7 Top Cookbooks for Kids in 2017

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cook books for kids

It really is amazing to watch children as young as 7 or 8 years old come up with delectable dishes that are befitting the menu of a Michelin Starred restaurant. And while their cooking skills are really admirable, their knife skills and other technical competencies in the kitchen including filleting, slicing, dicing, baking, grilling, panfrying, and a whole lot more are also very amazing. Some of these homegrown talents are naturally gifted while others have spent thousands of hours reading through kiddie cookbooks and instruction guides and viewing YouTube videos just to get their skills right. If you’ve got a kid who happens to be highly interested in making the kitchen his or her magical world, then our 7 top cookbooks for kids in 2017 should help your kid map out his or her destiny and set him of her on the correct path.

Top 7 Cookbooks for Kids

1New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens

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Age Range: 5 to 12 years old

Among our 7 top cookbooks for kids, the one that has received the most acclaim is this masterpiece from Better Homes and Gardens with more than 500 positive reviews, 66 percent of which were the much-coveted 5 stars, making it the best kids cookbook in our list. However, we would like to reiterate that while the New Junior Cookbook is able to garner such avid following the 10 percent of reviewers who gave the book a low 2 and 1 star deserve a closer scrutiny. But, more on that later.

The New Junior Cookbook is presented more like a storybook than it is a serious recipe guide for serious young chefs, kitchen artisans, and wannabe cooks. The idea is to present each of the 65 recipes in a story like manner to give variety to the presentation. Different characters for each recipe provide a very interesting backgrounder to how the dish is made, why it’s made, and the other interesting bits of information that make the story more appealing. Even if your children will not be heading to the kitchen to try out some or all of the recipes in the New Junior Cookbook, just reading through the different stories is often enough incentive to get the literary piece. Since the Better Homes and Gardens item is primarily geared for young kiddos who may have yet to enter formal schooling, it relies on graphic and vivid illustrations to drive home a particular idea. These illustrations are augmented with textual information that is written in a very straightforward, plain English, and very easy to understand manner. Also included in this childrens recipe book are useful hints, tricks, and tips on how each recipe can be made even more fun or palatable to the children of today.

Now to the sad part. There are parents who complain that some of the recipes are simply not kid-friendly. While it is true that today’s nutrition emphasizes healthy eating, the book teaches the wrong notion that fats are dangerous and thus, should be avoided at all cost. Expert nutritionists and even healthcare professionals will tell you that fats are very important nutrients especially for brain development in children. We can understand the concern of parents about the fats consumed by their kiddos. However, they seem to forget that not all fats are evil. And the two most important fats for child brain development, DHA and EPA, are necessary if we want them to grow healthier. Medium chain triglycerides are also healthy forms of fats. For this, we believe the authors made a serious error in judgment thinking that the recipes for children should also be similar to the recipes of adults such that if adult healthy menus call for zero-fat, then children’s recipes should also have zero fat. Children need healthy fats for brain development and optimal cellular functioning.

Another lament shared by a number of parents is that some of the recipes are not really palatable and that children who have tried them ended up feeling more disgusted than more traditional cookbooks for kids. Whether this is true or not, it throws a serious question on whether the recipes contained in the book were tested on children themselves or were these tested on adults.

What We Like about It – If you think your kid deserves to lead a fat-free diet as early as possible, then the New Junior Cookbook is for him or her. If you’re here for the great illustrations and very compelling storytelling layout, then it’s also for you.

2Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen by Melina Hammer

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Age Range: 8 to 12 years old

For those of you who may want a kids cooking book that is more responsive to the needs of children wanting to explore the many adventures the modern kitchen can offer, we recommend the Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen. The 202-page childrens recipe book features more than 75 different dishes of varying complexities to appeal to the differing skill levels of children. This is very important as writing recipes that are too technical for the age of the child can easily translate to child frustration. Too easy, and the whole product comes off as a big joke. The Kid Chef is able to strike a balance between these two fundamental needs to keep young chefs interested in a particular dish.

The pages on the Kid Chef are adorned with stunning full-color photographs of the dishes as well as the different utensils and kitchen gadgets featured in the book. We believe these are better than caricatures or drawings as they represent actual objects that can be readily seen in the real world. While we really don’t understand how Hammer chose the dishes to include in the Kid Chef, we can only guess that she somehow based it on what are common and popular. However, we did find some parents who disagree with this particular observation, saying that some recipes are simply not doable by children. These same parents go on to point out that some of these “technical” recipes require the skill level of a Junior Master Chef.

