Do you stick with apple slices and carrot sticks, or do you scour the internet in search of kid-friendly side dishes the whole family can enjoy?
I know, it’s a tall order!
I’ve met kids that will happily slurp down a bowl of noodles and shrimp, and others that will only eat beige food like nuggets, mashed potatoes, and plain bagels.
It’s not always easy, but with a bit of kitchen trickery, you’ll soon have your little ones devouring everything from green beans to cauliflower.
Sometimes, you have to compromise, which is why I included some kid-approved homemade potato chips and classic, buttery corn on the cob on this list.
But if you do it right, I’ll bet you can convince them to try some sweet, crunchy broccoli salad and maybe even a handful of parsnip fries.
Even if you don’t have a picky eater on your hands, you can never go wrong with having a few kid-friendly side dishes in your back pocket.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
The truth is, kids can be picky. We all know it, and there’s nothing wrong with just trying to get them to eat, no matter what.
I know I wouldn’t turn down a side of potato chips!
But making them yourself will help to guarantee they’re a little healthier and less salty.
I like to use these fat-free popcorn seasonings for added flavor, and they’re always a hit.
Most parents will tell you that cooking for kids is kind of like being a short-order cook.
One might like nuggets and apples, but the other is insisting on carrots and fish sticks.
That’s why I love this type of recipe!
You can so easily make these with cream cheese, peanut butter, almond butter, or even Nutella – whatever your kid prefers.
These are super healthy and fun to boot! And you don’t just have to use celery.
Why not try out carrot sticks or just sliced fruits instead?
When it comes to dinner, you’ll want to be able to serve the family the same meal.
That means finding sides that the kids will love as much as the grown-ups.
You might not believe me, but this green bean casserole is super kid-friendly and the perfect side to everything from roast chicken to pot roast.
I prefer to use cream of chicken soup for this – rather than mushroom – and I definitely don’t skimp on the crispy onions.
When I was younger, “trees” were my favorite green of all, and they still are, actually! But I get that they can be a lot for kids.
Until you roast them with parmesan, that is!
The crunchy, softened texture will be much more palatable for them, and the added saltiness won’t hurt either.
The beauty of using vegetables as sides is that they’re so colorful.
Your kid might be avoiding greens (yuck!), but I know their eyes will pop at the sight of these vibrant orange roasted chunks of squash.
The flesh already has a mild sweetness, but this recipe amps that up with a touch of maple syrup.
Of course, if you really want to impress, you could sprinkle over some brown sugar for a bit of crunch.
This is yet another bright orange dish that kids will flip for.
I don’t know a single kid that would turn down a big scoop of silky-smooth mashed potatoes.
Just the smell of this will have your little ones reaching for the spoon!
Want to guarantee empty plates? Go ahead and top it with mini-marshmallows!
It doesn’t have to be completely covered, so just a few should do the trick.
Whenever I make tater tots, I always do extra because I know they’ll go fast.
There’s just something irresistible about their golden crunch and tender middle.
Here’s where that kitchen trickery comes in!
We all know that cauliflower is a magical vegetable that can turn into pretty much anything, right?
Well, one bite of this recipe, and the kids will beg you for more!
They don’t need to know there are no potatoes in sight.
More often than not, potato wedges are baked – not fried – which makes them a little healthier than your average French fry.
They’re so much easier, too, as there’s no need to peel and chop into equal-sized fries.
Instead, just wash the skins and cut them into wedges.
I find the mix of onion powder, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to be just perfect.
If you want, feel free to leave them with a touch of salt or add extra seasonings if your kids are more adventurous.
I don’t know why we don’t top everything in cheese sauce! How could anyone resist?
I’m a big fan of cauliflower cheese, but this is my new favorite! It’s like broccoli and cheddar soup, made in just 15 minutes.
This sauce is so good and so easy. I like to use it when I need some fast mac and cheese.
It’s way healthier than that powdered stuff!
Mashed potatoes are a pretty inoffensive option that most kids love.
They’re bland-looking (read: not green) and relatively mild in flavor, making them a safe bet.
If you want to enhance them a little, this is the perfect recipe!
It does contain greens, though I like to use cabbage which isn’t as in your face color-wise. And everything’s better with bacon!
Side dishes are for adding something extra to your meal and also a way to help fill you up.
What better way to fill up your over-active angels than with some soft, slightly sweet, freshly baked Texas Roadhouse Rolls?
These babies will melt in your mouth, and they’re a sure-fire hit with the kids and adults alike.
We can never fully take fries off the table, and we shouldn’t have to.
But if your kids ask for them every day, it might be time to bring out the big guns!
Sweet potato fries are easier than you think and will light up your kid’s plates.
Trust me; they’ll be gobbled up in a matter of minutes.
