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12 Cozy Winter Meals to Live Your Best Hygge-Inspired Life

Embrace comfort, coziness, and togetherness with these hearty recipes.
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For some people, the winter season is associated with feelings of depression, sadness, boredom, or an overall sense of gloom. If you live in a place with long, dark winter months, these feelings may be even more intense. While things like depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are sometimes unavoidable in the winter, there are cultures that have learned how to find a sense of joy, peace, and comfort in the midst of the most brutal winter months. The Danish practice of "hygge" is the perfect example of this.

What is hygge, you may ask? Pronounced "hoo-gah," hygge is a Danish practice of creating a warm atmosphere and slowing down to enjoy the people and things in your life. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, believes that the reason Danes are some of the happiest people in the world is because of hygge. According to his book, hygge can be defined as "a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being."

But what does a practice of hygge look like? According to the Little Book of Hygge, it involves things like cultivating a cozy atmosphere with candles, blankets, warm socks, and warm lighting, taking a break from your phone, spending time in community, eating warm, cozy foods, and indulging on your favorite treats. That's right, you heard that correctly: hygge embraces your favorite indulgences and allows a break from dieting.

When it comes to food, hygge doesn't have any specific rules outside of making sure you're as cozy and happy as possible. According to Hygge: The Secrets of the Hygge Art Towards a Stress-Free and Happier Life by Danielle Kristiansen, shopping local and incorporating seasonal produce into your recipes can also help you find your hygge with food, but this of course depends on where you live and accessibility. 

For some easy food inspiration, we've gathered recipes to help you live your best hygge life. This list focuses on meals that are cozy, warming, hearty, indulgent, great to share with others, or simple enough to make so you can keep your stress levels low and embrace the comfort. Hygge-inspired recipes aren't really about a particular food, but are more so about the experience the food can help you create. So, without further ado, here is some food to get you started on your hygge journey.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Vegetarian grilled cheese and tomato soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

There aren't many things cozier or more nostalgic than a grilled cheese sandwich and a side of tomato soup, but this recipe isn't just any ol' grilled cheese. This sandwich calls for pimento peppers, jalapeño, scallions, Tobasco sauce, and mayo combined with the cheese for a decadent flavor and an extra creamy texture.

Get our recipe for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.

Turkey Swedish Meatballs

Paleo swedish meatballs
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Same comfort you get from a typical meatball, but with a leaner meat option. These turkey meatballs are great for cozying up this winter, and they'll taste even more perfect with a side of grape, cranberry, or raspberry marmalade.

Get our recipe for Turkey Swedish Meatballs.

Danish Risalamande (Rice Pudding)

danish risamalande
Courtesy of Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

Risalamande, or almond rice pudding, is a traditional Christmas dessert in Denmark, and it makes for the perfect hygge treat. According to Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking blog, risalamande is different from other rice pudding in that it includes almonds, vanilla extract, and heavy whipping cream. Sounds like quite the cozy indulgence.

Get the recipe from Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking.

Swedish Cardamom Buns

cardamom buns
Courtesy of View from Great Island

These cardamom buns are great for a midday coffee break with a close friend, which can help you embrace your hygge self and slow down to enjoy your favorite flavors and your favorite loved ones!

Get the recipe from The View From Great Island.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

bowls of copycat broccoli cheddar soup
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

If you're a fan of Panera's famous Broccoli Cheddar soup, then you're aware of how comforting a hot bowl with a side of warm bread can be. This copycat recipe is incredibly easy to make and will be a favorite among your family and friends if you decide to embrace hygge with a quaint gathering.

Get our recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

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Decadent Pumpkin Bread Pudding

two bowls of pumpkin bread pudding with spoons on wire rack and wooden background
Jason Donnelly

There's something so warm and rich about a bread pudding, and this recipe utilizes popular winter flavors like pumpkin, vanilla, and orange zest to add even more decadence to this dish. Embrace the indulgence of hygge recipes and treat yourself to a serving (or two) of this snug dessert.

Get our recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork Soup

green chile pork soup and bread
Jason Donnelly

This soup is not only full of hearty ingredients and rich flavors, but it's so easy to make that all you have to do is throw everything in a pot and let it cook for a few hours. This will give you some time to put on your cozy socks, grab a new book, and turn on your favorite slow jazz playlist while your soup does all the work itself.

Get our recipe for Green Chile Pork Soup.

Roasted Salmon With Lentils

Paleo roast salmon with lentils
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Fish is a great way to get in your protein and healthy fats in the winter if you're not in the mood for a heavier meat, and this salmon recipe unbelievably simple to make. You'll also enjoy a side of lentils, which will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Get our recipe for Roasted Salmon With Lentils.

Instant Pot French Onion Soup

instant pot french onion soup with bread slices and melted cheese
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

French onion soup is a popular dish during the cold winter months, but many recipes for this soup are complicated and take a while to make. This recipe is just as rich and full of flavor as your usual French onion soup, but it's made in the Instant Pot, which save you plenty of time and energy. This way, you can relax by the fire while your soup is cooking.

Get our recipe for Instant Pot French Onion Soup.

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Oatmeal Pancakes With Cinnamon Apples

Oatmeal pancakes with cinnamon apples
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A hygge-inspired breakfast is one in which you're not rushing out the door in stress or just grabbing a pastry on the go. Instead, a hygge breakfast involves you slowing down and taking the time to eat while you sip on a cup of coffee. These oatmeal pancakes with cinnamon apples are the perfect recipe for a calm morning.

Get our recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes.

Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

Gluten-free crispy rosemary potatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Potatoes are a filling and nourishing carbohydrate to enjoy in the frigid winter months. These rosemary potatoes are a simple, healthy way to indulge in this food and can be a great side item for your favorite steak or poultry meal.

Get our recipe for Rosemary Potatoes.

Red Mulled Wine

lillet mulled wine
Courtesy of Lillet

This traditional-style mulled wine cocktail is the perfect hygge recipe because it warms you up, it helps you relax, and it's easy to share among friends and family. You can make it even fancier by adding some cinnamon sticks when it's ready to serve.

Get our recipe for Red Mulled Wine.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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