20 Toddler Lunch Recipe Ideas For Even The Pickiest Of Eaters

We *promise* these won't end up on the floor.

baked popcorn chicken
Parker feierbach

Feeding your toddler can get pretty complicated. Not to toot our own horns (okay, maybe a little), we feel pretty confident that all of these toddler-friendly and school-friendly lunches could turn any kid into a member of the Clean Plate Club. These delicious lunch ideas just might have your kids asking for seconds, especially when it means they get to have second helpings of baked popcorn chicken, pizzadillas, and air-fryer grilled cheeses.

When it comes to feeding your hungry toddler, we think the easier, the better. It doesn't get any easier than serving up bite-sized, handheld lunches. Personally, we love anything on a stick or in a fun wrap, like our mini corn dogs, PB&J rolls, and cheesy beef empanadas. With lunches this cute and tasty, there's zero chance any bites will end up on the ground.

Want to sneak in some vegetables into your kid's lunch? It doesn't get any easier (or sneakier) than making up a batch of zucchini tots, broccoli cheesy bread, or cauliflower grilled cheese. Have a busy week ahead of you? Making these ham and cheese pinwheels or cheeseburger cups ahead of time are an easy, packable lunch you can have ready for those jam-packed mornings.

We also have plenty of tips on expert tips on how to get your kids to eat better, our favorite bento boxes for kids, and healthy snacks to add to those lunch boxes. And if you're kid loves getting involved in the kitchen, they'll go nuts over these kids' cooking kits, best cookbooks for kids, and play kitchen sets.

waffle iron grilled cheese
Lucy schaeffer
1 of 20
Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese

These highlight everyone's favorite part of grilled cheeses—the crispy, cheesy edge bits. Discover all the other ingenious recipes you can make in your waffle maker.

Get the Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese recipe.

popcorn chicken
Parker feierbach
2 of 20
Popcorn Chicken

Skip the freezer aisle selection and make your own popcorn chicken right at home! This easy recipe comes complete with a honey mustard dipping sauce that makes the whole thing addictive and downright irresistible.

Get the Baked Popcorn Chicken recipe.

zucchini tater tots
Lucy schaeffer
3 of 20
Zucchini Tater Tots

These are a great way to sneak extra veggies into the tater tots you already know your kid (and maybe you!) loves. These would also be killer in a tater tot casserole.

Get the Zucchini Tater Tots recipe.

pb and j rolls
4 of 20
PB&J Rolls

PB&J for lunch is hardly groundbreaking...until it’s reimagined as sushi. Warning: Your kids will start to want all their sandwiches made this way.

Get the PB&J Rolls recipe.

ham and cheese pinwheels
Joel Goldberg
5 of 20
Ham & Cheese Pinwheels

We'd take a buttery, flaky crescent roll over sandwich bread any day. These are chock-full of melty Swiss cheese and savory-sweet ham, but could be done with any cheese and deli meat, like turkey and gouda or roast beef and cheddar.

Get the Ham & Cheese Pinwheels recipe.

chicken parmasaurus
Jon Boulton
6 of 20
Chicken Parm-asaurus

This is a prehistoric recipe with a fun twist! We took classic Dino-shaped chicken nuggets and upgraded them by turning them into a kid-friendly version of chicken Parm.

Get the Chicken Parm-asaurus recipe.

beef empanadas
Parker feierbach
7 of 20
Beef Empanadas

Make up a batch of these and freeze them so you'll never be caught off guard for lunch again. You could even make them with pot sticker wrappers!

Get the Beef Empanadas recipe.

air fryer grilled cheese
Joel goldberg
8 of 20
Air-Fryer Grilled Cheese

Even the best grilled cheese makers may struggle to create that picture-perfect, diner-style grilled cheese with edge to edge golden bread and perfectly melted cheese. Enter the air fryer. The convection provided by the air fryer displaces the heat throughout the entire sandwich, creating a crispy exterior and a perfectly gooey interior.

Get the Air Fryer Grilled Cheese recipe.

Ethan calabrese
9 of 20

This isn't just a quesadilla filled with mozz and pepperoni. It's topped with the works and looks JUST like an actual pizza. Plus, it's 1,000x easier to make at home.

Get the Pizzadillas recipe.

mini corn dogs
Justin walker
10 of 20
Mini Corn Dogs

Could these corn dogs be any cuter? Food on a stick is already a main summertime food group, but these state fair classics have an extra special secret ingredient in the batter: fizzy Coca Cola.

Get the Mini Corn Dogs recipe.

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Cheeseburger Cups

We love using muffin tins for genius hacks like this. The "cups" are pieces of white bread that get molded and then filled with a ground beef mixture that tastes just like a cheeseburger. Don't forget to drizzle with your favorite condiments and top with a pickle chip.

Get the Cheeseburger Cups recipe.

copycat chick fil a nuggets
Lucy schaeffer
12 of 20
Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets

Is your kid in a "I only eat fast food" phase? Serve them these copycat nuggets and they'll swear you hit the drive-in before you packed their lunch.

Get the Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets recipe.

perfect buttered noodles
Parker feierbach
13 of 20
Perfect Buttered Noodles

Buttered noodles is the perfectly simple and always comforting dish of our childhood that we never grew out of. You can really use whatever cheese you'd like too. If using softer cheeses like mozzarella or cheddar, add them right when the noodles are piping hot so they can melt smooth right away.

Get the Perfect Buttered Noodles recipe.

cauliflower grilled cheese
Ethan calabrese
14 of 20
Cauliflower Grilled Cheese

Everything your kids love about grilled cheese, with added veggies and no bread! Try our zucchini grilled cheese next.

Get the Cauliflower Grilled Cheese recipe.

grilled cheese dogs
Ethan calabrese
15 of 20
Grilled Cheese Dogs

If your kid can't choose between a hot dog or a grilled cheese for lunch, why not both? 😈

Get the Grilled Cheese Dogs recipe.

three cheese mac
Parker feierbach
16 of 20
Three-Cheese Mac

This foolproof, classic baked macaroni and cheese recipe is the only one you'll ever need, and it uses three of our favorite cheeses: cheddar, Gruyère, and Parm. If you're looking to add more vegetables to your life, check out our cauliflower mac and cheese—it makes veggies tolerable.

Get the Three-Cheese Mac recipe.

chicken quesadillas
Ethan calabrese
17 of 20
Chicken Quesadillas

You don't really need a recipe to make this insanely popular Mexican dish. Top a tortilla with cheese (and whatever else you've got), then fold it in half and cook until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melty. But if you're looking for some guidance, especially in cooking up some quick and easy chicken to stuff inside, this recipe won't let you down.

Get the Chicken Quesadilla recipe.

broccoli cheesy bread
Lucy schaeffer
18 of 20
Broccoli Cheesy Bread

These can get any kid to eat their broccoli. Tip: Wringing the steamed broccoli out with paper towel or cheesecloth ensures this cheesy bread stays crisp, not soggy.

Get the Broccoli Cheesy Bread recipe.

Ethan calabrese
19 of 20

This hearty Hungarian pasta dish is a little like elevated Hamburger Helper—kids and adults alike will love it!

Get the Goulash recipe.

20 of 20
Ham and Cheese Omelet Sticks

Got a kid that loves to brunch? We don't blame them. This recipe makes a delicious handheld meal perfect for kiddos and grownups alike. Crumbled butter crackers form a crunchy crust for a tasty ham and cheese omelet, no silverware required.

Get the Ham and Cheese Omelet Sticks recipe.

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