Pasta recipes kids will love

You can always count on pasta for an easy midweek meal that kids will actually eat. And while there’s nothing wrong with buttered noodles (hey, we’ve all done it!), wouldn’t it be nice to make something you’ll actually enjoy too?

If they help prepare it, chances are higher that your kiddos will make every noodle disappear. Here are some of our favourite quick pasta night recipes for kids, from oh-so-flavourful roasted veggie pasta to dead-easy spaghetti with meatballs that come out tender and juicy every time.

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roasted vegetable pasta with fresh herbs

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: This summery pasta dish is light, simple and full of flavour thanks to the fresh garlic and herbs. Just add your kids’ favourite veggies.

How kids can help: Kids can chop the veggies and then toss them with garlic and margarine (or oil) on a baking sheet before it all goes into the oven. No sautéing required!

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
For a hit of protein, serve this dish with simple grilled chicken (or shredded rotisserie chicken).
Roasted red pepper and mozzarella pasta.

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: Think of this quick pasta recipe as a kid-friendly and midweek version of a classic lasagna. The secret ingredient is a can of soup—and kids love it. If you want the top to be crispy, you can also add some breadcrumbs and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes.

How kids can help: Kids are expert stirrers. Get them to add the mozzarella and herbs to the tomato sauce and then toss with the pasta. This is all done on the hot stovetop, so make sure to supervise.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
Red peppers contain more than 200 per cent of your daily intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that also helps you absorb iron.[1]
Hamburger Helper recipe

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: This one-pot pasta dish is a lighter (and easier) take on one of our favourite fancy comfort foods, Beef Stroganoff.

How kids can help: Put the kids to work slicing the mushrooms, green beans and rosemary. Little ones can also get busy stirring the sauce ingredients before adding the noodles at the end.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Buy pre-sliced mushrooms and prepared crushed garlic to make this fast meal even faster.
spaghetti and meatballs

Ready in: 35 minutes

Why we love it: Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce is a classic for a reason—it’s delicious! These quick and easy meatballs come out tender and juicy every time with a little help from some moist and flavourful Italian dressing.

How kids can help: Your kids will love mixing and shaping the meatballs. Let them mix the ground beef with the onions, breadcrumbs, egg and dressing with clean hands until it’s well blended. To make meatballs, take a piece of beef mixture the size of a golf ball or smaller (about two centimetres) and roll between hands to form a uniform ball. Yes, this job involves touching raw ground beef, so teach your kids to wash their hands well before and after, and to roll up those sleeves!

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This recipe calls for homemade meatballs, but the store-bought kind will do the trick if you’re running low on time for family dinner.
Instant pot mac and cheese

Ready in: 19 minutes

Why we love it: Butternut squash is a brilliant way to add more fibre, colour and flavour to this quick and easy mac and cheese.

How kids can help: Kids can grate the cheddar cheese (careful with those tiny fingers!) and stir in the extra sauce ingredients once the macaroni mixture is done cooking.

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Cooking the pasta with the squash saves time and cuts down on dishes. If you don’t have fresh butternut squash, you can also use diced frozen squash.
Pasta bake with spinach and artichokes.

Ready in: 45 minutes

Why we love it: Packed with spinach, artichokes and tons of melted cheese, a pasta bake is the perfect way to get kids to try new veggies. This one gets extra flavour and texture from Parmesan, cream cheese, lemon juice, chili flakes and a crunchy panko topping.

How kids can help: Ask your kids to measure out the dried fusilli for you—it’s a great sensory activity! They can also help stir the sauce until the cheese is melted and sprinkle the panko crumbs before it goes into the oven.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Pasta bakes are ideal for make-ahead meals. You can even whip this up the night before and then just pop it in the oven before dinner time.
One-pot pasta

Ready in: 20 minutes

Why we love it: It doesn’t get easier than this light and delicious linguine. Sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes give this dish big bursts of flavour.

How kids can help: Who’s ready to chop onions like a big kid? If your child is up to the task, they may want to get their goggles out (or embrace the good kind of tears).

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
Cherry tomatoes may be small, but they are packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and compounds like lycopene that may help with health issues like inflammation and blood clots.[2]
Creamy whole wheat pasta salad

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: This fresh and colourful pasta salad is a great make-ahead meal for dinner or lunch. It’s quick and easy and packed with veggies that your kid may actually eat, especially since they’re presented in a delicious creamy sauce. This one calls for three different colours of bell peppers, but you can swap with any vegetables your kids will love such as cherry tomatoes, peas or corn.

How kids can help: After you’ve cooked the pasta, let your kids take over—from chopping the veggies with a sturdy kid-safe knife to measuring out the dressing ingredients and mixing them all together, there are lots of safe ways for kids to pitch in.

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BUDGET WATCH
This nutritious and budget-friendly pasta salad costs less than $1 per serving as a side and less than $2 per serving as a main.

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Article Sources

  1. City of Toronto. Vitamin C.
  2. Nourish by WebMD. Health Benefits of Cherry Tomatoes.

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