The 11 Best Cookbooks for Kids in 2021

It’s never too early to get in the kitchen

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs at Amazon

Recipes like blueberry pancakes and avocado toast with fried eggs will get young chefs excited to help with meals.

Best for Basics: Cooking Class at Amazon

Step-by-step photos and creative bonus features like perforated labels and recipe cards will get kids more involved.

Best Classic: Food Network Magazine The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook at Amazon

This covers it all, from breakfast through dessert, and has color photos, cooking tips, fun food games, coloring pages, and more.

Best International: In the French Kitchen with Kids at Amazon

Make French classics —like omelets, croque monsieurs, profiteroles, and crème brûlée—approachable for young cooks.

Best Vegetarian: The Forest Feast for Kids at Amazon

It's thoughtfully designed to combine mouthwatering photos with creative illustrations and fun fonts.

Best Healthy: Super Foods for Super Kids Cookbook at Amazon

This book stresses superfoods, like avocados and walnuts, and includes tasty ways for kids to incorporate them into cooking.

Best for Baking: The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs at Amazon

Kids will learn counting, reading, science, self-confidence, and patience—all key skills.

Best for Teens: The Super Easy Teen Cookbook at Amazon

With "no crazy prep work, no boring flavors," teens will be empowered to cook meals like shrimp tacos and spaghetti carbonara.

Best Vegan: The Vegan Cookbook for Kids: Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Young Chefs at Amazon

Each recipe also states the needed equipment, plus the amount of cook and prep time young foodies should plan on before getting started.

Best New Release: Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook at Amazon

This fully illustrated book pairs kid-friendly food with chemistry lessons that explains the physical and chemical reactions involved in each recipe.

Best Gluten-Free: Gluten-Free Family Favorites: 75 Go-To Recipes to Feed Kids and Adults All Day, Every Day at Walmart

Make gluten-free meals and desserts, like cornbread taco muffins and pesto macaroni and cheese.

One way to ensure your child ends up comfortable in the kitchen as an adult? Start them young! Exposure is key, and there’s so much a kid can do in the kitchen (supervised, of course) to start getting them used to the meal-planning process, cooking the meal itself, and everything in between. While an expert-level dish out of a fancy cookbook may lead to an unpleasant kitchen experience for all involved, there are plenty of family-friendly cookbooks supported by supplemental content and visuals to help adults and kids of all ages collaborate and develop the skills and confidence that will benefit them in the years to come.

"When it comes to helping kids learn to cook, I think it's important to start small and start young so they get comfortable in the kitchen," says Andrea Debbink, author of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook." "Even when kids are too young to do more complicated tasks, they can still learn how to pour ingredients into a bowl, stir, or crack eggs."

Here, the best cookbooks for kids of all skill levels.

Best Overall: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You'll Love to Cook and Eat

the-complete-cookbook-for-young-chefs
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Step-by-step visuals

  • Includes product reviews

What We Don't Like
  • Not meant for kids under age 10

This bestseller is America’s Test Kitchen’s first-ever cookbook tailored to kids. It includes over 100 recipes (from breakfast and snacks to beverages and desserts) that “were thoroughly tested by more than 750 kids to get them just right for cooks of all skill levels.” Step-by-step photos provide helpful visuals, and testimonials from other young chefs throughout the pages encourage readers. Recipes like fluffy blueberry pancakes and avocado toast with fried eggs will cater to the whole family and get young chefs excited to help prepare meals. According to the publisher America's Test Kitchen, “by empowering young chefs to make their own choices in the kitchen, America's Test Kitchen is building a new generation of confident cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters.”

Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 208 | Date Published: 2018

Best for Basics: Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)

What We Like
  • Large photos

  • Has other kid activity suggestions

What We Don't Like
  • Too basic for teens

This collection of 50-plus recipes is the perfect first cookbook for 6- to 12-year-olds interested in gaining basic kitchen experience. Approachable and tasty recipes like cheesy bean quesadillas, popcorn chicken, and homemade peanut butter will excite kids and provide “inspiration and confidence to the chefs of the future,” according to the book author Deanna F. Cook. Step-by-step photos help demonstrate techniques, and bonus features like perforated labels, recipe cards, and place cards provide an additional creative element to get kids more involved. A thorough introduction section teaches all the essentials, from a kitchen vocabulary lesson to basic kitchen rules (e.g., use a pot holder, set a timer, and more).

Number of Recipes: 57 | Pages: 144 | Date Published: 2015

Best Classic: Food Network Magazine The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook: 150+ Recipes for Young Chefs

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • More recipes than other kid cookbooks

What We Don't Like
  • Less dinner items than in other sections

For those who are fans of the popular TV network and magazine, Food Network has a new kid-friendly cookbook with 150-plus recipes that they say “gives young food lovers everything they need to succeed in the kitchen.” This book covers it all, from breakfast to dessert, and includes color photos, cooking tips, fun food games and quizzes, bonus coloring book pages, and more. Even the book’s jacket is cleverly desired as a removable cheat sheet that includes cooking tips and tricks, as well as substitutions. There are recipes for everyone and for any occasion, ranging from Hawaiian chicken kebabs to candy bar cake to broccoli cheddar soup.

