In this section

Top tips for cooking with young children, older children and teenagers.

One to five-year-olds.

Kids have a limited attention span at this age – so have another activity on hand, like colouring, to keep them busy if their attention wanders. But with your supervision, they’ll love to pour, wash, mix (cool ingredients), sift, rub-in, mash, touch, taste and smell. 

Recipes which involve mixing, combining and assembling like dips, bread, scones, muffins, layered fruit and yoghurt pots work really well.

Using their (clean) hands to squish berries to make compote is always a fun one!

Choose soft fruit and veg (like bananas, strawberries, melon, cucumber and mushrooms) for children of this age to use. Cut them into sizes which are easy for small hands to hold.

Six to 11-year-olds

With close supervision from you, children can now start to learn how to chop and peel safely – and feel like real chefs in the process. They’ll love to try weighing and measuring, peeling, chopping, crushing, mixing, whisking, squeezing, sifting, grating, rolling, rubbing-in and mashing.

Get them decorating a pizza with as many different colours of vegetables as they can, or making a picture on their pizza using their toppings.

Link what they’re making with what’s important to them right now – edible Christmas decorations, parkin for Bonfire Night or something scary (though not scary-tasting!) for Halloween.

12 to 18-year-olds

Your teenager might want to take much more of a leading role in cooking now – which is great, as long as you’re still on hand to supervise. If their friends are coming over, get them cooking the meal.

Build up their confidence on the things they love to cook – if desserts are their thing, ask them if they’ll cook that fantastic cake they tried when you’ve got your friends coming over.

And get them making their takeaway – try our pizza, Chinese and Indian recipes rather than spending a fortune at the chippy.