What is Comfort Food? The answer will be different for everyone -- and for many reasons. Mood, weather, personality, memories, family, and friends are some of the many things that play into what your comfort foods might be.
What does comfort food mean?
Since we've all had different experiences in our lives, everyone likely has their own comfort food.
Why exactly do we grab for a particular food in our pantry, or cook a certain recipe at a certain time?
- It can evoke feelings.
- It's a food that can be calming and soothing.
- Your comfort food might bring you back to a pleasant childhood memory.
- It's something that will warm you up in cold weather.
- A meal that might help mend a broken heart.
- A food that simply makes you feel good, for no particular reason.
Soothing and Calming
Some people think of comfort foods as something soothing when they're sad or upset.
You know, like if you've had a really rough day, so you grab the pint of coffee ice cream, that you hope to have while you watch mindless TV? Not that I know who that would be. 😉
Comfort Foods can Evoke Feelings
For others, a comfort food is something that might evoke a nostalgic or sentimental feeling. For example, you love making waffles on lazy weekends because you remember your dad doing the same when you were growing up. (Also me.)
Typically served warm or hot, think saucy and creamy, warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom are a few) or melting cheese.
Foods in this category are generally cooked in the cooler months of fall and winter. After all, they warm us up and they're cozy. They simply make us feel good.
And, Comfort Food has become its Own Category
And then, there's simply a group of foods or meals that seem to have created their own special category called "Comfort Foods."
These are typically one-pot meals that roast, simmer, or braise for a long time. (Why do you think slow cookers and crock pots are so popular?)
"Soups and Stews" might as well change their category name to Comfort Foods, as they can be all of these things.
Macaroni and cheese, pies, bread puddings, cookies right out of the oven. . . its foods in this vein that qualify for this category.
Below are some of my favorite comfort food dishes, or those that I believe fit into the category.
Let's jump in.
The Best Comfort Food Recipes
Spicy Sriracha Spaghetti and Meatballs
Braised Brisket Stew
Hatch Chile Cornbread Casserole
Black Garlic Pappardelle Pasta
Smoky Three Pepper Corn Chowder
Smoky Breakfast Nachos with Eggs
Brisket Chili with Bacon and Chipotles
Cheesy Pancetta Brussels Sprouts Bake
Knockwurst and the Best Baked Beans
Roasted Butternut Squash Chili
A lovely, hearty vegetarian Chili that's perfect for fall and winter. Curried Tomato Beef Stew
Welsh Rarebit: Cheese Concoction
Skillet Spiced Sweet Potato Braised Chicken
Cinnamon Ice Cream (Yes, cold things can be a comfort too. 😉
Peach Cobbler with Blueberries
So what is comfort food for you, and what do you think are the best comfort food recipes?
I want to know so please tell me in the comments!
you had me at cuban stew!!!
I hope you try it, Camille. It's high on my comfort food list!
My favorite is grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was the Saturday lunch when I was growing up and just one bite takes me back.
This is a very popular combination on this comment list. Not surprised at all, as it's FABULOUS!
Kale Soup. It reminds me of my childhood. Once the weather started to turned cold it was soup time. My mother made this with kale, meat, potatoes, onions, garlic and some seasonings in a wonderful tasting broth. Always had nice crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth. This is what we called a stick to your ribs meal.
Growing up my family got hooked on Pasta as a comfort food. Not with marinara sauce but butter, salt and sometimes garlic. My wife and I would get up at 2:00 a.m. hungry or we thought we were hungry, just wanting a bowl of noodles and butter.
Still works today, many year later for me and my girls.
BUTTER! There's nothing better to have with pasta, as far as I'm concerned. So delicious!
Arthur, this soup sounds so incredible. Hearty, packed with flavor and good for you! I love it!
Mashed potatoes.. I guess because they are soft and warm and remind me of home .
Sounds perfect, Char. 🙂
I love pozole soup. I can eat it everyday almost.
My fave comfort food is a curried chicken stewp I make. It's a soup, but it's thick like a stew, so it's a stewp! Chunks of chicken thigh meat, lots of veggies, and a mild curry seasoning to give it extra 'healing power'
I must add the word "stewp" to my culinary dictionary. It's excellent. 🙂
Macaroni and Cheese. It's warm, comforting and reminds me of my childhood.
How is mac & cheese not in my 20 in this post!? It really should be on every comfort food list. YUMMY!