Number of Recipes: More than 150 | Pages: 192 | Date Published: 2020 

Best International: In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy

What We Like
  • French pantry and tools lists

  • Cute illustrations

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

French food is notoriously not the simplest of cuisines to cook, but according to author Mardi Michels, “French food doesn't have to be complicated.” This book makes French food approachable for young cooks and introduces the French classics—both sweet and savory—like omelettes, croque monsieurs, steak frites, profiteroles, madeleines, and crème brûlée. The introduction section includes a foreword by Dorie Greenspan, as well as a thorough French pantry explanation and essential equipment list. There are even chapters for special occasions and basic pastries. As an added bonus, this book also introduces kids to some French language basics.

Number of Recipes: More than 50 | Pages: 192 | Date Published: 2018

What Our Experts Say

"I think it's also important for kids to understand that mistakes are part of the cooking process. Recipes don't always turn out the way you'd expect, but that's how you learn." - Andrea Debbink, Author of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook"

Best Vegetarian: The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make

What We Like
  • Has watercolor art and photos

  • Many snack ideas

What We Don't Like
  • Some recipes repeated from OG cookbook

The Forest Feast, the popular vegetarian blog and cookbook series known for its watercolor illustrations and hand-lettering, has a kid-friendly edition for those in fifth grade and above. It will also appeal to adults and look beautiful on any countertop or table. This book offers 20 recipes that are vegetarian and that author Erin Gleeson calls “full of fresh and lively flavors that will appeal to kids,” like butternut quesadillas, shortbread cookies, and watermelon smoothies. In true Forest Feast fashion, each page is a sophisticated yet approachable work of art, thoughtfully designed to combine mouthwatering photography with creative illustrations and fun fonts. In addition to recipes, this book offers table decoration crafting tips, party ideas, a kitchen safety guide, and a culinary term glossary.

Number of Recipes: More than 50 | Pages: 112 | Date Published: 2016

What Our Experts Say

"Find out the type of food and recipes your child likes and try making them together. Some kids may enjoy baking cakes or cookies while others may want to cook breakfasts, learn to make pasta, or use the blender." - Andrea Debbink, Author of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook"

Best for Baking: The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs: 100+ Sweet and Savory Recipes that You'll Love to Bake, Share and Eat!

What We Like
  • Savory baked goods

  • Photos on most pages

What We Don't Like
  • Mainly intended for tweens

America’s Test Kitchen has expanded its kid-friendly cookbook line to include a baking book, which includes over 100 recipes that have not only been tested vigorously by the Test Kitchen but also by 5,000-plus kids to ensure they’re foolproof and approachable. This book isn’t just about baking cupcakes; you’ll find a comprehensive collection ranging from pizzas and soft pretzels to breads and cookies, alongside “step-by-step photos of tips and techniques [that] will help young chefs feel like pros in their own kitchen,” America's Test Kitchen states. An introduction section dives into some baking secrets, as well as ingredient basics, weighing and measuring tips, and essential prep steps (like melting butter and cracking eggs). Recipes like tahini-banana snack cake and spiced applesauce muffins will appeal to both kids and adults.

Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 224 | Date Published: 2019

Best for Teens: The Super Easy Teen Cookbook: 75 Simple Step-by-Step Recipes

What We Like
  • Simple recipes

  • Defines culinary terms

What We Don't Like
  • Majority of recipes are standard American fare

This new release geared toward teens is perfect no matter the skill level, whether they already have some cooking knowledge or their kitchen skills are limited to microwave-cooking. With what author Christina Hitchcock calls “no crazy prep work, no boring flavors, and no help from adults required,” teens will be empowered to prepare their own meals, whether it be shrimp tacos, spaghetti carbonara, or a matcha-pineapple smoothie. The introduction section includes safety tips, a common term glossary, and conversions, and recipes are also thoughtfully organized by various allergens, as well as by the following categories: “fast” (20 minutes or less), “five ingredients or less,” “no heat,” and “really fast" (under 10 minutes).

Number of Recipes: 75 | Pages: 210 | Date Published: 2020

What Our Experts Say

"Quality photos of the final creation are a must, as it's what attracts [my daughter] to the recipe in the first place. Stella has a pretty wide culinary palette, so she isn't afraid to try something new, therefore a book with a range of recipes is key whether it showcases international cuisine or snacks to breakfast to lunch to dinner to desserts." - Emily Balsley, Illustrator of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook"

Best Vegan: The Vegan Cookbook for Kids: Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Young Chefs

What We Like
  • Easy-to-follow instructions

  • Includes food facts

What We Don't Like
  • Less info on kitchen safety

That Was Vegan? blogger and author Barb Musick curated a selection of her most popular kid-approved meals for this cookbook, such as Korean-inspired barbecue bowls, blueberry French toast casserole, baked cinnamon sugar doughnuts, and sweet and sour tofu. Each recipe also states the needed equipment, plus the amount of cook and prep time young foodies should plan on before getting started. The introductory section is equally informative thanks to a kitchen tools list, standard measurement conversion info, suggestions for vegan cheese brands, and where to shop for plant-based foods.

