Nothing is more enjoyable than spending time in the kitchen with the kids during the holiday season. The smell of cookies baking, the sound of children’s laughter, the pretty pictures for the ‘gram; it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Oh, wait. Did I say nothing is better than spending time in the kitchen with the kids during the holiday season? Because spending time in the kitchen without the kids is definitely more enjoyable (and cleaner, faster, more efficient, less annoying…I’d go on but who has that kind of time?). Baking with the kids is a chore no matter their age. My eight-year-old twins are no messier in the kitchen than my 14-year-old daughter. The only perk to having her in the kitchen is that she doesn’t need a stool to reach the counter and she usually listens the first time.
Baking with kids is work. They’re chatty. They’re messy. They don’t understand. But they love it. And because they love it, we do it. The Christmas kitchen with kids is a magical place – we whisper to ourselves as we wonder how many weeks it’ll take before we finally get all the sprinkles off the floor. If your kids love to bake and want to make some magical Christmas treats – or any treats, really, because all of these recipes can be holiday modified – we have 20 quick, simple, safe ideas for Christmas baking with the kids. Sorry in advance for the mess.
Pre-Boxed Recipe Ideas
Few things are safer or quicker than recipes that require only a few ingredients. These are all store-bought baking items you can find at any Target, Walmart, Publix, or anywhere you shop. They require only a few ingredients, and they don’t take much time.
1. Martha White Muffins – You can find the mix here, and a great tip I’ve learned is that they bake more evenly and better if you substitute the milk for water.
2. Pre-made Pillsbury cookie dough – found in the cold food section of any store (Pillsbury is the best brand, but they do have other brands to choose from). There is no mixing – either break it and bake it or shape it yourself and follow the instructions on the package.
3. Betty Crocker Brownie Mix – it’s three ingredients. However, buy two boxes. One box won’t fill a 9×13 baking dish. Instructions are easy to follow, and the mess is minimal. Kids get to mix things, and that’s all they really want.
4. Funfetti Cake Mix – All you need is eggs, water, and vegetable oil to make this. The instructions are easy, the cake is delicious, and the kids really do want to mix, pour, and decorate the cake with frosting. Additionally, you can make these into cupcakes if you have more than one child who wants to decorate with icing.
5. Chocolate covered strawberries – There’s no baking, but kids don’t always realize you don’t need the oven to bake their favorite items. This requires melting dipping chocolate in the microwave, dipping, and allowing to cool. What we love is that your kids can color white chocolate or using decorating icing to add eyeballs for ghosts, colors for the holidays, or even their initials. This is probably my own children’s favorite kitchen activity. It’s safe, too, because no one is using the stove or the oven.
The Best Online Recipes for Easy, Safe, Fun Baking with Kids
Anytime the kids want to make something I’m not familiar with – or they want to make something different – I utilize the perks of Google. Google recipes that have few ingredients, that don’t involve the oven, that don’t require a lot of help, etc. There’s so much to choose from, and these are a few of our favorites. Your kids will love them.
6. Rocky Road Cookie Cups – Huge fan favorite around here. And my kids don’t even like all the ingredients that go into these…but they eat them like they’re going out of style.
7. Cake Cookie Bars – Pick your favorite cake mix and follow this recipe.
8. Fudge Cookies – This recipe makes them with mints, but your kids can opt out of mints and replace them with anything else if they aren’t fond of mints.
9. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – There’s only one peanut butter cup that has the right chocolate to peanut butter ratio (the full-size peanut butter cups), but these are a close second. Kids love them. You can also replace the peanut butter cup topper with Hershey kisses because they’re better that way.
Another Five Great ones
10. Homemade Fudge – I don’t know a child that doesn’t love fudge. It’s rich and chocolatey, and they haven’t quite learned that their bodies will revolt with too much of that yet. This recipe is a Godsend for kids who like to make their own.
11. Cookie Bars – This is such a cute recipe because it’s customizable. You can make them Halloween themed, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentines, Fourth of July, whatever. We love a dual purpose recipe.
12. Hot Chocolate Bar – If you want a winter baking activity that is absolutely perfect for kids, this is the one. Who doesn’t love hearing their kids ask for hot chocolate 17 times a day when it’s cold? This is a hot chocolate cookie bar, and you are welcome.
13. Chocolate Bark – Kids don’t know that baking actually requires making anything that goes into the oven with dry heat or something else we learned recently, so they won’t know there is no baking involved. They just want to be in the kitchen with you, and this is a recipe they can make custom.
14. Peanut Butter Balls – This is a cute recipe, and kids love them. They’re technically no-bake, but they are one of my favorite online recipes.
Baking for Super Little Kiddos That Feels Like Baking But Really is Not
If you have little, little kids (we mean 1-4 or 5 in age) baking sounds like absolute torture. It’s messy and time-consuming with older kids, but it’s downright miserable with little kids. The way we combat baking with little kids any time of year is to give them jobs they don’t know is baking. For example, we do the baking before they’re home and let them go to town decorating. Here are a few of my own tried and true ‘baking’ ideas for small kids who can’t mix, use heat, or handle ingredients.
