My daughter loves to cook. She’s “learned” by watching shows like Master Chef Junior, which feature kids who are crazy adept in the kitchen and who have, of course, memorized their recipes (a skill that I still haven’t mastered). However, my daughter seems to think that they make up their recipes on the fly—a little of this and a little of that. She’s disappointed when her own made-up recipes don’t turn out as, ahem, tasty as she’d hoped.
So, when I discovered a bunch of cool subscription cooking kits for kids, I recruited some Cool Moms to help me test them out in hopes that they’d make an awesome holiday gift for my wanna-be chef. These are the ones that earned two thumbs up — one from mama (or dad!), the other from kid — to consider adding to your holiday shopping list.
– This post has been updated for 2019 –
Related: ChopChop Cooking Club: Free, online cooking lessons for aspiring little chefs.
Foodstirs: For all-in-one kits
If you’re looking for a kit that you can take from the mailbox to the kitchen, nothing else needed, Foodstirs are for you. These baking projects come with everything you need to make fun, festive treats, from the baking and frosting mixes to the cookie cutters and (all natural!) food dyes. Though you can certainly make a lot of these treats for everyday snacking, the boxes tend to focus on a theme, whether an upcoming holiday or family movie night, making them a good occassional kitchen project to get the kids cooking.
The recipes that come with Foodstirs kits are fairly simple—especially since the baking mixes provide all of the dry ingredients already combined—and can be followed by older school aged children on their own. Will older kids be interested? You can be the judge, though even our 10-year-old tester found it hard to resist Christmas tree shaped brownies and cupcakes that look like mini buckets of popcorn. Mostly, though, the intention behind these is to celebrate holiday or family moments by baking together, and we can’t imagine many little ones who wouldn’t be into that.
Head to the Foodstirs online store to choose between 3-, 6-, and 12-month subscriptions, or a single box around various themes or projects (melted snowman cookies, pancake art, galaxy donuts) starting at $25.99 — a great holiday gift if you ask us.
If you like what you taste, you can now get Foodstirs organic, GMO-free line of baking mixes separately to use on your own, as you wish. Both the kits (Frosted Cake Pops, Celebration Cupcake, and Brownie Popsicle) as well as the four mixes (Sweet Tooth Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Lovers Brownie, Chocolate Chippy Cookie and Simply Sweet Vanilla Cake) are a great way to stock your pantry with box mixes that you can feel good about.
Related: 5 cookbooks for kids who actually want to learn how to cook — or are willing to try.
Young Chefs Club from America’s Test Kitchen Kids:
For cooking with a science education
Just this year, America’s Test Kitchen launched the popular Young Chefs Club food subscription for kids 5 and up, and we’re loving how well it combines education with real cooking skills.
Starting at just $19.99 a month for 12 months (though 6-months and month-to-month subscriptions are available as well), kids will receive a monthly box with a theme like Cake Decorating, Taco Truck or Say Cheese.
Each one includes “kid-tested” recipe cards (always a plus) and projects from 15-minute quickies to longer endeavors. There are also activity ideas, kitchen science experiments, and a few other fun goodies like an unusual cooking tool or fun recipe ingredient . And we really like the kids’ monthly cooking “Make It Your Way” challenge to help encourage creativity and problem solving which really builds confidence in the kitchen.
While some activities will take longer than others, it’s smart that each box always includes some kind of fun activity that kids can engage in right away. Hey, kids don’t always want to wait until we have a free hour to dive into their box, right?
As a bonus, there’s an online-offline component; subscribers get access to a dedicated website with a library of even more family-friendly recipes, activities, quizzes, and educational videos for kids who are really excited to learn more.
The other thing we like:Just about everything is recyclable in each kit.
Related: Helpful tips for baking with kids, and 6 recipes to get you started.
Raddish: For kids who want to build their culinary skills
Another cool company that focuses on teaching kids about cooking and food is Raddish. (Get it, rad dish?) When you subscribe, each month your child will get three illustrated recipe cards, three culinary skills practice cards (think, knife safety or how to use a blender), a kitchen project that might be a science experiment, history lesson, or foodie game, as well as some cool kid-friendly kitchen tools like measuring spoons or whisks.
After your child has completed the recipes, you can hand over a patch (also included) for him to add to their apron each month, showing off their growing culinary prowess.
Each kit is organized around a theme—think global cuisine, green cooking, holidays, or even movies and camping— and may include a mix of entree and dessert recipes. It’s important to know that you’ll need to shop for your own ingredients with this box. The instant satisfaction — Let’s cook this right now! — isn’t there, but part of being a chef is learning to budget and plan, too, right?
You can get Raddish boxes shipped to your child each month for as low as $24/month depending on how many months you sign up for, and if you join as a member, you get a free Raddish apron for your child too.
