65 Kid-Friendly Vegetable Recipes

Adorable crochet vegetables hand-crafted in France. (My sons love theirs!)

The number one culinary concern of so many parents is to get their children to eat vegetables, as many as possible, and as varied as possible*.

I believe in the division of responsibility when it comes to feeding my own kids: I’m responsible for providing a variety of fresh foods; they’re responsible for deciding what and how much they eat. I don’t comment, I don’t coax, I don’t bargain, I don’t congratulate. I am Jack’s lack of judgement, and this keeps me cool through every phase and whim.

The books It’s Not About The Broccoli and My Child Won’t Eat! (not just about children who don’t eat) have also helped shape my approach.

That said, the parental half of the responsibility — providing health-promoting, varied options — is no small potatoes (ha). And when we encounter resistance to novelty, and a limited range of accepted vegetables, it is tempting to give up and just go on a rotation — you might call it a rut — of the same handful of proven options. (Some parents would be over the moon to even have options; the book adresses that in depth).

I myself tend to stick to my kids’ easy wins: peas, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, mushrooms (sometimes), all prepared very simply. This is already pretty good, and they are (strangely) more adventurous when we eat out, but I wouldn’t mind adding more variety and more sophistication to their meals.

(Side note: Why won’t my kids eat zucchini? It’s the universe mocking me, for sure. At least they have no qualms about chocolate.)

So I thought it would be inspiring to put out a call on the C&Z Facebook page (please join us!) and inquire about the kid-approved vegetable recipes you may have up your sleeves.

Every kid is different, of course, but if at least one child somewhere laps it up, it’s worth a try, right?

I was so impressed by the variety of ideas you offered that I didn’t want to keep them to myself, and here they are. Take these as an example of what’s possible with some kids in some families (and probably on some days). Please do not use this as a way to feel bad about your parenting. You know you rock. :)

Because I asked the question on my two Facebook pages, one for francophones, one for anglophones, I kept suggestions arranged that way, mostly to serve my own cultural curiosity around children’s tastes and the culinary backgrounds from which parents draw their ideas. Not to reinforce any kind of cliché.

On to the good stuff!

From Anglophone readers:

Simple Kid-Friendly Vegetable Recipes

  • Baby broccoli or green beans stir fried with a little garlic
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Homemade guacamole
  • Fresh tomatoes with olive oil, salt and basil (fresh mozzarella optional)
  • Roasted cauliflower, tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil and smoked paprika
  • Steamed green beans and peas
  • Crudités: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots
  • Oven-roasted sweet potato “fries”
  • Kale or arugula pesto on any pasta
  • Grated carrot or beet salad
  • Artichokes with soy sauce
  • Oven roasted kale leaves
  • Cauliflower with cheese, broccoli with cheese, anything with cheese

More Elaborate Recipes

  • Salads with tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, feta, peppers, and kohlrabi
  • Artichokes, capers, olives, lemon zest, and Italian tuna on pasta shells
  • Smoothie made with a large handful of spinach, banana and almond milk
  • Zucchini fritters
  • Pasta sauce made with a base of onions and tomato then add any veg to in a pot with stock, lightly cooked and blitzed with a hand blender (carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potato)
  • Curried veggie packets. Sauté the following vegetables (chopped): 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 zucchini, 1 onion, 1 bell pepper. Once everything is softened add in about 1.5 Tbs. flour and mix it in, follow that with adding 1/2 cup of milk and about 2 Tbs. curry powder. Allow to cool. Use phyllo dough to make packets (using butter or oil) bake at 475F for about 8 minutes per side. Serve with yogurt sauce and chicken skewers.
  • Pink strawberry tomato and fennel gazpacho (with less raw garlic)
  • Rice casserole with leftover rotisserie chicken and vegetables, like broccoli, zucchini, or peas. Mix it all together with some broth or cream and top with shredded cheese before baking.
  • Lemon zest peas garlic with smashed avocado
  • Zucchini & paprika boats stuffed with amaranth seed, shredded zucchini innards (what you scooped out to make the boat), fresh farmer’s cheese, an egg, olive oil, salt & nutmeg, then baked until golden.
  • Kale salad with apple, dressed with olive oil, lemon, Parmesan cheese

From Francophone readers:

Some of the links were provided by readers or friends; those linking to recipes in French are marked by an asterisk. (Google Translate works well for those!)