Black-eyed peas and cornbread. My grandmother had an enormous garden. Each summer we would visit, pick peas, shell peas, cook peas to go with homegrown tomatoes, fried okra and cornbread. Now my mouth is watering. Thanks, Valentina!
What a lovely memory, Linda. 🙂
I vacillate between spaghetti and chicken pot pie... and then there is a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup that never fails to please.
Deb, all of these are right up my alley, too. Wishing I had them at this very moment.
Meat loaf - Great as a meal. Makes Fantastic sandwiches.
True & true!
shrimp wiggle . . . mashed potatoes w/shrimp, peas and butter. it's good and ...... i like to say the name
who wouldn't love it with a name like that!? 🙂
Comfort food to my husband and son, would probably be chili simmering in my iron pot on the stove. But for me, It would be ANYTHING in a crock pot that I put together in the morning and came home to in the evening- a finished dinner for my boys!!!!!
crock pots = comfort foods!
My favorite comfort food is Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans!
Makes perfect sense to me, Alison. Delicious!
Picking just one is hard, but if forced I would say chili!
Yes, chili is one of the best comfort foods. So rich and filled with spicy flavors!
Meat loaf with ketchup, molasses, and tobasco served with mash potatoes. Then sandwiches the next day. MMMMM
Ham Bone and white Navy bean soup. It was served over sweet corn bread and topped with ketchup. Soak the beans over night. Drain the excess water off the beans. Put in a large pot add an onion (diced), garlic to taste a ham bone with some meat still attached, water to cover and cook until the beans are soft. Remove bone, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over sweet corn bread sliced horizontally, place in the bottom of a large bowl, top with ketchup to taste and enjoy. My parents were from the South and this was comfort food for them and our entire family
Sounds so delicious, Richard. You've succeeded in making me starving! 🙂
Oh, so hard to decide between:
"Beef Mushroom Burgundy" (melt in your mouth tender)
"Smoked Gouda Rigatoni" (rich and creamy grownup version of Mac and Cheese)
Both are bursting with flavor and absolutely the best ever comfort food on a cold winter night!
I simply wouldn't decide -- both should be on the menu.
There are so many"comfort"foods. One of my all time favorites is Mac and Cheese it's hot and cozy and fluffy and fuzz around the edges and a great reminder of my childhood, what could possibly top that. Another favorite is Cholent great beef and beans cooked for hours until the beans are soft and the meat is so tender it literally melts in your mouth! YUM, YUM!!!!!!! Great childhood memories in every bite that you never want to end!
Slow cooking something for hours usually means comfort. A memory in each bite -- I love that!
It's interesting how many chicken recipes qualify as comfort to so many people. Must mean something. GREG
So true, Greg. Must be that whole roasting business. 😉 xo
Macaroni & Cheese ..... All that cheesy goodness just makes you happy 🙂
It sure does!
Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup would have to be my go-to comfort food. Always loved coming inside to this after shoveling the driveway as a kid. Thanks Mom.
Moms are the best! Best combo ever!
You said it Valentina! Hi Mom!
Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought
Grilled cheese and tomato soup. My mom would always make me that when I was home from school sick.
Cathy, this combo is ranking very high in the comfort food department. Go figure. 😉 YUM!
Kelly @ Tasting Page
Can I pick any one of your amazing recipes on this post as my favorite comfort food? I'd be very comforted with any of these!
My favorite comfort food is a puerto rican dish pollo gizzado ( chicken stew). It has a tomato sauce base, potatoes, chicken, green olives, and spices it goes over white rice. It always reminds me of my mom and is just so comforting and so good, makes you feel better no matter what. Everyone who tries it loves it even if they cant say it so they just call it that puerto rican chicken stew you make that I love. Just spreading my moms love around.
That sounds amazing! And it doesn't get much better than spreading a moms love around!
Home made Chicken Noodle Soup Primavera. Egg noodles swimming in a fragrant broth bursting with lightly sauteed zucchini and garlic ... the aroma alone is enough to transport you to nirvana. Then the bonus, you get to eat it. Heaven.
I love this!
My favorite comfort food is roast chicken... reminds me of my Mom, it was my favorite growing up.
The world of comfort foods would be incomplete without roasted chicken. It's one of my favorites!
I would say Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy. My Grandmother's fried chicken and cream gravy was so good. I rarely fry, so to have it now would be a big treat. Our traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is a table full of comfort too. All the recipes handed down from generation to generation.
You had me a fried! Oh, and cream! 😉
It's a tossup between mac 'n cheese and meatloaf with mashed potatoes right now. But that buttermilk roasted chicken you have up there looks pretty darned fabulous.
