A list of our favorite toddler-friendly meals with hidden vegetables. Perfect if you have a picky eater toddler or are trying to get more nutritious foods into their meals. Try these proven healthy kid-friendly recipes and see if they work for your picky eater!
This is part of a series of toddler-friendly recipes with hidden vegetables posts, the first one can be found here: 11 Healthy Hidden Vegetable Breakfast Recipes for Picky Eaters
Your toddler doesn't eat vegetables
If your kid is anything like mine, they do not eat vegetables. They just don't. I don't even know where they get it from and how they know to start hating vegetables from the start!
Luckily, there are a lot of fruits that can provide the same nutrition as vegetables. Read my post about it: 12 Highly Nutritious Low Sugar Fruits. But of course you want to try to give your kids vegetables in addition to fruits.
I have never ever said "you must eat your vegetables" to my son. He is not even two years old and there is no way he would have heard that phrase anywhere else. I've always casually put vegetables on his plate along with other foods and never pressured him to eat them. Yet somehow vegetables are the one food group he wouldn't touch from the start.
So like all good parents do, I hide vegetables in his "preferred" foods so that he gets some much-needed nutrition. Ideally, I wouldn't have to trick my son into anything and I would give him time and space to get comfortable with seeing vegetables on his plate and giving them a chance on his own. But let's be real. He's a toddler. There is no reasoning with him.
Sure, I'll continue to put pieces of carrot, green beans, butternut squash, etc., on his plate. But in the meantime, I'll keep serving him healthy kid-friendly recipes with hidden vegetables.
The easiest way for me to hide vegetables in my son's food is to add it to his homemade baby food. (Read my post about how to make high calorie baby food). But I am always looking for ideas for how to add vegetables to real table foods that my son already eats (mostly pasta). So I turned to some of my favorite food bloggers for inspiration to create this list of easy kid friendly recipes for picky eaters.
My son's main food groups are pasta and chicken nuggets, so there are quite a few different hidden vegetable pasta recipes on this list, as well as different types of nuggets made with vegetables. I hope you'll find at least one recipe that works for your family!
Recipes for toddler-friendly meals with hidden vegetables:
Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta
Hidden vegetable: Butternut squash
The sauce for this pasta is super creamy and smooth, so it is perfect for picky eaters who have sensory issues and don't like anything chunky or textured. The sauce tastes really good so your kids won't even think about whether or not they're eating vegetables. If your kid is older and asks why the sauce is yellow, just lie and tell them there's yellow cheese in it. This is a recipe that both kids and adults love. Get the recipe here: Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta This is actually my recipe, and I've had several friends tell me that this was a huge hit with their toddlers! So definitely give this a try:
Related recipe: Air Fryer Carrot Fries
Ground pork meatballs with hidden vegetables
Hidden vegetables: Carrots, onion
The carrots are grated really finely and then sauteed with onions to soften them. This makes them virtually undetectable in the meatballs, and they also help make the meatballs juicy and delicious. Serve on their own as a snack, or with your favorite pasta sauce over pasta. You can even grate some carrots and add them to store-bought marinara to add even more hidden veggies to your meal! Get the recipe here: Ground Pork Meatballs
Vegetable Soup with Macaroni Noodles
Hidden vegetables: Carrots, celery, onion, potato (does potato count as a vegetable?)
The veggies are all pureed pureed into a silky smooth broth that is very kid-friendly. We add some macaroni noodles to bulk up the calories and make this soup "fun" to eat by fishing out all the macaroni. Get the recipe here: Vegetable Soup for Toddlers
Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets
Hidden vegetable: Sweet potato
These nuggets are crispy, baked, and made with a ratio of 1:1 sweet potato and lean chicken breast. Your kids will NEVER know the difference. Make a big batch of these and freeze them for later so you have a healthy meal you can heat up in the oven quickly. Get the recipe here: Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets
Hidden Veggie Tater Tots
Hidden vegetables: Brussels sprouts, bell pepper, scallions
These veggie tots are baked, not fried, and have 10 oz of Brussels sprouts and a whole bell pepper mixed in with potatoes. Homemade baked veggie tots are so much healthier than fried frozen tater tots! Get the recipe: Hidden Veggie Tater Tots
Hidden vegetable: Cauliflower
Kids love nugget-shaped foods, so let's see if we can get kids to eat cauliflower in nugget form! These Cauliflower Nuggets are baked, egg-free, and can be made gluten-free with an easy substitution.
