5 Recipes You’ll Really Love Making With Your Toddler

This may sound familiar: my toddler is obsessed with being a “helper” at dinnertime, but inevitably he manages to be particularly unhelpful. More often than not, my family’s well-meaning “cooking together”! the sessions turn into tantrums because someone wouldn’t let someone put raw chicken in their mouth. (I’m not naming names.) The whole cooking process takes longer, is more stressful, and is much messier. Afterwards, my kitchen looks like a demolition zone.

And yet, I want my daughter to find pleasure in the kitchen because, after all, I love to cook. Don’t I want her to share my passion?

Suffice to say, cooking with a toddler takes strategy, and choosing the right meal to cook together is the most important part. Meals that require pouring multiple ingredients – measured by me ahead of time – into a single bowl are fantastic. The more disposable ingredients, the better. Meals with lots of raw ingredients that could end up in my toddler’s mouth? Not really. “Yes” to recipes that involve gadgets with toddler-friendly buttons. “No” to time-sensitive stovetop preparations. Stirring a large bowl with a wooden spoon? Fabulous. Endless and tedious onion peelings that bring tears to every member of the household? I will pass.

You do not know where to start ? These flavorful recipes are fantastic springboards for little chefs. Of course, as any parent knows, just because a child cooks something doesn’t mean they’re going to eat it. But in my experience, cooking with kids dramatically increases your chances of success. At the very least they will excite your palace.

Instant Butter Chicken

There’s so much to love about this classic Indian dish, including its intricate layering of spices. The savory flavors blend beautifully in the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker of your choice) in a fraction of the time such magnificence would require on the stovetop. But even better, the long list of ingredients here is a bonus: a lot of them can be tossed into the pot at once, which is a perfect job for impatient toddlers. I like to divide the ingredients into separate ramekins, which provides more emptying units. (Wise man: omit or reduce the cayenne pepper if your toddler is averse to spices.)

Yes, this recipe calls for raw chicken thighs — usually a no-no for cooking with kids, in my book — but they’re left whole and can more or less go from packet to pot. There are no messy knives or cutting boards. Just let the final dip mix in with an adult, as there is a high potential for splashing if left in small hands.

Recipe: Instant Butter Chicken by Urvashi Pitre

Blueberry smoothie

Do you remember what I said about dump-ortunities? The same rule applies to this great smoothie recipe. Besides having a striking blue-purple hue, it’s packed with nutrients thanks to ingredients like frozen blueberries, banana, soy milk, flax seeds, walnuts, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. . (And your kid will never suspect that a bunch of spinach is secretly in the mix.) There’s also an optional matcha add-on, but I strongly suggest you omit it unless you’re actively trying to make a matcha. nap.

Once your child has poured each ingredient into the blender, one at a time – and after an adult has securely attached the lid – there’s another fun job for toddlers: pressing the “mix” button. Yes, it’s noisy (better warn sensitive ears), but if you’ve ever seen a child fussing around the buttons on an elevator or a remote control. . . well, you get the picture.

Recipe: Blueberry Smoothie

Honey-almond sesame cookies

I love baking cookies with my daughter, but the likelihood of raw cookie dough ending up in her mouth is alarming. Vegan recipes, on the other hand, offer both great flavor and peace of mind. I love these hazelnut rings, which are loaded with sesame and sunflower seeds, creamy almond or peanut butter, fragrant shredded coconut and almond flour.

In our house, the adults make the simple dough – there’s work in the oven and on the stove – and the children are encouraged to scoop the dough by hand and roll it into balls. (Shh, I usually dip and smooth out particularly warped ones before they go into the oven.)

The best of all? This is one cookie that won’t turn your darling into a sugar fiend, as it’s only slightly sweet and the recipe calls for honey rather than white sugar. As Food52 editors note, the taste is “reminiscent of Mediterranean sesame halva,” meaning sweet enough to pass as a dessert but healthy enough to be an afternoon snack. Win-win!

Recipe: Honey-almond and sesame cookies

Ima’s Challah

There are times when I’m willing to bend my no-raw-egg rule to cook with toddlers, and challah braiding is one of them. In our house, we try to make a fresh challah at least once a month for Shabbat (we work up to once a week!), and my daughter is completely obsessed with helping braid the dough. It’s a meaningful family ritual that brings me back to my own childhood memories of baking challah with my mother. I can’t wait to instill the same memories in my daughter, raw eggs are sacred.

Between the 10-minute kneading and the two rises, I find it best to prepare the dough solo before calling my daughter into the kitchen. We don’t bother with complicated eight-strand braids or intricate rounds, and opt for a classic three-strand braid instead. My toddler loves helping me unwind the locks and when directed can even put them in place. But best of all, she likes to “paint” unbaked bread with egg wash. Under my close supervision, of course.

Recipe: Ima Challah

Lasagna of the week with green vegetable pesto and white beans

Layering this easy polka dot lasagna is arguably as fun as eating it. Before we get to that, though, a few words about the ingredients: homemade pesto is a cinch to make, but I’ve been known to rely on store-bought varieties. Same for the marinara sauce. After all, the fewer cooking steps with toddlers, the better.

With these squared ingredients, executing the rest of the recipe is a snap. The layering follows a simple formula: Marinara, lasagna noodles, white beans, pesto mix. Repeat the pattern twice and voila! It’s easy enough for a toddler to handle – with help, of course. (Note: the pesto filling is whipped with ricotta and, most importantly, a raw egg. I often choose to spread this layer myself.)

Do these cooking projects always go smoothly? No. They certainly don’t. But without a doubt, I know my daughter is enjoying it, if only because she’s getting used to the feel of a wooden spoon in her hands and the intoxicating smell of baking bread in the air. . This is the beginning, I hope, of a long life of happiness in the kitchen.

Recipe: Overnight Lasagna with Green Vegetable Pesto and White Beans