Ah, fall: The season for snuggling, sweaters, smiles ... and most importantly, our favorite fast food restaurants dropping delightful pumpkin-filled menus. We consumers wait all year for the return of apple cinnamon, spiced crumble, and nutty aromas to fill the air of our favorite stops once again, and the anticipation is finally over. The time has come to fill our bellies with fall-flavored sustenance.
That being said, some chain restaurants' seasonal products are more notable than others. Many quick-service pumpkin muffins, for instance, provide a perfectly acceptable and nondescript autumn bite ... but forgettable is not what we're after this time of the year. We want something exciting -- something that our taste buds will remember long after the chilly, colorful season comes to a close. But no need to stop at every single fast food restaurant under the sun to determine which limited-time products are winners -- we've done the work for you and compiled a list of some of the top bites and beverages worth sampling this year. There are some expected and highly anticipated oldies in the mix, but the lineup also includes some surprising newcomers guaranteed to pull you right into the current season by your chunky infinity scarf.
Read more: The Healthiest Fast Food Chains In The U.S.
Krispy Kreme's Apple Fritters
Krispy Kreme has been gifting the world with delicious doughnuts since 1937, and its seasonal sweet takes are never a disappointment. It has offered Sugar Cookie Donuts at Christmastime, Strawberry Glazed Donuts for the summer months, and Stars and Stripes Dozens over the Fourth of July. This autumn, the chain has delighted its fans by bringing back one of last year's special fall time-favorites: The Apple Fritter Donut.
This sweet treat, which debuted in 2022 with the company's apple-forward Autumn Orchard collection, has returned to the joy of craving consumers. The oval-shaped fritter is full of fresh fruity flavor -- including both chunks of softened apple and a pureed filling packed with cinnamon -- covered by a sheen of sweet, hardened icing that gives it just a little hint of contrasting texture. We highly recommend sinking your teeth into this one the next time you're craving a fried, donut-sized version of a perfectly baked apple pie -- which, let's go ahead and admit, is basically every day in the fall.
Dunkin's Nutty Pumpkin Coffee
Dunkin' is the world's largest donut chain -- present in a staggering 33 different countries -- and it's not hard to figure why. Aside from its incredibly vast doughnut, breakfast sandwich, and lunch wrap selection, the chain sports an impressive beverage menu, as well. Hot chocolates, frozen smoothies, and (most importantly) coffees are offered up from behind its amazing-smelling counter. This year, fans of the chain are stoked to discover that a more recently introduced seasonal drink is back for the taking this autumn. "It's really good, iced or hot," reads a Reddit comment, referencing the delicious, caffeinated beverage known as Nutty Pumpkin Coffee. "Easily my favorite drink at Dunkin' right now."
The Nutty Pumpkin Coffee was first introduced last year for a limited time, and due to sheer popularity alone, has returned to the 2023 fall lineup. As the above comment reads, it is available both steaming hot or icy cold, and uses Dunkin's Original Blend combined with shots of pumpkin, hazelnut, and sweet cream to create a decadent and satisfying liquid blend of fall flavor. Trust us and give it a go the next time you stop in for an on-the-go breakfast at America's favorite donut shop.
Panera's Ham Egg And Cheese On A Cinnamon Crunch Bagel
This next fall breakfast sandwich is gloriously, deliciously confusing in its makeup, and we are here for it. Panera's Ham, Egg and Cheese on a Cinnamon Crunch Bagel is a brand-new introduction to the sandwich chain's fall menu. It includes the flavors of fluffy egg, salty ham, and savory aged cheddar sandwiched between -- wait for it -- a sweet cinnamon-sprinkled bagel.
While the news of the return of last year's popular Panera fall drink, the Cinnamon Crunch Latte, is also a thing to be celebrated, we find ourselves drawn even more strongly to its newest morsel. Though the mix of savory-and-sweet spice sounds a bit like a clash of styles at first, it only takes one melty, cheesy, cinnamon-heavy bite to realize it all makes perfect sense. It's an inventive combination as unique as each of the colorful leaves we see falling from the trees around us; however, employees of the chain are not nearly as excited. According to Panera workers on a recent Reddit thread, the cinnamon bagels are scalding when they come out of the toaster. One worker reported getting horrible blisters after touching one without tongs, while another stated a cinnamon bagel melted their gloves. So, if you do stop in for a sampling of this new and exciting sandwich, you may want to just sit back, sip your latte, and let it cool for a few minutes before diving in.