15. Decorate Brownies – Our kids loved this when they were small. I’d bake brownies while they were napping. Following that, I’d set up some cute trays at the table and let them go to town decorating. M&Ms, marshmallows, sprinkles, etc. I put them in cupcake wrappers on the kids’ trays, and they would have the absolute most amazing time decorating their brownies – read: eating all the decorations and putting their saliva covered fingers on their brownies.
16. Cupcake Decorating – You can make them from scratch, or you can toss three ingredients into a mixer and make them from a box. If your kids are little, you will neither know nor care. The best way to do this is to use food coloring in white frosting and use some disposable bowls. I like to put a plastic table cloth on the table (and use all disposable utensils) and let them have at it. This will, and I promise you on this one, take at least an hour because they’ll be so happy. You’re welcome.
Our oldest is 14, and she loves to help in the kitchen. With so many years of spending time in the kitchen with her, then adding three more to the mix, I can tell you which ‘baking’ recipes my four love the most. Anytime I ask them if they want to help with these, the immediate answer is yes. Hopefully, you’ll find the same answer with yours.
17. Chocolate covered pretzels – Buy mini pretzels, dip them in melted chocolate. Put them on parchment paper. It’s really that simple. Add sprinkles. Mix the chocolate with food coloring. Do whatever the kids want. It’s that easy.
18. Baked smores – This is one I’m not sure if I made up because my kids love smores but I loathe going to bed with hair that smells like smoke just as much as washing my hair before bed, or I found it on the internet. We’ve been making them so long I just don’t know.
Either way, all you need is a cookie sheet, graham crackers, marshmallows (medium, not large or small), and Hershey bars. Line the baking sheet with graham crackers, then layer with chocolate, then marshmallows. Bake at 200 degrees for approximately 5 minutes or until your marshmallows begin to expand and brown. Remove from oven, cover with additional graham crackers, and serve.
And one more!
19. Sugar Cookies – Let’s be frank here. There is no better recipe that this one. Grab a roll of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough in the cold section at the grocery store. Toss it into your standing mixer, and add a cup of flour. Mix. Now, toss flour on the counter and spread it around. Roll out your dough (add more flour to the top of the ball of dough) and let the kids use their favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Bake them for no more than 7 minutes at 350 degrees. The flour keeps the cookies from spreading and losing shape. Now they can decorate them however they want, and it’s a great time.
The Piece de Resistance
My grandmother taught me to make these. They’re the single most requested baked item in my life. If ever I ask if I can bring anything to someone or to something, it’s ‘your chocolate chip cookies, Tiffany,’ and that’s that. My kids are more excited to help with this recipe than anything else, and I actually don’t mind their help with this one. The recipe is so good, and it would be a shame not to pass it on to them.
You MUST follow the directions to a tee or they’ll not turn out right. Very few people understand that, and it’s why I’m the only one around here who can make them correctly.
20. Gram’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here’s what you need:
- 1 stick of shortening
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cups packed brown sugar (LIGHT brown sugar)
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Salt to taste
- ½ tablespoons baking soda
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1 bag nestle chocolate chips (semi sweet only)
How to Make:
Add your shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer and mix. Then, add your eggs, salt, vanilla, and baking soda and mix again. Add your flour and mix one more time. Next, add your chocolate chips and mix. Cover your mix and place it in the fridge for one hour.
Here’s the deal – you need a light non-stick cookie sheet. No dark ones. Call it strange, but the dark sheet does not do the job correctly. Remove your dough, add one-inch balls to the baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for SIX MINUTES. If your oven doesn’t bake as quickly as mine, check them at six but try not to leave them longer than 7-8 minutes. The key is to bake them, but not too much. You want them ooey and gooey and perfect. Serve warm or cold, and everyone will love them the same.
The Perks and Benefits of Baking With Kids
There are many. First and foremost is the quality time you get to spend together. It’s messy and annoying, but they love it. It creates happy memories for them, and what more do you want? Second, baking is a good math tool. Learning to measure and how to break down math in that manner really clicked with our second daughter. She struggled with fractions and things like that for a long time, and baking was like the ‘ta-da’ light that went off above her head, and now she’s a whiz.
Life skills are taught in the kitchen, too. Safety, enjoyment, and other small lessons your kids might not otherwise learn are learned in the kitchen. Oven safety and stove safety. Utensil safety. How to place the pots on the stove with the handles inward so no little kids grab them and no one accidentally bumps into them.
However, the single most important thing I’ve learned as a mom of four kids who bakes with her kids is that you get to bake, but you don’t get to eat. Baking with kids is not like baking with yourself where there is a pan of brownies calling your name.
Baking with kids means you’re not putting a damn thing in your mouth because those kids are gross and you know that even though they washed their hand, they’re not clean. They licked something, a nose was picked, and sanitary baking practices were thrown out the window every single moment your back was turned.
No mom is that brave. Bake with the kids and no calories will haunt you.
You can also read:
- Ideas to make breakfast more fun with kids
- Best Holiday Cookie Recipe Ideas for Kids
- Fun Dessert Ideas for Kids
- 20 Awesome Baking Ideas for Snow Days