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27 Toddler Dinner Ideas Your Picky Eater Might Actually Try

Ever since your toddler turned two, “no” has been her favorite word (followed closely by “ew” and “yuck”). Don’t even get us started on dinnertime—we’re lucky if she gets a handful of Cheerios in her mouth before bed. But we’re on a mission to keep offering fun, nutritious meals (as long as they don’t take hours to make). Presenting 27 toddler dinner ideas your picky eater might actually try.

Drew Barrymore’s Trick for Toddler Tantrums is Genius


1. Baked Quinoa Chicken Nuggets

Your kid’s favorite food is chicken nuggets (and fine, you’ve been known to steal a few). But they aren’t the most nutritious meal…unless they’ve been breaded with quinoa and baked in the oven, of course.

2. One-pan Spaghetti And Meatballs

Dinner on the table in 30 minutes? Check. Only one dish to do? Check. Spaghetti that stays on the plate and never winds up all over the floor? Can’t win ’em all.

3. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

Don't make sandwiches for supper. Make boats. Trust us—your family will thank you.

4. Meal-prep Creamy Pasta Salad With Broccoli And Raisins

Eating on the go? Prep these kid-friendly boxes to eat on a picnic (or if you’re really brave, in the car).

5. French Toast Sticks

Step away from the freezer aisle. These dunkable little strips are super easy to make at home (and you can totally sneak in some whole-grain bread).

6. One-pot Mac And Cheese

Can we tell you a secret? You don’t have to drain the pasta. Just boil it in milk, and voilà: there’s only one dish to do.

7. Gluten-free Cheesy Cauliflower Patties

He’s always asking for tater tots for dinner. These little guys are made with cauliflower and baked in the oven, so it’s a win-win for both of you.

8. Easy Margherita Pizza

Our suggestion: Make it easy on yourself by skipping the homemade dough and grab a ball from the grocery store. (Or better yet, ask your local pizza shop if they’ll let you buy a few and keep them in the freezer.)

9. Honey-roasted Carrots

The last time you tried to give your three-year-old carrots, she threw them at you. This time, serve them honey roasted with a yogurt dipping sauce (and if your kid is a little bit adventurous, add a touch of harissa).


10. Fettuccine With Butter

A three-ingredient dinner that’s guaranteed to please everyone in the family. (And did we mention it’s ready in about 15 minutes?)

11. Coconut Flour Pancakes

This short stack is secretly healthy, thanks to a banana, apple cider vinegar, coconut flour and almond milk (and nope, no sugar).

12. Vegan Arancini

Pop quiz: What’s even better than a cheesy rice ball? Answer: A fried cheesy rice ball.

13. Cauliflower And Plantain Tacos With Lemony Pesto Dressing

Your kid is a sugar fiend, so naturally, he wants something a little sweet with his dinner. Adding baked plantains to these nutritious veggie tacos is just the ticket.

14. Delicata Squash Rings With Garlic-lemon Sauce

Forget onion rings: These crispy oven-baked squash rings are about to become your kid’s new favorite finger food. (And if she hates the lemon dipping sauce, ketchup works, too.)

15. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

Sub in turkey or ham (or just plain cheese) as needed to satisfy your high-maintenance eater.

16. Triple Decker Grilled Cheese

When you were a kid, you ate Kraft singles on white bread. Kick things up a notch with sourdough and three kinds of cheese (mozzarella, cheddar and goat).


17. Slow-cooker Chicken Teriyaki

It’s never too early to introduce your kiddo to international cuisine. (But maybe save the chopsticks lessons for when she’s a little older.)

18. Mozzarella Meatball Frittata

Breakfast is your toddler’s favorite meal of the day. Toss any leftovers you have on hand into a frittata and let her eat breakfast for dinner.

19. Blt Pasta Salad

Hello, summer meal of our dreams. We love using mafaldine pasta or lasagna noodles cut up into squares to make it finger-food-friendly.

20. Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

Your toddler never met a chicken finger she didn’t like. This more nutritious baked version is no exception (especially when you pair it with yummy honey mustard dipping sauce).

21. Korean-style Popcorn Cauliflower

Introduce your kiddo to her new favorite dinner (then teach her how to say “gochujang”).

22. Avocado And Black Bean Pasta Salad

Healthy fats and protein? Yep, this is going in our regular rotation.

23. Baking Sheet Quesadillas

Need to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible? Your toddler will be happily eating in 30 minutes flat.

24. Roasted Cauliflower Mac And Cheese

Replace half of the noodles with roasted cauliflower, and you’ve got a healthy-ish main dish that everyone in the family will devour.


toddler dinner ideas chicken nuggets
40 Aprons

25. Grain-free Chicken Nuggets

Put a twist on classic chicken nuggets with this delicious recipe. By using coconut flour, these guys are naturally gluten-free. Plus, they're marinated in pickle juice for extra flavor.

mini chicken and waffles recipe
ERIN MCDOWELL

26. Mini Chicken And Waffles

These well-seasoned pieces of fried chicken go perfectly with slightly sweet homemade waffles.

toddler dinner ideas pancake tacos with cheese and bacon recipe
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

27. Pancake Tacos With Cheese And Bacon

Show us a toddler who doesn't love food shaped like other food. Enter "pacos," AKA pancake tacos stuffed with bacon and eggs.


screen shot 2020 05 14 at 6 31 35 pm

Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.