Find the best kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes (that are also easy!) to share with your familyEach recipe is easy to make, is designed to be easy for kids to eat, and still delicious enough for the adults at the table, too.

kid-friendly thanksgiving recipes in grid of 6.

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to cook a big holiday meal with kids running underfoot, in terms of the logistics and also trying to make food that the kids will enjoy. There is a lot about holiday food that can be challenging for kids, including that many of our traditional dishes are ones that they haven’t seen very many times yet in their lives.

I try to encourage families not to stress too much about what the kids eat or don’t eat on holidays like Thanksgiving—because so many of the foods are still unfamiliar to our littles and pressure can just make the meal so much harder for everyone to enjoy. It’s totally normal for some kids to eat only foods they know, like rolls or crackers, and others to try a range. The more we can remember that the holidays mean so much more than just the food, the more we’ll be able to really enjoy the time together.

Having said all of that, I do have my favorite Thanksgiving recipes for kids to share that are designed for the littlest eaters at the table. These are holiday dishes that everyone at the table can enjoy together, so you don’t have to cook extra food just for the kids.

Here you’ll find a mix of Thanksgiving recipes from muffins and quick breads to holiday side dishes and desserts. They’re all great in both the days leading up to the holiday and on the holiday itself.

TIP: You can find my make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes and tips here if you want to get ahead.

(These holiday printables and activities the kids can do while you cook may help, too.)

Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!

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sweet potato puree in bowl with hand holding bowl

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Vegetables

Here are my favorite vegetable side dishes to make for Thanksgiving to share with the kids. There’s a mix of sweet potato recipes, baby food purees, and classic vegetable sides like green beans and Brussels Sprouts.

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
You can make these mashed sweet potatoes up to 2 days ahead and reheat, and stir right before serving.
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healthy mashed sweet potatoes
How to Roast Pumpkin (to Make Puree)
Look for a pumpkin labeled “pie” or “sugar” for the best flavor. I used a Winter Density Squash, which is an heirloom variety. The amount of puree you’ll wind up with will depend on the size of your pumpkin.
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pumpkin-puree-in-white-plate
Easy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes in this recipe. They are usually widely available at grocery stores.
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make-ahead-mashed-potatoes
Mashed Butternut Squash
Serve these plain or add one of the seasoning suggestions below—mashed butternut squash is very versatile!
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mashed butternut squash in white bowl
Best Boiled Green Beans
You can break or cut these into any size you prefer. I usually just break them in half.
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boiled-green-beans-in-white-bowl
Sauteed Shredded Brussel Sprouts
Try these quick Shredded Brussels Sprouts for a simple side for dinner. It's extra flavorful from lemon and Parmesan and is also slightly sweet and pleasantly nutty. Your kids might (they might!) just surprise you by eating it up! (If not? More for you!)
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shaved brussels sprouts
Acorn squash as puree and slices on plate.

Thanksgiving Baby Food

Easy baby food options in seasonal flavors are a perfect way to include baby at the table. These are some of our favorite purees and blw-style Thanksgiving foods.

Best Pumpkin Baby Food
This fresh pumpkin puree is mellow and flavorful, and can be combined with other purees to make delicious baby food combinations. (See the Notes for flavor options.) The amount of puree you wind up with will vary according to the size of the pumpkin you start with.
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pumpkin-baby-food-in-containers
Favorite Brussels Sprouts Baby Food
Learn the easiest way to make flavorful Brussels Sprouts Baby Food with one simple method. Plus: Find storage and serving tips.
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brussels sprouts on plate as puree and BLW style.
Easy Sweet Potato Puree
Perfectly creamy Sweet Potato Puree is a very favorite easy side dish (and baby food!). This is delicious in fall, takes less than 30 minutes, and can be flavored in all sorts of ways.
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sweet potato puree in bowl with spoon on side
Best Apple Puree (with Flavor Combinations + Storage Tips))
There’s no one right serving size for every child, so start with a smaller amount and offer more as indicated by baby. When they turn their head or close their mouth, end the meal—it’s usually pretty obvious when they want to be done!
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apple-puree-on-baby-spoon
Acorn Squash Baby Food
Learn the easiest way to turn fresh acorn squash into Acorn Squash Baby Food as a puree and a baby-led weaning finger food. This can also work as an easy side dish for the entire family, or you can easily freeze portions for future weeks.
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Acorn squash as puree and slices on plate.
So Easy Sliced Baked Apples
We like these apples warm or cold out of the fridge, so see what your kids like best!
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baked apple slices on plate
Quick Cinnamon Apples
These quick stove top Cinnamon Apples cook in under 10 minutes, are perfectly tender, and can be served with or without added sugar. They're a delicious snack or topping for yogurt or oatmeal—and they taste like apple pie filling!
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cinnamon apples in three bowls and pan with spoons.
Cranberry orange sauce in two glass jars.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

