Ages for Cooking Tasks

All kitchen tasks are achievable, no matter the age of the cook. It only takes desire, knowledge, and perseverance to learn any skill which you desire to perfect. However, there are different levels of expertise that are age and experience-level-based.

When working with children in the kitchen, both teachers and students need to keep expectations accurate. Below, I have listed some suggested cooking-related tasks based on ages. Keep in mind, these are just suggestions, and each child will progress at their own speed based on experience level.

At the preschool level, kids are full of energy and curiosity. They still need almost constant supervision with any task, especially in the kitchen, where dangers may abound. If you give them basic tasks to keep them busy while completing your jobs, their transition to loving to cook will be much easier on both of you. At this age, their best tools are their hands. They are still learning to perfect their motor skills. It will be best to focus on activities that allow them to grab, tear, smash and bang.

By the time these kids enter school and are at the young cook level, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are more developed. At this age, the kids love to show off the stuff they have accomplished. Also, they are learning to read and write, and this is an excellent time to teach them to read and follow directions in a recipe. This age range is very impressionable and is a perfect time to bond with them over the kitchen routines.

Preteens!!! Oh, my goodness! Life with them is becoming an adventure daily. At this age, they are becoming more independent daily. Extremes are the norm. Expect that same attitude in the kitchen. Embrace it! It is time you will come to treasure. I guarantee you will. They thrive on positive affirmation, so be ready to give it. Forgive the errors and the messes. Teach them to deal with them and go on to success.

Teenager and beyond is another level that will bring great transition into your life as well as theirs. Teens are ready to take on challenges and master the equipment in your kitchen. At this point, it is easy for your kitchen to become their kitchen. Would you mind taking advantage of that independence and letting them learn on their own? Be there as backup, but let them experiment and perfect their skills. You may be surprised how much they have already learned and what a good cook they have become.

At the Young Cook level:

Preschool: Ages 1-5

  • Stirring batter in a bowl
  • Rinsing fruits and vegetables
  • Tearing lettuce for salads
  • Wrap potatoes in foil to bake
  • Smashing grahan crackers for pie crusts
  • Cuttings soft fruits and vegetables with non-sharp knife (table knife)
  • Mixing and kneading yeast doughs
  • Rolling bread or pie doughs
  • Using cookie and biscuit cutters
  • Measuring and pouring liquid and dry ingredients
  • Spreading butter, jelly, and peanut butter on bread
  • Mashing potatoes and other cooked veggies

Young Cooks: Ages 6-8

  • Whisking eggs
  • Setting the table
  • Mixing dry ingredients
  • Measureing and counting items
  • Frying grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Cracking eggs
  • Peeling fruits and vegetables
  • Using paring knives
  • Using specialized hand tools, such as garlic press, can opener, and juicer
  • Frosting cupcakes and icing cookies
  • Mixing cookie dough and brownie mix
  • Mixing cake mixes and pouring into pan
  • Reading aloud the recipe ingredients and steps

Preteens: Ages 10-12

  • Trimming and slicing fruits and vegetables
  • Using a Chef’s Knife and other large knives
  • Using specialty appliances such as a waffle maker, quesadilla grill, and Ninja appliances
  • Using a food processor, blender, and stand mixer
  • Putting foods into the oven and removing them
  • Making sandwiches
  • Making toasted bread
  • Washing and putting away dishes
  • Unloading groceries and helping to put them away
  • Working with timers and thermometers
  • Baking quick breads and muffins and cake mixes
  • Cooking canned soups
  • Steaming rice
  • Roasting vegetables
  • Making their own school lunch
  • Learning to use microwave
  • Basic kitchen cleaning

Teenagers: Ages 13 and up

  • Using all kitchen appliances
  • Developing knife skills to efficiently chop, dice, and mince
  • Baking more complicated yeast doughs and pastries
  • Panfrying and grilling meats
  • Using slicers and mandolins
  • Using and cleaning outdoor gas and charcoal grills
  • Deep-frying foods
  • Frying hamburgers
  • Learning the process of preparing an entire meal
  • Learning the process of a complete kitchen cleanup

As I have said many times before, learning to cook for oneself is very important. Teaching your child to cook gives them a start on a life skill that they can continue to develop and perfect. Cooking helps to build the self-confidence kids need to be more self-sufficient and successful in life. It’s important to teach kids to enjoy preparing food and sharing meals with family. Hopefully, this knowledge will encourage them to carry on that tradition with their own families when they are adults.

De Lana

A mom for many years and a grandmother for a few, De Lana has been cooking since she was 12. She has lots of experience but is always ready to learn something new.

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