As the cold weather starts to creep across the country, we've huddled under a blanket fort and drafted a list of our 13 best healthy comfort-food recipes. From lowcountry classics to soul-warming soups, these mains are sure to satisfy your cravings and keep you cozy on the coldest days. 

Is there a more satisfying feeling on earth than indulging in some amazingly delicious comfort food when it's super cold outside? Betty White showing up to our birthday party being the exception, we'd say... probably not. But there is a drawback inherent in that indulgence: the calories. It's almost not worth stuffing your face with red beans and rice when you know you're putting yourself in calorie jail for the rest of the day.

But luckily for you, Betty, and humanity at large, Cooking Light exists. We are wizards when it comes to taking delicious comfort-food recipes and riffing on them to create healthier versions. And since snow is starting to fall in some places, we know that folks will be searching for comfort-food mainstays to incorporate in their meal plans. So, we've taken it upon ourselves to put together a list of 13 comfort food classics made healthier. Like we said, wizards.

Oh, and bonus! Every single one of the recipes below can also be found on the Cooking Light Diet, so if you sign up for that you can start receiving customizable meal plans featuring your favorite comfort foods. 

Without further adieu, here are 13 of our best comforting recipes. Stay warm out there, friends.

Skillet Red Beans and Rice

It doesn't get more comforting than red beans and rice with sausage. This recipe is not only low in calories at 329 per serving, but it also comes together superfast in under 20 minutes. 

Credit: Photo: Linda Pugliese

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

No list of comfort foods would be complete without macaroni and cheese. This is a one-pot feast, featuring chicken, broccoli, and most importantly, bacon. The kids will love this recipe.

Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell

Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits

A true Southern treat, this seafood-centric main is only 408 calories per serving. If there are any shrimp lovers in the family who have never had shrimp and grits, introduce them to this recipe ASAP. If nothing else, do it for Bubba. 

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Tomato-Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

The soup itself is delicious, but add grilled cheese croutons to the mix and you've got yourself a new cold-weather family favorite.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey


If you're interested in receiving customizable meal plans containing these recipes and more, sign up today at

Quick Chicken Marsala

Hakuna Marsala. It means no worries as you cut through the richness of chicken stock with this sweet, dry wine. This delicious dish is best served over mashed potatoes, polenta, or hot cooked brown rice.

Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Slow Cooker Thai Beef Curry

Fish sauce and curry paste give this recipe lots of flavor, and you can kick back and live your life while the slow cooker does most of the work for you. 

Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio

Chicken and Gnocchi Dumpling Soup

A Cooking Light Diet Community member recently called this soup "the perfect fall recipe." We concur, and we can't get enough of the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi dumplings.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Slow Cooker Beef-and-Barley Stew

If you were looking for a great comfort food recipe to big batch, freeze, and reheat later, you just found it. 

Credit: Jennifer Causey

Loaded Mashed Potato Soup

While it's easy to be skeptical about the use of prepackaged mashed potatoes here, you won't notice the difference once this soup comes together. This is simple recipe would also make fantastic practice for the novice cook in your home. 

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Upside-Down Shepherd's Pie

Turnips give this classic a hint of sweetness, and you can really get creative with the protein as this recipe tastes just as great with ground chicken, turkey, or lamb. 

Credit: Romulo Yanes

Open-Faced Pimiento Cheese BLTs

If this recipe doesn't scream "classic" at you, you probably haven't spent much time in the South. This is a superfast, super-easy recipe that you could enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Credit: Photo: John Autry and Randy Mayor

If you're interested in receiving customizable meal plans containing these recipes and more, sign up today at