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How to Cook and Bake with your Kids

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There is nothing cuter and more beneficial than Children cooking. Being able to teach your children independence, life skills, and have special time with them is so important. These easy tips will show you how to cook & bake with your kids without loosing your mind.

A toddler in a red dinosaur apron zesting a lemon over a bowl with a text overlay that reads \"How to cook with kids\"

When it comes to cooking with ours kids, sometimes its easier said than done. I get it – when its a special holiday or a “memory making moment”, you totally make the time. But an average Monday night? That’s harder.

By dinner time, everyone’s patience is waning, and you really, really just want your kiddo to go watch an episode (or two) of Paw Patrol while you have 30 minutes of semi-quiet to make dinner in. And sometimes those sweet little angels try to help, but their “help” is sooo not helpful. But instead, I encourage you to get them into the kitchen!

Let them make mistakes.

Let them drip pancake batter on the counter.

Let them hunt down that egg shell they crushed everywhere.

Let them mop up the milk they spilled on the counter.

Its OK!

Child Holding Eggs

 

Why You Should Get Your Kids In The Kitchen:

  • When your kids get to help out, they take ownership in what is going on. That ownership will help them be invested in the outcome. Meaning, if your kid cooks, they will be more likely to taste and actually eat what they have created! For more tips on this, read “How to Raise Adventurous Eaters“.
  • Spending quality time with your kids while preparing food opens up amazing opportunities to talk about where food comes from, which also gives us a great opportunity to talk about the nutrition and health benefits of what you are eating (Yes, you can apply this to cookies, too!).
  • Help build a positive relationship with food!
  • This is an excellent opportunity to get your kids involved in math, science and language skills! They also develop independence, responsibility, and a sense of their own culture while learning to cook and bake with family.

Here are 10 simple recipes kids can help you cook!

kids hands measuring spices for baking

Tasks for Kids in the Kitchen:

** Please reserve judgement based on your child’s capabilities! The following are simply guidelines! And always first demonstrate and supervise the use of a new tool or technique. 

  • Kids aged 1-3 Years Old – Can help you measure dry ingredients, pour pre-measured liquid ingredients, stir everything in sight, wash fruits and vegetables, squeeze lemons, use a salad spinner, pick fresh herbs off of stems, knead dough, use a pastry brush to spread oil/butter or egg wash, using a rolling pin, and mashing!
  • Kids aged 4-6 Years Old – Can help slice soft fruits and vegetables with a small pairing knife (think strawberries, zucchini, etc), grease pans, pour liquids, use a zester, de-seed tomatoes and peppers, spread things like peanut butter or frosting, knead dough, rinsing and draining beans or canned vegetables, form cookies and patties, and garnishing plates.
  • Kids aged 7-10 Years Old – Can start helping around the stove (with lots of observation and assistance!), cutting harder foods, start chopping harder fruits and vegetables (with supervision) read and lead recipes, skewering food, use a pizza cutter, slicing bread, and help put away leftovers.

Head over to my guide on knife skills for kids for more specific instruction!

A small child slicing hot dogs on a white cutting board with a knife

Tips to Start Children Cooking:

  1. Clear A Space –  Cooking and baking with children always seems to go easier when you start with clean counters and elbow room to maneuver in!
  2. Get out your “mes en place” – all the ingredients and tools you need for a recipe BEFORE you start cooking. This helps get everything within reaching distance, reduces time hunting things down, and helps you focus all your attention in one spot of your kitchen (which is handy with small helpers).
  3. Have a Trash Bowl Ready –  to throw scraps and trash in, eliminating the need to walk away from your child when you take something to the trashcan. Try to keep everything focused within the small section of kitchen you are in – that way you don’t leave your children unattended for even a second.
  4. Make a standing date – One way to reduce stress and increase intentionality of cooking with kids during the week is to create a standing date where everyone knows the kids will help. That way YOU can be mentally prepared, your kids are excited about the idea, and everyone can work together in a peaceful and fun way.
  5. Assign different tasks to children of different age groups (say the younger kids get to help you measure, stir, and prepare things first and then the older kids can help you cook it) or try working with one child at a time.
  6. Emphasize sanitation and safety! Always, always, always!
A child rolling out pasta dough on a tan countertop dusted in flour, using a brown wooden rolling pin

