Introduce Your Kids to the Joys of Cooking with These 11 Fun Recipes to Make at Home
For many families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s a place to congregate and reconnect, and let’s be honest—the food also helps. So why not take advantage of this natural gathering spot to bond over some healthy, kid-friendly recipes?
Cooking can be a perfect activity for kids and adults to enjoy together. Measuring, pouring, mixing, and spooning are all exciting tasks for young chefs to take on—with a little guidance from the grown-ups, of course. So go on and stir up a fun recipe or two together!
The benefits of cooking with children go beyond preparing tasty food. Cooking together allows you to:
- Discover something new: Experimenting with new cuisines, flavors, or techniques helps children broaden their culinary horizons. If things don’t work out, one of their favorite go-to meals, such as grilled cheese or buttery pasta, can always save the day.
- Work together: Cooperation is an important skill to learn. Gathering the ingredients and equipment, dividing the measuring and mixing tasks, and sharing the delicious results helps teach kids how to organize an activity toward accomplishing a common goal.
- Boost creativity: Cooking is the perfect activity for kids who love putting their creative ideas into action. Encourage them to come up with new ways to cook their favorite foods, create a dish from leftovers, or choose how to garnish or decorate a snack, meal, or dessert. For some edible artistic fun, try assembling cheese, veggies, crackers, or other finger food to resemble animals or imaginative scenes.
- Help choosy eaters: Involving picky eaters in kid-friendly meal prep makes them more likely to try a dish, reducing mealtime stress. They might still not enjoy every meal equally, but they may be more willing to take a bite or two.
- Explore the globe: One of the most delectable ways to get to know other cultures is through their cuisines. Different seasoning combinations, ingredients, and cooking techniques paint a culinary picture of where a particular dish comes from, allowing your kids to travel to Sicily via marinara made from scratch or Delhi by way of homemade matar paneer. Preparing meals with international origins expands your family members’ palates and builds global connections. It also allows your family to embark on mouthwatering food tours without leaving home.
Recipes with a Twist
When it comes to weeknight dinners, a dash of creativity goes a long way. Here are some fun family night dinner ideas to get everyone excited. These easy recipes allow kids to jump in and take over food prep while shaking up a ho-hum supper routine.
French Bread Pizzas
Put a Parisian twist on an Italian favorite. Slice a loaf of French bread, place the pieces on a sheet pan, and toast under the broiler. While the bread toasts, invite your kids to set up the toppings bar with everyone’s favorite pizza ingredients, including marinara or pesto sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, red peppers, and more. Remove the toast and let the whole family customize their meal. Return to the oven (your turn) and bake until the cheese is golden.
Watermelon and Berry Fruit Salad
Add a vibrant finish to a weeknight dinner with this refreshing fruit salad. Clean and hull berries of your choice—strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries—and mix with watermelon chunks and a squeeze of lime juice. The kids can use small cookie cutters to stamp out shapes from the sliced melon. Mix, chill, and enjoy.
Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries
Want to sneak some veggies into the menu? Fresh zucchini and parmesan create a yummy side dish everyone in the family can enjoy. Let young chefs toss zucchini spears in olive oil, freshly grated parmesan, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder until coated, and place the veggies on a baking tray. Then the adults take over, cooking the zucchini in an oven set to 350°F (175°C) until tender, and then broiling the spears until the cheese is golden.
Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles
These cookies are the perfect baking project for little hands. Buy a prepackaged batch of sugar cookie dough and let your eager pastry chefs break out their modeling clay skills to roll the dough into balls. Decorate the cookies using a coarse sugar with large crystals, like turbinado or demerara sugar, or dapple them with colored sprinkles and bake according to the instructions.
Peanut Butter-Banana Quesadillas
Peanut butter and bananas are a time-honored flavor combo. Add a tortilla, and you have lunchtime comfort food that kids can help make for themselves. While they’re smearing peanut butter over half a tortilla, slice up a banana and evenly distribute the slices over the peanut butter. Sprinkle in some chocolate chips, fold the tortilla in half, and slice it into quarters.
Donut Hole Skewer
This fun dessert recipe takes eating from a stick to another level. With proper supervision, young chefs can help assemble store-bought donut holes and a selection of fresh berries onto skewers. While they’re busy, mix up some cream cheese frosting for dipping by combining four ounces (100 grams) of room temperature cream cheese, three tablespoons of softened butter, one cup of confectioners’ sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and two tablespoons of milk. Whip until fluffy and serve alongside the skewers with some chocolate syrup.
