal for guests or Sunday supper. Not only is it a show-stopping dish but it can be made up to two days in advance and then popped into the oven before guests arrive! Doesn’t get any easier than that!
One-Pot Vegetarian Burrito Bowls are a delicious, vegetarian, gluten-free meal. These quick, easy, and oh-so-healthy bowls are made in the Instant Pot making it the perfect cold weather family-friendly weeknight dinner.
Thai-inspired Peanut Coconut Cauliflower Chickpea Curry is full of bold flavors, beautiful wintertime veggies, and plant-based protein. This cozy dish is a one-pan wonder that comes together in just 30 minutes, making it the perfect weeknight meal that everyone will enjoy.
Simple Veggie Tacos are full of perfectly spiced, tender sauteed veggies, and creamy black beans, and topped with your favorite salsa, guac, and cilantro! These simple plant-based tacos are so satisfying that even carnivores will love them!
This Vegetarian Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is a fun twist on that cozy comfort food classic. Full of the rich traditional cottage pie flavors, this version uses lentils instead of meat! Plus, it’s full of hearty veggies, making this dish not only nutritious but delicious. Honestly, even the pickiest meat-eaters will be satisfied when they’re finished.
Hearty Winter Sandwiches
Sometimes, there is nothing better than a sandwich. And when it comes to wintertime, grilling is not always an option. So, we’ve come up with a few of our favorites that take healthy spins on indoor classics!
These Chickpea Burgers are simple, delicious, homemade vegetarian burgers full of brown rice and falafel flavors. Packed with sweet shredded carrots, peppery parsley, garlic, and warm spices, and is paired with a lemon tahini sauce. Yes, these plant-based burgers are not only yummy but oh-so-satisfying.
While these burgers aren’t squished between a bun, these Burger Bowls have all the flavors of a traditional hamburger! Instead of the bun, the meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles are layered into a bowl on top of cauliflower rice for a delicious low-carb meal. Drizzle with a homemade Thousand Island dressing for one irresistible dish!
Chicken Taco Sloppy Joes is a healthy, family-pleasing recipe that’s on the table in under 30 minutes. Full of spicy southwest flavors, these lean ground chicken sloppy joes are a saucy messy comfort food sandwich.
These healthy Sloppy Joes are low in added sugar, full of hidden veggies, and only 300 calories per sandwich. Made without ketchup, these messy sandwiches have a naturally sweet and sour sauce that is lip-smacking good!
Nutritious Chicken Recipes
Who says chicken has to be boring? With these recipes, you can kiss bland chicken goodbye because these dishes are not only healthy but they are bursting with flavor that will make your taste buds sing.
Chicken with Freekeh is an authentic Lebanese dish that is full of flavor, high in protein, and made with whole grain freekeh. Not only is this an easy weeknight meal that’s delicious, hearty, and healthy but it’s perfect for serving a crowd!
Restaurant-quality Indian Butter Chicken is easy-to-make, better than takeout, and ready in 30 minutes! This classic Indian dish is loaded with flavor! Charred chicken smothered in a creamy tomato-based sauce and warm Indian spices is nothing short of a culinary adventure for your tastebuds.
Creamy Chicken a la King is a lighter homemade version of the classic comfort food dish. Loaded with chunks of chicken, fresh vegetables, and a splash of cream, this meal comes together in 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight dish.
Harissa and Persimmon Chicken is a little bit sweet, and a touch spicy, but nothing short of flavor! This one-skillet wintertime dish is full of tender and flavorful chicken that’s paired with charred persimmons for one irresistible meal.
Light Fish Dishes
Flavorful, light seafood can also be soul-satisfying on those dark, long winter nights. These recipes are bold and full of flavor, yet won’t leave you feeling weighed down like traditional comfort food dishes.
Simple Ginger Lime Black Cod is an easy way to bake sablefish in the oven with only 10 minutes of prep! The combination of spicy ginger and tart lime is a delicious combination that pairs beautifully with this rich-tasting fish. The best part? This is a high-protein, low-carb, low-calorie meal that the whole family will enjoy!
This Macadamia Nut Crusted Fish Bowl is a dairy and gluten-free, flavor bomb! This rice bowl recipe conjures the iconic flavors of Hawaii – something your taste buds will thank you for – especially on those long winter nights!
