Cooking with Kids at Every Age

Cooking with kids, do you do it? We hear ya- it can be a pain, make a mess, take forever and often it leads to tantrums. However, it can also be a lot of fun! There are extra benefits too like learning math and science and even learning to love all foods! Seriously, there is lots of evidence that baking and cooking with kids is a strategy to prevent and manage picky eating. Here are our favorite tips on how to get cooking with kids. Have fun!

Cooking with kids (all of them)

Involving kids from farm to fork is an evidence-based trick to get kids of all ages exposed to more types of food. It’s true! Try involving kids in planning and cooking and they are more likely to try a new food. Some ideas that are all-age appropriate are:

  1. Grow your own food. This includes both a serious vegetable gardens to herbs in a pot on your counter. 
  2. Talk about food. Whether you are in the kitchen, farmer’s market or in the grocery store, you can talk about what foods are, how they taste or feel in your mouth and where they come from. Sometimes it’s fun to pick out the crazy looking ones and give it a try!
  3. Go to the source. It’s fun to take a field trip and pick your own. 
Do you have the right equipment to cook with kids? Check out our list of favorites.

Cooking with toddlers 

Toddlers want to feel independent, and there are plenty of safe roles in the kitchen. They can:

  • rinse fruits and veggies
  • place items in trash
  • tear lettuce or greens
  • make faces out of fruits and veggies
  • cut with non metal knives (supervised, please)

If you don’t have a toddler-safe knife, it really is a game changer.

Cooking with 3 year olds

Watch out, these kiddos are ready to help. Here we recommend keeping them to the counter and far away from anything hot. In the age group tasks they can do are:

  • add ingredients
  • stir food in bowls
  • count items
  • talk texture and feel the different ingredients

Cooking with 4 year olds

From here on out you’ve got some serious cooks on your hands. In addition to meal planning and picking out foods, some ideas are to:

  • help measure ingredients
  • crack eggs
  • set the table
  • help assemble sandwiches

Cooking with 5 year olds

Some reality TV shows show this is the time to really lean into becoming a celebrity chef. For the rest of us, try out these fun tasks:

  • measure liquids
  • cut soft foods with a butter knife
  • use an egg beater

Want more?

We have a full collection of recipes for little ones aged toddler and up. 
Also! This year there has been lots of good additions to the “Cook with Kids Cookbook” library! Here are some of our favorite (affiliate link alert!)

The Family that Cooks Together

If your dad is an Iron Chef and you all make a cookbook…

Super Good Baking for Kids

Learn the basics of baking through this yummy recipes!

The Big Fun Kids Cookbook

Recipes designed for kids to make, including on their own.

Milk Bar Kids Only

Start drooling over these doable recipes.