Here are all our best easy dinner recipes for kids and family to make everyone around the table happy! Plus, they’ve got a healthy spin.
It’s hard to find recipes that please the whole family! We get it. First, there are different diet preferences. Then kids especially have tastes that change by the day! (Yep, our son does too.) But never fear: there easy dinner recipes for kids that the entire family will love. Here we’ve put together a list of family dinner recipes that are quick and easy to make, and on the healthy side too. There are lots of colorful vegetables, but flavors that are 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. For 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 kid tested and given the thumbs up by our toddler, Larson!
And now, our best easy dinner recipes for kids and family!
First on our list of easy dinner recipes for kids and family: these easy veggie quesadillas! Because if we know anything, it's that quesadillas are always a hit with kids. 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.
Mac and cheese is the classic in easy dinner recipes for kids and family. But this mac and cheese is something more! We’ve taken this kid-friendly comfort food and infused it with some immunity-boosting ingredients. Greek yogurt is stirred in at the end, to give a creamy texture, 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!
Here's the very fastest dinner recipe we have and perfect for kids: these Epic 5 Minute Tacos! Can dinner really be made in 5 minutes? We'll let you find out for yourself. These tacos feature our chorizo-style eggs, which materialize into a meaty flavor and texture before your eyes. Top with salsa fresca, cilantro and hot sauce. Your family will love them! (We're pretty sure of it.)
Instead of simmering for hours, you can get big flavor in this family friendly 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 kinds (including kids!) 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!
One of our other favorite easy dinner recipes for kids and family is not even a recipe at all: it’s a 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.
Spaghetti with marinara is top on everyone’s list of easy dinner recipes for kids. This one is seriously easy and comes together in just 20 minutes! There's not even chopping involved. While the pasta cooks, you'll simmer a simple sauce of fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic powder. Throw in spinach for extra nutrients. When the pasta is done, throw it over the noodles for a seriously satisfying, family-friendly meal in a flash.
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 kids. 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. Use your favorite store-bought enchilada sauce!
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. (Leave it as an option for kids: but our son loves it!) Serve with the roasted potatoes listed in the recipe, or a whole grain like our pesto quinoa or rice.
Big skillets are the perfect easy dinner recipes for kids and family, right? 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.
Use a store-bought marinara sauce to keep the prep time minimal. (Instead, you could use our Easy Marinara Sauce.) Serve with pasta for a delicious Italian-inspired dinner the whole family will love.
Why order delivery when you can make it at home? This classic cheese pizza is the perfect easy dinner for the whole family. It starts with our Pizza Dough Master Recipe, though of course you can use purchased dough. Then it's slathered with our tangy, garlicky Easy Pizza Sauce. Top that with cheese and it turns out as a healthy, homemade version of the standard kid favorite! Serve with Healthy Ranch and veggies.
Last but not least in our easy dinner recipes for kids and family: this quick creamy gnocchi! Dinner in 15 minutes? Oh yes. This one takes just minutes to make the sauce, and the gnocchi boil up in 3 minutes.
The flavor? It tastes like the best ever mac and cheese: but takes literally no effort at all. It's modeled after the famous Italian recipe, Cacio e Pepe pasta (literally “cheese and pepper pasta” in Italian). Our version uses chewy gnocchi dumpling-style pasta and it’s simply to die for.
Cook the sweet potato: Cook it in an Instant Pot(note that this method requires 4 sweet potatoes to be cooked at once for the timing to be accurate). Or, you can bake it using these baking instructions, or prick holes in it and microwave it on high for 8-10 minutes until tender, turning halfway through. (Do this step in advance and refrigerate the sweet potatoes before cooking the quesadilla; the cook time below does not include this step.)
Cook the spinach: Roughly chop the spinach. Warm the olive oil in a skillet and add the spinach, garlic powder, cumin, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until spinach is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes, then remove it to a bowl.
Assemble the tortilla: Cut the sweet potato in half and slide off the skin: place the flesh into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Spread 1/4 cup of the mashed sweet potato onto one tortilla. Drain and rinse the beans, then top the sweet potato with 1/4 cup of the black beans. Sprinkle sweet potatoes and black beans with a pinch of kosher salt. Then top with sprinkles of the cooked spinach (use your hands and leave any liquid at the bottom of the bowl). Top with 2 slices of cheese, tearing it as necessary to fit onto the tortilla. Cover with the second tortilla. Then repeat these instructions for the second quesadilla.
Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat it to medium heat. Place one quesadilla in the pan, cheese side down. Cook for 2 minutes per side until lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve, with salsa if desired. (Note: For lunch boxes, you can keep the quesadilla wedges refrigerated for a few days and place them into lunch boxes each morning.)
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.