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Fun Dinner Ideas the Whole Family Will Love

Looking for some easy and delicious suppertime recipes? We’ve got fun dinner ideas for family meals and desserts that are sure to please!

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The table is the perfect place for the entire family to come together and bond. Whether you’re having a simple supper or a family potluck, this is a time and place for the whole family to connect. However, it can be challenging to think of unique options, especially when it comes to weeknight meals. It’s so easy to forego a family meal and turn to takeout! We want to help, so we’re offering some classic people-pleasers, some comfort food, and a few desserts in this list of fun family dinner ideas for the family!

Family Bonding With an Adventure Book

After dinner, why not set out on an adventure! Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition has 50+ interactive scratch-off activities and challenges that will truly make family time fun time! There’s even a “Cook” category for anyone who loves to experiment in the kitchen.

1. Jumbo Shell Pasta

This meal idea is filling, delicious, and easy to make. If you’re craving a family favorite Italian treat, this dinner recipe is perfect. Pasta is just about everyone’s favorite comfort food.

If the children are tentative about the shells, just explain that the main ingredients are similar to mac ‘n cheese. They’ll love helping to stuff the pasta shells with the cheesy filling and watching the mozzarella bake and bubble in the oven!

To kick up the flavor, add some pesto to the mix or set some on the table as an optional topping.

What you’ll need:

  • Spinach – 1 pound
  • Sirloin – 1 pound (ground) (can be replaced with ground turkey or mashed meatballs)
  • Garlic – ½ clove
  • Eggs – 2
  • Herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) – as needed
  • Parmesan – 1 cup
  • Ricotta – ½ cup
  • Mozzarella – ¾ cup
  • Jumbo shell pasta – 1 pound
  • Tomato sauce – 1 jar
  • Mozzarella slices – as needed

How to do it:

  • To make the filling, add olive oil to a saucepan on a stovetop. Sauté the ground beef until the meat is cooked and browned.
  • Add the salt and herbs until the meat is seasoned.
  • Add the washed spinach and mix well until the spinach is reduced.
  • In a food processor, grind the meat-spinach mixture with eggs, garlic, and parmesan until blended.
  • Refrigerate until use.
  • Boil the jumbo shell pasta till al dente.
  • Mix the mozzarella and ricotta with the pasta filling.
  • Stuff the pasta with the mixture carefully, until it is filled to the brim.
  • In a baking dish, cover the bottom with marinara sauce. Arrange the pasta on top of the sauce evenly.
  • Cover the top of the sauce with marinara sauce and top with mozzarella.
  • In an oven preheated to 375*F, bake until the top of the mozzarella bubbles, around 30 minutes.
  • Season with basil leaves and oregano.

Recipe adapted from Giangi’s Kitchen.

2. Chicken Quesadillas

There’s nothing tastier and easier than Mexican quesadillas when you want to make a weeknight dinner. The best part is that you can cook the filling in advance. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken or repurpose stir fry components. Putting the dish together will take only a few minutes, and clean-up will be a breeze.

If you want to make the meal more interesting, use cookie cutters to cut the quesadillas into adorable shapes to serve as appetizers. Your toddlers and preschoolers will keep gushing about it for days to come!

What you’ll need:

  • Flour tortillas – 4
  • Rotisserie chicken (cooked and shredded) – 2 cups
  • Cheddar – 2 cups (shredded)
  • Chili (optional) – 1 cup

How to do it:

  • Heat a skillet with oil or butter over medium heat.
  • As the pan is heating, assemble the quesadilla.
  • Lay the chicken, chili, and cheese on top of the tortilla. You can also add veggies like black beans and bell peppers.
  • In case you want to jazz up the meal, add each topping on each quadrant of the tortilla, and fold it in quarters.
  • Heat the quesadilla on the skillet until both sides are browned and crispy.
  • Serve with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream!

Recipe adapted from The Spruce Eats.

3. Lasagna Sandwiches

In case you can’t pick between lasagna and sandwiches, why not do both? One of the most fun dinner ideas for family meals, this recipe combines the best of both worlds by combining the two flavors. Your children can help hollow out the bread rolls and fill them with the sauce. You could even make your own rolls using your favorite pizza dough! They will love getting hands-on and helping out!

What you’ll need:

  • Hard bread rolls – 10
  • Onion – 1
  • Garlic – 3 cloves
  • Pasta sauce – 3 cups
  • Pork sausages – 1 pound (can be replaced with pork chops)
  • Cream cheese – 8 oz
  • Egg – 1
  • Provolone – 1 cup
  • Mozzarella – ½ cup
  • Parmesan – ½ cup
  • Herbs (basil, rosemary, and thyme) – as needed

How to do it:

  • Cut the top off each roll, and hollow out the bread until it forms a cup.
  • Cook the pork sausage with onion and garlic in a heavy skillet.
  • Cook until the sausage is browned.
  • Now, add the pasta sauce and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese and egg, and combine until smooth.
  • Mix the provolone and mozzarella in the cream cheese mixture.
  • Take the bread bowl and layer the bottom with the meat sauce.
  • Then, add the cheese mixture.
  • Alternate the meat sauce and cheese mix till you reach the brim.
  • Top the rolls with parmesan cheese.
  • Place the rolls on a baking tray. Keep the top of the bread bowl on the side so that they can be baked to form bread crisps.
  • Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 350*F.
  • Top with fresh basil leaves.

Recipe adapted from Linda’s Best Recipes.

