The 7 Best Cookbooks for Kids of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Use these cookbooks for kids to help your young chef in the making

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Children's books—including cookbooks—bring along an air of nostalgia for elementary school Scholastic Book Fairs. It was a simpler time, filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and very small book selections. Now, with so much information at our fingertips, it can be challenging to identify exactly what content we want for our young readers and eaters. 

Research shows that modeling healthy dietary practices for your children helps with food diversity and picky eating. At its very basic level, cooking and baking helps our children advance their education.

By following a recipe, they are enhancing their reading comprehension. While measuring ingredients, they practice math. When mixing and cooking, they are participating in a science experiment. It's fun to think of cooking as a science and the kitchen as our lab. So put on your laboratory goggles, it’s time to (safely) cut some onions.  

Here, the best cookbooks for kids:

Our Top Picks
Known for their rigorously tested recipes, America’s Test Kitchen is the perfect place to start for any culinary novice.
Best for Preschoolers:
Kid Chef Junior at Amazon
Written from the perspective of a food writer, cook, and mother, this provides a well rounded and kid-safe cooking experience.
This book is visually appealing with recipes basic enough for your school age kids to follow.
Middleberg's book provides organic, tasty, simple, and safe ways to introduce new foods to your little eaters.
Not only does this provide some delicious dishes, it also focuses on kitchen education.
This contains delicious recipes filled with superfoods that your kids can enjoy making from start to finish.
Best Global Perspective:
Daily Bread at Amazon
Though not a cookbook, it certainly is an essential for any food lover’s bookshelf.

Best Overall: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You'll Love to Cook and Eat

Since 1993, America’s Test Kitchen has been a trusted voice providing reliable reviews on cookware, ingredients, and recipe development. Known for their rigorously tested recipes, America’s Test Kitchen is the perfect place to start for any culinary novice, and their children’s line is no exception.

Now, they are bringing their scientific approach to young chefs everywhere with over 100 kid-tested meals, snacks, drinks, and treats. With recipes tested over 750 times by kids, you know they aren’t joking around when they say their products are “kid-tested.” Recipes range from pesto flatbread to fudgy mug cakes and even skillet green beans. Recipes are accompanied by picture instructions to help guide visual learners. Tips and techniques are reviewed in detail at the beginning and then reviewed within recipes. 

America’s Test Kitchen takes a distinctly scientific and exploratory approach to cooking. The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs is just one in a line of four children’s cookbooks. Check out the rest of their books here, including my personal favorite — Kitchen Explorers

Best for Preschoolers: Kid Chef Junior: My First Kids Cookbook

Straight from the kitchen of food writer Anjali Shah, known best for her blog The Picky Eater, is a delightful introduction to cooking for children ages 4 and up. Shah pulls on her shared experience as a cook and mother to provide a well-rounded and kid-safe cooking experience.

I really like Shah's approach because she helps parents immediately establish a plan for a safe kitchen setting and rules for cooking with a 4-year-old child. Both her writing and her recipes are thoughtful and focus heavily on the beautiful experience of an adult cooking with a child. 

Shah is thoughtful about including nutrient-dense foods in her recipes in fun, creative, and delicious ways. Her Tricolor Ice Pops have six ingredients—mango, banana, kiwi, honeydew, spinach, and strawberries.

Best for School Age: Good Housekeeping Kids Cook!

An institution by all definitions, Good Housekeeping recipes have always been a staple in homes across the United States. They are known for the simplicity of their flavors and the warmth of their cooking style. Their Kids Cookbook delivers the same high-quality recipes and gorgeous photos that parents know to be attributed with the Good Housekeeping standard.

This book is very visually appealing. The lines and colors are clean and clear, which makes following along very easy. They don’t spend as much time on technique as other books, but they certainly have tips and tricks to help along the way. The recipes are sometimes simple—think, a blueberry crumb bar. But sometimes, they are simple with a twist—think, salad in a jar or a smoothie bowl. The recipes are basic enough for your school-age kids to follow and delicious enough for you to eat.