Baked Shrimp Scampi with White Wine is an easy, no-fuss, ready-in 30-minute dish! Jumbo shrimp are tossed in a scampi-style sauce and then baked in the oven until tender and infused with flavor. Serve with linguine and a piece of crusty bread for a delicious, homemade, restaurant-quality shrimp scampi!
Fresh, tropical-inspired Tilapia with Tangerine Salsa will transport you to a warm weather destination! This bright meal is ready in 30 minutes, only 259 calories per serving, and dairy-free!
Comforting Beef and Pork Recipes
Comforting, wintertime dishes, usually call for a meat of substance! And these beef and pork-inspired dishes deliver in all the right places. Satisfying, hearty, yet light enough that you won’t feel guilty for indulging!
Ginger Pork Stir-fry with Bok Choy is an easy, 15-minute dinner recipe. This Asian-inspired dish is bursting with classic Chinese ingredients and spices. Serve it over cauliflower rice to keep it a paleo-friendly meal, or toss it with Chinese egg noodles for a delicious meal the whole family will love.
This 35-minute Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Beef and Cheese have all the feels and flavors of a classic meatball sub but without the guilt!
This creamy Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara is one satisfying weeknight dinner that requires only 15 minutes of prep work! This easy carbonara has tender, shredded, and sauteed Brussels sprouts and crisp smoky bacon. Toss with spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine for a lighter take on a classic Italian dish.
Cranberry Pork Chops are not only pretty to look at but are bursting with flavor! Pan-seared chops are served with a homemade cranberry sauce that’s elegant enough for holiday parties and family get-togethers but also simple enough for a tasty weeknight meal.
Toss out that take-out menu! This quick and easy Pineapple Beef Stir-fry is simple to make and tastes better than your local restaurant. Serve over rice, noodles, or even cauliflower rice for a delicious one-pan weeknight meal.
This healthy Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy Stew is the slow cooker version of the classic French recipe Beef Bourguignon. Tender braised beef, loads of hearty veggies, and smoky bacon are cooked low and slow in a rich wine sauce for one elegant, yet melt-in-your-mouth, comforting dish!
More Seasonal Inspiration
Beyond these healthy winter dinner ideas, here are several more ways to incorporate seasonal ingredients into your menu.
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Our easy-to-make winter squash tacos are ready in less than 30 minutes and bursting with bold flavors. Made with nutritious winter squash, warm spices, and a light and healthy homemade crema, these winter tacos are sure to satisfy on those cold winter nights.
For the Tacos
1 small butternut squash, pie pumpkin, or another smooth-skinned winter squash, about 1 pound 9 ounces
8 soft corn tortillas
4 teaspoons avocado oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder, to taste
Peel squash or pumpkin with a vegetable peeler. Cut in half and remove seeds with a measuring spoon. Cut into ½-inch thick slices and then into ½ -inch dice.
Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven set at 325°F. Heat through for about 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, squash or pumpkin, garlic, and ¾ teaspoon salt, and stir to coat with the oil. Cover and cook, removing the lid to stir occasionally, until the squash is tender, 6 to 8 minutes. If the mixture is browning too much before the squash or pumpkin is tender, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and reduce heat to medium to prevent burning.
Remove lid, sprinkle on pumpkin pie spice and chipotle, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring often until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and black beans and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
While the squash is cooking, whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small dish.
Assemble tacos by dividing the squash mixture among the warm tortillas. Top with any desired optional toppings such as scallions, avocado, cotija, cilantro, or pepitas. Drizzle on the crema and serve immediately.
Prep Time:25 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Keywords: winter dinner ideas, easy winter recipes, winter dinner ideas healthy, easy winter meals for family
About the Author
Katie Webster studied art and photography at Skidmore College and is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute. She has been a professional recipe developer since 2001 when she first started working in the test kitchen at EatingWell magazine. Her recipes have been featured in numerous magazines including Shape, Fitness, Parents and several Edible Communities publications among others. Her cookbook, Maple Quirk Books was published in 2015. She launched Healthy Seasonal Recipes in 2009. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two teenage daughters and two yellow labs. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, cooking, stacking firewood, making maple syrup, and tending to her overgrown perennial garden.