Fun-Loving Dinner Recipes
Here are five recipes for those evenings when you’re looking for something quick and delicious to serve. These meals are yummy enough to build anticipation but also so simple that your kids can happily lend a helping hand.
Bacon Cheeseburger Cups
Want a homemade version of restaurant favorites? Put together some bacon cheeseburger cups using ready-made, buttery biscuit dough, cooked ground beef mixed with crumbled cooked bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. Split the biscuits and have the kids place half a biscuit into each section of a greased muffin tin. Spoon the ground beef mixture on top, followed by the cheese. Cook the biscuits at 350°F (175°C) until they’re golden and the cheese melts. Serve with ketchup, mustard, or barbecue sauce.
Salad in a Jar
Want your kids to eat more vegetables? Introduce them to a salad made in a mason jar. Let kids choose which vegetables to include—the brighter, the better! Try a blend of broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, butter lettuce, and strawberries. Add protein like chickpeas, sliced ham, or leftover chicken. Splash in your favorite dressing, and you’re ready to combine!
Add the dressing to the jar first, then layer each vegetable one at a time, starting with the heaviest and working up to the lightest. Once finished, refrigerate until mealtime. Kids can shake the salads before pouring their meal onto their plates. Or they can eat their salads straight out of the jars!
Pizza Spaghetti Bake
Pizza and spaghetti together in one meal? Yes, please! It’s the pasta dish of your kids’ dreams. Place cooked ground beef or meatballs onto cooked spaghetti noodles in a casserole dish, and add marinara. Let young helpers spread a layer of pepperoni onto the sauce, followed by a layer of mozzarella and another layer of pepperoni. Coat aluminum foil with cooking spray, then cover the dish with the foil and bake at 350°F (175°C) until the cheese melts and browns.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This comfort food classic is also the ideal meal to get your kids cooking. Younger kids can butter the bread and add the cheese, then assemble the sandwich. Older kids can cook their sandwiches in a skillet with your supervision. Mix things up by swapping cheddar for pepper jack, gruyere, or swiss cheese, use whole wheat or sourdough instead of white sandwich bread, or add some sliced tomatoes, pickles, or peppers.
Pigs in a Pretzel
Combine two tastes kids love into one! Have them wrap hot dogs in strips of prepared pizza dough while you bring a pot of water to boil. Add baking soda to the water, then cook the wrapped wieners in small batches for 20–30 seconds. Remove, brush with a beaten egg, and sprinkle with sea salt, then bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven until the dough is crispy brown. Serve with mustard and ketchup for an unforgettable treat.
Cooking with your kids may seem straightforward—you mix, cook, eat—but there are a few tips to keep in mind that will help everything go more smoothly.
- Prepare to get messy: When kids are in the kitchen, things don’t always go according to plan. Take a few preventative measures to prevent staining your clothes or dropping food on the ground so nothing comes between you and kitchen time. Use a plastic tablecloth on the floor to make cleaning up spills easy, clear the work surface of breakables and sharp objects, keep paper towels handy, and wear aprons.
- Give them a choice: Kids are more likely to be interested in cooking if they have a say in what they’ll be making. Find several recipes that are fun to make and delicious to eat. Present these options to your kids and let them choose. Older kids can browse your recipe books or the internet for their selection.
- Keep calm and cook on: Sometimes things go wrong. You and the kids overfill the pan or burn the cake. It happens. Stay cool, swallow your mistakes when you can (literally!), and look for ways to laugh at your baking mishaps.
- Keep it age-appropriate: Take into account the age of your kitchen helpers. Younger children do best with simple recipes, premeasured ingredients, stirring, rolling, and decorating duties with planned breaks. Older ones can do the more complicated tasks like measuring, mixing, and supervised use of the stove and oven.
- Savor the opportunity to experiment: The kitchen is the perfect place for trying something new, so don’t be afraid to shake things up. Discover what happens when you make a brownie with almond extract instead of vanilla, or what stew tastes like if you substitute okra for green peppers. You and the kids may just create a new secret family recipe!
- Reward hard work: Once you finish cooking, praise the kids for a job done well and invite them to share the bounty with the rest of the family, or even with friends and neighbors. They’ll become more confident in the kitchen if they see their cooking appreciated.
Serve Up Another Helping of Fun
Now that your kids are more comfortable in the kitchen, set them off on a culinary adventure to discover the food traditions of Eid al-Fitr or explore some wonderful celebratory cookies from around the globe. If they need a comforting drink, let them try out one of these winter favorites.
Do your children enjoy experimenting with the culinary arts? Expose them to the wonders of the world of food with books, recipes, and hands-on activities from our World Edition subscription box.