Number of Recipes: 50 | Pages: 142 | Date Published: 2020

Best New Release: Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook

What We Like
  • Vibrant graphics

  • Contains educational material

What We Don't Like
  • Not many photos

Cooking is not only a creative process, but it is also involves science. "Kitchen Chemistry" provides readers ages 8+ with the scientific know-how to be better cooks. This fully illustrated book pairs kid-friendly food (like overnight bread, gluten-free pizza crust, and chocolate candy shell) with chemistry lessons that explain the physical and chemical reactions involved in each recipe. Also included is a logbook to rate the recipes, plus stories about chefs, inventors, and entrepreneurs—past and present—who have played a useful role in creating and developing many products we eat today.

Number of Recipes: More than 30 | Pages: 112 | Date Published: 2021

What Our Experts Say

“As a parent, I also think it's useful when the book features some how-tos, like describing a new technique or even a vocabulary list.” - Emily Balsley, Illustrator of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook"

Best Gluten-Free: Gluten-Free Family Favorites: 75 Go-To Recipes to Feed Kids and Adults All Day, Every Day

Everything(r): The Everything Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cookbook

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Cross-contamination explanations

  • Grocery shopping advice

What We Don't Like
  • Younger kids will need adult assistance

Co-authors Peter and Kelli Bronski are seasoned pros in the kitchen when it comes to making gluten-free meals and desserts, like cornbread taco muffins and pesto macaroni and cheese. Plus, as the parents of three children, they have a wealth of experience in cooking with kids, which is apparent in the age-appropriate “Kids Can" tips, which accompany every recipe throughout the book. Other highlights include details on how to set up and sustain a gluten-free kitchen, along with other ingredient options if a particular dish needs to be further modified to also be nut- or dairy-free.

Number of Recipes: 75 | Pages: 240 | Date Published: 2018

Final Verdict

"The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" by America's Test Kitchen (view at Amazon) takes our top spot because of its wide range of kid-tested recipes and helpful visuals. If you and your little one are vegetarian, try "The Forest Feast for Kids" (view at Amazon). Both of you are sure to enjoy the beautiful watercolor images in addition to its fresh, fun recipes.

What to Look for in Cookbooks for Kids

Age Level

Many cookbooks created for younger readers will specify an age range of the intended audience either in the title, the introductory section, or on the publisher website. Tween or teen users are likely to find a recipe meant for lower elementary-aged children too simple and unengaging, and kids 10 and under may struggle to understand the directions if the reading level is higher than their current skill level.

Supplementary Info

Measurement charts, conversion ratios, food substitutions, and a glossary of common culinary terms are useful additional content for kids and teens learning how to cook. "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook" author Andrea Debbink agrees. “I think cookbooks for kids should teach kids real cooking skills that they can build on. There's definitely a place for novelty cookbooks, but I think a lot of kids who are interested in cooking want to be taken seriously in the kitchen and make the same recipes that adults make," she says.

Visuals

Young chefs will need more guidance becoming comfortable with navigating and using a kitchen solo. Look for cookbooks that include step-by-step images and a finished shot of most, if not every recipe. "I won't buy cookbooks that don't have photos of the recipes. I like being able to see the end goal,” says Debbink. “This is especially true for kids who are just learning to cook. That's why we made sure to have photos of the recipes in 'Kitchen Chemistry' along with illustrations."

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a cookbook enthusiast herself, collecting dozens over the years and always turning to them for inspiration, whether it’s a time-consuming weekend baking project or just a quick Monday night dinner. Having worked in the cookbook publishing world in the past, she knows what it takes to create a quality book that delivers something new and exciting to readers—particularly in an increasingly online world.

Rachel Werner, who updated this roundup, is a cookbook reviewer, culinary writer, and former World Food Championship judge. Her lifestyle content, food styling, and photography have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications including Fabulous Wisconsin, BRAVA, and Hobby Farms Magazine. A selection of Rachel's recipes is also included in "Wisconsin Cocktails," a regionally themed mixology book (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020). Recent examples of her pro foodie pics are available on Instagram @trulyplanted. For this roundup, she interviewed two experts: Emily Balsley and Andrea Debbink, illustrator and author of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook."

Additional reporting by
Rachel Werner
rachel werner

Rachel Werner is a writer and author whose work has appeared in Fabulous Wisconsin, Entrepreneurial Chef, and the book "Wisconsin Cocktails."

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