Thinking about a kids cooking class? You may have more options than you thought!
How to decide the best way to teach your kids to cook? Ask yourself some simple questions:
Do You Want Your Kids to Cook Healthy Food?
When it comes to teaching children to cook, most classes will focus on easy, quick foods, while a select few will teach your child how to cook and eat healthy foods.
If fruits, vegetables, and being able to follow a basic recipe are important to you, you will want to look at the food each kids cooking class uses to determine if it’s a good fit.
Where Should Your Kids Learn to Cook?
Then consider location: are you open to a commute? Would you like your child to learn with you or without you?
If your child has serious food allergies, for example, you definitely want to consider teaching him or her to cook in the safety of your own home.
Learning to cook together at home has other benefits too, including family connection, quality time together, and you get a chance to sharpen up your skills too.
Is Safety a Priority?
Sarah, a mom of a 9-year-old daughter with ADHD, reports that when she chose a local rec center cooking class as a fun summer activity, she was appalled when her daughter came home with cuts on her fingers!
Not enough supervision? Sarah didn’t stick around long enough to find out but switched to an online cooking class she and her daughter could enjoy at home, where she could manage safety herself — with the help of a safe knife skills video with fun mnemonics to help her distracted daughter remember the safest ways to hold the knife and the food.
If knives and fire are involved, be sure to ask about the instruction beforehand and how closely supervised your child will be. (And if knives and fire aren’t involved…is your child really learning to “cook” at all???)
Will The Kids Learn Cooking Skills or a Few Recipes?
Many kids’ cooking classes are super fun for the kids, and they might come away with a few new recipes to bring home proudly. (Score!)
But some also include skills-based training, so that if your child learns to make a recipe using the stove, they’re also empowered to try a stir fry or hash at home, because they’ve learned some overarching skills in the process. (Double score!)
Better yet, if your child can even learn about how flavors and seasonings work together, they can let their creativity blossom in the kitchen and create their own recipes or tweak something they find online (without wasting precious grocery budget ingredients with “experiments” gone wrong).
Ask the teacher about their methods if the course promotional materials online aren’t clear.
The Best Cooking Class for Kids? I’m a Little Biased…
Ok, ok…you’re onto me.
I happen to be the founder of what I think are truly the best cooking classes for kids, online or elsewhere.
Kids Cook Real Food online serves thousands of families around the world, connecting them around healthy food and building skills in their children.
The confidence and creativity our members see in their children is unmatched, and our mission is to forge connection in families, building the strong bonds that will protect our kids from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
To answer the important questions:
- It’s 100% healthy food. We use all whole foods, no processed sugar (and very little honey), and are very allergy-friendly. In part, this is because our recipes generally steer clear of the top 8 allergens. But in truth, that skills-based learning is really the key. Your kids will learn a cooking skill during their lesson, so it doesn’t even matter if you use the recipe we demonstrate, one of our other extension recipe options, or a family favorite that fits everyone’s preferences and sensitivities. We’re so committed to real food that it’s in our name. 😉 Also, 8 of the 32 lesson videos for kids ages 2-teen focus on knife skills, because we know that if a human is to eat healthily, they need to cut up whole foods to access all that nutrition.
- Families connect in powerful ways. We hear time and time again of the incredible benefits of cooking together, at home. Sure, no commute is nice but even better is the confidence parents feel when they KNOW the kids have really mastered the skills. In our culture parents are often scrambling (and paying) for quality time with their kids. We feel like we don’t spend enough close, connecting time with them because there is SO much to do! Why not maximize your time spent preparing food anyway and make it a quality time experience, but one that you’d make room for on your camera roll (unlike an evening of Netflix “together”)? One of our very first members was Mable’s mom, who wrote that she wanted to cook together with her daughter, age 6, after her battle with leukemia. “The chance to spend quality time doing something that she needs to know and is physically able to handle is priceless. It is hard to really connect with a sick or recovering child sometimes,” mother Lisa said. It can be hard to connect with busy, screen-focused children sometimes too, can’t it? Let’s make it a goal this year to seek true connection with our kids. The kitchen, somewhere you spend a lot of time already, is truly the perfect place.
