Whether it's a hearty chili or butternut squash pasta recipe you got from one of your fave influencers, there's something special about enjoying a homemade meal with your love. It gives you quality time to catch up about your days and make some savory new memories. Of course, scouring social media for the tastiest, or even the easiest, recipe for date night can cut into valuable time you'd use to get dressed up, set the mood, and shake up apple cider cocktails. So, these food influencers revealed their go-to fall recipes for a date night so you can impress without any stress.
First off, make sure your kitchen is equipped with the essentials. For instance, if you're making Jessica Hylton Leckie's (@jessicainthekitchen) creamy tomato pasta, you should have a pot and a pan on hand so you can boil water for your shells as well as sauté onions and garlic. You may want to get some cocktail supplies as well, to whip up a batch of homemade apple cider for you and your love to enjoy with your meal.
Before you even prep your ingredients, though, decide whether you want your SO to help out in the kitchen, or totally surprise them with a new dish. Working alongside them to create a tasty meal could serve as a date night activity that you turn into a new Friday night tradition. But, if your love language is acts of service, you may feel more excited about plating a homemade dish, and seeing your SO's lovely reaction when it reaches the candlelit table.
Make your decision after looking through these mouthwatering fall recipes, brought to you by five talented food influencers.
Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
1. Butternut Squash Pasta With Pancetta And Parmesan
For date night, I love to try out more complicated recipes where I can have Milo be my sous-chef and we can work on something together. We love making our own pasta and experimenting with different shapes. I've written up a recipe that has step-by-step instructions to making homemade pasta, but also have a recipe that can be made with store-bought pasta.
— Madeline Halsey (@madelinehalsey)
Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Parmesan
- Two pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
- Three tablespoons of olive oil
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and Pepper for seasoning
- One medium red onion, diced
- Five ounces of pancetta, diced or five slices of thick-cut bacon
- 12 ounces of short twist pasta or 12 ounces of homemade pasta (shape of your choice)
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
- Two tablespoons of fresh parsley
- Set a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 degrees.
- Add the butternut squash to a large baking sheet. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over the top and season with red-pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine, then spread the squash into an even layer and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the butternut squash bakes, in a small bowl, toss the red onion with the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil.
- After the squash has cooked for 15 minutes, give it a stir and push it to one side of the baking sheet to make room for the onion, trying to keep the squash in one layer. Add the red onion to the pan.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven for another 30 minutes and cook, stirring the squash and onion after about 15 minutes, the vegetables cooked through and beginning to caramelize at the edges.
- Just before the vegetables are done, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot to keep warm if necessary.
- When the vegetables are tender, take the baking sheet out of the oven. Heat pot on medium heat and cook pancetta for six to eight minutes.
- Add the butternut squash, onions, and the pasta to the pot with the pancetta. Add about 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup pasta water to the pot and stir everything until well combined. You want the squash to break down a bit and coat the pasta; add more pasta water as necessary to coat the pasta with the squash and cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with parsley, black pepper, and the remaining parmesan. Serve immediately.
2. Creamy Tomato Pasta
This Creamy Tomato Pasta has seven ingredients and is easy enough for a satisfying weeknight dish. It's made with a cashew cream sauce and is absolutely delicious. It's definitely a go for date night because of how easy it is to make, and while you're prepping the pasta, your partner can start on the cashew cream, and vice versa. Alternatively, you can make the cashew cream in advance! It's sure to become a staple in your household!
3. Pumpkin Cream Sauce Over Pasta
There’s something about pasta that makes it a classic for date night. It’s versatile, universally-loved and pretty easy to make, even for the most beginner in the kitchen. That’s why my go-to fall recipe for a date night at home is hands down my Pumpkin Cream Sauce over pasta paired with my favorite bottle of wine (Pinot Noir, please).
When cooking meals, I always try to make sure to include protein, fat, fiber, and greens, and a date night is no exception. This way, I know the meal is nutrient-dense and will leave us feeling good afterward. You can add chicken sausage or meatballs to this dish as your protein, or just enjoy the sauce as is over pasta. Or by itself with a spoon, no judgment here.
