See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.


Deciding what to eat for dinner every night when you have a family with young kids is no easy task. You want to cook healthy meals for your family, and you want those meals to actually get eaten, and, better yet, be enjoyed by everyone at the table. These family-friendly dinner ideas are here to help!

Chili mac topped with cheese and green onions in a bowl with a spoon.

Family-Friendly Dinner Ideas for Every Night of the Week!

As a mom of 5 young kids, I know all too well the challenge of feeding a family. Which is why I’ve gone through every single one of the dinner recipes published on Kristine’s Kitchen, in search of the best kid-friendly recipes for dinner.

These dinner ideas are easy, crowd-pleasing meals that are sure to satisfy kids and grown ups alike.

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Family Meals: Chicken Recipes

When it comes to easy weeknight dinners, chicken is always a winning option. These kid-friendly chicken recipes include classic kid favorites like nuggets, comforting casseroles and more.

Chicken parmesan served over spaghetti with marinara.

Chicken Parmesan

A crispy breadcrumb coating and melty cheese make this easy chicken Parmesan a kid favorite. Serve it with pasta and roasted broccoli for an easy, family-friendly meal.

Sesame chicken served on a plate with white rice on the side.

Sesame Chicken

In this quick and easy recipe, tender bites of chicken are coated in a sticky sweet-and-savory sauce. My whole family devoured this chicken – it’s that good!

Chicken tenders stacked on a plate with a dish of honey mustard.

Baked Chicken Tenders

No list of kid-friendly recipes would be complete without chicken tenders! These bake up crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Serve them with a few dipping sauces and let everyone choose their favorite.

Shredded honey garlic chicken in a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Next up is a super easy crockpot meal: slow cooker honey garlic chicken. This set it and forget it recipe features tender shredded chicken in an irresistible honey garlic sauce. Serve it over rice with Instant Pot green beans on the side.

Baked chicken broccoli rice casserole in baking dish.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

This chicken and rice casserole is deliciously seasoned and easy to eat, no matter your age. It’s made with a simple homemade cream sauce, no canned cream of soups here.

Air fryer chicken nuggets on a serving plate with one nugget in dish of ketchup.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

These chicken nuggets are one of the meals that my kids request most often. Crispy seasoned bites of chicken that cook quickly in the air fryer – what’s not to love? These homemade nuggets are so much better than anything off of the kids menu.

Sliced chicken breast on a plate.

Baked Chicken Breast

Simple is where it’s at with this baked chicken breast recipe. This fast family dinner idea makes the best juicy chicken breasts. Serve with potatoes, rice or pasta and a veggie for a quick, kid-pleasing meal.

Taco Night

Tacos are one of my favorite go-to family meals because they’re so easy and everyone in the family can fill their tortilla just the way they like it. Here you’ll find classic taco recipes plus new twists on taco night.

Ground beef taco meat served in corn tortillas with a variety of toppings.

Ground Beef Tacos

Everyone loves tacos, and this easy taco recipe is our go-to! Let the kids choose their favorite taco toppings to go along with this seasoned ground beef taco meat and warm tortillas. This 20 minute recipe is one of the best family dinner ideas.

Close up side view of crockpot chicken tacos with salsa, avocado and tomatoes.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Three ingredients and your slow cooker are all you need to make the best shredded chicken tacos! Prefer to cook in the Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Chicken Tacos instead.

Four pork carnitas tacos on a plate.

Carnitas

This Mexican pulled pork cooks all day in the crockpot until it’s fall-apart tender. The ingredient list is simple yet infuses the pork with flavor. You can serve it as is or pop the meat under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the edges. Then serve with warm tortillas, rice and beans.

Five baked chicken taquitos stacked together with dishes of plain Greek yogurt and salsa in the background.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

These chicken taquitos are one of our favorite kid-friendly recipes. They’re stuffed with a creamy chicken and cheese filling and then baked until golden and crispy on the outside. Serve them with salsa, guacamole or plain Greek yogurt for dipping.

Lentil taco filling served in crunchy taco shells with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes.

Lentil Tacos

Vegetarian family-friendly meals can be hard to find, and these lentil tacos are one of the best. The lentil taco filling can be made in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, so you can choose which cooking method works best for your schedule.

Easy Dinner Ideas For Family: Soups

A pot of soup and a batch of warm dinner rolls is a sure-fire way to bring everyone to the table. These family-friendly soups are both healthy and comforting.

Homemade chicken noodle soup served in bowls with crackers on the side.

Chicken Noodle Soup

A steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food, and this classic recipe is a family favorite. Tender chicken, veggies and noodles in a flavorful broth make this soup especially nourishing.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup served in a bowl with a spoon.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Creamy broccoli cheddar soup has been a favorite with my picky eaters since they were little. This healthy soup comes together quickly and is perfect for a cold day!