Starbucks' Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato
As the world's most popular coffee chain, Starbucks has a pretty significant fan base with a whole list of opinions regarding what should or shouldn't be included on the menu during any given season. And this year, the company took a bit of a beating from consumers when it publicized its product list for fall. This is because one of its most coveted autumn bakery treats for many years in the running -- the Pumpkin Scone -- was discontinued. And while this admittedly started off our 2023 fall Starbucks experience on a bit of a depressing note, we smiled when we saw that one of our favorite drinks, at least, was returning. While the Pumpkin Scone is out of the picture, a pretty incredible drink known as the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato is still in.
The Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato is a more recent addition to the Starbucks menu, and we welcome it back for the third year in a row with open arms. The beverage begins with some Starbucks' signature Blonde Espresso Roast that then goes on to be jazzed up by a collection of fall-esque flavors we're obsessed with -- a shot of oat milk, a dash of cinnamon, stirred brown sugar, and a dark apple drizzle. Basically, as the name suggests, it is a liquified apple crisp that warms the soul with every sip. How's that for helping you get you over your ex-favorite bakery treat?
McDonald's Pumpkin And Crème Pie
Though there are copious McDonald's locations sprinkled throughout the United States, this next delightful bakery bite on our list is only up for grabs at a lucky handful of them. Apparently, the burger-and-fries chain makes a smashing seasonal Pumpkin and Crème Pie that is reportedly only available during the fall in select states. Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virgina, and Washington are among the fortunate regions in 2023 according to information gathered from customers on the internet.
Though the coveted fall delicacy is, admittedly, more difficult to come by, we can confirm that if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one, you are up for a treat. A double-sided shell stuffed with pumpkin filling on one half, and sweet, creamy vanilla on the other, the pie is totally unique ... and totally fall. "If you're lucky enough to get a fresh one they're quality," confirms a Reddit user under r/fastfood -- and we wholeheartedly agree. Throw a McDonald's Pumpkin Spice Latte in the mix, and you are set up for a perfect afternoon sitting on a park bench surrounded by multi-hued trees. We dare say it might even be worth a trip to a neighboring state.
Wendy's Pumpkin Spice Frosty
The world was introduced to the Wendy's Frosty in 1969, and it never looked back. The thick frozen treat which some have described as being like an ice cream and a milkshake hybrid is a timeless hit that has remained pretty steadfast in its two basic flavor offerings -- vanilla and chocolate. There have only been three other limited-edition, unorthodox Frosties developed over the years -- strawberry, peppermint, and birthday cake -- but fall of 2023 has brought a fourth out-of-the-box experimental variant to the Wendy's menu.
The fast food company has made history by joining in on the fall-time flavor craze, gifting its infamous frozen treat with an epic autumn upgrade via the inclusion of the most popular fall flavor of all. That's right -- a Pumpkin Spice Frosty is now available for purchase at the second most popular burger chain in the United States. Offering the same creaminess of the original vanilla flavor but with blended pumpkin and spices, Wendy's new addition tastes something like what a partially defrosted pumpkin pie from your freezer might taste like ... and this refreshing iciness is just what makes the Pumpkin Spice Frosty a delight worth stopping for.
Jamba's Pumpkin Smash Smoothie
Pumpkin is perhaps the most quintessential fall flavor of them all. And while we most often think of the sweet flesh of this bright orange squash baked into solid treats like breads and muffins, pumpkin puree can also make a very delicious and fresh smoothie addition -- as evidenced by this next autumn delight on our list.
Pumpkin Smash is a returning smoothie available from none other than Jamba, the fresh juice-and-smoothie chain that got its start in California in 1990. Calling for fat-free frozen yogurt, creamy milk, and real pumpkin, the company's fun, seasonal beverage is a lighter, fresher delectable for your fall fast food lineup. Like every Jamba beverage, the Pumpkin Smash is customizable -- so you can have an extra shot of protein, a handful of kale, or some blue spirulina mixed in with your spices for a supplementary healthy boost. There is also a plant-based version available for vegans or people with dairy allergies, which calls for oat milk instead of cow, and a plant-based frozen dessert as opposed to the regular dairy-based yogurt. There's something for everyone to be found in this versatile concoction.