Vegan Alfredo Sauce Pasta
Hidden vegetable: Cauliflower
This recipe also has a very smooth and creamy sauce. It is vegan, so it is good for kids with a cow's milk allergy (read more about allergy testing for babies) even if you do not follow a vegan diet. Get the recipe here: Vegan Alfredo Sauce Pasta
Hidden vegetables: celery, carrots, pumpkin, onions
If your kid eats meatloaf, you are in luck because there are so many ways to hide vegetables in meatloaf! If not, maybe your kid like meatballs or hamburgers - the meatloaf mixture can be formed into other shapes! You might need to dice the onions and celery really small in order to hide them, or even grate them to make them really fine. Get the recipe here: Savory Pumpkin Meatloaf
Not-so-hidden vegetable: cauliflower
While these don't have a hidden vegetable, these cauliflower fritters are just so dang tasty. We make them in our house regularly and if Elliot is having a "good eating day" where he is open to trying food, he will eat these too. They don't fall apart when being picked up, which makes these a great finger food. Get the recipe: Cauliflower Fritters
Healthy Sweet Potato Quinoa Bites
Hidden vegetable: sweet potato
Is sweet potato a vegetable? In my house it is. Even though it's a potato, it has a ton of nutrients. These little nuggets are also made with quinoa, which is super healthy. Your kids might love dipping them into their favorite dips. Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Quinoa Bites
Dairy Free "Queso"
Hidden vegetables: carrots, cauliflower, onions
Speaking of dips... how about some "queso?" Toddlers LOVE dipping! So even if your kid is eating crackers for dinner but dipping them into this queso it's still a better meal than if they were to decide to only eat crackers for dinner. We'll take the little wins here. This recipe is written for the Instant Pot, but you can make it on the stove-top too: just cook all the ingredients in a small soup pot in enough water/broth to cover the vegetables. It will help to have a super-strong blender to get this recipe ultra-smooth, such as this Blendtec blender that I love (affiliate). Get the recipe: Dairy Free Queso
Pork and Zucchini Meatballs
Hidden vegetable: Zucchini
Make a large batch of these meatballs and freeze them so you have them readily available to heat up and serve to your kiddo. They're oven-baked, so there's no fuss with browning these in a skillet. Super easy! Get the recipe here: Pork and Zucchini Meatballs
Slow Cooker Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Hidden vegetable: Cauliflower
Kids love mac and cheese, and they definitely won't notice if a little bit of cauliflower is pureed into the cheesy sauce. If you're dubious and think your kids are extra sensitive to flavors, then start with just a teeny tiny bit and add more every time you make this. Definitely try this recipe if your kid eats mac n cheese. Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Healthy Sweet Potato Zucchini Nuggets
Hidden vegetables: Sweet potato, zucchini
With just 4 ingredients, these are super easy to make. They also freeze well, so you can make a big batch and then reheat 1 or 2 at a time, just enough for your toddler to eat before he changes his mind. Fickle little creatures. If you think your kid won't like the extra crispy texture of the panko bread crumbs, use regular bread crumbs for this recipe. Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Zucchini Nuggets
Sweet Potato Leek Soup
Hidden vegetables: sweet potatoes, leeks
This is another recipe that I love as an adult. Sweet potatoes are loaded in vitamins and nutrients, and leeks are pretty healthy too. If your kid won't eat sweet potatoes in French fry or nugget form, try this creamy pureed soup. Picky eaters often don't like textured stuff, so a silky smooth soup with the texture of baby food is typically an OK food for them. At least it was for my son for the longest time, until he got tired of soup. Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Leek Soup
Hidden Vegetable Bolognese
Hidden vegetables: carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, onion, and tomatoes
If your kid eats Bolognese sauce (aka meat sauce), you are in luck, because it is so easy to hide vegetables in the sauce. The sauce is usually a little chunky to begin with, so you don't even have to hide them all that much, just make sure the vegetables are minced to about the same size as the ground meat, and make sure they are cooked to a similar texture. Get the recipe: Hidden Vegetable Bolognese
Olive Oil and Beetroot Hummus
Hidden vegetables: beets (and chickpeas are pretty nutritious too!)
Even if your kid doesn't like hummus, try this recipe. Beets give hummus a sweeter flavor, and make it more fun to eat because of the bright color. Worst case scenario: your kids hate it and you will get to enjoy all the delicious hummus. Best case scenario: your kid has fun dipping his favorite crackers into a healthy nutritious dip. Get the recipe: Beetroot Hummus
Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Muffins
Hidden vegetables: carrots and celery
Your kids might get a kick out of meatloaf they can eat with their hands. If they like these, then that's awesome, it's a huge win. If they hate these, then just freeze the rest and try offering them every few weeks, since they freeze well. Get the recipe: Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Muffins
Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
Hidden vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, onions
For a long time my kid ate pureed vegetable soup. I was super excited because it was such an easy way to give him a wide variety of nutrients. And then one day he just stopped eating it. But this ultra creamy soup is definitely worth trying. There are no chunks, and your kid won't really be thinking about whether they are eating vegetables or not, since it goes down smooth. For my son, I always added lots of olive oil to his vegetable soups to get extra calories into him. Get the recipe: Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
Do you think one of these recipes with hidden vegetables would work for your kid(s)?? If yes, which one? Let me know below in a comment. Or if you don't think any of these would fly at your house, please also let me know why not. I only know my son's picky eating preferences, and I would love to learn what other kids like and dislike, so I can write more useful articles in the future and hopefully help more parents make mealtimes less stressful.