Each year as summer winds to an close and the days grow shorter and cooler, flavor in the kitchen also begins to change. All seasons can claim to have distinct flavors and foods that match the season, but autumn brings a particularly flavorful and spice filled batch to the table . From fresh, farm grown fruits to spiced beverages, that’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you’re running into the local Starbucks or prepping a meal from scratch in the kitchen, certain fall flavors are inescapable. As the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and yellow and orange, it’s time to break out some of the seasonal favorites. If you’re looking to get into the seasonal theme of things, here are the essential flavors to indulge in during this (or any) fall.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Pie

You didn’t think we’d go without mentioning the unofficial Food of Fall, did you? Nothing says autumn quite like a patch of pumpkins. And by our estimate, fall doesn’t really start until coffee shops start putting pumpkin spiced lattes up on their menus.

Pumpkin, and the spiced flavor it’s based on, seems to find it’s way into in just about every kind of dish these days. From pumpkin flavored drinks, to pies, cheesecakes and other deserts, this fall classic might be just a bit oversaturated. While pumpkin might seem like an obvious choice for flavors of the fall, we can’t deny it’s deliciousness. There is truly no shortage of food you can’t make with it as the star ingredient.

Bourbon

The complex flavor of bourbon is a perfect compliment to the rapidly changing season that is autumn. Slightly spicy, with notes of oak and vanilla, bourbon is a perfect flavor to enjoy in the fall.

Have it as a cocktail in a glass, or infused into more decadent deserts and dinner dishes. Bourbon is a shockingly easy flavor to infuse, and these are some of our favorite recipes to pair it with.

Apple

bowl of apples

A true fall staple, nothing says autumn like apple picking in an orchard, or sipping cider on the porch. The apple flavor can be whipped into any dish, and fresh apples can be added to salads, pies and other deserts, but it’s the combination with cinnamon that really takes things to the next level.

If fall is known for such a diverse and tasty offerings of pies and deserts, it’s also apples that provide so much versatility. Apple and cinnamon pair unbelievably well in cupcakes and muffins, tarts, and even spiked cider for a liquid treat. And since apples are in season from August to October, you can technically get fall flavors started at the very end of summer.

Ginger

When you hear ginger, it’s a safe bet that your mind might wander to Christmastime, and the gingerbread cookies that have become so entwined with the holiday. But ginger is a flavor that’s become infused with the fall forever. Gingersnap cookies are an autumn staple, enjoyed with apple cider or hot beverages, like tea.

Ginger is often mixed with pumpkin to enhance flavors, providing a jilt on colder days. Since ginger is an intense flavor on it’s own, it pairs well with sweeter items like apples and chocolate for a tasty treat.

Cider Donuts

Cider Donuts

A fall staple in the northeast, these delicious treats combine two of our favorite autumn flavors; apple and cider. Made with generous sprinkles of cinnamon and and sugar, these donuts are meant to be paired with (and dunked in) cider.

Great to enjoy for breakfast or desert, these donuts are actually surprisingly easy to make.

Chai

Nothing hits the spot on a crisp fall day like a soothing, steaming cup of chai tea. Rich, aromatic flavors like clove and cinnamon combine to make chait tea a classically fall drink.

It’s pretty easy to make, too. If hot tea isn’t your thing, chai can easily be made into an iced drink as well. Want to skip the tea all together? No worries, chai flavoring is an excellent addition to sweets like cookies, cupcakes, and even pancakes!

Butternut Squash

butternut squash soup

Butternut squash is a super versatile fall vegetable that goes well as the star ingredient in soup (duh!), salads, pastas, or even caramelized and eaten on it’s own. These delicious veggies are pretty similar to pumpkins, and grow year round, although they’re best between fall and winter.

We love a delicious, creamy, roasted butternut squash soup, especially around Thanksgiving. It’s a healthy and tasty, and an easy dish to make.

Vanilla

The best companion for apple pie, vanilla ice cream is a fall must. Vanilla in general is a great way to boost the taste of any desert. It can jazz up blander options, or compliment more rich and decadent dishes.

Add some vanilla to your morning coffee or tea. And lest you think vanilla is, well, vanilla, try adding it to some of these dishes, deserts, and drinks. We promise that you’ll change your mind.

Maple

Maple Syrup

From maple leaves to maple syrup, is anything else more of a fall vibe? A super versatile flavor, maple syrup is a must have when enjoying breakfast goodies like pancakes, waffles and french toast. Scones and muffins are also delicious when infused with maple flavoring.

And if breakfast sweets doesn’t do it for you, maple really jazzes up lattes and tea, cocktails, desert sweets like cupcakes, and pairs incredibly with bacon! In fact, you might be pretty shocked at all the creative maple dishes you can make. A drizzle of maple can go a long way. If there’s one flavor to really splurge on in autumn, our money is on maple.

Caramel

Caramel apples, anyone? Caramel is a perfect pairing flavor to go along with other classic fall staples like apple, or drizzled in some chai tea. This salty, sweet, sticky treat is a perfect substitute when you’ve had enough of all the fall spices.

Caramel is a decadent and delicious option for deserts like candies and cookies, and make for a delicious addition to lattes to enjoy on a chilly autumn day. If you’re looking for a fun family recipe and activity, nothing beats caramel apples. For a halloween treat or just a fall project, they are pretty easy to do, and make for a deliciously rewarding activity.

Pear

caramelized pear

Falls forgotten fruit, don’t let apples dim the light on just how delicious and seasonal pears can be. This fruit is in season between August and October, making it an ideal food to have in the kitchen. Pear just so happens to go perfectly with a ton of seasonal spices like vanilla and cinnamon, and can be caramelized or poached for a decadent desert.

Pears can be enjoyed on their own, added to deserts or even salads, and also make for killer aesthetic pieces to showcase in the kitchen or around the home. As long as you decide to make pears an autumn staple, you really can’t go wrong.

Hazelnut

As the weather starts to cool, unique and tasty flavors begin to find their way into our favorite beverages. One of those is hazelnut, the buttery and sweet The sweet, buttery flavor that upgrades hot chocolate and coffee during the fall and winter seasons.

This fruit pairs exceptionally well with bitters, and as any Nutella lover can attest, chocolate. Hazelnuts are in season from September to October, making it a perfect fall flavor to enjoy.

Cranberries

bowl of cranberries

No Thanksgiving table spread is complete without delicious, vibrant cranberries. This fall (and also winter) staple is a tangy, tart delight, and makes for a perfect addition to heavier thanksgiving food like turkey and mashed potatoes. While cranberry sauce is the star, cranberry flavoring goes perfectly in deserts like pies, cheesecakes, and scones.

It’s also aces when reduced down to a glaze, and pairs amazingly well with meats like beef and pork. They even make a great garnish in festive holiday cocktails. Cranberries are just so, so versatile. If you’re looking to add this fruit to a dish or desert, try some of our favorite and easy cranberry recipes.