Playing games in the kitchen with your children is a great way to get them involved in cooking, while also making it fun.
When preparing a meal, it can be tempting to send the kids off to another room to watch TV.
But having them join in with the preparation of food can be fun for everyone. Plus, if you train them well, having your very own sous chef can actually be pretty handy!
Many parents find cooking with preschoolers to be difficult because the tasks that very young kids can help with are limited to things like stirring batter or tearing lettuce. Parents of older kids also have struggles: pre-teens and teenagers may be reluctant to get involved in anything in the kitchen, deeming it ‘boring’.
Whether you have tots, teens or in-betweens, this list of kitchen games will give you ideas about how to make cooking both fun and educational.
Here are the 6 best games to play with kids in the kitchen:
- Symmetrical Pizza Game
- Sweet, Salty, Spicy, Sour
- Recipe Scramble
- Napkin Origami
- Cookie Decorating Competition
- Sandwich Shop
Let’s take a look at each, how to play, and why they’re great for the whole family!
Why play games in the kitchen?
Learning to cook healthy meals is an important life skill, but kids won’t enjoy cooking if they see it as a chore. Playing games in the kitchen switches the focus from work to play. When you add an element of competitiveness, kids will work even harder to win the game.
Learning how to cook isn’t the only benefit of playing cookery games. Kids can also work on the following skills:
- Reading and writing: Designing menus gives kids a chance to practice their best handwriting and work on their spelling.
- Art and design: Kids love to express their creativity by designing and decorating food.
- Fine motor skills: Hands-on activities are especially important for preschoolers who need to develop these skills for pen control.
- Trying new foods: Cooking familiarizes picky eaters with new foods, making kids more likely to try them.
- Problem solving: Cooking involves trial and error, and learning to adapt to different situations that may arise is an important skill for kids of all ages.
- Teamwork: While competition in games is great, having siblings work together to achieve a goal is also strengthens their sibling bond and social skills.
It’s not just kids who benefit from playing games in the kitchen.
Some of the best kitchen games result in a finished meal that the whole family can enjoy!
While kids are busy playing culinary games, parents are free to supervise and multi-task with other jobs around the home.
Best games to play with kids in the kitchen
Here are some of my favorite games for kids of all ages to play in the kitchen.
1. Symmetrical Pizza Game
- Best for: Ages 2 to 4
- What you need to play: Pizza base, pizza sauce, cheese, toppings, string
- Why kids love it: Pizza tastes so much better when you make it yourself!
The aim of this game is to add toppings to a pizza and make each half symmetrical.
To begin, use something like a breadstick or a piece of celery to make the middle of the pizza, and add toppings to one half.
The child has to copy the pattern by mirroring the toppings on the other half of the pizza. If you have two or more children, each child can make the first half of a pizza for their sibling to complete the second half.
Ready-made pizza bases work great for this game.
You can keep it simple for toddlers with chunky toppings like pepperoni, or make it more tricky with smaller toppings like corn and different colors of cheese. Kids always love making their own pizza, but this game adds a fun challenge.
2. Sweet, Salty, Spicy, Sour
- Best for: Ages 5 to 8
- What you need to play: Different foods for tasting, pen and paper, blindfold (optional)
- Why kids love it: It’s exciting to try the different tastes, especially when blindfolded
In this taste testing game, kids have to decide whether different foods taste sweet, salty, spicy, or sour.
You can use a blindfold if you wish. To play, kids need to write out the four categories—sweet, salty, spicy, sour—on a piece of paper. Then, they taste each food and decide which taste category it falls into.
Kids who can’t write yet can play the game by drawing pictures of the food under the headings.
At the end, children and adults can work together to Google whether the answers were correct or not. If you have two kids, they can work separately or as a team, perhaps with the older one telling the younger one how to spell each word.
3. Recipe Scramble
- Best for: Ages 7 to 12
- What you need to play: A jumbled up recipe, required ingredients for that recipes
- Why kids love it: This game adds an extra challenge to following a recipe
This game requires kids to unscramble a recipe before being able to make it.
To prepare a scrambled recipe, you can mix up some of the letters in food names to create anagrams. You can also switch around the order of some of the steps in the recipe so that they don’t make sense.
In this challenge, kids need to work out what the recipe should be before they can begin to make it.
This works best with simple recipes like a package of cake mix. Siblings of different ages can work together to solve the puzzle.
4. Napkin Origami
- Best for: Ages 7 to 16
- What you need to play: Cloth napkins, napkin rings (optional)
- Why kids love it: Folding napkins is an impressive skill to show off
Set your kids up with napkins and a Youtube video that shows how to fold them into different shapes.
Give them a time limit of say 20 minutes to learn how to fold as many different napkin shapes as they can.
Once the time is up, you can shout out the name of a napkin shape from the video like ‘swan’ or ‘flower’ and your child has to make it as fast as they can.
This game is great if you have more than one child, as they can race and you can also award extra points for presentation.
5. Cookie Decorating Competition
- Best for: Ages 2 to 16
- What you need to play: Plain cookies or gingerbread men, icing, candy
- Why kids love it: They get to be creative and eat yummy cookies
Cookie decorating is a fun activity for kids of all ages!
To make this even more fun, you can make it into a competition. Once all the cookies are decorated, each child (or adult) chooses their best cookie to enter it into the competition.
Take a photo of each entry and send them to friends and family via Whatsapp, asking them to vote on which is the best.
You can buy ready-to-decorate cookies or make your own.
A decorating competition would also work with cupcakes. If you only have one child, you could let adults join in and submit entries too.
6. Sandwich Shop
- Best for: Ages 7 to 12
- What you need to play: Notepad and pen, sandwich ingredients
- Why kids love it: Kids get to role play at being a waiter and a cook
In this role play game, kids get to try out the various jobs that people do in a cafe.
First, they must look in the fridge and the cupboards to take inventory of the various types of bread and sandwich fillings there are.
Next, they must design a menu of different sandwiches (like the menu in Subway, for example).
The adults take the role of customers in the cafe and place orders for sandwiches which the children write down. The kids must make the sandwiches to the exact specification and serve them to the customers’ table. Kids can also clear the plates away and wash the dishes.
You could use play money, with kids needing to use math to work out how much change to give each person.
Getting kids involved in the kitchen is about so much more than teaching them how to cook.
It can be a great opportunity to practice reading, writing and math, as well as fostering confidence and teamwork skills.
These kitchen games are great for a rainy day and can be adapted to suit kids of most ages. With a bit of help, even toddlers can get involved.
For more ideas for things to do with young kids when you’re stuck in the house, check out this list of 35 Fun Activities to Do with Your Toddler At Home for inspiration.
Hope this helps!