Looking for family friendly comfort foods this season? When the cooler weather comes around, it’s the time of year we turn to comfort meals. These kids comfort food recipes and easy dinner ideas are appealing to the entire family!
Kids Comfort Food Recipes
Cold winter months just call for these kids comfort food recipes! From pizza and chicken nuggets to noodle soup and macaroni and cheese, there’s something here for all kids. But look beyond the typical and you’ll find tons of other delicious comfort dishes.
This article includes a large recipe round-up from my fellow food bloggers, as delicious meals they’ve served to their own families.
I’ve grouped recipes into different categories. Check out the specific food groupings, like pasta dishes and soups. Read along for sections on specific meal needs including game day appetizers and quick meals for busy parents. Plenty of recipes here too for dietary concerns including vegan, gluten-friendly and dairy free.
What about Picky Eaters?
These comfort foods are appealing to the grown ups but what to do about finicky eaters? If you think kids might turn up their nose at the sight of a casserole on the dinner table, keep reading.
When looking through these recipes, you might think, “That has _________ in it, my children would NEVER touch it!” My suggestion is just to give the recipes a try! If you never serve those questionable meals you’ll never know if it’s going to be a miss or a huge hit.
My son surprised me several years ago when I served chicken pot pie. I had him at “pie” – He tried it and loved it! My chicken pot pie is now one of his favorite all time kids comfort food recipes.
Take a chance and try one of these recipes. Even the pickiest eaters may be pleased with the kid-friendly choices here! Read more tips about feeding picky eaters here.
Cozy Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
Better than the “blue box”, these hearty and homemade macaroni and cheese recipes are kid tested and approved! Keep reading through this article for more mac & cheese recipes that kids will love. From classic cheddar cheese to more grown up flavors, these are all still kid friendly meals.
- There’s a yummy blend of cheeses in this recipe for simple Baked Macaroni and Cheese from I Heart Eating. Make this casserole ahead for busy weeknight family meals.
- The combination of canned biscuit dough, ground beef and mac & cheese in Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese Bombs from Simply Well Balanced are a fun way to reimagine leftovers.
- The Littlest Crumb Gouda Mac and Cheese can be made in less than 30 minutes. The addition of smoked Gouda cheese adds a bold and strong flavor that’s appealing to older kids.
- The cheesy and gooey classic, a Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is a can’t miss kids comfort food recipe. Try this easy recipe from Mommy Evolution.
- For a twist on the typical try this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Joy Food Sunshine. This quick recipe uses frozen vegetables and quirky wagon wheel pasta.
A hearty casserole is the ultimate comfort food! Baking dish casseroles are one of the easiest ways to incorporate vegetables in somewhat “sneaky” ways.
- Grits and Pinecones Cheesy Hamburger Noodle Casserole combines ground beef layered with egg noodles, tomatoes and green chilies, sour cream, and two kinds of cheese. A great recipe for using pantry supplies for a last minute meal.
- Chicken and Spinach Manicotti by Simply Scrumptious offers the aspect of vegetables blended with the creamy cheese. Try making this one ahead and freezing for an emergency dinner.
- This classic Italian dish by The Pasta Project Neapolitan Baked Ziti Pasta al Gratin uses a creamy handmade béchamel white sauce and long ziti pasta tubes.
- Pumpkin, spinach, mushrooms and cashews are blended to create this creamy dairy-free Vegan White Lasagna from Epic Vegan Eats.
- The holiday classic, this Homemade Cornbread and Sourdough Stuffing Recipe is a family-favorite. My son has been known to go back to the serving board for more than seconds of this yummy side dish!
- Where is My Spoon uses a colorful mix of veggies in this kid-friendly Ham and Cheese Pasta Bake, a great way to use up fridge leftovers.
Plentiful Rice and Pasta Soups
Get kids off the canned soups with these simple meals that are hearty and comforting. Control the classic recipe by adjusting the vegetables to your kid’s preference.
- Chicken soup for the soul? This easy Chicken Noodle Soup is also great for the whole family. This recipe from Prepare and Nourish is gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free making it a delicious meal for all.
- Hong Kong Style Macaroni Soup from Sift and Simmer offers a fun new twist on the traditional soup recipe. This savory soup combines macaroni pasta in a chicken soup broth with meat cubes and vegetables.
- Inspiring Savings Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup is made with carrots, corn, chicken, and jasmine rice in a creamy and flavorful broth. Make this recipe on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.
- Happiness comes in warm bowls of this Chicken Soup Recipe. This staple version from The Forked Spoon can be frozen so it’s always on hand.
