40 Meatless Meals for Lent Your Kids Will Actually Eat

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Eating meatless meals for Lent doesn't have to be a struggle with your kids.
Check out these delicious and EASY Lenten recipes for busy families.

A photo collage shows some of the meatless recipes that are ok to eat for Lent.

When I was a kid, eating meatless meals for Lent usually meant a fish sandwich from the school cafeteria.

If I was lucky, we'd be observing an even stricter fast and have just a simple bowl of plain white rice which I found significantly more palatable.

Now that I'm an adult who has learned to appreciate seafood, it's a whole lot easier for me to observe the meatless Fridays during Lent.

I love the challenge of finding new Lent recipes each year that my kids will still enjoy.

If you've struggled to get your kids to eat fish, you'll find plenty of kid-friendly meatless dinner ideas here!

P.S. Don't miss the other wonderful Catholic feast days for families to celebrate with kids.

Meatless Recipes in Your Inbox

Hey friends, if you'd like me to send you meatless recipe ideas straight to your inbox just in time for your Lent cooking, I have a special newsletter that starts just in time for Ash Wednesday.

Every Thursday during Lent, I'll send you a few ideas to inspire you for Friday night. You can get on the list right here (it's all completely FREE):

What is Lent?

Lent is the 40-day season of preparation before Easter. Catholics observe a weekly fasting from meat during three important times during Lent:

  • Ash Wednesday
  • Good Friday
  • Every Friday during Lent

A rare exception: When St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday, often there will be a dispensation for Catholics to enjoy corned beef for their celebrations.

What Counts as a Meatless Recipe for Lent?

A meatless recipe for Lent can actually include seafood. The "meatless" term refers specifically to avoiding chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc. However, fish and shellfish are acceptable.

Most Catholics choose to eat fish on the Fridays during Lent. In fact, Fish Fry Fridays are a beloved tradition throughout the midwest.

However, it is also possible to choose a recipe with no animal proteins, like cheese pizza or macaroni and cheese, as well.

NOTE: Several of the recipes below do involve chicken stock. I did some research and it appears that ingredient is allowed but if you want to be extra safe, you can easily swap out vegetable or fish stock in any of the recipes you need.

Curious about more rules for what you can eat during Lent? This article has really great in-depth descriptions of what is allowed and what is not.

Easy Seafood Recipes

This is usually the first thought for Friday night. If you want to introduce your kids to fish, now is a great time!

Shrimp is a top favorite for the Peanut and myself but Handyman Tim and Little Pea aren't as big of fans. Our family also loves salmon and tilapia.

Many of these recipes are interchangeable with your fish of choice, whatever your kids love will work.

Baked Fish with Breadcrumbs

The perfect beginner fish recipes for home cooks. My delicious baked fish with breadcrumbs has a delicious golden brown coating with hints of lemon and cayenne.

Baked Fish with Breadcrumbs
Crispy baked fish with breadcrumbs takes just 5 minutes to prep and cooks in 15 minutes or less. This light seafood dinner recipe tastes great when served with rice pilaf and an easy green veggie.
5 from 1 vote
The breaded fish is on a blue plate with a scoop of rice pilaf.

Easy Salmon Dinner

The perfect go-to fish recipe for a busy night is a simple oven baked salmon or air fryer salmon. You can season it with any one of my five favorite spices for salmon.

Pair it with your favorite green veggies like these easy air fryer green beans and a delicious side of herb butter rice.

Oven Baked Salmon
This simple oven baked salmon is perfect for beginner cooks or for a busy weeknight. Just 3 ingredients and 15 minutes to a delicious and healthy dinner.
5 from 39 votes
A platter of oven baked salmon next to roasted asparagus has a fork showing the flaky pink fish.
Air Fryer Salmon
Learn how to cook salmon in an air fryer for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner. Add fresh green beans and you'll have a one pot recipe you turn to again and again.
5 from 2 votes
Two salmon filets are surrounded by fresh green beans in an air fryer basket.

Spicy Shrimp with Orzo

Make a batch of this easy spicy shrimp and serve it over a plate of this orzo pasta recipe. The spice level can be adjusted to your kids' tastes.

