The best cookbooks for kids are the ones that will inspire a love of food from a young age. From learning meal prep skills to trying new flavors, kid-oriented cookbooks encourage littles to feel comfortable in the kitchen.
Having a kiddo who is a picky eater isn’t uncommon, and it often makes mealtimes a challenge. Engaging them in the process of choosing a menu, chopping ingredients, and prepping a few dishes will give them an appreciation for what it takes to prepare dinner for a family. They are also much more likely to eat the meals that they had a hand in planning and creating.
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Food journalist and restaurant critic Joshua David Stein is not just a food book author, but also a father of two. He encourages parents to get kids involved in the kitchen as much as possible. “Having a child perform various appropriate tasks as part of mise en place encourages buy-in, I’ve found. Depending on the age, these can involve supervised knife skills or, for instance, mixing, stirring, kneading, etc…but not every meal needs to be a lesson,” Stein says. “Sometimes just a good dinner (or breakfast, lunch, snack, or treat) is enough.”
Stein also has advice for picky eaters, saying, “There aren’t any hard and fast rules, I’ve found. In some family dynamics, strict rules such as a two-bits minimum work. In others, the less pressure the better. What has worked for me as a father is a middle ground. I won’t force my son to eat anything but I typically don’t offer alternatives.”
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So the next time you’re meal planning or starting to prep dinner, invite your kids to join in and help. Yes, they will probably still balk at broccoli and complain about clean-up, but stick with it, friends. Eventually, you may end up with a mini foodie who orders escargot, watches Top Chef with you, and schools their siblings on proper knife techniques.
As a first step, check out the best kids’ cookbooks below!
Best Cookbooks for Kids
With whimsical ideas like fake-out cakes and choose-your-own-adventure recipes, this Food Network Magazine cookbook encourages kitchen creativity. It has easy-to-follow instructions, colorful photos, and plenty of tips to draw young chefs in. The School Library Journal says, “This accessible and visually stunning cookbook will delight and inspire home cooks of all ages and get families cooking together.”
One Reviewer Wrote: “This is by far one of the top best gifts I have purchased for my three older granddaughters (12, 11, and 10 years old). It is filled with great recipes they have loved making and are constantly looking in the magazine for their next creation.” — StarlinEyes6
Featuring over 100 kid-approved recipes, this Good Housekeeping cookbook was created to introduce meal prep in simple terms. Full of drool-worthy GH food photos, kids can review ingredients needed, prep times, and servings before they begin. “Smart Chef” boxes dot the pages to offer tips and variation ideas.
One Reviewer Wrote: “So many kid cookbooks are essentially just assembly instructions. This book is not. My 6-year and 8-year-old sons loved cooking the three recipes we’ve tried so far, and they were all extremely tasty. They required some actual cooking and seemed on the healthy side of the spectrum, which I appreciate. I personally have found myself going back over and over to this book’s recipe for roasting carrots because it’s so much faster/easier/tastier than anything I’ve done previously.” — Arual
When it’s time to move past grilled cheese, share this cookbook with your little foodie. With recipes like Ginger-Lemon Green Juice and Bacon Herb Frittata Sandwiches, this book is for the more sophisticated palate. The dishes are more challenging, so plan on having an adult in the kitchen to work as a sous chef!
One Reviewer Wrote: “Exactly what I was looking for! My son is 7 years old and is kind of a picky eater, however, when he picks or plans the food himself he often will try new things! This book not only has so many different foods that look and sound exciting to try, [but offers] somewhat easy prep and cooking such as roasted cauliflower and dipping sauce and quesadillas. My son is already excited to go to the market and shop for the ingredients!” — Girleeee
Some things never go out of style, and Betty Crocker recipes are one of those things. Kick it way back with a reprint of the classic 1957 cookbook featuring nostalgic menu items like Sloppy Joes and Cheese Dreams. This book is also chock full of advice, and tips in the kitchen. It’s a worthwhile read for both kids and adults.
One Reviewer Wrote: “I gave this to my granddaughter for Christmas. It started me on a lifetime of cooking. I still have mine from 1957. It’s rubberbanded together and I still use some recipes to this day.” — Amazon Reviewer
Best Kid Cookbook Recipes
Created by registered dietician Jody Danen, this cookbook focuses on simple recipes that use between five and 10 ingredients. Kids ages eight to 12 are encouraged to work independently to make the 50 included meals and snacks. There are also fun food facts sprinkled throughout the book, along with kitchen safety tips.
One Reviewer Wrote: “Bought this as a Christmas gift for my 10 year old nephew. He has been helping his mom cook and bake for the family. So I thought a cookbook for kids would be a good gift. And boy was I right – he loves the book and has made many dishes from it. The recipe directions are well written and easy to follow. And his family has been enjoying the results. Definitely a great purchase.” — mystreader
Named one of the 2019 New York Times “Best Cookbooks for Kids,” this spiral-bound book includes over 50 recipes. Kid-friendly meal ideas and simple directions make this a great choice for ages six to 12. It also comes with labels, stickers, and food-oriented games to play around the dinner table.
