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Best Comfort Food

There is nothing like comfort food to help you coast through the Fall and Winter. Check out our main dish best comfort food for chicken & meat lovers, vegetarians and busy cooks.

4 comfort food images - gnocchi, meatloaf, sliced roast chicken and veal stew

It’s cold out there. Where I live in Toronto, we’re starting to hunker down for the long winter. Which means comfort food craving is in full swing. There’s a huge range of comfort foods, of course, like french fries, apple pie, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese and so on. In this post, we’re focusing on main dishes.

Comfort foods are commonly carb-y and high fat. Oh well. We’ve included some lower calorie dishes on the list, but I’m not going to lie. Calories are not the point here. Comfort food is supposed to make you feel good. Warm and cozy, even nostalgic.

You’ll see, among other things,  a lot of foods with gravy or sauce, cheesy dishes and thick hearty soups. Many are oldies with a twist or added veggies in an attempt to make them a bit healthier without compromising the comfort part. We selected dishes with minimal prep time (20 minutes or less) and most have a total time of an hour or less.

The collection of recipes below is organized into comfort food main dishes for:

    1. chicken & meat lovers
    2. vegetarians
    3. busy cooks (recipes that take 30 minutes or less)

Let us know in the comments your favorite comfort food recipe. Perhaps we can add it to the list in an updated future post.

 

Best Comfort Food – for Chicken & Meat Lovers

This section of comfort food recipes is probably what most people – especially old timers and non vegetarians – think of when they’re craving comfort food.  I’m probably dating myself with a few of them, but I hope that younger generations can take pleasure in the oldies as well. You’ll see that I’ve updated several by adding a lot of veggies. 

Instant Pot Veal Stew

10 minute prep, 70 minutes total time. If you have the time, try the more traditional veal stew. The Instant Pot version takes almost half the time. And still delish.

Instant Pot Veal Stew
Instant Pot Veal Stew in bowl 5
The Instant Pot creates a tender flavorful veal stew with tomatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, onions,  spinach and potatoes, bathed in a rich sauce.
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Chicken Meatloaf With Vegetables

15 minute prep, 45 minutes total time.  So good with a traditional glaze and surprisingly low cal and healthy.

Chicken Meatloaf and Vegetables
Chicken Meatloaf with Vegetables
This chicken meatloaf recipe with vegetables is NOT dry and boring. It's soft, super moist and tasty with lots of hidden nutrition thanks to the onions, carrots and spinach. Your family will love this one. 
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Skillet Chicken Vegetable Pot Pie

15 minute prep, 55 minutes total time. This is simply chicken pot pie, made in a skillet with a great [uncompromising] shortcut that cuts the normal time almost in half. One of my faves.

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (30 minutes)
chicken pot pie filling on plate with crust on top ff
With a few shortcuts that don't compromise taste, this rich scrumptious skillet chicken pot pie can be made in 30 minutes. The ultimate comfort food.
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Roast Chicken Breast With Gravy

10 minute prep, 60 minutes total time. The simple gravy is the crowning glory on this easy family comfort meal. And this recipe is pretty low cal for those of you who are looking for that.

Roast Chicken Breast with Gravy
Roast Chicken Breast and Gravy on cutting board with small gravy boat on side and roasted onions
It's hard to beat a roast chicken breast dinner with gravy for comfort food. This recipe is easy - only 10 minutes hands-on time - and elegant enough for company.
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Spaghetti With Meat Sauce (Bolognese)

15 minute prep, 75 minutes total time. An old time favorite on my regular rotation. Make lots and freeze for a quick weeknight meal. If you’re feeling energetic, try these Italian meatballs with it.

Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce (The Best)
spaghetti and meat sauce on a plate f
I've been making this homemade spaghetti meat sauce for 40 years. No one will let me change a thing. It's thick, rich and delicious. And freezes perfectly, making it an easy weeknight meal. 
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Boneless Pork Roast with Gravy (reverse sear)

10 minute prep, 90 minute total time. The reverse sear method creates a roast pork that is moist and tender edge to edge. The veggies and homemade gravy complete the meal. 

Meatloaf With Mushroom Gravy

15 minute prep, 60 minutes total time. This meatloaf is a healthier version with lots of veggies. And the mushroom gravy bumps it up to great.

