ComScore

56 Easy, Kid-Friendly Dinners The Whole Family Will Love

What if we said you could have an extra free hour every day? Well, with these speedy, easy kid-friendly dinners in your back pocket, you basically can. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time helping out with that science project (or just kicking back with a glass of wine). From classic pasta recipes to inventive veggies that are picky eater-proof, here are 56 ideas that are sure to please everyone at your table.

50 Toddler Lunch Ideas Even the Pickiest Eaters Will Love


20 minute free form chicken pot pie recipe
Recipe Tin Eats

1. Quick Chicken Potpie

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, high protein

Puff pastry is the ultimate time-saver (and it's virtually impossible not to like).

veggie sheet pan nachos recipe
Two Peas & Their Pod

2. Veggie Sheet Pan Nachos

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, <30 minutes, sheet pan recipe

Coterie member Maria Lichty has finally figured out a way to get kids to eat a pile of vegetables…without hiding them.

one pot 15 minute pasta limone recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

3. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, one pot, <10 ingredients

You know the kid who doesn’t like sauce? This one’s for her. Top it with a chicken cutlet to make it more filling.

blackberry peach grilled cheese recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. Blackberry-Peach Grilled Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

Totally sophisticated enough for Mom, too. (Come on, the sammy has fontina, goat cheese *and* Emmentaler.)

avocado black bean pasta salad recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

Swap in your kid’s favorite pasta shape and half your work is done. Serve it hot or cold.

12 minute chicken and broccoli recipe
Gimme Some Oven

6. 12-Minute Chicken and Broccoli

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly, high protein

Sweet and salty FTW. The kids will swear you ordered takeout, only the meal is ready to serve in less time than it takes to place and pick up an order.

easy kid friendly dinners honey mustard sheet pan salmon
Aubrie Pick/Eat What You Love

7. Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Salmon

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, crowd-pleaser, sheet pan recipe

Think your kids won’t eat salmon? Wrong: The honey-mustard glaze on this one-pan meal will have them coming back for seconds, once you get them to try a bite. (You have your ways, we're sure.)

instant cup of noodles with spiralized vegetables recipe
Inspiralized

8. Instant Cup of Noodles with Spiralized Vegetables

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, <30 minutes

Stash it in the fridge and pour boiling water into the jar when you need dinner ready, stat.

kid friendly dinners sweet potato burger
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

9. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

You’ll love this veggie-heavy recipe just as much as the little ones (as long as you provide them with plenty of ketchup, that is).

kid friendly dinners eggplant pizza
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

10. Eggplant Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, kid-friendly

Get the kids to help you prepare this easy dish, which trades carby pizza crust for eggplant rounds.

enchilada skillet lasagna recipe
Kitchen Sanctuary

11. Enchilada Skillet Lasagna with Chicken and Chorizo

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, high protein, <30 minutes

We love this twist on a dinner staple. Nix the chile or chorizo if spice is a deal-breaker for your kid.

kid friendly dinners pancake taco
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

12. Pancake Tacos with Cheese and Bacon

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, high protein

Breakfast for dinner: exciting every time. What kid would complain about maple syrup making a dinner cameo?

easy kid friendly dinners loaded potato cauliflower soup
Healthyish

13. Loaded Baked Potato and Cauliflower Soup

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, one pot

Just as comforting as the original but with a good-for-you secret. Rope them in with all those delicious toppings.

kid friendly dinners vegetable sandwich
Two Peas and Their Pod

14. Rainbow Vegetable Sandwich

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, <30 minutes, vegetarian

Whoa, rainbows really do have magical powers (as does herb-kissed cream cheese).

kid friendly dinners grilled cheese
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

15. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pan, kid-friendly

All of their dinner favorites, combined in one cheesy casserole.

