Are you looking for some festive fall recipes to make with your kids? Need some delicious ideas for putting those pumpkins from the patch, apples from the orchard, and zucchini from your garden to good use? Well, today’s your lucky day! Wendy Cox, mom of 4 and garden educator from San Diego, California is sharing a variety of ways to use three popular and prevalent produce items as you cook with your kids this fall. She’s sharing the very best (and her kids’ favorite) fall recipes! Save this post so you can try them all. Which recipe will be your next fall favorite? Mmmm…enjoy! 

Favorite fall recipes to make with kids

Fall is wonderful for so many reasons, but one of those is because it’s the harvest season. Three crops that are harvested in abundance during this time of year are zucchini, apples, and pumpkins. Each is nutritious, delicious, and very versatile in recipes. Today, I’m excited to share all of the fun ways we can use these three items to whip up some tasty and nutritious snacks and meals for and with our kids.

Kid-friendly zucchini recipes

If you planted zucchini in your garden, you probably still have some plants that are producing into and through the fall. Not only do zuchinni plants produce will into the fall season, they grow fast! I have found that zucchini can grow inches seemingly overnight! One morning it will be a small zucchini with the blossom still attached, and the next, it’s bigger and heavier than your arm! When that happens, and you have pounds and pounds of zucchini to work with before it goes bad, refer back to these recipes, and you’ll use every bit of that zucchini in no time.

Zucchini bread

Zucchini bread is a must-make recipe, if you’ve got homegrown zucchini around the house. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser for both kids and adults. My mom makes a wonderful hearty zucchini bread every year at Thanksgiving, and it’s one of the first things gone from the table. The smell of bread baking in the oven is sure to put everyone in a good mood. And if you get to enjoy a slice of still-warm zucchini bread with some butter melting on top of it, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Ultimate zucchini bread recipe

Here’s our favorite “Ultimate Zucchini Bread” recipe, adapted from this one from Smitten Kitchen.


  • 2 cups grated, packed zucchini
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray. Place grated zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Use a fork to mix until combined. Sprinkle in cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until combined. Add flour and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or tester inserted into the middle cake but also into the top of the cake, closer to the dome, comes out batter-free. Let cool completely in the pan. Leave in pan, unwrapped, overnight or 24 hours, until removing (carefully, so as not to ruin flaky lid) and serve in slices. 

Zucchini boats

Zucchini boats are another great (and really fun) way to use zucchini! The best thing about zucchini boats is that they can be eaten with your hands! Fewer dishes are always a win, in my book. And although you scrape out the center of the zucchini, you’ll want to chop it up and add it to the filling, so no part of the zucchini is wasted.

Another great thing about zucchini boats is that you can use a variety of ingredients for the filling and make them however you want! Don’t have sausage? No problem, use ground beef or ground turkey. Vegetarian? Use beans instead of meat. Don’t have cheddar cheese? Substitute the type of cheese you have for the topping. Zucchini boats are very versatile and cook in 25-30 minutes. The recipe below for zucchini boats from Taste of Home is a big hit at our house (and SO easy)!

Kid-friendly zucchini boat recipe


  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese,
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Trim the ends off the zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/2-inch shells. Finely chop pulp. In a skillet, cook beef, zucchini pulp, onion, mushrooms, and peppers over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat. Add 1/2 cup cheese, ketchup, salt, and pepper; mix well. Spoon into the zucchini shells. Place in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° until zucchini is tender, 25-30 minutes.

Grilled zucchini

You know we’re all about getting outdoors here at Run Wild, and grilling zucchini is a wonderful opportunity to do that! Have the kids help you slice up the zucchini into steaks or spears, toss them in some olive oil with your favorite grilling seasonings, and throw them on the grill. Or, add in some of your other favorite veggies (onions, squash, peppers) and pop them onto a kebab! In about ten minutes, you’ll have a tasty side dish. Try this recipe.

Take your grilled zucchini to the next level by setting out some dipping options, too! We like to dip ours in ranch dressing or marinara sauce. This is an especially good tactic if you have kids who are picky eaters (or ones that say they don’t like zucchini). Sometimes dipping food in a sauce or dressing will get them to try it because, let’s be honest, isn’t it just more fun to eat that way?


Have you heard of zoodles? Zoodles are what you get when you take a spiralizer to a zucchini. The spiralizer cuts the zucchini into long, thin strips the size of a spaghetti noodle. Making zoodles with kids is so much fun because they can be several feet long. If you don’t have a spiralizer, I recommend this one. It’s inexpensive and easy enough for kids to use! They’ll love helping out in the kitchen for this project and turning zucchini into noodles! If you have more than one kid, you might even want to get two spiralizers and see who can make the longest zoodle.

