ATK Kids
A Comprehensive List of the Very Best Cooking Items for Kids
The first step in learning to cook is having the right equipment.
08-31-2018
America's Test Kitchen Kids

We believe the happiest meals are made at home. And that doesn't always mean by an adult; these days, more and more young cooks are cooking for themselves and their families. That's why we started America's Test Kitchen Kids, where we produce recipes, hands-on activities, and books—all kid-tested and kid-approved, of course—with the goal of building a new generation of empowered cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters.

To get this next generation of cooks started on the right foot, we put together a list of tools geared towards them. Many of these items are appropriate for cooks of all ages, but some, such as the chef's knife and oven mitts, are made especially for kid cooks. We’ve divided the items into six categories: knives, kitchen basics, cookware, small appliances, prep tools, and cooking tools.

Get Cooking!

The Complete Cookbook For Young Chefs

Want to bake the most-awesome-ever cupcakes? Or surprise your family with breakfast tacos on Sunday morning? Looking for a quick snack after school? Or maybe something special for a sleepover? It’s all here. Learn to cook like a pro—it’s easier than you think.

Knives

For a knife to be safe, it has to fit comfortably in a cook’s hand. While chefs often come to work with a pouch that holds a dozen knives, at home you just need two: the smaller version of our favorite standard 8-inch chef’s knife and a precise paring knife.

  • Chef’s knife for kids

    Chef’s knife for young chefs
    You will use this knife for 9 out of 10 kitchen tasks, from mincing herbs and chopping vegetables to slicing meat. Our winning kids’ chef’s knife is especially popular with our 12- and 13-year-old testers. It's an excellent knife that's sized just right for them. Plus, its comfortable, grippy handle made children feel safe and in control. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Opinel Le Petit Chef Cutlery Set (2 Pieces)

    Chef’s knife for younger chefs
    Best for 8- and 9-year-old testers, this knife's wooden handle has a small, round finger hole that encourages kids to hold it safely and securely. The young testers said that it helped them get a “good grip” on the knife. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Paring knife

    Paring knife
    This small knife is for precision work, such as cutting out the core from a ripe tomato or the hull (the leafy green part) from a strawberry. Our favorite paring knife is superadept, and most testers praised it for its ability to disappear in your palm and become an extension of your hand. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

Kitchen Basics

You can’t mince without a cutting board, or stir that carefully measured pancake batter without a prep bowl. Here are some kitchen basics you need to prepare (almost) every recipe.

  • Cutting board

    Cutting board
    You can’t cut, slice, and mince without a cutting board. Our favorite bargain board sports rubber strips on both sides that keep its lightweight frame safely anchored to the counter. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Oven mitts for kids

    Oven mitts for kids
    Kid testers liked that these cotton mitts were long enough to reach down to their forearms for increased coverage and safety. Their slim shape hugged testers' hands for good control and dexterity. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Prep bowls

    Prep bowls (large, medium, small)
    Coming in a variety of useful sizes that nest for compact storage, our winning set performed ably on almost every test. They can even be used in the microwave and the oven. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Dish towels

    Dish towels
    Goldilocks would like our favorite dish towel: It’s not too thick or too thin, too big or too small. Its fabric tightened, toughened, and grew more absorbent the more we used and washed it. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Paper towels

    Paper towels
    Every tester who tried our winning paper towels came back with a rave review. The sheets were thick, soft, and sturdy, and a single full-size sheet could hold nearly ¼ cup of water—about twice as much as lower-ranked products. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Plastic wrap

    Plastic wrap
    This ultraclingy wrap was the thickest out of all the products we tested, making it strong, resilient, and nearly impossible to rip or puncture. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

Prep Tools

Prepping ingredients means more than cutting and chopping. It also means measuring, grating, drying, peeling, and more. Use these tools to get your ingredients ready for action.

  • Box grater

    Box grater
    This easy-to-store, flat grater made shredding a breeze, thanks to big holes; a large surface for better efficiency; and a solid, rigid frame that enabled continuous grating (rather than short bursts). [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Liquid measuring cup

    Liquid measuring cup
    The unbeatable traditional version of the Pyrex Liquid Measuring Cup has been a longtime favorite of cooks everywhere—and for good reason. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Dry measuring cups

    Dry measuring cups
    Accurate and extremely durable, the best set in our lineup snaps together for compact storage. The handles are seamless with the cups themselves, making them easy to level off. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Salad spinner

    Salad spinner
    Our redesigned favorite is better than ever. Its patented pump mechanism was the easiest to use among the models we tested, and its performance remained superb, holding plenty of greens. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Ruler

    Ruler
    With this easy to read, use, and clean ruler, you won't have to guess how thick 1/8 of an inch is. The inches are divided into 32nds on one side and 16ths on the other. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Vegetable peeler

    Vegetable peeler
    Our favorite Y-shaped peeler is featherweight (3/8 of an ounce), but surprisingly sturdy, and easily tackled every task. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Rasp grater

    Rasp grater
    This Microplane grabbed the top spot thanks to its great performance and its soft, grippy rubber handle. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Citrus juicer

    Citrus juicer
    Our favorite citrus juicer's large, rounded handles were easy to squeeze for testers of all sizes, which helped this press quickly extract far more juice than any other model. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Garlic press

    Garlic press
    The comfortable handles on our favorite, sleek press opened wide, allowing us to easily load cloves. It produced a uniform mince, handled unpeeled cloves well, and quickly rinsed clean. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Can opener

    Can opener
    Sleek, smart, and comfortable, our favorite can opener’s visible gears were easy to attach. The straight, textured handle fit comfortably and securely in hand. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Measuring spoons

    Measuring spoons
    Comfortable and accurate with long handles, our winning set nests nicely. The rim of each spoon is flush with the handle so it is easy to sweep accurately. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

Cooking Tools

Despite the marketing hype, you don't need a lot of equipment in order to cook well. Forget those products you see on infomercials on TV; this list includes all of cooking tools that you'll need to make most recipes.

