When there are little ones at home, you can run out of craft projects, made-up games, and parent-approved TV shows before you know it. When that happens (not if, but WHEN), head to the kitchen! Don’t let the young age of eager helpers limit your baking adventures. There are jobs that even the youngest bakers and chefs will love to take on.
Yes, it might get a little messy. And yes, the final product might not look pristine. But when you bring kids into the kitchen with you, memories are created, lessons are learned, and perhaps most importantly, fun is a given!
All bakers — even the youngest of the bunch — are welcome in the kitchen. With the right recipes and guidance, they too can experience the joy of baking.
To ensure a pleasant experience for all involved, you must begin with the right recipe: one that’s engaging and fun to make, as well as a slight challenge (but not too difficult). There should be specific steps that kids can take on themselves, and moments when adults can help pull things together.
We’ve done that work for you and prepared 10 kid-friendly recipes that you can choose from based on what you’re looking for, plus tips to ensure everyone is happily included.
A note on age — we understand that kids who are the same age might not all be ready for the same tasks in the kitchen, and that’s OK! For our purposes here, the following recipes have been curated with junior bakers aged 2 to 6 in mind (but truly, they’re fun for anyone to bake).
It’s time to start baking with kids!
Recipes and tips for baking with kids
1) The no-burns guaranteed option: No-Bake Energy Bites
If it’s your first foray into the kitchen, you might be a little nervous about all that could go wrong, especially when there’s heat involved. Easy enough — cut out the oven! Start with a no-bake recipe like our No-Bake Energy Bites, which welcomes young helpers. Kids can use their clean hands to squish together ingredients and turn them into delicious little snack-sized bites.
Tip: For an even simpler version of no-bake bites, kids can build sweet creations using pretzels as a base, topping them off with chocolate or caramel candies. (Rolos work especially well but any soft chocolate or caramel candy will do.) Young helpers can busy themselves unwrapping candies, and parents can heat the candies in a microwave for just a few seconds until soft.
As a final step, kids can press each chocolate candy down onto a pretzel. They’re a fun, handmade treat!
2) The fruit-filled option: Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins
If you want to feel good about the baked goods you make with your kids, Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins is the recipe for your family. It’s 100% whole grain and packed with blueberries. *You can use fresh or frozen berries.)
Let little helpers mix the wet and dry ingredients together, add the blueberries, and scoop the batter into each well of a muffin pan. Things might get messy, but it’s fantastic fine motor skill development.
Tip: Replace the buttermilk in the recipe with an equal amount of orange juice. This boosts the vitamin C in your muffins, and you can frame it as an opportunity to have fun and break the rules of the recipe. The kids will be on board, trust me.
3) The make-ahead option: Cream Cheese Roll-Out Cookies
If you’re working with a team of helpers who run short on patience, consider making a recipe that can be prepared the night before. Mix up a batch of our Cream Cheese Roll-Out Cookies up to 24 hours before you want to bake, skipping the extra spices if you have picky palates in your home.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge to soften for about 20 minutes before you begin. (Little hands can easily get frustrated working with cold, stubborn dough.) Let the kids take charge of the rolling pin, or use it together.
Tip: If you don’t have any cookie cutters on hand, use the lids of mason jars to cut out circles. Even an upside-down juice glass will do the trick. Let kids scavenge the kitchen to come up with other tools that will make fun cut-out shapes.
4) The breakfast option: The Easiest Waffles
Put that burst of morning energy to good use and have little ones help prepare a special breakfast. Kids can mix together the wet ingredients and stir in the flour and sugar with a spoon for these easy waffles. Have them count how many times around the bowl it takes for the batter to be fully mixed after all the ingredients are added.
Tip: While parents work the waffle iron, kids can “decorate” each baked waffle by filling the little wells with berries, slices of banana, or even chocolate chips. Place the finished waffles on a baking sheet and call everyone to the kitchen to choose the topped waffle of their choice.
5) The classic option: Chocolate Chip Cookies
No one turns down making homemade chocolate chip cookies, not even a grumpy kid. (Or if they do, they’ll quickly change their mind as soon as they smell the first batch baking.) Scoop only a single batch of cookies at a time so if you do have any latecomers, there will still be something they can help with: scooping the dough.
Tip: For easy scooping, dip the cookie scoop or spoon into a mug of hot water periodically. This will allow the scoop to move easily through the dough, preventing frustrated kids.
