18 Easy Dinner Recipes You Can Cook with Your Kids

updated Feb 15, 2021
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I have a personal rule when it comes to my kids: I always say yes when they ask to help with cooking. This doesn’t mean I’m inviting them to cook every meal with me, but when they ask I always oblige. Cooking with kids sometimes that means dinner takes 10, 15, even 20 minutes longer to get on the table, but we always learn something — even if it’s just to make sure the lid is tightly sealed on the paprika.

Letting them help now in the kitchen means they will learn to master a few basic skills before we full expect them to contribute to weekly meals. Dinner is the one meal we need the most weeknight help with, so it only makes sense to rope them into cooking what we will eat as a family. My 8-year-old has fully embraced being my sous-chef-in-training and cooks along with me two or three nights a week. Here are 18 of our go-to dinner recipes that are perfect for cooking with kids.

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Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos
These restaurant-style nachos have it all: cheesy chips layered with salsa-covered chicken and black beans, topped with all your favorite fixings. How kids can help: The kids can everything from tearing apart the rotisserie chicken to piling the chips on the baking sheet and loading on the toppings.
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Turkey Chili
This crowd pleasing favorite is more mild than most chili recipes, with a spice blend that you add to your families liking. We almost always serve this with crunchy cheese crackers instead of cheese and chips. How kids can help: Kids can help measure spices, open cans of tomatoes and beans, as well as grating cheese for topping as desired.
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Zucchini Pesto Pizza Rolls
Pizza rolls are brilliant way to put leftovers to good use or here as a vehicle for more vegetables. Use any vegetables or sauce you have on hand using this same basic frame work. How kids can help: Put those kiddos to work rolling out the dough and rolling things up once they are filled.
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One-Pot Meatballs & Pasta Os
Why yes, this is a more modern take on Spaghetti O's and it is delightful! No need to make mini meatballs from scratch either, you can roll up bulk sausage which flavors the sauce and works as meatballs instead. How kids can help: Portion the sausage and let your kids do the meatball rolling. The can also fill pots for boiling pasta and open cans of tomato sauce.
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Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
These are a family favorite and come together in no time with the help of little hands rolling up enchiladas. Plus these are milk enough for even the most spice adverse members of you family. How kids can help: Kids can help shred chicken and roll up individual enchiladas.
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Chicken Tenders
Why not give the kids exactly what they want while you put them to work? These crispy chicken tenders are mixed up with a secret ingredient and a smart shortcut for getting the coating in place. How kids can help: Have them shake on the crisp coating for the chicken pieces. Put them work mixing up the sauces — and encourage them to create their own.
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Weeknight Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
This particular teriyaki bowl recipe has a distinct advantage of being pulled together with a number of shortcuts including precooked meatballs, quick-cooking udon, and frozen vegetables. This means that your even your littlest kids can help without having to bust out a knife. How kids can help: Have your tiny chef fill the water pot (place it in the sink under the faucet and let them turn on the water) for the udon noodles and whisk together the sauce ingredients. Older kids can help add the noodles and vegetables to the hot water and mix everything together.
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Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo
Try to think of this as risotto for beginners — its cooks quickly but the results are creamy and delicious, much like another stovetop favorite of kids (hint: it rhymes with mac and sneeze). How kids can help: Grating is the kid's number-one job here, so make such you have plenty of cheese because they will steal a bite or two in the process.
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Garlicky Broccoli Subs
My 7-year-old's favorite green vegetable is broccoli, especially when it's roasted, which is where this recipe was born from. The warm broccoli with cool, creamy cheese and pickled vegetables on crusty bread is adored by kids and adults in our house. How kids can help: Get your kids to help hack up the broccoli for roasting and mix up the mayo for these subs. Then they can help layer ingredients on the bread when it's time to assemble.
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5-Ingredient Baked Potato Soup
An easy way to find recipes for cooking with your kids is to look for ones with minimal ingredients. (Bonus points if one or more is a shortcut ingredient.) This creamy, hearty soup can be made with frozen hash browns, so there's very little chopping for your tiny cook. How kids can help: Give your tiniest chef scissors to cut the bacon and green onions. Older kids can help add ingredients to the pot and mash the finished soup.
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Veggie-Packed Tater Tot Breakfast Bake
I adore any recipe that uses tater tots. Topping what is basically an egg bake with tater tots is like frosting a cake — it only makes everything more appealing and delicious. How kids can help: Have your kid crack the eggs. Make sure you have a really big bowl that your tiny chef can whisk up the egg mixture in.
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The Best Cheesy Quesadillas
Knowing how to make a cheesy, perfectly crisp quesadilla is a quintessential life skill. This recipe is one that older kids can make themselves, thanks to the step-by-step photos. How kids can help: Can you tell I make my kids grate cheese often? I do it because it keeps them busy and I don't have to monitor my littlest as much as I do when he has a knife in hand. Always get your tiny chef to grate the cheese for quesadillas.
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French Bread Pesto Chicken Pizza
You didn't think there was going to be a cooking with kids recipe list without pizza, did you? French bread pizza is a particularly nice starting place for making pizza with kids because there's no dough to wrestle with. How kids can help: Even younger kids can assemble these French bread pizzas alone — just slice the bread for them and set it on the baking sheet to catch the rain of cheese.
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Lemony Tortellini Spinach Soup
Here's another recipe where shortcut ingredients — namely tortellini, broth, carrot coins, and baby spinach — can make a kid feel like they cooked dinner without a ton of supervision on your part. How kids can help: My 3-year-old is particularly fond of squeezing lemons; this is an ideal task to give him while his sister cooks the rest of the soup.
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Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Pasta with Smoky Tomato Sauce
This one-pan recipe is great for older kids — say, 10- to 12-year-olds — who can follow a recipe closely, but you can also get your younger cooks helping here too. It doesn't hurt that the resulting veggie-packed pasta tastes like pizza either. How kids can help: Get your little chefs to use scissors for cutting the cauliflower and the pepperoni while you assemble everything else.
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Rainbow Pizza
Any of the fresh veggies in your fridge are fair game for this fun and vibrant pizza. How kids can help: Pizza is a super kid-friendly meal. Little chefs can do everything from rolling the dough to cutting the veggies to sprinkling on the cheese and toppings.
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20-Minute Bean and Rice Burritos
Each bite is packed with melted cheese, tender rice, and warm refried beans, and with just four ingredients, they’re cheap and easy to make at home. How kids can help: Have your kids scoop the ingredients and layer them on the tortillas. If you're starting with a block of cheese, the kids can also grate it.
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Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies
I like this recipe for cooking with my own kids because it's not too fussy — the vegetables don't need to be perfectly even — and they can assemble most of it themselves. How kids can help: Have your kids chop all the vegetables for this one and smash the garlic. While everything roasts you can play a round of Go Fish. A one-pan dinner of roasted gnocchi and vegetables that doesn't even require you to boil the dumplings.
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