The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
Profile photo of Erika (TK)

Kids in the Kitchen

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Kids in the Kitchen!)

It’s almost officially summer! ‘Tis the season for pool parties, backyard barbecues, camp, and having kids at home with hours of free time at their disposal. What to do with all that time! Or maybe their reading list is 2 pages long, and they’ll need a break now and then from all that summer homework. Whichever the case may be, getting them into the kitchen at a young age isn’t just a lovely way to spend time together, but it also teaches them skills that will serve them well when they’re all grown up and ready to be on their own.

The thing is, kids will be kids. Sometimes they like one thing, and the next moment, they don’t. Sometimes they need no prodding to join you in the kitchen, and sometimes, you have to find creative ways to get them back in there. If you find yourself running out of ideas for fun activities in the kitchen, this week’s Kitchen Talk is for you! We’re asking:

Do you have any fun ways to get the kids in the kitchen?

The photo above is from Natalie, and her lovely daughters have helped her make Customizable Breakfast Bread Bowls and even Ice Cream in a Bag. I love the idea of letting kids assemble stuff, and it’s always a treat to see how proud they are of their creations.

How about you? Do you have any favorite kid-friendly kitchen activities? Come share them below! Then maybe—just maybe—they’ll eventually take over the kitchen and we can all retire to a life of spa treatments and Downton Abbey marathons. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Profile photo of Shawna C

Shawna C on 6.20.2014

Oh I just thought of something that is really helpful if you want little ones to start baking or cooking: we have a short Ikea kids’ table and chairs and we set that up in the breakfast nook instead of a full-sized table and chairs when my kids were small. This gives a low surface for working on so they can comfortably reach/measure/mix/mash bananas/etc. It’s precarious to stand them on chairs at the counter, and I’ve seen special platforms for kids to use for that purpose, but we found it much more useful to bring the cooking down to their level, rather than them up to counter level. Since they were the ones who ate in the kitchen area the most anyway, it also made sense to have an eating surface at kid height. Now that they’re bigger we have a regular adult-table-height table we use, which is still lower than countertops which would still be too high for them to comfortably work at.

Laura in Little Rock on 6.19.2014

I grew up in a very traditional southern family. We cooked a lot, often and in great quantities and talked incessantly and happily. Dinner might be picked from the garden, defrosted from the deep freeze or an all-day affair. Luckily (for my health) I also grew up in a diabetic family, so finding ways to reduce fats, carbs (we called them “starches” back in the dark ages) and sugar was always fiddled with. I know my sister and I were baking cakes, pancakes and waffles at less than 10. My own kids started with helping, then frying an egg and then on to whatever suited their fancy and/or their capabilities. Sometimes their fancy doesn’t match their capabilities – we call that a learning opportunity and generally, a HELL OF A MESS!!!!
As a teacher, I wholly agree that cooking makes basic fractions MUCH easier. It’s clear how different fractions represent the same quantity and they can be reduced or increased. It’s all concrete and obvious when you’re faced with finite measurements and big containers of staple baking ingredients. I’m all for kids in the kitchen. I’m also all for a refill on my wine glass.

KrissyC EsMommy on 6.19.2014

My daughter “E” is 12, and has been helping in the kitchen since she could stand and hold a spoon. When she was really little it was mostly little things like getting a potato out of the bin, or grabbing some cheese from the fridge kinda thing. Just my little go-fer so to speak. lol. As she got older she started taking on more responsibility. She started mostly with measuring, then we would talk about how easy it is to cut a recipe in half or double it and work out the fractions together. By the time she was 5, she could easily double or half a recipe on her own…her teachers have always loved how well she adapts to fractions because of it. Cooking can be a great teaching tool! Very early on the egg slicer became her best friend, she used it to slice olives, mushrooms, eggs (duh) and other little things. Around 7 or so she started using a small knife, tho was always beside me when she did it. Now at 12, she can make simple things alone like stuffing or rice and helps me by cutting potato for meals, or peeling veggies for me using a veggie peeler. She’s also always by my side when baking and does most of the measuring and mixing on her own.
Personally, I think its great for kids to be in the kitchen. My siblings and I (there are 4 of us) grew up helping and by our early teens could handle simple meals alone, much to my mom’s delight. I find it helps with math greatly. Fractions are always at work when baking. Plus I think it helps kids to associate with their food better. The “I won’t eat this cus I don’t know whats in it” isn’t at play that way. lol. But I think kids are helpful even really early on, even it its just to fetch a spoon or a potato, or to count the number of taco shells to heat up. It helps them feel involved and it lets them spend some great bonding time with mommy and daddy. I find most of the best conversations I have with my daughter are when we’re working in the kitchen.
Good Luck with your daydreams of spas and marathons. A Downton Abbey marathon sounds great right about now. :)