- Warm beef broth seasoned with herbs and spices, loaded with chunks of steaks, egg noodles, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. This Joyous Apron Beef Noodle Soup recipe is a kids comfort food must have.
Pizza and More
Ask a lot of kids their favorite meal and many will say, “Pizza!” These recipes celebrate the classic favorite with a twist.
Just want basic pizza for easy dinners? Purchase frozen pizza dough to have on hand when you need it. A few simple ingredients including a jar of tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and your child’s favorite pizza toppings.
Voila, a tasty pizza on a budget that can be adjusted to your personal tastes! This non-stick pizza pan is my favorite for a crispy, chewy crust.
- Fans of supreme pizza will love this recipe for Pizza Pasta from I Heart Eating. Bonus is that it goes together quick so you spend less time in the kitchen.
- The yummy blend of cheeses and meat makes this Sweet Tea and Thyme Birria Pizza a sophisticated choice that adults will love as much as the kids.
- This Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese recipe from Saporito Kitchen had my mouth watering with it’s combination of cheesy sandwich and the pizza flavors we all love!
- Pumpkin ‘N Spice simple recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Hamburger Helper combines two kid’s classics – elbow macaroni with the flavor of pizza.
- Skip dough making with this Barefoot in the Pines recipe for BBQ Chicken Naan Pizza. It’s a great way to use up leftover shredded chicken in a delicious and creative way!
Favorite Dinner One-Pan Dishes
For easy dinner ideas, the single pan meal can’t be beat. Expedite clean up by making these delicious recipes in one pan.
- Chicken thighs, rice and a blend of kid friendly veggies are can’t miss in this The Wooden Skillet recipe for Baked Chicken and Rice.
- Urban Bliss Life serves up Cheeseburger Pasta, a creamy dairy-free one-pot dish that’s a popular kids comfort food recipe.
- This meat-based Italian pasta dish from Foxes Love Lemons, Fettucine Bolognese offers up great flavors while still being an easy meal.
- DIY With My Guy Easy Chicken and Dumplings is made with just three simple ingredients in a recipe that’s eased by store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- This healthy eating recipe from Barefoot in the Pines gets its creamy sauce from Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Healthy Beef Stroganoff is sure to be a new family favorite!
Kids Comfort Food Recipes with Chicken
Chicken is a dinner time staple. Served up in these kid friendly recipes, you probably won’t get many complaints with these chicken meals at the table!
- Why stop at the fast-food restaurant when you can make this delicious dinner at home? A Cedar Spoon Healthy Chicken Fingers are oven baked with a crunchy panko crust that kids adore.
- Kids love fried chicken but parents aren’t always crazy about the mess in the kitchen or the unhealthy oils. Try this Air Fryer Fried Chicken from Mommy Evolution as a better-for-you recipe kids will still love.
- Pantry staples and refrigerator biscuits are the new way to prepare Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings. Make this recipe by A Reinvented Mom in the slow cooker that’s easier than the traditional recipe.
- Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets from Whole New Mom are gluten-free and baked so they’re better for everyone.
- Another meal that can be made in under 30 minutes for a busy night dinner, try Pumpkin ‘N Spice Chicken Pot Pie Noodles. All of the classic flavors but without the hassle of making a crust!
Instant Pot Recipes for Dinners on the Fly
Don’t have an Instant Pot in your kitchen repertoire? What are you waiting for! This pressure cooker can make rice, chicken breasts and full easy dinner recipes in a short amount of time.
- Do your children love beef stew as much as my kids do? Try this Instant Pot Irish Beef Stew for a speedy meal. Serve up this classic stew from Mooshu Jenne with mashed potatoes for one of the top kids comfort food recipes.
- Temecula Blogs Instant Pot Chili Mac is a filling and fast ground beef and pasta soup that can be prepared quickly with pantry staples.
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is made in the pressure cooker for a quick dinner. Kids may not even realize that the creamy cheese sauce from Urban Bliss Life is loaded with vegetables!
- Mexican style Instant Pot Pinto Beans are both a hearty main dish or served as a delicious side dish. Fill corn tortillas with these creamy beans then top with salsa for a filling meatless meal.
- The perfect rainy day food is this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. Lots of tips from Moneywise Moms about the best ways to cook noodles in the pressure cooker.
- Instant Pot Sloppy Joes from The Oregon Dietician are a healthier alternative to that canned sandwich brand. Some ground beef, fridge staples and a pack of buns – you’re ready for dinner!
