There’s something so idyllic about baking cookies with a child; I can think of a handful of commercials that feature this sweet scene specifically. But when it comes to getting kids excited to help in the kitchen, sugar can’t be our only incentive.

I’ve rounded up 10 fabulous recipes to cook with your kids that aren’t sweets, but are fun enough to get them scooting up to the counter and, yes, even digging in afterwards — without the sugar crash later. Because they never show that part in the commercials, do they?

Top: Spiced Chickpea Snack Mix | The Seasoned Vegetable

Related: Getting kids in the kitchen: A helpful guide to teaching kids cooking skills by age. 

Fantastic recipes to make with kids that aren't dessert: Cheese Crackers | Bread Babe

Cheese crackers 
Cheese crackers in various animal-shapes have quickly become one of my son’s favorite, so I have a feeling that he’ll love helping me roll out the dough and cut our own homemade version. Plus, I won’t mind the upgrade from blandish store-bought snack to the buttery, sharp cheddar taste of these Cheddar Cheese Coins at The Beach House Kitchen.

Bread 
From watching the yeast dissolve into warm water to finding that the size of your bread has doubled in a mere hour, bread making is a pretty magical process. Kids will love kneading the dough, but if getting it to the perfect elasticity seems too challenging, skip the fussy recipes and opt for a forgiving no-knead recipe like this classic at Budget Bytes instead.

Granola 
So much store-bought granola comes loaded with added sugar, so I like that making my own allows me control how much goes into ours. This Healthy Nutty Granola recipe at Pip and Ebby is sweetened with only a bit of maple syrup and some dried fruit and still looks amazing. Keep in mind that granola is substitution-friendly, so feel free to play around; I’m sure that the kids will have some ideas of their own.

Related: Top Chef Jr.’s tips for getting kids off the couch and into the kitchen.

Kale chips 
I know that kale chips might sound like a tough sell, but I think that kids will totally dig the spice combination on these Kale Chips at Sugar and Soul. Plus, kids get to spin the greens in a salad spinner, massage them in oil, and sprinkle them with the herbs. So many fun sensory activities!

Hummus 
Most of the the work of making hummus is accomplished with the food processor, but kids will love measuring, chopping garlic, squeezing lemon, and adding flavors. Encourage older kids come up with their own flavor add-ins, from beets to Everything Bagel seasoning! If you have very focused children, you might even get them to peel the chickpeas for this super-smooth Basic Hummus from the Jerusalem Cookbook that I found at Serious Eats. It’s a favorite in our household.

Related: 5 clever ways to get kids excited about healthy eating before they sit at the table.

Fantastic recipes to make with kids that aren't dessert: Spinach Gnocchi | Weelicious

Gnocchi
I can certify that this Spinach Gnocchi at Weelicious is an awesome recipe for a teething baby, and I’m keeping it on hand for latter years, too, since the recipe offers up tons of fun tasks like mixing batter, rolling the gnocchi into balls, and watching them as they float to the top of the boiling pot of water. It’s a production, but a fun one that’s totally worth the mess.

Energy bites 
Energy bites fall nicely into the category of naturally-sweet-but-not-a-dessert, and these 5 Ingredient PB&J Bites at Laura Lea Balanced are packed with protein and fiber too. And unlike cookie dough, there’s no need to worry about raw egg when kids inevitably sneak a bite while rolling the dough.

Pizza
Pizza’s a classic get-the-kids-involved meal. Grab a great no-knead pizza dough recipe and then click over to Stacie’s amazing pizza toppings post to help you keep things interesting. Or you can always make pizza pinwheels like Kate does with her kids (she even uses a no-cook pizza sauce, which is worth a look).

Related: 4 of the best subscription cooking kits for little chefs.

Fantastic recipes to make with kids that aren't dessert: Spiced Chickpea Snack Mix | The Seasoned Vegetable

Trail mix 
It doesn’t get much easier than trail mix, and I’m all in for this savory Spiced Chickpea Snack Mix at The Seasoned Vegetable. Let kids help spice the chickpeas and mix it all together when they’re done. Or if this recipe doesn’t do it for you, follow our easy guide and have them help make a DIY trail mix personalized to your family’s taste.

Kid “sushi”
No need for a sushi kit or chef-level dexterity to make kid sushi rolls. These clever Cucumber Rolls at Raising Whasians only requires a melon baller to hollow out a cucumber and make the perfect space for kids to add cheese, meat, or veggies. Or opt for a roll-up version like this Easy Turkey and Cheese “Sushi” on a Stick at Momables.

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