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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.