Sometimes, as the family cook, you just need a win. In these moments, many parents look to kid-menu staples that they know their kids will love like burgers, hot dogs, or mac and cheese. Hey, makes sense to me—but I’ve found something even better that happens to also lend itself to a more nutritious meal. And it involves pretzels.

My revelation about pretzels came after trying the pretzel crusted chicken recipe that I’ve included below. My kids loved it so much that I thought: Hey, why not coat other foods in pretzels, too? So I did. And it worked. As it turns out, a crushed pretzel coating can make everything from salmon to tofu go down easy, especially if you throw in a dipping sauce (ketchup qualifies). Give these 5 pretzel crusted dinner recipes a try and you’ll see what I mean.

Related: The best stir fry recipes for kids — and parents, too.


My favorite way to use pretzels at dinner time is to make these Pretzel Crusted Chicken Cutlets (above) at Epicurious. Because pretzels + chicken is a win. This recipe actually comes with instructions on how to make creamy cauliflower puree (a great, lightened version of mashed potatoes) and arugula. A complete, well balanced comfort meal with veggies in 30 minutes? Oh, bookmark this now. Please.


Chicken tenders + pretzels? Oh, the kids will freak for these Baked Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Tenders | Just a Taste
This recipes for Baked Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Tenders at Just A Taste isn’t all that different from the recipe for chicken cutlets above, but I love the clear instructions here and, well, chicken tenders. This will look, feel, and taste familiar to even very picky eaters. In fact, make a double batch and freeze the extras to have on hand for a quick weeknight meal to go with any veggie you want (microwave steamed veggies will do you right real quick).


Pretzel Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin Sliders—because pretzels make everything better | The Food Network

Chicken might be the kids’ favorite, but I think that pork and pretzels are a perfect match. If you’re not buying it, take one look at these Pretzel-Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Sliders at The Food Network and tell me I’m not on to something! Pretzels make an awesome salty, crunchy crust that’s especially perfect tucked inside a soft roll with a spicy (if you want) sauce. Yum.

Related: 5 kid-friendly dinners you can cook straight from the freezer.


This Honey Mustard Pretzel & Pistachio Crusted Salmon is proof that a good pretzel crust can easily be made with gluten-free pretzels, too. | Glutino

If you want something lighter and your kids like fish—or you’re hoping to inspire them to like fish—try this Honey-Mustard Pretzel and Pistachio Crusted Salmon created by Gretchen of Kumquat Blog at the Glutino site. You don’t have to be gluten-free to make this recipe—regular pretzels will work just fine—but I love that so many gluten-free pretzels are a worthy stand-in of their gluten-full counterparts, making this a great dinner for anyone.


Tofu with BIG flavor? Indeed, and vegan, too, thanks to this smart recipe and a crunchy pretzel crust: Pretzel and Cashew Crusted Tofu | May I Have That Recipe

And while we’re thinking about pretzel crusted dinner recipes for all, let’s talk about this recipe for Pretzel and Cashew Crusted Tofu at May I Have That Recipe. This is so smart and tasty that it might even get me to give tofu a chance. Ha! All joking aside, great care is taken in this recipe to ensure that the tofu has great flavor and they serve it with a Sweet Onion Chutney to add even more flavor to the mix. If you’re family is vegan or you’re ever serving one a meal that you hope your family will love, too, give this a try.