Lorrie on 6.19.2014

I don’t think it’s necessary for kids to be in the kitchen. I hardly ever let my kids in the kitchen when they were little. The area was just too small and I thought it was too dangerous. Then once I started working it was just wanting them out of the way so I could hurry up and get dinner done when I got home. Don’t like people underfoot in the kitchen when I’m trying to cook. I worried that it would be a detriment to my kids when they got older but nope not at all. My oldest just moved out on her own and has been doing plenty of cooking and experimenting with cooking. She loves it. She’ll call me for tips. She must be doing just fine cause her roommates seem to enjoy her cooking. So for any of you all out there like me that feel it’s either unsafe to have kids in your kitchen, you don’t have a lot of time or whatever to have your kids in there with you don’t fret. They will manage just fine with they get out on their own!

Profile photo of Natalie | Perry's Plate

Natalie | Perry's Plate on 6.19.2014

Thank you, Erika! :) I thought that little face looked familiar.

My kids LOVE to help in the kitchen, but now I have three trying to climb up on the counter to help on the same time. (ACK.) Just this morning the two older ones took turns playing with the baby while the other one helped me with breakfast. They love it!

Rebecca on 6.18.2014

My boys (3 & 6 yrs old) love to help me bake just about anything. Kitchen science experiments are always a hit. And I’ve found that their favorite meals are ones they get to assemble…falafel pitas, stuffed baked potatoes, mini pizzas, etc. I lay out all kinds toppings or stuffings with plenty of different veggie options and they have at it. I discovered that they’re more adventurous in trying different veggies and such because they have more control over it. Win win!

Brenda Dunne on 6.18.2014

Our favorite kid-cooking activity is “Crazy Cake”, and chocolate cake that can be mixed up in the pan and baked. I made it when I was a kid, and my kids loved to make it when they were little. As soon as my granddaughter could read the recipe, I had her make it! Another dish that she likes to make (and my kids did before her too) is pigs in a blanket. (I made a quick-rising bread roll dough, then cut it up into individual portions. Let her squash it out and roll a hot dog up in it).

jp on 6.18.2014

Make it a time of discovery, experimentation…Science! Or bonding or family history.

Male friends approached cooking as a ‘man thing’ and all about the power tools – called the mixer “The Device” and did a sort of ‘doctor in surgery approach’ – asking for items, ‘slapping’ them into the hands of the ‘doctor’ etc.

We did lots of vinegar and baking soda experiments and made a ‘pH testing solution’ with red cabbage. We made playdough, slime, gak etc (I think there is a book called Magic Mixtures). And don’t forget popsicles! And snow ice cream. And cookies.

There are sooo many ideas – check out your library or favorite bookstore. Ok, ok, there are lots of apps out there too – and pintrest and the internet. There are things like science in the kitchen, chemistry in the kitchen, cooking with kids etc. As a child, my favorite was a book I got to help pick out – Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls. It had pictures of real kids, very easy to read and follow directions – and great pictures of the food! It’s still around but there are many, many others available as well. There is one about cooking the abc’s that would be fun, especially for kids learning or who have just learned the alphabet.

Mostly, kids just want to spend time with the significant people in their life. Make it fun and don’t obsess with getting it ‘perfect’ or the mess. In fact, if the mess bothers you – find recipes they can take outside to make. Let them share some of what they’ve made. Let them plan a social gathering of some type, even if it’s just with siblings or a best friend and make the food – could be just a simple trail mix or popsicles to eat in the backyard or something far more elaborate, depending on the age and interest of the child.

Even 3 or 4 year olds can cut with plastic knives, even something as hard as an apple.

Bethany on 6.18.2014

I don’t have many kid-specific recipes or activities, but my 2-year-old daughter helps in the kitchen frequently. I hand her the pre-measured ingredients for cookies, muffins, pancakes, or bread and she dumps them into the bowl and stirs. She snaps the ends off asparagus, green beans, and peas and helps tear lettuce for salads. When I’m making bread, she gets a little pinch of the dough to knead, and when I’m making pie crust or biscuits she gets to roll or pat a little bit out. Sometimes she’ll bring out her wooden toy knife and cutting board and pretend to chop the same veggies that I am. When we make pizza, she helps put the toppings on (although I usually have to shred double the cheese because so much of it disappears into her mouth). Pizza is especially fun to do when she has a toddler friend over – I make individual pizzas and let the kids put their own sauce and toppings on. It all makes a much bigger mess than if I were to do it alone, but it’s totally worth it. :) And for cleanup, she loves to wash dishes – the more bubbles, the better!

