Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

With Thanksgiving coming up in just 24 hours (and counting!), you might be beginning to worry about whether your children or the other children who are invited to dinner will eat the spread you’ve been planning for weeks now. Kids have sensitive palates, and they don’t always appreciate foods like roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, mashed turnips or even pumpkin pie! Take a look at these kid-friendly Thanksgiving foods that might fit in perfectly with the rest of your menu.


Candied Carrot Rounds

Kids often won’t eat foods that are weird, unfamiliar or otherwise deemed “yucky.” Sweet potatoes and turnips can fit into that category. Instead of trying to cajole your young family members to eat their orange veggies, add candied carrot rounds to your dinner table.

Slice up a pound of carrots (you can also use a bag of baby carrots to save time) and boil them until they’re tender (about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices). In another small saucepan, whisk together two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of light brown sugar and the juice of a small lemon. Once it’s all melted, toss the mixture in with the carrots. Kids love these because they’re sweet and more familiar than turnips or sweet potatoes.

Turkey Nuggets

If your children balk at eating turkey, try taking some of the cooked breast meat and turning it into kid-friendly turkey nuggets. In a small bowl, mix together two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of milk. Cut chunks of the turkey breast and dip it first in the honey mixture and then in a small bowl of breadcrumbs (panko crumbs make them extra crispy). Place them under the broiler for a minute, then flip them over to brown both sides. Serve with honey mustard or ranch dipping sauce. This recipe could also be made with tofu for children from vegetarian families.

Veggie Pasta

Most children love all sorts of pasta. Appeal to the young and the young-at-heart by whipping up a pasta dish. Choose something a bit out of the ordinary, like ditalini or bowtie pasta, or, if you want to play it safe, stick with elbows or spaghetti. Your options here are pretty limitless, but since kids will often decide to eat only pasta, it might help to include a vegetable in the dish. Chop up and lightly saute broccoli and carrots to add color and pizzazz to an alfredo sauce, or puree tomatoes, carrots and red peppers to slip into your favorite red sauce.


The good news about dessert is that it’s very easy to choose something with kid appeal. While children are likely to turn up their noses at pumpkin or mincemeat pie, most will happily accept a slice of chocolate cake, a scoop of ice cream or a bowl full of jello (hold the fruit, just in case). Have fresh fruit available as an option, too, for parents who want to keep dessert light.

Cooking for children can be a challenge, and you might want to do what you can to avoid food-related tantrums on Thanksgiving. Having a few kid-friendly items on the menu will keep your little guests happy, which, in turn, will keep your bigger guests happy. Happy Thanksgiving!