Teaching Your Kids How To Cook
Update - I have recently posted an article on this topic of Teaching Your Kids to Cook that looks at these benefits in much more detail. Please check it out and leave me a comment at the end of the post.
My daughters love to help me cook and they really enjoy helping mom bake cookies and banana bread. I thought it was about time to address the topic of "Kids Can Cook" and the great experiences one can have teaching their kids how to prepare delicious meals at home in you very own kitchen.
I know there are cooking schools for kids out there. I get emails every week from parents asking me to recommend cooking schools for their kids, some of them only 6 and 8 years old. I think cooking classes for kids are great, but I also believe this is a great opportunity to spend a little time in the kitchen bonding with our children while teaching them some skills they will have the rest of their lives.
Remember - We All Have To Eat, So Learn To Cook & Eat Well!
My youngest daughter is 9 years old with cerebral palsy but that doesn't stop her from standing in her "stander," helping me whisk a sauce, stir the pot or grind herbs in the mortar & pestle. Is it demanding? Do they ask a lot of questions? Does it take longer to get the meal on the table? Yes, Yes and Yes but it is worth every second.
Some Advantages of Cooking With Your Kids
Spending quality time with your children
Teaching them life skills they will use for the rest of their lives
They tend to try eating more varieties of foods when they are involved with cooking them
They just might develop a greater appreciation for food
They learn food doesn't just magically appear from the refrigerator
It's a great learning experience - they learn where food comes from and the differences between different types of food.
Turning Onions Into Candy
When you cook with your kids, you can teach them skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Lots of them aren’t even skills you might first think of when considering cooking. How about sequencing and prioritizing? Cause and effect? Sanitation? How about communication and social relationships?
It really is amazing! I find that cooking with my kids is one of the most constructive and fulfilling ways to spend time with them. The fact that they can learn so many different skills is just the icing on the cake.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should pull out your mixer, and in the middle of creaming sugar and butter say, “Honey, I want to talk to you about washing your hands.” For one thing, that is a sure way to make your kids NOT want to cook with you. For another, it is completely unnecessary.
You don’t need a set lesson plan to teach your kids. Kids are sponges, and they will soak up the lessons from you because they love you, they want to be with you and be like you, and because they’re in a relaxed environment that not only engages them intellectually, but emotionally and physically as well.
When you cook, you need all five of your senses, and teaching through multi-sensory activity like cooking will almost ensure that your kids learn, whether you feel like you’re “teaching” or not.
An Example Of What I'm Describing
A few weeks ago, my 9 year old daughter Maddie wanted to help me caramelize an onion that I was going to serve with her favorite meal of steak with demi-glace sauce. I asked her to take a small bite of raw onion so she would have something to compare it to. She did and her reaction is what you would think it would be.
After we finished caramelizing the onion I again asked her give it a taste. She "reluctantly" gave it a try and was blown away at the sweet delicious flavor from this transformed substance. So much so that she wanted to write about it for my web site. So here is my daughter Maddie's first web posting and I hope it's not her last.
By My Daughter Maddie in Third Grade
Have you ever tasted a caramelized onion? It tastes like sugar. It tastes sweet, like putting caramel on onions, which is why it is called "caramelizing."
You might be asking yourself, "How do I do it?" Caramelizing onions is easy if you know how to do it. But if you don't know how to caramelize onions, don't get scared because that's why I am here.
First, you need to know a raw onion tastes really spicy; it makes your throat burn, like putting pepper in your mouth and it's very sour. That is why I don't eat them plain and like to caramelize them. Here are my step-by-step instructions to caramelizing an onion.
What is caramelizing? By definition, "The process of causing sugar or the natural sugars in food to darken to a golden brown and develop a rich flavor by cooking on a constant heat." And what does that mean? To make something really sweet!
Start by getting an onion and cut it in half. Slice a skinny piece off both ends of the halves so when you are cutting the onion into slices, you make the onion stand up so it is easier to cut. After you have finished that, slice up your onion halves. Pop up all the rings in the middle so it looks kind of like a giant ring.
Next, turn on the stove to medium-low heat. Put a little butter in the pan. Now it time to caramelize the onion rings. Put the onion rings in the pan and start moving the onion rings with a wooden spoon for 10 -13 minutes but don't let them burn but it's ok if they brown a little bit. Then, you have your caramelized onions. You did it!
How Does Daddy Caramelize Onions?
Be sure to read my cooking technique on how to caramelize onions. It says essentially the same thing but with more words. Check out How to Caramelize Onions
What Are You Cooking With Your Kids at Home?
Let me know what kind of cooking you are doing with your children in your kitchens in the comments area below. We can all learn from each other, what types of foods our kids enjoy cooking and eating the most.
Fantastic post, RG! And big congratulations to Maddie for being published on the web--how cool is that!
When I taught school, I cooked with my little guys every Friday--so useful for teaching everything from sequencing to following directions to mixing methods.
The Gang's Momma
Brava Maddie! Great Job! Hang on to that one, you can use it later for a "How To" essay at school 🙂
Maddie, i also love caramelized onions and ask daddy to make onions in the oven which get soft and caramel....i could eat a gazillion onions just like u made..mmmmm
We buy dough from the local bakery and my son then builds his own pizzas, learning how to grate cheese, use herbs, puree tomatoes in the blender, using a hot oven etc etc. and then loving what he made for him and us. He is 13 years old and loves cooking.
RG, you have a fabulous site! I just registered to get on your cooking forums. I teach Asian wok cooking, I won't repeat what's on my profile but I've had tons of parents who now cook with their kids in their woks and love it.
Congrats Maddie with your first post. I learned to cook from my mother and all my fondest childhood memories are of cooking with my sisters and mother!
RG, you are so right about all the points of "cooking with kids", I also have a post on my site about this topic under TIPS. I know I learned to be tidy and methodical like my mom and dad from watching them prep and cook. These skills get transferred to everything I do. But I didn't realize till I was older.
What better way to spend quality time with your child than to cook. You establish a sensory bond and a memories that most of us have...baking cookies or preparing something with a beloved aunt, dad, mom, or sister. The good feeling comes back each time we repeat the act. In the deep south, food is attached to feelings of love, nurturing and all things pleasurable and good. Time better spent in the kitchen playing in the pots than playing some violent digital game. provides a foundation for a value system to grow. Learning to grow your own food further enhances this process. You can teach so many lessons on just about anything thing informally with flour on your nose or pasta in the pot. Wonderful, constructive and humanizing in a society that fails to stop and savor the simple pleasures of life. and encourage back to basic in family relations.
I love to cook (especially in my backyard in my dutch ovens), and on occasion, my son has cooked with me. I'd never really given it much thought, as he doesn't really have the attention span to follow a dish through start to finish, most days.
But to my surprise, one day I came home from work and he announced that he was making pizza. I looked, and there was the dough nicely rising in a bowl. In another bowl was the sauce he'd made from scratch.
I tried hard not to interfere. When the pizza was done, it was amazing! And his sense of accomplishment went sky high.
Yes, kids really can cook if know how to guide them in doing such thing. Like me I love cooking together with my kids. I consider it as our bonding time.
I agree. - RG