- Safety first! More parents tell me they’re afraid of knives and fire than anything else! And every time, they’re amazed at how well it goes, like Angie, who said, “We had a GREAT laid back experience at the stove with FIRE. Who would have thought?!?! SO THANKFUL for this. After the knife lesson, stovetop safety is my favorite!” Curious about that knife lesson? You can preview a free cooking lesson video for kids, our member-favorite knife skills and safety video, right on YouTube. You’ll quickly see why Tara from Oregon enjoyed hearing her kids use our fun phrases like Top Chop and Pick Me, and she even let her 7-year-old use her expensive Global chef knife: “She wields it with grace, precision and beaming with pride.”
- It’s all about the skills. My primary focus in creating this class was to build basic cooking skills, logically connecting one to the next, creating opportunities for kids to practice those prior skills as they moved through the lessons. CK from Texas decided to use our classes even though she knew how to cook well: “I have been a foodie for a LONG time, but everything the courses provide has really brought my kids to life in the kitchen. The organization and skills built on skills with a complete meal at the end (if you use all the levels) made such a difference.” Skills-based learning also makes a difference in the final outcome — kids can make all sorts of recipes they come across, not just a few that they learned “in cooking class.”
Hop on our waitlist so you know when we open registration and grab the freebie while you’re there!
However, I totally understand that online kids cooking classes may not be for everyone. My mission is to empower ALL kids to cook, no matter what! So if you need different answers to those questions, there are other options out there, and I’d love to help you figure out which is best for you.
RELATED: Contributing writer, Mary, taught her kids how to cook in two weeks.
In-Person Cooking Classes for Kids – National
If you know you would like your child to have an experience outside your kitchen somewhere near you, here are some national organizations that run kids’ cooking classes and highlights of the courses. Click over to their website to search if they offer a class near you.
Sur la Table
Price range: $50 – $250
Age range: 8 and up
Sur la Table definitely seems to be the most easy-to-find national local cooking class.
Advantages: You will find fairly healthy food at these classes, but food allergies may not be taken into account. Professionals teach the skills to your child, and they should come away with between one and three dishes they have learned to make. Be sure to call or email to find out if there are any prerequisite skills your child will need.
Disadvantages: Although your child will learn some pretty cool skills, they may not be applicable to all recipes. Also, they may learn to use tools that you do not have in your kitchen.
Williams Sonoma – Also nationally available, look for “junior chef” on their class listing. They look to have 1-2/month for kids ages 8-13. Typically these will be baking classes, not healthy cooking.
Young Chefs Academy – This program offers weekly classes to learn a wide array of cooking skills. Check the locations to see if there is one near you. Young Chefs Academy is for kids ages four and up. Prices range from $35 per class to $99 per month.
Panera Bakers in Training – More of a “fun activity” for a group of kids (think birthday party or Scout outing), Panera allows groups of 10-15 kids to watch a baker’s demo, tour the back of the house, try a sample and decorate a cookie. Crafts, not cooking, but potential fun for your kid who loves the kitchen.
Culinary Kids Academy – This is a unique program that works with schools for during and after school cooking classes. Consider coordinating this for your child’s school. They also offer some local classes for children ages five and up. They range in price from $10 per day to $299 for a 12-day camp.
Of course, check your local YMCA and community rec center! Some libraries even have a “Charlie Cart,” which is an amazing mobile kitchen program founded by Carolyn Federman, author of New Favorites for New Cooks, one of my favorite cookbooks for kids. See if your school can get a Charlie Cart, which comes with training for teachers to make it happen! (It’s home ec without needing a full kitchen in your school!)
In-Person Cooking Classes for Kids – Local
I’m sure there are others that are wonderful, but here’s a sampling of what I’ve found so far in local areas.
Tiny Chefs – For those of you in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, Tiny Chefs offers birthday parties, events for schools, Scouts programs, a teen chef program and more. They have both on-site options (take your child to a location) and in-home classes for families. Some on-site programs include parents (yay!) and these look to be fairly skills-based, at least for the teen and in-home programming.
Edible Education – This is a great option for anyone in VA. They offer a lot of cooking camps for kids preschool through sixth grade. At about $25 per class, they are very affordable. Alternatively, a parent or teacher could become an Edible Educator and teach local classes if there is a lot of interest.
Marcel’s Culinary Experience – Local to Glen Ellyn, Illinois, offering classes regularly for kids and adults. Look for “Big Kids” ages 12-16, “Mid Kids” for ages 9-11 or “Little Kids” for ages 6-8. Price range $40-45 and they offer spring break camps as well.
