Coming up with kid-friendly dinner ideas that are quick and easy to make is an ongoing challenge for most parents. You need recipes that get meals on the table fast and that kids will enjoy eating. We've rounded up our best, kid-approved dinner ideas for busy parents that will help you check all those boxes, without all the additives found in take-out and frozen foods.
These awesome family dinner recipes include simple, homemade versions of kids' menu classics, such as macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish and chips, pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, chili, and quesadillas. We've also included family favorite recipes that make great weeknight meals, including pasta dishes, stir-fries, tacos, and hearty baked casseroles.
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Chicken French Bread Pizza
Kids are always up for eating cheesy pizza for dinner, and busy parents will like how easy this nutritious meal is to put together. French baguette slices take the place of pizza crust, and using store-bought rotisserie chicken and pre-shredded cheese makes this dish a fast weeknight solution.
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Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Let this quick and easy macaroni and cheese dinner cook in the crock pot all day, while you go out and have fun with the kids. Everyone will feel relaxed enjoying this family-friendly meal together.
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Cornflake-Crusted Baked Cod
You can feel great about serving this oven-baked fish dish with a kid-approved crunchy topping. Children will love this "fish stick-style" dinner, and you'll love that it has only 5 ingredients, and is baked instead of fried.
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Chicken Quesadillas Recipe
Leftover cooked chicken (or a store-bought rotisserie bird) and pre-shredded cheddar cheese make these yummy quesadillas a breeze to prepare. Assemble and heat them quickly on busy weeknights, and serve with nutrient-packed guacamole and salsa.Continue to 5 of 60 below.
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Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti
The name of this tummy-warming dinner pasta bake with jarred spaghetti sauce says it all. It's easy to assemble, super cheesy with mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheeses, and bakes in your oven in under an hour.
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Homemade Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
Kids can enjoy a favorite fast food treat, while eating healthier, with these homemade chicken tenders that are sure to disappear fast. Bake or fry them with these easy instructions, and serve with rice and vegetables for a complete dinner.
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Baked Beans and Hot Dogs with Biscuit Topping
What's not for kids to love about saucy barbecue baked beans, tender hot dog slices, and cheddar cheese biscuits, all served up in one dish? Make this kid-pleasing casserole in about 30 minutes, for weeknights or birthday parties.
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Maple Glazed Pork Chops
Sweet and tangy maple glazed pork chops are full of flavor and protein. Serve them with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans or peas for a complete meal.Continue to 9 of 60 below.
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Tilapia With Buttery Crumb Topping
Tilapia is a mild white fish that many kids enjoy. They're sure to like the crunchy, buttery crumb topping in this recipe, which bakes in only 10 minutes. Make it for a quick meal when your day runs late, and serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a simple green salad.
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Kitchen Barbecue Chicken
You don't need an outdoor grill for this finger-licking BBQ chicken recipe that cooks in an electric skillet on your countertop. Combine store-bought barbecue sauce and orange soda to create the zippy, tangy coating that will send you straight back to summertime.
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Easy 30-Minute Mexican Enchiladas
You only need a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes to make these tasty Tex-Mex enchiladas on busy weeknights. Feel free to add any leftover cooked chicken or pulled pork from your fridge, if you like, for a protein boost.
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Take the family on a Hawaiian adventure without leaving home. Puka dogs are grilled Polish sausages or veggie dogs poked into Hawaiian rolls. The recipe includes a sweet pineapple relish and the mango mustard is spicy, but can easily be adjusted to fit your family's taste.Continue to 13 of 60 below.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Air fryer chicken tenders are perfect for busy families. Most of the time involved is hands-off and they reheat nicely. The chicken breasts are marinated in pickle juice then breaded before frying. Serve them with your family's favorite dipping sauces and a quick side, and dinner is ready!
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Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Kids love digging into this hearty soup that tastes like twice-baked potatoes in a bowl. Its thick, creamy potato base, accented with bacon, sour cream, green onions, and celery, makes a great dinner, with crusty rolls on the side for dipping.
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Instant Pot Beef Stew
An instant pot is an essential kitchen appliance for busy parents. Use it to create a rib-sticking, nutritious beef and vegetable stew that kids will enjoy eating for dinner. Pack leftovers in thermoses for school lunches, along with crackers for crumbling — it tastes even better the next day!