5-Minute Spicy Shrimp
These easy spicy shrimp are a delicious simple appetizer or perfect on top of pasta or a simple salad.
5 from 2 votes
A blue plate has a pile of spicy shrimp with two lime wedges and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro over the top.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet

This delicious garlic butter shrimp skillet has a rich sauce that's perfect for dunking crispy bread in and is cooked in under 15 minutes.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet
This super quick recipe for garlic butter shrimp is made in a skillet on the stovetop in just 3 minutes. There's plenty of flavorful lemon butter sauce to dunk fresh bread or stir in cooked pasta or rice.
Inspired by Lucy Buffet's recipe from her Lulu's Kitchen cookbook.
5 from 1 vote
A big bowl of buttery shrimp with garlic bread for dunking.

Slowcooker Shrimp Stew

A great dinner for a busy evening is this slowcooker spicy shrimp stew because you can prep it ahead and just enjoy dinner later.

Spicy Shrimp Stew with Corn and Peppers
Mix things up in your crockpot with this easy, spicy shrimp stew loaded with peppers and corn. Serve with a biscuit or fresh cornbread for a comforting winter meal.
5 from 1 vote
A blue bowl of spicy shrimp stew shows tons of corn, red peppers, spicy sausage, and big shrimp.

Mustard Glazed Salmon

Our very favorite way to enjoy salmon is this mustard glazed salmon with couscous and oranges. It has the best texture!

Broiled Mustard Glazed Salmon
Brush the mustard glaze over the salmon and broil it for a fast and easy fish dinner for your family even on a busy weeknight.
5 from 1 vote
The salmon filet is coated in a brown sugar and mustard glaze and served on a white plate next to a bed of baby spinach.

Macadamia Crusted Halibut

If you have a special occasion that falls on a Friday and you still want to observe the fast, this macadamia crusted halibut is the perfect solution. It is so good we've even made it for Christmas!

Easy Macadamia Crusted Halibut with Quick Lemon Butter Cream Sauce
Macadamia crusted halibut is one of the best easy halibut recipes for a special occasion. Prep it earlier in the day and this oven-baked halibut will be ready to go in just minutes at dinner time leaving you with almost no cleanup. Serve it with a drizzle of rich lemon-butter cream sauce for a quick but decadent treat.
4.46 from 157 votes
A filet of macadamia encrusted halibut is covered with a drizzle of lemon butter cream sauce. Fresh green asparagus and a serving of wild rice sit next to it on the plate.


Shrimp Scampi

You could make my sheetpan shrimp scampi recipe and eat it as a healthy salad over a bed of greens or toss it into the copycat Olive Garden scampi recipe in place of the chicken.

Sheet Pan Shrimp and Vegetables
This easy entree salad is perfect for a healthy lunch or light dinner. Lemon garlic shrimp is served with roasted veggies over crisp lettuce and drizzled with an olive oil & butter sauce.
5 from 1 vote
A blue plate has a bed of lettuce topped with lemon garlic shrimp and roasted red peppers and asparagus spears.
Garlic Butter Scampi Pasta
The original recipe is a Copycat Olive Garden chicken scampi but you could skip the meat and just use the pasta and pair it with roasted shrimp for Lent.
5 from 1 vote
A blue bowl is filled with spaghetti noodles, sliced bell peppers, and chicken tenderloins to show the finished chicken scampi.

Flexible Shrimp Dinner Idea

Shrimp is a perfect Lent recipe for kids. Mix and match it with any sides you have in your pantry or freezer and a bag of frozen veggies or a salad.

You'll just want to follow a few tricks:

  1. Start by thawing frozen shrimp so they don't get soggy.
  2. Learn how to cook frozen shrimp so it keeps its texture.
  3. Serve it with one of our favorite dipping sauces for shrimp.

Or you can try my favorite 3-minute boiled shrimp recipe here:

Boiled Shrimp
Caraway seeds and bay leaves season the boiling water for the most delicious boiled shrimp. This method makes easy peel and eat shrimp for serving with shrimp cocktail.
5 from 43 votes
A serving dish filled with boiled shrimp with caraway seeds.

You can actually find 35+ easy shrimp recipes here along with tips on how to cook it well.

