Fall-Themed Date Night In (with Recipes!)

“Date Your Spouse!”

couple sits on couchReminders to “date my spouse” were among the most popular bits of advice my husband and I received before our wedding. Everyone reminded us to prioritize date nights and encouraged us to continue getting to know each other. When we started having kids, the advice was even more fervent: make sure you’re getting time, just the two of you! Now, I’m all for date nights out and getting to spend some one on one time with my husband. But I have to confess: sometimes, after a long week, I don’t want to go out.
I don’t want to pick a restaurant, find a babysitter, select an outfit, and drive to said restaurant. And even when I want to do those things, we have 3 kids six and under. They require a lot of hands-on attention right now. Actually going out just the two of us isn’t a feasible option on a regular basis! What is a realistic option for us right now are date nights in. Most of the time, that means ordering some DoorDash and having a couple of beers, while we watch a movie. Occasionally, though, it means selecting a menu and cooking it together!
I love a good seasonal menu. There’s something about tasting the quintessential flavors of a particular season for the first time in a year. Fall, in particular, offers plenty of robust foods and flavors to enjoy all season long. So to help you and your partner usher in the fall season, I offer you a fall themed Date Night In.
The Menu:
Autumn Old Fashioned
Apple Cider Glazed Chicken with Gnocchi
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Classic Baked Apple
While none of the recipes are too complex or overly time-consuming, I personally would still save this menu for a night when I had time to enjoy the cooking process and leisurely sip on my cocktail. We prepped a few items ahead of time {which I will indicate in each recipe}, which helped keep dishes and multitasking to a minimum. The resulting meal was a pleasure to make and delicious to eat!
fall date night dinner plate of food

Fall Date Night In Menu

Autumn Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned cocktail

I have to be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about cocktails. I generally stick to beer and wine when I want a drink. So for delicious cocktails, I defer to my older brother. I asked him for a good fall cocktail, and he delivered a slight twist on a classic: an autumn old fashioned. This is the perfect drink to sip on and savor as you cook your dinner!
Ingredients {Makes 2 cocktails}

4 oz good quality bourbon
2 teaspoons maple syrup
6 drops of bitters
orange peel, for garnish
cinnamon stick, for garnish
sugared cranberries, for garnish {optional}

  1. In a large glass, combine 2 oz bourbon, 1 tsp maple syrup, 3 drops of bitters, and plenty of ice. Stir.
  2. Strain into a lowball glass with one or two ice cubes {or a large rock}. Add orange peel, cinnamon stick, and sugared cranberries, if using. Repeat with the second drink. Enjoy!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette

ingredients for brussels sprouts salad

I eat Brussels sprouts almost exclusively in roasted form, preferably with bacon or a nice balsamic glaze. However, my very close second favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts is this salad. I made it for Thanksgiving one year, and I just love the way the fall flavors complement each other. Crispy bacon, tart craisins, tangy apple cider vinegar, sweet fig butter. I love it all. I did prep a few of these ingredients ahead of time, to make assembly easier. I cooked the bacon, shredded the cheese, and chopped the onion for the vinaigrette and the chicken {recipe below}.


3 cups shredded brussels sprouts
3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 c shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup craisins
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 c finely chopped sweet onion
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs fig butter {apple butter would work as well}
1/2 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay bacon strips on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until crispy, about 15-18 minutes.
  2. Combine brussels sprouts, cheese, pecans, and cranberries in a large bowl. Crumble bacon into the bowl, and toss until all ingredients are combined.
  3. In a small skilled, heat olive oil. Add onion, and cook until fragrant and slightly softened, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in apple cider vinegar, fig butter, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken and Gnocchi

ingredients for fall date night chicken

I love the flavor of sweet fall apples married with crispy, juicy chicken. These two foods just scream Fall! to me. In this recipe for a fall date night, I traded fresh apples for apple cider, which concentrates down and develops into a smooth and robust glaze. The broiling step is crucial- the crispy skin absolutely makes this dish. I served it with soft, pillowy gnocchi, but if that isn’t your thing, any other starchy side {potatoes, rice, pasta} would be lovely.


2 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs butter, divided
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbs brown sugar
1/4 c sweet onion
1 c apple cider
1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
1 package of gnocchi


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel. Mix 1/4 tsp salt with coriander, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over chicken on both sides.
  3. Heat 1 tbs butter in a large, oven proof skillet {a Dutch oven would work as well}. Add in chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook until the chicken releases easily from the pan, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  4. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Set aside while you make the glaze.
  5. Without cleaning out the skillet, add 1 tbs butter to the pan. When the butter is melted, add in the onion, brown sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and cook until the onion is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add in apple cider, garlic clove, thyme, and Dijon mustard. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1 tbs butter, until the sauce is glossy.
  6. Add chicken back into the pan, skin side up. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Spoon some of the glaze over the chicken, then continue baking for another 6 to 7 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Switch the oven to broil, and broil until the skin is golden brown and crispy, and the sauce is bubbling. This will only take a couple of minutes, so watch carefully!
  7. Serve chicken aside gnocchi. Spoon plenty of glaze over both!

Classic Baked Apples

ingredients for baked apples

For our fall date night, I almost went with a more decadent dessert, like an apple cake or apple cider donut. However, I decided after a rich main dish, I wanted to keep dessert simple. My cousin taught me how to make baked apples when I was a kid, and it absolutely blew my 7 year old mind. Back then, I just sprinkled some cinnamon and sugar on my hollowed out apple, heated it in the microwave, and called it good. Now, I stuff the apple with essentially a crumble topping of softened butter, oats, maple syrup, and seasonal spices. Baked in the oven and topped immediately with vanilla ice cream? This dressed up classic will satisfy your sweet tooth with minimal fuss. Bonus: this is a perfect dessert to share! You can prep this ahead of time, and bake it while you enjoy your dinner.


1 large apple for sharing {I love Honeycrisp for this recipe}
1 1/2 tbs softened butter
1 tbs maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs old fashioned oats
warm water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, add softened butter, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats in a bowl. Mash with a fork until combined.
  3. Using a small paring knife and spoon {or a small cookie scooper}, carefully dig out the core of your apple to about 3/4 of the way down. You want plenty of space for your yummy filling!
  4. Place cored apple in an oven proof dish. Fill the hollowed out core with the oatmeal mixture to the top. Pour a shallow layer of warm water into your dish. This will help the apple cook without drying out.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes. Exact cooking time will depend on the size of your apple, and how soft you prefer your apple.
  6. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or if you’re feeling fancy, creme anglaise.

I hope you are able to make time with your spouse or partner and are inspired by these ideas for a fall-themed date night in!

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Rebecca Slocum
Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016}, daughter Charlie {2020}, son Zack {2021}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.


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