Cooking with your children is not only a lovely bonding experience, but it can give them the confidence they need to be self-sufficient, creative cooks as they grow older. It’s also a fantastic way of helping your young chefs become adventurous eaters, plus help practise everything from basic cooking techniques, to skills like maths, science and geography. All the recipes we’ve selected have been specifically created so children can take the lead in all of the preparations.
Find guides on everything from the best wooden play food and kids baking set ideas to amazing space projects for kids in our family & kids section. Plus, take a look at our baking recipe collection for kids.
1. Simple sushi
Sushi doesn’t have to involve raw fish, grab some sticky rice then what you add to it is totally up to you. At its most basic, this could be nothing more than cucumber – which will keep even the fussiest of eaters happy. There are plenty of child-friendly tasks, very little cooking, and so much to talk about. If you back it up with a trip to a specialist supermarket, you’ve got two lovely child-friendly food experiences. It’s also a beautifully creative task, which is great for dexterity, and both children and adults can get as adventurous as they like.
2. Really easy roast chicken
Spend Sunday in the kitchen helping your little chef whip up an all-in-one roast the whole family will love. This chicken recipe works on many levels, it isn’t complicated and, apart from halving a lemon, there isn’t any chopping. Also, the prepping process shouldn’t take any longer than 15 minutes, and the result will be the main meal of the week – one that you will all sit down to and enjoy. It will be a magical moment for your child to serve a succesful meal to everyone at the table. Really easy roast chicken
3. Mini toad-in-the-holes
This recipe has everything you need from a cooking with kids session. There’s no chopping, it’s fairly quick so they won’t lose interest, and there’s a real sense of cooking without having to deal with open flames. When you are done, not only will you have had a cosy time working in the kitchen together, you’ll have a comforting supper for four.
4. Chicken satay
Satay has the familiarity of peanut butter, while introducing children to subtle spicing, which you can adjust to suit everyone’s tastes. There are enough little jobs to keep them busy, and the end result doesn’t take long to get on the table. This recipe can also be made with prawns, pork, turkey or beef strips, so once you’ve mastered it, there are lots of other options to try. They will also have lots of fun tenderising the meat by giving it a bit of a battering! You might want some ear defenders on… Cheeky chicken satay
5. Marvellous meatballs
This is a great all-round family recipe as there are plenty of jobs for different ages, it’s freezable and the kids think they are having the treat of sausages while you know that you’ve succeeded in getting them to eat vegetables. You can also swap the sausages for minced pork or even turkey to lower the salt and fat content. If your child is keen to get involved in a bit of onion grating, then doing it wearing goggles will stop tears and add to the fun. It’s also a great way of practising counting skills with your children, dividing them up onto plates and counting how many (if any) you have left over for freezing. Marvellous meatballs
6. Fish cake fingers
Help your children make a big batch of fish cake fingers for a family supper, or for a handy freezer staple. These are a great way of getting omega-3-rich fish into your child’s diet, and you can easily divide the mixture into batches so that you can add adult flavours like capers or horseradish without putting off the children. There are plenty of little jobs for different age groups, younger children will enjoy mashing and smashing while older children will enjoy shaping the cakes, then there’s plenty of messy fun to be had dipping and coating. Once you are finished let your little one help serve up dinner with a flourish… and flush of pride. Fish cake fingers
7. Holiday pizzas
Want to treat the kids over the holidays? Let them have friends over for a small pizza making party, and you are bound to have a happy (slightly chaotic) household. Pizzas work well because they can be made individually, so the children get to own the task. If you have enough ingredients then prepare extra dough and sauce, and freeze them – making them an ultra-easy meal over the holidays. Pizza making is an introduction to breadmaking and understanding dough. Very young ones will need a little help to roll out dough, but spooning on sauce and scattering over toppings mirrors skills they will have learnt in nursery. You’ll find these homemade creations will get demolished in no time.
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What’s your favourite thing to cook with children? We’d love to hear your ideas…