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.
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You'll Love to Cook and Eat
Includes product reviews
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.”
Price at time of publish: $20
Number of Recipes: 100+ | Pages: 208 | Date Published: 2018
Best for Basics
Cooking Class: 57 Recipes Kids Will Love to Cook (and Eat!)
Has other kid activity suggestions
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).
Price at time of publish: $19
Number of Recipes: 57 | Pages: 144 | Date Published: 2015
"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."
Food Network Magazine The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook
More recipes than other kid cookbooks
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.
Price at time of publish: $25
Number of Recipes: 150+ | Pages: 192 | Date Published: 2020
In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy: A Cookbook
French pantry and tools lists
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 omelets, croque monsieur's, 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.
Price at time of publish: $25
Number of Recipes: 50+ | Pages: 192 | Date Published: 2018
"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"
The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make
Has watercolor art and photos
Many snack ideas
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.
Price at time of publish: $23
Number of Recipes: 50+ | Pages: 112 | Date Published: 2016
"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
Savory baked goods
Photos on most pages
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.
Price at time of publish: $20
Number of Recipes: 100+ | Pages: 224 | Date Published: 2019
Best for Teenagers
The Super Easy Teen Cookbook: 75 Simple Step-by-Step Recipes
Defines culinary terms
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).
Price at time of publish: $17
Number of Recipes: 75 | Pages: 210 | Date Published: 2020
"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"
The Vegan Cookbook for Kids: Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Young Chefs
Includes food facts
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.
Price at time of publish: $16
Number of Recipes: 50 | Pages: 142 | Date Published: 2020
Best New Release
My Pokémon Cookbook: Delicious Recipes Inspired by Pikachu and Friends
Covers meals, snacks, and desserts
Clean, easy-to-read layout
Some ingredients may be trickier to find
One fantastic way to get kids excited about cooking is linking it to something they love. Pokémon is one of the world's most popular franchises, spanning across video games, movies, card games, tv shows, and now cookbooks. This adorable collection contains more than 45 Pokémon-themed recipes, including breakfast items, meals, desserts, and snacks, each with helpful step-by-step instructions for all skill levels. The layout is organized and the full-color photos are stunning.
Some recipes may also work as a great introduction to Japanese cuisine, such as the umeboshi onigiri or custard bao buns. Other highlights include a Pikachu lemon tart, Spinda marble raspberry cake, Gengar yogurt bowl, and Dragonite butternut squash gnocchi. It's an impressive collection that will have kids wanting to cook 'em all.
Price at time of publish: $28
Number of Recipes: 45+ | Pages: 128 | Date Published: 2022
Gluten-Free Family Favorites: 75 Go-To Recipes to Feed Kids and Adults All Day, Every Day
Grocery shopping advice
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.
Price at time of publish: $10
Number of Recipes: 75 | Pages: 240 | Date Published: 2018
"The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" by America's Test Kitchen 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." 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
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.
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.
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."
How can I involve kids in cooking?
Involving kids in cooking meals is not only a great way to build life skills, but also to bond as a family. Depending on their age, there are plenty of tasks that children can handle. Younger kids can help add measured ingredients into bowls. As they grow older, have your kids stir in mixing bowls, peel potatoes and carrots, or measure out spices and liquids. Once they’ve refined their motor skills, tweens and teens can help chop and dice vegetables or monitor things cooking in a pot or pan. Starting kids in the kitchen at a young age is great for them to develop important cooking skills.
What can kids cook?
If you want to give your kids a bit more control over the cooking process (still with supervision, of course) you may wonder where to start. Kid cookbooks, like the ones featured on this list, are a fantastic way to get kids excited to cook. They’re full of tasty kid-friendly recipes and simple-to-follow instructions, usually complete with pictures. There are also thousands of online tutorials for those who prefer visual and auditory learning.
These cookbooks and videos usually cover simpler recipes and meals that kids are bound to love. Popular items include cookies, various types of mac and cheese, fruit salads, homemade pizzas, cupcakes, tacos, smoothies, omelets, and plenty more.
How can I cook healthy foods with kids?
Kids are notoriously picky eaters, so how can you ensure that they start cooking healthy options, too? You could look for cookbooks that focus on healthy foods and meals to start. A great way to help your kids expand their palates is to start with something they already like and introduce a new ingredient. Cheese-covered broccoli is a classic, or you could try adding diced bell peppers to a quesadilla. Add blueberries to muffins, switch PB&Js to whole wheat toast, smear peanut butter on celery, etc. There are countless ways to incorporate new, healthy foods into meals and snacks they already love.
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."
Allison Wignall, who also updated this article, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. She’s always in the kitchen trying to recreate recipes from around the world. Her work has been featured in publications including Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.
Andrea Debbink is the author of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook."
Emily Balsley is the illustrator of "Kitchen Chemistry: A Food Science Cookbook."