In today’s hubbub busy world it’s easy to throw together a meal or get take out and forget to invite the kiddos to join us in the kitchen. But try this: Think back to when you were a kid. What do you remember making? Was it cookies with a grandparent? How about pancakes on a lazy Sunday or helping dad with the grill during the summer?

I have a distinct memory of making ramen noodles at around age 7: the sense of pride and accomplishment, the smell of the warm savory seasoning, and the slight burn on my hands when I carried a full bowl and sloshed some of the hot broth on myself.

At any age, caution must be observed while in the kitchen to stay safe and avoid injury. We teach our toddlers to stay away from the stove and to not pull steak knives from the dishwasher. Parents are keeping an eye out and teaching safety skills at every turn it seems. “That’s hot, don’t touch it.” “Walk please.” “We sit to eat.”

So at what age do we invite our children into the kitchen to begin learning valuable lessons about nutrition, cooking, and yes, kitchen safety? This is going to vary from parent to parent and even child to child. It’s definitely an individualized choice based on factors such as patience, interest, how cautious the child is, and what types of skills are required for each task.

Here is a sample list of tasks children can begin working on in the kitchen. Although it is broken into age categories, each child is different so it’s best to make decisions based on the individual child’s dexterity and maturity.

Preschool (ages 2-5)

  • stirring batter
  • rinsing and straining fruits and veggies
  • measuring liquid and dry ingredients
  • using cookie cutters

Young Cooks (ages 6-8)

  • boiling eggs and pasta
  • peeling fruits and veggies
  • frying grilled cheese sandwiches
  • using a can opener, juicer, or garlic press

Preteens (ages 9-12)

  • roasting vegetables
  • steaming rice
  • using timers and thermometers
  • cooking pancakes on the griddle

Teenagers (ages 13-18)

  • marinating foods
  • using outdoor grills
  • developing knife skills
  • making risotto

(A wonderful mom named Mique made a printable for home use with this information. It can be found at

No matter where you start, getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality family time as well as teach healthy eating habits. At what age do you think kids should start in the kitchen? Leave a comment below!

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