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What should I teach my 5 year old grand daughter about cooking?

I have a grand daughter that seems to be curious about cooking....Well let's face it, she is curious about everything.

I taught her how to bread pork chops a couple of weeks ago. She seemed to really enjoy herself. I have a stool and can climb up and watch. She knows not to touch the stove.

Any suggestions? I worry about a sharp peeler but she could probably learn to peel carrots and potatoes.

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  1. My daughter has beenhelping me in the kitchen since she was 2.5. She assists w/ baking, she can crack eggs, clean veggies, peel carrots. I would teach her whatever keeps her interest.

    My Mom bought my daughter some good kitchen supplies from the catalog linked below. They have good choppers, bowls, graters, etc. for young kids.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Allfrog68

      My niece wanted to help me crack eggs at that age. I remember one time when we needed 2 eggs and went through most of a carton with eggs landing on the counter and on the floor. But she was able to do it.

      She was able to turn the mixer on and see how that changed everything.

      She also liked smelling different spices and getting to identify them, like nutmeg, different kinds of cinnamon, cardomom and everything else.

    2. what allfrog said. Get her her very own mixing bowl and whisk and cookie cutters, ect, so cooking at grandma's house is even more fun. I started my kids chopping precooked things like carrots and potatoes, using butter knives.

      1. I know that I started peeling stuff around her age, so i wouldn't worry too much. You can also have her mix stuff, like pancake batter or a salad dressing. I started to make pancakes, and waffles by her age. By 6, I was making them for the whole family. She could also prep lettuce, washing and tearing into the bite sized bits.

        Not sure about special kids stuff, I think I enjoyed using the Adult stuff to help cook more than any special kid's utensils.

        Basically, if she's enjoying doing stuff with you and helping, that's the best part! It's a wonderful thing to pass on your knowledge to the next generation.

        1. I also agree with allfrog - at 2 my daughter loves just watching me cook and helping to stir/pour etc. I'm loving that link, thanks for sharing!
          At 5 I remember making french toast with my grandma and by 6 or 7 I was even at the stove cooking for my family. My daughter loves peeling apples to make applesauce and any type of baking. I leave the oven light on so she can watch muffins/cupcakes/brownies rise. Snapping green beans is another fave, you can also let her cut softer fruits with a plastic knife or butter knife and make fruit salad. same could be said of squash and other soft veggies.
          Have fun, I can't wait to cook more with my daughter!

          1. Our son makes pizza on Friday nights. Our granddaughters ages 3 and 5 love decorating the pizza. At age 5 they can easily mix muffin batter or scoop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. It's a good age to start teaching how to measure things although I would be careful with expensive, spillable ingredients like vanilla.

            1. Teach her where food comes from. My experience picking tomatoes from the vine, pulling onions from the ground and watching flowers turn into melons in my grandmother's garden were invaluable lessons. So to was the experience of making cookies, sausages, mincemeat instead of buying them pre-made, pre-packaged in the grocery store.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JungMann

                JungMann - Very good idea. There are lots of great suggestions here but knowing where your food comes from is so fundamental.

              2. Second the garden suggestions; shelling peas is fun at any age. She can learn to measure things into a blender and push the button to make smoothies and salad dressings or even blended soups. It is great fun to watch cream become whipped cream or egg whites become meringue.

                Introduce her to seasonings; play a game where she learns a few spices and tries to guess them by smell. I loved getting my hands in dough at that age, and decorating things. She can help compose salads, or layer trifles and parfaits.

                1. When I was a child, my grandmother let me help her make the soup dumplings. They were dense German dumplings- just flour, egg and water. She's put some on a wooden spoon and then let me scrape off a regular spoon full into the simmering soup. We'd put the cover on and wait and voila- dumplings!

                  1. My brother started learning to use a small paring knife around age three and was confidently cutting things as a five-year-old. My nephew, who is seven, on the other hand, would find a way to chop his durn fingers off if he handled anything sharper than a spoon. So the sharp-utensil thing really depends on the child. Whatever you do, though, don't make her afraid of sharp things -- carefulness, not fear, is what she needs to learn. I think a vegetable peeler would be totally fine for most kids, especially since newer ones have nice big handles.

                    I helped with just about everything at that age -- measuring, pouring, stirring, seasoning. I cooked my first meal for the family by myself when I was ten. Even the things I was too young to help with, my mother always talked her way through.

                    Tell her WHY you're cutting the potatoes into that size, WHY you put oregano and garlic (or whatever) in spaghetti sauce, WHY you brown things, WHY you salt the water for pasta. If YOU taste something for seasoning, give her a taste too, and ask her to decide if it needs more salt, more pepper, more spices, whatever. Then when it comes time to eat, ask her if she can taste the ________ in whatever you just made.

                    As she gets older, you can give her more freedom in deciding what to make. "Should we make _____ or ________? What spices or ingredients do we need?" Instead of her being your sous chef, you act like hers (guiding her as needed, of course).

