10 Ways Your Toddler Can Help Cook Thanksgiving

10 Ways Your Toddler Can Help Cook Thanksgiving

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Cambria Bold
Nov 18, 2015
(Image credit: ISchmidt/Shutterstock)
(Image credit: Lindsay Ribe)

If you have a toddler underfoot, you know their curiosity has no bounds; they'll go anywhere and get into anything they can! (That's why we childproof the kitchen.) It can be challenging to keep up, but still — you can't fault them for being so interested in the world and just wanting to learn to do what you do! I love that about toddlers.

I also love that toddlerhood is a great age to begin helping in the kitchen. And what better way to get them excited about that than helping cook a big, festive, traditional Thanksgiving meal? Here are 10 ways your little munchkin can get in on the action.

(Image credit: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock)

10 Ways Your Toddler Can Help Cook Thanksgiving

To make this list, I've pulled out 10 traditional Thanksgiving recipes and activities, and offered suggestions on how your toddler can help with each one. You probably have your own Thanksgiving traditions, so tweak as needed!

1. The Turkey

Your toddler can help:

  • Rub the turkey with butter or oil prior to roasting. Just make sure to wash their hands very thoroughly after they touch raw meat!
  • Place lemons or garlic cloves inside the turkey cavity prior to roasting.

2. Mashed Potatoes

Your toddler can help:

  • Scrub the potatoes. Set them up on a sturdy stool in front of the sink with a bowl of potatoes, and let them wash away.
  • Mash the potatoes. It'll be hard work, but they'll probably love giving it a go with a potato masher.
  • Garnish the potatoes with chives at the end.

3. Stuffing

Your toddler can help:

  • Tear bread into small pieces. The bread cubes won't be totally uniform, but your toddler will have so much fun it won't matter.
  • Wash the celery. Any opportunity to play with water is a good one!
  • Combine the stuffing ingredients. Your toddler can help you empty all the individually prepped stuffing ingredients into one big bowl.
  • Pour salt. Once you measure out the salt, your toddler can add it.
  • Pour the stock: If your toddler is pretty steady with her hands, she can pour the stock over the stuffing before baking.
(Image credit: Hrecheniuk Oleksii/Shutterstock)

4. Dinner Rolls

Your toddler can help:

  • Knead the dough. Isn't this the best part about making bread?
  • Check on the dough's rising. After an appropriate amount of time, let your toddler be in charge of checking the dough to see how much it's risen, and then give you an update.
  • Shape the rolls. When the dough is ready, your toddler can help you shape the rolls and put them on a baking sheet.
  • Brush rolls with butter. Give your toddler a pastry brush and let her "paint" the rolls with butter before baking.

5. Sweet Potato Casserole

Your toddler can help:

  • Scrub the potatoes: You know the drill.
  • Pour milk and sugar into the pot. Let your toddler pour the milk, sugar, vanilla, and spices into the saucepan. You handle the heating part!
  • Hold the electric mixer: Under close supervision (you will probably need to hold it with them), your toddler can hold the electric mixer while you beat the sweet potatoes until they're smooth and fluffy.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. Let your toddler taste the sweet potatoes at the end, and talk with him about what it needs. More salt? More sugar? Let him add it.

6. Green Bean Casserole

Your toddler can help:

  • Remove green bean ends. Let your child snap off the green bean ends and, if you feel fine with them using a dull plastic knife, cut each green bean in half.
  • Add butter to the Dutch oven. Let them plop it into the pot!
  • Sprinkle crispy onions on top, once they've cooled!
(Image credit: Anne Zimmerman)

7. Cranberry Sauce

Your toddler can help:

  • Rinse and drain the cranberries.
  • Grind the spices. If you're grinding your own spices for this, either in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, let your toddler give it a go.
  • Add the sugar and spices to the saucepan before you turn it on.

8. Pumpkin Pie

Your toddler can help:

  • Roll out the pie crust. They love the rolling pin.
  • Crimp the pie crust edges. This is the best part!
  • Place the pie weights inside the pie crust before baking.
  • Empty the pumpkin purée into a bowl, along with the spices.
  • Top with whipped cream or ice cream before serving!

9. Pecan Pie

Your toddler can help:

  • Roll and crimp the pie crust. Just like the pumpkin pie above.
  • Measure out the pecans. Let them get two cups ready for you.
  • Stir the ingredients together. They can help you stir the batter before you pour it into the pie crust.

10. The Table

It's not a recipe, but it's still a big part of Thanksgiving! Your toddler can help:

  • Decorate the table. Have them collect leaves and acorns for the table.
  • Fold napkins. It doesn't have to be fancy; just have your toddler fold the napkins in half and place them next to the plate.
  • Bring utensils to the table. If you show them where the utensils go, they can even set them correctly.
  • Place trivets on the table. You know you're going to need them!

Read More: How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: A List of Activities by Age

How does your toddler help with the Thanksgiving meal? Any other great ideas or activities to share?

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