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As summer winds down, your customers start dreaming of crisp autumn air, football season, and pumpkin spice everything. Fall is in the air — which means it’s the perfect time to revisit your restaurant’s seasonal specials and take advantage of fall trends. By incorporating a few fall menu ideas, you can increase orders and give longtime diners a new reason to come in for a meal.

How does this season affect restaurant trends?

The fall season has a dramatic impact on restaurant trends, in part due to the marked shift in weather. When the temperature falls and the leaves start to change, customers begin to crave heartier comfort food, such as soups, pasta, hot cider, pot pie, and baked apple or pumpkin desserts.

The growing season also affects autumn ingredients and recipe options; many restaurants use seasonal foods to deliver maximum flavor and freshness. In the fall, farmers harvest crops such as apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, brussels sprouts, and cranberries — which is why they begin appearing on menus and recipe sites in September and October.

As you contemplate recipe options and restaurant menu changes, consider how the advent of fall influences your customers’ habits. When summer winds down, the kids go back to school and companies switch back to normal work schedules. This transition often leaves diners longing for meals that are both comforting and nourishing.

The most successful autumn menus are optimized to accommodate trends and behavioral shifts. By adding delicious, cozy fall recipes and comfort food meals to the lineup, you can delight customers and lean into the joy of the cooler months. As a bonus, an exciting new menu can provide new social media content that boosts engagement, increases revenue, and drives cold-weather catering orders.

Menu ideas to fall in love with

As summer comes to a close, start thinking about the best fall menu ideas for your restaurant. Not sure which dishes work for your kitchen crew’s meal planning and preparation process? Use these fall recipes for inspiration:

  1. Curried carrots and apple soup. Fall is all about root vegetables; roasted carrots with curry add an extra depth of flavor, and apples provide the perfect sweet finish. You can serve this dish in a cup as a starter, or pair it with bread and a hearty salad for lunch or a light dinner.
  2. Roasted butternut squash soup. With its creamy texture and brilliant orange color, this soup is a delicious addition to your autumn menu. Top it with a sprig of fresh thyme and a delicate swirl of sour cream.
  3. Chicken noodle soup. A childhood classic, this soup is a balanced and delicious meal in itself. For extra fall flavor, add black beans, barley, sweet potato, or corn to your usual recipe. Alternatively, go with a roasted chicken and wild rice soup.
  4. Pumpkin lasagna with veggies. Capitalize on pumpkin season with a veggie-heavy lasagna recipe. Ricotta cheese, sage, and mushrooms pair beautifully with a squash-based sauce for a nourishing and unexpected lasagna dish.
  5. Pork chops with brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are harvested in the fall; it’s when their distinctive flavor is at its peak. Roast these hearty veggies with garlic and Parmesan cheese and serve them with pan-seared pork chops for a satisfying and healthy meal.
  6. Mashed potatoes with shredded chicken and roasted cauliflower. Bring a popular slow-cooker chicken recipe to your restaurant by serving an elevated version of mashed potatoes and shredded chicken. Incorporate roasted cauliflower for a more complex flavor and fewer calories; chop it roughly and mix it in for extra texture.
  7. Pasta with pumpkin brown butter sauce. Rich and indulgent, brown butter sauce pairs perfectly with any fall dish. It’s especially delicious with butternut squash pasta or mushroom ravioli.
  8. Roasted chicken with acorn squash. Roasted chicken and acorn squash are both classic fall foods — served together, they create the perfect combination of textures and flavors. To add a bit of color and extra nutrients, serve this chicken meal with a side of cranberries, roasted zucchini, or even asparagus. You can also prepare stuffed acorn squash with sausage, mushroom, and onion for a heartier side dish.
  9. Puff pastry pot pie. Pot pie is a fantastic fall food option; it’s filling, and you don’t need to worry about side dishes. Go with a classic chicken pot pie, or fill the pie with a savory beef stew.
  10. Lentil curry soup. Cater to your vegetarian customers with a spicy, satisfying curried lentil soup. Mix in white beans, carrots, garlic, ginger, and onions to create a dinner option that fuels diners for hours.
  11. Pumpkin spice desserts. No fall menu is completely without at least one pumpkin spice item. Go with a traditional pumpkin pie, or opt for a unique twist with pumpkin spice crisp, cheesecake, brownies, or muffins. If your guests prefer an after-dinner cocktail, consider a fall recipe for a pumpkin spice-flavored white Russian, Moscow mule, or martini.

Another way to approach your fall recipes is to update your existing menu items with seasonal ingredients. For example, you could add locally harvested mushrooms to your best-selling chicken parmesan dish or use butternut squash instead of peas in your chef’s famous risotto recipe. Soup is often the easiest opportunity; after all, you can always add more veggies.

Some pivotal fall recipe ingredients to consider include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Figs
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cranberries
  • Sweet potato
  • Mushrooms
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Ginger
  • Cabbage

Leaf nothing to chance

A strategic fall menu packed with comfort food can help bring in new customers; it also gives your loyal fans more reasons to drop by or spring for delivery. As you start planning your seasonal menu and promotions, use your relationship with Grubhub to improve your delivery process and expand your reach. Pairing delicious new menu items with the convenience and visibility of Grubhub is the perfect way to entice customers to place orders.

Ready for your most impactful fall yet? Join Grubhub today and enjoy all the perks of a Grubhub partnership with no up-front cost or hidden fees.