Satisfying Spaghetti Recipes
When pressed for a favorite food, my daughter will choose spaghetti every time. To look behind the basic noodles and tomato sauce, try one of these inventive versions!
- Use up leftover ham in this yummy recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground. Kids won’t be able to resist this Creamy Ham and Cheese Spaghetti!
- Creamy cheesy sauce, pasta, and chicken, this Little Sprouts Learning Chicken Rotel Spaghetti includes a can of Rotel for a little “kick”.
- This kid-friendly Tagliolini Au Gratin with Ham and Cream from The Pasta Project finishes in the oven for an easy potluck style casserole.
- Spaghetti Vegan Bolognese skips the meat but you won’t miss it in this Happy Kitchen recipe. And it takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table so it’s ideal for busy weeknights.
Nourishing Potato Dishes
Mashed potatoes and baked potatoes are a comfort classic side dish. Here are a few more potato-inspired kids comfort food recipes.
- The Oregon Dietician uses baby potatoes with garlic and rosemary in this simple Dutch Oven Potatoes recipe. Easily served alongside any meat and vegetable for a well-rounded meal.
- Also called kartoffelpuffer, Happy Kitchen shares the 3-ingredient Vegan German Potato Pancakes. This recipe is ideal for serving at any meal of the day.
- The Littlest Crumb Crispy Pan Fried Gnocchi is a quick 20 minute recipe that’s served with a light garlic, herb and Parmesan sauce.
- Saporito Kitchen makes suggestions for toppings on this Loaded Potato Soup recipe that are easily adaptable to your personal palate.
Slow Cooker Comforts
For slow cooked recipes with a hands-off approach, there’s no better way to make these kids comfort food recipes than in the Crock Pot. Rich and creamy flavors without the added work of watching a pot!
- Mmmm, this Happy Kitchen Slow Cooker Vegan Chili is a family favorite. Served with your choice of toppings and tortilla chips for scooping, my kids love this one.
- Minimal prep is needed to make this Crock Pot Potato Soup from Kim and Kalee. Kids will like adding extra cheese on top to taste.
- Cream of mushroom soup makes this The Short Order Cook Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak recipe even easier, without sacrificing the rich flavor.
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff is one of the classic comfort meals. Read the full Foxes Love Lemons description on the optimal ingredients and preparation methods for the best results.
- The Lazy Slow Cooker Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf combines classic mac & cheese inside meatloaf and it’s easier to make than you’d think!
- This “dump and go” Lazy Lasagna Soup recipe from Haute and Healthy Living goes together quickly before you leave the house. The reward is a protein-packed dinner when you return!
Pie for Dinner
Chicken pot pie for dinner is my son’s absolute favorite kids comfort food recipe. Serve alongside mashed potatoes or other side dish to round out the meal.
These pies are a delicious alternative to casseroles, with the added benefit of a tasty crust! Store-bought pie crusts make any of these recipes easy enough to make for a busy weeknight.
- A twist on the classic recipe, this recipe for Skillet Chicken Pot Pie from Adventures of a Nurse is a one-dish wonder.
- Just like Shepard’s pie, the Christina’s Cucina U.K. recipe for Cottage Pie is prepared with beef and topped with whipped potatoes.
- This recipe for Vegan Empanada Pie from Plant Food at Home is the faster alternative than the traditional method, with all the best flavor!
- Simply Scrumptious Easy Chicken Pot Pie is the old fashioned classic, with a flavorful gravy and loads of vegetables with a flakey crust.
- A healthy dinner that kids will love? Try Neil’s Healthy Meals Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie that uses minced turkey meat and frozen mixed veggies.
Versatile Pasta Dinners
For the kids who have a love of pasta, branch out beyond the favorite spaghetti and macaroni dinners with one of these creative meals.
- Lots of melted cheese and tomato sauce covered noodles will make this The Wooden Skillet recipe for Cheesy Baked Rigatoni a new family favorite. Image shown earlier in article.
- This vegan friendly pasta dish Mommy Evolution recipe for Penne Alla Vodka can be served up in 30 minutes for a fast meal.
- Get this recipe for Ham and Pea Pasta from Beyond the Chicken Coop on the table in under 20 minutes using diced ham, frozen peas and a few fridge ingredients.
- The Short Order Cook serves up this meatless baked Pasta al Forno with a cheesy layer of mozzarella.
Savory Soups for the Entire Family
Soup is one of my favorite winter meals, but the kids don’t always enjoy it. Try one of these kid-friendly soups (served up with plenty of crackers, of course!)
- This is our family recipe for Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup, best served with a topping of bacon and cheese!
