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Are you ready to start cooking with kids but aren’t sure what your kids are capable of? I’m sharing tips on how to assign tasks and what tools are best. There are so many benefits to getting your kids involved in cooking.
Why is cooking with kids important?
Teaching kids to cook is an incredibly important life skill that has become surprisingly uncommon. Kids can also be incredibly helpful when you are sick or as life gets busier if you know how to use them.
Also, children can experience an increase in self esteem which could possibly carry over into other areas. An added bonus is the quality time they experience as they cook with someone they love. There are countless studies showing that this kind of time spent with your children reaps huge dividends.
Most importantly, when kids help cook they are way more likely to try new foods because they were an integral part of making it! There is a lot of pride that comes from knowing you created something, for both kids and adults.
It has done wonders for my family to make the time to cook with my kids.
See my Cooking With Kids category for easy recipes you can make together!
See my resource guide on How to teach your children to be world explorers for even more tips and tricks!
Tips for cooking with kids
I’m sharing some general guidelines on what kids can do by age group, but remember you know your children best, so assign the tasks that you feel confident they can handle.
Assign age appropriate tasks
Giving kids tasks that are appropriate for their age helps reduce the stress (and mess!) for both you and your child.
Also important to remember is that some children may need more guidance with preforming the tasks. For some children they may catch on quickly while others may need repeated visual and physical help to complete their tasks.
Note: Older children can also do tasks for any group younger than they are.
Ages 18 months to 5 years old
- measuring wet or dry ingredients
- stirring ingredients in a bowl
- rinsing fruits or vegetables
- pouring liquid ingredients
- mashing ingredients like bananas, potatoes, or cooked vegetables
- rolling out dough with a rolling pin or patting dough down with their hands
- using cookie cutters
- cutting soft fruits with a butter knife or plastic knife
- pick herbs off stems
- use kid safe scissors to cut herbs or soft ingredients like tortillas
- pick stems from fruits like grapes
Tips for working with kids up to 3 years old
To be most successful with small children, I have found that having them sit or kneel on chairs or a bench at the kitchen table works best. A large island can also work well if you have one.
Also, with children in this age group, they will most likely need assistance in accomplishing any of these tasks. For example, you can hold the measuring cup and assist them in scooping flour into it or you may need to hold the bowl while they stir or mash ingredients.
Ages 6 to 10
- whisk eggs, whipped cream, or batters
- peel with a vegetable peeler
- crack eggs
- use a can opener
- use a box grater
- juice citrus fruits
- shuck corn
- read a recipe
- use a hand crank pasta machine
- use a paring knife or other small knife
- start and stop timers
- use thermometers
- scramble eggs
- make grilled cheese
- flip pancakes
- knead dough
Tips for working with kids up to 10 years old
Children in this age group will most likely need supervision but very little assistance while doing their task. The older end of this age group may be able to do many of these tasks without any real supervision.
Ages 11 & up
- help plan with meal planning
- use large knives
- use and clean most kitchen appliances like blender, stand mixer, food processor, waffle maker
- use the stove top or oven
- follow a recipe on their own
- make breads and muffins
- cook meats on a grill or stove top
Tips for working with kids over 11 years old
This is the age group where kids really become a big help in the kitchen. They are able to accomplish tasks on their own and as they gain more confidence can even make recipes completely on their own.
It’s a great age for honing their cooking skills, and building on these skills is a great confidence booster at a time when self confidence can suffer as they progress through puberty.
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Essential tools for cooking with kids
I’ve put together a list of some basic tools that will come in handy when cooking with kids.
Not only are kid sized aprons fun for kids, unless you love doing loads of laundry, they help keep your kiddos clean. If you do enjoy doing mountains of laundry please come over and tackle mine! Thanks!
Mixing bowls with non-slip bottoms are a life saver when cooking with kids. The rubber bottoms help to prevent slippage from over excited mixing or accidental knocks.
The whisking motion can be hard for younger kids to really understand. Using this bouncy spring whisk is a more natural movement for them since it works in a up and down motion.
For the same reasons above, non slip cutting boards make everything less stressful. Plus, when you are ready to involve sharp knives having cutting boards that won’t slip makes everyone feel more confident.
An egg slicer can be used for more than just slicing eggs. It is perfect for slicing soft foods like mushrooms and strawberries and a simple motion for even the littlest chefs.
This wavy knife is another great starting tool for kiddos. It is great for cutting soft foods like bananas, cheese, cucumbers, or cooked vegetables.
Although you can start little ones off with a butter knife to cut soft foods, eventually they will be ready to upgrade to a real knife.
I love this knife because it has a ring guide to help kids learn to hold a knife properly plus it comes with a finger guard. The finger guard is a great tool to teach kids how to tuck their fingers together to protect them when cutting.
If handing your child a knife strikes fear in your heart, cutting gloves can give you a little bit of extra security. Although they won’t protect their little hands from everything, they can definitely help prevent the stray knife cut from inflicting a ton of damage.
See more top tools for cooking with kids!
Are there any tools you have found essential for cooking with kids? Have any tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know what has worked for you!