How to Teach Kids to Cook
The importance of oven safety for kids
Cooking can be a fun activity for kids. Not only is it a great bonding experience for parent and child, but it can also provide opportunities to teach important life skills, like following a recipe, measuring ingredients, choosing healthy options and being safe in the kitchen. We share our top tips for teaching kids to cook while keeping them safe below.
Oven safety for kids before the cooking lessons start
Child oven safety needs to be a priority long before kids are old enough to help with cooking. Curious toddlers are drawn to the oven when they see mom and dad using it, so make sure your child is never in the kitchen unsupervised while the oven is on. If your oven does not have one built in, you should also invest in an oven safety lock that will prevent young children from opening the oven door while allowing adults to easily lift the door up and down.
Additionally, it's important to talk to your child about necessary oven safety procedures, such as turning in the handles of pots or pans on the stove to avoid accidental spillage, using oven mitts to prevent burns, and paying attention to any oven warning lights. Make sure that you also follow these tips to set an example for your little ones.
Start small and increase responsibilities with age
Rather than jumping right into gourmet cooking lessons, it's easier to start with small tasks at a young age and gradually increase what your child can help with. Be sure that all potentially dangerous items are out of reach of young children - little hands can reach onto counters or the stove and pull down anything they can grab. Investing in a "play" kitchen of their own is a great way to let kids mimic putting food into the oven and using the stovetop.
Some suggestions for teaching kids to cook by age (always with adult supervision) are below. Keep in mind that the suggestions below are only a guide; it's ultimately up to you to decide when your little one is ready for each "cooking" task.
Under age 3
- Stirring ingredients (nothing hot)
- Pouring pre-measured ingredients into a mixing bowl
- Naming different food items
Ages 3 to 5
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Mixing ingredients with a spoon, with help
- Using cookie cutters to make fun shapes
- Spreading icing or butter using a spatula
- Assisting with kneading, breading and flouring
Ages 5 to 7
- Using a peeler
- Breaking eggs into a bowl
- Shucking corn
Ages 8 to 11
- Opening cans
- Using a whisk and beating eggs
- Following basic recipes (with supervision)
- Microwaving food (only if they are tall enough to reach the microwave safely and understand the risk of steam)
- Making salads
No matter when your child is ready to start helping out with cooking, make sure to stress oven safety in the kitchen. Never leave food unattended, and always supervise your child's use of kitchen tools and appliances. Refer to Safekids.org's tips on cooking safety for more information.
Choosing the perfect oven for your family
You'll find a variety of ranges, cooktops and wall ovens at hhgregg. Featuring the most trusted brands, with the latest features and technology, our selection offers the desirable styles you want in stainless steel and more. For additional help choosing a new appliance, consult our oven and range buying guide.