How to Hygge Your Cooking and Make Cozy Meals

Find Hygge ideas to create easy, cozy, fresh, seasonal meals. Enjoy making dinner again by incorporating these hygge elements into your meal planning, meal preparation, and pantry list.

non descript woman cooking a cozy meal of pasta at a stove top

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How to Bring Joy Back Into Cooking

Hygge, the Danish word for “cozy”, is all about simple things, good friends, and Scandinavian comfort food. The concept of Hygge has been gaining popularity in recent years and, if you’re looking for more hygge ideas, The Little Book of Hygge is a great place to learn more about the art of Hygge.

As you start to incorporate Hygge into your life by slowing down, spending quality time with your people, and adding cozy elements to your home, adding Hygge elements to your meal routine is the next step to creating cozy mealtimes.

Let’s start by acknowledging that you’re busy and there will absolutely be days where chicken tenders and tater tots from the freezer are going to scarfed down in the moments between practice, school work, and showers. And sometimes take out and or frozen pizza will have to do. That’s absolutely fine, do what you need to do to keep things rolling.

But, on those other days, where maybe you’re not so hurried, or you just want to bring some joy back to the cooking process there are some easy ways to bring the spirit of hygge to your meals. As you begin to implement these practices you may find that:

  • A homemade dinner can be made more quickly than you previously thought;
  • There is something very relaxing about chopping vegetables;
  • There’s nothing quite like the bright fresh taste of a homemade vinaigrette or marinade;
  • You find yourself relying less on recipes and cooking more by instinct based upon the ingredients you have available to you.

So, let’s start looking at the ways you can add Hygge to your meal routines.

Maintain a Well-Stocked Pantry for Hygge Meals

wooden cutting board with eggs, flour, and butter - used to create a hygge pantry

Google “pantry list” and you’ll find a ton of lists of non-perishable items you should keep on your shelves. This is not necessarily the way to create a Hygge Pantry though. 

A Hygge Pantry goes beyond shelf-stable dry goods and incorporates fresh ingredients that include your “go-to” items for creating quick and easy meals. The best things to always have on hand are:

  • fresh garlic
  • herbs and spices
  • chicken stock
  • butter
  • good olive oil
  • your favorite pasta,
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • produce
  • avocados
  • berries
  • black pepper
  • red wine vinegar

In her book My Pantry, Alice Waters (owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkley, CA) does a fantastic job expanding preconceived notions of what it means to stock a pantry. She shares her recipes for creating spice mixtures, beans, nuts, condiments, and even cheeses that can be used as easy meal starters.

While you may not use all of her suggestions (I for one, will never preserve fish) this book does serve as a cherished reference for getting the most flavor out of simple ingredients.

Keep Breakfast Simple

Having easy items available for breakfast that your family can easily grab can be a better option than preparing an actual meal in the morning.

This will mean less running around for you, so you can visit with your family for the ultimate hygge time first thing in the morning.

A few things to keep on hand:

  • Supplies to make a cup of tea
  • Everything you need to make a hot cup of coffee
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Cinnamon Buns
  • Bagels, English muffins, sliced bread
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Fresh Fruit

Don’t Plan Meals TOO Far in Advance

There should be a happy medium between running to the grocery store every day to get what you need for dinner and stockpiling a month’s worth of groceries.

Aim for grocery shopping once or twice a week. Your food will be fresher (and taste better because of that!) and you’ll be more likely to incorporate healthy options into your dinners. 

As you walk through the produce section you’ll notice those just-ripe berries, a new shipment of melons, or fresh bell peppers and new dinner options will pop into your head!

If you want an in-depth lesson on meal planning with in-season produce, I HIGHLY recommend Alice Water’s Masterclass on Home Cooking. Not only will she inspire you to cook homemade fresh meals, but the recipe booklet she includes in the course material is also priceless!

Make Sure You Have the Kitchen Tools You Need to Make Cozy Meals

crock full of kitchen utensils

One of the best parts of Hygge cooking is that you’ll find you really do not need a ton of kitchen tools. (I say this as a recovered kitchen-gadget junkie.)

