Because there’s more to life than buttered noodles

If there’s one thing parents can agree on, it’s to pick your battles—especially when it comes to picky eaters. For kids with particular palates, it can be difficult for them to eat at all, much less anything with brightly-colored veggies. That’s why we’ve rounded up simple recipes for picky eaters that will change up your usual fare but aren’t so adventurous they’ll turn their nose up at them.

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Picky eaters not only prefer plain meals, but they usually want them quickly. Dash for Dinner has the ultimate compromise: simple, creamy mac and cheese that only requires five ingredients and whips up in the Instant Pot.

Air Fryer Pizza Toast

When it comes to meals for picky eaters, they can usually spy a veggie a mile away. That's why we love this air fryer pizza toast from My Fussy Eater. It's up to you whether you want to make the homemade sauce that sports carrot, bell pepper, and zucchini because it will still be fit for a picky eater thanks to the option to put whatever toppings you like.

Mashed Potato Nuggets

Potatoes tend to be friendly with picky eaters, thanks to french fries. If you’re looking to put a new spud recipe into the rotation, we love this idea for mashed potato nuggets from High Chair Chronicles. They are simple and use up mashed potatoes you might have on hand. Better yet, when you dress them up in a fun container, the littles will be even more intrigued to give them a go.

Parmesan Garlic Noodles

parmesan garlic noodles are a good recipe for picky eaters
Rasa Malaysia

Buttered noodles are common fare, but they get old quickly. This dinner idea for picky eaters slowly adds a new flavor into the mix and is a meal everyone can enjoy. Rasa Malaysia's parmesan garlic noodles come together in 20 minutes and uses simple ingredients that will hopefully fly under your picky eater's radar.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos

Pinch of Yum

Ok hear us out: we know the idea of a black bean taco may not sit well with a picky eater, but this one is CRISPY. Pinch of Yum (which is run by a mom of two) calls these "black bean crispies" in her house, and they are perfect for kids who don't like meat. The vegetarian recipe for crispy black bean tacos can also be served with a cilantro lime sauce so the adults can dig in, too.

Parmesan Baked Fish Nuggets

fish nuggets are a good recipe for picky eaters
Rasa Malaysia

Getting kids to eat fish may seem impossible, but it always helps to camouflage new foods so it looks like something they already like. That's why we think this recipe for parmesan baked fish nuggets may just work, thanks to its chicken nugget vibe. There is no frying involved and everything comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Related: How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat, According to a Food Blogger

Ham & Swiss Sliders

We’re hoping the adorable size of these slider sandwiches will entice picky eaters to give them a try. These ham and cheese poppy seed sliders from Six Sisters Stuff are made with a sauce for extra flavor, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t leave half the batch sauce-free so there’s something for everyone. Better yet, feel free to mix up different deli meats and cheeses to satisfy your picky eaters.

Bacon and Egg Cups

Wondermom Wannabe

A great source of protein, but still on the plain side, these bacon and egg cups from Wondermom Wannabe may be the solution to breakfast woes. We like that you can make them ahead of time and customize them with whatever cheese and toppings you like.

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Dinner Then Dessert

Picky eaters eat dessert, too! This four-ingredient recipe for cinnamon sugar tortilla chips from Dinner Then Dessert whips up in 10 minutes and is perfect for all tastebuds. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even serve them with fruit salsa (hey, it might work), ice cream, or a fun dip.

Chicken Quesadillas

chicken quesadillas are a good recipe for picky eaters
Carlsbad Cravings

Stop scrolling! We know this photo of a chicken quesadilla has all sorts of things a picky eater might run away from, but we have thoughts. First, Carlsbad Cravings' recipe makes them super crispy which kids tend to gravitate towards. Next, you can pack in as much or little filling as your kids will eat. That can be multiple types of cheese, different meats, veggies—or just skip them entirely. The beauty is in the ability to customize so everyone has something they can enjoy.

