As we head into summer, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my favorite recipes and ideas on How to Teach Kids to Cook.
Teaching kids to cook is a bit of a passion of mine. I believe that cooking is a really important life skill that every person should have at least a basic grasp of.
I don’t expect that everyone will share quite the love I have for cooking and baking… but to me, basic cooking skills are the same as learning how to run a load of laundry, or balance a budget… they are essential to being a well rounded, successful adult.
My philosophy on teaching kids to cook is… If they can read (with some level of comprehension), they can cook. It’s as simple as that (for adults too).
If you are able to read, and are willing to submit yourself to following a recipe, you will have success with cooking… not 100% of the time, but with some practice you will have success most of the time.
In this post I’m going to share how I’ve taught my own kids (now ages 12 and 15) to cook, how I’ve taught cooking classes for children of my friends, and all the recipes and tips you need to teach the children in your life to cook.
to save for later!
To have success, and an enjoyable experience for both you and the child (or children) you’re working with… I do NOT suggest simply inviting kids in to “help” while you are making dinner that needs to be on the table in the next hour.
I suggest setting aside time that is specifically designed for teaching the children, and focused on the children (not focused on your plans, or the results). Removing timelines and expectations will allow for a much more relaxed environment, and one your child(ren) will more likely enjoy.
The content in this post is geared for truly teaching kids to cook (eventually on their own), so most of this content is a good fit for kids ages 8+.
I’m talking about a good bit more than having a 4 year old sit on the counter and add the chocolate chips to the cookies. While that is a great way to make fun memories in the kitchen, that is not the main focus of this blog post.
How to Teach Kids to Cook
1. Practice safe kitchen procedures (I’ve added a handy list later in this post).
2. Select the recipes you’d like to start with. I have a nice list at the end of this post to get you started.
For older children, they will likely want to help you select recipes, as their skills grow.
Consider the size of your kitchen when deciding how many children to work with at a time… if each child doesn’t have room to work, or to see, they will be frustrated.
If you are doing a mini summer cooking camp (with neighborhood kids, or maybe grandchildren) and have a group of kids all at once, you may want to set up a second “work station” on your dinning table. Add a outdoor type table cloth (the ones that are fuzzy/padded on the underside and easy to wipe off on top) to your table for easy clean up.
As children get older and are truly preparing meals on their own, certainly they can pull out their own dishes and measuring spoons, etc… but to get started, I’d suggest you have all the dishes, utensils, and cutting boards you need ready to go before the children are in the kitchen. Once you have extra bodies in the kitchen, it’s more difficult to open each cabinet and drawer needed to gather your supplies.
4. Break up the recipe into steps. I would suggest that you (the adult) read through the recipe ahead of time, then once you start working with the children, briefly give an overview of the steps (“We’re going to prepare the batter, then add it to these pans, bake it and then wait for it to cool before cutting into it”). Then, have the child (or one of the children in the group) read just step one of the recipe. Complete that step, then move on.
5. Have the child/ren clean up as they work. If you are truly teaching children how to cook, they need to also know how to keep their work area clean enough to be functional. This doesn’t mean stopping to do dishes before the recipe is complete, but children can help put away ingredients, and put dirty dishes over near the sink as they work.
6. Follow all of the recipe steps, including cooling time. This is a difficult one for kids sometimes (and adults too), but one sure way to have a recipe “fail” is to not allow proper cooling before removing it from the pan or fridge, or slicing or serving it (depending on the item). If you are cooking with children that don’t live with you, be prepared with another recipe, or an activity to fill up this time (assuming that if the kids live with you, they can just go play while things cool). I have a few ideas for filling up that time further down in this post.
7. Enjoy the food, and pour on the praise! I feel like I don’t need to remind you of this if you’re working with kids… but obviously when they are learning anything new, lots of encouragement and praise will help them think of this activity fondly, and feel brave enough to try cooking again.
This fun Fortnite Birthday Cake & Cookies set is sure to wow the Fortnite fan in your life!
If you’re not familiar with the video game Fortnite… you’re likely a good bit over the age of 18 and/or don’t have young boys in your life!
Fortnite has quickly become one of the most popular and successful video games ever! Fortnite is described as an “open-world survival game, in which players collect resources, make tools and weapons, and try to stay alive as long as possible.” (source, NBCnews.com)
I do not take cake or cookie orders, but I do love making treats as gifts for close friends when I am able.
One of my very good friends has a sweet son (and four more sweet children) I adore. He’s just so dang cute!
His birthday request (to me) was a Fortnite Birthday Cake… so I did my best to deliver!
Although I have heard of the game Fortnite, no one in my house plays it… so this cake and cookies set required a bit of research on my part!
to save for later!
A bit of googling revealed some popular items associated with Fortnite, so I printed out of a few graphics from the game and got to work.
The birthday boy had requested a “llama” be included on the cake… and my research revealed the llama he was referring to is the Fortnite Loot Llama. I couldn’t really tell you what it does, or what it’s for in the game… but I thought it was cute enough to try to re-create with frosting!
I think I set a new personal record with this loot llama cookie for the amount of time spent decorating a single cookie!
Because I was creating a design I’d never done before, and trying to make the cookie both adorable and instantly recognizable, this single cookie design took several hours to complete (due in part to drying time between numerous steps).
I am going to to give you all the details and tips I can for this cake and cookie set, but please know that this is NOT the set to start on if you are a beginner decorator.
It’s really only a set you should take on for a someone you REALLY love (or for a LOT of money)! =)
I used raspberries, mango and a bit of coconut in this recipe… but this trifle can easily be customized with your favorites.
Strawberries would be an easy swap with raspberries, and if you don’t care for coconut feel free to simply leave it out with no additional changes. I just added the coconut as an accent because I liked the bit of tropical flare with the mango.
A trip through Sprouts produce section will surely provide all the inspiration you need!
I love shopping at Sprouts because I know I can expect fresh and delicious produce at incredibly reasonable prices! And once I stock up on my fresh produce, I can grab all of my baking essentials from the full line of Sprouts store brand products.
One stop shopping… so I can get home quickly to start baking! Yay!
Then you’ll need a batch of royal icing using my Royal Icing Recipe (this link includes a very basic royal icing tutorial as well).
Notes -I added 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon zest to the cookie recipe for this batch, and for the royal icing I used fresh lemon juice in place of most of the water. Both of these adjustments are totally optional.
While at Sprouts, I picked up some natural food coloring (by Watkins) to play with, and I was able to create the exact color I wanted with these easy to use colors. This would be a great set to keep on hand if you are sensitive to food dyes, or simply want to use the most natural products, while still creating colorful baking projects!
I love shopping at Sprouts because I know I can find all of the baking staples I need… and I always find a few new snacks or ingredients to try too!
Of course if you’re not a fan of raspberries, feel free to prepare the brownie alone, or follow the frosting recipe and simply omit the raspberries. Add a drop of pink food coloring to the frosting (if desired) and then top with some cute Valentine’s sprinkles.