Cheesy Crab Melts

These delicious and easy crab melts make an amazing light dinner when paired with a simple salad like this Caesar salad or simple citrus salad.

Easy Crab Melts
This rich and delicious crab melt recipe makes a perfect party appetizer or simple dinner entree. Sweet lump crab meat is mixed together with savory cheeses and melted on fresh ciabatta bread.
4.99 from 55 votes
A platter of cheesy crab melts have green onions sprinkled over the top.

Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

Grab your favorite crab cakes from the seafood department or freezer section and serve them on a bed of salad greens with this easy remoulade sauce for the dressing.

Remoulade Sauce for Crab Cakes
This spicy cajun remoulade sauce for crab cakes is a great dipping sauce for shrimp or po'boy sandwich spread, too! Made from easy things you have in your pantry mixed with a few classic creole ingredients for a creamy sauce you'll want to use again and again.
4.97 from 52 votes
The remoulade sauce is on a plate with mini crab cakes and a spoon. Lemon wedges are scattered around and green onions sprinkled on top.

Meatless Soup Recipes

I love a simple soup for dinner. Just serve these with your favorite homemade bread or easy refrigerator biscuits or a classic grilled cheese!

When your kids are just DONE with fish, these are great meatless alternatives.

Cheese Tortellini Soup

This cheese tortellini soup is lighter and healthier than it sounds. You can mix and match the veggies as you wish.

Weight Watchers Tortellini Soup
This light and healthy tortellini soup features plenty of fresh veggies and is only 4 WW points per serving.
4.43 from 14 votes
A light and healthy tortellini soup has spinach and carrots floating in the broth.

Gnocchi Soup

One of my favorite soup recipes of all time is this gnocchi soup with lemon and dill. So perfect for spring.

Gnocchi Soup with Lemon and Dill
This light and healthy springtime soup is the perfect quick dinner or light lunch. Serve with warm baguettes and butter.
5 from 1 vote
A bowl of gnocchi soup has chunks of diced carrot and a clear broth. Slices of lemon are on the plate next to the bowl.

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Leave out the chicken in this Tuscan chicken soup recipe, there are so many veggies that compensate.

Tuscan Vegetable Soup
The original recipe for this Tuscan soup has chicken but for Lent you can easily skip it and make it a completely meatless soup recipe.
4.49 from 31 votes
A bowl of Tuscan chicken soup with round noodles, tomato broth, and fresh veggies chopped up inside.

Homemade Tomato Bisque

This easy homemade tomato soup recipe is perfect for a cozy dinner. Just add a grilled cheese sandwich for dunking!

Tomato Bisque Soup
Creamy tomato bisque soup is filled with softened vegetables for extra flavor and pureed for an elegant but easy soup to serve as a dinner entree for 8 or appetizer for 16.
5 from 1 vote
A white soup bowl filled with tomato bisque has brown bread croutons floating on top.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

This easy slow cooker corn chowder does originally have a bit of crumbled bacon in it, but for Lent you could easily leave that out to make it meatless.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
Sweet slow cooker corn chowder with savory bacon bits and fresh chives on top makes a delicious light dinner or cozy lunch at the start of soup season. Make it with fresh or frozen corn all year round.
5 from 1 vote
A white bowl of corn chowder sits on a blue plate. There is chunks of corn and bacon floating on top of the soup.

Irish Potato Soup

This veggie-based Irish potato soup is a warm and cozy meatless dinner option during the late winter.

It's also a fun option if St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday and you don't have a dispensation from fasting.

Irish Potato Soup
Creamy Irish potato soup is loaded with farmhouse style vegetables and has all the classic flavors of a traditional Irish soup. Serve it as an elegant first course or cozy dinner with a sandwich.
5 from 46 votes
A white bowl of creamy Irish potato soup has fresh chives sprinkled on top and a spoon on the side.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

The beef broth that forms the base of this sweet and sour soup is not a problem for Lenten fasting, you just can't have the meat itself.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup
This easy sweet and sour cabbage soup is a delicious meatless soup made with tons of fresh veggies and a rich and unique beef and tomato based broth. Sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup and balanced with lots of fresh lemon juice for a fantastic sweet and sour flavor you'll love. Serve with warm, fresh bread for a healthy dinner and freeze the leftovers for a quick meal another time.
5 from 45 votes
A white bowl of cabbage soup with a spoon on the side.

