Here’s how you can include the kids when cooking up joy and holiday treats

Photo by Lordn/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — The holidays are a great time to slow down and spend time with your family. A great way to spend quality time with kids is in the kitchen.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Many people cook more this time of year as they enjoy foods of the season. Pull the kids into the food prep and teach them cooking skills while you’re at it! Here are a few tips to set a joyful mood when cooking with kids:

Be safe

Kids can become overly excited in the kitchen. It is important they understand that they will need help with certain tasks. Explain to them that knives can be sharp and shouldn’t be used without help. Teach them how an oven works and to ask for help when the stovetop is hot.

Be clean

A refresher course in proper hand-washing techniques is always a good idea. Visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education website and review the steps with your kids. While you’re there, review the four core practices for reducing foodborne illness: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Start with the basics

Kids will one day grow up and will eventually need to start cooking on their own. It is important that they know cooking basics. Teach them how to crack an egg, how to use measuring cups and spoons and other basic kitchen tasks. The tasks they can complete depends largely on their age and abilities. gives the following suggestions by age:

  • 3 to 5-year-olds: mix together simple ingredients, snap green beans, tear lettuce for a salad, press cookie cutters.
  • 6 to 7-year-olds: shuck corn, use a vegetable peeler, crack eggs, measure ingredients.
  • 8 to 9-year-olds: use a can opener, juice citrus fruits, check the temperature of foods with a thermometer, pound chicken on a cutting board.
  • Children ages 10 and older: slice or chop vegetables, boil potatoes, microwave foods, bake foods in the oven, simmer ingredients on the stove.
Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Be patient

Things can get a little hectic with kids in the kitchen. Remember to be patient. Expect a mess as you go and ask for their help cleaning up. Embrace the moment and make it a fun activity for yourself and your kids. Create fun and joyful holiday memories!

Pumpkin spice snickerdoodles are a great holiday treat to make with your kids. See the recipe here.

The kids will love measuring the ingredients and mixing the dough. They’ll especially love rolling the cookie dough balls in the sugar and pumpkin spice. Another recipe they might like is our whole wheat sugar cookies or our apple cranberry crisp.

Get your cooking supplies ready, turn on some holiday music and create some joy in the kitchen!

Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.

This article originally appeared Dec. 6, 2019 on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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