Cooking is more than just a fun and enjoyable pastime, it’s also a terrific skill that takes a lifetime to master, and will serve you well at every age. So why not get young readers started off on the right foot in the kitchen with cookbooks geared especially to them? With recipes that range from kid-friendly classics to more sophisticated dishes, these ten cookbooks have will have your young chefs telling you what’s for dinner, rather than asking. (And could there be a more beautiful sound than that?)
Complete Children’s Cookbook, by DK Publishing
The full-color photographs that accompany the step-by-step instructions make this a nice transition from “little kid” to “big kid” cookbook. More than 150 recipes are divided into 9 chapters, from breakfast, to appetizers, to desserts. There’s an emphasis on exploring new flavors, while still sticking to classic dishes that young cooks know and love. Kitchen basics and safety tips are also included, to aid as children move from kitchen helpers to independent chefs.
Betty Crocker Kids Cook, by Betty Crocker Editors
Betty Crocker has been teaching America to cook since her first cookbook published in 1950. This newest edition is spiral-bound for lay-flat ease. The recipes are organized into meal groups, with each recipe containing six or less steps, perfect for those just getting started in the kitchen. An illustrated guide to kitchen utensils is on the inside cover, a similar guide for bakeware on the back cover. Simple directions, a highly visual style, and a name you know you can trust.
Other Format $16.95 | $18.95
Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!), by Deanna F. Cook
This is one for kids who like to play with their food. The recipes use simple, fresh ingredients to make dishes that will satisfy any eater. There are recipes for pancakes, applesauce, and French toast. But there are also recipes for sushi, crepes, and egg rolls. The difference is that where most cookbooks stop when the dish is prepared, this one takes it to the next level with fun presentations that’ll liven up any party table (or just a regular weekend lunch).
Williams-Sonoma The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook, by Lisa Atwood
This cookbook features simple recipes that will mix up the normal mealtime menu. Chocolate dipped fruit, fish tacos, sesame noodles, and guacamole are just a few of the more than 60 recipes you’ll find in this book. Professional photographs provide a grown up feel, while still allowing for the independent ease of young chefs.
The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook, by The Culinary Institute of America
This book is recommended for slightly older children (ages 10-14), and is co-authored by parent and culinary instructor Mark Ainsworth. A good chef knows that cooking is not just about the recipe, but about the the ingredients, the technique, and the way in which we use food to fuel our bodies. With that in mind, this cookbook starts of with food preparation safety tips and kitchen techniques, and the recipes include sidebars that delve into the flavor and history of the ingredients. The dishes themselves are slightly more sophisticated than you might find in a beginner cookbook, but simple enough for the novice. A nice selection for the adolescent who truly enjoys the experience of being in the kitchen, and not just the food itself.
Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook, by Better Homes and Gardens
Written for kids ages 8-12, this is a scaled-down version of the traditional Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The 65 recipes are mostly classics, though given fresh kid-appeal with fun names, and bright cartoon-style illustrations. Staples like chili, spaghetti, snickerdoodles, and tuna casserole fill the pages, with a few fun new recipes (popcorn cake, anyone?) thrown in for good measure.
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards, by Dinah Buchotz
At 256 pages, this cookbook resembles one of Harry’s own magic tomes. But that’s because more than just a cookbook: this is a culinary history of foods from across the Harry Potter experience, from Hogwarts, to Mrs. Weasley’s table, to Hagrid’s hut. Some of the recipes are your standard British fare, some are decidedly more magical (but still use plain ol’ muggle ingredients). They vary in range of skill—from the very simple to the more elaborately festive. Not a “first cookbook” for very young children, but a must-have for the true Potter fan.
Hardcover $17.95 | $19.95
American Girl Baking: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, and More, by Williams-Sonoma and American Girl
Gather the bakers, their dolls with their matching aprons, your bowls and your spoons, and get ready for your very own American Girl tea party! From cupcakes to cookies, from brownies to truffles, this collection of over 40 treats and desserts is perfect for any celebration (or just an afternoon snack). Flavors range from the simple to the more elegant (white chocolate and raspberry cupcakes, anyone?), but each recipe is easy-to-follow, and fun to eat.
A Smart Girl’s Guide: Cooking: How to Make Food for Your Friends, Your Family, and Yourself, by Patricia Daniels, Darcie Johnston, and Elisa Chavarri
Maybe sweets aren’t your thing. In that case, The Smart Girl’s Guide (also put out by American Girl) has another cookbook for your less sugary delights. This cookbook discusses taking simple, fresh ingredients and combining them into classic meals sure to please friends and family. But it also goes a step beyond the food itself to appealing presentation and the creation of a well-balanced meal. Simple. Useful. Smart!
Cook Me a Story: A treasury of stories and recipes inspired by classic fairy tales, by Bryan Kozlowski
Like the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Cook Me a Story combines the joys of food and books, this time for the youngest readers. Seventeen classic tales are retold with a recipe and a twist, including titles such as “Plumbelina”, “Cinnarella”, and “Goldilocks and the Three Pears”. The books is designed for children ages 6-9, with most of the step-by-step instructions simple enough for children to do independently, and areas where adult supervision is required are clearly marked.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get cookin’!