Do you bake with your kids? It might seem daunting, but baking with kids doesn’t have to be hard, particularly if you choose the right recipe and have a few tools on hand that make it easier for kids to participate. Read on for tips to enjoy baking with your kids!
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I bake quite often, and my boys are no stranger to the kitchen. I started allowing each of my boys to help in the kitchen when they were just over a year old. I even took my older son to a series of cooking and baking classes just before he turned two when we lived in downtown Chicago.
While we don’t have formal classes anymore, the boys often help out in the kitchen (especially when they want me to bake something sweet). They’re pretty comfortable with simple recipes and beginner baking skills, though I can appreciate that it takes a while for kids to become competent in the kitchen. Heck, it takes adults a long time to get comfortable baking and cooking with ease. Nonetheless, welcoming our kids into the kitchen has a lot of benefits and isn’t that hard with a few tips and tools.
Benefits of Baking With Kids
Baking is a great way to teach kids about the chemistry of mixing ingredients, the math of measuring and multiplying, reading a recipe, the fine motor skills required to prepare a recipe, and more. Baking helps our children understand the process of turning individual ingredients into edible food and meals. It’s also wonderful for sensory stimuli, especially for kids who tend to be a little hesitant about new foods and new textures.
Baking from scratch can also be a great zero or low waste family activity. Use my Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste Baking for some ideas about how to reduce waste while baking with your kids. Right about now, I think we are all on the lookout for fun ways to enjoy a LOT of time with our kiddos.
Quality Time Learning a New Skill With An Online Class
Baking with kids is also just a great way to spend time together. Consider doing one of these online Beginner Baking classes or this library of tutorials about all baking and pastries together. They are super affordable and really informative. (As we endure the effects of the COVID-19 virus, access to their entire class portfolio is free through April 9, 2020!)
I have taken a couple of them, including one that taught me how to make buttercream frosting for these mini cupcakes and birthday. The online classes are taught by professionals and can teach you so much to step up your baking game!
Admittedly, some baking recipes are fancy and technical, and these are not necessarily the types of recipes to try with kids. However, there are plenty of recipes that are simple and perfect to include your kids in the kitchen.
Easy Recipes to Bake With Kids
Here are a few ideas you can try with your kids to create low waste recipes with ingredients you probably already have at home (or could purchase on your next trip to the neighborhood grocery store):
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies | This is my favorite recipe.
Banana Chocolate Ice Cream | Just mix frozen, sliced bananas and cocoa powder in a food processor until the mixture turns creamy and delicious. It takes a couple of minutes, so be patient. But trust that it will eventually turn into ice cream. For a harder texture, put ice cream in the freezer for a couple of hours. Add as much or as little cocoa powder as you like to taste.
Peanut Butter Scotch Clusters | These are so easy, require no baking, and are a huge hit every time I make them.
Homemade Pretzels | Soft pretzels are kind of a big deal in Philadelphia, so I plan to watch this dough making tutorial and learn all about the tips and tricks to make the perfect soft pretzel before diving into this with my boys. But I know we can do it!
Banana Cardamom Bread | The cardamom gives the bread a little extra fun flavor but you can definitely skip it if you don’t have it on hand. It’s not a flavor kids will dislike, for the most part, so I don’t think the added flavor makes it any more difficult or less “kid-friendly”. But it’s not a necessary ingredient if you decide to skip it.
Mini Chocolate Chip Banana Bread | My boys die for this bread. If you’re not on board with the cardamom option, this is definitely another alternative to use up those bananas before they get wasted.
Orange Poundcake | We made this recipe at the kid’s cooking class I mentioned above. The entire recipe was designed with kids in mind!
Rainbow Fruit Pizza | This recipe calls for homemade pizza dough. Alternatively, many grocery stores have frozen or refrigerated pizza dough available. Don’t forget when you buy your fruit to opt for the choices with the least amount of packaging. No need to put a handful of apples into a plastic bag. Just set them right in your cart and take them home to wash them anyway!
Tips For Fun Baking With Kids
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that baking with kids takes a pinch of patience. Especially with young children or those just learning kitchen skills, the process will take longer and be messier. But it’s so worth it!
I’ve been baking with my boys since before they turned two years old, so I’ve had quite a bit of practice working with little hands in an everyday kitchen. Below are a whole bunch of tips for baking with kids to hopefully make the experience a giant success for you and your kids!
Let Each Child Make Their Own Batch
If you are baking with more than one child, consider letting each child make their own batch if possible. Many baked goods, especially those that kids can make, freeze well. So despite the larger amount of sweets you will have, they can go in the freezer and be a magic treat for a later day.
We do this when we make brownies, cookies, and pancakes. My older son likes applesauce oatmeal pancakes while my younger son prefers blueberry pancakes. When we make pancakes, they each get to make their own batch and get their favorite flavor.
Read Through The Recipe Together
If your child can read or is learning, this is a great way to sneak in a little extra reading practice. If they can’t yet read, read the recipe to them. Not only is it good reading practice, but it helps ensure you’re prepared for all the steps to come.
