Find the best tips and recipes to make baking with kids easy, fun, and super yummy. From holiday cookies and desserts to everyday snacks and meals, this guide has you covered from the toddler years on through big kids!
Baking with Kids
From the time they were little, our kids have been in the kitchen mostly just out of necessity—they’re often around when we need to cook! And we love to bake together for the holidays or whenever we want to share dessert.
I’ve found that if you think through a few logistics ahead of time, you can set yourself and the kids up for a successful and fun baking session, without too much stress.
Here’s some of our best advice on how to cook and bake with kids AND keep your sanity for the holidays and every day.
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1. Don’t Try to Do Too Much
It’s ok if you keep the activity limited to one specific step. So if you are baking cookies, you can prep the dough and roll it out, and the kids can help cut it out with cookie cutters. Or they can just do the frosting on baked cookies.
Limiting the scope is totally fine! In fact, shorter bursts of activity may work better with their attention spans and may help you stay calm if the idea of a long activity makes you anxious.
2. Share Stories as You Work
Be sure to talk about why you’re making the recipes if they are connected to your family history so the kids pick up on them and start to file them away in their memory bank. And talk about ingredients and how they work according to how much the kids are interested. (My girls have gotten more interested in things like how baking soda works, for example.)
This can help make it even more fun to pull out the same cookie recipe year after year, and the kids usually love hearing stories about when you or other relatives were kids!
3. Expect it to Take Longer Than the recipe says
If you’re in a rush or you have a lot on your to-do list, not the time to get the kids involved in a baking project. If you’re in a bad mood or are stressed because the house is a mess, choose another time to bake cookies.
Baking with kids will likely take longer than if you were baking on your own. Understandable, but something to keep in mind from the outset.
I like to do kitchen activities when I am sure we have a lot of wiggle room. Sometimes this means I work with my middle kiddo while the little is napping, or I bake with one of them when another is at a playdate.
4. Let the Kids Do Some things Independently
While a little one may need some help cracking an egg, they can stir by themselves. While they might need a reminder to pour the milk into the center of the bowl, rather than closer to the rim, they can do the actual pouring on their own.
Set them up for success by giving them a bowl that’s much bigger than you’d usually use (to allow for more vigorous mixing!), be nearby to help as needed, and give them some space to let them feel invested and in control.
(Yes, this can be hard!)
5. Set Up their Space Safely
I’m a big fan of using a Learning Tower to safely bring kids up to counter height while reducing the risk of them falling, which is so easy for little kids to do when standing on a chair. If you don’t have a tower, you can have the kids be in their highchair or booster seat at the table and work there. Or, at the very least, they can be sitting down at the table.
The more secure they are, the less you have to worry about things like a fall happening mid-baking project.
6. Try Not to Worry About Perfection
A star cookie that looks more like a lump will still taste good, and the kids will still have fun decorating it. This is not a contest and there’s no gold star for the prettiest cookies! It’s OK, however things turn out.
This especially goes with frosting cookies—your kids don’t care what Instagram thinks!
7. Model Kitchen Habits
Explain why we wash our hands after touching raw eggs. Show them how to wipe up spilled flour.
Talk through what you’re doing so the kids pick up on some of it, even if they aren’t quite up to the task of cleaning down the kitchen just yet.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can bake anything you’d like, you may just want to allow extra time and prep some of the ingredients or steps. We love making cookies, brownies, and simple cakes together.
Baking with kids helps them become comfortable and confident in the kitchen, it’s a way to spend focused time together making food you can then enjoy, and it’s a way to pass along kitchen traditions from your family. It can also be a low-pressure way for kids to become more comfortable with ingredients they may not want to actually eat yet.
Basic things you likely have in the house including wooden spoons, big bowls, spatulas, and measuring cups are all great. You can use some mini kitchen tools to better fit their hands.
Easy Recipes to Bake with the Kids
If you’re looking for things to make with your kids, these recipes are all easy, don’t require electric mixers, and are yummy treats to share together. They’re also great for holiday cookie baking or to gift to teachers or loved ones.
Scroll down to see all of our favorite options.
Easy Sugar Cookies
With just a few simple ingredients and a super simple process, you can make my healthy and easy Sugar Cookies. They have the classic flavor and texture with less sugar. And they’re so super fun to make with the kids!
Easy Gingerbread Cookies
These Easy Gingerbread Cookies are our go-to holiday cookie recipe. They are SO super simple to make with the kids, and they are delicious for the whole family to share. (They also happen to be free from eggs and nuts, so more kiddos can enjoy them!)
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Mix up this easy-to-work-with cracker dough, then let the kids help roll and cut their way to the yummiest homemade cheese crackers recipe! These crackers have whole grains and a delightfully crisp texture. So good!
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
With just a few simple ingredients and a super easy method, these Chocolate Sugar Cookies are a yummy dessert to share with the kids. They’re a little less sweet than other recipes, but the flavor is so delish. We love them plain, but they’re fun with a simple icing, too!
Favorite Apple Cookies
Apple Cookies are a perfect fall (or anytime, really) treat to share with the kids—whether or not you top them with an easy icing! These healthy cookies are low in added sugars and flexible for a range of food allergies.
Healthy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Try these Healthy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies next time you’re looking for a classic cookie that’s a little less sweet and still SO good. The dough comes together in just a few minutes, and the result is a naturally sweet cookie everyone will enjoy.
Healthy Chocolate Cake
This super easy stir-together healthy Chocolate Cake is a cinch to make, and it has less sugar than traditional cakes. Maybe “healthier” is a better descriptor, but whatever you call it, it’s so darn good! (PS: It happens to be vegan!)
With whole grains and lower sugar, these Applesauce Cookies are bursting with fresh apple flavor … all with a one-bowl method!
Healthy Pumpkin Cookies
These Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies are so impressively soft and light—and have a surprisingly small amount of added sweetener. Plus, the batter simply stirs together, so this is a recipe that even your little kids can help you cook!
Easy Christmas Cookies
With a dough that doesn’t require any electric equipment—just a bowl and clean hands!—and a super straightforward method that’s ideal for doing together, these are our go-to cut-out Christmas Cookies for kids.
Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Celebrate a special occasion (or just a random happy afternoon!) with this yummy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake recipe. It’s basically a giant oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie that bakes up so easily in a cake pan.
Healthy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Make a batch of these healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies—loaded with dried fruit, oats, chocolate, and coconut—to share with the family. They’re a perfect dessert or special snack the kids and adults in the family will dig into.
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This post was first published November 2019.