Thanks for visiting my site, Donna! I think your two are at the top of most comfort food lists. And with good reason! 🙂
Mac and cheese for me. Love, love the creamy pasta cheesy dish.
Creamy & cheesy -- what could be better!? 🙂
pasta with Sunday Sauce, meatballs, sausage, braciole with ricotta and lots of pecorino..this was the meal growing up that took on the most importance, the Sunday meal, eating it is like getting a big hug from my deceased parents and when I make it for my family it's like an extention of my youth..and makes me feel safe, secure, and all sorts of warm inside...and i make it on Sundays or during the week...and when I need a "(( hug))..."
I absolutely LOVE this! Thanks so much for re-posting your FB comment here. Not only does this sound incredibly comforting and delicious, but it's such a lovely description of the power of food.
Comfort food to me is that which reminds me of home, of safety, of security, of love. Things like spaghetti and meatballs, tuna casserole, Malt-o-Meal, pork chops with mushroom gravy.
Lyndsey, all of these sound yummy and comforting.
My favorite comfort food is cream of mushroom soup.
Oooh, I love that -- especially mixed with rice and chicken. 🙂
My comfort food is either mac and cheese or potatoes.
I'm thinking potatoes came to be for comfort. 😉
Eggplant parmesan, or risotto with porcini mushrooms.
I could eat risotto everyday! YUM!
potato pancakes because they taste amazing and just make you happy lol
Potato pancakes are high on my list, too. Reminds me of my mom and Aunt cooking for the holiday's when I was a kid. And you're right, they can make a person happy! 🙂
A bowl of my mom's broccoli soup....with a delicious chicken broth and melted cream cheese, this is one of the best winter soups from my childhood.
Sounds delicious, Trish. And pretty healthy, too boot!
The best comfort food to me was my mother's chicken and Dumplings. They just warm you from the tummy out! And anything my mother cooked was always best.
I love that, "from the tummy out." 🙂
Kate @ Babaganosh.org
My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes. This might sound weird, but in my Russian family, mashed potatoes were part of Sunday breakfast, and it is also the dish my mom made for me when I was sick... so it brings up happy Sunday breakfast memories as well as makes me think about being taken care of 🙂
I really love this Kate. One food with two lovely memories. 🙂
good old Mac and cheese
Which ironically never gets old! 😉
My favorite comfort food is homemade mac and cheese because my mother used to always make me this on my birthday. It makes me think of her.
I think Mac & Cheese way up on the comfort food lists! 🙂
My favorite comfort food is french fries with different toppings ,its my favorite because there is a topping for every mood ,when i am super upset i put french fries on a fried balogna sandwich
Barb, fries on a sandwich -- I LOVE it! 🙂
my fav comfort food is lasagna, it always cheers me up
Lasagna is a great one! Love lasagna!
One of my favorite comfort foods was such a simple treat. When I was very young my mother would stew ripe garden tomatoes and onions with a little water,salt ,pepper and a touch of sugar. This was always enjoyed when I was sick. Mom would serve it on hot buttered toast. This was the only time I was allowed to eat in bed , so for me it was a double pleasure. It was made just for me ! Such memories .
Tomatoes are one of my favorite meals to this day !!
Sandy, this is such a good one. And in reading your comment, I realized how great it's been having people think about memories like this. 🙂
Bean and cheese burritos. Perfectly seasoned beans, fresh tasty cheese and a light savory tortilla. It's an old standby, a best friend, and brings you back to what really matters...carbs, dairy and some bean protein.
I love this, Alli! So many foods are my "best friends." 😉 xo Hope to see you soon! xo V
My favorite comfort food is Chicken and Dumplings.
That's on my list, too. 🙂
My favorite comfort food is homemade beef and noodles. It is so rich and warming and because it is my mother's recipe, it reminds me of her.
I think almost every comment includes "mom" or "mother." I can only hope I'm giving my boys similar memories. 🙂
Thanks for the giveaway… Irish Soda Bread, using my Mom's recipe...reminds me of being a kid, watching my Mom cook & bake in the kitchen.
Moms are the best. 🙂
To me, comfort foods are warm, colorful and flavorful. Often they also inspire happy memories of a certain person, place or event.
I am very moody and at the same time I love cooking. So whenever I felt upset its obvious that I am gonna create new dish lolz
The new dish is the silver lining. 😀 Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely weekend.~Valentina