Fall is very sensory experience, if you ask me. There are so many ways to take it in. The sight of brightly colored autumn foliage lining the road, and pumpkins dotted all over front porches; the feel of cozy sweaters and scarves on a cold day; the sound of leaves crunching under your feet; the taste of seasonal ingredients like squash, apples and maple; and all the glorious smells of fall, from citrus to spices and herbs.
One easy way to embrace the season is to bring those smells into your home. And its easy to do with simple DIY potpourri recipes. So many blends can be made from natural ingredients found in your pantry and fridge (and maybe backyard). There are so many ways to get creative with it, using foods and smells that you love. Try fresh and dried fruits, any kind of whole spice, herb leaves and stems, ginger, peppermint, even certain kinds of plants (like rose petals and pine branches).
In this post, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite DIY potpourri recipes inspired by the best autumnal flavors. We’re talking fresh, savory herbs, warm spices, sweet candied fruit, and bright citrus. By creating just the right combinations, you can have your home smelling like Thanksgiving Day, a fresh baked dessert, or a walk through the woods. You can totally make these blends ahead of time. Store them in mason jars or other airtight containers until you’re ready to brew them. They also make wonderful DIY gift ideas too.
How to use homemade potpourri
All you need is some water and your stovetop to bring homemade potpourri to life and fill your home with the best scents of the season.
Add 1-2 cups worth of whatever dried potpourri blend you want to use to a pot. Fill it up about 2/3 full with water. Simmer over medium-low heat for several hours and let the aromas gently wart their way into every room. The scents should stay strong for at least 3-4 hours before they start to fade. Once you’re finished with the mixture, you can simply compost or discard it.
This Thanksgiving blend is savory, comforting and nostalgic, bringing together some of the staple flavors we use to whip up the most hearty meal of the year. The only thing missing here is an actual turkey roasting up in the oven. Bright lemon is mixed with spicy black peppercorns, and the perfect herb blend, including fresh rosemary, sage and thyme, plus earthy dried bay leaves.
This Citrus and Spice Blend is so warm and cheerful. It smells like a big pot of mulled cider or wine brewing, and it’s perfect for curling up at night with a blanket and lighting a candle (bonus points if you’ve actually got some cider on hand). I use candied oranges for this blend, because it makes for a sweeter scent, but you can use fresh orange slices instead, along with fresh lemon. The spice blend includes sweet cinnamon, rich cloves, earthy cardamom and star anise. Keep in mind that star anise has a very bold and strong scent that’s a little reminiscent of licorice (you’ll notice as soon as you open up the spice jar). It blends beautifully in this mix, but a little goes a long way, so as not to overpower all the other flavors here.
One of the best things about fall and the approaching holiday season is all those scrumptious and decadent seasonal desserts. Bring them to life (without the calories) with this fall dessert potpourri blend. It mixes dried apples and cranberries (you can also use fresh), along with sugary and sharp candied ginger. You can also throw in a little fresh ginger as well if you really want to ramp up that scent. To spice things up, throw some cinnamon and cloves in the mix. The result will remind you of sweet apple pie, fresh from the oven.
This Wintergreen Forest Blend is fresh and earthy, and feels like a walk through the woods. You’ll immediately want to reach for a thick plaid scarf to wrap up in. It uses a few twigs of real pine or spruce — and if you don’t happen to have those on demand in your backyard (aka most of us) you can grab a few branches on your next hiking trip, or just pick up a small bunch at Home Depot or your favorite nursery. To that, add some rosemary to drive home the earthy scent, along with some sweet peppermint, like a big breath of cool, fresh air. You can use the little round candy pieces, or even throw in a few candy canes. Finally, spice it up with a few cinnamon sticks, close your eyes, and be transported.
Was anyone else OBSESSED with the warm vanilla sugar products that Bath & Body Works used to carry every holiday season? Well, this blend is basically just that. Sweet vanilla and warm dessert spices make this blend soothing, rich and oh-so-cozy. Start with a whole vanilla bean pod (which is a lot stronger than vanilla extract). Add some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and nutmeg shavings. You can also throw in a whole nutmeg if you want (but they’re pricey so I try to stretch their use)… or sprinkle a generous pinch of ground nutmeg to the mix (which is what I usually do).
Let me know if you give any of these Easy DIY Potpourri Recipes a try! I love to hear from you in the comments, or tag me on instagram @eat.think.live and let me see your creation! Plus, you can check out the rest of my recipes HERE.