Cooking with Kids? You’re Going to Need a Bigger Bowl

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Tyler Olson)

The first time I made granola with my now 5-year-old daughter, she wasn’t quite 2 years old. She wore an adorable little apron, had her own mixing spoon, and I picked out a “just the right size for this batch of granola” bowl for us to work in. Moments after starting our granola project, oats and maple syrup littered the floor, her step stool, and her hair. And that’s when I learned that when you’re cooking with young kids, you need a much bigger bowl than you think.

No, even bigger.

Why a Big Bowl Makes a Big Difference

Using a really big bowl when baking and cooking with young kids achieves two things. First it gives your tiny cook room to stir, whisk, and whip with confidence and gusto — which they will do regardless of the bowl’s size — without you having to micromanage their mixing. Young children are still developing both fine and gross motor skills when they start helping in the kitchen. They’ll be making exaggerated mixing motions while they learn the art of mixing and whisking. Using a large mixing bowl literally gives them the room to practice these motions

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, a large bowl keeps the ingredients in the bowl and keeps them off the counter, floor, and walls. Those wild mixing motions mentioned above? They send everything from flour to blueberries flying out of the mixing bowl quickly. As a general rule, grab a bowl twice as large as you think you’ll need.

I’m a big fan of my nesting glass mixing bowls, which is why I don’t use them when cooking with my children. Instead, I have a large metal mixing bowl I bought for a song at a yard sale and a set of inexpensive plastic mixing bowls that were a gift. All of these mixing bowls are lightweight, making them easier for the kids to maneuver. And because they were inexpensive, I don’t worry about the kids damaging them.

They also double as swimming pools for dolls, trucks, and other toys during the hot summer months.

Do you have any favorite tools for cooking with your children?

Tiny Chefs

Tiny Chefs is a celebration of everyday cooking with young kids. Tiny chefs are under age 8 and need more help in the kitchen than older kids, but can learn habits for cooking and eating that will last their lifetime. This is a collection of our best strategies, favorite tools, and sage advice for including tiny chefs in your kitchen.