This recipe is simple enough that my boyfriend and I can easily make it together without it taking up half our night to prep and cook. Perfect, because one of us is always starving. The warmth of the cream sauce and the pumpkin flavor gives you all the cozy fall vibes and will have you ready to cuddle up on your couch to watch Hocus Pocus.
— Ally Tuozzoli (@sprinkledbyal)
4. Cozy Turkey Chili
As soon as the weather hits below 70 degrees, I’m making this chili. Some people associate fall with pumpkin spice lattes. But for me, it’s this cozy-night-in recipe. We usually eat at the dining table every night, but when I make this chili, my husband knows it means we’re snuggling up on the couch and chowin’ down — his ideal date night.
Most chili takes hours to make, but this rendition is super simple and takes little-to-no effort at all. I love adding avocado to this recipe, too. It’s a good swap for cheese or sour cream! I am also partial to Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers (aka, healthy Frito’s). Who needs a spoon to eat chili anyway?
— Vanessa Stepanek (@grub_galz)
Grub Galz's 30-minute Cozy Chili
- One pound of ground turkey
- One red bell pepper, diced
- One green bell pepper, diced
- One yellow onion, diced
- One tablespoon of minced garlic
- One can (16 ounces) of diced tomatoes
- One can (six ounces) of tomato paste
- One to two cans of beans (Your choice! I like kidney and black beans, but can just choose one kind if you’d like.)
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, olive oil
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven (or soup or stock pot) over medium heat; cook the peppers, onions and garlic until translucent. Add ground turkey and seasonings (a few dashes of each seasoning); mix and cook until browned.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste; drain and rinse beans in colander (and get rid of any extra sodium!) and add to Dutch oven as well. Stir everything and add more seasoning to taste.
- Bring chili to low heat and let it cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cheese, sour cream (if that’s your thing), avocado and/or Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers.
5. Apple Cider Donuts And Homemade Apple Cider
Looking for the perfect date night dessert recipe? These Apple Cider Donuts will be your new fave because they are even better than when you get them at a farm stand! Warm deep fried donuts coated in cinnamon sugar and made with homemade apple cider, too, which makes them that much tastier!
This is the perfect recipe to make if you've been apple picking recently and don't know what to do with all your apples. you can make these two recipes with them.
— Julianna Vezza (@juliannavezza)
Apple Cider Donuts (Serves 10-12)
- Three cups of apple cider
- One cup of granulated sugar
- Three and a half cups of all-purpose flour
- One tablespoon, plus two teaspoons of ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- One tablespoon of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- Five tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Two large eggs
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil for frying (about four cups)
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring apple cider to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until reduced to a cup. Let cider cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and two teaspoons cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla and apple cider. Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until just combined; cover and place into the refrigerator until chilled, about one to two hours. Meanwhile, while the dough is chilling, combine granulated sugar and remaining one tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Remove dough from fridge. Working on a lightly floured surface, use a cutter to make 1/2-inch thick rounds of dough. Then use a two-inch cutter to punch out center hole for each donut. Repeat with remaining dough. (It should make about 10-12 donuts depending on size.)
- In a large pot, over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. When thermometer reads 375°F you’re good to go. I added one donut to the pot at a time, cooking 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet or plate to cool for one minute. Then roll donuts in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat evenly. Best served warm!
Homemade Apple Cider
- 15 medium apples (variety of your choice), quartered
- One orange, peeled and quartered
- Three cinnamon sticks
- One tablespoon of whole cloves
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- In a large pot, add apples, orange, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover fruit and spices with water, leaving a few inches of space at the top. Cook on low heat for seven hours, stirring occasionally. Use a potato masher or large wooden spoon to release liquids from fruit as they soften.
- Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a large pitcher or bowl; remove solid pieces of fruit. Strain liquid again to remove any other pieces. Serve cider warm and garnish with cinnamon sticks. (Will last in refrigerator for up to five days.)