- This Kid Tested Recipes Rich and Creamy Tomato Soup only takes a few minutes to prep. The result is a rich and creamy soup that kids love.
- Children will enjoy the mix of beans, corn and salsa in this simple Taco Soup. The slow-cooker meatless meal from Little Sprouts Learning is best served with tortilla chips
- What kid wouldn’t be intrigued by the name “peanut butter soup”? Vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, this Clean Eating Kitchen recipe for Peanut Butter Soup with Vegetables is made easily in the Instant Pot.
- The no-frills Homemade Tomato Soup by Killing Thyme is tailor made for kids. Make it a meal alongside sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Aussie Home Cook Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup uses roasted vegetables that are blended into a thick and creamy puree for a classic fall flavor.
Veggie-focused Healthy Dinner Ideas
These vegan and vegetarian comfort foods are excellent meatless meals for the whole family.
- The Vegan Atlas serves up this super-easy Vegan Taco Casserole with layers of corn tortillas, beans and vegan cheese. Top with lettuce, tomato, avocado, vegan sour cream, and salsa. Image shown earlier in article.
- Lots of tips for making this classic pasta dish vegan-friendly from Be Plant Well. The dairy-free casserole Vegan Mac and Cheese has the addition of a crunchy breadcrumb topping.
- Quinoa is the “secret ingredient” in this Vegan Chili recipe from Be Plant Well. Made within 30 minutes it’s a great dinner to serve on busy evenings.
- Beyond the usual grilled cheese, this Veg Cookbook Grilled Eggplant Cheesy Sandwich is stuffed with veggies and a blend of spices.
- This recipe for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese looks just like the traditional macaroni dish, so it may be a good choice for picky eater! The Healthy Epicurean recipe is a three-cheese blend sauce that can be prepared gluten-free and egg-free.
- For kids who enjoy the “pumpkin spice” flavors, give this unique dish a try this fall! Pumpkin Spinach Pasta by the The Oregon Dietician can be made even healthier with whole wheat pasta.
Must-Try Meat Meals
Look beyond burgers and frozen French fries with these excellent meaty dishes that kids enjoy.
- Sweet Tea and Thyme offers this beautiful Sunday dinner, the Oven Braised Chuck Pot Roast. This melt-in-your-mouth recipe is delightful.
- Mini Meatloaf glazed with a tangy sauce, is one of our all time favorite kids comfort food recipes. The Wooden Skillet makes the classic dinner even more kid-friendly by making it “mini”!
- A traditional Middle Eastern dish, Lebanese Kafta Stew from The Salt and Sweet combines ground beef with spices, potatoes and tomato sauce in a one skillet dinner.
- Mince (aka: ground beef) is generally kid-approved. Daisies and Pie adds in cheesy pasta to this casserole Mince Pasta Bake.
- Whole New Mom shares her recipe for the one-pan Pakistani Kima. Try this ground beef curry as an excellent introduction to international foods.
If your kids like beans, serving chili for dinner is a no brainer. Generally very easy to make with canned beans and a few pantry staples, chili can be prepared meatless for vegetarian meals as well.
- Silly Chili Macaroni from Saving Talents relies on pantry staples for a cheesy, chili, pasta combo that kids like.
- Are your kids both sweet and spicy? Try this Big Family Blessings recipe for Sweet Chili, that gets a kick from red pepper and a sweetness from brown sugar.
- Chili Mac from Whole New Mom is a one-pan gluten free meal that satisfies all.
- Soup needs a side and this Homemade Cornbread Recipe is excellent. It’s not chili night without this side dish!
- Haute and Healthy Living High Protein Chili is a slow cooker recipe that’s not spicy so it’s very kid-friendly. Make it easily with canned pantry ingredients!
Busy Night Family Dinners
Simple ingredients, pantry staples and make ahead meals allow the whole family to enjoy a hearty but easy dinner. Make and freeze, then defrost for dinner on busy days. Read more: Quick Recipes for Busy Families on the Go.
- The Dizzy Cook Lazy Lasagna offers up all the best Italian flavors of lasagna without slaving too hard in the kitchen!
- You’ll capture the kid’s attention with “ketchup”. Quick Ketchup Fried Rice from The Fast Recipe is ready in under 20 minutes using leftovers from the fridge but still looks and tastes like a fancier meal.
- Rich and creamy mac & cheese can be made ahead for the ultimate comfort meal after a long day. This soul food dish from Sweet Tea and Thyme for Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese contains 5 different cheeses for a flavor like no other. See image earlier this article.
