I Tested 40 "Basic" Fall Candles To Find The Best Scents—Here Are The Winners

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If you were to come into my home and open any given drawer or cabinet, odds are that you will find candles. Sweet candles and spicy candles and fall candles and floral candles and giant candles and tiny candles and, well, you get the idea. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing. I light candles when I sit at my desk and start my work day. I light them when I put on a movie and want to make things feel warm and cozy. I light them when I do my nightly skincare routine and wind down for the evening. I light them for no reason at all and have to ask, Wait, did I blow that candle out? as soon as we leave the house. Bottom line: I love candles, I burn them often, and I own a lot of them.

Though I love all candles, fall candles in particular hold a special place in my heart. To me, there’s nothing better than curling up under a giant blanket with the leaves falling outside and a fall candle (or two, or three, or four...) burning somewhere in the background. Sure, this scene is what some might call “basic,” but in a 2020 where the universe continues to descend into complete and total chaos all around us, I am taking joy wherever I can find it. And damnit, fall candles bring me joy. 

So this year, maybe more than any other year, I’ve found myself at the end of September with what some might call a disturbing amount of candles. Between gifts from brands and from myself—I have virtually zero self-control—I’ve somehow ended up with 40-plus fall candles. Am I proud of it? No. Am I complaining? Also no. Naturally, I’ve smelled them all by now. I’ve burned most of them. My fiancé and I even got tipsy and reviewed some of them on Instagram (there’s not much to do in a pandemic, OK?), which people seemed to like. Without even trying, I had somehow gotten to the end of the month and tested dozens of fall candles. It’s hard work, sure, but someone had to do it. I figured I would write down my very favorites of the bunch and describe just what makes them so great. You know, for posterity.

Nest Pumpkin Chai Candle

nest pumpkin candle

OK, everyone. Listen closely here: If reincarnation is real, I want to come back as this candle. Not the smaller version, either. But the 21.1 ounce Big Boy Pumpkin Chai. This candle is pitch-perfect, luxury, fall-themed perfection. In a nutshell, Nest's Pumpkin Chai is everything good about fall scents. It’s spicy, warm, cozy, and offers just the right hint of barely-there sweetness.

It burns evenly and the throw is out of this world (this is how well the scent spreads through the room, if you don’t speak candle). Plus, the striped, orange glass container it comes in is chic while still being festive enough for the fall season, whether you’re more into spooky Halloween decor or gourds are more your thing. 

Bath & Body Works Leaves 3-Wick Candle

bath & body works leave candle

If the TED Talk people are out there listening, I would like to make it clear I want to give a short, yet impactful speech on Bath & Body Works’ Leaves at any point. Just name the time and place. But I digress.

If you’re looking for the crisp scents of fall with just a hint of sweetness, go get yourself some Leaves. The scent notes listed for this one are: crisp red apple, golden nectar, warm clove spice, and essential oils, but it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Burning this candle smells like you’re in a fall foliage-filled forest and then—what’s that? The distant smell of a warm, cinnamon-y apple pie baking somewhere in the distance? Ah yes, you realize, it is. Anyway, this candle is great and again: TED Talk people, call me. 

Homesick Apple Orchard Candle

homesick apple orchard candle

The first word I read on the back of this candle was “juicy,” and that’s exactly how it smells—like fresh, juicy apples. This candle surprised me because I was expecting something a bit sweeter, but instead it’s refreshing and crisp. It truly smells like a cool, brisk fall breeze (with, you know, a strong underlying smell of delicious apples). This is the perfect fall candle for at-home activities like cooking or cleaning because it won’t lull you to sleep or overwhelm you with sweetness. 

Homesick Pumpkin Picking Candle

homesick pumpkin patch

Homesick’s Pumpkin Picking isn’t quite as crisp as Apple Orchard, instead delivering warmer, spicier notes. If you love the autumnal smell of pumpkin, but want to skip the sweet gourmand notes, Pumpkin Picking would be a wonderful option.

Agraria Home Bitter Orange Candle

agraria candle

When Agraria sent me this candle, I was a little confused. Orange? For fall? Have we gone totally mad? But then I lit it and sure enough, I loved it. As it turns out, not everyone is into in-your-face fall scents—and though I can’t understand that mindset whatsoever—I can accept that those people exist. For them, there is this candle.

It’s spicy and warm like any fall candle should be, but it’s not overpowering, either. Plus, the citrus notes give it a hint of freshness as well. If you live in a warmer climate or are looking for a fall candle that could work in other season’s, too, this one’s for you. 

Agraria Home Balsam Candle

AGRARIA Balsam Perfume Candle

Think of this as a candle perfect for that time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas when it’s cold outside, but not quite full-on winter yet. Agraria’s Balsam scent is fresh, crisp, and completely comforting. 

Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Candle

pumpkin candle

For fall candle enthusiasts (and Bath & Body Works fans), Pumpkin Pecan Waffles is... iconic. A classic. If you love sweet, makes-your-mouth-water scents, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles is for you. With notes of maple syrup, golden waffles, pumpkin spice, brown sugar, and essential oils, this candle smells like the best fall breakfast you’ve ever had.

DW Home Vanilla Latte Candle

dw home vanilla latte candle

You know that feeling of rolling out of bed, walking into your kitchen, and immediately smelling freshly-brewed coffee? That’s what this candle smells like. I’ve put mine in my office and burn it in the mornings to start the day and it always leaves me feeling calm and energized.

Technically, this isn’t a fall-specific scent but there’s nothing cozier in cooler weather than steaming, fresh coffee—so, I think emphasizing that smell is never a bad idea. Pro tip: As with any candle (but especially this one), make sure you trim the wicks to ensure an even and clean burn. 

Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Cookie Dough 3-Wick Candle

cookie dough candle

This might be a controversial pick because people are very particular about sweet-smelling candles. But as someone who spent their entire childhood ignoring my mother’s warnings about eating raw cookie dough, I feel compelled to love it. Does the scent combo make sense? Of course not. Pumpkin cookies really aren’t a thing (side note: Why aren’t pumpkin cookies a thing?). Do I love it anyway? You bet I do.

This candle is decadent, intense, and sugary-sweet while still having just enough hints of spice to make it feel fall-ish. It’s more vanilla and buttery than pumpkin-heavy, but it doesn’t even matter. Trust me, light this candle and you will probably never want to leave your house again (honestly, a convenient feature in the year 2020). 

Threshold Vanilla Pumpkin Candle

vanilla pumpkin candle

It’s a vanilla pumpkin candle—in the shape of a pumpkin. What more could you ask for? Seriously, Threshold candles (especially this one, which is just the right amount of fall decor while also being functional) are an excellent value, so add this one’s worth adding to your cart ASAP.

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