Keeping the little ones busy in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a disaster of floured floors and spattered walls. Keep the tasks simple and focused and know when to step in, and everything should be cool. Having a good recipe is key—these 15 are a good place to start.
1. Strawberry Fruit Leather
Pure fruit, a little sugar, lemon juice, and a touch of salt. This recipe will not only keep the kids fascinated, it won’t fill them up with bad stuff. Get our Strawberry Fruit Leather recipe.
Kids always love learning that some of the foods they love best are easy to make at home (and customize with the stuff they like best). Get our Granola recipe.
3. Hamburger Buns
Bread dough is perfect for (clean) little hands to get a feel for. These buns are perfect to get kids involved in rolling and shaping. Get our Hamburger Buns recipe.
4. Focaccia Pizza
Here’s a dough that’s easy to mix and press out into a baking sheet. Adding toppings, in this case, is literally child’s play. Get our Focaccia Pizza recipe.
5. Queso Dip
Let the kids stir the cheese mixture, supervised, as it melts. Then set out a whole bunch of carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, and baked tortilla chips and let them start dunking. Get our Queso Dip recipe.
6. Baked Pita Chips
Easy, interactive, and satisfying—make this recipe part of an afternoon snack party. Get our Baked Pita Chips recipe.
7. Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake
Pre-measure the ingredients, and even the tiniest toddler will be able to stir, close the lid, and turn the machine on. Teaching patience while the cake cooks might be slightly harder. Get our Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake recipe.
8. Easy Waffles
Since it’s self-contained, a waffle iron is the perfect training ground for tiny cooks (make sure you supervise, though). Nothing is more satisfying then seeing batter transformed into something crisp and ready to get slathered with syrup and butter.. Get our Easy Waffles recipe.
9. Seven-Layer Dip
Set the kids up with bowls of ingredients, a couple of spatulas, and a Pyrex baking dish and let them go. They may be full from snacking by the time the dip’s ready, but who cares. Get our Seven-Layer Dip recipe.
10. Ladybugs on a Raft
Get creative—set out a few different nut butters for the kids to spread in celery sticks, and different dried fruits for forming the, uh, “ladybugs.” Get our Ladybugs on a Raft recipe.
11. Oatzravaganza Cookies
The oatmeal cookie blown up, via coconut and pecans. They’re drop cookies, naturally, so the kids can get busy forming them with spoons on a baking sheet. Stock up on milk. Get our Oatzravaganza Cookies recipe.
12. English Muffin with Bruléed Banana and Peanut Butter
Don’t be intimidated by that “bruléed” part—it’s nothing more than popping everything under the broiler and letting the tops get caramelized and glazed. Let the kids assemble these, then do the broiling yourself. Get our English Muffin with Bruléed Banana and Peanut Butter recipe.
13. Split-Second Cookies
A variation on jam thumbprints appropriate for slightly older kids. Let them shape the cookies, create the jam channel, and fill before baking. Get our Split-Second Cookies recipe.
14. Skillet Pizzas
“This recipe is one of those things I wish I’d learned as a kid,” says San Francisco’s Josey Baker, who taught it to us, “because it makes the best homemade pizza I’ve ever had.” Get our Skillet Pizzas recipe.
15. Easy Vanilla Pudding
This simple and delicious pudding comes together with just a handful of ingredients and a little bit of stirring. The hardest part is waiting for it to set before the kids—or you—can devour it. Get our Easy Vanilla Pudding recipe.