- Premade pie crust and smaller sized dishes that cook quickly make these Mini Freezer Chicken Pot Pies from Butter Your Biscuit a cinch for weekday dinner.
Cozy Pajama-Worthy Breakfast Ideas
Start of the day with one of these cozy kids comfort food recipes for breakfast. These tasty options are the perfect way to kick-start the morning! Or use them as comforting breakfast for dinner dishes.
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Donuts are baked in the oven for a healthier sweet treat. The Oregon Dietician offers up lots of substitution ideas for dietary changes, as well.
- Make ahead this The Kitchen is My Playground recipe for Crescent Sausage and Egg Casserole for a quick but hearty breakfast meal. Refrigerated crescent roll dough and a few on-hand ingredients get this together fast.
- The Lazy Slow Cooker shares the recipe for Slow Cooker Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal to serve up warm bowls of steel cut oats.
- My family Pumpkin Muffin Recipe offers up all the best flavors of fall with the dessert-worthy addition of cream cheese frosting as a special treat! Image earlier in this article.
- Homemade Cream of Rice Cereal is a wholesome alternative to the processed store-bought variety. Whole New Mom uses brown rice to make this gluten-free breakfast bowl.
- Scratch made doughnuts with pumpkin pie spice and a salted maple glaze? Yes, please! I can’t wait to get into the fall feeling with this Katie Bird Bakes recipe for Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze.
Lunch Box Delights
Deliver delicious and comforting meals via the lunch box for these school day bites that kids enjoy. Check out these additional healthy lunch ideas for kids.
- Baked Tofu Nuggets are the vegan “chicken nugget” alternative. Baking them makes this Be Plant Well recipe an even healthier option!
- No need to buy processed, frozen foods with this In the Kitch recipe for Fish Sticks with Sweet Mayo. Made with fresh filets and a crunchy breadcrumb coating that delights children.
- A quirky lunchbox offering, Healthy Mac and Cheese Muffins from A Cedar Spoon are stuffed with a hidden vegetable puree that kids won’t even notice. All they’ll taste is the cheesy pasta!
- Suburban Simplicity Pizza Flavored Quinoa Bites are prepped in a single bowl and baked in muffin tins as a versatile alternative for kids who love pizza flavored foods.
Game Day Foods
My kids love watching sports on television and yummy game day foods really add to the energetic atmosphere. These kid-friendly appetizers are perfect for setting out at the next party!
- Pork Carnitas are our favorite game day dish because of its rich flavor and versatility. Serve in corn tortillas for tacos, in flour tortilla burritos or shredded atop tortilla chips and cheese for the ultimate nacho platter!
- This zesty Heart Beet Kitchen Taco Tater Tot Hotdish is appealing to older kids. A fun dish for who love the combination of traditional tots with the spice of Mexican taco seasoning.
- Easy Flavorful shares the recipe for Crispy Air Fryer Bread Pakora, a popular Indian snack. These hand-held potato stuffed bread rolls are great for game day or in the lunchbox.
- “That had spinach and artichoke in it?!” Words from my 10 year old son after tasting this creamy and cheesy Kid Tested Recipes for Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip. A yummy hot dish option served with bread or crackers.
- Killing Thyme Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets are buttermilk-soaked and ultra crispy. Pounded thin and baked in the air fryer for a fast meal that gets you back in the game.
- Classic sloppy joes with a less-messy twist, Butter Your Biscuit uses pantry ingredients for this fun Sloppy Joe Stuffed Rolls recipe.
Kid-Friendly Comfort Desserts
Saving the best part for last? Not to be forgotten, this wouldn’t be a round up of kids comfort food recipes without a few cozy desserts.
- Don’t tell the kids but this recipe from The Oregon Dietician is a healthier dessert that’s also low in sugar & high in fiber. Cinnamon Maple Butternut Squash Bread has tips for making a butternut squash puree from scratch or use of frozen cubes for convenience.
- What’s more comforting than gooey, crispy-edged chocolate chip cookies? Presenting the Easiest Chocolate Chip Cookies from Katie Bird Bakes in a fuss free small batch recipe that skips the mixer.
- Chocolate Depression Cake is a one-bowl vegan cake recipe that’s made even better served with the smooth layer of frosting, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries.
- Katie Bird Bakes offers this Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that is sweetly spiced and nicely portioned into a single layer.
- Filipino Chocolate Rice Porridge is rich, creamy and ultra chocolatey. Champorado is traditionally served for breakfast but this recipe from The Unlikely Baker makes a great snack or afterschool treat.