Here are Our Favorite (and Not So Favorite) Fall Candles After Hands-On Testing

Thoughtful Reviews

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At the beginning of fall we launched the search for the best fall candles you can buy in 2020, and we decided to hire 3 testers for this dream job opportunity. We sifted through over 8,000 responses, and found three perfectly qualified candle testers to put their smellers to the test. We sent them a dreamy assortment of candles from several different brands, based on their preferences. Here’s what they had to say.

Laura Davis

Listed in Order Starting With Her Favorite:
Yankee Candle Spiced Pumpkin
Bath & Body Works Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow
Mrs. Meyer’s Apple Cider
Opalhouse Bonfire Embers
Bath & Body Works Sugared Pecan Pie 3-Wick
Target Generic Falling Leaves

Review Summary

“Each candle was unique in scent but yet all had an autumn feel to them. A lot of times I burn two scents at the same time so my combination of these would be the pumpkin marshmallow (Bath and Body Works) and the Pumpkin Spice (Yankee candle) and the scents compliment one another for a warm sweet pumpkin vanilla cinnamon scent throughout my home. I find the Bath and Body Works candles to throw more scent but the Yankee candles although more subtle, tend to burn longer. The nice thing about the bath and body works candles is you can use them in a larger area and still be able to smell the scent very well. The bonfire embers was a surprise scent -unexpected but really nice and woodsy. Would not have probably picked it in a store but the smell was very nice. And the Apple Cider candle was a pleasant surprise. Much better scent than I expected for a small candle. The pecan wasn’t my favorite but I’m not a big fan of pecans but I feel it captured the pecan scent and I know a lot of people who love pecans who would love this candle.”

Victoria Marroquin

Listed in Order Starting With Her Favorite:
Rustic Smoke Candle Co – Toasted Almont Torte
Rustic Smoke Candle Co – Sleepy Hollow
Rustic Smoke Candle Co – Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Rustic Smoke Candle Co Autumn Dreams
Hearth & Hand 2 Wick Candle – Fig
Bath & Body Works Dutch Apple Waffle 3 Wick Candle

Review Summary

“The Fig candle holder was gorgeous, making it a great addition to my fall décor. The scent was accurate to the description, but too light for my taste. The Dutch Apple Waffle candle, on the other hand, was its polar opposite – the scent was quite strong. I usually really enjoy the scent of baked goods in my home, but this proved overpowering and the mix of scents was unappealing. Each of the Rustic Smoke candles were heavenly in regards to scent, and the simple presentation make them something I would love to gift to friends for holidays or as a hostess gift. While each had a lovely, unique smell, the almond torte easily surpassed the the others for me – a strong smell, but not unpleasant, filling my home with such a lovely baked-goods scent. Thoroughly impressed!”

Jessica Singer

Listed in Order Starting With Her Favorite:
Apple Pumpkin Yankee Candle
Yankee Candle Autumn Wreath
Flannel 3 Wick Candle by Bath & Body Works
Gather 3 Wick Candle by Bath & Body Works
Glade 3 Wick Pumpkin Spice Things Up
Pumpkin Bourbon Candle by Chesapeake Bay

Review Summary

“I anticipated the pumpkin spice things up to be a least favorite because I didn’t anticipate the quality to be as good as the other candles. Although the burn time was less than the other candles, and the candle did not burn as clean as the others, I really enjoyed the scent and aroma. I think that the Apple Pumpkin Yankee candle was a personal favorite because it was a blend of all fall scents. It burns clean, and has a long burn time. I enjoyed the flannel one more than I expected. It is a scent that I have never heard of, never considered, and when I first smelled it I wasn’t sure how I would like it. However, after burning it, I felt that it really made my home feel more comfortable, “home-y” and clean. I really enjoyed all of these candles. They were a perfect selection of fall, my favorite season. They are all very different scents, but still a perfect blend for fall.”

For more of our top candle picks, you can check our our list of best beeswax candles, or best soy candles.

Laura's Candles

Laura ranked this Yankee candle as a perfect 5/5. Its scent description is accurate in saying it smells like “Pumpkins baked in simmering spices of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, and sweetened with brown sugar, and the burn time is about 50 hours as described.

Laura rated this candle as a perfect 5/5, but again wasn’t sure if the burn time equals the description of 25-45 hours. The scent is described as: “Tahitian Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Homemade Marshmallow, Drizzled Caramel with Essential Oils,” but Laura said the caramel didn’t specifically stand out to her, although she loved the “Sweet, wonderful scent.”

Laura was pleasantly surprised that this little candle casts as much scent as it does. She rated it a perfect 5.5, agreed with the description of “Orchard-fresh apple cider scented candle has a sweet and crisp scent, with a little touch of spice,” but was unsure if the burn time hits the 25 hour mark it claims to have.