French Onion Soup

A hearty rich onion soup with cheesy toasts on top?? Yes, please. This French onion soup would definitely be a satisfying option.

French Onion Soup
This rich beefy French Onion Soup is a delicious cozy comfort dish for a family meal. Elegant enough to serve to company, too! Topped with a crispy baguette and ooey-gooey melted cheese.
3.75 from 4 votes
A bowl of French onion soup has toasted baguette slices with melted cheese over the top.

Meatless Pasta & Rice Recipes

My kids could LIVE on pasta alone. But, mama can only handle buttered noodles so often.

From spicy to creamy, there is sure to be something on this list that will please your family!

Fettuccini Alfredo

My kids beg for this Fettucini Alfredo recipe all year long. So quick and easy. Just add a bag of frozen peas.

Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce
This homemade Alfredo sauce is quick and easy to make on a busy weeknight. So much tastier and healthier than the jarred variety, it uses real ingredients you likely already have on hand!
5 from 43 votes
A plate of spaghetti coated in homemade alfredo sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This baked macaroni and cheese is so much better than boxed, and is sure to be a hit. Best part? It only takes 15 minutes to bake and can be prepped ahead.

Make Ahead Mac and Cheese
This easy baked mac and cheese recipe is the perfect side dish or dinner fix. Topped with plenty of crunchy breadcrumbs and perfectly cooked pasta, it will be your go-to recipe at the holidays.
4.57 from 41 votes
A blue baking dish filled with mac and cheese with bread crumb topping. A serving spoon has removed a portion to show the creamy elbow noodles.

Farfalle Primavera

Farfalle primavera is loaded with so many fresh vegetables you won't even miss the meat. I make a big batch and the leftovers heat up wonderfully.

Creamy Farfalle Primavera
This pasta primavera recipe is simply loaded with fresh vegetables and tossed in a delicate lemony cream sauce. Make this meatless meal that reheats well for easy lunches or leftovers. Double the pasta and sauce and you could easily make enough to share for a meal train dinner while keeping the other half for your family.
5 from 3 votes
A white bowl is filled with farfalle pasta and fresh vegetables.

Peanut Butter Noodles

This spicy Thai peanut noodles recipe is still tasty even without the sticky chicken!

Asian Peanut Butter Pasta
This savory peanut butter and soy pasta dish is an easy way to make your own take out at home.
5 from 1 vote
A bowl of peanut butter noodles has a fork pulling up the pasta to show the sauce and veggies.

Veggie Fried Rice

You can add extra egg to boost the protein in this delicious and easy meatless vegetable fried rice.

Vegetable Fried Rice
The original recipe does include chicken, but you can double up on the vegetables to make this a completely meatless entree.
5 from 3 votes

Fresh Tomato Pasta

This simple fresh tomato pasta recipe is easy to make in a pinch. You could pair it with shrimp if you needed more protein.

Fresh Tomato Pasta
When fresh tomatoes are at their peak, this is the perfect summery pasta recipe. The heat from the pasta just warms the chopped cherry tomatoes to make a simple dinner.
5 from 1 vote
A white bowl is filled with thin spaghetti and fresh cherry tomatoes and arugula. Parmesan is sprinkled over the top.

Roasted Veggie Pasta Toss

With enough variety, your tastebuds will be so busy they won't miss the meat in this roasted vegetables pasta.

Just be sure to leave out the meatballs from this recipe. You could always add shrimp if needed.

Pasta with Roasted Broccolini
This simple pasta dish is loaded with fresh vegetables and is easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Bow tie pasta is tossed with roasted broccolini, roasted tomatoes, and chicken meatballs.

Garden Lasagna Cupcakes

My kids love to help assemble these delicious garden lasagna cupcakes made with wonton wrappers. Filled with yummy veggies, they are always a hit.