Zoodles can be used in place of spaghetti in any recipe that calls for pasta. The flavor is mild, and the consistency is very similar to a spaghetti noodle. Your kids will forget that they’re even eating a vegetable. If you cut thin strips off the zucchini lengthwise, they can be used in place of a lasagna noodle! 

Zucchini fritters

You can also use grated zucchini for fritters! This is a sure-fire win with my kids because they’re hot and crispy (and taste a bit like a flavorful hashbrown). Here’s our favorite zucchini fritter recipe inspired by Just a Taste.


  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup sliced scallions (green and white parts)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sour cream for serving (optional)


Place the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt. Allow the zucchini to stand for 10 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl. Add the flour, eggs, sliced scallions, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper to the bowl, stirring until the mixture is combined. Line a plate with paper towels.
Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop 3-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini mixture into the pan, pressing them lightly into rounds and spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Cook the zucchini fritters for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them once and cook an additional 2 minutes until golden brown and cooked throughout. Transfer the zucchini fritters to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Serve the zucchini fritters topped with sour cream (optional).

Grated zucchini (freeze it!)

Don’t forget that when you have zucchini coming out of your ears and won’t be able to use it all right away, you can always freeze it. This will keep it fresh for months and give you a taste of summer well into the winter months.

First, grate the zucchini, squeeze out as much moisture as possible, put it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen zucchini will be good for up to three months. I like to add my frozen shredded zucchini to lots of the recipes I make during the week: omelets, soups, salads, ground meats, and basically any savory dish. I’ll even top a baked potato with shredded zucchini and some cheddar cheese. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! 

Favorite fall apple recipes

Visiting an apple orchard is fun, but the best part is eating the apples! Apples are a classic fall favorite staple and can be used in so many ways, making them one of the easiest and most versatile ingredients. They can be sweet, savory, and even spicy. They can be used in so many different dishes. And, they’re probably one of those things that your kids won’t ever complain about eating!

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite ways to enjoy apples in the fall. Here are a few recipes that kids will love to help out with and eat!

Apple dipping station

Have your kids been asking to have a play date at your house? I feel like mine are always wanting some friend or another to come play at our house. Hosting an apple-themed play date is easy and so much fun, especially in the fall when apples are aplenty. Maybe you even took the kids apple picking recently and have more apples than you know what to do with. Most kids like apples so they don’t need to be enticed to eat them.

At your apple play date, why not set up an apple dipping station as the snack! As I mentioned before, it’s just more fun to eat something when you get to dip it first! All you’ll need to do is cut up some apples and have a variety of dips and toppings for the kids to choose from! Let them try them all and find their favorite flavor combinations. 

Dips for apple slices:

  • Peanut butter/almond butter/sun butter
  • Caramel
  • Nutella
  • Cream cheese
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Buttercream icing

Apple slice toppings:

  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Shredded coconut
  • Toffee bits
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • Sprinkles


If you’ve got apples to spare, it really doesn’t get any better than making your own homemade applesauce! And I promise it’s easier to make than you might imagine! You don’t even need to peel the apples if you don’t mind the applesauce being a little more tart.

To make homemade applesauce, simply core and slice eight to ten apples (peel them only if you want). Throw them in the slow cooker with half a cup of water (and a cinnamon stick, if you like cinnamon applesauce), and let it cook until the apples are the desired tenderness. It will take about five to six hours on low heat. If you want smooth applesauce, put the mixture in the blender/food processor (or use a stick mixer) and puree. I like my applesauce a bit chunky, so I just smash the apples a bit with a potato masher. Add sugar (and maybe some cinnamon) to your liking, and that’s it! 

Baked apples

Bakes apples are almost as easy to make as applesauce, but because you cook them in the oven they take less time. I like to make baked apples for dessert on a cool fall night because they make the house smell amazing! Here is the recipe I use. These will need to cook for about 40 minutes to get really tender. You can let each kid customize their apple before putting it in the oven by having a variety of different spices (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, allspice, clove, etc.) and sweeteners (sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey.) Top the baked apples with a scoop of ice cream for an extra special treat.

And if you really want to make this a fun activity, instead of baking the apples in an oven, bake them over a campfire! They make an absolutely amazing treat when enjoying an evening outside in the backyard or on a camping trip! 

Apple pie filling

One of my sisters had an apple tree at her previous home, and some years that tree produced so many apples we could barely eat them all! In cases like that, we had to get creative with all the way to use the apples, so they wouldn’t go to waste.

One of my favorite ways that she used them was to make jars and jars of apple pie filling using a simple apple pie filling recipe and gave them as Christmas gifts. Genius! What a great gift for your kids to give to their teacher or neighbor, as well. My jar was gone before the new year because it was so tasty!

You could definitely use the filling to make a pie, but I also used it to top so many things, like ice cream, oatmeal, and yogurt. Or, how delicious would it be over-baked brie? What a great way to spend time making something special with your kids and have gifts to give to loved ones afterward! 