                    That's basically what my mother did, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. My sis-in-law's mother wanted the cleaner, faster, more "efficient" way and kept her kids well out of the kitchen, with the result that my sis-in-law never learned to cook until adulthood! You are giving your granddaughter a very precious gift.

                    1. Everyone has great suggestions. Some of the things that my kids love doing are the more hands-on type things: rolling cookie dough into balls and into sugar (peanut butter), breading foods in panko or bread crumbs, rolling out all kinds of dough, granola bars, mashing potatoes.

                      A note about tools, I bought a few "kid friendly" tools, but they prefer the adult ones, and they just kind of clutter up my drawers. My kids have been using real knives since they were 2. I found that they hurt themselves more with butter knives because they didn't cut as well and they applied more force.

                      1. Agree with everyone. Here are some fancy stuff you can get their involvement on - 1) things that involve whisking over a double boiler - creme anglaise, ganache, hollandaise, the mascarpone part of tiramisu. 2) making a vinaigrette - the whisking but also the tasting and adjusting for seasoning. 3) dipping fruit/pretzels/shortbread in chocolate

                        1. I bring my 2.5 year old daughter into the kitchen all the time -- she loves to watch, and I tell her what I'm doing. We made enchiladas the other night -- I had some cooked spinach and shredded cheese, and she put a handful of each into each corn tortilla while I did the rolling. I think the most important thing is to teach her to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen!

                          Savour Fare

                          1. Teach her that fruit and vegetables are good and that if the potatoes and carrots are organically grown one doesn't need to peel them! Helping with measuring, pouring, and stirring can be fun at that age. Visit the farmer's market or a working farm or grow some herbs or a food-bearing plant or garden with her.

                            1. Love that she's doing it with you!

                              As a toddler teacher we had great fun doing egg salad. I used to give the kids as young as 2 & 3 hard cooked eggs and a whole assortment of devices like the conventional slicers but also potato mashers, ricers, whisks, hamburger presses, anything that seemed capable of the job. The idea was that it was as much interactive and imaginative problem solving as food production.

                              Up to you if you want the potential waste but it was a unit we all greatly enjoyed. I recommend outside and if you have pets that can be loosed after you're done the "waste" becomes "dinner".

                              As for learning about the heat from an oven or a cooktop, can I recommend you and your granddaughter take her hand and learn to approach the heat source slowly. She'll decide for herself where her zone of comfort is and she WILL NOT forget it. She also won't be afraid of the equipment and will have a new kind of empowerment.

                              Give her a decent knife when you get to cutting. Teach her the technique of rolling her fingers in and guiding the knife with her knuckles. It's really VERY effective for preventing cuts. Also teach her if the knife falls to step back rather than to try to catch it.

                              The fresher the carrots and potatoes are, the easier it is to clean them with a nylon scrubby pad rather than a blade. OTOH, something with a thick jacket like a Russet is delicious and more nutritious with the jacket on.

                              Diversity of forms and colors are really interesting to young kids. Carrots come round, squat and long. They come in white, yellow, orange and red. Lots of other veggies have wonderful new color variations too like orange cauliflower, for example.

                              Anything she can grow like freckled lettuce is much more delicious than something from the grocery store. As much from her experience and identification with it as it's incomparable freshness. Strawberries and carrots grow well in pots if you don't have a kitchen garden.

                              I'll keep my thinking cap on. Great project!

                              1. My 2.5 year old has been "cooking" with me since she was 2 years old. She blends using a blender (under supervision), she stirs stuff, she cuts things with her blunt knife. Pour stuff and mix etc... The more you do the more their skills increase. We actually do cooking videos about our cooking experiences where we try out children's recipes from around the world.


                                1. I was just talking with a friend about how easy cooking is for me while he has such a hard time with it. Most of the time I don't even need a recipe, and it's because I've been cooking since I was a child. I had a junior cookbook and I remember making strata (eggs and sandwich bread) for the family from that book when I was probably her age. My mom always supervised, but bringing your GD into the kitchen at a young age is so invaluable. It's a lifelong gift of self-sufficiency.

                                  1. When the nephews & nieces were that age, they loved anything where they could get their hands in a bowl and make a mess mixing things up.

                                    And making pizza. We used to let them put on whatever they wanted. I've had to eat some bloody awful pizza. "Mmmmm, that was lovely, small person. May I have another slice?"

                                    1. So many great suggestions. Above all, teach her that cooking is fun and teach her to be fearless. Yes, you'll all eat some fairly awful food (G-d bless my father for some of the horrendous slop he ate without complaint) but learning is about trying new things and making mistakes.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rockycat

                                        I agree with everyone and love rockycat's response. The only thing I'd add is to get her in the habit of cleaning up after herself, as she goes along, as much as possible. That's a lifelong habit she'll thank you for for years to come.

                                      2. I just thought of something that's really fun to do with a 5yo. Marshmallow. You use a number of clear liquid ingredients and then beat them in a mixer until you have a thick white syrup/suspension that turns into a solid object. If you use a clear glass bowl she can watch the magic happen at eye level.

