The Best Cookbooks for Kids, According to an Expert

"The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" has more than 750 kid-tested recipes

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Cookbooks for kids are an excellent tool for building a child's cooking skills. Cooking with kids may positively impact their vegetable preferences, improve their attitudes around cooking, and increase their confidence in their cooking skills. Additionally, cooking and baking help children advance their education. The best cookbooks for kids contain simple ingredients and recipes and a safety plan.

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick is "The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes That You'll Love to Cook and Eat" because the recipes are versatile, organized, and kid-tested. If you're looking for a book for your preschooler, you can't go wrong with "Kid Chef Junior: My First Kids Cookbook."

Which cookbook you choose will also largely depend on your child's tastes, preferences, and age. Nothing will get them more excited to cook with you than to cook the food they love most. We researched a variety of cookbooks, considering ingredients, recipes, safety plans, taste, and the author's credibility.

Here are the best cookbooks for kids, according to a dietitian.

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

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

Amazon

Pros
  • Extensively kid-tested

  • Comprehensive

  • Recipes separated by experience level

Cons
  • Some copies have arrived damaged

Who else recommends it? Runner's World also picked The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs.

What do buyers say? 95% of 18,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

We like this cookbook for its overall value. Since 1993, America’s Test Kitchen has been a trusted voice providing reliable reviews on cookware, ingredients, and recipe development. Known for its rigorously tested recipes, America’s Test Kitchen is the perfect place to start for any culinary novice, and "The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" is no exception.

The book brings their scientific and exploratory 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 skillet green beans to pesto flatbread to fudgy mug cakes. They are accompanied by picture instructions to help guide visual learners.

The book lists clear, detailed safety practices in the beginning as well as cooking tips and techniques that are reiterated in the recipes. Each recipe uses simple ingredients and is marked with the level of difficulty, so you can start with the easy recipes and work your way up to the more advanced ones with your child.

Number of recipes: 100+ | Reading Age: 8-12 | Recipes Include: Breakfast, lunch/dinner, sides, snacks, desserts, beverages

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

Kid Chef Junior: My First Kids Cookbook

Amazon

Pros
  • Colorful photos of each recipe

  • Emphasizes the foundations of kitchen safety for young children

Cons
  • Limited number of recipes included


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.

Shah 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 only six ingredients—mango, banana, kiwi, honeydew, spinach, and strawberries.

Number of recipes: 25 | Reading Age: 4-8 | Recipes Include: Breakfast, lunch/dinner, snacks, desserts

Best for School Age: Good Housekeeping Kids Cook!

Good Housekeeping Kids Cook!

Amazon

Pros
  • Includes nutrition education and nutrition facts

  • Comprehensive

  • Beautiful photos

Cons
  • Some recipes may be confusing for young kids

  • Some recipes lack fruits and vegetables

Good Housekeeping is a well-known institution, and their recipes have long 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 align with the Good Housekeeping standard.

This book is very visually appealing. The lines and colors are clean and clear, making 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—pineapple and toasted coconut skewers, sometimes simple with a twist—salad in a jar, and sometimes simple fancy—crustless quiche lorraine. The recipes are basic enough for your school-age kids to follow and delicious enough for you to eat.

Number of recipes: 100+ | Reading Age: 8-12 | Recipes Include: Breakfast, lunches to-go, dinner, sides, snacks, desserts, beverages

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

The Big Book of Organic Baby Food: Baby Purees, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals For Every Stage

Amazon

Pros
  • Written by a Registered Dietitian

  • Recipes organized by age

  • Recipes specifically for babies & toddlers

Cons
  • Organic only ingredients can make recipes expensive

  • Cooking for children rather than with them

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 challenging 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.

Number of recipes: 230+ | Reading Age: adults | Recipes Include: Baby purees, finger foods, toddler meals, family meals

Best for Baking: Super Good Baking for Kids

Super Good Baking for Kids

Amazon

Pros
  • Includes science and history fun-facts 

  • Emphasizes creativity 

  • Highly engaging

Cons
  • Limited to baking recipes

  • No nutrition emphasis

If cooking is a science and the kitchen is our lab, then baking is our most combustible experiment. Which loosely translates to—it's 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 your child how to crack an egg and what different pieces of baking equipment look like. He also provides a glossary of terms and, perhaps most impressively, a kid-friendly measurement conversion chart. 

