Mucosal immunity acquired by natural infection with influenza viruses at the respiratory tract is more effective and cross-protective against subsequent variant virus infection than systemic immunity induced by parenteral immunization with inactivated vaccines. To develop an effective influenza vaccine, it is beneficial to mimic the process of natural infection that bridges innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate immune system that recognizes influenza virus infection consists of several classes of pattern-recognition receptors, including the Toll-like receptors, the retinoic acid-inducible gene-I-like receptors and the NOD-like receptors. Here, we review our current understanding of the mechanism of innate recognition of influenza and how the signals emanating from the innate sensors control adaptive immunity. Further, we discuss the potential roles of these receptors in developing intranasal influenza vaccines.