Top (Tiny) Chef! 10 Great Cookbooks for Kids

Photo by Bo Bo / Stocksy United / 379082
Photo by Bo Bo / Stocksy United

By Rachel Ward

Will there be more flour on the floor? Oh, yes. And will the measuring be less than precise? Probably. Nonetheless, cooking with children is a five-star family activity in our book. Not only will your little sous chef contribute to the big holiday meal, but there’s lots of learning to be had in all that mixing and measuring. (And we know that little minds are hungry for knowledge.) These 10 cookbooks for kids will help you jumpstart your kitchen adventures. Bon appétit!

Rachael Ray cookbook cover
Copyright © 2004 by Rachael Ray. Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Chris Kalb. All rights reserved.

1. Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids by Rachael Ray

Age group: Preschool and up

Cooking superstar Rachael Ray believes in the power of getting kids in the kitchen—and this cookbook grows with children as they age. Recipes increase in difficulty as children get older, progressing from alphabet soup and paninis for the preschool set to “green noodles and ham” and French-toast Monte Cristo sandwiches for older, more experienced child chefs.

2. The Silver Spoon for Children by Editors of Phaidon Press

Age group: Kindergarten and up

Tomato bruschetta, rigatoni with meatballs, and focaccia—all the recipes your child needs to craft a rustic Italian feast are within these pages! Based on a classic cookbook written almost six decades ago, the illustrations make it easy for younger readers to follow along and create tasty dishes themselves!

Childrens Quick and Easy Cookbook cover
Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Dorling Kinsley Limited. Text copyright © 1997 by Angela Wilkes. Used by permission of DK Children. All rights reserved.

3. The Children’s Quick & Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes

Age group: Preschool and up

A great intro for fledgling chefs, this guide comes with a set of kitchen rules, a picture glossary for common cooking terms, and, as promised, quick and easy recipes that won’t test little ones’ patience too much (think English-muffin pizzas, minty pea soup, and macaroons—yum!).

Lets Bake a Cake cover
Copyright © 2015 by Éditions Tourbillon. Used by permission of Twirl, an imprint of Éditions Toubillon. All rights reserved.

4. Let’s Bake a Cake! by Anne-Sophie Baumann

Age group: Infants and up

A group of friendly mice will lead your mini baker through the process of making a cake in this delightful activity book. Sliding tabs and lifting flaps let them pour the sugar, break the egg, mix it all up with a spoon, pull the cake loaf out of the oven, and more!

Cooking Class cover
Text copyright © 2015 by Deanna F. Cook. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Emily Balsley. Front cover copyright © 2015 by Julie Bidwell. Used by permission of Storey Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

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

Age group: Preschool and up

From the fancy and fabulous (crepes, quiche cupcakes, and sushi rolls) to the simple yet stupendous (peanut butter, tortilla chips, and spinach pinwheels), this kids’ cookbook is chock full of recipes that make kids excited to get cooking!

6. Sesame Street: Let’s Cook! by Sesame Workshop

Age group: Toddlers and up

Elmo’s waffle sandwich melt, Oscar’s scrappy trash hash, and Grover’s Green-Like-Me smoothie—who knew our timeless Muppet friends were such talented cooks? These simple but tasty recipes will be adored by Sesame Street fans everywhere.

Eat Your Colors cover
Copyright © 2016 by Dorling Kinsley Limited. Used by permission of DK Children. All rights reserved.

7. Eat Your Greens Reds Yellows and Purples by DK Children

Age group: Preschool and up

With illustrations for “prep time,” “cook time,” and “safety warning”; photos of cooking instruments and tools; and a guide on how to prep veggies and fruits, this book makes it super easy for kids to cook as independently as possible (while also knowing when they need an adult’s help). Recipes are grouped according to the color of the produce, and nifty nutrition factoids teach kids all about why eating fruits and vegetables is good for growing bodies.

Toddler Cookbook cover
Text copyright © 2008 by Annabel Karmel. Layout and design copyright © 2008 by Dorling Kinsley Limited. Used by permission of DK Children. All rights reserved.

8. The Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel

Age group: Toddlers and up

Toddlers can cook!? Yes, indeed, thanks to this cookbook. Most recipes have six steps or less and instructions are delivered with accompanying photos, which is perfect for pre-readers. And yes, the food is delicious, featuring yummy meals like chicken satay skewers, corn quesadillas, and lettuce boats. 

Tacos cover
Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen. Used by permission of Phaidon Press. All rights resereved.
 

9. Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen

Age group: Infants and up

Even babies can delight in the world of cooking through this interactive book that’s all about making tacos. Tabs and flaps encourage little hands to explore cutting up chicken, pouring oil in the skillet, and then chopping and slicing veggies, too!

Pretend Soup cover
Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up by Mollie Katzon. Used by permission of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.

10. Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson

Age group: Toddlers and up

The simple illustrations for each step in these vegetarian recipes make cooking a relative breeze for kids, and as a bonus, each recipe includes safety tips for parents to prevent singed fingers or spills on the floor. Dishes like popovers, sautéed zucchini “moons,” and bagel faces make veggies the height of culinary cool.

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