Learning to cook is about more than just learning to make food – it teaches you how to properly nourish yourself, it forces you to look into where your food comes from and it is an amazing act of looking after yourself and others. It is for all of these reasons that it's never too early to start, but it can be difficult to know where and how to begin.
You want your child's first cookbook to be doable so they can feel like they are contributing, and you also want them to enjoy the finished result. Whether you want to cook with your teenager or bake with your toddler, introduce your children to the delights of the kitchen with our picks from Amazon and eBay by Great British Bake Off alumni, Ella's Kitchen and more.
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Table of Contents
In order not to put your child off the idea of cooking as soon as you try, you need to make sure that the book you buy is right for them. There could be a number of factors that influence whether a cookbook is worth buying or not, and in this buying guide we will help to steer you in the tastiest direction.
When kids are starting out in the kitchen, supervision is going to be necessary. But even when you or other adults are around, some cookbooks are going to be more suited to your children than others because they are pitched at certain ages.
Cookbooks for young kids are going to have simple recipes which avoid safety hazards. They are also going to have recipes that are more suited to their tastes and their nutritional needs.
Older kids can start exploring flavours and methods that are a bit more complex, and this will be reflected in the recipes and pieces of equipment they may be allowed to use in cookbooks written with their age bracket in mind. Luckily, most books will state their age suitability to keep you on track.
Kids might prefer just sticking to the same dishes they know and love, but it's important that from a young age they are exposed to different flavour combinations and textures as this will make them less fussy when it comes to food in the future.
By putting them in the centre, kids will be more excited to try making – and in turn, trying – new things. A cookbook with a broad range of recipes will give them the chance to perfect different techniques and skills so they'll build up a more rounded knowledge of cooking.
Most cookbooks come in hardback as they are more robust, which is especially necessary for kids' books that are going to be thrown around and have food splattered all over them. These books, however, are heavier and less flexible, making them harder for young users to handle. With this in mind, you might want to investigate if another option is available.
Unlike most other books, not all cookbooks are available in paperback form. When compared with hardbacks, paperbacks are the lighter option which makes them easier to hold and read.
They might be easier for young children to use but you do sacrifice the durability of a hardback, meaning a book bought in this form is more likely to get ripped and damaged over time.
Nowadays, you're not even limited to buying a cookbook in paper form. If you or your child has an eReader, they can download cookbooks onto it. It is the cheaper way of accessing books, often taking more than 5 pounds off the standard price, but there are disadvantages.
Firstly, there is something lovely about feeling a cookbook in your hands and seeing it get muckier over time – particularly the recipes you love. In addition to this, lots of cookbooks for children have beautiful illustrations that might be lost in digital form.
Many have adjusted so much to this new way of reading that they don't mind using it for recipes, and eBooks are definitely lighter to carry around than real books. On the other hand, plenty of purists might not be ready to move on.
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Cool Kids Cook: Delicious Recipes and Fabulous Facts to Turn You Into a Kitchen Whizz
A Complete Guide to Food and Cooking for Young Chefs
Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street
This Beautiful Creation Is More Than Just a Cookbook
Ella's Kitchen: The Cookbook
Recreate Your Shop-Bought Favourites at Home
Matilda and The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover
This TV Star Will Appeal to a Teenage Audience
The Tickle Fingers Kids’ Cookbook: Hands-on Fun in the Kitchen for 4-7s
The Perfect First Book for Very Young Cooks
Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes: The Gruffalo Cookbook
Let Some Iconic Characters Teach Your Kids How to Cook
The Vegetarian Cookbook: More Than 50 Recipes for Young Cooks
Explore the Delights of a Meat-Free Diet
The Ultimate Child-Friendly Baking Bible
My First Cook Book: Bake, Make and Learn to Cook
Be Guided Through the Basics by a Bake-Off Winner
The Kids Only Cookbook
Recipes for Kids, by Kids
This book is an excellent all-rounder. It has everything you would expect from a cookbook for kids, such as simple recipes explained in accessible ways, but it also goes beyond the basics. It will teach your kids – and you – about the ingredients you use and the impact of the food you eat.
The recipes have easy-to-follow photo guides next to them to suit those who like having visual cues to guide them. The style is very cool, sticking to the title of the book, and it covers a variety of meals and cuisines so your children can experiment and explore the kitchen in all sorts of ways.
This title couldn't come more highly recommended: chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson have both expressed how much they love it. And it isn't just a cookbook, it's a work of art. The full-page illustrations are glorious to look at, but this book also has an important message to impart.
This recipe book explains the uniting power of food to young minds, and how sharing it can bring us all closer together. It doesn't shy away from the idea of introducing kids to new flavours from all over the world and hopefully, you'll surprise them with how much they like them.