Laura gave this candle a 4 out of 5 score. The scent description is “Woodsy, Sandalwood, Vanilla,” and she agreed with that description. The burn time also holds true to its 50 hour approximation as well.

For Laura, this wasn’t one of her typical scent profiles, so she rates it a 3/5. She did say it has an accurate description with “Gooey Brown Sugar Filling, Toasted Pecans, Homemade Pie Crust with Essential Oils,” and brought a very cozy vibe to her space.

This generic Falling Leaves candle from Target ranked lowest on Laura’s list, and she gave it a score of 3 out of 5. Which considering its price point compared to the name brand options might not be a surprise. It is described as “Autumn leaves scented…will soothe nerves and give a cozy vibe,” but Laura said “Not sure it would soothe nerves…just a fall fragrance to bring an autumn ambiance to your home. Perhaps not a cozy vibe but definitely a fall scent.” Laura was also unsure of the 110 hour burn time.

Victoria's Candles

In her application, Victoria said Rustic Smoke Candle Co. was her favorite, so we wanted her to smell their whole fall line and tell us which stood out. She was impressed with all, but Toasted Almond Torte stood out among the rest. She said “While each had a lovely, unique smell, the almond torte easily surpassed the the others for me – a strong smell, but not unpleasant, filling my home with such a lovely baked-goods scent.” The toasted almond scent is pared with cherry vanilla notes, and burned for 45+ hours, as described.

Of the four Rustic Smoke Candle Co. scents, Autumn Dreams was still lovely, but not Victoria’s most favorite. She gave the scent, described as “a beautifully intriguing blend of Green Leaves, Cinnamon, and a slight hint of citrus,” a score of 4 out of 5.

Similar to Autumn Dreams, Sleepy Hollow took a tiny ding on the scoreboard, but still came in with a score of 4 out of 5. The Pumpkin / Caramel / Butterscotch scent was as described, but when compared to the Toasted Almond Torte and Pumpkin Pie Spice, it just scored a bit lower.

Spiced pumpkin pie is a very close second to Toasted Almond Torte. This scent is “a perfect blend of Pumpkin Pie Spice and Sweet Vanilla,” according to its description. With a generous burn time especially considering its size, this and all of the Rustic Smoke Candle Co. candles were “thoroughly impressive.”

In Victoria’s opinion, the best part of the Fig candle was the gold holder, not so much the candle itself. “The scent was accurate to the description, but too light for my taste,” she said.

The Dutch Apple Waffle had the opposite problem as the Fig candle. The scent was overpowering, and altogether wasn’t a very pleasant scent. Victoria scored this candle a 3 out of 5.

Jessica's Candles

This scent scored a perfect 5 out of 5 for Jessica. The scent of “home-grown apples and pumpkins blended with ginger and clove,” stood out among the rest of her candles, she explains “I think that the Apple Pumpkin Yankee candle was a personal favorite because it was a blend of all fall scents. It burns clean, and has a long burn time.”

Jessica scored both of the Yankee candles she tested a perfect 5 out of 5, the only brand to earn the honor from her. She was won over by the “spicy warmth of autumn leaves and cinnamon apples,” and it burned for 50 hours.

The Flannel candle from Bath & Body Works was not something Jessica would normally purchase. She said “I enjoyed the flannel one more than I expected. It is a scent that I have never heard of, never considered, and when I first smelled it I wasn’t sure how I would like it. However, after burning it, I felt that it really made my home feel more comfortable, “home-y” and clean.” This scent of this candle is described as Fresh Bergamot, Heirloom Mahogany, Soft Musk with Essential Oils, but Jessica felt that some notes stood out stronger than described. “I smell the bergamot and mahogany, but I think the soft musk is more prominent. It smells fresh, clean, and more of a cologne scent than I anticipated. However, it is a nice refreshing smell for my home.” She scored this a 4 out of 5, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

Jessica gave the Gather scent from Bath & Body Works a score of 4 out of 5. The smell description is “Bourbon Glazed Apples, Maple Sugar, Creamy Vanilla with Essential Oils,” which Jessica felt was accurate, and like all Bath & Body Works candles so far, seems to burn for the 25-45 hour burn time.

The Pumpkin Spice Things Up candle from Glade exceeded Jessica’s expectations, and proved that some bargain candles may surprise you. Jessica said “I anticipated the pumpkin spice things up to be a least favorite because I didn’t anticipate the quality to be as good as the other candles. Although the burn time was less than the other candles, and the candle did not burn as clean as the others, I really enjoyed the scent and aroma.” She still gave this candle as core of 4 out of 5.

At the bottom of Jessica’s list was the Bourbon Pumpkin candle from Chesapeake Bay. She was unsure if the burn time matched the 26-32 it claimed to have. She scored this candle a 3 out of 5, so you may want to pay the higher price tag for the Yankee Candle options if you’re able to. That being said, she still had nothing bad to say about the scent.


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