Cooking with Kids: Age Appropriate Kitchen Skills


Edited by: Stephanie Boron, M.S., CCC-SLP

Information by: Kathy Lord, OTR/L, MS Holistic Nutrition

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?  Our resident Holistic Nutritionist (and OT) Kathy Lord has put together some helpful guidelines for age appropriate kitchen skills for kids of different ages. Use these tips as inspiration to get your kiddo involved in the kitchen! As always, be sure to consider your child’s individual differences and talk with your therapy team to determine what skills may or may not be appropriate for your child. Check our Facebook page for recipes for each age group. Read on for kitchen skills for each age group!

Under 3

  • Washing fruit and vegetables – a great way to teach them the names and show an interest which will hopefully encourage them to try different foods
  • Stirring ingredients – they should be at room temperature
  • Mashing with a fork or potato masher – use a deep bowl and keep foods at room temperature
  • Tearing and squashing – tearing lettuce or squashing fruit
  • Sprinkling – flour, cake decorations, bread crumbs, oats, chopped nuts; put a tray underneath to avoid too much mess
  • Spooning ingredients into scales; using measuring spoons – you’ll need to help!


3-5 year old. Above plus –

  • Cutting soft ingredients (fruits and veggies) e.g. butter, mushrooms, strawberries using a strong plastic knife
  • Breading and flouring – set up 3 stations – flour, beaten egg, breadcrumbs
  • Rolling, shaping and cutting dough – choose plastic cutters and a small rolling pin
  • Spreading – buttering bread, peanut butter and jelly, and spreading icing
  • Picking and hulling – picking tomatoes/ grapes off the vine; hulling strawberries
  • Assemble sandwiches, layer lasagna, top a pizza
  • Stirring batter in a bowl. Use a bowl with a nonskid base; fork or wire whip with a thick handle will be easier for small hands to grip.
  • Mixing and kneading pizza or other yeast dough.
  • Pouring liquid ingredients.
  • Rolling bread or pie dough.
  • Using cookie and biscuit cutters.
  • Measuring liquid and dry ingredients.


5-7 year old. Above plus –

  • Cutting using a small knife – help them to form their hand into a claw to keep fingertips out of danger
  • Grating – fingers can easily be grated so keep watch
  • Measuring – cups and spoons
  • Beating and folding – show children how to beat cake mixture with a whip or fork; fold in egg whites without knocking out too much air
  • Greasing and lining a cake tin or tray
  • Peeling fruits and vegetables, i.e. oranges, potatoes (or hard-boiled eggs. Cool eggs first and be careful of residual heat)
  • Setting the table – encourage them to cherish the ritual of family meals


6-8 year old. Above plus –

  • Whisking eggs.
  • Frosting cupcakes and icing cookies.
  • Mixing cookie dough and brownie batter.
  • Using specialized hand tools, such as a can opener, juicer and garlic press.
  • Using paring or other small knives. Remember that dull knives can slip and be more dangerous than sharp knives.
  • Boiling eggs and pasta.
  • Frying eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches.


8-11 year old. Above plus –

  • Planning the family meal
  • Following a simple recipe
  • Finding ingredients in the cupboards and fridge
  • Using a peeler
  • Whisking, using a handheld mixer
  • Using heat on the oven and microwave
  • Making salads


9-12 year old. Above plus –

  • Trimming and slicing vegetables.
  • Putting foods in the oven and removing them.
  • Working with timers and thermometers.
  • Baking quick breads and muffins.
  • Kneading dough and letting it rise.
  • Cooking soup.
  • Using specialty appliances such as a panini press and waffle maker.
  • Steaming rice.
  • Roasting vegetables.
  • Cooking pancakes on a griddle.
  • Using a food processor, blender and stand mixer.
  • Frying hamburgers.
  • Using a chef’s knife and other larger knives.




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