And since we’re already into this subject, Kid Chef starts the journey with a trip to the kitchen virtually bringing would-be chefs to every nook and cranny of a modern kitchen. This includes basic skills that will be very important in the preparation and actual cooking of the different meals and dishes. It includes stocking the pantry, handling kitchen knives and other sharps, creating a grocery list, and even using the gas stove safely and efficiently. Technically, all the basic skills that a beginning chef needs to have in order for him or her to survive in this part of the home or a restaurant. It’s very interesting to see a section of a childrens recipe book dedicated solely to introducing kids to basic skills and processes needed to run a galley.

What We Like about It – The Kid Chef provides exceptional information on basic culinary skills to equip children with the basic tools and competencies to see them as the next Master Chefs in their generation.

3The Everything Kids’ Cookbook: From Mac ‘n Cheese to Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – 90 Recipes to Have Some Finger-Lickin’ Fun by Sandra K. Nissenberg

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Age Range: 7 to 12 years old

There are people who prefer learning just by reading through the black and white print of texts while there are also those that require some form of illustrations or graphics to aid in the understanding of the content. Now, if your kid is one of the former, then The Everything Kids’ Cookbook: From Mac ‘n Cheese to Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – 90 Recipes to Have Some Finger-Lickin’ Fun kids cooking book should come as a very wonderful surprise. However, if you have a kid who learns a lot better by looking at pictures and following the different diagrams, illustrations, and guides in such presentations, then The Everything Kids Cookbook may not really be an excellent idea.

Written by a registered dietitian who has been working with families over the years coming up with easy to prepare nutritious meals for everyone, the recipes for kids contained in The Everything Kids’ Cookbook can be particularly interesting as each recipe is written in such a way that it helps prepare the young cook on the task beforehand. Nissenberg starts each presentation with the level of difficulty for each meal including the different ingredients, kitchen utensils, and cooking appliances or equipment that need to be prepared. This gives kids ample time to get themselves in the zone before tackling the said recipes. Unfortunately, while the Nissenberg book promises more than 90 delectable dishes, recipes, and meals that any kid can easily prepare, maybe it is too simple for some parents as we’ve encountered a number of them saying the meals are way too easy. This makes the kids cooking book frustratingly boring since it doesn’t provide any form of challenge at all. However, we would like to point out that the skill levels of these kids may already be far too advanced for the said recipe. As such, it is always a good idea to refer to Nissenberg’s classification of the dish as per level of difficulty.

The Everything Kids’ Cookbook is fun, too. Not only are children able to learn how to prepare and cook 90 delicious meals, they get to whip out their problem solving skills as well as the culinary literature comes with food-themed puzzles alongside other food- and nutrition- related fun facts. Nissenberg also managed to squeeze in a few pointers on what foods children should include in their meals to stay strong and healthy as well as the basics of kitchen safety.

As we have already said earlier, the book comes with a minor hiccup. It doesn’t include a picture or an image of the finished product of the dish. For some parents, this is a major setback since children are not really given an opportunity to evaluate their own creations to what can be considered as standard. Nevertheless, for many, this is a minor issue since the whole point is to guide kids on the actual preparation and cooking of the dish in a step-by-step manner.

What We Like about It – It may not have stunning pictures but the instructions for preparing and cooking are very self-explanatory and very easy to understand and follow. The added learning activities are a bonus.

4The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook by Lisa Atwood

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Age Range: 8 to 12 years old

One of the greatest challenges to writing a book that contains recipes for kids is collecting the dishes that are really guaranteed to be loved by the most finicky eaters in the world. This is a lot easier said than done however, as even the world’s leading dietitians and nutritionists can fail at coming up with truly delectable meals that every child will love. Such is the predicament of Lisa Atwood as she attempted to rewrite the way we look at culinary books for kiddos. In her book, The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook, Atwood manages to come up with a fantastic array of meals and delicacies that are not only easy to prepare but are also guaranteed to be a huge hit to the harshest food critics of all time – children.

While the 128-page Cookbook for Kids may only have 60 meals or dishes to boast, one can always find comfort in the initial reviews of many very satisfied parents who say that Atwood’s collection is simply spot-on. Compared to other recipe guides for children, the Cookbook for Kids includes only those that are guaranteed to bring a warm smile to your kid’s face. It would seem that the different recipes contained in the Atwood book have been individually prepared and taste-tested among kiddos themselves. This simply means that if kiddos gave their thumbs-up approval, then it surely is going to be a big hit. Adding to the appeal of the Cookbook for Kids is the use of stunning photography that has been carefully framed to bring out the natural freshness and goodness of the meal being highlighted. The colorful illustrations that accompany the full color renditions are provided in a very fun and uncomplicated manner, giving kiddos and their parents the kind of reading experience that are both educational and fun.