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If your family loves the sandwich, treat them to a BLT pizza. The recipe that brings the two dishes together brilliantly. You can use any pizza dough, and the herbal mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled bacon toppings are a lot of fun. Best of all, dinner will be ready in less than 30 minutes. It's great for lunch, too.Continue to 17 of 60 below.
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Vegetarian Pesto Pizza With Feta Cheese
Skip the pizza delivery! This delicious, easy Mediterranean-style pizza recipe starts with a store-bought crust and prepared pesto sauce, topped with marinated artichokes, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.
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Meatball Mac and Cheese
Load up this rich and gooey mac and cheese with tender meatballs for a tummy-filling dinner that kids will demand you make again. It's so easy to prepare with dried pasta, frozen meatballs, jarred alfredo sauce, and loads of shredded cheese. Bake it up in under 30 minutes, and get it on the table, fast.
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Oven Baked Chicken Burgers
Juicy chicken burgers with a hint of Cajun seasoning are a lighter alternative to beef patties, and kids enjoy picking them up to eat. They taste great topped with mayonnaise, or any of your kids' other favorite burger toppings.
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Vegan Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower and Potato Curry)
Trick kids into eating their vegetables with this popular Indian recipe suitable for a vegan diet. Cauliflower and potato curry with tomatoes is a saucy and flavorful dish that makes a filling and nutritious meal, served with hot cooked rice.Continue to 21 of 60 below.
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Easy Curry Chicken
One-skillet curry chicken is a quick and easy dinner recipe when you don't have time to fuss. Stir-fry chicken breasts, onion, potatoes, and carrots in a single pan, with curry paste, chicken broth, and seasonings, for a tasty weeknight meal with great Indian-inspired flavors.
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Instant Pot Sloppy Joes
Kids love sloppy joes and you're going to love how easy they are to make in the Instant Pot. Once you brown the ground beef, simply add everything to the pot and let it cook. Come back in 45 minutes after the pressure releases, build your sandwiches, and dinner is served!
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Chinese Noodles in Peanut Sauce
Peanut butter-loving kids will flip for this Chinese-inspired noodle stir-fry. The peanut sauce adds amazing flavor to tender noodles and crunchy fresh veggies. It's a nutritious family dinner that takes only 30 minutes to make.
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Potato Chip Chicken
Win parent-of-the-year with this crispy chicken recipe featuring a coating of barbecue potato chips. The boneless chicken is pounded and then coated in seasoned flour, egg, and crushed up kettle-cooked flavored chips and baked in the oven until cooked through and crispy.Continue to 25 of 60 below.
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Easy Chicken Parmesan
Italian-American chicken parmesan is a top-rated family recipe that is easy to make at home. Pound chicken breast halves thin, coat with crunchy seasoned breadcrumbs, and pan-fry to perfection. Bake quickly with jarred spaghetti sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and serve over hot cooked spaghetti.
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Orange Pork Chop Stir-Fry
You can make these savory pork chops in about 30 minutes, stir-fried in a sweet, tasty orange-soy sauce combination. Add any veggies you happen to have in your fridge for extra nutrition, and serve over hot cooked rice.
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Chicken and Stuffing Bake
Bring a little taste of Thanksgiving to the weeknight dinner table with this chicken and stuffing casserole. Aromatics like onion, garlic, and celery are sauteed and then layered in a baking dish with chicken, cream of chicken soup, and stuffing mix. The kids will love the creamy mixture and crunchy topping.
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Chicken Tamale Pie
Kids will love the combination of sweet and savory in this delicious tamale pie. Shredded, cooked chicken is mixed with onion, taco seasonings, salsa, and beans and topped with a homemade cornbread batter (or use boxed for quicker preparation) that is flavored with corn, cheddar, and cilantro. The pie is baked until golden brown and served with sour cream and avocado.Continue to 29 of 60 below.
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Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
When it comes to the kids, the dumplings may be the main attraction in this dish, but you'll feel better knowing they're also eating a good serving of vegetables and chicken. Onions and garlic are sauteed, chicken broth, seasonings, vegetables, and chicken are added, the homemade dumpling dough is spooned on top, and the stew is pressure cooked for just a few minutes. Peas, parsley, and cream finish it off.
