Spending time together in the kitchen can be extremely rewarding—not only is it a great way to pass the time, but you’re instilling valuable life lessons that they will carry with them into adulthood. Get your apron and whisk: here are 10 easy baking projects for wee chefs. —Jennifer Cox
chocolate chip cookies. Is there anything better than warm chocolate chip cookies? They are the ultimate crowd pleaser. Betty Crocker’s traditional recipe is easy to make, even for little hands. Cheater’s version: the ready-made chocolate chip cookie dough at the grocery store.
sugar cookie cut-outs. There’s something about rolling out dough and using cookie cutters that kids love. They sell ready-made sugar cookie dough at the grocery store, and once the baked cookies have cooled, decorate them with ornamental frosting (this one from Good Housekeeping is great), candies and sprinkles. Tip: make coloured sugar by putting white sugar in a Ziplock bag, adding a drop of food colouring, shaking the sealed bag and then drying it out on a plate. Cheater’s version: buy the icing. It just won’t harden like homemade.
rice krispie treats. The classic nostalgia dessert, Rice Krispie treats only require four basic ingredients and are ready in minutes (the hard part is waiting for them to cool). Cheater’s version: the prepackaged ones can be decorated with icing and sprinkles (although they’re definitely not as good).
cake pops. Cake pops are fun to work on with kids because they can get messy making them. Make a basic cake mix and then blend the cooked cake with icing (here’s the go-to recipe from Duncan Hines). Mould into balls, stick in a lollipop stick and dip into melted candy melts. Let dry. Tip: use a piece of Styrofoam to stand up the cake pops to dry; if you stand them on their heads to dry, you’ll have a flat top.
monkey bread. Imagine a cake make entirely out of cinnamon and icing-coated doughnut holes. Here’s a classic monkey bread recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Café: it may have a lot of steps, but it’s very straightforward and turns out perfectly every time.
pizza muffins. Turn your sweet muffins into savoury by taking a basic muffin batter and adding your favourite pizza toppings: cheese, pepperoni and Italian seasonings. Taste Of Home’s pizza muffins are perfect for lunch, dinner or a snack, and are fun to make, too. Tip: try different combinations of ingredients the first time to find what everyone likes best.
pie. Any kind of pie. Truthfully, buy the ready-made pie crust in the refrigerator section (it’s super easy to work with) and a can of your favourite pie filling. The best part is, with a few tools like cookie cutters or plastic knives, your child can have fun and fashion a myriad of cool pies.
popsicles. Why wait till summer? Put out a range of ingredients like small cut-up fruits, different flavours of yogurt, plain and chocolate milk in measuring cups with spouts (for easy pouring), and let your kids put together different popsicle combinations. Cheater’s version: stick a popsicle stick through the top of a sealed yogurt cup and throw in the freezer.
mug cake. Individual portions are perfect for little ones, and they’ll love putting a few easy ingredients into a mug and enjoying homemade cake just minutes later. The Pioneer Woman offers a whopping 25 delicious mug cake recipes to satisfy every family member’s sweet tooth! Cheater’s version: look for mug cake mixes in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
homemade candy. Hard candies like Jolly Ranchers and Lifesavers can be melted on parchment paper in the oven at a low temp (300). Then, add a lollipop stick and you have your own candy! Combine different colours. When it’s still warm it’s also pliable, so you can twist or roll them into shapes, too.