12 Easy Recipes for Stirring Up Some Fun in the Kitchen
Kids and cooking go together like cookies and milk. Honestly, is there a better combination? No matter their age, kids can make fun recipes. Preschoolers will love pouring and stirring ingredients, while older kids can take on duties like reading instructions or gathering and measuring all the ingredients. Once the timer dings, everyone can take part in plating, decorating, and serving their creations.
Making fun food from scratch allows children to creatively engage with all their senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Cooking also helps transport math and science out of the classroom and into the real world. Plus, it encourages problem-solving and introduces kids to the basics of learning how to prepare food. And when you’ve finished cooking together, you’ll have delicious treats the whole family can enjoy.
What’s on the Menu? Fun!
Spending time in the kitchen isn’t just an opportunity to acquire cooking skills. It’s a chance for you to show your child all the different ways to prepare healthy food. From trying out different preparation methods to experimenting with textures and flavor combinations, kids love discovery and options. If they don’t like a certain food made one way, they might love it cooked differently. They are also more likely to eat healthy food they’ve had a hand in preparing.
Ready to tie on those aprons and get started? Here are some easy, fun recipes that are perfect for introducing the joys of cooking to your young chef.
Your child probably already has some favorite foods they like to help you make, classics like peanut butter and jelly sammies or ants on a log. Mix up the menu by incorporating any of these fun recipes to make at home, from easy weeknight dinner ideas to kid-friendly snacks and no-bake desserts.
Peanut Butter, Crispy Rice Cereal, and Chocolate Sandwiches
These make for the perfect laid-back snack to accompany a Saturday morning. Small hands can easily toast slices of bread, smear on the peanut butter, then sprinkle crispy rice cereal and grated chocolate over everything. You can take this recipe from an occasional indulgence to a healthy anytime snack by adding some sliced bananas, apples, or kiwi. Yum!
Shake up family burger night! Instead of serving full-sized hamburgers, help kids cut the patties and leftover bread crusts with a circular cookie cutter before serving. Use mini-veggies like sliced cherry tomatoes and baby dill or sweet gherkin pickles, or bread and butter pickle chips to create right-sized toppings. Your child can put the sandwiches together and, with your help, keep their creations together with toothpicks.
Arts and Crackers
Sliced cheese, mixed veggies, and crackers sound like the makings of a ho-hum lunch, don’t they? Here’s a hack: Instead of chopping the ingredients with a knife, use cookie cutters. Your child will be so excited to help cut bell peppers, zucchini, and cheese slices into fun shapes. Let them get creative by using their food to make pictures before digging in. (Younger kids may need your help safely working the cookie cutters through the veggies.)
These pancake tacos are a delicious recipe perfect for those slow weekend mornings. While you whip up a batch of thin pancakes, have your kitchen helper blend ⅓ cup of softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 3 tablespoons of vanilla yogurt in a bowl. Let the pancakes cool before spreading a layer of the cream cheese mixture on them. Layer on seasonal fruit, fold the pancakes in half, and enjoy!
Try this quick, easy dinner that’s super fun to make. Let your child spread a layer of marinara sauce on a tortilla and sprinkle it with their choice of cheeses and pepperoni before topping it all with another tortilla. Bake the quesadillas in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit or cook them in a pan on the stovetop until the cheese melts. For a fun southwestern flair, swap out the pepperoni for store-bought rotisserie chicken and the marinara for barbecue sauce.
Loaded Baked Potato Dip
Take all the best accompaniments to a baked potato—sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives, and bacon—and turn them into a savory, dunkable dip. Let your kid mix the first three ingredients while you fry the bacon. Then cool the bacon, crumble it, and combine it with the sour cream mixture. Add a side of waffle fries, fresh from the oven, and you’ve got a mouthwatering snack loaded with fun.
There’s Always Room for Dessert
Let’s take a look at a few recipes sure to please every sweet tooth in the family.
