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ATK Kids

Now Is the Time to Cook with Kids (And 5 Recipes to Use)

Staying indoors with kids for the foreseeable future? Need a way to pass the time? Head to the kitchen.

Published Mar. 17, 2020.

Kristin Sargianis

These are unprecedented times. Due to COVID-19, many of us are experiencing significant disruptions to our everyday lives: Schools and daycares are closed, restaurants and coffee shops are shuttered, events are canceled. And, along with many of you, our team at America’s Test Kitchen is working from home, in the company of our spouses, partners, and kids.

One way to regain a sense of normalcy in these uncertain times? Cook or bake with your kids. You’ll spend quality time together, away from any screens. You’ll feel good about what you’re doing, what you’re teaching your kids, and what they’re learning through osmosis—there is a great deal of science, math, and even social studies inherent in cooking. Plus you’ll end up with something delicious to eat. In this article, we've collected five of our favorite pantry-friendly recipes to get you started—a mix of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sweets.

And there’s lots more where those came from: You can now access our entire library of 150+ kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, experiments, hands-on activities, and quizzes for free. Show us what you and your kids make by sending photos to or tagging us on social media at #atkkids. You'll also find even more home-cooking resources from America's Test Kitchen, updated daily, on this page


One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato SaucePan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Chimichurri SauceBreakfast Tacos with Bacon
From left: One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce, Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts, Breakfast Tacos with Bacon

1. One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce

A simple, satisfying (and vegetarian) dinner for the whole family. Cooking the pasta directly in the sauce means more flavor and fewer dishes. Everyone wins! [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves,
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sugar
3¾ cups penne pasta
3 cups water
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

2. Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

Brining the chicken for just 30 minutes not only seasons it inside and out, it also makes the meat especially tender. If you have fresh parsley and cilantro on hand, make the Chimichurri Sauce—and save any extra to drizzle on eggs, veggies,and more. Leftover chicken is perfect for sandwiches, salads, tacos, or a Buffalo Chicken Lavash Flatbread. (If you’re starting with frozen chicken breasts, thaw them first.)

What You’ll Need:
2 quarts water
½ cup table salt
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3. Breakfast Tacos with Bacon

Breakfast tacos aren’t just for breakfast—they’re great for quick, filling lunches and dinners, too. And there’s lots of flexibility in this recipe. No scallions? Omit them. Vegetarian? Skip the bacon. No Monterey Jack in the house? Cheddar is a great swap. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
4 large eggs
ā…› teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
1 slice bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 scallion, sliced thin
4 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas
½ cup tomato salsa (jarred or homemade)
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges

Banana BreadFudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes
From left: Banana Bread, Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes

4. Banana Bread

Got any ripe bananas hanging around? Turn them into a loaf of banana bread for tomorrow morning’s breakfast or this afternoon’s snack. If you’re feeling fancy, dress up your loaf with chocolate chips or toasted nuts. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
Vegetable oil spray
2 cups all-­purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5. Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes

Let them eat cake—without turning on the oven! This recipe makes two individual gooey, chocolaty cakes in the microwave. We love making them for movie nights or a sweet afternoon snack. [GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
ā…› teaspoon salt

For more tips on cooking and baking with kids, check out these articles:

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