Make family dinner easier with this master list of dinner ideas for kids…that grownups will enjoy too! These are some of our favorite meals using pasta, chicken, vegetarian staples, pizza flavors, and fast methods to help you feed your family day in and day out.

dinner ideas for kids in grid of 6

Dinner Ideas for Kids

Make dinner a little easier with this master list of easy dinner ideas for kids. These are some of my best kid-friendly recipes for dinner. And each was developed with little kids in mind AND meant to be easy enough for you to pull off in short spurts of time.

I try my hardest to make recipes that the kids will enjoy and that parents will also want to eat to simplify how much we’re cooking. And I hope this collection offers some ideas the next time you’ve otherwise run out of easy toddler dinners or easy weeknight family dinners.!

I’ve divided these up into sections so you can use the links right below here to go to the one you want, or simply scroll down to see what looks good!

(You may also like Sample Toddler Meal Plan, Dinner Ideas with Hamburger Meat, and a Week of Quick Dinner Ideas for Kids.)

sweet-potato-mac-and-cheese-in-bowl

Pasta Recipes for Kids

Pasta is a staple dinner option and the ones here are some of our favorite toddler recipes. And never underestimate the power of plain buttered noodles with a little Parmesan with a simple side—not every dinner has to be all out complicated!

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
pesto-pasta-salad-in-bowl
Spinach Pesto Pasta with Peas
This bright green pesto is cheesy and mild, making it a perfect sauce for a quick dinner of pasta and peas!
Spinach Pesto Pasta with Peas
pesto pasta with peas in multiple bowls.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient)
With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!)
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient)
cauliflower mac and cheese on teal spoon
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-with-shell-pasta
Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
Friends, meet my new favorite lightning fast dish. This Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese requires just 5 simple ingredients, zero prep work, and is just the yummiest pasta recipe! 
Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
sweet potato mac and cheese in bowls.
Quick Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage
This easy skillet dinner is super cozy and super versatile. You can use freshly diced butternut squash or precut squash from the store and frozen peas or broccoli according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.
Quick Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage
butternut-squash-pasta-in-white-bowl-and-teal-bowls
Easy Pasta with Summer Squash and Beef
This dish is easy to pull together in a short amount of time and is a nice alternative to tomato based pasta dishes.
Easy Pasta with Summer Squash and Beef
zucchini-pasta-in-adult-and-kids-bowl
baked-chicken-nuggets-on-plate-with-ketchup

Chicken Recipes for Kids

Mixing up chicken recipes for kids is an easy way to make dinner more interesting for everyone at the table. And whether the kids like nuggets, tenders, meatballs, or chicken sandwiches, there are plenty of options here.

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
These baked chicken nuggets have simple ingredients and a pleasantly crispy exterior. Aim to cut the chicken into similarly sized pieces so they bake evenly.
Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
baked chicken nuggets on plate with ketchup.
4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. Bonus: You can tuck a veggie into the mix, and they are perfect to batch-cook and stash in the freezer!
4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
baked chicken meatballs on cookie sheet.
Easy Baked Chicken Tenders
These crispy Chicken Tenders are fast and versatile. To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.
Easy Baked Chicken Tenders
crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate
Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls (Easy Meal Prep)
You can meal prep this recipe to have ready for future lunches or dinners to share with the kids or you can make it as a family dinner. Add flavor to your bowl with the optional ingredients.
Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls (Easy Meal Prep)
chicken-and-sweet-potato-bowls-for-kid-and-parent
Easiest Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
With just two ingredients, you can cook up deliciously moist and tender Instant Pot BBQ Chicken to use over noodles or rice or in sandwiches. So easy—and ready in about 20 minutes!
Easiest Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
Instant pot bbq chicken sandwich on plate with sides.
Easy Pan-Seared Chicken
Try these quick and easy chicken tenders for a kid-friendly weeknight protein paired with a grain and a veggie (or fruit!)
Easy Pan-Seared Chicken
pan-seared-chicken-on-polka-dot-plate
Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Adapted from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook.
Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken
instant-pot-butter-chicken
Homemade Chicken Nuggets (with Sweet Potato)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these Homemade Chicken Nuggets are both easy and delicious. You can prep the sweet potato up to 5 days ahead if that's easier for you, too. Try serving these with ketchup, ranch, or marinara sauce.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets (with Sweet Potato)
Chicken nuggets on baking sheet after cooking.
alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl

Vegetarian Kids Meals

If you have a vegetarian household or you just want more meatless meals to reduce your grocery budget, here are some of our favs. (Those Tofu Nuggets are so darn delish!)

Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets (SO Good and Easy)
Tofu is typically sold in 14-16 ounce blocks. If yours is 16 ounces, you may need 1 ¼ cup panko. The garlic powder is optional, but adds nice flavor.
Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets (SO Good and Easy)
tofu nuggets
20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles
Try this quick family dinner the next time you're craving fresh comfort food—and want to please the entire family! You can add a protein to this dish if you'd like. See the Notes for options.
20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles
stir fry noodles with vegetables
Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice and Tofu
I like to use vegetables like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and snap peas in this easy recipe. Plan to cook the rice ahead of time or to get it started first.
Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice and Tofu
sesame-tofu-with-veggies-and-rice-in-bowl
Easy Zucchini Fritters Recipe
We bake these Zucchini Fritters since they are easier to cook and easier to clean up. If you have a lot of zucchini, you can double the recipe to make a full muffin tin's worth!
Easy Zucchini Fritters Recipe
healthy zucchini fritters
Mini Egg Muffins with Cheese and Veggies
These tender Egg Muffins are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.
Mini Egg Muffins with Cheese and Veggies
egg-cups-on-plate-with-toast
Favorite Alphabet Soup
You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this Alphabet Soup recipe. And you can start with fresh or frozen veggies. See below for options.
Favorite Alphabet Soup
alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Use the crock pot to cook up a hearty and nutritious Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with veggies and lots of kid-friendly flavor. It's easy, versatile, and a great freezer meal
 
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
slow-cooker-black-bean-soup
Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese
You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.
Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese
cut up vegetarian quesadillas for kids on plate
Italian Lentils with Rice
We like this with rice, but you can also serve this with pasta if you prefer.
Italian Lentils with Rice
italian green lentils with rice and cucumbers
broccoli-pizza-bites-on-plate

Pizza Recipes for Kids

I know that takeout pizza (or frozen!) is always an easy option, but here are a few more pizza recipes for kids in case you want to try a different pizza flavor. (Sign me up for Pizza Bites!)

Favorite Pizza Bites
Fluffy pizza bites are a delicious lunch or dinner option—and you can customize the filling to please your kids! We like these with a little side of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
Favorite Pizza Bites
pizza-bites-on-plate-with-pizza-sauce
10-Minute Flatbread Pizza (Just 3 Ingredients!)
For delicious homemade pizza without the work and in a lot less time, Flatbread Pizza to the rescue. Adjust this for allergies as you need.
10-Minute Flatbread Pizza (Just 3 Ingredients!)
flatbread-pizza-on-plates-with-apple-slices
Quick and Easy Pesto Pizza
With three simple ingredients, iron and vitamin C in the sauce, and a kid-friendly format, this super easy Pesto Pizza is a perfect kids lunch or dinner that parents will enjoy, too!
Quick and Easy Pesto Pizza
pesto-pizza-on-pink-plate
Favorite Pizza Pockets
Whether you're looking for a healthy make-ahead dinner for the whole family or a new way to serve up veggies, these Homemade Pizza Pockets are a delish option. (If using Homemade Pizza Dough, make it at least an hour before you plan to assemble the pockets. If using store-bought, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it's not too cold when you try to form the pockets.)
Favorite Pizza Pockets
Pizza pockets on baking sheet.
Favorite Pizza Rolls (with Veggies)
This Pizza Rolls recipe is packed with nutrition—and even greens!—but the cheese, and silly spiral shape makes them much more appeal to toddlers and big kids. Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it's okay if they don't look perfect when they go into the pan!) 
Favorite Pizza Rolls (with Veggies)
pizza-rolls-on-kids-plate
Homemade Pesto Pizza Rolls
With just 5 simple ingredients, you can bake Pizza Rolls with delicious flavor from pesto. These are versatile, perfect for any age, and a great make-ahead lunch or dinner option.
Homemade Pesto Pizza Rolls
pizza rolls on wooden plate
Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.
Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
pizza-muffins-on-wire-rack-with-kids-hand
veggie-nuggets-with-ketchup-on-blue-plate

Veggie-Packed Kids Recipes

Most of the recipes in this post do have veggies in them, but here are some dinner ideas for kids that go a little beyond. Find nuggets, tots, savory muffins and more that pack in the vegetables!

