Chilly winter evenings call for warm, comfort food recipes! These cozy dinner ideas are hearty, satisfying, and easy to make.
The kitchen is already the heart of my home, so being there in the winter to feel connected to my loved ones in a warm space makes perfect sense. It’s not just where meals come from, it’s where I spend my time in a calm, zen-like state. (Until it’s time to do the dishes, I suppose.)
Here are my go-to cozy dinner ideas that break past the dark and bring on the light in the winter.
Our Favorite Cozy Dinner Ideas from All Things Mamma
1. Chicken and Dumplings
Is there anything more classic? I remember being 11 and visiting a friends house, while her mother was making this. She let us stir together the always-forgiving dumpling batter and then carefully spoon it into the pot. We marveled as they puffed up and turned into flavorful bites floating in a rich stew. Pure magic.
2. Broccoli Cheddar Soup
There’s a reason why just about every restaurant seems to have broccoli cheddar soup on the menu—you just can’t beat the combination of tender bites of broccoli in rich, cheesy broth. If Panera is your idea of a cozy dinner, you’ll love this homemade version of their ever-popular soup!
3. Stovetop Mac and Cheese
And speaking of Panera! Their creamy white cheddar mac and cheese is another cozy dinner idea for dreary winter days. The tangy sharp cheddar flavor in this recipe is miles better than what you get from the boxed varieties, and this stovetop recipe comes together faster than you can get in the car and pick up an order from your nearest Panera.
4. Chili Cornbread Casserole
We don’t need to tell you that chili is classic winter comfort food—and we bet you even have your own go-to chili recipe that your family loves. But if you want to put a new spin on this winter staple, try our chili cornbread casserole, which tops hearty chili with a sweet cornbread topping and plenty of cheese.
5. Old-Fashioned Goulash
With ground beef, macaroni, and cheese, it doesn’t get much more satisfying than old-fashioned goulash. This American spin on the traditional Hungarian dish comes together quickly and it’s the kind of meal that will have your kids asking for seconds.
6. Crockpot Cabbage Rolls
Ah, cabbage rolls. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve got a weakness for this comfort food classic, you’ll love our crockpot version. This cozy dinner idea features tender cabbage rolled up with ground beef and rice, slow cooked to perfection in a sweet-and-tangy tomato sauce.
7. Loaded Mashed Potatoes
Maybe your idea of cozy comfort food is a bowl full of fluffy mashed potatoes. Well, look no further! This is a mashed potato recipe that’s practically a meal itself, with sour cream, cheese, and lots of crispy, smoky bacon. Eat it as your main dish (seriously, we won’t judge), or pair it with a simple protein like baked chicken breasts.
8. Crock Pot Lasagna
Lasagna is a cozy dinner idea that can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences—and it’s easier than ever when you make it in your crockpot! Although we use ground beef, feel free to try ground turkey, crumbled Italian sausage, or even a plant-based ground like Impossible to make this recipe your own.
9. Chicken Pot Pie With Crescent Rolls
Why fuss with homemade pastry crust when you can make chicken pot pie with crescent rolls instead?! This recipe is easy as can be, and you’ll love the buttery, fluffy, perfectly browned crescent roll topping.
10. Beef Vegetable Soup
Homemade beef vegetable soup is so much better than the stuff from a can! Serve hearty soup with some crusty French bread on the side for soaking up all that flavorful broth, or pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich for a cozy dinner idea that makes you feel like a kid again.
5 More Cozy Dinner Ideas You Can Whip Up Without a Recipe
You don’t always need a recipe to make a delicious dinner! Sometimes you can just put together a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and follow your instincts for a delicious meal. Here are some no-recipe cozy dinners to try.
1. Slow Cooker Root Beer Short Ribs
The slow cooker is the ultimate winter kitchen tool, right? Click and go. It’s an absolute dream. This recipe is a fun spin on the usual short ribs with the deeply flavorful addition of root beer for a cozy dinner.
You can pretty much follow your everyday short ribs recipe: browned short ribs, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme and rosemary, then add star anise and equal parts beef broth and root beer and cook until everything is falling apart. Serve with mashed potatoes and make sure to have enough for the next day.
2. Sheet Pan Garlic and Rosemary Pork Loin
Can this be easier? Roast a pork loin in a cast-iron skillet that’s been generously coated with olive oil, garlic, and chopped rosemary. When it reads 140ºF on your instant read thermometer, boom. Dinner is served. It’s nice with Southern green beans, baked potatoes, or some fluffy Instant Pot rice.
3. Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan
Dip chicken cutlets into whisked eggs and then breadcrumbs or panko that’s seasoned with Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Air fry in a single layer (you might have to do this in batches). Half way through, top with mozzarella and let that melt. Serve topped with warm marinara sauce and a side of pasta.
4. Tomato Bisque With Grilled Cheese Croutons
Start with a jar of quality marinara sauce, like Rao’s. Put this in a medium pot and add just enough chicken or vegetable stock to thin it out so it reaches the consistency of a thick soup. Warm this up over medium-low heat, and make 2 or 3 grilled cheese sandwiches while the soup cooks. Cut the grilled cheese into 1-inch cubes, add a splash of heavy cream to the soup for some richness, and you’ve got a cozy tomato bisque dinner.
5. Polenta Bake
Slice up a tube of polenta from the grocery store and arrange the slices on the bottom of a square baking dish. Spoon marinara or meat sauce and sautéed vegetables over the top of the polenta, then add a few handfuls of shredded mozzarella on top. Bake at 400ºF for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling up along the edges.