Best for Babies: The Big Book of Organic Baby Food: Baby Purées, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals For Every Stage

When it comes to infant and toddler nutrition, you want a Registered Dietitian in your corner. Feeding an infant and then transitioning to table food can be some of the most challenging experiences for parents. Add in the debate between breastfeeding and formula, homemade food versus packaged food, and you can find yourself in a stressful situation. That is why The Big Book of Organic Baby Food by dietitian Stephanie Middleberg is so helpful. 

The trusted NYC-based dietitian provides organic, tasty, simple, and safe ways to introduce new foods to your little eaters. She starts with single-ingredient purees and moves her way through chunky combination purees, up to smoothies, finger foods, and finally, family dinners. With over 230 selections to pick from, some of these recipes will have more than just your baby drooling.

Best for Baking: Super Good Baking for Kids

If cooking is a science and the kitchen is our lab, then baking is our most combustible experiment. Which loosely translates to—it is the most fun! And Super Good Baking for Kids delivers on fun. Duff Goldman, of Food Network fame, not only provides some delicious dishes, but he really focuses on kitchen education. Starting with kitchen basics, Duff wastes no time teaching you how to crack an egg, what different pieces of baking equipment look like, a glossary, and perhaps most impressively, a kid-friendly measurement conversion chart. 

Every so often in a recipe, Duff will have a sidebar reviewing the science of yeast. He’s funny, he’s smart, and he’s an excellent teacher. Recipes include delicious baked delicacies such as homemade Boston Creme Donuts and Duff’s famous stuffed-crust dessert pizza. 

Best Healthy Eating: Super Foods for Super Kids Cookbook: 50 Delicious (and Secretly Healthy) Recipes Kids Will Love to Make

“How do I get my kid to eat more fruits and vegetables?” is probably the question I get asked the most as a pediatric dietitian. The simple answer is, we have to offer these foods more regularly. In practice, it can be much harder. We also run into a problem when we hide nutrient-dense fruit and veggies in smoothies where they are out of sight for our kids to understand that carrot is actually making your drink sweet. That is where cooking with your children becomes so valuable and a book like Super Foods for Super Kids becomes brilliant. 

In her book, Noelle Martin, MScFN, RD creates delicious recipes filled with superfoods that your kids can enjoy making from start to finish. She integrates fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other superfoods into kid-friendly and kid-tested recipes. Don’t believe me? Check out her banana sushi. 

Best Global Perspective: Daily Bread: What Kids Eat Around the World

And finally, while this may not be a cookbook, it certainly is an essential for any food lover’s bookshelf. 

In an ongoing project, photographer Gregg Segal called on children around the world to participate in the “Daily Bread” challenge. He asked these children to record everything they ate, every day, for a week. After the week was over, Segal photographed the children alongside their traditional and typical diet. The results are powerful, beautiful, and speak to the growing challenges our country faces with overconsumption and diet quality.

Final Verdict

Whether you have a budding baker or a full-blown young Emeril, take a look at America’s Test Kitchen Young Chef line (view at Amazon) to help build both their technique and bookshelf.

What to Look for in Cookbooks for Kids

Simplicity:

Recipes and flavors should be relatively simple to start. As a child gets more experienced and is ready for more challenging combinations and instructions, then it is appropriate to begin introducing some more challenging recipes. We don’t want a child to get frustrated in a potentially unsafe setting, such as a kitchen. 

Safety:

You want to ensure that safety is prioritized and defined before you begin cooking with a child. Therefore, any cookbooks that don’t outline a safety plan should be avoided.    

Taste:

Look through the books with your children first and pick out a few recipes together that appeal to your taste buds. Make sure they like what they see before making any purchases.

What Experts Say

“Cooking with kids provides a foundation for lifelong health and nutrition exploration. Engaging children in any part of meal preparation can promote a stronger relationship with a variety of foods.”—Marlene Rafferty, RD, CSP, LDN

Why Trust Verywell Family?

As a pediatric Registered Dietitian, nothing brings Lauren Cohen more joy than getting to cook with her patients. In her hospital test kitchen, she has made everything from falafel to avocado brownies with her kids. She says they are some of her best memories as a provider. Working on a task, start to finish, can often be reward enough for a child. But it’s nothing compared to how proud they are to pull their homemade muffins out of the oven and take a bite of something they worked so hard to create. Lauren truly values cooking with her young patients and hopes you find these books helpful for your young chefs.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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