Healthy Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy
meatloaf with mushroom gravy on plate with green beans and mashed potatoes
This healthy meatloaf with mushroom gravy is packed with finely chopped vegetables, making it a moist, nutritious and delicious home-cooked meal.  Just simple old fashioned comfort food.
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Instant Pot Whole Roast Chicken With Gravy

5 minute prep, 60 minutes total time. A roast chicken dinner in an hour? Yep. Gravy and all.

Instant Pot Roast Chicken and Gravy
Instant Pot Whole Roast Chicken and Gravy
Instant Pot Roast Chicken and Gravy tastes exactly like oven roasted chicken. Moist, tender and flavourful with a rich oniony gravy in 60 minutes flat.
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Skillet Pork Chop Dinner

10 minutes prep time, 28 minutes total timePork chop comfort food at its best. With lots of veggies and gravy.

Skillet Pork Chop Dinner
Skillet Pork Chop Dinner. Tender pork chops with apples, peppers, asparagus and thyme made in one skillet
Skillet Pork Chop Dinner is an easy and quick weeknight meal made in one skillet with apples, veggies, thyme and a light gravy. Simple, yummy comfort food.
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Best Comfort Food – for Vegetarians

It’s not all about meatloaf and chicken pot pie. We all know there are some very yummy vegetarian comfort foods. Think Mac and Cheese dishes and satisfying hearty soups (healthy comfort food?) served with a slab of bread and butter. Groan. 

Gnocchi Au Gratin

12 minute prep, 22 minute total time. A delicious cheesy main or appetizer.

Easy Gnocchi Recipe (Au Gratin)
baked gnocchi au gratin in casserole dish
The pillowy gnocchi in this easy gnocchi recipe au gratin is transformed with a rich, velvety white cheese sauce. Serve it as an appetizer, side or main dish using fresh store-bought gnocchi for a great shortcut. 
Get the recipe

Indian Butter Gnocchi With Spinach

5 minute prep, 20 minutes total time. This recipe is a great vegetarian twist on Indian butter chicken.

Easy Gnocchi Recipe Indian-Style
Indian style Gnocchi with Spinach in bowl sprinkled with parsley
In 20 minutes with a few store-bought items, this easy gnocchi recipe delivers deep, rich Indian flavors with a creamy tomato-based sauce. Soak it up with Naan for a simple, but decadent Indian style pasta.
Get the recipe

Spinach Mac and Cheese

20 minute prep, 40 minute total time. A classic with added spinach for a bit of healthiness.

Spinach Mac and Cheese
baked spinach mac and cheese in casserole dish 1
Mac and cheese might be old school, but face it, as the ultimate comfort food, it's hard not to get the occasional craving. Give in. This spinach mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy and delicious. With some added nutrition. 
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Instant Pot Pumpkin Risotto

13 minute prep, 40 minute total time. I’ve come to view risottos as comfort food over the years. This one hits the spot.

Pumpkin Risotto Recipe (Instant Pot)
Pumpkin Risotto in bowl beside pumpkin ff
This rich, creamy, flavor-packed Instant Pot Pumpkin Risotto recipe is pure comfort food that tastes amazing. It's a knockout vegetarian dinner for Fall or Winter. Substitute butternut squash if you can't find pumpkin.
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Quinoa Mac and Cheese

20 minute prep, 40 minutes total time. A twist on mac and cheese with a healthy grain and lots of veggies.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Veggie Quinoa Mac and Cheese on plate
Looking for a healthier but equally delicious version of Mac and Cheese? Then Quinoa Mac and Cheese loaded with veggies is it! A perfect vegetarian weeknight meal.
Get the recipe

Asian Mac and Cheese

15 minute prep, 30 minutes total time. Another twist on mac and cheese. Interesting!

Asian-Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese Recipe
Asian Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese
I love the fusion of cultures in Toronto that spills onto the plate. Our Asian-Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese is a twist on the tried-and-true favorite, adding Udon noodles, edamame and seaweed garnish for a delicious Asian flare.
Get the recipe

 

…and some meal-in-a-bowl vegetarian soups  – healthy comfort food…

Root Vegetable Soup

15 minute prep, 48 minute total time. I can’t get enough of this soup. So delicious! And low cal!

