Best Vegetables for Picky Eaters

Have a picky eater? Give these 15 best vegetables for picky eaters a try.

Kids and vegetables – two words that most people think don’t agree with one another. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Although many toddlers tend to push away their plates at vegetables, there is not need to be in a panic over this.

Children often go through phases of not eating certain foods or food groups. If your child stops choosing to eat vegetables for a time, they’ll probably be fine.

Why Kids Might Be Picky with Vegetables

It’s New to Them – New things can be scary – including new foods! With the wide range of tastes, textures, and shapes of vegetables it’s no wonder your child might be skeptical to trying it at first.

No One Else At The Table is Eating Vegetables – If you are offering your child vegetables and wanting them to eat them, but aren’t eating them yourself – this could be the reason why. Kids love to copy behaviors they see from others. If parents or siblings are turning their noses up at certain foods, they will catch on and might start to do the same.

They Have Sensitive Taste Buds – Some people are born with genetics that cause them to taste more of the bitterness in some foods. They are called supertasters (1). About 25% of people are supertasters. They tend to dislike more types of foods than others.

Tips to Help Picky Eaters Try Vegetables

Let Your Child Choose – Next time you go grocery shopping bring your little one along with you. They might be the best person to know what the best vegetables for picky eaters are. Let them pick out a vegetable to have at snack time, lunch or dinner. Or perhaps even at home pull out vegetables you already have and let them choose between a couple options.

They may be more willing to try it if they helped choose what to eat.

Include Your Child in Food Preparation – Along the same lines as above, bring your child into the kitchen with you to help prepare the vegetables. From something as simple as washing them in the sink, to  mixing in a bowl, or even peeling and chopping (depending on the age). Here’s a list of age-appropriate kitchen tasks for kids.

Try Different Preparation Methods – Your child didn’t care for steamed broccoli? Try roasted. Your kid doesn’t like raw spinach? Try sautéing it or adding it to a smoothie. Different cooking methods can change the taste and texture of a food. You can also flavor your vegetables with different seasonings, spices and herbs to change things up.

Try Different Shapes – Sharpen up your knife skills! Chopping and slicing your vegetables into different shapes and sizes than you normally serve could be a fun change for your child. You can even find different shaped cutters, such as a star or heart shape to bring a bit of fun to the table.

Let Them Dip – If a dip is the vehicle that moves your child to eat vegetables, then let them dip! Hummus and ranch are good options for many vegetables.

Set an Example – As mentioned above, your child often wants to emulate you. If they see you enjoying your vegetables, they might be more likely to try them out, too!

Best Vegetables for Picky Eaters

1. Carrots

2. Sweet Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a versatile vegetable with a mild flavor. They come in many colors, which makes it fun for little eaters. Slice some strips to eat raw with dip or sauté some up to serve in fajitas (or try out my easy sheet pan chicken fajitas). You can also dice bell peppers and add them to soups, casseroles, egg dishes, and more!

3. Cucumber

Cucumbers have a refreshing, mild flavor. They are great for dunking in a creamy dip. Make a fun design by alternating peeling stripes of skin length-wise, then slicing into rounds. Try using cucumbers in these cucumber dill ricotta cups or in my cucumber tomato mango quinoa salad.

4. Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

These varieties of tomatoes are juicy and the perfect size for little fingers. If you are worried about them being a choking hazard for toddlers, simply cut them into halves or quarters. Their subtle sweetness makes them great by themselves, paired with mozzarella cheese, or with a dip. They also taste delicious cooked down, like in my sheet pan margherita chicken recipe.

5. Celery

Ants on a log anyone? Celery is a fun kid-friendly vegetable with a neutral flavor. Stuff the centers with peanut butter or cream cheese and top with your favorite dried fruit. Or your kids can dunk them in some hummus or other dip of their choice. If your kids dislike the rough stringy parts – simply grab a vegetable peeler and peel them off.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli gets a bad rap, but it is actually a favorite of many choosy children. These “little trees” are fun for big imaginations at the table. Cooking broccoli by steaming or roasting makes it easy for younger kids to eat. Experiment with seasonings to see which one your kids like best.

If your little one still turns their nose up at broccoli, try grating it or chopping it up and tossing it into a casserole, soup, or pasta sauce for extra flavor and nutrition. You might even want to try it in this broccoli apple salad or broccoli egg bake!

7. Cauliflower

Broccoli’s cousin cauliflower is another veggie that is easy to add to many dishes. It has a mild flavor that is so versatile. Aside from eating it raw, steamed, or roasted, you can cook cauliflower and mash it up to add into creamy soups, sauces, mashed potatoes, and more. Riced cooked cauliflower can be mixed with regular rice for a veggie-fied blend.