4. Indian Butter Chicken

Bring some international flavors into your kitchen with this easy chicken recipe. Since this recipe isn’t as spicy as other Indian dishes, your children will enjoy this rich, creamy Indian delicacy. This dish is a wonderful way to introduce the family to different flavors and spices around the world. To turn this into a vegetarian-friendly meal, replace the chicken with tofu.

What you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – 4
  • Onions – 2
  • Garlic – 3 cloves
  • Ginger – 2 tsp
  • Curry powder – 1 tsp
  • Ground coriander – t tsp
  • Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – ¼ tsp
  • Tomato purée – 1 tbsp
  • Salted butter – 4 tbsp
  • Tomato (diced) – 1
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Heavy cream – 3 tbsp 

How to do it:

  • Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
  • Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan. Sauté the onions until they are golden brown.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, coriander, and a pinch of salt.
  • Sauté till fragrant.
  • Then, add the tomato purée and add the fresh tomato.
  • Cook for 4 minutes and stir so that the mixture turns mushy and thick.
  • Add the milk and stir until combined. Add the chicken pieces and cover the pan.
  • Let the covered pan simmer for 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the garam masala and heavy cream. Simmer for a minute, and take the pan off the heat.
  • Top with a few drops of cream or coriander leaves.
  • Serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

Recipe adapted from Kerrygold.

5. Breakfast for Dinner

A simple way to keep things new and interesting at the dinner table is to switch it up. For your next family meal, why not serve breakfast for dinner? Ask your kids what their favorite breakfast food is, and serve it for dinner that day. This works especially well when you’ve got picky eaters to contend with!

Make sure you add some out-of-the-box elements too. For instance, if they’d like pancakes and waffles, go all the way with toppings like berries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. If waffles and biscuits are their picks, add some savory elements to boost the flavor. It’s an easy dinner idea and the family will love the change in the routine!

Bonus Dessert Ideas!

S’more Shooters

If you’re craving a campfire meal, a s’more shooter is a great way to class it up for the dinner table. This dessert is great for family meals because everyone will love it. kids of all ages will enjoy the campfire treat, while adults will appreciate the elevated presentation and style. This dish is best cooked with older children (tweens and teenagers) as it involves many steps.

What you’ll need:

  • Graham crackers – as needed
  • Chocolate shavings – for decoration
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 12 oz
  • Unsalted butter – 1 tbsp
  • Corn syrup – 1 tbsp
  • Heavy cream – 1 cup
  • Egg whites – 4
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Cream of tartar – ½ tsp
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

How to do it:

  • To make the chocolate glaze, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat for 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped semi-sweet chocolate and stir until dissolved.
  • Add the butter and corn syrup, and stir until combined. Set aside.
  • Blitz the graham crackers in a food processor until it is powdered.
  • To make the marshmallow frosting, whip the sugar, egg white, and cream of tartar mixture by hand over a double-boiler.
  • Whip until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm to the touch.
  • After 4 minutes, transfer the frosting mixture to an electric beater and whisk until stiff peaks form.
  • Add vanilla extract and whisk.
  • To assemble, take a tall shot glass.
  • Layer the graham cracker crumbles, chocolate glaze, and marshmallow frosting one over the other like a trifle. Make sure each layer is distinctly visible from the side. Use a piping bag if necessary.
  • Top with chocolate shavings.

Recipe adapted from Fine Frostings.

Surprise Cupcakes

What’s better than cupcakes? Cupcakes with a surprise! In this simple recipe, your kids will hide tasty treats in the middle of cupcakes and frost them identically. Biting into each cupcake will reveal the surprise flavor inside. Depending on how old your children are, you can ask them to frost the cupcakes, hide the surprises, and add decorations. The family can enjoy these snacks during playtime.

In case you don’t want to use storebought mixes, make simple vanilla cupcakes with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract. You can make the frosting by beating butter with icing sugar.

What you’ll need:

  • Storebought cupcake mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Nutella
  • Jam
  • M&Ms
  • Marshmallows
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Storebought frosting
  • Food coloring

How to do it:

  • Follow the instructions on the box to make the cupcake batter. Bake the cupcakes in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Use a piping tip or a butter knife to cut a hole in the middle of the cupcake.
  • Insert the special surprise (be it a piece of candy, some peanut butter, jam, or Nutella) inside the hole.
  • Seal the hole with cupcake crumbs.
  • Frost the cupcakes identically with frosting dyed with food coloring.
  • When it’s time for dessert, pick a cupcake randomly and play a guessing game—what you do think the surprise filling would be?

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

This is one of the most fun dinner ideas for family —even preschoolers can help you make this simple dessert. You can use dark, milk, or white chocolate candy melts (ask your kids their preference!)

What you’ll need:

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate candy melts

How to do it:

  • Heat the candy melts in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Stir the chocolate between each 30-second interval.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, dip the strawberries in the chocolate and swirl until the entire strawberry is evenly coated.
  • Place the strawberries on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper until the chocolate hardens.
  • Pipe thin lines of chocolate over the strawberries, or shake some sprinkles on top to decorate.
  • If you want to add some more pizzazz to the dish, top the plate with some whipped cream, graham cracker crumbles, or pound cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some ideas for a family dinner?

Dinner ideas for the family include dishes like stuffed jumbo shell pasta, butter chicken masala, and lasagna sandwiches. Don’t forget to include the kids in meal prep and make a delicious dessert!

How can I make evening family time more fun?

Brainstorm innovative dinnertime recipes like lasagna sandwiches and s’more shots and involve the kids in prep. After dinner, pick an activity from a book like Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition.

What are some easy recipes I can cook with my kids?

Try including the kids when making these fun dinner ideas for the family or check out the “Cook” section in Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition.

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