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Instant Pot Pizza
These individual-sized pizzas are simple to make and easily customizable, perfect for a family who can't agree on pizza toppings. Store-bought pizza dough is cut to the size of a cake pan, layered with toppings, and cooked for 15 minutes. Stack two pans and cook a few at a time.
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Baked Teriyaki Salmon
For kids who love Hawaiian-inspired teriyaki chicken, this recipe for baked teriyaki salmon will ring familiar, while offering a bit more nutrition. The salmon is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and ginger powders, and cornstarch and then baked. The marinade is cooked down until thick and spooned over the fillets, along with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chopped scallion.
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Easy Crock Pot Beef Chili
Chili makes a warming dinner on cold or rainy nights. This easy, delicious version cooks in your crockpot while you go about your day, so your family can come home to a comforting dinner. Serve with crusty rolls, crackers, or cornbread.Continue to 33 of 60 below.
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Lasagna for dinner that kids can eat with their hands? Yes, it's a thing! Make lasagna sandwiches for kids' birthday parties, or a fun weeknight dinner any time. Hollow out rolls, then fill with cooked sausage meat, spaghetti sauce, cheeses, and seasonings, and bake until heated through.
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Stuffed Peppers With Ground Beef and Rice
Stuffed bell peppers with seasoned ground beef, rice, and tomato filling, plus melted cheddar cheese on top, make a delicious weeknight dinner that kids will love to eat. Make extra to freeze for later, or pack in lunch bags for school.
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How to Make Halal Cart Chicken
Halal carts are a popular fast food on the streets of New York for good reason. The heaping plates of marinated chicken, rice, salad, and sauce are a complete meal. This halal cart chicken is a healthier but still tasty version that's ready in just over 30 minutes.
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Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
This classic Italian dish of tender chicken thighs cooked in a rich tomato sauce will be a new family favorite. Thanks to the Instant Pot, it's also quick and easy to make. Serve over pasta or with crusty bread.Continue to 37 of 60 below.
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Vegan Cashew "Chicken" Stir-Fry
Vegetarian and vegan kids will cheer for this delicious Chinese tofu stir-fry dinner. It's a great way to get protein into vegetarian or vegan kids, who are sure to enjoy the flavors and textures of crunchy cashews, celery, bamboo shoots, and plenty of vegetables.
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Chicken Alfredo Casserole
It's easy to love this rich-tasting, hearty chicken casserole that makes a comforting family meal. You only need five ingredients: diced cooked chicken, prepared alfredo sauce, pasta, milk, and parmesan cheese.
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Chicken Fried Rice
There's no need for take-out when you can make restaurant-style fried rice at home! It's so easy to make, and nutritious for kids and adults too, with shredded chicken and lots of vegetables. Make it even healthier by using fiber-rich brown rice instead of white.
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Thai Mango Chicken Salad
Refreshing chicken and mango salad is sweet, crunchy, and super-tasty, with loads of flavor and crunch from coconut shreds, peanuts, and sliced raw veggies, all dressed in a lip-smacking lime-soy dressing with delicious Thai flavors.Continue to 41 of 60 below.
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Easy Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant parmesan is a popular Italian-American dish that makes a filling, nutritious, meat-free meal. Layer thick eggplant slices with tomato sauce, Italian seasonings, and cheeses, and baked until hot, melty, and bubbling.
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Loaded Pizza Pasta Casserole
Satisfy kids' pizza cravings with this hearty baked pasta casserole that's loaded with all their favorite meat and veggie toppings, plus browned ground beef, pizza sauce, and lots of stretchy melted mozzarella cheese.
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Tuna Noodle Casserole
Potluck favorite tuna noodle casserole is a kid-friendly family meal that you can make ahead easily for your freezer. It's protein-rich, and easy on your budget, with canned tuna, egg noodles, mayonnaise, frozen peas, and a few other pantry ingredients.
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Ground Turkey Stir-Fry
For a twist on a traditional Chinese stir-fry, try this recipe using ground turkey. It is reminiscent of the Asian lettuce cup appetizer in terms of flavors and texture, but the added broccoli and peppers make this a nutritious and complete dish, perfect served over cooked rice.Continue to 45 of 60 below.
