Kristen Mendiola / The Daily Meal; Shannon Kinsella / food styling
Perhaps more than any other season, fall is associated with the harvest. Farmers markets, grocery stores and gardens simply overflow with hearty winter squash, sweeter-than-heaven apples and bold root vegetables that practically beg to be roasted. What’s in season this fall? Well, we’re glad you asked.
Arugula is technically in season all year long, but it tastes best in early spring and fall. This peppery green is best known as the star of upgraded salads, whether it's paired with farro or citrus and pomegranate. Beyond salads, arugula makes a surprisingly scrumptious pizza topping as well as a bold base for an eggy breakfast skillet.
Apple season depends both on your region and the apple variety, but most of the time, apples are available from late July through early November, making them a favorite fall fruit. Of course, apples — with a scoop of peanut butter — are best known as an after-school snack or as the star of apple pie, but there are plenty of things you can make with apples, including apple cake, Japanese curry with apples and carrots and apple cheddar scones.
America’s favorite vegetable, it’s hard to think of broccoli as even having a season, but it peaks in October through spring. What can’t you do with broccoli? Of course, you can roast it in the oven, steam it or eat it raw in a salad for easy preparations. Broccoli also has some surprising uses, like broccoli Parmesan or broccoli gratin. If you sense a theme, though, it’s because broccoli pairs wonderfully with cheese, like in these comfort food recipes.
If you see Brussels sprouts available on the stalk at the farmers market from September through November, snatch them up ASAP as that’s when they’re most delicious. The classic way to use this cruciferous vegetable is to roast it in the oven, though an air fryer also does amazing work. For an un-roasted Brussels sprout experience, shave them thin and serve them raw in a salad with other fall favorites, pear and pomegranate.
Cauliflower season varies across the U.S., but its peak tends to be from September through November. Embrace the flavors of fall with curried cauliflower or everything roasted cauliflower. Cauliflower also has plenty of creative uses beyond “side dish.” Use it in vegetarian-friendly versions of classic bar bites, like vegetarian Buffalo dip or Korean-fried cauliflower. It also does well as a swap for grains, like in this “couscous” recipe.
Best known as a snack or as a vehicle for your favorite dips, celery is in season beginning in the late summer and through the early part of fall. Eat it on its own, as the base of ants on a log, or make some seriously refreshing agua fresca. Celery may feel like a spring or summer nosh, but it’s an integral ingredient in one veggie-loaded holiday classic side dish: stuffing.
Chicories are leafy greens with an intensely bitter flavor and hearty texture. Examples include (but aren’t limited to): endive, frisée, radicchio and escarole. These are often used in bold salads perfect for fall and winter, like curly endive salad or quinoa radicchio salad with cauliflower. You can find chicories primarily in September and October, though the season’s length will vary depending on where you live.
Best known as the colorful addition to a holiday plate via cranberry sauce, cranberries are in season from September through December. Of course, cranberries have uses far beyond sauce. They’re great when paired with orange zest and baked into a bread or when used to top a pretty baked brie appetizer.
In peak season from fall through spring in most of the U.S., fennel has an anise flavor (think: black licorice) that can be divisive. This bold, fronded vegetable can be served on its own after braising, as a star ingredient in a West African-inspired stew or paired with a mild, tender protein like salmon.
You can find fresh figs primarily from August through October—they’re a phenomenal fall ingredient. Prepare for the holidays by making this spirited fig brandy or some dried fruit. If you want your fig fix now, turn them into a spread or serve as a sweet garnish on a pretty seasonal charcuterie board.
Depending on where you live, grape season can stretch all the way from July to December, but in most regions, this favorite fruit peaks in September. Much like figs, fresh fall grapes go great on charcuterie boards and are fabulous to munch on as-is; they also pair well with cheese, as this pan-fried feta and this rustic grape galette prove.
Pears have a very similar season to apples and are available from August through November. Delicate and sweet, pears offer a great contrast to bleu cheese in a sandwich and also do very well when poached. If you find yourself with an excess of pears, can them in a ginger syrup.
Just ask any jack-o'-lantern, pumpkin season starts in September in much of the country and goes strong through October. Of course, when it comes to culinary uses, smaller pie pumpkins (also called sugar pumpkins) are best and can be used just like canned pumpkin in pumpkin pie. If you want to get creative with pumpkin, try this sweet squash in tacos or roasted and served with meat sauce.
Despite its name, winter squash is perhaps the most popular fall produce. While its season continues through December, squash will start to pop up as early as late August. There are dozens of kinds of winter squash out there, but some of the most popular include butternut, acorn, kabocha, spaghetti and buttercup. How you cook your squash will depend on the kind you buy. When in doubt, roast it, stuff it or turn it into a soup. And now that you know what’s in season in the fall, learn what’s in season year-round, by the month.
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