Related: High-Protein Meals Picky Eaters Will Love (Promise!)

cheese pizza bites are a good recipe for picky eaters
Kristine's Kitchen

No rise whole wheat dough and real mozzarella will make parents actually feel good about serving this pizza. This eight-ingredient recipe for cheese pizza bites from Kristine's Kitchen works great for school lunches or dinner and can be served with a dipping sauce.


Dorito Casserole

Bake Me Some Sugar

We firmly believe the magic of this casserole lies in the base layer: Dorito chips. Bake Me Some Sugar's ground beef Dorito casserole can satisfy everyone at the table—no second or third dinner required. After adding chips to your dish, then it's a matter of topping it with ground beef, beans, and cheese before baking. When it's ready, picky eaters can enjoy it as-is, while more seasoned palates can top it with lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream––or more chips.

Classic Carbonara

Pasta carbonara with no cream sits on a white place waiting to delight picky eaters
Scrummy Lane

A classic carbonara has no cream and no heavy sauce because the eggs do all the work, making it both light and decadent at the same time. This recipe, sure to delight picky eaters, is from Scrummy Lane and gives a lot of tips on how to make the perfect carbonara.

Hidden Veggie Meatballs

hidden veggie meatballs are a good recipe for picky eaters
Kitchen Sanctuary

Just think of these meatballs from Kitchen Sanctuary as the secret agents of your dinner table. In addition to a veggie-full sauce, this recipe for picky eaters has a hidden dose of zucchini, onion, and mushrooms. Add it all up and your family will have a favorite new meal that’s actually healthy comfort food. 


Related: 20 Things from Trader Joe’s That Picky Eaters Will Love

So Good Smoothie

Two pink smoothies are topped with fruit and have hidden cauliflower buried away in this recipe for picky eaters
Simple Roots Wellness

Psst! Can you keep a secret? This pretty smoothie from Simple Roots Wellness has a lot of berry flavor and a superstar veggie ingredient: cauliflower! Once blended, kids will never know about this sweet treat's mystery ingredient—it’s perfect for breakfast or a snack! 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

a white bowl holds homemade chicken noodle soup

This delicious homemade chicken noodle soup is a win for everyone, including picky eaters. You can't go wrong with this recipe from Jennifer Tyler Lee

Related: 15 Trader Joe’s Products Even Picky Eaters Will Love

Baked Rollups

Two ham and cheese roll ups sit on a plate ready to eat by even the most picky of eaters
It's Peachy Keen

Roll up some ham and cheese for a dinner that will have the little ones forgetting about their pre-boxed meat, cheese, and crackers (you know which ones we're talking about). You and your kids can whip up this recipe for picky eaters from It's Peachy Keen in less than 20 minutes for a fun, fingers-only meal.

Apple Juice Chicken

Apple Juice Chicken topped with green onions sits on a white plate garnished with lettuce
Oatmeal with a Fork

You know that stockpile of juice boxes your family has been collecting? This sweet recipe from Oatmeal With a Fork puts them to good use! The chicken is flavorful and easy to make—and we’re willing to bet it’ll be a hit with picky kids and grown-ups alike.

Easy Pizza Casserole

pizza casserole is a good recipe for picky eaters
Bitz & Giggles

How yummy does this pizza casserole look? Any picky person will love this twist on the classic meat lover's pizza from Bitz & Giggles—it’s the ultimate comfort food.

Berry Smoothie

A pink smoothie that secretly contains healthy veggies is in a jar topped with a strawberry and banana
Kristine's Kitchen Blog

This berry smoothie recipe from Kristine's Kitchen Blog is a great way for picky kids to have more veggies and have no clue about it! The sweet smoothie will be gone before they even realize they are consuming healthy greens. 

Your Go-To Stir Fry

A blue bowl filled with rice topped with Honey Garlic Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Kari of Get Inspired Every Day

Thank goodness for stir fry! If you've got a picky kid who actually likes broccoli (it's possible!) this honey garlic chicken and broccoli stir fry not only features a good amount of the veggie, but it also has sweet and savory flavors that are better than any take-out options. And did we mention it only takes 30 minutes to make? 

—additional reporting by Abigail Matsumoto



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