If you’re looking for kid-friendly kitchen knives, cookware, and tools you’ve come to the right place!
Moms in our online cooking class for kids often asked me what kind of special kid-friendly kitchen tools they need to teach their kids to cook. I don’t actually think kids need particular special tools. They just need appropriate sizes for their hands.
There are some family favorites here at the Kimball house though, the kind of tools that hardly ever get put away because they are never clean for very long. You’ll notice most of these are just standard items everyone’s kitchen needs, with perhaps the exception of the crinkle cutter, which is just something so fun for kids and empowering for them to be able to cut things in cute fancy ways.
If you want to see a HUGE list of all my favorite and highly recommended kitchen tools for kids, you can check out our resources page for our cooking class members. Here are my top 10 favorites:
Best Kitchen Tools for Kids
1. Kid-Friendly Knives
I’ve never been a huge fan of the plastic knives that kids can use that can’t cut them, but can still cut food. Parents and grandparents always get really excited about them because they feel like they’re teaching their kids how to use knives safely, but the problem is that the kids need to use different techniques because the knife is usually serrated.
It’s difficult for them then, to switch to using appropriate techniques for sharp knives. Plus, I believe that when we use safety knives, we are not teaching our kids to keep their hands safe when they finally do transition to a sharp knife.
So in our online cooking class, Kids Cook Real Food, we firmly believe in allowing kids to use real tools and simply learning the correct safe techniques right from the get-go. We teach the same strategies from a butter knife to a chef’s knife so that kids can seamlessly transition from age two up to using tools in the kitchen just like an adult would.
Watching a four-year-old respect a butter knife and use it correctly for a year or two makes parents and kids completely comfortable transitioning to a paring knife even as young as age five.
That said, there are some knife sizes that are better for little kids’ hands. For just getting started with a sharp knife, it’s perfectly fine to grab a small paring knife from a dollar store as long as you’re cutting food that is fully appropriate for that size of knife. I recommend small soft things like mushrooms and strawberries, as well as the lovely medium density of cucumbers and zucchini.
Those two vegetables are also nice and long so that kids can keep their fingers away from the sharp knife as they are getting used to something new. At Kids Cook Real Food, our favorite brand is Victorinox because it is:
- very affordable
- rated second highest at America’s Test Kitchen*
- has super sizes appropriate for kids hands
Victorinox has a four-inch pairing knife that works really well for a child’s first exposure to sharp knives, and I have even known of adults who use it as their chef’s knife. It’s sharp enough and robust enough to cut onions.
It’s still nice to have an extra inch and the width of a chef’s knife and I love that Victorinox has a five-inch knife for just around twenty bucks. You can have a special knife for your kids which is very sharp and very manageable for small hands.
Of course, we recommend having a simple knife sharpener around as well, because sharp knives are actually more safe than dull knives. The most dangerous knife is one that’s not where you expect it to be and dull knives are more likely to slip.
If you’re looking for a little bit fancier knife, the one my kids always steal from me is the Wusthof six-inch chef’s knife. This one literally lives on our cutting board and hardly ever gets put away just rinsed between uses. However, it’s a lot pricier, so I might not get this just for kids, but it’s a great knife to have as the family’s central knife.
*If you were wondering who Victorinox was second to in America’s Test Kitchen ratings, it’s Wusthof.
2. Crinkle Cutter
Kids love cute food. A crinkle cutter makes it possible for even little kids to cut food into fun shapes. Little hands aren’t quite strong enough to do something hard like a carrot though, so to reduce frustration, be sure to only allow little ones to use the crinkle cutter with things like cheese, zucchini, cucumber, and maybe bananas.
Bigger kids with more strength and with the larger crinkle cutter can often handle carrots and parsnips as well. The sky is the limit on this one.
3. Our Favorite Peeler for Kids
Although there are actually very small peelers that are made to fit kids hands, they tend to not be quite as sharp and kids will end up being more frustrated in the long run. We have really liked our OXO Good Grips Y Peeler here at the Kimball house, and it’s lasted a very long time. The Y shape is a definite recommendation for kids hands, simply because it’s slightly easier to pull that shape towards you than to push the straight peeler shape.
4. Cheese Grater with a Bowl for Kids
Grating cheese is one of those slightly dangerous activities in the kitchen, especially for kids knuckles. We have really enjoyed this cheese grater with a built-in bowl from Ikea because not only does it have two sizes, but it’s also a little easier for kids to push down on a flat surface, than to pull down on one of those graters that stands up. Here are John’s little hands using this grater to grating cheese for our Instant Pot mac n cheese recipe.
Be sure to demonstrate to your kids ways to safely keep their knuckles away from the grater and especially for little ones an adult might want to finish up the last bit of cheese.
These are also sharp enough to use on things like carrots and potatoes, although we generally recommend a food processor if you’re shredding any more than one,
5. Measuring Spoons that Fit Into the Jar
Any measuring spoons work great for kids. However, I really like the idea of these spring chef measuring spoons because they are narrow enough to fit right into the jar.
