Here are all our best easy dinner recipes for family to make everyone around the table happy — and they’ve got a healthy spin!
We get it: it’s hard to find recipes that please the whole family! There are different diet preferences: and then of course some people have tastes that change by the day! Alex and I thought we’d put together our best recipes that are sure-fire hits with everyone around the table. These easy dinner recipes for family are typically pretty quick to make, and on the healthy side too. There’s lots of colorful vegetables here, but the flavors are always straightforward and crowd pleasing.
Many of these recipes can be used as templates: follow them to the letter, or use them as ideas for eating up leftovers or customizing for your family’s tastes. In recipes that require more than 30 minutes prep time, we’ve offered some suggestions for making them ahead. And almost all of the recipes below have been tested and given the thumbs up by our toddler, Larson!
And now, our best easy dinner recipes for family!
First on our list of easy dinner recipes for family: quesadillas! Because, who doesn’t love a good quesadilla? This one is filled vegetables and at the same time tastes amazing. Using mashed sweet potato brings in a gooey, creamy texture to a quesadilla that’s also full of nutrients, which is paired with cumin-scented black beans and spinach. For an easy weeknight, use storebought spinach tortillas (for a fun weekend family project you can use our homemade spinach tortillas recipe). We’d recommend cooking the sweet potato in advance: you can use the microwave for a super quick option, or the oven or Instant Pot and have leftover potatoes for our Thai sweet potatoes or Mexican sweet potatoes recipes.
Mac and cheese is the classic in easy dinner recipes for family. But this mac and cheese is something more! For this creamy mac and cheese with spinach & Greek yogurt, we’ve taken this kid-friendly comfort food and infused it with some immunity-boosting foods. Greek yogurt is stirred in at the end, to give a creamy texture and provide a shot of live and active cultures and protein.
Fresh spinach is gently wilted in for all the added nutrients without a strong flavor, and turmeric gives a tiny immunity boost and some extra color. And the flavor? Spot on delicious. The combination of cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and fresh garlic makes it taste a bit more grown up–but still tasty enough for kids!
This tortilla soup is a popular one from Alex and my cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking! Instead of simmering for hours, you can get big flavor in this tortilla soup in just over 30 minutes. The secret here is adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis: it brings in a smoky flavor without adding too much heat! It’s not too spicy, so it pleases eaters of all kind and qualifies as one of our easy dinner recipes for family. Topped with homemade crunchy tortilla strips, you won’t be able to stop eating it!
These Mediterranean bowls are more of a concept than a specific recipe! What puts this into our easy dinner recipes for family is that it’s totally customizable based on your family’s tastes. The bowl is filled with hummus, pita crisps, cucumber, red pepper, shallot, leafy greens and rice. The rice is seasoned with an unexpected twist: it’s drizzled with a lovely olive oil and dried herb mixture, made savory with just a hint of soy sauce. You could add any other proteins that you’d like: leftover cooked meats, chickpeas with olive oil and salt and pepper, and so forth. This is a great “use up leftovers” trick! If you have an Instant Pot, we have a great Instant Pot rice method; or for another quick cooking whole grain substitute quinoa.
One of our other favorite easy dinner recipes for family not even a recipe at all: it’s Salad Bar! Instead of planning a recipe, just prepare a bunch of salad toppings and let each person make their own salad! Make sure to have lots of high protein items to make sure you’ll stay full, like chickpeas and beans, whole grains, nuts, cheese, and so forth. One thing we like to do is have some of those “classic” salad bar items on hand: hard boiled eggs (or our Instant Pot version), peas, cottage cheese, croutons, and so forth. Then we’ve got a list of homemade salad dressing recipes that will blow your mind: Homemade Ranch, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, and Balsamic Vinaigrette are some of our favorites.
This is not your average marinara! Spaghetti with marinara is top on everyone’s list of easy dinner recipes for family. And yes, this one is red sauce with spaghetti, but it’s an elevated take that is intensely flavorful. And, it’s fully plant-based! The sauce is flavored with shallot, capers, and garlic, and high quality tomatoes bring a lightly sweet tang to the sauce. Then some cashew cream is stirred in at the end to give the sauce body and some protein. It’s so, so good: both kids and adults will go crazy over this one. To speed up the prep time, make the cashew cream in advance and slice the veggies the night before.
Many of our readers swear by this enchilada skillet recipe! Enchiladas are so family friendly, we knew we wanted to include them in our list of easy dinner recipes for family. But sometimes enchilada recipes can take quite a while to prepare. Instead, this one is a deconstructed enchiladas in a skillet! It’s got enchilada sauce, tortilla strips, and a bunch of veggies and black beans, all nestled together in a skillet with just the right amount of cheese. It’s so flavorful! As a time saver, chop the veggies in advance and refrigerate them until you make the skillet.
Big skillets are the perfect easy dinner recipes for family, right? And this skillet is loaded up with goodness. It’s a simple take on eggplant Parmesan, instead piling all the ingredients into a large skillet! It’s got eggplant, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, cooked in a skillet with a super flavorful marinara sauce. In this case, we’ve used a store-bought marinara sauce to keep the prep time minimal. (Instead, you could use our Serve with pasta for a delicious Italian-inspired dinner the whole family will love.
Speaking of Italian recipes: how about calzones? To make these pizza pockets busy weeknight friendly, make them with store-bought pizza dough. The filling is supremely flavorful: mozzarella cheese, Parmesan, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and our quick blender Homemade Pizza Sauce. Of course, you can use any filling you’d like and follow the method in this recipe. Calzones are always a crowd pleaser in our house, which makes this one of our favorite easy dinner recipes for family.
Salmon is so quick to prepare and full of nutrients that it also features in our easy dinner recipes for family. Here this 10-minute baked salmon recipe makes for an ultra quick dinner, paired with a bright green chimichurri sauce. Serve with the roasted potatoes listed in the recipe, or a whole grain like our pesto quinoa or rice.
Pizza is always family friendly, right? Instead of serving it alongside, this pizza features the salad right on top of the pizza! It’s got super delicious veggie filled toppings, and then salad greens mixed with ranch on top! If you’re a meat eating family, add chopped cooked chicken or pepperoni as well. To make it a weeknight friendly, use store-bought pizza dough. Of course, using ranch makes this one a sure-fire hit in your easy dinner recipes for family.
And to round out our list of easy dinner recipes for family: pumpkin penne! Though this uses pumpkin in the sauce, you can make it any time of the year! The pumpkin melts with Parmesan cheese to create a savory, creamy and delicious pasta sauce. It’s quick and easy to whip up, and always a crowd pleaser with all ages.
Looking for more dinner recipes?
Outside of these easy dinner recipes for family, here are a few more collections of dinner recipes:
- 10 Romantic Dinner Recipes
- Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Beginners
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Lives
- Easy Healthy Dinner Recipes
- Best Vegan Dinner Recipes
- Best Healthy Dinner Recipes
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Two
- Gluten Free Dinner Recipes
- 10 Filling Plant Based Recipes Perfect for Dinner
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners
- What Should I Make for Dinner?
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.