Fall brings so many different changes. In leaves, in weather, in decor, and in fresh produce. And along with all of these changes, uniquely fall flavors begin to make their appearances across menus and plates worldwide.
The ubiquitous flavor of pumpkin spice is now synonymous with the season changing to fall. But that isn’t the only flavor to enjoy.
From mouthwatering maple to ambrosial apples, there is something here for everyone. But, which flavors are really worth our time during autumn and the spooky season? I have taken it upon myself to review 10 fall flavors and let you know which are worthwhile.
So, now on to the totally not subjective and absolutely set-in-stone fall flavors tier list.
Pumpkin Spice – F Tier
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice. Not because I think it’s too ‘basic’ or that the flavor itself isn’t tasty but on principle alone. Pumpkin spice is not its own spice. So it must be F-tier.
It originates from all of the spices that make up a pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin spice has long since been synonymous with fall because of the far-reaching pumpkin spice latte (a PSL for short…) made famous by Starbucks.
In fact, the spice you usually buy at the grocery store is just an imitation of the true flavors that make pumpkin pie. The spice contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
So instead of buying a pre-made spice, why don’t you try making your own? You can easily combine these five basic spices into a delicious mixture that will remind you of pumpkin pies and other autumn treats.
And even though this is the worst of the fall flavors, you can enjoy it in these recipes (though only one calls for pre-made pumpkin spice mix):
Cloves – A- Tier
I have a confession. I’ve got a soft spot for cloves. For me, I think it was love at first smell.
So I may be biased but I definitely think cloves are A-tier. But because I can be reasonable and recognize others might not enjoy the flavor as much, I’ll knock it down to an A- for fall flavors.
Some may find the flavor and smell of cloves overwhelming. I don’t know how. I would like to wrap myself in a blanket of cloves for the whole fall and winter season.
Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult finding recipes that feature cloves. And I’m sad to say I haven’t made a recipe for this site yet to use cloves as the star. Though my clove ratios in all pumpkin pie spice creations are skewed much higher than most.
So try the following clove recipes:
- Smoked Ginger Chicken with Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon
- Apple Butter with Cinnamon and Cloves
- Honey Baked Ham With Cloves
Cranberry – D Tier
I’ve long had a grudge against cranberries.
I’ve never really loved their flavor and found them a bit sour for my taste. I must admit that I do have a real bad sweet tooth. But, my issue with them started when they just started being used in everything.
Maybe it was cheaper to include cranberries or their juice in things, but it just took over. It may be a kind of smart cooking technique to use this fall flavor to cut the sweetness of other foods. But I just won’t stand for it.
Though I have to say that craisins – dried cranberries – make for pretty good salad toppings. That’s the saving grace that secures them a D instead of an F rating.
If you’re more into cranberries than I am, try these creations:
Maple – A Tier
Maple syrup is one of my favorite things to cook with. Not only does it taste great, but it can be used to make delicious treats. Maple syrup can be used in place of sugar or honey.
You’ll want to get real maple syrup, rather than any kind of imitation. There are a bunch of different grades of maple syrup and whatnot, but I can’t be bothered to get into all of that right now.
Because it is a natural product, maple syrups can vary widely depending on a whole lot of environmental and processing factors. But I think that lends a bit of uniqueness when looking at different
Its sweet, slightly spicy, and vanilla flavor profile along with its wide versatility give maple syrup an A rating.
If you’re looking to add maple flavor to your life, here’s how to get started:
Pumpkin – D Tier
Pumpkins are a symbol of the season. If you think of fall you’ll likely think of leaves changing colors and pumpkins.
But just because something is iconic doesn’t mean it is the best. Just like with pumpkin spice, we have to keep it real.
Most things that use pumpkin call for canned pumpkin. That’s because it can be annoying to cook and prepare your own pumpkin. Plus, the typical pumpkin you think of for carving up and decorating is not the best for eating. Those varieties are much smaller.
Plus, most recipes with pumpkin really feature other more powerful flavors that overshadow the gourd itself, so how good can it really be? Just look for butternut squash recipes instead cause they’ll probably be better.
When it comes down to it, pumpkin tends to make a better decoration than it does a flavor. So it’ll rank D-tier on our fall flavors list.
Put your canned pumpkin to good use in these recipes:
Cinnamon – A+ Tier
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world. Its warm, woody, slightly sweet flavor and amazing fragrance make it one of the best.
Many many fall recipes call for the addition of cinnamon. It definitely seems to be the most widely used spice from the list of those that make up the warm spices of pumpkin pie spice.
With its delicious flavor and wide usability, cinnamon deserves an A+ rating.
Here are some cinnamon-centric recipes:
Ginger – C Tier
Okay, ginger itself is better than C-tier. But I’m out here judging everything as fall flavors. And I haven’t ever really associated ginger with just the fall. It is a year-round kind of spice that is used widely in many dishes.
Warm, peppery, with some heat and zest, use ginger when you’re looking to add that extra kick to a dish. Whether fresh or ground, it can add a whole layer of complexity to food.
Because ginger is just not quite associated with fall, I had to rate it lower than it really deserves.
Get your ginger fix with any of these:
Pecan – A Tier
Pecans are nuts that grow on trees. If you have a tree in your yard, you might be able to get some pecans from time to time. However, most people buy them at the store.
If you love pecans, then you should definitely add them to your diet. You can eat the raw seeds straight from the shell, but you can also bake them into cookies. This is one of the best ways to enjoy the flavor.
You can also use pecans as an ingredient in many different recipes. Ground, chopped, whole,
Here are some recipes for enjoying this nutty treat:
Nutmeg – C Tier
I mostly think of nutmeg as a finishing garnish. It is difficult to find recipes with nutmeg as a featured ingredient.
Especially associated with eggnog (which is a trash drink… don’t get me started), it is somewhat comparable to cloves but with a nutty, woody flavor.
I’ll admit that I’ve never grated any fresh, just used a prepackaged spice. So maybe that would improve its ranking for me. But until then, nutmeg gets a grade of C compared to all fall flavors.
Try this warm spice in any of these recipes:
Apple – S Tier
Apple is one of the most popular fruits around the world. From applesauce to apple pie, this fruit is delicious. If you want a snack that can help you keep your energy levels high, then you should consider apples.
They are so completely versatile. Eat it straight. Bake it. Chop it. Slice it. Juice it. Top a salad. Blend it up into applesauce. Add it to pies and desserts galore.
Plus, there are like a million different varieties of apples that all have a slightly different taste. So there’s bound to be a variety for everyone.
Because fall is when apples naturally ripen, this is when they are at their peak. Especially if you can find a pick-your-own orchard near you for those super-fresh and ripe apples. Also, you need apples to make both apple juice and apple cider. Which are both top-tier drinks in their own right.
For all these reasons, apples get the highest rating possible when ranking the fall flavors – S-tier.
So, don’t let