  • Instant-read thermometer

    Instant-read thermometer
    Our longtime winner is still the best instant-read thermometer on the market. It's dead accurate, fast, and so streamlined and simple that it's a breeze to use. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Wooden spoon

    Wooden spoon
    This bamboo spoon's rectangular handle was comfortable to grip; its head had the most surface area in contact with the pan. Stain-resistant, it emerged after testing looking closest to new. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Colander

    Colander
    With all-over tiny perforations that don’t allow small foods to escape, our longtime favorite colander has a draining performance that remains unmatched. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Pastry brush

    Pastry brush
    This pastry brush did a good job on all the tasks. Testers loved the grippy, rubbery material of the handle. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Whisk

    Whisk
    With an ergonomic Santoprene rubber handle and a balanced, lightweight feel, our winning whisk was like an extension of a hand. It whipped cream and egg whites quickly and easily blended pan sauces to smoothness. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Spatula

    Spatula
    Comfortable from any angle, our favorite spatula boasts a thin front edge and moderately flexible head with a slight upward tilt that kept food secure. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Rubber spatula

    Rubber spatula
    The flexible head of our favorite rubber spatula handily maneuvers in tight corners and edges but is strong enough to scoop heavy food. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • 9-Inch tongs

    9-inch tongs
    Our favorite model easily picked up foods of all shapes and sizes—from dainty blueberries to a hefty jar of salsa—and was extremely comfortable to operate. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Fine-mesh strainer

    Fine-mesh strainer
    With a roomy, medium-depth basket of very fine, tight, stiff mesh, our winning strainer removed lots of bran from whole-wheat flour and produced silky purees. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Potato masher

    Potato masher
    The plethora of small holes on our winner's mashing plate made an ultracreamy, smooth mash, and its handle felt comfortable in hands of all sizes. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Ladle

    Ladle
    Everything we did with our favorite ladle felt easy and controlled, from scooping chunky stew out of a small saucepan to reaching into a tall stockpot to collect broth. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

Cookware

You've prepped your ingredients, now you need to cook them. For that, you'll need the items in this section. If you do any amount of serious cooking, you will want at least one traditional and one nonstick skillet. Find more information on those and other cookware below.

  • 12-inch nonstick skillet

    Nonstick skillet (12-inch)
    Our favorite 12-inch nonstick skillet cooked and released food perfectly, thanks to its darker finish and excellent nonstick coating. Its gently flared sides and lightweight design made it easy to load, unload, and move. We also recommend stocking a 10-inch nonstick skillet. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Traditional skillet

    Traditional metal skillet (12-inch)
    With ample cooking surface for sautéing eight chicken pieces without crowding, a steady, even heat for excellent browning; low, flaring sides for good evaporation; and good balance, our favorite traditional pan offers everything we want in a 12-inch skillet. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Large saucepan

    Large saucepan (3 to 4 quarts)
    Our longtime winner excelled, with uniform, steady heating and good visibility inside the saucepan to monitor browning. Its cup-shaped stay-cool handle was easy to grip, and a helper handle provided another grabbing point when the pan was full. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Dutch oven

    Dutch oven (6 to 7 quarts)
    Our favorite pot was substantial enough to hold and distribute heat evenly without being unbearably heavy. The light-colored interior combined with low, straight sides gave us good visibility and made it easy to monitor browning and thermometer position. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Rimmed baking sheet

    Rimmed baking sheet
    Everything prepared in this sturdy, warp-resistant sheet cooked appropriately and evenly. Best of all, our new favorite is a few bucks cheaper than our old winner. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Cooling rack

    Cooling rack
    Testers gave top marks to a rack that has six feet on three support bars for extra stability. Cookies cooled evenly on this rack, and pork emerged from the oven with crisp, browned surfaces. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

Small Appliances

Most of the items in this sections aren't things you'll use every day, but when you need them, you'll be glad to have them. That's especially true of the food processor, which we use for everything from pureeing vegetables to kneading bread and pasta dough.

  • Blender

    Blender
    The least-expensive model in our testing lineup, the winning blender had a narrow jar that combined food well. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Food processor

    Food processor
    With a powerful, quiet motor; responsive pulsing action; sharp blades; and a simple, pared-down-to-basics design, our old favorite aced every test, surprising us time and again by outshining pricier, more feature-filled competitors. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Electric mixer

    Electric mixer
    The winning mixer felt like the sports car of the products we tested: light, maneuverable, and efficient. Its five speeds were powerful and well calibrated, nicely covering the range called for in recipes. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

  • Toaster

    Toaster
    The most reliable and efficient toaster in the lineup has quartz elements for even heating and one long slot that can fit two pieces of sandwich bread. We loved its clear windows, which let us keep track of browning, and its “stop” button. [Buy Winner | See Full Review]

What's your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? Let us know in the comments! And sign up here to join the America's Test Kitchen Kids community!

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