Gather Ingredients Before Starting
Have all the necessary ingredients on the counter or nearby so you can guide and oversee the children while they are baking. “Mise en place” is a French culinary term that means “to have everything in place” and ready to go. This term applies to equipment and tools as well, and it’s helpful to have what you need in that respect too.
Put Ingredients Away As You Are Done With Them
As the kids get a bit older or more experienced, you won’t have to oversee every single second of baking execution. As the kids finish using specific ingredients, put them away so they are out of the way.
Use The Right Tools & Equipment
Depending on the tool, some kitchen and baking tools might be just right for adults but too big for kids. There are also certain kitchen tools that make baking with kids much easier. For example, choose smaller size measuring cup (i.e. fill two 1/2 cups of sugar instead of one whole cup of sugar), opt for materials like metal or silicone instead of glass to prevent breakage, and invest in a spoon and spatula that fit their little hands. A few of our favorite tools that are just right for kids include:
Kids Kitchen Tools
- Kids’ Baking Tool Set
- Sustainable Bamboo Baking Utensils
- Joie Chopper
- Basic Kids’ Knives or Fancier Kids’ Knives
- Stand Mixer
I find it’s really helpful to have a stand mixer if possible. We have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer that I received as a wedding gift so many moons ago, and it’s still going strong. If you care for them well, they last a very long time.
They are expensive but well worth the investment if it is in your budget (or maybe you can request it as a gift). The stand mixer makes it so much easier for kids to mix ingredients. Be sure to supervise little ones who might stick their fingers in the bowl while the mixer is on, but we haven’t had any issues with this.
Kids will have much more success and enjoy the process if they are elevated to counter height. They can stand on a chair or stool with supervision. Sometimes, I have my little guys sit right on the counter. If they aren’t at the right height, it makes stirring, pouring, and even seeing in the bowl really difficult.
We have a few friends who own kids kitchen stools, and I always thought these were really neat. Although we never had one, I think they would be great for families looking to really get their kids involved in cooking and baking.
Crack Eggs In A Separate Small Bowl
Set a small bowl next to your recipe preparation space. When it’s time to crack eggs, let the kids crack the eggs over a small bowl before adding the egg to the main recipe. This makes it easier to manage and also easy to remedy if you end up with a bowl full of shells.
Measure Ingredients Ahead Of Time Or Over Separate Bowls
For younger children, it’s helpful to measure ingredients ahead of time so they can focus on activities like pouring and stirring. As children get older and are able to pour or measure ingredients on their own (or with a little adult help), have them pour ingredients into measuring cups and spoons over a separate bowl. This way, if they over pour or spill, the excess ingredients aren’t wasted and don’t end up mixed with the main recipe.
Measure In Smaller Quantities
Instead of measuring a cup at a time, consider allowing your little one to measure and pour three 1/3 cup measurements instead of one full cup, for example. The smaller size is more manageable for little hands.
Taste Test Along The Way
Skip the raw eggs, but let the kids sneak a couple of chocolate chips or try the batter as you prepare the recipe. Smell ingredients as you put them into the mix. It’s a great way to introduce new flavors and textures, and it also makes the process a whole lot more fun.
Include Fun Tools and Decorations
What child doesn’t love baking with sprinkles, cookie cutters, and frosting?! My boys get much more excited about making cookies when they know they can decorate with sprinkles or add chocolate chips and M&Ms. You can even find many of these fun ingredients and food decorations in the bulk sections of some grocery stores.
Embrace The Mess
Just accept it. Baking with kids is messier than preparing a recipe ourselves. However, it’s really important that we welcome kids into the kitchen and teach them important life skills about preparing food. It’s also a great sensory stimulus activity and continues to introduce them to new foods and the process of turning ingredients into edible creations.
Plan For Extra Time
It’s inevitable that baking with kids will take longer than whipping up a recipe on your own, particularly if it’s one with which you’re familiar. When baking with kids, be sure you set aside enough time for the entire process to take a bit longer.
Forget Perfection & Enjoy The Process
If you need to make a perfect three-layer cake for a fancy party, that would not be the time to let the kids get involved. That’s a recipe for disaster for everyone. When baking with kids, remember that the experience is as important as the final product. Spending time with our kids and teaching them life skills in the kitchen is more important than baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Choose recipes that don’t require perfection. Some baking recipes are technical and finicky, but rarely does a cake or cookies or brownies need to be just perfect.
Many baking blogs and recipe books reinforce the idea that baking has to be an exact science. If you want commercially-viable, fancy baked goods, that might be true. But your kids will still love the cookies they make themselves if they have a little extra flour or not quite enough vanilla. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good when welcoming our kids into the kitchen!
Baking with kids can be daunting at first, especially for the perfectionist in each of us. But enjoying the experience and teaching our kids life-long kitchen skills is well worth the effort. There are so many great recipes that kids can help bake. Don’t bite off more than you can chew (no pun intended…), but try an easy recipe and have fun with your kids in the kitchen. And if the final recipe is delicious, consider it a big win!
Do you bake with your kids? If so, share your favorite kid-friendly recipe to bake with them! I might just try them all.