Increase the odds that you and the kids will enjoy more nutritious foods with this master list of healthy sauces to use on vegetables, grains, fish, chicken, salads, as dips, and more.
One of my most frequent refrains is that if you want your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, you need to make sure that they taste REALLY yummy.
And one of the best ways to do that is to have a few delicious healthy sauces and dips in your back pocket to turn to.
This list will help you come up with healthy sauces for vegetables, proteins, and grains, and some dips to serve with your family’s favorite dippers.
Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!
Sign up for our email updates to get tips and ideas sent to your inbox.
Best Tips for Serving Healthy Sauces to Kids
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using sauces on food for kids:
- If mixing the sauce into the food, start with a small amount to give kids the chance to get used to the flavor.
- Try changing up how you offer foods, sometimes mixing the sauce in, sometimes offering it on the side as a dip—or letting the kids mix together their own serving. This can help the kids feel more in control of their food and potentially increase the likelihood that they’ll eat it.
- Use reduced-sodium soy sauce in Asian sauces to avoid excess salt, both for health reasons and since it can overpower flavor-wise.
- Remember that your child may not have had some of these flavors before, so give them a chance to try them out a few times before you decide they don’t like them. Repeated exposure often helps a lot!
Healthy Sauces for Vegetables
Many veggies taste great on their own, but they can taste so much better if topped, or served with, a sauce. These are my favorite sauces for vegetables for kids and parents a like.
Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
Yes, this sauce actually has vegetables in the sauce, but it’s also so good as a sauce or dip. It’s cheesy, but not overly rich, and it can be stirred into simple steamed veggies, spooned over potatoes, or served with pasta or grains. Try it with a new veggie or one that your kids don’t always go for!
Easy Teriyaki Sauce
With just a few ingredients that can perk up broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, snow peas, and really, any veggie that you’d think to stir-fry.
Easy Peanut Sauce
This sauce is one of my go-to toppings to dress up basic ingredients from broccoli to carrots, chicken to shrimp, and grains and noodles. It’s a simple stir-together sauce that even stores well in the fridge for days.
This hummus is easy to mix up and pairs really well with veggies and crackers.
Sweet Potato Hummus
Combine three simple ingredients to make a creamy Sweet Potato Hummus. You can make it sweet or savory in flavor, and serve it up with sliced veggies and crackers for a super simple snack, lunch component, or appetizer to share!
Healthy Sauces for Pasta
Tossing pasta, no matter what kind you choose, with a healthy sauce is an easy way to get dinner on the table quickly. And when a sauce has vegetables and healthy ingredients in it, you can often keep the rest of the meal super simple. These are my go-tos.
A bowl of pasta always goes over well with my kids, so I do my best to pack nutrition into the sauce to ensure they are getting a lot of the good stuff they need—even if they decide that they don’t want whatever side veggie I’ve made.
My family adores pasta (like so many families I know!) and this Spinach Pesto is one of our go-to sauces. I like it because the color stays bright green, the ingredients are straightforward, and it packs a serious punch of vitamins and iron from the spinach.
Think classic pesto with extra creaminess from avocado…this is seriously so delicious.
I am not a big fan of the flavor of kale, but I LOVE Kale Pesto. In fact, this is my favorite way to use up all of the fresh kale we typically grow each summer and my kids love it too. It takes about 5 minutes, stores well, and is delicious on pasta and pizza.
Serve up a dose of nutritious broccoli in a kid-friendly form with this easy (and cheesy!) Broccoli Pesto. It has a bright flavor from the inclusion of fresh lemon, requires no cooking (other than preparing the pasta) and is a perfect sauce for both pasta and pizza.
Easy Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
Make the most of the flavor of summer produce with a batch of slow cooker Tomato Sauce from fresh tomatoes. This method is super easy, relies on the slow cooker so you can avoid heating up your oven, and delivers on the classic Italian flavor your family craves all year long.
Easy Sauces for Fish, Chicken and Beef
A basic and simple piece of fish, chicken or beef can be more enjoyable when paired with a delicious sauce of one kind or another. Here are a few of the ones that I love to pair with these proteins.
Easy Teriyaki Sauce
This is a favorite sauce for stir fried chicken or shrimp and veggies. It’s easy to make, is mild, and is yummy!
Soy Citrus Sauce
Pair this simple sauce with noodles and salmon or shrimp, or chicken, veggies and rice.
Sub baby kale in for spinach in this blender recipe and spoon over grilled, baked, or sauteed chicken for a simple, yet totally satisfying dinner. It also pairs well with salmon, white fish, and shrimp.
Simmer chicken tenders or thighs in marinara until cooked through and serve shredded with pasta or on its own with simple sides for a healthy family dinner.
Healthy Sauces for Rice, Noodles, and Grains
Asian, Mexican, Italian, American…no matter what sort of flavors and cuisine that you’re craving, you can make a healthy sauce work for you when paired with grains. Think brown rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, quinoa, farro, and more!
Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
Toss this sauce with rice or quinoa for an easier-to-eat dish (since the grains stick together for little eaters!) with a veggie tucked right into the mix.
Easy Teriyaki Sauce
Try this with a stir fry over noodles, or just as a way to perk up leftover grains.
Easy Peanut Sauce
With short grain brown rice or quinoa, this peanut sauce is an instant flavor booster. (And it adds protein too!)
Green Curry Sauce
Rich and just flavorful enough, this is a favorite with rice and veggies or a favorite fish or tofu.
TIP: We love these short-cut sauces from Maya Kaimal Foods for making our favorite Indian foods at home. A a little of the sauces go a long way in terms of introducing new flavors to kids.
Easy Dips for Bread, Crackers, and Fruit
Some kids love to dip and serving yummy dips can be a simple way to help them enjoy more produce or whole grains. I love to pair dippers like veggies (fresh and raw), whole grain crackers and bread, and fruit with these dips.
Cottage Cheese Dip
Simple ingredients and lots of protein make this super creamy dip a perfect pair for crackers, fruit and veggies like cucumbers and snap peas.
Add veggies right into your next batch of hummus with this easy recipe.
Make a nut-free hummus that’s mild and creamy—and has a veggie tucked right inside. Then, spread on bread or serve as a dip!
Serve up fresh fruit in a fun new form with this easy Fruit Salsa recipe. It’s great with fish tacos or chips, and is a perfect way to introduce littles to salsa. You can even vary the recipe to use their favorite fruit!
Peanut Butter Fruit Dip
Give the kids a protein-packed dip for their favorite dippers with this simple nut butter dip.
Honey Yogurt Dip
Stir a little honey into tangy plain yogurt and drizzle over roasted carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli. Or serve alongside steamed veggies.
Maple Tahini Sauce
Stir together equal parts of maple syrup and tahini for a simple sauce that’s delish with naturally sweet veggies like sweet potato and carrots.
TIP: You may also like my Master List of Healthy Family Meals, Favorite Roasted Veggies, and go-to Slow Cooker Meals.
Does your family have a favorite dip? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
This post was first published March 2019.
I am working in the nursery, I cook for the children, I read your information about of the recipes, there are very interesting