Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: What We Loved Cooking This Year

This cake hides a delicious surprise inside. No wonder it's one of our favorite recipes of 2021!
This cake hides a delicious surprise inside. No wonder it's one of our favorite recipes of 2021!

We sure spent a lot of time in the kitchen this year! All you have to do is scroll through our Instagram to see photos of TikTok pasta, homemade Pop-Tarts, or easy-to-make dinner recipes for kids. Below you’ll find our most popular recipes of 2021. From healthy recipes for kids (like savory teriyaki chicken) to kid-friendly recipes for young chefs (like chocolate mug cakes)—and everything in between—we’ve cooked and devoured it all.

We’ve got more kid-friendly recipes and treats, like these yummy Hot Chocolate Bombs, in our Guide to Easy Recipes for Kids. Looking for more favorites from 2021? We've got a great list of the Best Things in 2021 for Kids and Families.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Sheet pan gnocchi

Sheet pan gnocchi is one of our favorite recipes because it is delicious and involves zero dishes.

Best Dinner Recipes for Kids

1. Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli

This is the easiest recipe; simply dump the ingredients on a sheet pan, toss with oil and spices, and walk away. Cooking gnocchi in the oven instead of water gives it a chewy in the middle, crispy on the exterior texture that kids tend to prefer (plus, no pots and pans to clean!).

2. Beef Stroganoff

When you are craving a nice hearty meal, this beef dish hits the spot. Let savory chunks of slow-cooked beef, mushrooms, and onions simmer away all day in the Crockpot. We love to serve this recipe over a generous portion of egg noodles or a good slice (or two) of crusty bread. 

3. Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

If you're short on time, you can make these delicious quesadillas in 10 minutes or less. Serve them up with individual dishes of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for dipping.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken is another easy recipe that the whole family loves. Photo by Ally Noel

4. Teriyaki Chicken

Garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and honey come together in the most flavorful of ways in this slow cooker chicken recipe. Serve it over rice with a side of string beans or broccoli to give your family a fully balanced meal. 

5. Vegetable Pot Pie

This recipe is actually vegan, but it's sure to be enjoyed by the whole family. After all, it's hard to say no to veggies when they're smothered in a delicious sauce and baked in a flaky crust.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Mexican Pizza

What's better than pizza? Only Mexican Pizza. Photo by Ally Noel

6. Mexican Pizza 

When Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday meet the result is this truly delicious Taco Pizza recipe from Taste of Home. This pizza is a crowd-pleasing staple—it’s perfect as a family meal, or sliced up as awesome party food. (When we can actually have parties again!)

7. Maple Butter Rotisserie Chicken with Potatoes and Broccoli 

The name alone of this dish is mouth-watering Super simple to make and everything in this TikTok chicken recipe can be made in one pan, making cleanup a breeze. No wonder it became a viral sensation.

8. TikTok Feta Pasta Recipe

Delicious, a little bit unique, comes together quickly, and is a pretty good-looking crowd-pleaser: Once we tried the famous TikTok recipe, it quickly became our go-to pasta.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Sheet Pan Breakfasts

Another sheet pan recipe makes our list, this time for breakfast! (Or breakfast for dinner.)

Kid-Friendly Recipes for Breakfast

9. Sheet Pan Breakfast

Why scrape eggs out of a frying pan if you don't have to? In this recipe, everything cooks on the sheet pan. If you want to make this easy meal a little fancier, try skipping the sausage and serve the hash browns with sour cream and lox instead.

10. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

If you’ve ever had a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Starbucks, this recipe is as close as you can get at home. The muffin has a sweet crumble on top and a yummy cream cheese surprise baked into the middle. It's perfect for breakfast in the car or a mid-afternoon snack with coffee or milk.

 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Homemade Pop-Tarts

Kids can help make this childhood favorite, which makes it even better. Photo by Ally Noel

11. Homemade Pop-Tarts 

Whether you call them hand pies, toaster pastries, Pop-Tarts—or just plain ol' delicious!—these treats sweeten up any family morning. Frozen pie crust simplifies this homemade Pop-Tart-style pastry recipe. It's easy to follow and comes together faster than you might think. Kids can fill these, and top them, with their preferred flavors from jam to chocolate and sprinkles.

12. Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats are an easy recipe to rely on for hectic mornings. With a little prep the night before, you can dish out a healthy bowl of oats jam-packed with nutrition. These cold oats are a fun way to change things up from the traditional hot oatmeal. The best part is that your kids won’t even realize how healthy this delicious (and sweet) breakfast is.

13. Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies

These Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies are as easy as they are delicious. Using only four ingredients, the cookies are also vegan. You can also substitute sunflower seed butter for peanut butter for any nut allergies or sensitivities. 