I love to make this cranberry orange sauce each year because it’s incredibly easy and it has the best flavor. We have it as a side on Thanksgiving, but also love to stir it into plain yogurt as a fruit-on-the-bottom option.

You can make this weeks ahead and stash it into the freezer, too.

Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce
Yes, this is delicious on turkey, but it also makes a great jam or addition to a bowl of plain yogurt with honey!
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Cranberry orange sauce in two glass jars.
sliced-pumpkin-bread-on-plate

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Muffins and Breads

These are all great holiday sides or easy foods to have on hand for Thanksgiving breakfast. And all of them can be made a few days (or a few weeks, if you put them into the freezer, ahead.)

We love to have one of these on hand for the holiday since they are festive in flavor and easy to pull out as needed.

Healthy Pumpkin Bars Recipe
These bars are tender when warm out of the oven, so do be sure to let them cool completely before slicing.
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sliced pumpkin bars on cutting board
Healthy Pumpkin Mini Muffins
Use a gluten-free flour blend or whole wheat depending on what works best for your family. This recipe has very little flour—that is not a mistake. They bake up wonderfully, so have faith! Adapted from Against All Grain. 
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healthy pumpkin muffins on bear plate
Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
These store well in the fridge so you can make them a day or two ahead if you prefer—or bake and serve warm from the oven. These taste like a cross between baked oatmeal and a traditional pumpkin muffin (they don’t have any flour, so they’re a little denser than a traditional muffin, but still super moist!).

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healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins on rack
Healthy Pumpkin Bread (Lower Sugar, SO Good!)
This bread has the classic flavor and moist crumb of a traditional Pumpkin Bread, but with half the sugar. It stores well too! (Heads up: There's a full can of pumpkin puree In this, so it takes a little longer to bake.)
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sliced-pumpkin-bread-on-plate
Favorite Cranberry Orange Muffins
Combine a handful of simple ingredients into fresh Cranberry Orange Muffins to share with the kids come breakfast or snack time … or to serve alongside your favorite chili, soup, or holiday recipe. (These mini muffins work best with fresh cranberries.)
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mini cranberry orange muffins on plate
Fresh Cranberry Orange Bread
This quick bread works really well to bake ahead and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve it. We love it topped with cream cheese, but butter and honey also work.
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sliced-cranberry-orange-bread-on-plate
Easy Cornbread Muffins
Moist and nutritious, these healthy cornmeal muffins are an easy side, quick breakfast, or yummy snack.
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maple corn muffins
Butternut Squash Muffins
These moist muffins are great on their own or topped with butter, honey, or apple butter. Try them for breakfast, snack, or as a side for dinner.
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butternut-squash-muffins-on-wire-rack
Spiced thanksgiving cookies on baking sheet.

Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts

From cookies and cupcakes to our very favorite pies, these holiday desserts will make the whole family happy. Each has classic flavor and less sugar than similar recipes so the flavors of all of the ingredients shine right through.