Way Cool Cooking School – You lucky folks near Eden Prairie, Minnesota have access to both kids’ classes (age 7-15) and family classes (ages 3-6 & 7-15), and they “teach basic healthy cooking skills and habits.” Score! The mission made it sound like they focus on healthy, nutritious foods, but the photos and course descriptions are like 95% baking and sweets.
Le Petite Gourmet Shoppe – Lucky locals in La Grange, Texas can enjoy fun cooking classes for kids (ages 5-8 or 9-12) or adults. Looks like mostly spring break and summer? Kids can also join an adult class with a parent for a $25 add-on fee. Ironically, this is the same town where we learned how to make real Texas barbecue at Kids Cook Real Food!
Active Kids – This website allows you to search for any cooking classes near your home.
Online Cooking Classes for Kids
The advantage of any online class, of course, is that you don’t have any commute, can fit it into your schedule at your own pace, and can usually repeat classes to continue to build skills.
My favorite part of online classes to teach kids to cook is that kids and parents can learn together which makes a very practical experience of quality time… Instead of doing a craft together and wondering what to do with the outcome, you get to eat a snack or dinner at the end!
Generally, older children may be able to watch an online cooking video and complete the skills on their own, although I always recommend that an adult stay nearby when kids are learning to use sharp knives or the stove.
I’ll Teach Your Kids to Cook So You Get the Time Back You Need
The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse Independent Training Program will build confident young cooks ages 8+ in just a few lessons.
Traditional Cooking School (Real Food Kids Module)
This course will help you create your own Family Kitchen that churns out amazing food, laughter, silly songs, and life-long healthy cooking skills. The course is based on one simple idea: “Everyone eats, everyone cooks.” Let the kids succeed on their own in the Family Kitchen creating kid-friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts (These meals are easy for kids to make, nutritious and enjoyable for the whole family to eat — rarely do you find a kids’ cooking book or class that has all 3 of these qualities. If you’ve ever been guilt-tripped into tasting a Spaghetti-o muffin, you know what I’m talking about.)
Price: $35/month membership
Age range: 3 – 18
This is a monthly subscription box which isn’t really a cooking class for kids, but it may be a great extension with new recipes and ideas once your children have learned basic cooking skills. It will keep things fresh and exciting!
Price range: $20 – $24 per month
Age range: 4 – 14
See my full review of Raddish Kids compared to Kids Cook Real Food and how they may complement each other!
“Kidstir’s original Happy Cooking Kits have one very important mission: to help parents raise children who have a healthy and happy connection to food. We believe good food can be fun for kids—whether they’re shopping at the farmers’ market or whipping up a batch of their very own granola bars in the kitchen. By educating and empowering our kids about food, we can prepare them to make smart, healthy choices. Plus, they’ll develop key kitchen skills and cook up plenty of family memories!
Our brand-new Growing Up Guides build on the successful format of the cooking kits to introduce families to a whole range of life skills that help kids become capable, independent adults. Each month, the guides cover a dedicated topic—everything from managing money to being a great friend—with fun hands-on activities that encourage kids to put those new skills into practice. Growing up is full of twists and turns, and the guides help light the way.”
Price range: $12.95 – $15.95 per month
Age range: 5 – 10
More of an online resource for families than actual “classes,” I love how Whole Foods is supporting healthy kids and cooking in fun ways with this program.
Price: Free to use!
Age range: Undefined, but I’d say preschool with parents and through elementary school.
By kids, for kids. It looks like Step Stool Chef used to have a class, but now they just offer a few cooking kits sent to your home.
Cute “kid boss” philosophy where kids are the chefs and adults are assistants, but not healthy food.
This option often comes up when I search for kids cooking classes online, but as far as I can tell, it’s just a printable ebook style binder of a curriculum ($97) and a student workbook ($27), also pieced out as a few dozen smaller downloads ($2-8). No demo videos for children.
If you’re just looking to piece together your own curriculum or do a family day activity here and there in the kitchen, of COURSE, the Internet will serve up plenty of material for free!
I compiled what I think are the best free healthy food kids cooking videos for you to cut down on the “falling into a rabbit hole” syndrome so you can get off your computer/device and in the kitchen building family memories faster. (You’re welcome.) 😉
So there you have it! Plenty of options to teach your kids to cook. Now get your kids in the kitchen with a knife and some veggies and start learning! Safety first of course! 😉
I’d love to see you over at Kids Cook Real Food if that’s the best option for your family!