Favorite pumpkin recipes to make with kids

Last but not least, let’s talk about pumpkins. Pumpkins are the star of the season and have to be included in this list of favorite fall recipes to make with your kids. We see them used as decorations and love to carve them for Halloween, but most pumpkins are also edible and nutritious.

Cooked pumpkin has high percentages of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, and iron. These nutrients keep our immune system strong and our skin and eyes healthy. Here are some ways to get all of those important vitamins and minerals into those little bodies that seem to have endless energy.

Pumpkin pancakes

Pancakes are a breakfast staple at my house, but when my kids drench them in syrup, I feel like it’s more of a dessert than a healthy breakfast. One way to add more nutrients to your pancakes is to add pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree can be purchased in a can from the store (although, not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling), or you can make your own if you’re feeling extra ambitious. The more you add, the more orange-colored they will be, but in addition to color, it will add more pumpkin flavor and extra nutrients.

Choose an amount of pumpkin puree that fits your family’s tastebuds. For every two cups of pancake mix, I typically add one cup of pumpkin puree. This works well for our family, and I get zero complaints about them tasting too pumpkiny. Pancakes are quick and easy and can be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer for use on those mornings when everyone sleeps in. My kids pop frozen pancakes into the toaster for an on-the-go breakfast. 

Pumpkin bread

Like zucchini bread, pumpkin bread is a HUGE hit at our house with kids and adults alike. We have been known to eat pumpkin bread for breakfast, but it could really be a dessert as well. You can make it in a bread loaf and slice it or even make it into muffins for on-the-go snacks. My youngest has started asking for his own loaf of pumpkin bread to take home from Thanksgiving when we go to Grandma’s house. 

If you want to get extra-decadent, these pumpkin cream cheese muffins are just about the most amazing thing ever. 

Pumpkin chili

Who doesn’t love a warm bowl of chili on a cool fall afternoon? Chili is a fan favorite at our house and a staple on weekend evenings when we spend all day outside. A great way to add some flavor (and nutrients) to your chili is to add pumpkin puree to your favorite chili recipe. It makes it a little thicker and healthier. I always serve my chili with a generous portion of cornbread and some sour cream on top. Here is the pumpkin turkey chili recipe I use.

Dinner in a pumpkin

I’ve been saving the best for last! My birthday is at the end of October, and back before I can remember, my mom started making dinner in a pumpkin for my birthday! It was such a fun and unexpected tradition and something that still continues today. The dinner portion is comprised of wild rice mixed with sausage, peppers, and onions. However, you could serve chili, dip, soup, or even sloppy joe meat out of a pumpkin, as well! The options are endless! 

Your family may like to have this meal on Halloween night because it’s served right out of the pumpkin! It makes for a fun centerpiece on your Halloween dinner table. This one does take a while to bake, so plan on getting it in the oven at least an hour before you want to eat. The time is so worth it, though! Your kids will love scooping their dinner right out of the pumpkin. 

Cooking with kids

Cooking with your kids is an experience they will not easily forget. Yes, there will be a large mess. Sure, it will take longer. Yeah, you will need a healthy dose of patience. But the benefits far outweigh the mess. Your kids will be learning math through measuring, counting, timing, and portioning. Teach them where each ingredient comes from as they add it to the bowl. Show them how heat rises when the steam drifts up from a pot of boiling water. Watch them coordinate their muscle movements as they slice a zucchini or grate cheese.

Kids are absorbing so much information all the time. When we cook with our kids, we make sure that the information they receive is wholesome and will serve them well in the future. The chances that they eat the food they cook are also much higher than if someone else prepares the food for them, so get those kids in the kitchen with you! Need a little more motivation?

Here is a blog post all about the benefits of cooking with kids.

Take it outside

After you’re done preparing all of this deliciousness, don’t be afraid to take your food outside. Pack a picnic and bring pumpkin bread for dessert. Set up a table on the patio and eat your chili by candlelight. Gather around a backyard bonfire and warm yourself up with some baked apples.

They say that food tastes better outside, right? Let us know if that is true for you and your kids. Happy fall, and have a great time trying these delicious fall recipes to make with your kids!

Which fall recipe do you want to make with your kids?

About the author

Wendy is a married momma living in central San Diego, CA, raising 4 human kids, 2 goat kids, 4 chickens, and one grumpy cat. She enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, backpacking, going to the beach, and generally getting out of doors. Wendy is a family photographer and also works at several local elementary schools as a garden educator. She dreams of traveling to all 50 states and beyond, and believes that there is great beauty to be found in all parts of the earth, we just have to open our eyes to see it.

You can find more from Wendy online in the following locations:
Instagram: @wendycoxphotography
RWMC posts: Wendy Cox