20 minute healthy chicken parm recipe
Pinch of Yum

16. 20-Minute Healthy Chicken Parm

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

PSA: Many grocery stores now sell pre-made zoodles, so you won't have to spiralize your own.

kid friendly dinners cauliflower mac and cheese
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

17. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, kid-friendly, vegetarian

Serve a heaping scoop with a side of peas and dinner’s done, secret vegetables and all.

waffle breakfast sandwich with chorizo recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

18. Waffle Breakfast Sandwich with Chorizo

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, high protein

Everyone will go bonkers when you announce this brinner masterpiece. Go the extra mile with a side of frozen hash browns.

kid friendly dinners quinoa chicken nuggets
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

19. Baked Quinoa Chicken Nuggets

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, high protein, crowd-pleaser

Fun fact: Quinoa is a complete protein that also happens to be gluten free. Pass the honey mustard.

kid friendly dinners pasta and bacon
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

20. Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Now this is a salad preschoolers can get behind. Make a batch on Sunday and nosh on it all week long.

kid friendly dinners quesadillas
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

21. Baking Sheet Quesadillas

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

Bookmark this one for when the kids have friends over: It’s ready in a flash and leaves you with only one dirty dish.

kid friendly dinners chicken
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

22. Garlic Breaded Roast Chicken Breast

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: high protein, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

Crispy chicken *without* a spitting vat of oil, right this way. Serve it with pasta, steamed veggies or Caesar salad.

kid friendly dinners carrot pasta
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

23. Carrot Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

The ultimate answer to “How do I get my kids to eat more veggies without them noticing?”

kid friendly dinners gnocchi soup
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

24. Chicken Gnocchi Soup

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, make ahead, one pot, crowd-pleaser

Double the recipe and stash half in the freezer for nights when you’re tempted to order in.

broccoli cheddar melts recipe
Half Baked Harvest

25. Broccoli Cheddar Melts

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <30 minutes

It's sort of like their favorite broccoli-cheddar soup, plus the bonus of buttery sourdough bread.

kid friendly dinners tortellini soup
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, one pot

This stick-to-your-ribs soup costs less than $5 a serving and feeds a crowd. What are you waiting for?

kid friendly dinners buffalo bites
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

27. Buffalo Cauliflower Nuggets

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, beginner-friendly

Saucy and flavorful (but not too spicy). Serve them with ranch dressing to further curb the heat.

kid friendly dishes baked chicken tenders
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

28. Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, high protein

When all else fails, lean on this classic that never quits (and packs a ton of protein onto your kid's plate).

kid friendly dinners eggplant parm
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

29. Eggplant Parm Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, beginner-friendly

For those nights when you need a hearty meal that'll satisfy your whole crew—and their craving for cheese.

kid friendly dinners thai salad
Gimme Some Oven

30. Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, beginner-friendly

It may look like a risk, but trust us. Start with a bite of the chicken drizzled in peanut butter dressing, and your kids will be sold.

kid friendly dinners chicken potpie
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

31. The Ultimate Chicken Potpie

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, high protein, crowd-pleaser

Hello, old friend. Whip up this timeless dish in your trusty cast iron skillet.

kid friendly dinners polenta casserole
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

32. Polenta Ragu Casserole

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, make ahead, crowd-pleaser

As satisfying as lasagna, minus the fussy, fragile noodles. Did we mention it freezes like a charm?

kid friendly dinners tacos
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

33. BLT Tacos

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

Bacon wins every time, even on Taco Tuesday. Your kids won't miss the white bread, promise.

kid friendly dinners pasta pie
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

34. The Ultimate Pasta Pie

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, high protein, <10 ingredients

Seal the deal by telling everyone you're serving pie for dinner. It's like baked ziti, only a million times more exciting. You can even get the kids in on helping you line up the noodles in the pan.

kid friendly dinners general tsos chicken
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

35. General Tso's Cauliflower

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Prep the white rice ahead and you're halfway to the finish line before you even begin.

kid friendly dinners sweedish meatballs
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

36. Swedish Meatballs

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

Let the whole fam know it’s hygge night. Don't forget the easy mashed potatoes.

kid friendly dinners tater tots
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

37. Cauliflower “Tater” Tots

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

They'll love these poppable gems so much that they won't even notice they're potato-free.

