young girl making cookies

Why Cook with Kids?

“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking.  It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.”

Guy Fieri

Summer vacation!  I’ve been looking forward to doing nothing all year!  Well, I found out my boredom plans were put on the back burner and were replaced with a bunch of blue cue cards.  Written in my mom’s classic script (not printing…cursive) was a recipe book name and page number.  The recipes were vegetable-heavy and all to be taken from the garden.  She would have all the other items in the fridge that were needed.  

We had been helping my mom in the kitchen up to this point, in the little ways kids do.  But this time – I was to do it all on my own.  I could call her if I were really stuck (or ask my sister, but that was considered cheating). But it was best if I could figure it out on my own.  She said it wouldn’t turn out sometimes, but it didn’t matter – learn and have fun.

So there my summer was spent.  It was two-fold: I was going to learn how to cook from scratch, reading and cooking an entire recipe on my own.  And I was going to learn how to identify and (correctly) harvest vegetables.  I think she also wished it bred me a green thumb, but that was a little slow-growing…(see my Why Garden article).

Empowering Through Cooking

Looking back, I shake my head.  My mom, newly widowed, raising three kids, and working full time, managed to make somehow a whole summer’s worth of recipe cards for me, all carefully chosen so most ingredients were from the garden.  She knew it was good for me, and she was right.  I loved it.  I felt independent, and my confidence grew in the kitchen and the garden.  And as a young girl, that was powerful.  

I also experienced an incredible feeling: the happiness that comes from giving.  I was helping my mom like a little sidekick helping the superhero.  After all day of crime-fighting (at the office) and coming home exhausted, she could have a fresh, home-cooked meal ready (that was hopefully edible).  It was small, but to a kid – small things seem enormous.  And now?  I still love to cook.  My favourite ingredient?  Homegrown vegetables.  

The Incredible Benefits of Learning to Cook

The benefits of teaching kids to cook are endless.  It enhances math and motor skills, reading and comprehension, concentration and focus, dexterity, multi-tasking, and life skills like being safe around stoves and using knives correctly and safely.  Cooking introduces SCIENCE!!  It also builds confidence and resilience (lots of things don’t turn out!) and lays the foundation for healthy eating later in life.

So, parents:  kids love work.  We really do.  We may complain, roll our eyes, and drag our feet…but ultimately, we’ll love it.  And we’ll feel good.  And we’ll be happy.  Kids are smart – give them a chance to figure things out on their own.  Cook with your kids!

And kids: don’t be afraid of work.  Work isn’t scary.  It’s not boring (even though at first it may seem like it).  It’s a challenge sometimes, yes, but what isn’t? Don’t you feel the most accomplished when you build that extra big snowman?  Climb that super large hill?  When you push yourself to run to one more soccer base?  Or when you finally passed that game level, you kept dying?  See it as an adventure.  And you may be surprised how much you end up loving it.  Believe us.  We were kids too.

Oh, and: vegetables are really good.  Really.  Just wait.

Cooking Nurtures Skill Development

Language Development

Reading, comprehension, communication

Physical Development and Motor Skills

Chopping, pouring, mixing, stirring, squeezing, spreading, kneading, tearing leaves, peeling


Cooks and bakers need to learn a little science and math

Social-Emotional Development

Builds confidence, self-esteem, and independence


Promotes healthy eating and appreciation for a variety of foods

Cognitive/Life Skills

Teaches problem-solving, safety skills, following instructions, multitasking, and planning. It helps develop focus, concentration, creativity, resilience, confidence, and independence.


Builds family bonds and cooperation


Experiment, decorate, and create your own recipes


Learning to cook foods from different cultures is a way to teach kids about different views and tastes and how much fun it is to embrace, appreciate and enjoy the variety of amazing people in our world.

Cooking Up Enthusiasm With Reading

Little Helpers Toddler Cookbook (1-4 years)

  • Easy instructions, color-coded that highlight child-friendly steps
  • Healthy, wholesome ingredients, many incorporate natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup
  • Safety guide for introducing safely to tools and even gives a list of kid-friendly kitchen tools

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs

  • With nearly 14,000 5 STAR reviews… I mean, that says something, right?
  • 100+ recipes
  • From America’s Test Kitchen
  • Kid-tested and approved recipes, thoroughly tested by more than 750 kids
  • Includes recipes for breakfast, snacks and beverages, dinners, desserts, and more.
  • Step-by-step photos of tips and techniques
  • Testimonials and product reviews from kid cooks

Food Network Magazine The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook

  • Includes 150+ recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts
  • Developed by the chefs from Food Network’s test kitchen
  • Safety in the kitchen is highlighted
  • Cooking tips and color photos for every recipe
  • Choose-your-own-adventure recipes (like design-your-own Stuffed French Toast)
  • Fun food games and quizzes (like “What’s Your Hot Dog IQ?”)
  • Bonus coloring book pages

Disney: The Simple Family Cookbook

Or Disney Princess Cookbook

  • If you need a way to lure your kids into the kitchen… maybe some Disney characters will help!
  • 100 simple recipes inspired by Disney characters (Spaghetti with Lady and the Tramp, Sweet Snowballs with Olaf and Elsa, and Hawaiian pizza with Lilo and Stitch)
  • Each recipe uses only 2-5 ingredients
  • Simple instructions


The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

  • Nearly 6,000 Five Star reviews
  • Tested by more than 5,000 kids
  • Includes recipes for breakfast, bread, pizzas, cookies, cupcakes, pretzels, empanadas, pies, brownies, and cakes.
  • Step-by-step photos of tips and techniques
  • Testimonials (and even some product reviews!) from kid test cooks

MasterChef Junior Bakes!: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Bakers

  • 100+ recipes
  • Detailed step-by-step photos, in-depth MasterChef Lessons
  • Practical hints about must-have ingredients, neat kitchen gear, and the science of baking
  • Learn important basic baking skills like how to cream butter, shallow fry, whip, and knead bread

Getting Started

See Cooking with Kids for suggestions, tips, free recipes, and resources.

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