Kid-friendly chicken dinners

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a staple in our grocery carts, but they can get a little boring week after week. Too dry, too bland—there’s no doubt you’ve heard the complaints from the picky eaters at your dinner table.

To get those discerning palates on board, we love to involve them in the cooking process. Not only are kids more likely to eat a meal they helped prepare, but it’s also a great way to spend quality time together and teach a few kitchen skills.

Of course, this isn’t the time to attempt a difficult dish like paella or coq au vin; you’ll want to stick to easy chicken breast recipes when you’ve got your mini sous-chef at your side. To help you plan your menu, we’ve rounded up seven simple and healthy chicken dinner ideas, along with tips for how little ones can lend a hand safely and (hopefully) with minimal mess.

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Napkin-lined basket holding chicken fingers and lime wedges, bowl and two cups of vanilla yogurt on table beside it

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: Chicken fingers are hands down one of the easiest ways to serve boneless skinless breasts to picky eaters, and this recipe gets them extra crispy—without deep-frying—with a healthy coconut-flake coating. Meanwhile, the inside stays perfectly juicy thanks to an assist from yogurt.

How kids can help: Set up three stations for coating the chicken (a shallow dish of flour, the yogurt mix and the shredded coconut) and let your kid have fun rolling the strips around in each. Yes, it involves touching raw chicken, so teach them to always wash their hands before and after.

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BUDGET WATCH
This tasty recipe is also super affordable, with each serving costing less than $3—and you likely already have most of the ingredients on hand.
chicken cordon bleu

Ready in: 50 minutes

Why we love it: Cordon bleu sounds—and tastes—fancy, but it’s just meat stuffed with ham and cheese and then breaded before being pan-fried or baked.

How kids can help: Put the kids on breading duty by coating each chicken breast with flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. (Teaching them this versatile cooking skill is worth a little more mess, non?)

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Instead of slow baking a ham, buy pre-packaged deli-quality slices. They’ll add the same succulent flavour to this dish and they’re easy to work with.
Chicken and sage risotto in white bowl on white saucer

Ready in: 45 minutes

Why we love it: Creamy risotto feels like such an indulgence, yet it gets most of its richness from the rice’s starch being slowly released into the stock as it’s stirred—no heavy cream like you’d need for a similarly decadent pasta dish. Plus, wheat-free rice can be easier to digest for anyone who struggles with gluten.

How kids can help: Risotto is all about frequent stirring and because it’s always done at a controlled simmer, typically, kids from 7 and up can safely help with this task (of course, every child is different so it’s best for you to be the judge and keep a close eye on them).

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
The sautéed veggies go almost undetected in this creamy dish. The recipe calls for bell pepper and onion, but if you’re trying to sneak more vegetables into your child’s diet, you can also add peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or mushrooms.
Grilled chicken tacos

Ready in: 22 minutes

Why we love it: Doesn’t everything taste better as a taco? This barbecued chicken version is the perfect summer spin for Taco Tuesdays.

How kids can help: Let them put out a big spread of their favourite toppings—including those beautifully char-grilled veggies tossed in sour cream.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Next time you’re slicing up vegetables for lunch or snack time, get a jump on dinner by cutting up extra bell pepper and onion and setting them aside. It’ll break up the prep and help supper come together that much faster later on.
Baked chicken breast, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and rosemary garnish on cookie tray

Ready in: 45 minutes

Why we love it: Sheet-pan dinners are a dream because they require little prep and, even better, hardly any clean-up with just one dish to wash. This hearty meal also makes for great leftovers that can be eaten hot or cold.

How kids can help: Have your mini chef assist you in laying out the potatoes and garlic cloves around the chicken before you pop the pan in the oven. While it bakes, your child can help wash the tomatoes, rinse the chickpeas and toss them both in oil.

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BUDGET WATCH
Chickpeas add bulk to this quick recipe without driving up the cost. A can of the fibre- and protein-packed legumes only costs a dollar or two.
BBQ chicken skewers

Ready in: 47 minutes

Why we love it: These chicken kebabs are tender, juicy and over-the-top saucy in the best possible way. (Don’t skimp on basting!)

How kids can help: Kids can toss the chicken cubes in BBQ rub, then thread onto skewers, alternating with pieces of bell pepper. (Best to supervise this step carefully because of the sharp, poky skewers.)

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
Chicken is already a great source of protein, but this recipe adds even more of the tissue-repairing nutrient with ham, which packs nearly 11 grams of protein in only three to four thin slices.[1]
sweet tart chicken

Ready in: 40 minutes (plus marinating time)

Why we love it: It can be tough to get kids (and adults, to be honest) to enjoy baked chicken breasts, but this recipe replaces the bland taste with subtle sweetness from fruit and maple syrup. It works just as well as a main for dinner as it does tossed into a salad or layered on a sandwich.

How kids can help: This recipe is an easy one for kids to practice measuring and pouring. The marinade’s kid-friendly ingredients (orange juice, maple syrup and lemon juice) are all fun to taste and describe, too.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Marinate extra batches of this recipe in separate plastic bags, then pop them into the freezer for future use. When you pull one out to defrost in the fridge, the chicken will marinate even more as it thaws.

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