5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Ethnic Foods

Some kids will eat anything you put in front of them. Most kids will eat the things they like and then suddenly hate those things the next day without any rhyme or reason. And then there are kids that hate everything except pizza or chocolate. It can be a huge headache for any parent, especially when you have all different types of eaters at your table. You don’t want to serve the same old things day in and day out, but you don’t want them to go on a hunger strike the instant you trot out something a little different.


Don’t despair. You can get even the pickiest child at your table to taste something new, even ethnic foods,  if you follow these helpful hints.


  1. Discreetly combat the pickiness.

First, if you have a picky child that refuses all food unless it’s topped with sugar, you’ll have to reverse the situation a little bit. Stop giving in to your child’s food demands. Stay calm while insisting she eat the food at the table. It might result in some fussing at first, but it will go over best if you serve something you know she’ll eat, like mashed potatoes, alongside the newer stuff you’ll serve.

  1. Don’t start out with anything too unusual.

If you’ve been dying for Chinese food but are worried the kids will turn up their noses and only eat the fried wontons on the table, just stop. Let them munch on those. It will make them more likely to try the other things you order. You’ll also want to order things that aren’t too strange for them at first. Dishes of spicy tofu then are not a wise choice. Instead, look for things like orange chicken or honey garlic chicken that will have a sweet sauce over fried bits of chicken. If your child loves chicken nuggets, they’ll likely gobble up the whole plate and you’ll be met with a resounding “Yay!” the next time you suggest Chinese food.

  1. Set a good example.

Kids are much more likely to try something new if you’re doing it too. If your spouse suggests something that doesn’t enthuse you from the Chinese menu, smile and take a bite anyway. You don’t have to love it, or even like it. But showing your kids that you took a try will encourage them to do the same.

  1. Take them out for ethnic foods.

To Chinese children and children from other countries around the globe, their cuisine is not unusual. Why should it be any different here? It’s like the old saying, “What is normal?” Everyone’s own version of normal will vary but by making things that are ethnic feel more normal, you’re more likely to get a robust response from your children when it comes to trying the new Chinese restaurant that just opened up or visiting other ethnic restaurants. It’s not just about the food either. Children should learn about other countries and cultures early on. Food helps bridge that gap. When you live in a different place, the best way to get to know it and embrace it is in the food. So teach your children early on and they’re more likely to gravitate toward these foods.

  1. Try your hand at cooking ethnic meals at home.

It might seem daunting to try to cook a different type of cuisine, but it really is much simpler than you imagine. A good cookbook can help you get started. Shop for the ingredients, and involve your kids in that process too if possible. It will make cooking things like orange chicken or beef with broccoli seem less different. You can also give them tasks to perform in the kitchen to help you make the meal. By being a part of the process, they’ll be much more likely to tuck into it at the table.


Using these tips, you’ll find that they will help broaden your child’s food horizons. Remember to start off small and gradually branch out. Try new flavors with foods you know your child likes, such as chicken in an ethnic sauce, and you’ll be going a long way to creating a little foodie version of yourself.



Maggie Zhu is the author of The Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Cookbook and the owner of Omnivore’s Cookbook since 2013. Her passion is sharing modern Chinese recipes that teach you how to cook better food with a less labor-intensive approach. Her website was featured by Yahoo News as one of the seven food blogs you should be following for Asian cuisine. She is originally from Beijing, and now cooks from her Austin, Texas kitchen.