Do you have a cookie monster in your house? Most kids love to eat cookies, but you may be surprised by how much little ones like to make cookies, too!
Baking is the perfect way to get kids started in the kitchen. Children of all ages can participate in different, age-appropriate steps. And there’s always an instant-gratification reward at the end, whether you get to immediately lick the bowl or can wait a few minutes longer until a warm cookie comes out of the oven.
Start your kids off on the right foot in their baking adventures by following these helpful tips. Everyone, including grown-ups, should start by washing their hands. No matter what the age of your kid-baker, it’s a good idea to lay out some newspapers or parchment paper on your work surface to help with cleanup. Make sure they have something sturdy and safe to stand on so they can reach the countertop (and ingredients) without falling. And, most importantly, remember that this is a fun activity for the whole family and cookies are better when they’re not perfect!
Parents can make the cookie dough ahead of time and let the little ones roll the dough for shaping. Or have the cookies already baked and let the kids decorate with their favorite color sprinkles and icing. If you’re feeling more adventurous, measure out your ingredients ahead of time and let the kids dump (and mix) them in a bowl.
Let your kids help measure out ingredients by putting a little extra of whatever you need (flour, sugar, etc.) in a large bowl and then let them scoop using measuring cups and spoons. With your help, they can also use a hand-held mixture or large spoon to mix everything together. This age group will also love cutting out cookie shapes and helping to decorate.
These kids can have a little more freedom in the kitchen, which will help to build confidence and culinary prowess. Let them measure out and mix all of the ingredients (make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand before you start). They can form the dough, cut or shape it and place it on the baking sheets. If you’re comfortable (and close by to supervise), some of the older kids can even put the cookies in the oven and remove them. Make sure you have oven mitts that fit their hands. Older kids should also help with clean up: let them wipe down the counters or sweep the floors after the fun (and mess) has been had.
Ready to bake? Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly cookie recipes.
Toasted Coconut Chocolate “Cookies." With only two ingredients to mix together, even the smallest baker will succeed at making these delicious cookies. Kids will love mixing together the melted chocolate and coconut, and can help scoop cookies onto a baking sheet.
Cherry Almond Coconut Bark. Chocolate bark is a favorite during the holiday season, and this recipe, made with coconut instead chocolate, is no exception. It’s hard to tell what’s more fun about this recipe: smashing the bark once it’s chilled or eating the pieces afterwards!
One-Bowl Brownies. Clean up is a breeze with these tasty, chocolatey brownies. Older kids can make this recipe completely on their own (with supervision), and little kids can help mix all of the ingredients. Have fun adding a few extras into your brownies, like nuts, candy, or chocolate chips.
Dina’s Pap Pap’s Sugar Cookies with Cherry Icing. The holidays wouldn’t be complete without sugar cookies. The best part about these traditional cookies? Cherry juice makes for a sweet and pink colored icing. Add other fruit juices or food coloring to change the color, and don’t forget to cut out your favorite holiday shapes!
Jam Bars. Use your favorite jam to create these gluten-free holiday treats. Kids will love pressing the dough into the pan and then spreading jam (and chopped fresh or dried fruit, if you want even more flavor and texture) on top. These bars also make a great after-school snack or breakfast treat.
Thumb Print Paleo Macaroons. Macaroons are another favorite cookie during the holiday season, and a perfect project for little hands to help measure, mix and shape. A cookie that pleases kids and grown-ups alike, these macaroons are paleo-friendly and dairy- and gluten-free.
Gina’s Apple Cider Doughnuts. While technically not a cookie, these doughnuts can’t be passed up during the holidays. Reduced apple cider and freshly chopped apples are mixed into the dough, while a caramel-cider sauce is drizzled over the top. These doughnuts require a bit more skill, so let the kids measure ingredients and supervise (and sample) your work.
Editor's note: This article was sponsored by New Seasons Market.