Simple Kid-Approved Vegetable Recipes

  • Tomato (raw, sliced)
  • Cucumber in a vinaigrette mixed with small pieces of raw pepper and cubes of tomato to add to a salad
  • Small sautéed mushrooms, mushroom sauce, poached egg
  • Green bean salad with tarragon
  • A salad of fresh tomatoes with olive oil and salt
  • Roasted cauliflower with spices
  • Layered beets with cheese
  • Cucumber sticks, unpeeled without seeds, with soy sauce and rice vinegar
  • Kale chips
  • Cucumber with cream and chives
  • Steamed green beans
  • Braised fennel
  • Corn on the cob with hazelnut butter and parmesan
  • Radishes with butter
  • Sautéed zucchini and leeks and green salad with plenty of toppings

More Elaborate Kid-Approved Recipes

  • Zucchini and pesto tart
  • Tomato and pepper tart*
  • Onion tart
  • Pasta with eggplant, bacon, and parmesan
  • Mushroom quesadillas: sauté the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil with an onion and put the quesadillas together using hummus instead of cheese
  • Carrot, ginger, and coconut milk soup*
  • Squash and lentil curry*
  • Stuffed eggplants*
  • Sweet potato cooked unpeeled in the oven, cut in half and garnished with leftovers: goat cheese and herbs, marinated tofu and tamari, ground meat
  • Zucchini cut in half lengthwise stuffed with a blend of ground meat, quinoa, herbs, and the pulp of the zucchini, cooked in the oven.
  • A chorba soup twist: a cubed zucchini, leftover meat (lamb is ideal), a handful of lentils or elbow macaroni, all topped with a squeeze of lemon and a smattering of herbs
  • Zoodle gratin with cream and nutmeg
  • Potatoes and zucchini stuffed with rice, Lebanese style
  • Ratatouille!
  • Creamy zucchini curry soup with almond cream
  • Swiss chard tart (torta pasqualina)
  • Grated vegetable savory cakes*
  • Vegetables julienned served in sautéed noodles, Asian-style
  • Smashed avocado: two avocados crushed and mixed with a fork, seasoned with salt and pepper and spread on toasted bread decorated with cherry tomatoes and a poached egg on top
  • Borscht
  • Goat cheese and spinach in puff pastry shells
  • Spinach, poached eggs, and béchamel sauce
  • Spiced cauliflower creamy soup
  • Broccoli tart
  • Beet hummus
  • Classic hummus

Join the Conversation!

Anything you would add to this list? What vegetable dishes do your own kids clamor for? What do you struggle with?

* I recognize the privilege in that statement; the number one concern for other parents is simply that their kids not go hungry.

  • Taste of France

    A favorite, especially for little ones, is a Kenyan dish called irio. Mash potatoes. Mix in cooked red beans (any kind of beans will do) and corn (beans + corn = full protein), some sautéed onion, and raw, finely minced spinach. The chlorophyl from the spinach will tint the potatoes a vivid green. Eat with your fingers; playing with food is allowed. In Kenya, I learned, food not only should look, smell and taste good, but should also feel good.

  • Ursula

    I’d add what the Dutch call “stamppot,” which translates to “mashed pot” – basically mashed potatoe with other vegetables added – we like onion, carrot and cauliflower, but you could use turnip or other root vegetables or sweet potato just as easily. The carrot makes a lovely orange mash that has the same comforting texture and simplicity of plain mashed potatoes.

    • Yum! What I love about all those recipes is that, if it comes to it, the adults will gladly eat what’s left. :)

  • janinchina

    Children’s tastes and likes change from day to day so it’s important to keep a variety of foods available and important not to label anybody as a “tomato hater” or whatever. Once there is a label, the child might feel s/he has to live up to it! For aversion to Zucchini, I suggest a soup made of 1/3 grated Zucchini, 1/3 grated onion and 1/3 grated carrot. Saute each vegetable separately and then put together with a little broth and cooked rice in the blender until very smooth. If the children like it you can increase the zucchini element over time. This will get the children used to the taste without having to cope with the visuals or the texture elements.

