22 Kid-Friendly Pasta Recipes to Tempt Even the Pickiest Eaters
If you have little kids, getting them to expand their horizons at dinnertime can be a challenge. It may seem like they won't ever want to eat anything that isn't macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets, but give these kid-friendly pasta recipes a try and they're sure to be asking for more. From hearty meat sauces to plenty of colorful, seasonal vegetables served with pasta and a cheesy, creamy sauce, these recipes are sure to please.
Start with Pasta with Zucchini, Mint, and Pecorino, pictured here. It's a delicious dish for summer and a great way to encourage eating zucchini. One of our favorite ways to convince kids to try new vegetables is by serving them with something familiar that they know and love. Take our recipe for Cheesy Asparagus Pasta, for example. The base of the dish resembles a perfect bowl of macaroni and cheese. Short pasta such as penne is tossed in a rich sauce made from whole milk, cream cheese, sharp cheddar, and grated Gruyere. But we managed to sneak in an entire bunch of asparagus, making this the perfect kid-friendly vegetable-heavy pasta dish.
Another healthy green sneaks its way into our rich Prosciutto Carbonara—spinach! Five ounces of baby spinach is mixed with warm, cooked pasta and a silky sauce until it wilts slightly. Plenty of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and salty strips of prosciutto will surely give kids good reason to dig in.
Of course, we're also serving up classics that everyone loves like Lasagna with Meat Sauce and our Test Kitchen's Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. Next time you're wondering what to make for dinner, consider one of these kid-friendly pasta recipes.
Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach
Baked Rigatoni with Mini Meatballs
Just like Grandma used to make! Kids will love eating this bowl of pasta made with this flavorful Bolognese sauce. A combination of ground beef, ground pork, and dried porcini mushrooms add heft to this classic.
Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce
Test Kitchen's Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs
Bacon Pasta with Cheese Sauce and Thyme
The kids will twirl up this twist on spaghetti carbonara. The sauce starts with flour and butter, milk, pasta water, and grated melting cheeses such as Gruyere and fontina are slowly whisked in. Toss it with spaghetti, bacon, and chopped thyme and serve to great acclaim.
No-Bake Lasagna with Ricotta and Tomatoes
Instead of making everyone's favorite multi-layered lasagna, try this summery and kid-friendly option—it's a deconstructed pasta dish. The sauce is made with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and chicken stock and poured over broken lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, basil leaves, and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Bucatini with Roasted and Fresh Tomatoes
Chicken Bolognese with Tagliatelle
Make a lighter version of Bolognese sauce using ground chicken instead of the traditional trio of ground beef, veal, and pork. We also swapped in dry white wine in place of robust red sauce, which pairs better with the poultry (the alcohol burns off while cooking so it's totally kid-friendly).
One-Pot Penne with Zucchini and Parmesan
Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Upgrade fettuccine alfredo with sautéed shrimp, which are cooked in butter with garlic and lemon zest.
Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Sage
Cacio e Pepe with Lemon
Translating to cheese and pepper, consider this pasta recipe a grown-up, Italian version of macaroni and cheese that is totally kid-friendly. A rich, buttery sauce is made with starchy pasta water, Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano cheeses, freshly cracked pepper, and the juice of a Meyer lemon.
Tuxedo Bow-Tie Pasta with Shrimp
This shrimp pasta dish has serious wow factor, and your kids will be intrigued by the duel-colored, handmade bow-ties (consider serving it to them on Halloween!).
Looking for a way to get your little ones to eat more vegetables? Try this kid-friendly pasta dish—it's loaded with sliced onions, zucchini, fresh corn kernels, and cherry tomatoes. Chopped bacon adds a touch of salty, fatty flavor, which contrasts the fresh, crisp vegetables.
Cheesy Asparagus Pasta
Are your kids demanding macaroni and cheese for dinner but you're trying to get them to eat their vegetables? This pasta recipe is the ultimate compromise. Sliced asparagus is mixed into creamy, rich pasta made with a trio of cheeses—sharp cheddar, Gruyere, and cream cheese.
One-Pot Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon
In less than 30 minutes, you can serve this easy, kid-friendly, vegetarian pasta recipe packed with healthy broccoli, bright lemon, sharp Parmesan cheese, and just a hint of garlic.
Our all-star pasta recipe shines with the colors of the Italian flag—red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes, green basil leaves, and lots of sliced onions, garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Pappardelle with Creamy Chicken Sauce
Kids will love just how thick these pappardelle noodles are, especially when they're coated in a garlicky heavy cream sauce and boneless, skinless chicken thighs.