Ella's Kitchen are known by parents all over as a brand that provides ready-made food for youngsters that is healthy and free from any nasties. Now, they've taken that ethos and applied it to their own cookbook so you can create some Ella's Kitchen favourites at home.
There are a few different books to choose from, but this one is great because it caters for a wide range of ages, from toddlers who have just started to enjoy proper food to older children who still love the old classics. This book has snacks, substantial main meals and everything in between.
The author of this book, Tilly, has a pretty impressive culinary heritage: her dad's Gordon Ramsey. Your kids will probably recognise her from her popular social media channels or her hit CBBC show. In line with her large following, the recipes in this book are more suitable for teenagers, those who either want to expand their existing knowledge or start from scratch.
Older kids might well prefer using an eReader or tablet to follow along with recipes, and the digital edition of this book allows that to be done easily. It doesn't just have delicious recipes but also fosters a growing interest in receiving the right health and nutrition.
Suitable for children as young as four, this book is has been created with little mouths in mind. But just because it's for young kids, it doesn't mean this book isn't full of variety. With 60 recipes, there is plenty to choose from at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A 4-year-old in the kitchen is obviously going to need some help, and conveniently each recipe in this book is accompanied by an 'adult prep' section so you can get ahead. If digital is your style, this book does have the eReader option available.
Inspired by the beloved children's classic, this cookbook uses 'The Gruffalo' as a springboard to introduce kids to new recipes. It has all of the wit and accessibility of the book, with lovely illustrations, but this time with familiar recipes added that have been jazzed up with fun, Gruffalo-related names to appeal to kids.
This book's attention to its literary roots does mean it has fewer recipes than others that are only about the cooking. It also only comes in a hardback edition, potentially putting off Kindle-lovers.
With increasing focus being put on the damage that consuming too much meat could do to us and the planet, more youngsters are choosing to ditch it altogether. Even if they're not fully vegetarian, it's still always great to let your kids know how great food without animals can look and taste.
This book offers plenty of ideas for getting the ball rolling with a plant-based diet, but it is limited to that. Parents may be worried about their children following a vegetarian diet, and although scientifically they might not have anything to be concerned about, fully veggie recipes might be hard for you and your kids to get their heads around.
The first thing to say about this book is the huge amount of recipes that are contained within it. Every baking recipe you could want to know as a child is there, with details of each step so you know you're getting them right. Whether you are feeling sweet or savoury, this book has it covered with its extensive range of options, from pizza to pie.
While the list of recipes may be large, it does focus solely on baking, and largely on the sweet stuff. For a more well-rounded book that looks at different cooking techniques, this is not the book to go for, but for any budding bakers, it's a great place to begin.
This book is so sweet, and we're not just talking about the dessert recipes. It works perfectly as a first cookbook for your youngsters as the book uses gorgeous illustrations to show you what to do at every stage, as well as extra pictures that will draw your children into the art of cooking.
Created by Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton, you know it's going to have a good dose of culinary knowledge thrown in too. Unfortunately, probably in part due to the lovely images, it doesn't come in any other editions. Those who would prefer a paperback or digital edition will have to make do with the hardback.
What's the best way of making sure that kids are going to enjoy the recipes in a cookbook? By getting them to come up with them, of course! From the imaginations of kids, let your little ones be inspired by over 50 recipes that can be found in this image-filled cookbook.
The step-by-step photo guides are definitely helpful but, as a kids cookbook, it isn't as nicely designed as some of the other stunning creations on this list which could make this book less interesting for kids who are drawn to pretty pictures.
Once your kids have had a chance to master the basics, it might be time to introduce them to other, more advanced books that explore different diets and cuisines. Or perhaps you've been inspired by your kid's enthusiasm and fancy picking up a wooden spoon yourself? Either way, use our recipe and cookbook guides to find your next family favourite!
The joy of cooking and the benefits that it can have on a person are undeniable. At its best, it is a learning experience, a bonding experience and a healing experience. Kids will have more of an appreciation of the work that goes into feeding hungry mouths when they play a part in the process, and hopefully these books will inspire them to keep cooking for the rest of their lives.
Author: Emma Cramp
No. 1: Jenny Chandler｜Cool Kids Cook: Delicious Recipes and Fabulous Facts to Turn You Into a Kitchen Whizz
No. 2: Felicita Sala｜Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street
No. 3: Ella's Kitchen｜Ella's Kitchen: The Cookbook
No. 4: Matilda Ramsey｜Matilda and The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover
No. 5: Annabel Woolmer｜The Tickle Fingers Kids’ Cookbook: Hands-on Fun in the Kitchen for 4-7s
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