ATK Kids
5 Healthy Dinner Ideas That Kids Can Prepare Themselves
The ultimate kid-friendly recipes are ones kids will love and can cook themselves.
01-29-2019
America's Test Kitchen Kids

Let the kids handle dinner tonight. Making dinner is a great way for kids to up their cooking game and gain confidence in the kitchen because they get a chance to practice their skills and impress their families with something homemade and delicious.

No matter what types of dishes your young cooks prefer—or their level of comfort in the kitchen—this collection of recipes has something for everyone.

1. Sesame Noodles with Snow Peas and Carrots

Sesame Noodles with Snow Peas and Carrots

For most kids, their first taste of this dish comes from a takeout container, and they might not realize how easy it is to make a really tasty version at home. (Not to mention how proud they’ll feel having made it themselves.) This recipe uses creamy ingredients such as peanut butter and tahini to create a no-cook sauce that goes on to coat tender noodles and vegetables. [VIEW RECIPE]

What This Recipe Teaches Young Cooks:
• How to prep snow peas
• How to make a sauce
• How to cook noodles

2. Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Beef stir fry
Beef stir fry

Stir-frying is a great, quick-cooking technique for kids to learn. To prevent the meat from getting chewy, our recipe calls for two special ingredients: baking soda and cornstarch. Baking soda keeps the meat tender, and cornstarch gives the beef a thin, sticky coating that protects it from the heat of the skillet. This is called “velveting,” and it’s a trick used in Chinese restaurants to keep meat soft and silky. [VIEW RECIPE]

What This Recipe Teaches Young Cooks:
• How to cut beef for a stir-fry
• How to stir fry meat and vegetables

3. Sweet and Tangy Glazed Salmon

Flipping salmon
Glazed salmon

Even picky eaters will love this sweet, sticky glaze. Starting salmon with the skin side down in a cold pan is a neat way to cook fish. The skin protects the fish from drying out. The skin also releases fat into the pan, which is then used to cook the second side until it’s golden brown, no extra oil needed. [VIEW RECIPE]

What This Recipe Teaches Young Cooks:
• How to flip salmon fillets
• How to use an instant-read thermometer
• How to make a glaze

Key Equipment ATK's Favorite

12-inch nonstick skillet

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick 12-inch Open Frypan

Tongs

OXO Good Grips 9" Tongs

Spatula

Matfer Bourgeat Pelton Spatula

Instant-read thermometer

Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4

Rubber spatula

Di Oro Living Seamless Silicone Spatula—Large

4. Beef and Bean Chili

Beef and bean chili

Talk about a recipe that will please the whole family! Ground beef is an easy base for chili as it doesn’t require any preparation such as chopping or slicing beforehand—but the convenience can come at a price. Ground meat can give up a lot of moisture as it cooks and can become dry and pebbly. To keep the beef tender and moist, treat it with baking soda. The baking soda raises the meat’s pH, which keeps the meat juicy and also helps it brown more quickly. Science!

What This Recipe Teaches Young Cooks:
• How to chop bell peppers
• How to keep ground meat tender
• How to add flavor in layers

5. Avocado Toast with Fried Eggs

Avocado toast
Prepping avocado

Avocado toast is more than a trend—it deserves a place in every family’s weeknight dinner repertoire. It’s simple, healthy, and no-cook. But adding a fried egg takes only a few extra minutes and elevates this toast from a hearty snack to a great dinner (or breakfast or lunch). Plus, it gives kids a chance to practice cooking eggs, which is a valuable kitchen skill that will serve them well in their future kitchen endeavors. [VIEW RECIPE]

What This Recipe Teaches Young Cooks:
• How to Fry an Egg
• How to Prep an Avocado