Tasks for Young Chefs on Thanksgiving

It takes a village to produce a home-cooked holiday feast. Here are ways to put the youngest members of your village to work. (After they wash their hands and roll up their sleeves, that is.)

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©2009

Photo By: Rich Freeda ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Ages 3 to 5

The youngest chefs in the kitchen are best given simple, repetitive tasks, such as removing herbs from a sprig or mashing potatoes using a potato masher or a ricer. With some assistance, little ones are also able to help season foods if you give them a premeasured amount of salt and/or pepper to sprinkle onto a dish.


By Teri Tsang Barrett

Get the Recipe: Mashed Potatoes

Ages 5 to 7

Independence is important to kids in this age group, so find tasks that they can do on their own — and with little consequence in case of accidents! Scrubbing root vegetables clean or rinsing leafy greens are great options. Empower this age group to help with tasks like measuring ingredients for your inspection or pouring the filling into a pie crust: Let them hold the bowl as an adult scrapes out the contents, or vice versa.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts

Ages 8 to 10

This group is able to mimic many tasks, following some instruction from an adult along with some supervision. Let them crimp the pie crust after practicing under your supervision a few times. Making whipped cream with an electric hand mixer is also manageable, again with adult supervision. And teach them how to properly measure ingredients — show them the difference between liquid and dry measuring cups, and how to level off the tops for an accurate measurement.

Get the Recipe: Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

Ages 11 to 13

Entrust kids this age with simple recipes that require minimal prep, such as a basic cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie filling. Peeling potatoes is also a manageable task to let them take on, while teaching them the basics of safety in the kitchen (Rule #1: Keep your fingers out of the way!). Depending on the maturity of the child and the amount of adult supervision, some kids may be ready to learn how to work with a paring or steak knife to help with tasks such as trimming green beans.

Get the Recipe: Cranberry Sauce

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