The best cookbooks for kids are the ones that will inspire a love of food from a young age. From learning meal prep skills to trying new flavors, kid-oriented cookbooks encourage littles to feel comfortable in the kitchen.
Having a kiddo who is a picky eater isn’t uncommon, and it often makes mealtimes a challenge. Engaging them in the process of choosing a menu, chopping ingredients, and prepping a few dishes will give them an appreciation for what it takes to prepare dinner for a family. They are also much more likely to eat the meals that they had a hand in planning and creating.
Food journalist and restaurant critic Joshua David Stein is not just a food book author, but also a father of two. He encourages parents to get kids involved in the kitchen as much as possible. “Having a child perform various appropriate tasks as part of mise en place encourages buy-in, I’ve found. Depending on the age, these can involve supervised knife skills or, for instance, mixing, stirring, kneading, etc…but not every meal needs to be a lesson,” Stein says. “Sometimes just a good dinner (or breakfast, lunch, snack, or treat) is enough.”
Stein also has advice for picky eaters, saying, “There aren’t any hard and fast rules, I’ve found. In some family dynamics, strict rules such as a two-bits minimum work. In others, the less pressure the better. What has worked for me as a father is a middle ground. I won’t force my son to eat anything but I typically don’t offer alternatives.”
So the next time you’re meal planning or starting to prep dinner, invite your kids to join in and help! Yes, they will probably still balk at broccoli and complain about clean-up, but stick with it, friends. Eventually, you may end up with a mini foodie who orders escargot, watches Top Chef with you, and schools their siblings on proper knife techniques.
As a first step, check out the best kids’ cookbooks below!
Best Cookbooks for Kids
With whimsical ideas like fake-out cakes and choose-your-own-adventure recipes, this Food Network Magazine cookbook encourages kitchen creativity. It has easy to follow instructions, colorful photos, and plenty of tips draw young chefs in. The School Library Journal says, “This accessible and visually stunning cookbook will delight and inspire home cooks of all ages and get families cooking together.”
Featuring over 100 kid-approved recipes, this Good Housekeeping cookbook was created to introduce meal prep in simple terms. Full of drool-worthy GH food photos, kids can review ingredients needed, prep times, and servings before they begin. “Smart Chef” boxes dot the pages to offer tips and variation ideas.
When it’s time to move past grilled cheese, share this cookbook with your little foodie. With recipes like Ginger-Lemon Green Juice and Bacon Herb Frittata Sandwiches, this book is for the more sophisticated palate. The dishes are more challenging, so plan on having an adult in the kitchen to work as a sous chef!
Some things never go out of style, and Betty Crocker recipes are one of those things. Kick it way back with a reprint of the classic 1957 cookbook featuring nostalgic menu items like Sloppy Joes and Cheese Dreams. Reviewer Jody says, “How much to love! The recipes are cute and imaginative, fairly simple but delicious. The kitchen tips and advice are stellar for any age. How to set the table? It’s here. How to scramble eggs? Also here. Measuring, stirring, meal prep are all described and illustrated in a most kid friendly format.”
Best Kid Cookbook Recipes
Created by registered dietician Jody Danen, this cookbook focuses on simple recipes that use 5-10 ingredients. Kids ages 8 to 12 are encouraged to work independently to make the 50 included meals and snacks. There are also fun food facts sprinkled throughout the book, along with kitchen safety tips.
Named one of the 2019 New York Times “Best Cookbooks for Kids,” this spiral-bound book includes over 50 recipes! Kid-friendly meal ideas and simple directions make this a great choice for ages 6 to 12. It also comes with labels, stickers, and food-oriented games to play around the dinner table.
Geared for ages 8 to 14, New York Times Food columnist Melissa Clark wrote this book to build kids’ confidence in the kitchen. Over 100 recipes have step-by-step instructions and helpful hints to ensure success. With plenty of kid-friendly ingredients, your tween will be preparing dinner in no time.
Best Kid-Friendly Cookbooks
As a food writer with 2 picky eaters at home, author Joshua David Stein was inspired to create this book to give busy parents some ideas for easy meals to make for their children. Stein says,
“I come into contact with hundreds of chefs, many of whom are parents. This book came out of many many discussions I had with them — not just about what to cook but how to broaden the tastes and bring a passion of cooking to our kids.” 100 recipes are highlighted, along with personal stories from chefs about why the dishes are loved by their families.
Nobody does family-friendly Italian meals like Giada De Laurentiis. Using simple ingredients and no-fuss prep work, she has created a variety of recipes designed to pass around the table. Featuring pasta, soups, salads, and desserts, this cookbook is full of dishes that everyone will enjoy.
With 100 recipes that can be pulled together in under an hour, this cookbook was designed for busy families. Reviewer Raymond says, “In true Ayesha Curry form, she completely delivers on a book filled with delicious recipes that (nearly all) can be made in 30 minutes or less. Easy weeknight dinners are the star of the show, but the cocktails all sound incredible and there’s also a handful of easy desserts.”
Best Kids First Cookbook
With color-coded recipes and child-friendly steps, this cookbook was made for little helping hands. There are 40 easy-to-follow recipes to introduce kids ages 1-4 to cooking skills. Reviewer Hendonus says, “First cookbook that ALL of the recipes look easy and yummy. The layout of the book is easy to read and the pictures and designs are so whimsical and adorable.”
Kid-tested and kid-approved, America’s Test Kitchen wants My First Cookbook to inspire young chefs to enter the kitchen. Featuring simple snacks, family meals, and holiday celebration ideas, each recipe was developed specifically for kids. There are over 60 menu items to create, with plenty of pictures for every step along the way.
This fun and easy starter cookbook is designed for kids ages 4 to 8. With plenty of illustrations and recipe difficulty ratings, everyone will find something delicious to choose from. Reviewer Audrey says, “I bought this cookbook for me and my toddler as she LOVES to help in the kitchen. It’s super kid-friendly and has a lot of really great HEALTHY recipes. It’s honestly my favorite cookbook because the whole book is so unique and the recipes are well thought out.”
Full of cheerful illustrations, this cookbook features 48 recipes designed for kids and adults to make together. There are three sections to explore: Breakfast & Lunch, Sides, Snacks & Beverages, and Dinner & Desserts. It also comes with a set of blank recipe cards for jotting down new creation ideas.