 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Mug cakes

Who wants warm cake in less than 5 minutes? Only everyone! Photo by Jody Mercier

Kid-Friendly Recipes for Dessert

14. Chocolate Mug Cake

If classic chocolate cake is your favorite, this easy recipe will become a staple in your house. Sweetened with cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips, you'll get a double shot of chocolatey goodness. We like this one topped with a swirl of whipped cream. Kids can make it, and you have dessert in minutes.

15. Chocolate Fudge S'mores Mug Cake

If you don't mind adding an extra minute to your mug cake making, this s'mores mug cake delights kids. The star of the show is definitely the melted mallow on top. If you don't have a kitchen torch, you can pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get that golden-brown goodness.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: S'mores board

Here's how to up your s'more game! Photo by Ally Noel

16. S’mores Board 

From summer barbecues to family camping trips, a S’mores Board brings the yum to all your fireside entertaining. Start with adding plenty of the ingredients for the classic s’more to your board: tons of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. Then up your s’mores game by adding Oreo cookies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, caramel, fudge striped cookies, mini-marshmallows, waffle cones, and anything else you can think of to make an endless variety of s’mores.

17. Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

We discovered these cookies on Half Baked Harvest just in time for the holidays, and now my kids want to make them an annual tradition. Not only are they adorable, but kids of any age can help shape them by rolling balls of cookie dough and squishing them together.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Movie Night Snack Board

Take movie night to the next level with this Movie Night Snack Board. Photo by Ally Noel

18. Movie Night Snack Board 

Bring your family movie night to the next level by putting together this Movie Night Snack Board. Having the right snacks on hand is an integral part of planning the perfect movie night experience. For this board, we grab all our favorite sweet classic movie candy—like Reese’s Pieces, Raisinets, Jujyfruits, and Twizzlers—and mix them with a variety of salty snacks like popcorn, tortilla chips, and kettle corn. Give everyone a bag or bowl so they can serve up a variety of their favorite movie treats! 

19. Spritz Easy Christmas Cookies

The only drawback of my favorite sugar cookie recipe is that it’s really time consuming and messy to roll out, cut, shape, chill, and decorate the dough. Spritz cookies have the same buttery taste, but you put the dough in a cookie press that kids love squeezing. This makes for easy fun that you can customize by shape and color for any holiday.

 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This is more of a layering project than a cooking project, but you'd never know that from the taste! Photo by Ally Noel

20. Ice Cream Sandwich Cake 

No measuring required to make this festive ice cream sandwich cake. Simply line a freezer-safe container with parchment paper, and start stacking layers of your favorite ice cream sandwiches and hot fudge and caramel. 

21. Pumpkin Pie Shake

For a little Halloween flavor, give these Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes a try. This recipe for pumpkin pie shakes tastes just like a pumpkin pie and is easy to enjoy any time of year.

 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Oreo Balls

Don't feel like baking? There's no need for the oven with these delicious no-bake treats. Photo by Ally Noel

22. Oreo Balls 

Three simple ingredients come together to create these no-bake Oreo Balls. You can customize these delectable little no-bake treats by rolling them in nuts, sprinkles, or leftover Oreo crumbs. We have yet to meet the person who doesn't love an Oreo Ball!

23. Surprise Cake 

These surprise cakes are so fun to cut into. Simply make a multi-layer cake and stack the first two, using icing or filling between the layers, then use a biscuit cutter, tall glass, or some careful knife work to carve out a cylinder in the middle. Fill the void with the birthday kid's favorite goodies; M&Ms, Skittles, or sprinkles all work well. Top with the final layer of cake and frost as usual. When you cut in, kids will get a kick out of the pinata effect as the goodies spill all over.

 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes of 2021: Naked Cakes

Easy and elegant, this cake is a favorite among busy moms. Photo by Jody Mercier

24. Naked Cakes 

Naked cakes aren't only a thing; they are the thing right now, and good news: They're super simple to make. Naked cakes eliminate the hardest part of frosting a layer cake—the sides. Simply fill and stack the cake and smooth icing over the top. You can choose to add a thin layer to the sides or just let your beautiful cake shine through. For a little extra pizazz, add a few fresh-cut blooms, candied citrus peels, or fruit to the top.

25. Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

You are about to meet your new favorite cookie. It’s a chocolate chip cookie made with browned butter and stuffed with a scoop of frozen Nutella. Your kids will have a blast helping you stuff the cookies, and licking their fingers. And everyone will adore you for baking these cookies.

Additional reporting by Meghan Rose, Geeta Schrayter, Elizabeth Ligarmeri, Lauren LaRoche, and Jody Mercier

Main image of chocolate surprise cake by Steve E., courtesy of CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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