Everyone has had the experience of handing a child something that they’ve pulled fresh of the grill. The scent is amazing, the color is perfect, and you know that it is loaded with tasty, smoky juices. And yet instead of a look of joy and wonder, your picky eater looks up at you with a scrunched face and demands something completely different.


Grilling for a picky eater is difficult, and while you might crave the slow-cooked beef brisket, your kids might be happier with hot dogs and butter noodles. What’s a good griller to do? One option is to look at some principles for kid-friendly grilling and some recipes to expand their horizons.


While your child might not yet appreciate the fine nuances of grilling, we certainly do. If you need accessories based on the kind of grill, we’ve got you covered with our picks for the best accessories for different grills.


3 Principles of Kid-Friendly Grilling

Talk to Your Kids

While we’ve got some great recipes for picky eaters in this article, remember that kids are different. Just ask your kids what they like. You might end up with a child that loves a perfectly seared steak and a handful of grilled bell peppers. While most kids will want simple flavors and nothing burnt or charred, some kids will crave that good grilling in a way that may surprise you. Rule #1 of grilling with and for kids: talk to them about what they like. Rule #2: If you love it and rant about it then your young children are more likely to follow your lead. (Hint: do this before they become teenagers and just try to do the opposite of you)

Keep it Simple

Picky eaters can love everything from grilled veggies to fish, poultry, and steak. But usually what kids and adults are looking for in a grilled meal is different. Where you might want complex flavors that absolutely pop off the meat, your kids might want something really simple. Think the grilling version of butter noodles and cheese pizza. And if you really dig into the tastes behind butter noodles and cheese pizza, you’ll see that the flavors are simple, they’re just carbs and a little bit of sweet fats. If you can cook things that remain simple and maintain a good flavor profile, your kids will love grill day.

Don’t Overthink It

Kids like certain foods that we don’t like, sure. But kids appreciate good food. There is no reason that a kid is going to want something that you yourself don’t want to eat. Loading up a plate with a plain chicken breast, a little pasta, and some grilled broccoli is something out of a mediocre 70s movie--it isn’t something that picky eaters are probably going to want to eat. Make good food, and let your kids eat good food.


Picky Eater Grill Recipes

Anything on a Skewer

Everyone loves it when eating is fun. Kids really love it when eating is fun. And putting things on a skewer to grill makes it really, really fun. Now, one of the best kid-friendly skewer recipes is chicken and waffles on a stick, which is so good that you’ll want to eat it too.


One thing to keep in mind when tossing those sticks of grilled food to kids--kids love to wave things around. If you pass out sharp metal skewers, you could easily have a huge accident on your hands that overshadows the tasty chicken and waffles. Avoid passing out the sharp sticks and find something a bit lighter and less sharp on the ends.

Sliders

Sliders are great for kids because they are kid-sized burgers, so the commitment of gnawing through one is a lot less than it would be for a much bigger burger. The slider needs to only cook for about a few minutes if it is beef-based, and a little longer for turkey or chicken sliders. Plus, you can pair it with a little bit of ketchup and cheese for the kids while you and the rest of the gang go for some more exciting flavors. Sliders allow everyone to get exactly what they’re looking for out of the grilling experience.

Hot Dogs

Yep, there are tons of different cuts of beef out there, and while hot dogs certainly aren’t a cut of beef or a food group, it may register as your kid’s favorite kind of meat. Don’t overthink this one. If your child really loves hot dogs, you might just want to grill up a few hot dogs. Pretend it’s a good backyard tailgate.

Lunch Ideas - Quesadillas

If you’re cooking in the winter, you generally want your stuff to cook fast. Quesadillas that are assembled with butter in pan can get a floppy, soggy texture that nobody really wants to eat. Meanwhile, doing up your quesadilla on the grill will give it that perfect charred taste. Plus, quesadillas are literally the perfect weekend lunch treat for your kids. 


Now, remember that kids love the buttery flavors that you might get from a pan fried quesadilla. So, to avoid doing more work for something that they will like less, you might want to add a pad of butter to each side as it grills and let it melt into the flaky, charred tortilla.


Corn on the Cob

Grilling corn on the cob is one grilled food that both kids and adults can heartily agree on. You can leave the husk on the corn and toss them straight on the grill for about 15 or 20 minutes until the kernels are tender, or, if you want the kernels to get a bit more blackened, you can throw it straight onto the rack. In foil, corn will take about 20 minutes to cook all the way through. Don’t overcook the corn and also don’t put butter on it until there are only a few minutes left in the cooking time. After that though, you can spread a bit of butter to get it ready for tasty enjoyment. 

Pizza

Why try to outsmart and out-taste your kids with a new recipe when you already know what they love? Pizza, if you can get the grill up to about 550 degrees, is going to be great to cook on the grill. If you’re worried about the dough falling through the grates of the pizza, the best way to avoid this is to toss it on without any toppings for just a minute until it forms a crust on one side. Then you can load with toppings and put back on the grill, lightly browned side down.

Chicken

Chicken can be something that kids love or hate, or love to hate. But if it is cooked just right, it can be a tasty treat. The key to remember is that you’ll have to pair it with other tasty treats that kids are looking for. You can’t just toss your kids an entire chicken breast and expect that they’re going to love it. A few pieces of chicken with some other food will be perfect. Chicken also makes for a great skewered item.

Tacos

Tacos are easy and tasty. The key here is to keep the flavor profiles simple. Good steak or chicken tacos will be great for picky eaters, and then you can help them load up with toppings that are going to be perfect.



Hopefully you’ve got some great ideas for your next grill session. At the least, you can grab your child a Kick Ash T-Shirt so that they can eat their hot dogs in style.