Teach Your Kids How to Cook by Age

Have you been wondering at what age your kids can start helping out in the kitchen?  What is appropriate and what isn’t for them to do?  I have put together a list of age appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen.  This will help you teach your kid how to cook by age.

Teaching kids how to cook

See my girl?  She is 8. Little by little I’ve taught her basic kitchen skills. Sometimes, she assures me she doesn’t like “X” and I tell her that she still needs to help me make the recipe.

Bonus: she can read! She can slowly read the meal plan recipe and help me make our food.

Teaching Kids How To Cook

I believe that teaching our kids a new kitchen skill should not be done during bewitching hours. Instead, use the weekends and non rush-hour times. I’ve found that I’m more patient (and not as critical) when I’m more relaxed.

Here is a breakdown of some age appropriate kitchen tasks you can use when you are helping your kids cook!

Cooking Tasks for 2-3 Year Olds

At this age, kids need high supervision. Focus on basic tasks and they’ll do just fine. Toddlers can get involved in the kitchen with the following activities:

  • Setting the table
  • Squeezing lemons
  • Learning to match the silverware as you empty the dishwasher
  • Using the salad spinner
  • Picking the leaves off fresh herb stems
  • Gentle stirring
  • Mashing potatoes

Cooking Tasks for 4-5 Year Olds

Motor skills are more defined and they can focus better. This is a frustrating age for many parents because many kids will be doing the 2-3 age group while others the 6-7 -it depends how involved and interested they’ve been.

Work with your child to figure out what they are most interested in doing from each list and focus on things they can accomplish on their own, with minimal intervention from mom and dad. This is a great age to focus on independence while still doing many of the same tasks they were doing in the kitchen the year before.

  • Stirring independently
  • Setting the table
  • Putting away pots and pans from the dishwasher or drying rack
  • Greasing pans (with help)

Cooking Tasks for 6-7 Year Olds

Fine motor skills are developed so they can take on more detailed work, like using measuring spoons and forming meatballs or nuggets. They still need a lot of guidance and reminders of where to keep their fingers during grating and peeling.

Some of the things you can teach them to do at this age are:

  • Dicing and mincing vegetables (use a pairing knife and start with soft foods like strawberries)
  • Peeling raw potatoes with a peeler
  • Slicing and scooping avocados
  • Greasing pans
  • Using a microplane zester
  • Draining and rinsing canned beans
  • Pouring liquids into containers
  • Decorating dishes

Cooking Tasks for 8-9 Year Olds

This is my favorite age group. They can read! They can take on every task prior to this age group and teach new things based on their interest. You’ll have to decide if they are mature enough to work at the stove; but you can start with easy toaster oven type of recipes if not.

This age group can learn to do the following tasks in the kitchen:

  • Using a pizza cutter can opener
  • Scooping batter into muffin cups
  • Scraping down the batter
  • Using the stand mixer
  • Putting away leftovers
  • Rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher
  • Pounding chicken
  • Skewering food
  • Make sandwiches and wraps
  • Chopping most foods (nothing much bigger than a paring knife or small serrated knife)

Kitchen Tasks for 10-12 Year Olds

This age group can usually work independently in the kitchen. Make sure they have learned basic kitchen skills and moved on up on skill level before they are left to make meals (even under supervision).

Rules still apply (and often need reminding) like use mittens and wash hands after touching chicken. Kids this age can even do basic stove tasks like scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes.

How To Teach Your Kids To Cook

One of the questions I’m often asked: what if I haven’t taught my kids kitchen basics in each age group? Don’t stress.

My suggestion is that regardless of when you start; teach with patience and be careful to not talk down to your kids when they are doing it wrong (I’m guilty of this). Talking “down” can be as simple as “let me show you” and… “hurry, let me take over” or as simple as our tone.

If you aren’t “feeling it” then skip the teaching moment. We can do it quicker and avoid any hurt feelings -trust me.

If you’ve got teenagers in the house they can make nearly all the recipes in our meal plans. Win-win.

I want to encourage you to teach your kids one skill each month. Just one.

Cooking along side our kids is a great opportunity to talk about life. It gives us the opportunity to connect and teach our kids about the things we find important (like our food and health).

Recipes For Kids To Cook By Themselves

You know, I love a simple meal, so most of the recipes you’ll find here on MOMables will be simple enough to get the kids involved.

One of the biggest perks of teaching kids to cook is that it encourages them to try whatever is on the table. This can be a great strategy to help your children be more adventurous with the food items they are willing to eat.

I’m so excited to share this fantastic resource from my friend Katie.

Katie has a passion for helping kids learn how to cook real food in the kitchen! Not only that, but she gives you the information to use at home in little bite-size pieces!

Starting with this snack book. It has 10 of the best kid-friendly snack recipes in it, that will help your kids learn to start helping in the kitchen.

Remember how I said I like to start on the weekends? Using this (FREE!) cookbook of kids snacks is the perfect way to do just that!

Grab your free download of 10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make here, and you can start teaching your kids to cook this weekend!

I love everything about this! Not only is my friend Katie empowering kids in the kitchen, but she’s using whole foods and introducing families to healthier meal options they can all enjoy together.

If you are looking for more? Be sure to check out my Broccoli Nuggets Recipe below. This is one that the kids absolutely LOVE to help with. From measuring ingredients and scooping them into place, there are a lot of hands-on tasks kids can do, and it’s even a recipe that will get a few extra veggies on their plate!

 

Broccoli Nuggets Recipe

these broccoli nuggets are made in one bowl and the cheddar and broccoli combo is one kids love!

The combination of broccoli and cheddar in these Broccoli Nuggets are sure to make them a favorite with kids!

  • Author: MOMables.com
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce bag of broccoli florets, thawed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place broccoli florets inside a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and seasoning to veggie mixture. Process a few pulses until every combined.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, place veggie nugget scoops onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently press them down so all nuggets are the same height.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly prior to serving.
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Do your kids help out in the kitchen? I’d love to hear your best tips for teaching kids how to cook in the comments below!

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About MOMables - Laura

Mom to 3 awesome people and MOMables CEO. I work hard in my kitchen so you don't have to. I'm obsessed with tacos and coffee -not always in that order.