Before our children leave the nest it is good idea to train them in some basic life skills, like cooking. There are kids who love to be in the kitchen licking bowls and getting dusty with flour, and there are those who can’t be bothered. For both the enthusiastic and the uninterested there are quite a few great cookbooks for learning new skills, exploring new foods, and eating healthy. A good cookbook is more than just a collection of recipes, and this is a list of my favorites:
For the absolute beginners
by Annabel Woolmer
This one-of-a-kind guide to cooking with the littlest ones features recipes suitable for children aged one to four. All the recipes for breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and pudding are toddler-friendly and require no sharp knives, stovetop use, or raw meat. Each recipe includes allergy information and lists parent preparation tasks.
by Jenny Chandler
“Cool Kids Cook” is much more than a recipe collection – it is actually a complete cookery course for budding chefs aged seven and up, with great recipes for real food. The book aims to give kids confidence and independence, and features a large section on safety in the kitchen. It also gives advice on shopping for groceries, composing flavors, and even tidying the kitchen. I also love the fabulous facts sections explaining the science behind the cooking. Each recipe has step-by-step photographs that make them really easy to follow and once you learn the basic version there are some interesting variations to try.
by Wendy Sweetser
Another great resource for aspiring cooks aged seven and up. It focuses on teaching basic cooking techniques, including knife use, peeling, crushing, and mashing, to more advanced skills such as frying, roasting, and kneading. There is also a great selection of recipes utilizing each skill with step-by-step illustrations and quick tips.
For the reluctant
by Tove Jansson and Sami Malila
Despite the fact that the recipes are very basic and there are no photos, this cookbook is one of our favorites. My daughters (ages four and six) love it and leaf through it more frequently than other colorful recipe books. The book does feature illustrations from the Moomins childrens books, so if your kids are fans of the series this will serve as a great gateway to the kitchen.
by Zoe Bather and Joe Sharpe
Ingreedies are a bunch of cartoon explorers traveling around the world in search of new taste adventures. Through them, we learn geography, history, and food culture. Great fun, even without the cooking!
by Sally Brown and Kate Morris
Here’s another book full of inspiring recipes from around the globe. This cookbook is beautifully presented with fun maps showing foods from different countries and eye-catching photos of prepared meals. There are plenty of interesting facts and funny stories to keep the young readers interested. What I like the most about this book was the recipes from less-known culinary destinations, such as Mauritius and Peru. I also appreciate that all the dish names are written both in English and the native language, so you can practice your Arabic while cooking Moroccan stew.
For the little chefs
by Linda Collister
Does your child love baking? “The Great British Bake Off” features 80 recipes for cakes, cupcakes, biscuits, breads, pudding, and pastries. You’ll find sweet and savory, easy and complex, and foods for all seasons. The recipes are easy to follow with step-by-step instructions and there are some lovely pictures of ready-bakes as well as plenty of great photos of kids playing outdoors. The design is a bit unconventional, but it does make the book look fresh and inviting.
by Anna Prandoni
by Gabriela Llamas
by Claudine Pepin
This series of three family cookbooks may feature a number of dishes too complex for children to tackle on their own, but there is advice on how to involve kids in preparation. There are also great family stories and cultural background on each recipe that can spark some interesting kitchen conversations – or maybe even inspire you to write your own family cookbook. Another great feature: the books are written in both languages. Bon apettit, cucina di casa, por favor!
With more than 150 recipes for breakfast, soups, salads, snacks, main meals, desserts, and cakes, the “Complete Children’s Cookbook” is certainly not going to disappoint. There is something for everyone. It helps that about half the recipes are for sweet dishes. Many classic dishes and plenty to inspire.
by Amanda Grant
“The Silver Spoon” is a best-selling Italian cookbook. This children’s version covers the classics like pizzas and pastas but also features some lighter snacks and desserts. The recipes are specially selected for children’s abilities and explained in clear step-by-step instructions. The best aspect of this book is this illustration: they are funny and eye-catching but also effective at conveying instruction. Altogether a lovely book.
by Virginie Aladjiji and Caroline Pellissier
The recipes in this book are prepared by French Michelin-starred chef Sebastian Guenard and are appealing to both little foodies and grown-up connoisseurs. We tried a few and found them simple, yet unique and really tasty. Even though the dishes featured in the book require adult preparation, the book itself is extremely attractive to small children – all because of the charming illustrations by French artist Marion Billet. The recipes are divided into four seasons and then by main ingredients and the book is a great tool to teach children about seasonal produce and inspire them to try new flavors. It’s one of the favorite cookbooks in our family.
by Fiona Bird
“Kids’ Kitchen” is not a book, but a set of recipe cards in a box. All the recipes here are vegetarian and healthy. The cards are sturdy enough to survive kitchen mess and colorful enough to attract the kids. The recipes are grouped into 5 color-coded sections: Eggs’nBeans, Fantastic Fruits, Milk’n’Dairy, Spuds’n’Grains, and Vital Vegetables. My kids love to play with those cards shuffling them and then displaying the colorful collage illustrations. True cooking inspiration.