The book doesn’t only give kids the right competencies to concoct their own signature dishes later on. The book also provides helpful hints and tips on healthy eating. Of particular importance are the tidbits of wisdom that children can use as they go through the different stages of life.

What We Like about It – The Cookbook for Kids is a stunningly graphic way to introduce kids to some of the easy to prepare and truly delicious treats that have been somewhat tested and certified by kids themselves so that other children will be learning to make them and loving to eat them.

5The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio

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Age Range: 9 to 12 years old

Today’s world is no longer defined by geographic boundaries. Each country will have citizens of other countries living in it, working, or simply visiting. It is for this reason that true global chefs are those who are not only masters of a particular cuisine but are also knowledgeable of other styles of cooking. However, one doesn’t really have to master all the cuisines of the world. If your kid could make a dish from the Big Four of the culinary world, then coming up with a signature dish is never going to pose any issue. Such is the promise of Matthew Locricchio’s The International Cookbook for Kids.

This 176-page childrens recipe book features a collection of 60 classic recipes from the culinary world’s Big Four: Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and French cuisines. Each dish comes with a very easy to follow guide for doing things, including the ingredients that are needed to come up with the dish. The good thing about Locricchio’s work is that it provides a chef’s tips section which is a very helpful tool for going about the different recipes. The chef’s tips provide helpful hints on what to do with the different ingredients, the nutritional value of the meals, and the different culinary techniques involved. This way, your kid will be able to learn, and hopefully gain mastery of, the different styles and techniques that are unique to a particular cuisine. For instance, Chinese cuisine is well known for quick stir fry methods over extremely high heat while Mexicans are favored for their salsas. Italian cuisine relishes the use of the freshest ingredients done in the simplest methods while French cuisine is well known for the flair it provides in each plate.

We don’t expect your kid to become a master of all these cuisines, however. But if he or she is able to create a very modern take on the classic Mexican chicken enchiladas, tacos, and burritos or the French boeuf bourguignon and crepes or the Italian risotto and tortellini or the Chinese char siu, sesame chicken, and egg drop soup, then he or she is truly a gifted child. All of the recipes from the cookbook have been kid-tested so you can bet your child will not only have a blast cooking these, he or she will also love eating what he or she has prepared.

What We Like about It – The International Cookbook for Kids is a collection of kid-tested recipes from the 4 major cuisines of the world. It’s a great way to introduce kids to different flavors and techniques that have glued people from different corners of the world together.

6Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) by Deanna F. Cook

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Age Range: 6 to 12 years old

Sometimes, you really need cookbooks for kids that will spell out the different steps in a very clear and systematic manner in order for young children to get what the writer means. Acclaimed as a splendid contender for the best kids cookbook plum, Deanna F. Cook’s Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) promises kids between the ages of 6 and 12 the easiest and simplest way to make 57 truly delicious, duly kid-tested and tasted recipes that even professional chefs will be impressed.

Reading the 7 sections of the cooking Class is like going through the different levels of primary education. Kids need to start with the basics where they get a crash course on everything about managing the kitchen and running the galley for everything to work. From basic knife skills to stocking and inventorying, the Basics section essentially prepares the young would-be chef on how to effectively manage his or her exclusive domain. The succeeding sections talk about the different recipes that kids will have the chance to try on their own or with the assistance of mom or dad. The skill levels required are measured by the number of spoons used in each recipe. As such, single-spoon recipes are those that can be considered super easy that kids themselves can already complete the dish from start to finish without any form of assistance or outside intervention from mom or dad. Then, there are 2- and 3- spoon recipes that will call for some assistance. The 3-spoon level recipes typically call for some kitchen or cooking utensils such as an oven or a gas stove. In such cases you will definitely need to butt in.

What We Like about It – The Cooking Class is a culinary adventure that takes children on a journey from the basics all the way to the complicated stuff in kitchen management and the creation of culinary masterpieces. The book’s content is organized in such a way the one progresses or “graduates” through levels of skills until such time he or she gains enough confidence to command the kitchen of his or her own.

