5 Kid-Friendly Dinners You Can Make on the Grill

published Jun 21, 2023
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Eating outdoors is, hands down, one of my very favorite aspects of the warmer weather. It feels more relaxed and the clean-up is so much easier simply because there’s no floor full of crumbs to sweep! Yes, you have to haul the food (and possibly the highchair) outside, but the effort always pays off … especially when the kids go off to play after they’re done eating and you get a few moments to inhale the calm.

The key to stress-free grilling with kids around? Recipes that are straightforward, easy to prep, and even easier to make. Recipes you can pop onto the grill and leave while you go to blow bubbles for the kids. And of course, recipes that the kids might actually consider eating!

Whatever the main dish, I always recommend adding 1–2 simple sides that the kids like to ensure you don’t have to go back inside for other food — and that everyone can eat their fill. In our house, this means we almost always have a side of fruit and veggies with dinner. Thankfully, this is so convenient in the summer since there is all of that farm-fresh produce to choose from. My kids love fresh snap peas, baby cucumbers, tender sweet carrots, all the melon, and berries.

It can also help if you have a system for the set up — which for me means I pull out my big white tray to carry everything we need outside from the kitchen. I pile on our plates, silverware, cups, and condiments and make one trip to the picnic table to set up for the meal. Then, when we’re done, we empty the food scraps into the compost bin and use the tray to bring everything else back inside.

Sure, you may have to wash dirty feet after running around in the grass or convince the kids that it’s bedtime when they’re busy chasing fireflies at dusk. Still, I say it’s 100% worth it.

A Few Favorite Kid-Friendly Grilling Recipes

Serve them deconstructed if needed for your own kids to suit their preferences. (And don’t forget the popsicles for dessert!)

1. Grilled Pesto Chicken Flatbreads

Think pizza, only faster since you get to start with purchased flatbreads and pesto. (You can make this even quicker by using store-bought fully cooked chicken breasts or shredded rotisserie chicken.)

Get the recipe: Grilled Pesto Chicken Flatbreads

2. Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Make the sauce in the morning and have it ready to go come dinnertime. Add some pita bread or rice and a side of fresh fruit and an easy summer dinner is ready! (Adults may want more sauce than the kids, so having it available for optional dipping is a great strategy.)

Get the recipe: Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Credit: Faith Durand

3. Grilled Pizza

All the joy of pizza without a sweating-hot kitchen? Sign. Me. Up. This method can be done on either a gas or charcoal grill and can be topped with whatever your family prefers.

Get the recipe: Grilled Pizza

Credit: Nick Evans

4. Grilled Cheesy Potato Packets

We LOVE grilled potato packets in our house — we usually have them with burgers or hot dogs. They’re easy to assemble and you just throw them onto the grill and forget them. (I’d probably skip the red pepper flakes, but maybe your kids like heat?!)

Get the recipe: Grilled Cheesy Potato Packets

Credit: Meghan Splawn

5. Family Hot Dog Snack Board

I’m not going to say that anyone needs to level up their hot dogs, but this is such a fun idea for a more special dinner — or to feed friends. Condiments (and pickles!), melon, and corn on the cob would be perfect complements to this idea. (Remember to dice up those dogs, instead of slicing them into rounds for toddlers to avoid a common choking hazard!)

Get the recipe: Family Hot Dog Snack Board

This article has been updated from its original publication in April 2021.