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Other Resources you need to raise kids who love to eat food:

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20 Comments

  1. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids says:

    Great ideas and tips! I love having my kids helping me with cooking and baking. I also have my kids help with my weekly menu planning (even though macaroni & cheese and pancakes always seem to be requested…) and they help me getting groceries.

  2. I don’t have kids but I did bake with my neighbor, who’s 3-years old, and he loved rolling out cookie dough, pressing cutters and putting on the sprinkles! He also left with a sugar high!

  3. Such fun tips!! I have two kiddos who are always wanting to get into my kitchen with me, so I’ll be using these for sure 🙂

  4. I don’t have kids, but I can imagine having them in the kitchen might be a test of your patience! These are great tips for moms!

  5. GREAT tips! I have four kids, my older two are really into helping in the kitchen, and my two year old like to try and help where she can. Once my infant gets old enough, she will be rolling up her sleeves to help as well!

  6. I absolutely love these tips! I so want my two-year-old to enjoy cooking as much as I do, but you’re right, it’s hard to motivate myself to take the time on a Monday night after a long day at work. It is so worth it though! Pinned this for later reference!

  7. This is so appropriate! I’m actually baking biscuits today with my grandchildren so this couldn’t be more timely! Thanks so much for the tips.

  8. Kiki Johnson says:

    This is gold! I am not a mom myself but I recently turned godmother and had to promise the mom to teach the little one how to bake and cook 🙂 I will bookmark this!

  9. Sharon RIgsby says:

    What a great idea!! This would be great for kids or grandkids!!

  10. Such great tips here! I’m an aunt to sweet and helpful little boys – totally going to put this advice into action next time they’re visiting.

  11. dixya @food, pleasure, and health says:

    such a great post and resource for moms with kiddos. it can be intimidating and almost easy to cook and call it a day but i think inviting and making kid part of the process is so so important.

  12. Katie Crenshaw | A Fork's Tale says:

    I love this post!! You are so right. We need our kids in the kitchen to foster creative cooking, bonding time, and adventurist eating… It is okay for the mess and mistakes. I have a 21 year old and a 16 year old. They are not going near the kitchen now unless I am feeding them…. They are in that “Fast Food” phase if there isn’t someone else making a homemade meal. Time flies and they are grown. Enjoy the moments while you can.

  13. prasanna hede says:

    wonderful post! great tips ,I will ask my little one to help me and learn in the kitchen next time!

  14. I think it is a fantastic idea to let kids help in the kitchen. Yes, sometimes it is easier to do it ourselves, but then the kids will never learn. Before the days of all the electronics, kids did spend more time in the kitchen with mom and dad. I got my love from cooking from my mom and I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t in there helping her.

  15. Amanda Mason says:

    What a great post and no needed in a day and age where cooking doesn’t occur nearly as much as it used to! My daughter loves to cook and I rarely encourage her to do so…this is a reminder of me to have her help so I can do other things while she gains the skill sets to learn more on cooking!

  16. I’ve always enjoyed your posts about cooking with and for your children. I think these are great suggestions!

  17. Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen says:

    This is such a great guide on how to get kids involved in the kitchen! I love the idea of having a standing date for them helping. It’s definitely tricky at first not to try to take over all of the tasks, but it’s so rewarding to watch them grow in their confidence in the kitchen!

  18. Love this post. It’s so important to start kids young and to teach them how to cook and about ingredient identification. Really think this post is such a great idea!

  19. I will save some of your tips for later. I like your approach! My son is not interested in cooking yet but I hope one day he will.

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