Turkey chili in a bowl with a spoon, topped with sour cream, cheddar cheese and green onions.

Turkey Chili

This healthy turkey chili is said to have won awards for the best chili recipe. It’s that good. Ground turkey, beans and chili spices make this chili so satisfying. We like to serve it with our favorite cornbread recipe.

Chicken taco soup in a slow cooker with a serving spoon.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

This flavorful soup is a dump and go slow cooker recipe, with no chopping required. It has a short ingredient list, takes only 10 minutes to prep, and then your slow cooker does the rest. Dinner doesn’t get any easier!

Vegetable barley soup in a Dutch oven pot.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Here’s another meatless meal that everyone in the family can get excited about: vegetable barley soup. Hearty barley makes this vegetable soup especially satisfying and you can feel good about the rainbow of veggies that go into the pot.

White chicken chili in a dutch oven pot with a ladle.

White Chicken Chili

This white chicken chili is the kind of belly-warming meal that we all crave on a chilly day. It’s not too spicy so little ones are sure to gobble it up.

You Can’t Go Wrong with Mac and Cheese

When it comes to meals that kids love, mac and cheese is a classic. These homemade macaroni and cheese recipes are so much better than anything from a box.

Macaroni and cheese on a serving spoon held over baking dish.

Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Mac and cheese is a crowd pleasing dish, and everyone at the table will agree that this is the best mac and cheese recipe! It comes out of the oven hot and bubbly with lots of ooey gooey melty cheese.

Mac and cheese on a wood serving spoon held over an instant pot.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Meet the creamiest mac and cheese around: Instant Pot mac and cheese. And this recipe couldn’t be easier. It’s ready in 30 minutes, with just 10 minutes of hands-on prep time.

Chili mac topped with cheese and green onions in a bowl with a spoon.

Vegetarian Chili Mac

Sneak some added nutrition (and flavor!) into your mac and cheese dinner with this vegetarian chili mac recipe. This family-friendly dinner is a one pot meal that you can have on your table in just 30 minutes.

Broccoli mac and cheese on plate with fork.

Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese

This recipe features shell pasta and broccoli in a creamy homemade cheese sauce. You can even give it an extra protein boost by stirring in some shredded rotisserie chicken.

Whole wheat mac and cheese with crumb topping served in a bowl.

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese

If it’s a classic baked mac and cheese recipe you’re craving, give this whole wheat mac and cheese recipe a try. Whole wheat pasta provides fiber and a crispy breadcrumb topping makes this comfort food especially irresistible.

Easy Weeknight Dinners: Sandwiches

What’s better than a (sometimes) messy sandwich for dinner? Not much, especially if that sandwich comes with a side of baked French fries. These sandwich dinner ideas are fun to eat and perfect for little hands.

Bbq chicken sandwich with instant pot in background.

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

This is one of our all-time favorite recipes for an easy weeknight dinner. The chicken cooks in the Instant Pot until tender and BBQ sauce adds a kick of flavor. Serve the saucy chicken on toasted burger buns with a side of sweet potato fries.

Turkey burger served on a bun with lettuce, guacamole, tomato and red onion.

Turkey Burger Recipe

If your kids are burger lovers, they’re sure to gobble these turkey burgers up! These flavorful burgers are easy to make and you can cook them on the grill, on the stove or in the oven.

Air fryer grilled cheese sandwich cut in half showing melty cheese.

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

No list of kid-friendly recipes would be complete without a grilled cheese sandwich recipe. This air fryer grilled cheese is ultra cheesy, extra crispy and ready in just minutes! Pair it with bowls of tomato soup for a meal the whole family will love.

Sloppy Joe sandwich on wood board.

Sloppy Joes

You can’t go wrong with classic sloppy joes for dinner. This made-from-scratch recipe calls for simple ingredients and takes only 25 minutes to make.

Slow cooker bbq pulled pork on a burger bun.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Using your slow cooker is the easiest way to make fall-apart tender pulled pork for sandwiches. You’ll only need five ingredients, plus salt and pepper, for this easy make ahead meal.

Pasta Dinners

Pasta is one of my go-to’s when I’m looking for a dinner idea that I know my kids will love.

Stuffed pasta shell on serving spoon held over baking dish.

Stuffed Shells

Four kinds of cheese and marinara sauce make these stuffed pasta shells a kid favorite. Leftovers (if you have any) freeze well for a quick meal later on.

One pot pasta with sausage in a skillet with a serving spoon.

One Pot Pasta with Sausage

Five ingredients, ready in 30 minutes, and only one pot to wash after dinner? Yes, please! This cheesy one pot pasta with sausage is quick, flavorful and comforting.

Baked spaghetti in casserole dish with serving spoon.

Baked Spaghetti

This baked spaghetti is one of our favorite ways to cook spaghetti for a family dinner. Ground beef, pasta, marinara sauce and seasonings are topped with cheese and then baked until hot and bubbly. Serve this easy pasta bake with a salad and a side of garlic bread.