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I like to frost these soon before serving. You can make the frosting ahead, transfer it to a zip top bag, and store in the fridge until ready to add to the cupcakes.
Get the recipe
mini-pumpkin-cupcakes-with-frosting
Sweet Potato Baby Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Plan to make the sweet potato at least two hours (and up to 3 days) before you want to make the cake so it has time to cool before you make the cake.
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sweet-potato-baby-cake-on-cake-plate
Healthy Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chips
These fluffy cookies are not super sweet, so you can add 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar to the batter if desired. (We like them just fine as is with the chocolate chips for sweetness!)
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pumpkin cookies on plate
Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies
These Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies are soft and delicious, and they almost melt in your mouth. They take only 20 minutes to make and are perfect for Thanksgiving or winter holidays—or any time you have a craving. They're particularly pretty with a sprinkles on top!
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Pumpkin cookies on baking sheet after baking.
Spiced Thanksgiving Cookies
With a super simple, lightly sweetened dough, these Thanksgiving Cookies are such a fun dessert to make and share with the kids. You can do any shape you prefer, though we're partial to tiny turkeys!
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Spiced thanksgiving cookies on baking sheet.
Soft-Baked Sweet Potato Cookies
Bake up an easy batch of Sweet Potato Cookies for a fun dessert to share with the kids for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any day of the week.
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sweet potato cookies on baking sheet.
Favorite Cranberry Apple Pie
With sweet-tart flavors and an easy method, this pie is perfect for the winter holidays! Use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe for the best results. Discard any that are blemished or shriveled.
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baked cranberry apple pie
Easy Butternut Squash Pie
This pie is similar to classic pumpkin, but has so much flavor from the squash.
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butternut-squash-pie slice on plate
pumpkin-oatmeal-in-white-and-pink-bowls

Thanksgiving Breakfast Ideas

These are in contention for an easy, yet festive Thanksgiving breakfast. You can also make these ahead of time and reheat or pull out as you like. (Many are also a great way to use up a little leftover pumpkin if you have some lying around.)

Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal
You can make this in about 15 minutes on any morning, or make the whole recipe ahead and simply warm right before serving. See the Notes for variations to make it with other types of oats.
Get the recipe
pumpkin-oatmeal-in-white-and-pink-bowls
Easy French Toast Sticks (Freezer-Friendly)
Use this easy method to make the best French Toast Sticks to share with your kids. They freeze so well!
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French toast sticks on kids plate with sides.
Baked French Toast Casserole Recipe
Learn how to make the easiest French toast casserole with this simple method. It works with any fruit and is a great option for using up leftover bread!
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baked-french-toast-in-pan-with-plate
Favorite Pumpkin Smoothie
This creamy Pumpkin Smoothie has delicious pumpkin-pie-like flavor and is a delicious meal component or snack. This makes two toddler-size servings, or a smoothie to share for a parent and toddler. You can freeze any leftovers into a freezer pop!
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two cups of pumpkin smoothie with yellow straws.
Healthy Pumpkin Bread (Lower Sugar, SO Good!)
This bread has the classic flavor and moist crumb of a traditional Pumpkin Bread, but with half the sugar. It stores well too! (Heads up: There's a full can of pumpkin puree In this, so it takes a little longer to bake.)
Get the recipe
sliced-pumpkin-bread-on-plate

Simple Store-Bought Sides to Add

You can of course buy any of the other traditional elements of the meal that you want. Take shortcuts where you need them my friends!

  • Rolls or cornbread
  • Whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream
  • Salad
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Pumpkin pie or other treats
  • Any part of Thanksgiving dinner you don’t want to cook!

Best Tips for Success

  • To help keep the kids busy, these free printables are here to help! My kids have been loving these coloring pages for the past week and I can’t wait to use the Turkey Taste Test on the holiday to see what they like.
  • I always make a Split Roast Turkey, where you cut down the backbone and lay the turkey flat, since it cooks much faster and more evenly that way in about 3 hours.
  • It’s okay if things aren’t perfect! You can make your Thanksgiving menu any way that works for your family.
  • Add any other easy recipes or foods your family likes such as green bean casserole or sweet potato casserole.
  • It’s okay if the kids don’t eat all of the food! They are new to the world and they’ve only experienced this holiday a handful of times in their lives (if that), so have empathy that they haven’t seen most of these foods many times before.
  • Try to remember that the day is about being grateful, not about a perfect meal or whether the kids eat all of the things. Enjoy your family!
  • Store anything you make ahead of time in an airtight container. Reheat in 30-60 second increments, stirring in between as needed, until warmed through.

Related Recipes


If you have other tips to share about having a great Thanksgiving with less stress, please share it below!

This post was first published October 2020.

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Comments

  1. “Try to remember that the day is about being grateful, not about a perfect meal. Enjoy your family!”

    Perfect reminder specially for current situation. Will definitely share this timely reminder with others. Thanks for your sharing
    .

  2. My jaw just dropped and I almost cried. I get so overwhelmed with baking and cooking for Thanksgiving. I’m not a strong cook and planning it always seems impossible. THANK YOU.