kid friendly dinners chicken with cream sauce
Damn Delicious

38. Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein, kid-friendly

BRB, drooling. It's so decadent and delicious that the kids (and you) will want to lick their plates.

kid friendly dinners cauliflower pizza crust
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

39. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, kid-friendly, vegetarian

Our favorite cruciferous veggie strikes again. Prepare the crust, then let them add the toppings.

kid friendly dinners chicken and carrot cups
Inspiralized

40. Chicken and Carrot Cups

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

Anything baked in a muffin tin is a guaranteed hit with the pre-K set. Send them to school with the leftovers.

kid friendly reipes chicken thighs
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

41. Parmesan-Ranch Chicken Thighs

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

They'll be hooked at the first mention of ranch. You'll be hooked once you learn you only need seven ingredients.

easy kid friendly dinners 15 minute skillet pepper steak e1660773979832
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

42. 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, one pan, <30 minutes

Just like takeout, but faster and healthier. File this one under “ingenious.”

kid friendly dinners stir fry
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

43. Chicken and Snap Pea Stir Fry

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, beginner-friendly

Oh, your kid hates bell peppers? No big deal, trade them for another crisp veggie, like carrots or broccoli.

kid friendly dinners butternut squash pasta
Ambitious Kitchen

44. Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Peas

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, gluten free

Yes, your kids can see the peas, but the sweet butternut squash sauce with cream cheese more than makes up for it.

kid friendly recipes pork carnitas
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

45. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

  • Time Commitment: 7 hours and 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: slow cooker recipe, crowd-pleaser, high protein

Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, sandwiches—the possibilities are endless.

kid friendly dinners pasta alla norma
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

46. Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant, Basil and Pecorino

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

It's a breeze to prepare and the homemade sauce comes together in one pot. Best of all, you can make four servings for less than $10.

kid friendly dinners vegetable spring rolls
Damn Delicious

47. Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, beginner-friendly, no cook

You could use this recipe as an opportunity for a fridge clean-out, or let your kids pick and choose the fillings.

kid friendly dinners black pepper chicken recipe
KRISTEN KILPATRICK/THE DEFINED DISH

48. Black Pepper Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, beginner-friendly

A clean version of a takeout favorite that’s ready in 30 minutes. Kudos to you.

kid friendly dinners stew
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

49. White Turkey Chili with Avocado

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pot, high protein

If your kids think standard beef-and-tomato chili is too intense, they'll love this dialed-down take.

kid friendly dinners baked ziti
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

50. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pan, kid-friendly

Memorize this formula: pasta + canned tomatoes + cheese = happy kids. It's that easy.

easy kid friendly dinners honey mustard chicken thighs e1660834489532
Colin Price/Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook

51. Honey Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, high protein, beginner-friendly

They already dip their chicken tenders into honey mustard, so why not try this easy, low-effort meal? (If your kids are totally anti-sauce, you always can serve it on the side.)

easy kid friendly dinners cauliflower fried rice
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

52. Cauliflower Fried Rice

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, low carb

Psst: This dinner staple is even easier to prepare if you use frozen cauliflower rice instead of making your own.

easy kid friendly dinners tomato soup with grilled cheese bites
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

53. Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Bites

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

Presentation is everything. They might pass on a boring bowl of soup, but they’ll gobble these minis right up.

easy kid friendly dinners cauliflower alfredo
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

54. Lightened-Up Fettuccine with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, vegetarian, <30 minutes

We love a sneaky vegetable as much as the next person, and no one will know this sauce is full of cauliflower.

easy kid friendly dinners portobello avocado quesadilla
David Frenkiel/Little Green Kitchen

55. Portobello and Avocado Quesadillas with Magic Green Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Give them permission to eat with their hands and they’ll love you even more.

easy kid friendly dinners greek yogurt chicken salad stuffed peppers
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

56. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, no cook, make ahead

The yogurt is just as creamy as mayonnaise but a little more nutritious. Pack these in lunches or serve them as a quick dinner.