When you have to “pour” from a spice jar into a spoon, even adults sometimes make a mess. With little ones’ small motor skills still developing, a little “shake-a-shake-a” can turn into a big dump. Since these narrow spoons will fit down into the jar, that means that kids are less likely to be spilling when they are trying to measure flat, and that’s always a plus for busy parents.
6. Kids Love Washing Salads When You Can Spin It
One of my kids’ favorite things to help with in the kitchen is washing lettuce because it’s so fun to spin our salad spinner and watch the water fly out. There are many salad spinners where the water stays in the bowl, but we really like this style because even though it’s very simple, it’s fun to put the spinner right into the sink and run the water over it as children are moving the salad around with their hands. Then when it spins the water goes right out the bottom into the sink. When you use this with your kids, take the lid off as it’s spinning and watch their eyes light up.
7. Best Tool for Browning Ground Beef for Both Kids and Adults
Sure, you can use a spatula or a wooden spoon to break up ground beef or other meat while you are browning it, but this Pampered Chef tool is such a game changer that I know people who pack it in their suitcases when they’re going to Florida for a week. I might be one of them. My kids love using this star-shaped tool and so do I. You simply press down on the beef in the pan and twist it back and forth to much more quickly break up a large chunk of ground beef.
8. A Power Tool Made for Little Hands
It can be a little scary to think about kids running some of the small appliances in a kitchen. Although little ones love to push buttons on blenders and food processors, they often can’t run it completely by themselves for a while.
Having a hand blender, also called an immersion blender in your kitchen is a great way to empower little ones to be able to do tasks all by themselves. We use our immersion blender to make homemade guacamole, blended soups, homemade refried beans, and more. It’s easy to use, and with just a little safety training, kids can handle it all by themselves. Be sure to remind them to keep the base all the way in the food so it doesn’t splatter, and use lots of supervision on hot things and remove them from the stove before allowing a child to blend.
9. Spiraling Makes Veggies a Fun Shape for Kids to Eat
Anyone who’s fed a child pasta before knows that shape matters when it comes to food. Often, making veggies into fun shapes can help kids be more likely to eat them which is always our goal especially with picky eaters. Spiralizing is easy and because it’s pretty fun, it’s a great job for kids to do. And I really like delegating this to my kids.
I’ve tried a few and this is the best counter-top version. See the video below for more.
If you can’t see the video above, click here to see it on YouTube.
If you aren’t sure if spiralizing will be right for your family I highly recommend this small spiralizer. It’s only around the $10 mark and you use it by turning a zucchini in it sort of like sharpening a pencil. It would not be appropriate for harder foods like sweet potatoes, but again, it’s a great entry point and zoodles are always the most popular thing to spiralize.
10. Kids Can Cook an Entire Meal in the Instant Pot
Particularly for parents who might be a little nervous about knives and fire, I think the Instant Pot is one of the best tools created to empower kids to cook an entire meal. Just like a slow cooker, you can use dried minced onion instead of having to cut a real onion, and dried garlic as well. Also like a slow cooker, you generally load the Instant Pot while it is off, so there’s no fear about a child burning themselves. Many parents find that even the sauté function feels safer to do something like brown ground beef in the Instant Pot than just doing it on the stove.
I’ve written extensively about the Instant Pot and my kids even made a video to show you and other adults how to unbox it. Depending on your family size, you’ll want to choose the Instant Pot that’s right for you.
Bonus Section: Cookbooks That are Great for Kids
If you’re looking for some recipes for your kids to make, first, of course, start with the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. We focus on building skills, not recipes, but we also make some really great food while keeping it allergy-friendly. Once your kids have built their 30 basic skills and feel like they can tackle any recipe they come across. Now it’s time to get them some really fun cookbooks. Here are our favorites:
Anise Loves GREEN Food is a kid’s picture book about a little boy who loves to draw and his sister who loves to cook, so perfect for our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse! My daughter, Leah has made almost every recipe in the book, we love it so much!
The Wellness Mama Cookbook is not written specifically for kids, but as a mom of 6, my friend Katie (the author) includes a ton of kid-friendly recipes, all real food stuff, and plenty of things I know that her own kids make. We’ve been cooking from it regularly and have yet to find a recipe we didn’t love!
10 Healthy Snacks Kids Can Make
This ebook is by yours truly, and you can grab it here for free. Think of it as a little bonus for getting all the way down to the end of the post. 😉 These are real recipes that are easy for kids to follow, no junk food dressed up as “kid food.” Just great ideas THEY can put together themselves!
New Favorites for New Cooks
New Favorites for New Cooks is a cookbook is written by a chef who is the founder of Charlie Carts, an amazing real food cooking program for kids – one of my team members has been lucky enough to experience them at her local library and was very impressed. I love that there are 50 recipes, all whole foods, and every one we have tried has been incredibly delicious!!
Your kids can learn to cook, even if you don’t know where to start.
My 4 kids and I created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help bring real food and independence to families all over. Over 10,000 kids have joined us and we’d love to invite you along for the adventure!
PLUS we’re so pleased to offer a little gift from our family to yours: “10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make” packed with our favorites for the road! GRAB THAT HERE!