Everyone has their own version of comfort food. For some people, it might be mac and cheese or pasta. For others, it could be mashed potatoes or even a grilled cheese sandwich. What you eat to feel comforted varies by person, and can change with age, location, or even the time of year. Even so, there are some universal signs that let us know when we’re eating something comforting. Soft textures, rich flavors, and homey aromas all signify something warm, filling, and wholesome—the ultimate elements of any good comfort food dish. This collection of recipes is perfect for anyone looking to add some cozy dishes to their next dinner party or home-cooked meal. Some are more traditional comfort foods, while others might be a little more out of the box.
Tomato Mozzarella Shrimp Pasta
This recipe is indulgent yet light. The shrimp help to beef up the pasta with added protein, but the creaminess from the cheese makes the dish feel like a decadent carb splurge. Serve with a salad or roasted vegetables to create a balanced meal. This comfort food will leave you feeling full and happy, without being as repetitive as spaghetti.
Gnocchi with Sauce
Another comfort pasta dish to try is gnocchi, though many people I have spoken with have never heard of gnocchi. It’s a potato based pasta that is more like a dumpling than a noodle. You can make them at home or buy them in the store. Their similarity to dumplings makes them feel like a comfort meal, while adding a fun new twist. Try them with tomato sauce, pesto, vodka sauce, and more.
Chili con carne
Chili is a hearty and wholesome beef stew traditionally served with cornbread. The dish has its origins in the Texas and Southern states, where they still serve it with a bowl of red kidney beans. Using a combination of beef and turkey in chili makes it healthier, while still ensuring it packs some serious flavor. For a vegetarian version, try replacing the meat with lentils or beans. Chili recipes can be doubled or even tripled (as long as you have enough pots and pans) to feed a huge group of people and share that comfort food. If you have a busy day, use a crockpot that will allow your chili to cook itself all day, so you can get things done.
Ziti is a type of pasta that’s baked with a tomato-based sauce and cheese. The pasta can be served warm or cold, and it makes for a great side dish or light meal. This baked ziti recipe is super simple and only requires a few extra steps compared to a normal pasta dish. For a vegetarian version, try using a vegetable-based sauce in place of the meat sauce. This baked ziti recipe is the perfect dish to feed a crowd. The recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on how many people you’re feeding.
Creole Shrimp Toast
This classic New Orleans snack is usually served at breakfast but is just as delicious for dinner. Toast is slathered with a spicy shrimp mixture and topped with melted cheese. The crunchy toast and creamy cheese are the perfect foil for the spicy shrimp. For a vegetarian version, try replacing the shrimp with eggplant or zucchini. This recipe is great if you’re short on time. The shrimp mixture can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. As an added bonus, this dish can be made gluten-free. Fear not, we’ve already taken the time to find a great creole shrimp toast recipe.