                                        Here's the first simple marshmallow recipe I ever used with my kids. This stuff is not temperature sensitive but that means it also isn't completely stable. Play with it for a day and then toss what she doesn't eat. The ingredients are cheap and there's a limit to how long you want her on a sugar high anyway. And feel perfectly free to cut the ingredients back by half or even 75%.

                                        Marshmallow — LA Times

                                        Recipe By: LA Times Food Section


                                        1/2 cup cold water
                                        2 envelope unflavored gelatin
                                        1/2 cup sugar
                                        1 cup light corn syrup
                                        1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
                                        confectioners' sugar
                                        1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
                                        1 egg white
                                        1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
                                        food coloring


                                        Line bottom of 13"x9" baking pan with lightly greased wax paper.

                                        Pour water into a 2-quart saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand to soften, about 5 min. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves, about 3 min. Add corn syrup. Cook and stir until combined, less than 1 min. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

                                        Put sugar in large bowl of electric mixer (if you're doing this for the benefit of kids, use a glass bowl so they can see the transformation). Pour in warm liquid mixture. Stir at low speed until sugar is dissolved and mixture is tranparent. (Kids can do this step themselves without the mixer.) Beat at high speed until thickened to consistency of soft marshmallow, about 5 min. Turn into prepared pan. With lightly buttered spatula, spread evenly. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature to dry (90-120 minutes).

                                        Turn out onto cutting board sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off wax paper.

                                        Grease 2-inch metal cookie cutters. Cut out shapes, leaving 1/4" between each. Dust top and sides of shapes with powdered or colored sugar. Set aside.


                                        To make the Decorators' Frosting, in a small bowl of electric mixer stir together confectioners sugar, egg white and cream of tartar. Beat for 8 minutes at high speed. Divide frosting among small bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to make as many colors as you want.

                                        Fit pastry bags with plain #3 decorating tips. Fill bags half full with colored Decorators' Frosting. Pipe along top outer edges, outlining figures. Let dry at least 5 min. Wrap separately in wax paper or plastic wrap and store in tightly covered container.

                                        Retire to a hot bath until the kids run off their sugar high.


                                        These are tender and really good and fun to make.

                                        These are not great keepers. Unless they're prepared to a 240˚ syrup they have a tendency to relax back into a syrup at room temperature over the course of a couple days.

                                        Oh, and the freshly beaten marshmallow can be piped as well so she can write her name, etc. in marshmallow. Fun! Martha Stewart has directions for piping marshmallow into chick and bunny shapes.

                                        1. Our local newspaper has asked readers to submit the best thing they learned from their mother in the kitchen. I asked our 15 and 19 year old sons and they each said "how to make a roux." I don't think Mama taught them that at 5 though.

                                          At 5 they were making grilled cheese sandwiches and cooking muffins from envelopes of mix. More importantly, we were teaching basic food safety: fruits and vegetables are rinsed; meats and eggs are cooked through; wash hands & tools after handling raw meat...

                                          And I love southernitalian's advice on Clean Up As You Go. Wish we'd focused on that a bit more at our house.

                                          1. Haha 5 years old was 55 years ago! Of course I "licked the spoon", but 2 things I remember actively doing, making, as a little girl were: jelly omelets, and carrot-raisin salad. Both with help of course.

                                            1. Well Cassidy is coming to visit this weekend. A couple of her favorite breakfasts are a sausage egg and cheese croissant and grampa's french toast with real maple syrup. Not like the syrup they give us at daycare, grampa. She first discovered the croissants at Sonic. Apparently it is a #14 on the menu. You make the bestus #14, grampa. You can't get a better endorsement than that!

                                              Anyway I think she will get to break some eggs and mix them this weekend. That should be interesting. I'll have the mop ready. She can mix the french toast egg mix too.

                                              1. I wonder if you're seen this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQGpxF...

                                                I wouldn't want to be cleaning up after her -- or spending the rest of that sugar-amped day with her for that matter -- but it's worth a giggle or two. ;>

                                                1. Well we had breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes, white gravy and peas with a sauce made with butter a little flour to thicken, chicken stock and caramelized onions. It was great. Cassidy got to bread the pork chops. She did pretty well. As I suspected, the first egg didn't go too well but the second one went ok.

                                                  Peeling the potatoes didn't work at all. It appears it needs some coordination and practice before she can do that. Maybe next time she visits.

                                                  She watched while I cut up the potatoes. I showed her the chef's knife and showed her the sharp edge and assured her it could hurt her and to never play with it or touch it unless an adult was helping her. She got to set the table.

                                                  All in All it went fairly well.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tonka11_99

                                                    A ricer eliminates the need to peel potatoes.

                                                  2. Tell her to listen and learn from her elders, esp. of the grandmother variety ...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Read the folktale "Stone Soup" together. There are many variations and the chances are she has already heard it in school. After you read the book start making your own soup (sans stone) and let her peel and prepare the vegetables. Write out your recipe in large letters and it becomes a reading lesson as well. Talk about cups, teaspoons, etc and it becomes a math lesson too.
                                                      Every cooking experience is a memory stored and a learning experience.