Rainbow Gelatin Cubes
This easy recipe is perfect for kids who like to stir and mix. It layers different flavors of gelatin combined with sweetened condensed milk to create an edible rainbow that looks as good as it tastes.
To create each layer, mix one box of flavored gelatin dessert mix with one package of unflavored gelatin powder and a cup of water. Pour into a greased 13” x 9” cake pan and place into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes until firm but not set.
Meanwhile, mix one can of sweetened, condensed milk with 1 cup of boiling water (adults only for this step). Set aside. Combine two packages of unflavored gelatin powder with 1 cup of cold water, and let it sit for a minute before adding ¾ cup of boiling water. Mix and then combine with the condensed milk. Let it cool.
Remove the firm layer from the fridge, add 1 cup of the milk mixture over the top, smooth, and return to the refrigerator.
Repeat twice more, alternating between flavored and creamy gelatin layers.
Let your young chef experiment with different flavor options for each color. Should you use strawberry or cherry gelatin for red? Mandarin or peach for orange? Let them decide and see which winds up being the most mouthwatering combo.
Chocolate Rice Cereal Cakes
Take traditional crispy rice squares to the next level by adding ½ cup of milk chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips. Then, instead of spreading your rice mixture into one big pan, let young chefs scoop it into paper-lined muffin tins for individual servings they can customize with marshmallows, nuts, candies, or dried fruit. Drizzle with melted chocolate or chocolate-hazelnut spread and serve.
Easy Vanilla Cupcakes
Here’s a fun cooking activity that lets you involve your child at every step. Whip up a batch of vanilla cupcakes using a box of cake mix, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir everything together and spoon the batter into cupcake molds. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, your child can add the icing on the cake (literally!) and decorate these sweet confections with sprinkles, chocolate chips, or other yummy toppings.
Frozen Chocolate Monkey Treats
Here’s a fun recipe for kids to make with a grown-up. Start off by chopping some bananas crosswise and have your child put a toothpick in the middle of each. Then set the bananas on a wax-lined cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour. While they’re chilling, melt some chocolate chips with a bit of shortening and stir until smooth. When the bananas are frozen, your child can use the toothpicks to dip them into the warm chocolate and then into plates of fun toppings like chopped nuts, crushed pretzels, cookie crumbs, coconut, or candy. Freeze for another 30 minutes and serve.
Crunch Candy Clusters
Chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows, and cereal merge into a delectable, munchable no-bake snack. Have your child stir melted chocolate (dark, milk, or white—let them choose), peanut butter, cereal, and marshmallows together in a bowl until everything is combined. Then have them drop teaspoon-sized portions of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Let the morsels cool in the fridge before enjoying.
Who says you need a campfire to make s’mores? Help your kids whip up this yummy, warm dip by lining an oven-proof frying pan with chocolate chips topped with enough marshmallows to fill the pan. Slide everything into the oven until the chocolate melts and the marshmallows are puffed and golden. Serve immediately with graham crackers, strawberries, and cut-up pineapple, or go for a total chocolate overload by scooping the dip onto a brownie.
The Perfect Recipe for Making Learning Fun
There’s much more to layering lasagna or rolling out pizza dough than creating a meal. Cooking offers your child the chance to develop confidence and take the first steps toward independence. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Spending time together in the kitchen trying out easy, fun recipes like these also:
- Encourages your child to be open to new foods and unfamiliar tastes.
- Gives them a hands-on opportunity to combine individual ingredients to make something new.
- Inspires them to experiment with different flavors and cooking techniques.
- Gives you a chance to create family connections by sharing family recipes and food traditions.
Is your child in love with cooking and baking? Let them try creating an authentic, hand-tossed pizza. Or maybe they’d like to play around with different ways to make the perfect cherry pie. Or sample comforting winter drinks from around the world to help keep warm during the colder months of the year.
Discovering new foods is also a great way to explore different cultures. If your child is fascinated by international cuisine, encourage further discoveries with the World Edition subscription box. They’ll receive stories and hands-on activities—including recipes!—that will help them build connections and discover things in common with people all over the world.