Garden Lasagna Cups
Deliciously cheesy vegetable lasagna cups are a fun recipe to cook with kids. Set up all the fillings in an assembly line at the counter and let your young chefs prepare these homemade lasagana cups featuring fresh zucchini, spinach, corn, and tomato sauce with plenty of bubbling hot cheese.
5 from 1 vote
A muffin tin filled with garden lasagna cupcakes shows the spinach and tomatoes covered in melted cheese.

Goat Cheese Pasta

This creamy goat cheese pasta with baby spinach is a fantastic meatless pasta recipe.

Goat Cheese Pasta
Rich and creamy goat cheese pasta with baby spinach is an easy pasta skillet recipe. This dish is elegant enough for a holiday meal but easy enough for a busy weeknight. Serve it as a meatless main dish or as a delicious side dish with spicy meatballs, grilled chicken, or fish or shrimp.
5 from 1 vote
A white bowl filled with creamy spiral noodles with baby spinach leaves mixed in.

Cheese Tortelloni with Pesto

Just 3 ingredients, this cheese tortelloni with pesto is my favorite Costco dinner.

Cheese Tortelloni with Pesto
This super easy 3-ingredient dinner is perfect for making the night after a Costco run. Easy cheese tortelloni tossed with pesto and served with roasted tomatoes is a delicious and satisfying dinner in a pinch.
5 from 2 votes
A bowl of cheese tortellini with pesto sauce and roasted tomatoes.

No Boil Baked Spaghetti

This baked spaghetti is one of my newest favorite dinner tricks. Be sure to leave out the ground turkey, you could add extra bell peppers or even chopped zucchini.

Baked Spaghetti
The original recipe includes ground turkey but you can easily leave it out to make this a vegetarian pasta recipe.
5 from 44 votes
A pan of baked spaghetti has a spoon serving up a portion from the corner.

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta

I could eat this creamy lemon garlic pasta every Friday in Lent and be a very happy lady. It is great all by itself but would taste even better with a few shrimp on top.

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta
Rich and creamy lemon garlic pasta can be made with Meyer lemons or regular lemons any time of year. This makes a delicious meatless main dish or a decadent pasta side dish for baked chicken or fish.
5 from 1 vote
A white bowl is filled with creamy lemon garlic pasta with fresh dill and lemon slices for garnish.

Meatless Pizza Recipes

If you want to have a little more fun on your Friday night, you could make homemade pizza with the kids.

Prep a batch of this easy pizza dough in your bread maker earlier in the afternoon and you'll be ready to top it with your favorite meatless toppings and bake the pizza for dinner.

My kids LOVE these meatless cheesy pokey sticks made with the pizza dough and of course there's always a classic cheese pizza.

Homemade Pokey Sticks
These copycat pokey sticks are inspired by the college delivery service Gumby's Pizza. Make your own cheesy garlic breadsticks for pizza night in just minutes using your bread machine. Don't forget to serve it with cups of ranch dressing!
4.95 from 40 votes
Homemade pokey sticks have been baked and cut into breadsticks.
Cheese Pizza
The best cheese pizza ever starts with an easy pizza crust, fantastic pizza sauce, and the best cheese topping ever.
5 from 39 votes
A homemade cheese pizza is sliced and ready to serve.

You could also make my spinach alfredo pizza (just leave off the chicken!) or my easy bruschetta pizza.

Both this sweet corn pizza and this fresh peach pizza would also work if you skip the bacon.

Dinner Ideas That Don't Require a Recipe

And for the craziest of busy evenings, sometimes you just need to rely on the shortcuts!

There is no shame in whipping together a dinner out of one of these meatless menus:

  1. Poached or scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit
  2. Frozen breaded tilapia cutlets with boxed mac and cheese & frozen veg
  3. Grilled cheese & store-bought tomato soup
  4. Cheese pizza--frozen or delivery!
  5. Breakfast for Dinner: pancakes, waffles, or french toast

Breakfast and Lunch Ideas for Lent

Don't get caught by surprise, have a plan for both breakfast and lunch during Lent, too! Our family finds lunches the most difficult because we are often away from home and with people who do not observe the Lenten fast.

Plan ahead and pack these breakfasts to go and easy lunches:

A photo collage shows 5 different meatless dinner ideas for kids during Lent.

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