Profile photo of Patricia @ ButterYum

Patricia @ ButterYum on 6.18.2014

I’m constantly amazed when people tell me they don’t know how to cook, and I know more than 1 family that eats out every night. Can you imagine how expensive and unhealthy? Sigh. When my children were very young, I would let them do simple tasks like stirring or measuring, but now that they’re older, they can easily handle chopping, sauteeing, etc. Bonus – kids are more willing to try unfamiliar foods that they help prepare. Teach age appropriate skills and they’ll reap the rewards (and you’ll save them from a lifetime of fast food).

Profile photo of angela radke

angela radke on 6.18.2014

Having Children in the kitchen learning and helping is another opportunity for bonding! Simple lessons of measurements, math, and chemistry are learned very early in a fun way. Them watching and learning how to do things is easily picked up most of the time. I will miss having my kids on the kitchen for they have grown up and not here with me as much.

Helena Mouta on 6.18.2014

I started out in the kitchen when I was 8: my mother bought a grocery store and, twice a week, she had to go to the market at 6 a.m., which left me to make my own breakfast before school. That meant little else than warming my milk (on the stove, we had no microwave then), but it was my first contact with the kitchen. Slowly, my mother taught me how to cook everything she cooked and by the time I was 13 I was regularly making lunch for the whole family every Saturday and dinner every Friday, the busiest days at the store.
I now have a nearly 5-year-old boy, and another coming in another 4 months, and I plan on teaching them everything I know.My boy loves to help me out in the kitchen, but since he’s so young I don’t yet make a chore of it, I just try to make it fun: measuring, pouring and mixing ingredients for cakes and cookies, rolling the cookie dough into little balls with his tiny hands, rolling out pizza dough and topping it, and anything else that doesn’t involve cutting and stove/oven. He loves it and already has his little apron. I don’t aim to make a chef out of him, but I do want him (and his brother, when the time comes) to have the basic skills to be able to fend for themselves when they’re ready to leave mum (which I’m hoping will be sometime in their late 30s!). :)

Profile photo of C. L. ( Cheryl )  "Cheffie Cooks"  Wiser

C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 6.18.2014

Oh my Allyn I have a best friend who can not cook-no coordination, no inclination, zip-zero. I love her to death and have been friends since grade school . I too think, how can she not grasp this concept?! A big mixing bowl with flour, an egg and some milk keep the babes busy awhile! Depending on age level I worry about the 6 burner gas stove/oven etc. My kitchen Island is used mostly. They like to spray the cooking spray on sheet pans for me, then love to eat the sweets (all things in moderation)! I started out peeling potatoes at age 11 at my Dad’s restaurant (no, I did not like those 50 lbs. sacks of potatoes!). Gradually, did learn from him and my Mom (at home) some terrific recipes I currently still make today. Not, by any means a professional I do love to cook and have the babes in and out of my kitchen. Some fond memories are one big messy kitchen to clean-up! Can anyone else relate? Cheryl

Profile photo of Shawna C

Shawna C on 6.18.2014

My kids help make muffins pretty regularly – getting out and measuring ingredients and buttering the muffin tin are usually their tasks. I do the messy mixing. Their favourite part is “cleaning up” any chocolate chips I “accidentally” spill!

Unfortunately, my youngest has a severe egg allergy, so they can’t start with the easiest things to cook of all: omelettes and scrambled eggs.

I do plan on starting my 8-year-old on learning her knife skills this summer though. When I was a kid my mom handed me a huge butcher knife and a bucket of overgrown veggies from the garden to chop up for the pigs whenever I was bored in late summer, and I was definitely younger than my daughter is now, so I guess it’s time, even if we don’t live on a farm anymore. :)

Allyn on 6.18.2014

We don’t have kids yet, but my husband and I talk about this a lot. It’s so important to teach kids how to cook! I had one roommate once who, at 22 with a college degree, didn’t know how to fry an egg or cook pasta. I don’t even understand how that’s possible.
I think it’s good to even expose kids to recipes beyond their skill level, and let them help on an easy step or two. Less intimidation! Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon bread ( would be a great one to let them help sprinkle cinnamon sugar and learn about how cool yeast is.