I remember my first cookbook well: it was one of those Klutz Kids cookbooks (possibly this one?) that came with a ring of brightly colored measuring spoons. I think it was in my Easter basket somewhere around 1993. I pored over it to choose my first recipe, and decided on Tuna Wiggle. It’s not that I particularly loved tuna, but I was highly intrigued by the illustration of a kid chucking a noodle at the refrigerator to test its doneness.
If I am remembering correctly, I made this recipe with my grandma after a brief argument over whether or not we needed to follow my new cookbook exactly, or if we could use her usual tuna noodle casserole recipe. I believe I won out.
I think I made Tuna Wiggle a few times over the years, along with Not-So Sloppy Joes. Having my own cookbook gave me confidence in the kitchen. I cooked with my mom and grandma all the time, but only as their helper. With my own cookbook, I got to be head chef for a day. (I am now very bossy in the kitchen, but who’s to say that it’s a direct result of the little bit of power I got as an 8-year-old.)
The kids’ cookbooks below are (almost all) newer and brighter. They don’t all have the laminated pages of my beloved Klutz book, and I don’t think there’s a single can of condensed soup represented in their pages, but they can instill the same confidence and lifelong love of being in the kitchen.
Kid Chef Junior by Anjali Shah
Many of the cookbooks on this list are for the middle grade range, but this one is for kids as young as four! Little ones will learn essential skills and become confident chopping and cooking on the stove. It includes recipes like Magic Unicorn Toast and Lasagna Rollups.
Angellica Bell is not just the winner of BBC’s Celebrity Masterchef, she’s also a well-known CBBC and BBC presenter. This bright and airy cookbook is accessible for young kids (as young as five!) and includes icons on each recipe to let kids know what tools they’ll need for each recipe, and what kind of adult help they might need. Includes recipes like Lamb Koftas, Jamaican rock buns, and watermelon lollies.
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
The folks at America’s Test Kitchen created a kids’ cookbook with the same thoroughness and commitment to excellence that you expect from their adult cookbooks. It includes over 100 recipes as well as thorough instructions (they explain mise en place!) in the front-matter. Each recipe is rated from one to three chefs hats, with three being the most advanced recipes, and there are symbols to explain what equipment or assistance might be required. The recipes were tested by real kids at all skill levels, and several recipes include testimonials from those same kids. Includes recipes like Crispy Baked Cod, Monkey Bread, and Anytime Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes.
The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth by Ruth Roth
This charmingly illustrated book of vegan recipes is sure to make veggies more appealing for kids. Beyond just introducing kids to fun veggie recipes, the book takes time to teach kids about the environmental impact of eating meat, but in a positive, friendly way. My only concern is that while the book is charmingly illustrated, sometimes the page layouts are a little too concerned with being cute, and not quite concerned enough about displaying the recipe information clearly. Recipes include Tomato Tornado soup, chocolatey Disappearing Dots, and options for Quinoa Around the World.
Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story: 15 Stories and Recipes for Children by Nadiya Hussain
Beloved Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain presents this lovely combination story- and cookbook. She combines fairytales like Cinderella with recipes like pumpkin spice flapjacks, or Jack and the Beanstalk with butter-bean patties, so parents and kids can fill a whole afternoon with food and stories. Includes recipes like carrot and nutmeg cookies, very-berry muffins, and more.
Adapted from Erin Gleeson’s book of vegetarian recipes for adults, The Forest Feast is a gorgeously presented book, featuring photos from the author’s forest home. It includes recipes for snacks, drinks, salads, meals, sweets, and parties, each with five to seven recipes. The recipes might be a bit sophisticated for some kids, but the engaging photos may be enough to get some picky eaters to venture out of their comfort zones. Includes recipes like kale tacos, watermelon smoothies, and pesto pepper pizza.
Pancakes!: An Interactive Recipe Book (Cook in a Book Series) by Lotta Nieminen
This isn’t exactly a cookbook, even though it does include one real recipe. Pancakes! Is part of a series of “cookbooks” for toddlers: board books with interactive features like pull-tabs, wheels, and pop-out pieces that make little ones feel like they are cooking in a real kitchen. Your toddler can make these pancakes any time without a kitchen mess, and then you can follow the recipe and instructions together in your real kitchen and make real pancakes! Also available: Tacos!, Cookies! and Pizza!
African-American Child’s Heritage Cookbook Vanessa R. Parham
This book is a little older, and I almost didn’t include it, but the more I researched, the more I realized I couldn’t skip it. It’s praised for both the tastiness of the recipes and how it puts them in historical and geographic context in a way that is fun and interesting for children. Several reviewers said they bought it for their adult children when they moved of the house as a way to cover the basics! It includes recipes for celebrations like Juneteenth, featuring cultures including Creole and Native American, and exploring George Washington Carver’s peanut and sweet potato recipes.
Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) by Deanna F. Cook
Cooking Class is a fantastic how-to-cook book for kids. They’ll get an overview of basic cooking skills, learn kitchen vocabulary, and even learn how to set a table. The book includes press-out bonus material like recipe cards, table discussion cards, place cards, and four sheets of stickers. Includes recipes for fruit roll-ups, popcorn chicken, and mashed potato clouds.
Kawaii Sweet World by Rachel Fong
The word “Kawaii” refers to the Japanese culture of cuteness, and that’s certainly what you get with this book. Popular YouTuber Rachel Fong teaches you to make adorable cupcakes, cookies, creampuffs and more and then shows you how to transform them into koalas, emojis, pigs, and more. While not a cookbook made just for kids, Kawaii Sweet World has easy-to-follow instructions for kids 10 and up. Includes recipes for Butterfly Palmiers, Succulent Cupcakes (“succulent” as in the plants), and a Ramen Bowl Cake.
United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts & Recipes from Every State! by Gabrielle Langholtz
Take your kids on a road trip around the U.S. with this combination cookbook and atlas. It features recipes from 50 states, one U.S. capital, and three U.S. territories. Kids will learn about what people like to eat around the country, as well as what crops each state and territory produces, and then they’ll get to make a recipe from each place! Includes recipes like Oven-Fried Chicken from Kentucky, Breakfast Tacos from Texas, and Quick-Pickled Cucumbers from New York.
Kids Cooking: Tasty Recipes with Step-by-Step Photos by Klutz Kids
Ah yes, the grandchild of my very first cookbook: Kids Cooking from Klutz. The measuring spoons have been replaced with a rainbow whisk, and the canned soup recipes have been swapped out for healthier recipes, but the fun spirit and confidence-building information is still there. It includes gluten- and nut-free options. I do also appreciate that they note that the whisk can be used in 15 of the 30 included recipes. There’s nothing worse than being given a cool new tool and nothing to use it on! Includes recipes for a Razzle-Dazzle Smoothie, Bugged-Out Snack Platter, Scrambled Egg Buddies, and more.
Looking for kid’s cookbooks featuring beloved children’s stories? Check out 10 Cookbooks Inspired by Children’s Books.
Need something for younger kids? Try Eat Up! 20 Excellent Picture Books and Board Books about Food