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Homemade Turkey Burgers
Kids will gobble up these budget-friendly, well-seasoned turkey burgers, served on crusty burger buns. Make these patties with seasoned ground turkey meat and pantry ingredients, plus a little fresh cilantro or parsley for color.
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Indian Butter Chicken
Butter chicken is a great way to introduce kids to the flavors of Indian cuisine. It's saucy and tasty, and very mildly spicy, with chunks of tender chicken cooked in a rich-tasting, buttery sauce. Serve over hot basmati rice or with fluffy homemade naan.
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Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs
You can serve your family fuss-free spaghetti and meatballs any day of the week, with this easy, 4-ingredient recipe that cooks entirely in your crockpot, and tastes like kids' favorite spaghetti-Os without the preservatives and additives.
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Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls with Pesto
Rolled lasagna noodles packed with everyone's favorite Italian flavors are always a hit at family dinners. Basil, pine nuts, spinach, potatoes, jarred marinara sauce, and three kinds of cheese pack in plenty of nutrition and great comforting taste.Continue to 49 of 60 below.
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Crunchy Middle Eastern Chicken Salad
Crunchy chicken salad with carrots, almonds and Middle Eastern herbs and spices is a potluck favorite recipe that makes a great family dinner. Use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, and buy the tzatziki prepared if you like, to make preparation even breezier.
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Crock Pot Vegetarian Bean Chili
Fill up vegetarian kids' tummies with hearty, two-bean veggie chili. It's a nutritious choice for dinner, and leftovers can be packed in a thermos for school lunches. Cook the whole dish in your crockpot, from start to finish.
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Spaghetti pizza is the fun name for baked spaghetti casserole with kids' favorite pizza flavors. Feel free to add additional pizza toppings to the casserole dish. Anything goes, from pepperoni and olives, to chopped bell peppers, mushrooms, or even ham and pineapple chunks!
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Even kids who profess they don't like seafood will frequently enjoy shrimp. This shrimp and fettuccine dinner packs in tons of flavor and makes an easy weeknight meal for your family. Serve with grated parmesan cheese that kids can sprinkle on themselves.Continue to 53 of 60 below.
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Creamy Corn and Seafood Chowder
Creamy seafood chowder loaded with shrimp, scallops, potatoes, and corn is so hearty and delicious, kids don't have to know it's also good for them. Serve it with crusty bread, crackers, or dinner rolls, for a filling meal any time of year.
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Quick and Easy Tuna Tacos
Do something different on taco night, with this yummy tuna taco recipe. Toss budget-friendly canned tuna with chopped onion and cilantro in a creamy lime-infused mayonnaise dressing. Load into corn tortillas for a zesty, easy-to-make dinner.
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Fish and Chips
Cook up pub-style fish and chips at home with this classic recipe. Coat fish fillets in a simple homemade batter, pan-fry until crisp and golden, and serve with easy homemade "chips" or fries.
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Crock Pot Taco Soup
Taco seasonings and ranch dressing mix add so much flavor to this easy crock pot taco soup. Loaded with ground beef and three kinds of beans, it's a great way to get protein into active kids. Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream.Continue to 57 of 60 below.
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Make these easy pan-fried salmon burgers with ingredients you probably stock in your pantry and fridge, including canned salmon. They're a great recipe to reach for when you're at the end of a grocery shopping cycle.
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Chinese Stir-Fry Beef and Vegetables
Chinese-inspired beef and vegetables is a cinch to make at home. Stir-fry marinated flank steak with bok choy, mushrooms, and red onion, and infuse with tangy flavorings. Toss some cashews into the mix for crunch, and serve with hot cooked rice.
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Chicken Cutlet Sandwiches
Crispy chicken cutlet sandwiches are always a hit with kids, and easy on your budget. Coat tender chicken cutlets in a breadcrumb mixture, and fry up on your stovetop. Serve them on toasted buns with mayonnaise and lettuce, or any other favorite toppings.
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Lemon Salmon Pasta
Creamy, lemony pasta, with chunks of tender salmon, crunchy vegetables, and herbs, make a flavorful entrée that is a great way to get kids to eat their omega-3s, and delicious enough to serve guests, too.
Fish, salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, dry heat. USDA Agricultural Research Service: FoodData Central
Tofu. USDA Agricultural Research Service: FoodData Central
Eggplant, raw. USDA Agricultural Research Service: FoodData Central