These are the kitchen items you’ll find yourself reaching for again and again:

  • Good knives (I’ve had this set for years – it’s a very reasonably priced set of good knives from a top brand.)
  • Cutting boards (both a wooden and plastic version)
  • Cast Iron Skillets (admittedly a bit pricey, I recently purchased this pan and it now lives on my stovetop. Other than my stock and saucepans, it’s the only pan I grab. It’s oven safe for roasting as well.)
  • Small saucepan with a lid
  • Large saucepan with a lid
  • Stockpot
  • Baking sheets (really, you just need this one – it’s big enough to cook an entire package of bacon, a ton of cookies, roasting all your cut-up veggies)
  • Colander
  • Suribachi (a Japanese mortar and pestle – once you begin crushing herbs and garlic to make your own dressings and marinades you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this simple tool!)
  • Whisks – regular-sized and mini
  • Wooden spoons
  • Spatulas
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Grater
  • Large bowl
  • Various Mixing bowls – the CUTER, the better. Check out these adorable handcrafted Jadeite mixing bowls that look like an updated version of the bowls my Grandma bakes with, or this complete bamboo set.

You can also set the mood for the Danish concept of a cozy sense of wellbeing by lighting candles at your dining table, setting out fresh flowers, or adding other little things that create a quality of coziness.

After dinner, settle in for a hyggelig evening by pulling out your board games and having a good time reconnecting with your family.

For more tips on how to add hygge to your daily life in the kitchen, check out this article on the elements of a Hygge Kitchen.

Eat Locally and Organically When You Can


Food that hasn’t had to travel far to get to your plate is going to be the freshest. 

In addition, if have you a local farmer’s market or belong to a CSA, talk to the vendors about their growing practices. During the summer, you can make visiting with growers your weekly thing and engage in good conversation that might even result in a few new recipes for you to try.

A lot of times you will find that their livestock is organically/grass-fed and their produce is grown using organic practices. Getting certified organic can be a costly endeavor that many small growers cannot afford, but they may still follow these same steps.

Make Hygge Food a Part of Every Season

slices of watermelon on a white background

Quintessential Summer Hygge Recipes

In-Season Summer Produce

  • Apples
  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries!)
  • Bell Peppers 
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew)
  • Peaches
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
assorted fall fruits and vegetables

Fall

As the weather begins to cool, your meals can get a little heartier and soups start to make a welcome appearance again. Stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls incorporate the season’s harvest into some of our favorite comfort foods.

Favorite Fall Recipes

Favorite Fall Recipes to Envoke a Feeling of Coziness

In-Season Fall Produce

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes/Yam
  • Winter Squash
eggs, veggies, and decor on a kitchen counter for cozy meal preparation

Winter

Winter is truly the season of hygge and cozy meals call for heartwarming stews, creamy mashed potatoes, and stick to your ribs meals like Salisbury steak and spaghetti and meatballs.

Favorite Winter Recipes the Danish Way – Extra Cozy

In-Season Winter Produce

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet Potatoes & Yams
  • Winter Squash
round wooden tray with cheese, strawberries, and flowers

Spring

As the frigid winter nights turn into cool, rainy spring mornings we start to see more delicate dishes hit the menu – salads begin making a comeback, brunch items like fresh quiches start making an appearance, and healthy salmon begins to replace heavier proteins.


Favorite Spring Recipes for Bright Nordic Evenings

In-Season Spring Produce

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

Leave Room for Dessert

The Danish love their sweets and evenings and weekends often involve dessert and a steaming cup of coffee or tea.

Here are a few really easy dessert recipes you can whip up quickly, share with your family, and enjoy the next morning with a cup of your favorite hot beverage.

Final Thoughts on Hygge and Cozy Meals

platter of cheese and fruit

Now that you’ve got dinner (and maybe dessert!) planned here are some ideas to make mealtime even cozier.

  • Turn down the lights and eat by candlelight.
  • Serve dinner on cute dishes and with your prettiest glasses.
  • Conversely, get out the paper plates and have a picnic on the floor – no dishes tonight!
  • Serve your meal family-style, build your own, or on a board to make eating even more fun.

More Ways to Add Hygge to Your Life and Home

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