7Cookbook for Teens: Teen Cookbook – The Simple and Healthy Teen Cookbook – Easy and Delicious Recipes for Teenagers by Vivian Greene 

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Age Range: 12 to 18 years old

The Cookbook for Teens: Teen Cookbook – The Simple and Healthy Teen Cookbook – Easy and Delicious Recipes for Teenagers is a very simple and very easy-to-follow recipe guide to keep teenagers away from instant foods that are high in sugars and trans-fats and lean more towards concocting their own favorite dishes right from scratch. Like the rest of the kiddie culinary books in our list, the Cookbook for Teens is organized in such a way that the confidence of the teen is boosted as he or she goes through each section of the literature. This starts with an introduction of the different terms used in the kitchen and in the culinary world to get your teen fully acquainted with all things related to food. Once they have gained mastery of the essentials, they can then try cooking up some meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner including healthier snack options. The whole point of the Vivian Greene masterpiece is to develop the confidence of teens around the kitchen by showing them that it is a lot easier and healthier, too to be coming up with your own meals rather than relying on McDonalds or some other fastfood joint for some quick bite. The confidence that ensues can help teens in other aspects of their lives, especially those related to their academic lives. Technically, the Cookbook for Teens is pretty much like the cookbooks for kids that we have listed here, although the presentation of the content are tailor-fit to appeal more to the different tastes of today’s teenagers.

What We Like about It – The Cookbook for Teens offers teenagers of today to feel confident making their own meals and coming up with more delicious and truly gastronomic treats for their friends and families to help build an identity that they have been longing for all their life.

How We Chose the Best Kids Cookbook in Our List

It was quite a challenge coming up with a list of the best cookbooks for kids partly because, like any other literature, the choice is always a reflection of personal preferences. This was actually the case in our search as we read through the different feedbacks of parents and other consumers who have already bought the recipe book. We did strive for a minimum customer satisfaction rating for each of these pieces of literature. However, major emphasis was on the pros and cons of the different products that we have initially listed. In cases where the cons far outweigh the pros, it was automatically scrapped off the list. There was simply no point including something that many people do not seriously think as worthy of their 5 stars. When the pros and cons were established and carefully analyzed, we then proceeded to dissect the book’s qualities a bit further.

First on our list of priorities was the appropriateness of the reading material to the age of the reader. Younger readers will typically rely on a lot of illustrations or images to help in the understanding of the different steps and principles inherent in the preparation and cooking of a particular recipe. Older kids can already understand textual information but should still be written in such a way as to facilitate easier understanding. Tweens and teens will also require a different writing style to appeal more to their highly individualistic nature. It was imperative that the manner in which the recipes or the topics in the cookbook were presented followed a very logical and systematic organization that is appropriate to the developmental level of the reader.

Additionally, we also looked for added value in the print. For example, hints, tricks, and tips can often provide a more fun way for kids to do certain things. This also helps eliminate the boredom that is often associated with prolonged reading of such material especially among younger children who may not have the patience yet for lengthy reads.

Why Kids Should Learn How to Cook

In a world where everything can be obtained in an instant such as instant burgers, instant fries, and instant noodles, as well as many other instant food items, many parents are actually wondering if there is ever a reason why kids should learn to cook. For the most part, many believe that advances in technology have clearly eliminated the need to toil over the preparation of a meal that one can readily obtain from companies or firms that provide such meals. So, why should kids learn how to cook, right? As it turns out, there are many reasons why children of today should still strive to learn the basic skills of cooking. Here are some of them.

  • It’s a very important life skill. Your family may not always have access to instant food all the time and there will always be situations when personally-cooked meals are called for.
  • It teaches kids to appreciate real food. Only real foods have all the right nutrients that our bodies need. Compared to heavily processed foods, natural food items are healthier as they don’t contain harmful artificial ingredients.
  • It’s a great way to manage picky eaters. Toddlers and preschoolers are known to be finicky. By giving them the power to cook their own food, they will be more than obliged to eat what they have prepared.
  • It helps enhance the motor skills of kids. Stirring, measuring, rolling, or even sprinkling spices over the cooked food requires motor skills and good control of muscle coordination.
  • It encourages children to practice their reading skills. Reading through the various recipes becomes a training session for kids to hone their reading skills.

The Bottom Line

If eating together brings families closer together, then cooking with your kids can definitely strengthen your bond as well. Our 7 top cookbooks for kids in 2017 should help you establish this relationship with your kid and pave the way for a more effective life skill set for your child.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!

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