Since they’re baked, they’re a whole lot healthier than regular fries, and if you want them crispy, toss them in some cornstarch before baking.
I’ll bet you never thought your kids would be asking for broccoli and quinoa?!
But I’ll bet they will after you serve them this casserole.
Unlike other similar recipes, this has no heavy sauce, and it even uses real white cheddar, so there’s no food coloring.
This recipe is so clever, using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs, which will turn golden and crunchy while adding so much goodness to your plate.
I need to preface this by saying these fries are baked, not fried.
Though I’m a firm believer that we all deserve fries at least once per week, we don’t all have countertop deep fat fryers on hand.
These are perfect for a lazy weeknight when you need something simple to go with leftover rotisserie chicken.
You can either make your own Cajun seasoning using the measurements provided or go ahead and grab some ready-made.
Either way, these fries are crispy, tender, and to die for.
One thing I need to mention about avocado fries is the texture.
Yes, they have a fantastic crunchy coating made with breadcrumbs, chickpea flour, and seasoning.
But… the actual avocado itself might be off-putting to some kids. It’s very soft and mushy, which I know some people don’t like.
If texture isn’t an issue, these are such a fabulous alternative to regular fries, and they’re full of healthy fats and nutrients, which makes them all the better.
I don’t know if it’s the bright color, the crispy texture, or the sweet flavor, but corn is beloved by kids worldwide.
So, if you’re looking for something super filling that you can be sure the kids will love, this casserole is for you.
It’s like an elevated cornbread, made using whole corn, creamed corn, lots of cheese, and boxed cornbread mix.
Potatoes au gratin is a creamy, delectable, indulgent little dish that will overshadow any cut of meat.
I would happily eat a whole plate by itself.
But as we know, potatoes aren’t the best to eat daily, and since cauliflower is so versatile, it just makes sense to make this simple substitution.
One thing to keep in mind is that Gruyère is super tasty and quite strong.
I adore it and overuse it in everything. However, it might be a little strong for some kids. Instead, maybe try a mild cheddar.
The thing I love about broccoli salad is the medley of flavors and textures it includes.
There’s an amazing crunchy, creamy sweet dressing, and lovely pops of unexpected flavor in each bite.
When making this as a kid-friendly side, I highly recommend blanching the broccoli first.
It will take away a bit of the bitterness and will make them easier to chew.
As for the extras? I think the combination of grapes, bacon, and raisins is just right.
That being said, you can never go wrong with some chunks of cheese or crumbled feta.
I also love pine nuts or sesame seeds scattered over the top.
One thing I’ve learned about kids is that they tend to go for finger-friendly foods.
That means nuggets, fruit, cheese sticks, etc. If they don’t have to use a knife and fork, then they’re pretty happy.
That’s why this recipe works so well. First off, it looks like popcorn chicken, which will entice those little mischief-makers to give it a go.
Second, you can put these in a big bowl and just let them grab and chew.
Add a few sauces to the table, and just be ready with some napkins.
Nothing makes me happier than a greasy, buttery smile right up a kid’s cheeks!
But we don’t always have time to boil a batch of corn cobs for dinner.
Want to know a secret? You can make corn right on the husk in the microwave.
After a few minutes, the husk will slide off, leaving you with hot and delicious corn in no time.
Cracker Barrel certainly knows how to please kids and adults at the same time, and these buttery glazed carrots are a prime example.
As a grown-up, I love the crunch and sweetness you get from having carrots on your plate. But I know the kids are in it for the glaze.
Made with butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, they’ll be reaching to finish yours!
And we’re back to the kitchen trickery.
These look exactly like French fries, and even though they are baked, they’re wonderfully crisp.
At first glance, you absolutely can’t tell that these are parsnips. They look so good!
If you top them with enough seasonings – paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan – they’ll pass the kid review with flying colors.
I make these babies at least once a week.
They’re everything I love about potatoes – tender, salty, crunchy, and easy – plus, they go well with anything you can think of.
The trick is to pre-boil them until they’re tender.
Once they’re drained and dry, it’s time to smash! I like to use a greased glass bottom for a nice, even squish.
This is fun to do with the kids, but do be careful, as the potatoes will be hot.
I know that this soup is full of cheese, but it’s also loaded with broccoli, so I think they cancel each other out!
Trust me, this creamy soup is a no-brainer, and the kids will love it.
If your kids are particularly picky, go ahead and blitz the whole thing until there are no unsightly lumps, though I think it’s better with a bit of texture.
Serve any kid a meal with a spoonful of yummy whipped sweet potatoes, and it won’t be long before you see big smiles and an empty plate.
These are extra tasty because they’re mixed with butter, heavy cream, salt, pepper, vanilla, and nutmeg.
You know it’ll be rich, incredibly smooth, and just sweet enough to keep the kids coming back for more.
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