8. Sweet Peas

If you have the space to grow a garden, peas are a fun (and tasty) vegetable to grow. Kids love picking them off the vines and cracking open the pods for a tasty surprise inside.

If you don’t have a garden, frozen peas are an easy and affordable way to add some veggies to your child’s plate. They are easy for little fingers to pick up whether they are still cold or cooked, and can be added to soups, casseroles, eggs, or pasta dishes.

9. Corn

Corn has a sweetness to it, thanks to the starch inside, which makes it appealing to young eaters. On the cob or off, it is colorful and versatile. If your little one is hesitant start with just a kernel or two at a time on their plate.

Corn is also great in soups, stews, salads, and casseroles. Try out my chicken and corn curry for a fun twist.

10. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegetables for picky eaters, as it close to the beloved white potato. They are delicious when roasted, steamed, sautéed, or baked. Make sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, or loaded baked sweet potatoes. Dice them and add to chilis or soups, casseroles, egg hashes, or power bowls.

11. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash has rather mild flavor that is easy going on the taste buds. Roasting really brings out its natural sweetness and nutty flavor. You can add diced, cooked butternut squash to prepared risotto, rice, or quinoa. You can also puree it into a creamy soup, smoothie, or sauce.

Butternut squash can be somewhat difficult and time-consuming to prepare yourself, but most grocery stores carry already diced fresh or frozen versions available. Using already diced butternut squash speeds up prep time and makes cooking with it a breeze.

12. Spinach

If your kids aren’t into eating spinach raw in a salad, no worries! Spinach is one of the most versatile greens. It’s often a popular addition to smoothies. It does change the color of your smoothie to green (or even brown depending on what fruits you add), but at our house we just give it a cool name like, “the hulk smoothie” to make it more fun to eat.

Most picky eaters don’t even taste the spinach, like in this smoothie bowl.

Spinach is also a great add-in to eggs, stir-fry, soups, rice or pasta dishes, curry, in a sauce, and even baked goods. Give these healthy green pancakes a try or put a spin on it with these savory spinach pancakes!

13. Zucchini

Zucchini is another vegetable that has a mild flavor that pairs well with many other foods and can be prepared in a variety of ways. A popular and fun method of prepping zucchini is to spiralize or peel it into zucchini “noodles”, or zoodles, to use in place of traditional noodles. Picky eaters love these zucchini tots.

In our house we love simple sautéed zucchini, but other ways to prepare it include: baking or roasting – like in a ratatouille (you could even watch the movie to go along!), stuff it to make zucchini boats, pureed into soup, or with eggs like in this frittata

If you are feeling adventurous, use it as a topping on your green pizza! A great way to sneak it into dessert is in quick breads, like in this zucchini bread.

14. Asparagus

Asparagus has a gentle flavor and is easy to prepare. Simply snap the tough and woody ends off where it meets the tender part of the stalk. One of my kids favorite ways to eat asparagus is oven roasted, which brings out a natural sweetness.

Kids also love helping make these puff pastry wrapped asparagus or cheesy chicken asparagus stromboli recipes. As an alternative to serving it hot, try asparagus cold in this pesto pasta salad.

15. Butter Lettuce

This tender lettuce has a crisp, mild, and slightly sweet flavor – not to mention its beautiful green color. Butter lettuce works well for lettuce cup or lettuce wrap recipes, such as these avocado tuna lettuce wraps. Or you can keep it simple and serve butter lettuce in a salad with your child’s choice of toppings and dressing.

Final Word

If you have tried the above suggestions and your picky eater still won’t budge on their preferences, don’t fret. A phrase I often say to my clients is, “keep on keeping on.” In other words – don’t give up!

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not always just flavor or bitterness that kids are avoiding. For some children, it may be a certain texture(s) that they aren’t tolerating. If you suspect this is the case, try changing the texture of vegetables by preparing it differently – maybe you could try slicing it very thinly, or cooking and pureeing them so they can be added (re: hidden) in other recipes.

You might also try purchasing sprouts, like alfalfa or broccoli sprouts to see if your child likes the different texture of them.

Try to be as positive and patient as possible. Avoid making the dinner table a negative experience, as it will only make things harder for future experiences. Do your best to continue to include a variety of foods in your family’s diet. Even if they don’t always eat their veggies, this will still help your children experience a variety of foods, flavors, textures, and eating adventures at the table.

Tell me what you think about these 16 best vegetables for picky eaters!

Let me know in the comments what you have tried to help your picky eater learn to like vegetables. What recipes have you tried? Did I miss a tip that you have found helpful? Let us know!

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