Chick-Fil-A's Honey Pepper Pimiento Sandwich
The most popular item on Chick-fil-A's menu is its Chicken Sandwich. There's truly nothing better than sinking your teeth into the succulent, flavorful breaded patty and getting one of those juicy, savory, crunchy round pickles in the bite. Except ... maybe there is. This fall, Chick-fil-A has unveiled a new take on its consumer-favorite sandwich which might just give the original a run for its money.
The just-dropped Honey Pepper Pimento Sandwich from America's most popular chicken chain harnesses that sweet-and-spicy flavor combo we so often associate with autumn. "I tried it yesterday," reads a recent comment on Reddit under r/fastfood. "Might be one of the best fast food sandwiches on the market. It's very very good!" Featuring the standard famous chicken patty as its centerpiece, the sandwich is topped by a smooth pimento cheese stuffed with chopped jalapeños. Beneath the patty sits a layer of those signature crunchy pickles. Finally, the whole creation is finished off with drizzled honey and surrounded by a warmed, toasty bun. Perfect -- right? Not yet. Add in an order of the company's seasonal Caramel Crumble Milkshake and you're officially set for a fast food fall feast.
Caribou Coffee's Pumpkin White Mocha
It doesn't matter which coffee shop you walk into; whether it's a small corner store or the largest chain on the planet, you can probably bet that there will be a white mocha on the menu. White chocolate mochas are extremely popular espresso-based drinks known for their dependable, very sweet flavor. But who says you can't step out on a limb and switch it up a bit? Not Caribou Coffee, that's for sure. Because come fall, a rare, different take on the classic can be found gracing its ample coffee menu.
For years, the Pumpkin White Mocha has made the cut for the returning fall menu of the Midwestern coffee chain, and consumers are loving it. The drink -- which can be ordered hot or cold -- calls for espresso, pumpkin, a handful of warm spices, and melted white-chocolate-infused milk. It is then finished off with a generous swirl of whipped cream and a sprinkled topping of mini white chocolate chips. The creative combination beverage gives customers a way to hang onto their favorite year-round coffee selection but add an autumn twist which will make them want to do nothing but curl up on the couch with a pair of slippers and a good book.
Dairy Queen's Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard
Ah, the Blizzard: The treat is truly Dairy Queen's claim to fame, and anyone who has ever sampled one of the many different flavors of these frozen ice-cream-and-candy combinations realizes how amazing they are. What makes the product especially fun is the endless possibilities for blending new flavors, and Dairy Queen has definitely gotten creative over the years. The Blizzard has been used often as a platform for whipping up seasonally themed ice cream creations like the Candy Cane Chill, which has been the star of the Dairy Queen kitchen during the Christmas season during the past two years.
But this autumn, Dairy Queen has a brand-new Blizzard in its lineup inspired by cold mornings, scarves, leg warmers ... and Oreo cookies. The company's Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard is basically a frozen, creamy, scoopable hot chocolate complete with bits of chopped-up frosting-filled Oreos and fudge chunks. The whole thing is finished off with a massive dollop of whipped cream, and a spoon. But even if this tantalizing dessert doesn't do it for you, you will also find a slew of additional returning fall Blizzard masterpieces on the 2023 Dairy Queen menu, such as the coveted Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough and the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Pie. Just remember, these particular creations are only available for a limited time before they are cleared out for the company's next round of ice cream inventions, so be sure to get them before the last leaf falls.
Jack In The Box's Angry Monster Tacos
Between pumpkin and chocolate and apple, there is an awful lot of sweetness floating around during the fall season. And while we appreciate a saccharine maple cookie just as much as the next person, sometimes, we find that our palate is in need of something savory. But you don't have to sacrifice the fall fun to get something containing the salt your taste buds are craving. Cue Jack in the Box, with its two seasonal Halloween-inspired savory products currently up for grabs.
The burger chain's annual fall tacos, the Monster Tacos, have come back swinging in 2023 alongside an all-new spicy version of the beloved original -- named the Angry Monster Tacos -- in preparation for the upcoming spooky holiday. "Best fast food tacos," reads a comment on Reddit, referencing the crunchy treats that are commonly referred to as being delicious, filling, and inexpensive. The tacos are famously and atypically large, hence the name "monster," and are filled with meats, lettuce, drizzled taco sauce, and multiple slices of melted American cheese. While the standard Monster Taco is mild on the spice, the Angry Monster Taco -- with its fiery red shell -- brings it aggressively. It will leave a lingering and strangely satisfying tingle on your tongue that, we assume, can be very easily cured by following up with lots and lots of Halloween candy.
Read the original article on Mashed.