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4 Tips to Encourage Teen Cooking

Encouraging teen cooking helps your teen move along in his autonomy and knowledge about food and nutrition. Learn how to help your teen cook.

I have had minutes this summer with a clean kitchen.

Yes, minutes.


My two teen girls (who are 15 and 14) are ‘into’ food and cooking.

So I’ve handed over the kitchen.

The results?

Lemon Raspberry Muffins, Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Pasta, Cake Pops, sliced chicken sandwiches with the works, and the list goes on.

While there have been recipes from the internet and out of cookbooks, there has also been free-range creativity—putting together what sounds good and seeing if it works.

So if you have a teen, with time on his or her hands, keep the option of a messy kitchen open!

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4 Ways to Create a Successful Teen Cooking Experience

1. Take advantage of your teen’s interest

Forcing, pushing or heavy encouragement to cook almost never yields the results you’re looking for. When the interest is there—grab it and go for it.

My teens started out with, “Can I make chocolate chip cookies?”

In fact, I’ve heard a lot of requests to make cookies! An interest in baking is a common first sign that your teenager is ready to start cooking.

2. Provide support, but don’t stifle

Teens need permission to make mistakes, to start over, and learn along the way. If you’re hovering or overly worried about a misstep, remind yourself that cooking is a learning process, much like learning to drive a car.

Provide upfront guidance, like answering questions about a recipe, demonstrating a cooking technique, or purchasing the necessary ingredients, but don’t take over.

Insert your advice when asked.

3. Lighten up on the rules

Cooking is an art, and rules aren’t crucial for the teen who is learning to cook.

For example, when my daughter makes chocolate chip cookies, she doesn’t follow the early instructions.

She does her own thing with the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs—and the cookies turn out great every time!

4. Let teen development guide your instincts

It’s a natural part of teen development to experiment and express oneself.

Cooking, baking and creating in the kitchen dovetails nicely with this process. And what happens in the kitchen can carry over into the future, culminating in a confident and creative cook!

For more insight and ideas in the kitchen, check out our guidebooks full of recipe ideas.

What has your teen made in the kitchen (besides a mess!) this summer?

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