One Reviewer Wrote: “This book is wonderfully detailed with stickers, recipe cards and great, easy to understand instructions! Super kid friendly! A wonderful purchase for the money! Thank you for such an excellent design! Our 13 year old nephew used it immediately and sent us photos of his creations!” — Jan Winke
Geared for ages eight to 14, New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark wrote this book to build kids’ confidence in the kitchen. Over 100 recipes have step-by-step instructions and helpful hints to ensure success. With plenty of kid-friendly ingredients, your tween will be preparing dinner in no time.
One Reviewer Wrote: “I bought this book for a friend’s daughter because I liked the one that I found at Goodwill so much that I didn’t want to give it away! Too many cookbooks that are aimed at “kids” are mostly filled with recipes for sweets. This book not only contains recipes for balanced meals, it actually teaches cooking techniques using basic ingredients.” — NotAPartyGirl
Best Kid-Friendly Cookbooks
As a food writer with two picky eaters at home, author Joshua David Stein was inspired to create this book to give busy parents some ideas for easy meals to make for their children. Stein says, “I come into contact with hundreds of chefs, many of whom are parents. This book came out of many many discussions I had with them — not just about what to cook but how to broaden the tastes and bring a passion of cooking to our kids.” One hundred recipes are highlighted, along with personal stories from chefs about why the dishes are loved by their families.
One Reviewer Wrote: “There are tons of interesting recipes in the book, and I enjoyed reading about some of the chef’s experiences with their kids. I’ve tried a few of the recipes so far, and they have turned out great!” — C
Nobody does family-friendly Italian meals like Giada De Laurentiis. Using simple ingredients and no-fuss prep work, she has created a variety of recipes designed to pass around the table. Featuring pasta, soups, salads, and desserts, this cookbook is full of dishes that everyone will enjoy.
One Reviewer Wrote: “This sophomore effort of one of the cooking world’s fastest-rising chefs who has worked hard for her title the rewards of accolades. Once again, she has given us fresh, delicious, and satisfying recipes that give us a thoroughly enjoyable experience in the kitchen.” — Toni
With 100 recipes that can be pulled together in under an hour, this cookbook was designed for busy families who don’t want to rely on fast food again. (Sorry, kids.) Recipes include mushroom tacos, pineapple chicken thighs, and poached halibut, alongside a mac and cheese recipe your kids will really enjoy.
One Reviewer Wrote: “Love this cookbook! Ive made several dishes from this cookbook and a family favorite is the crab bag. So darn delicious!!! Overall, the recipes are simple and fun and the book itself is a pretty addition to our kitchen.” — Gillian
Best Kids First Cookbook
With color-coded recipes and child-friendly steps, this cookbook was made for little helping hands. There are 40 easy-to-follow recipes to introduce kids between the ages of one and four how to act in a kitchen. Recipes aside, the book is also fun and easy to read.
One Reviewer Wrote: “This book is awesome and nearly all the recipes are foods that most kids will like. My daughter (15 months) loves helping in the kitchen but I was having a hard time finding things that she would be able to help with, due to safety. This book is absolutely awesome. She can’t quite do all of it yet, but there are definitely some recipes that she can!” — Matty
Kid-tested and kid-approved, America’s Test Kitchen wants My First Cookbook to inspire young chefs to enter the kitchen. Featuring simple snacks, family meals, and holiday celebration ideas, each recipe was developed specifically for kids. There are over 60 menu items to create, with plenty of pictures for every step along the way.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My 7-year old granddaughter and I had a fun time cooking together when I visited. The recipes are easy to follow and delicious. I live alone and don’t make complicated meals for myself, so when I returned home I ordered a second book for myself.” — Kathleen Hague-Kanina
This fun and easy starter cookbook is designed for kids ages four to eight. With plenty of illustrations and recipe difficulty ratings, everyone will find something delicious to choose from. This book also teaches kids the fundamentals of cooking — like, which foods go well together, and how to properly whisk, pour, and chop ingredients.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My little chef loved the amazing recipes. Recipes like a simple festive Easy Peas-y Mac and Cheesy to Magic Unicorn Toast! It is definitely for ages 4 and up due to understanding the recipes, although they are simple. On the sides of the book it shows the prep and cook time, how many servings, and whether it is dairy gluten or nut free!” — Samera Breese
Full of cheerful illustrations, this cookbook features 48 recipes designed for kids and adults to make together. There are three sections to explore: Breakfast & Lunch, Sides, Snacks & Beverages, and Dinner & Desserts. It also comes with a set of blank recipe cards for jotting down new creation ideas.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My great granddaughter is 8 years old now. I gave here this cookbook for her birthday, as she was starting a children’s cooking class right after her birthday. One day two, she had already made several items from the cookbook. She loves it.” — Anniepie
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