Every so often, Duff will have a sidebar reviewing everything from the science of yeast to fun facts about unicorns. 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. 

Number of recipes: Multiple recipes for six dessert categories | Reading Age: 8-12 | Recipes Include: Baked goods

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

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

Amazon

Pros
  • Written by a pediatric Registered Dietitian

  • Healthy recipes and nutrition education

Cons
  • Limited pictures

Is your biggest question about family feeding, “How do I get my kid to eat more vegetables?” The simple answer is to offer these foods more regularly. In practice, it can be much more difficult.

It may be appealing to hide nutrient-dense fruits and veggies in smoothies or other recipes where they are out of sight. However, when you hide these ingredients, your kids don't have the opportunity to learn that the carrots and apples are actually making their drink sweet, that they actually enjoy these foods. Making sure kids see fruits and veggies included in recipes they enjoy will help them make the choice to include them in their meals in the future. That is where cooking with your children becomes so valuable and a book like Super Foods for Super Kids becomes brilliant. 

In her book, registered dietitian Noelle Martin 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. 

Number of recipes: 50 | Reading Age: 8-12 | Recipes Include: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert

Best Global Perspective: Cooking Class Global Feast!: 44 Recipes That Celebrate the World’s Cultures

Cooking Class Global Feast!: 44 Recipes That Celebrate the World’s Cultures

Barnes & Noble

Pros
  • Includes education on global food traditions and eating customs

  • Each recipe highlights a different country

Cons
  • Some ingredients may be hard to source

The kitchen is the perfect place to teach children about different cultures and customs by exposing them to flavors from across the globe. In Cooking Class Global Feast!, kids' cookbook author Deanna F. Cook highlights traditional meals from 44 different countries, including recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks and desserts. 

In addition to the recipes, this book includes an introduction with nine lessons covering kitchen safety, kitchen tools, cooking basics, measurement conversions, and how to celebrate world flavors. Pick up a copy of this book for all of the family to enjoy and get ready to host a global dinner party!

Number of recipes: 44 | Reading Age: 8-12 | Recipes Include: Breakfast, lunch/dinner, snacks, desserts, beverages

Final Verdict

Whether you have a budding baker or a full-blown young Emeril, take a look at America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs (view at Amazon) to help build both their technique and their book collection.

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 complex 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 their taste buds. Make sure they like what they see before making any purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can you start cooking with your kids?

    When to start cooking with your kids depends on the child’s individual developmental stage, motor skills, and interest level. Start by exposing toddlers to simple cooking tasks like pouring ingredients into a bowl, mashing, whisking, and stirring, which can help to develop gross motor skills. Try exposing them to different ingredients through touch, smell, and taste to encourage food acceptance and diversity in their diets. As children grow and fine tune their motor skills, you can involve them in more stages of meal preparation.

  • Why should you cook with your kids?

    The home food environment significantly impacts children's eating habits, and studies show that more frequent family meals are associated with improved nutritional health. Exposing children to different ingredients and involving them in the meal preparation process can enhance their appreciation for food and encourage acceptance of new foods, which is particularly helpful for children that are picky eaters. Additionally, cooking and baking with children can help strengthen motor skills, teach principles of math and science, and support creative expression. Cooking as a family can also be a positive bonding and memory-building experience. 

  • What makes a recipe kid-friendly?

    Kid-friendly recipes are typically more simple in design, easy to follow and execute, require fewer ingredients, and incorporate flavor profiles and textures suitable for the age they are serving. For example, kid-friendly recipes are typically lower in spice level. Additionally, they may feature playful or creative elements, highlighting different shapes and food designs.

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.

4 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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  2. The 8 Best Kids Cookbooks in 2022. Runner's World. https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/g39466184/best-kids-cookbooks/

  3. Dallacker M, Hertwig R, Mata J. The frequency of family meals and nutritional health in children: A meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews. 2018;19(5):638-653. doi:10.1111/obr.12659

  4. van der Horst K. Overcoming picky eating. Eating enjoyment as a central aspect of children’s eating behaviors. Appetite. 2012;58(2):567-574. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.12.019