Root Vegetable Soup
bowl of root vegetable and barley with croutons
There's nothing like Fall soups to help ease the transition from summer. Root Vegetable Soup - loaded with squash, sweet potato, turnip, celeriac, carrots, barley and onions - is the perfect segue into Fall. Nutrient-rich, low calorie and, most importantly, absolutely delicious. 
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Vegetable Bean and Barley Soup

7 minute prep, 67 minute total time. A super hearty healthy yummy soup for little effort.

Vegetable Barley Soup
Vegetable Bean and Barley Soup in bowl with bread and butter f
You will not miss the meat in this hearty, healthy vegetable barley soup with fiber and protein-rich beans. I make a big batch and serve it as a meal-in-a-bowl for lunch all week. The best...
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Tomato Soup with Cheese Croutons

8 minute prep, 23 minute total time. Old timers will remember the canned version of this soup. This version is homemade, healthy, better and easy.

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons
2 bowls of homemade creamy tomato soup with parmesan croutons in soup 1
Remember Campbell's tomato soup with saltine crackers for dunking? Well, we promise this homemade creamy tomato soup with Parmesan croutons is a way better version. Classic comfort food.
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Ratatouille Soup

10 minute prep, 40 minute total time. Definitely in the healthy low calorie category. Making the cheese toast with it is worth it.

Hearty Ratatouille Soup
Ratatouille Soup is a low cal satisfying soup packed with healthy veggies
Loaded with healthy vegetables, this hearty ratatouille soup is low calorie but satisfying. It makes a great meal with some warm fresh bread and cheese.
Get the recipe

 

 

Best Comfort Food  – for Busy Cooks

It’s true that many comfort foods require a long simmering or roasting time. But that doesn’t mean hands-on time has to take long. In fact, for these easy comfort food recipes, the hands on time is 15 minutes or less  and the total recipe time is 30 minutes or less!  And, yes, still delicious comfort food recipes.

Thai-Style Chicken Orzo Soup

10 minute prep, 30 minutes total time. This comfort soup gets a Thai twist with a splash of coconut milk, heat and lemon.

Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup Thai Style
Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup
No question that Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup is pure delicious comfort food. We've added a Thai-style twist - a splash of coconut milk and some heat - that takes it in a new direction.
Get the recipe

Meatball Stew

12 minute prep, 30 minutes total time. Tastes like chicken pot pie with chicken meatballs. On the lower cal side. Mmmm.

Meatball Stew
meatball stew in pan with crusty bread on edge 4
A lighter but still hearty Meatball Stew hits the 'comfort food'  and 'healthy' spot with lots of veggies and tender chicken meatballs in a herby sauce. Only 30 minutes. 
Get the recipe

Indian Butter Gnocchi With Spinach

5 minute prep, 20 minutes total time. Yes, Indian comfort food is a thing. And this is it (or one of them).

Easy Gnocchi Recipe Indian-Style
Indian style Gnocchi with Spinach in bowl sprinkled with parsley
In 20 minutes with a few store-bought items, this easy gnocchi recipe delivers deep, rich Indian flavors with a creamy tomato-based sauce. Soak it up with Naan for a simple, but decadent Indian style pasta.
Get the recipe

Asian Mac and Cheese

15 minute prep, 30 minutes total time. Another twist on mac and cheese. Interesting!

Asian-Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese Recipe
Asian Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese
I love the fusion of cultures in Toronto that spills onto the plate. Our Asian-Inspired Mac 'N' Cheese is a twist on the tried-and-true favorite, adding Udon noodles, edamame and seaweed garnish for a delicious Asian flare.
Get the recipe

Gnocchi Au Gratin

12 minute prep, 22 minute total time. A delicious super quick main or appetizer.

Easy Gnocchi Recipe (Au Gratin)
baked gnocchi au gratin in casserole dish
The pillowy gnocchi in this easy gnocchi recipe au gratin is transformed with a rich, velvety white cheese sauce. Serve it as an appetizer, side or main dish using fresh store-bought gnocchi for a great shortcut. 
Get the recipe

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