Related: Getting kids in the kitchen: A helpful guide to teaching kids cooking skills by age.
Kidstir: For kids who want to know more about food
The team also put Kidstir to the test and really enjoyed the mix of education and playfulness that these kits encourage. Each one comes with recipes, of course, as well as the tools you’ll need to complete them and one premium ingredient. The kit we received had us making granola bars, fish crackers, and an orange fizz drink, which were all a hit. And the best part is that the kits also include games and some fun swag, like mustache straws.
And, really, who doesn’t love a mustache straw?
The recipe binder is high quality—the kind of thing you’ll be happy, or at least totally willing, to keep—and the pages that come with it encourage interactivity with questions like: Which cheeses from around the world have you tried?
If this sounds right up your little foodie’s alley, dig in for more detail on what we thought of this subscription service. Otherwise, head on over to Kidstir to subscribe month-by-month or for 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription plans starting at $24.99/mo, with discounts for longer terms.
I am still trying to decide between raddish and kidstir. Thanks for your reviews!
We get that it’s a tough decision! Tell us where you land and what you think. Hope this was helpful in making the right decision for your family.
Which did you decide to try?
I can only speak to RadDish but this is my review after the first box. We just started the RadDish subscription and I wasn’t sure was to expect because the only information I had was from the ad on Facebook. My daughter (10) and son (13) did the first box today and I was impressed with the included items and recipes. They learned a lot of cool cooking skills and admittedly so did I =) I only ordered one box and was able to easily work it so they both made two of the recipes themselves and the third together. The food was really good. You do have to buy the ingredients but we order our groceries online and pick up curbside so it didn’t add much time. At least half the ingredients are basics that most people would have on hand. It’s less expensive than a cooking class and just as much fun. They were very proud serving their meal. I’m really glad that I ordered it.
This is so helpful! Thanks for adding your review, Jennifer.
Thank you. This is helpful. Looking for my 10 year old daughter and didn’t know if this was to kiddish for her!
I am interested in trying Raddish with my 6 yr old. I will stay away from Kidstir and would like to warn others thatvwhen you specifically order a 3 month subscription gift from Kidstir as I did for my niece, the company takes your credit card number and automatically renews the subscription even when you clearly purchased a gift with a stop time. I had to fight for my money back and the only reason I knew they did this is because my sister realized my niece kept getting the subscription past the 3rd month. Be aware!
Sorry to hear that story, Heidi. We’ve had good experiences with them, but it helps to be aware!
So of all these that you tried, what was your favorites in order and why?
They’re all different, for different kinds of families and kids. If you can be more specific about what you’re looking for, we’d be happy to help. – Eds
Which one would work best with multiple ages, 3, 5, and 7?
My 10 year old son wants to be a chef, and really only has experience making mac and cheese. I am not much of a cook. Which one do you think would be best for him/us?
We love the Raddish subscription. It’s easy to follow along plus teaches your child different skills such as how to safely cut veggies to how properly measure something. My son is excited when he receives each box.
Would kidstir work well for a 4 1/2-year old?
We’d say so, as long as an adult plans on doing the project alongside the 4.5 year old. It would be a lot like doing a baking project together from a cookbook, but more fun since the end result is designed to delight kids! Hope this helps!
I am looking for a company that sends the food – not bakery food. It’s for a 9 year old and she has a 5 year old sister.
We haven’t found a company like that yet, but will definitely let you know if we do. And maybe some of our readers might know of one? If so, please share!
I can’t cook!
Is there one you’d recommend for teens just starting out?
Looking for something geared toward teenagers. I have two 12, almost 13 year olds and wonderful if these would be too “young” for them. Any thoughts?
Hi Amy, I have tweens/teens as well and I think the Food Stirs baking kids are perfect. Just a little challenging but also kind of hard to mess up.
Also take a look at the KidStir taco kit we included in our Holiday Gift Guide as a favorite tween gift. I think kids that age will be thrilled to be able to make a “whole” dinner like that! https://coolmompicks.com/2018-holiday-gift-guide/cool-gift-ideas-tween-boys-9-12/
Hi, thanks for your review it’s very interesting. I’m looking for a kit that is geared to cooking a meal. We’ve given over a night every week for our 8 year old to make dinner and it would be great if she had something to help her along and inspire her. Any suggestions as to which might be better for this purpose? TIA
I am looking for a birthday gift subscription for my soon to be 6 year old. He got kid safe knives for Christmas and LOVES helping in the kitchen. He wants to be a chef and likes to be as independent in the kitchen as possible. But he also isn’t a super adventurous eater and we have 2 other children in the house to eat the food. Which kit, Raddish or KidStir, do you think would be best for him? Thank you in advance!