  • Christianne Leite

    When the doctor told me my kid could have solid food an wonderful phase started. I made all his food at home, never bought a single Nestle jar. And I had so much fun introducing him to all veggies and fruits. He ate what we ate. And he saw us eating everything – at 4 he would ask to go to Japanese restaurants. Today, he eats better than I do! I was fortunate to have an easy going kid and I am very grateful I can travel with him without issues knowing he will never have a problem trying new things.

  • Kim W

    I’m not a parent, but I vividly remember eating-as-a-child – I actually had no problem with vegetables because my mother made sure to have the freshest vegetables possible and the lightest touch with them. I actually favored salads without any dressing because even oil and vinegar just tasted too bold – I wanted the taste of the vegetables themselves.

    So that may be worth a try – just plainly prepared, really fresh veggies. (In other words – if your kid is turning up his nose at spinach-sauteed-with-garlic, it may be worth checking to see whether it’s because of the garlic rather than the spinach!)

    • Thank you Kim! My kids do prefer vegetables just like that. It sort of cramps my style because I would love to do creative stuff with them, but they just like the plain broccoli for now. :)

  • Adrienne Uphoff

    I think you’re doing a wonderful, thoughtful job of mealtime parenting. For my family and our two very different eaters (one would eat absolutely everything, and the other was far more cautious), we decided to present them with reasonable foods and trust them to decide what, when, and how much to eat. It sometimes meant a snack-on-the-go tray for busy toddlers. Other times, it meant sharing exactly what we were having–including a dinner plate and fork for the ready-to-grow-up one-year-old. It meant sometimes vegetables went uneaten–but sometimes, they were too full of dinner for dessert and left it behind instead. It wasn’t perfect, but it eliminated unnecessary power struggles. I am happy to report that both of my children are now teens who both eat and cook very well.
    Oh–and my (picky) son’s favorite (only) way to eat zucchini? I make a simple green curry sauce with it as the base. It can be a soup, seafood curry, vegetable curry–whatever you like. He especially likes it with tofu. It might seem an odd choice for an American child who doesn’t even like sweet potatoes, but I have wondered if it’s not that he’s picky but just isn’t a fan of foods my culture deems child-friendly?

  • Beth Sumner-Wichmann

    My daughter’s favorite way to eat her organic veggies when she was little was frozen. She gobbled frozen peas and green beans like there was no tomorrow. We exposed her to a variety of cuisines and today, in her 20s, she loves all of it. Because she had a bad bout of OCD linked to believing her food was poisoned, when she was 9-11, it was a trial at times. However, I stuck always to the wise words from other members of La Leche League: Choose your battles and don’t let any of them be about food.

    • I love that motto! Thank you for sharing. And thank heavens for La Leche League! My local LLL circle played a huge part in supporting my early motherhood days.

  • Sina Wenz

    What an awesome collection, Clotilde!!

    Guacamole and hummus is always a great idea. :-) I made a green monster burger last year and our friends’ kids absolutely loved it. It’s made of broccoli, celery, peas, and kale, so tons of veggies in there. ;-) Here’s the recipe if you’re interested: http://veganheaven.org/recipe/green-monster-veggie-burger/ Thanks again for this great article!! :-)

    Sina from veganheaven.org

  • Annabel Smyth

    I remember my daughter sighing sadly that she – along with all the other local mothers of her acquaintance – had prided themselves on baby-led weaning, giving their children all sorts and conditions of vegetables and never pureeing anything. And then, in their children’s second winter, frantically making soup nearly every day to try to get some vegetables down their picky little toddlers’ throats! My grandsons are both still faddy eaters (not like their mother, who would hoover up everybody else’s cabbage, and certainly her parents’ share of the pickled beetroot), and what one will eat one week he won’t eat the next, but his brother will, and vice versa. About the only vegetable either will eat at home (it’s a different story at school and nursery, of course) is sweetcorn. And cucumber.

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