Teaching Children to Cook

It’s important that we’re teaching children to cook, as it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to learn new skills and explore a range of foods from an early age. We know that developing healthy eating habits and an interest in food, early on, can help promote lifelong positive attitudes and enjoyment of good food and cooking.

Cooking is a fantastically fun and engaging way for children to learn about and try new foods. Research shows that children are more likely to try new and refused foods if they are involved in the preparation and cooking of it! Preparing meals with others, whether that be with other children in a nursery setting or at home with their family, can provide  children with the opportunity to develop their social and communication skills and learn how to work as part of a team.

Children cooking in nursery

Teaching Children to Cook- Top tips!

There are lots of ways to support children to learn basic cooking skills, both at home and in Early Years settings! Here are some of our top tips:

  • Create fun, colourful, simple recipes for children to try. Below are some of the healthy snack ideas  we have shared with Early Years settings to try.
  • Don’t over complicate recipes, keep them simple, and encourage basic skill development such as mixing, spreading, peeling, grating and chopping  (Note: children should always be supervised)
  • Use colourful child friendly equipment, e.g. plastic knifes, to make it easier and safer for children.
  • Get children to draw different snack ideas and then create them. They’ll have great fun and feel a sense of pride in making them.
  • Ask children questions about different stages of cooking so they begin to learn the processes. For example: How do you get ready to cook? What does this piece of equipment do? What skills do we need to make this recipe?
  • Use a range of familiar and unfamiliar ingredients so children learn about and have the opportunity to prepare, cook and try different foods.
  • Involve children in shopping for foods, this is a great way of creating excitement around the food and in trying new recipes.
  • Shopping top tip! Buy supermarket own brands. These are often a lot cheaper but still of good quality. These are often on the top or bottom shelves rather than at eye level
  • Parents, careers and staff should get involved and create recipes with children so they can learn skills from you. They love to copy!
  • Families who are unsure themselves of how to cook can access free tutorials and ‘how to’ videos to learn some of the basic cooking skills and techniques. Visit our YouTube Channel (opens in new tab) for simple recipe ideas, Better Health, Healthier Families (opens in new tab) and First Steps Nutrition (opens in new tab)
  • You can also download our fun children friendly recipe cards here! (opens in new tab).

Snack Ideas

What support is available for Early Years Staff?

The Early Start Nutrition team have developed ‘Cooking and Learning about Food’ training which supports Early Years staff to build on their knowledge and confidence in delivering basic cooking group to families and/ or children. The aim of the training is to teach you:

  • The key nutrition principles you can communicate to families and children.
  • A range of cooking skills and techniques in you can teach children and families.
  • How to prepare healthy nutritious dishes considering, preparation and cooking of food.
  • How to plan, prepare and set up a room/kitchen for the delivery of safe, fun and inspiring cooking session with children and families.

Find our more about the training here (opens in new tab)

Ready, steady, COOK!


  1. Thara on October 5, 2023 at 7:55 pm


    This is my sound advice. There are so many free child friendly cookbooks in order to start off with. Get some at your local library in addition. Good luck. Make some brief summary notes as well. Focus on the very basics for now. For example you can discuss ingredients and culinary supplies too. Also be sure to fully explain and then explore skills in cooking seriously in question here. Cooking is fun. Never forget that.

    Cooking and baking need not be dull. Far from it in fact. Concentrate on the easy recipes for muffins and so on. Take the kids to pick out five culinary pieces of equipment at a supermarket. Be smart. Use your brain to find recipes for children online. There are a ton to be read these days. Answer any questions.

  2. Thara on October 5, 2023 at 8:16 pm


    Give the children a few culinary tasks in order to start off with. For example get them to count out items or put out stuff on a table ready for the entire cooking lesson. Or you can ask them to find stuff in the fridge or at the local shops in question. Additionally you might tell them to read out a full recipe in advance here. You can even tell them to do some research as well online. They can certainly learn basic kitchen rules. Good luck to you.

    Get the older kids thinking carefully. Instruct them how to prepare fruit and so on. Once they mastered the basics they can move to difficult skills in baking and cooking. Teach them to weigh things carefully on their own. Make sure they know what not to do in the kitchen. Discuss food allergies from time to time. Have them use a fork and spoon correctly. Demonstrate as much as possible.

    Cooking and baking are fun hobbies. Never forget that. Plus they are classed as life skills. Seriously.

    • Early Start Nutritionist Edwina on October 6, 2023 at 11:37 am

      Hi Thara, many thanks for taking the time to read our blog. You have included lots of great tips there for across the ages, from the early years into the school years.
      Best wishes,
      Early Start Nutrition

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