Classic lasagna in a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Put your crockpot to work for you with this slow cooker lasagna recipe! You don’t need to boil the noodles ahead of time, just brown the ground beef, layer everything in the slow cooker and set it to slow cook on low. Serve it up with a crisp Italian salad and enjoy!

Easy caprese pasta with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, served with crusty bread.

Caprese Pasta

Fresh flavors star in this easy caprese pasta recipe. Fresh tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella are tossed with al dente pasta for a meal that’s as simple as it is delicious.

Taco pasta with serving spoon in slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Taco Pasta

This has been one of our most popular family dinner recipes for years, and it’s easy to see why. This slow cooker meal takes just 10 minutes to prep and is full of delicious flavors from salsa, taco seasoning, ground beef and cheese. If you’re more of an Instant Pot fan, make this Instant Pot Taco Pasta instead.

More Easy Family Dinner Ideas

I’ve saved some of the best kid-friendly dinner recipes for last! These recipes are quick, easy and so delicious.

Honey garlic salmon with potatoes and green beans on baking sheet.

Honey Garlic Salmon

My kids love salmon, and this honey garlic salmon recipe is one of our favorite ways to prepare it. Kids and adults alike will love the sweet and tangy honey garlic sauce that coats the fish. Cooking salmon and roasted vegetables together on one sheet pan means that clean up is a breeze.

Meatballs served with spaghetti and marinara sauce.

Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs are a classic family-friendly dinner, and this recipe makes the best homemade meatballs. They’re baked in the oven for ease, and cook up juicy and flavorful, every time.

Goulash in a Dutch oven pot with a wooden spoon.

Goulash

Here’s another quick one pot meal for you: goulash. This comforting dinner idea is made with ground beef, macaroni pasta and cheese in a flavorful tomato-based sauce.

Unstuffed bell pepper skillet with wooden spoon.

Unstuffed Bell Pepper Skillet

Stuffed peppers can be hit or miss with kids, which is why I created this unstuffed bell pepper skillet. Rather than stuffing the meat and rice filling into whole bell peppers, this recipe combines everything into an easy skillet meal. This recipe has been a family favorite for years!

Honey hoisin pork tenderloin with carrots in a cast iron skillet.

Honey Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is an especially kid-friendly cut of meat because it cooks up nice and tender (aka, easy for little ones to eat). This recipe features a flavorful sauce and carrots that cook right in the same skillet as the pork. Serve it with rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

Hamburger casserole in baking dish with serving spoon.

Hamburger Casserole

With pasta, cheese, veggies and tomato sauce, the whole family will love this comforting hamburger casserole. This recipe makes delicious leftovers, too, so you might even get a night off from cooking!

Fried rice in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Fried Rice

This 20 minute recipe makes the best fried rice with egg and vegetables. Stir in some cooked chicken or air fryer shrimp to add extra protein, or serve the fried rice alongside simple baked chicken breasts.

Pepperoni pizza cut into slices.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Most kids love pizza, and this pizza dough recipe is our favorite way to make pizza at home. You can even roll out small crusts and let everyone make their own personal pizza. Kids will love adding their own sauce, cheese and toppings to their pizza crust!

chili mac topped with cheese and green onions in a bowl with a spoon

40 Best Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipes

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
These family-friendly dinner ideas are quick, easy and delicious! Feeding kids can be a challenge, and these kid-friendly recipes are picky eater approved. Start with this easy vegetarian chili mac recipe, a one pot 30 minute meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped small, any color
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies*, such as RO*TEL
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta, whole wheat or white
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella, or a combination

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet* or pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the pan with the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chilies, pasta, black beans, kidney beans and water. Stir.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, reserving a little for sprinkling on top. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Serve.

Notes

  • You will need a skillet or pot that is at least 12 inches wide and 2 inches deep to fit the full recipe.
  • This recipe makes a chili mac with some spice to it. The spice is not overwhelming, but if your family prefers less spice I’d recommend using mild diced tomatoes with green chilies or subbing with a can of diced tomatoes without green chilies (fire roasted diced tomatoes would be delicious). To make the chili mac spicier, add a small amount of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes along with the other seasonings. 
  • To add meat to this recipe, add ground beef or ground turkey to the pan after sautéing the onion, carrots and bell pepper for a few minutes. Cook the meat, crumbling, until browned and then proceed with the recipe. 
Serving: 1/6 recipe, Calories: 447kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 1029mg, Potassium: 920mg, Fiber: 13g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 4811IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 306mg, Iron: 5mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Dish, One Pot Meal
Tried this recipe?Mention @kristines_kitchen on Instagram or tag #kristineskitchenblog.
Collage of 8 kid-friendly dinner recipes with text overlay.
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