6) The not-much-in-your-pantry option: King Arthur's Original Cake Pan Cake
Even super parents sometimes find themselves faced with a mostly empty pantry. Tell everyone to hold back their tears; the baking doesn’t need to be delayed. If you have just a few ingredients, like flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, you’re in luck.
Our Cake Pan Cake recipe doesn’t call for butter, milk, or even eggs. It’s quite fantastic for spontaneous baking. (For more options like this, check out our blog post, What to bake if you run out of ingredients.)
Tip: Get the kids’ attention by telling them you’re going to make a cake together without using a single mixing bowl. Your helpers can combine everything right in the cake pan — they’ll get a kick out of mixing and baking all in one (and you’ll have fewer dishes to clean up).
7) The low-sugar option: Cornbread
If you want to bake something with kids that won’t leave them on a sugar high, consider making cornbread. It’s quick, easy, and makes a delicious accompaniment to almost any meal.
Give kids the option to personalize their cornbread by adding something tasty to the batter: 1/2 cup of thawed frozen corn, grated cheese, or even bacon (if you’re willing to indulge them) are all good choices.
Tip: Give whoever is deemed the head mixer a fork as the tool of choice; they’ll think it’s weird and fun, and it’s less likely than a big spoon or oversized whisk to fling ingredients all over the kitchen. (I’m speaking from experience.)
8) The blank-canvas option: Basic Drop Cookies
Our Basic Drop Cookies recipe is designed to be flexible. Add whatever’s in your pantry — raisins, dried cranberries, cornflakes, chocolate chips, caramel bits, chopped up candy bars, or even mini marshmallows. Create a buffet of possible mix-ins and let kids mix and match until they have a total of 2 cups.
Tip: While the cookies are baking, have a contest to see who can come up with the best name for your cookie creations. Cranberry-Caramel Crazies? Chip-and-Chunk Chunky Cookies? Wildly Delicious Nutty-Chocolate Drops? Get silly and creative.
9) The hands-on option: Banana Bread
If your little one likes to get his/her hands dirty, set aside a bunch of bananas to make banana bread later in the week. Banana Bread is a perfect recipe for kids looking for a tactile experience — ask your helpers to peel the overly ripe bananas and put them in a zip-top bag. They can use the palms of their hands to mash the bananas until smooth. This is baking therapy right here.
Cut off the corner of the zip-top bag and encourage kids to squeeze the banana purée into the mixing bowl along with the other ingredients. These hands-on tasks will give young bakers something to focus their energy on.
Tip: For kids who are ready for a more advanced hands-on task, give them a “big person” job of cracking eggs for the banana bread. (Have a few extra eggs on hand just in case a few rounds of practice are needed.) Crack eggs into a separate bowl one at a time, looking for stray egg shells together before adding them to the mix. Before you know it, your kiddo will be cracking eggs like a pro.
10) The dinner option: Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
If you haven’t heard by now, our Recipe of the Year is Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza — a truly special pizza. Prepare to have some patience; this recipe requires an overnight rest in the fridge. (Anticipation will help build excitement!)
If your kids are eager to get their (very clean) hands in the dough, have them help with the four sets of stretch-and-folds on day one. (See step 4 of the recipe for a visual demonstration of how to perform these folds. It’s easy, promise!)
On day two, kids can help sprinkle cheese, dollop sauce, and place toppings on the crust before baking. You can giggle about making a “backwards” pizza — the cheese goes on first and the sauce second, which ensures a super cheesy crust experience.
Tip: Even if they’re too young to help with the baking, kids can watch as you prepare the recipe, taking in each step along the way. They will certainly be a big help when it comes to enjoying the final product.
Baking with kids: Just try it
If you’re home with kids, seize the opportunity to create lasting memories by choosing a recipe to bake together. Kids will be amazed by the process of creating something from what seems like nothing — it’s real-life magic.
Best of all, completing tasks in the kitchen empowers little bakers like nothing else. They’ll be eager to share their successes with you, and the pride will be evident in their smiles.
Whether you make one of these 10 recipes or choose another from our collection of tried and tested recipes, enjoy your time in the kitchen together because that’s really what it’s all about — baking with joy.
Please share your baking photos with us by tagging @kingarthurbaking and using #bakewithus.