Homemade Veggie Nuggets (with 3 Veggies!)
I like to prep the veggies and rice ahead of time so that the process of making the nuggets is a little quicker. You can of course do it all at once though!
Homemade Veggie Nuggets (with 3 Veggies!)
veggie-nuggets-on-blue-plate
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these tots are a seriously fun way to serve broccoli. You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bake the tots.
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
homemade broccoli tots
Homemade Cauliflower Tots
With quinoa, cauliflower, and cheese, these healthy little tots are a great finger food for kids. This recipe makes about 20 tots, which is 4-6 servings for toddlers—or 1-2 servings for adults.
Homemade Cauliflower Tots
cauliflower tots on white and red plate
Easy Vegetable Pancakes
We like these dipped in sour cream guacamole, salsa, or Cucumber Sauce.
Easy Vegetable Pancakes
stack-of-vegetable-pancakes
Easy Veggie Muffins
Serve up veggies in a kid-friendly form with these SO-good Veggie Muffins. They have broccoli, carrots, protein, and kid-approved flavor!
Easy Veggie Muffins
veggie muffins on gray towel
Easy Marinara Sauce with Extra Veggies
Serve this sauce with 1 pound of your family's favorite pasta for an easy and healthy dinner.
Easy Marinara Sauce with Extra Veggies
easy marinara sauce in jar on towel
Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)
With the texture you expect from a traditional meatball but added nutrition from three types of veggies, your whole family will love these.
Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)
healthy meatballs in large bowl and small kids bowl
Best Healthy Mini Meatballs
Classic Italian meatballs with kale tucked inside to help toddlers eat their greens! (You can of course use the more traditional parsley instead of kale if you prefer.)
Best Healthy Mini Meatballs
mini-meatballs-in-skillet-with-sauce
sheet-pan-quesadillas-on-platter

Easy Dinner Recipes for Family

With skillet recipes, one-pot methods, sheet pans, and short cooking times, these easy dinner ideas for kids are nice options for when you’re short on time and energy.

Easy Stuffed Peppers Skillet
You can use whichever type of rice your family likes best. We rotate through short grain brown rice, basmati, and jasmine. Adults may want to top their portions with shredded fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper.
Easy Stuffed Peppers Skillet
skillet-stuffed-peppers-in-adult-and-kid-bowl
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice
With a quick cooking time and easy method, this Pesto Chicken and Rice is a delicious family meal to share. It's flavorful, versatile, and just so delish.
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice
healthy chicken and brown rice on kids plate
Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas
These easy quesadillas can be made with pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, or butternut squash puree. You can also skip it and just go with beans and cheese! I make these as half moon shapes since it helps contain the mess a little when feeding these to kids.
Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas
sheet-pan-quesadillas-on-platter
Baked Sheet Pan Nachos
These Baked Sheet Pan Nachos have a tender potato base and are topped with black beans, cheese, salsa and veggies. They're a total family dinner hit. (You can add some of the ingredients to some of the areas—leaving the spinach off, adding more salsa or spice—to customize for everyone at the table.)
Baked Sheet Pan Nachos
healthy loaded potato nachos
Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)
This Cheesy Rice recipe has four options to add in veggies and has been a staple of my family's diet for a few years now. It's SO easy and versatile—and stores wonderfully in the fridge. And it's downright delish!
Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)
cheesy rice in bowl with hands and pink nails.
Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)
You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.
Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)
family-style-snack-plate
Easy Taco Buffet (No-Cooking Required!)
I prefer to make these vegetarian since it’s easier, but you can of course add in cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp if you like! Add another can of beans or additional corn to feed a larger family or appetites.
Easy Taco Buffet (No-Cooking Required!)
taco-buffet-ingredients-in-white-plates
Easy Breakfast Burritos
With just 4 simple ingredients, these easy Breakfast Burritos can be made ahead and reheated, or made in minutes and served right away. They're a protein-packed breakfast to share with the kids.
Easy Breakfast Burritos
breakfast burritos on plate with salsa.
Easy Sausage Meatballs
Add more flavor to your next batch of meatballs with this easy Sausage Meatball recipe. (Feel free to freeze half of the batch to use in a future meal.)
Easy Sausage Meatballs
sausage meatballs in pan on counter.
Quick Teriyaki Shrimp with Zucchini and Rice
We like this with rice or rice noodles, but you can adjust how you serve it to fit your family!
Quick Teriyaki Shrimp with Zucchini and Rice
easy teryiaki shrimp

Best Tips for Success

  • Use simple sides for dinners for kids like fresh fruits, applesauce, whole grain crackers, cheese, and fruit cups to round out meals when needed.
  • Aim to include 1-2 foods the kids usually like (even if they are the simple sides above) to help make sure family meals work for everyone at the table.
  • Remember that family meals are about nutrition and filling bellies, yes, but also about being together and connecting—and sometimes the kids just aren’t super hungry.
  • Take all of the shortcuts you need to make dinner happen for your family.
  • Start with small portions to lessen food waste.
  • Remind kids to share before taking seconds (or thirds).

I’d love to hear your feedback on this collection of dinner ideas for kids, so please chime in below to share!

This post was first published August 2021.

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