Being an eight-year-old in the ’90s meant being obsessed with things that made me feel older. I watched NSYNC on TRL because that’s what my teenage sister did, and I loved cooking with my mom and aunties because it made me feel mature. I begged my parents for the O.G. Easy-Bake Oven—baking brownies for the neighborhood kids (the little dears) felt like a very adult thing to do. These days kids still want to feel older—as confirmed by my niece—but they’re a little more advanced. Play kitchens and light bulb–powered ovens? Please. Instead, young chefs are interested in baking cupcakes from scratch, cooking with real spices, and using their own dedicated knife set. Below you’ll find some of the best cooking gifts for kids—and if you play your cards right, they might even let you borrow them.
Children’s Cotton Apron
Inspired by African prints, this thick cotton twill apron will make any kid feel like a pro in the kitchen. It is colorful and durable and has a big front pocket for holding cooking tools.
Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker
Fact: Kids won’t beg you to buy them ice cream when they can make their own. This fully automatic machine makes super smooth ice cream, fro-yo, and sorbet in under 30 minutes.
Emoji Cookie Cutters
Help your nephew make poop emoji–shaped cookies, and you will be his favorite aunt for life. This three-piece set of cookie cutters is made with sturdy BPA-free plastic and will keep the kids giggling.
A cardinal rule for cooking gifts for kids: Small hands need small kitchen tools, like this 6″ set of tongs. “My kids often refuse to touch food with their hands (and if they do, let’s face it, their outfit will usually tell the tale)—but how much more fun is tossing green beans, turning sausages, or flipping tortillas when they have special kid-size tongs?” says BA test kitchen director Chris Morocco. “Having their own special tools makes them a lot more likely to get involved in the kitchen.”
Mortadella Pool Float
This five-foot pink pool float has a face freckled with bits of cracked pepper and saturated fat. It’s the perfect gift for the epicurean little one who prefers mortadella to bologna. Who am I kidding? I want this for myself.
Kalamata’s Kitchen Book and Spicewalla Set
Written by sommelier Sarah Thomas, Kalamata’s Kitchen is an inspiring picture book for the next generation of curious eaters and courageous cooks. Follow Kalamata through her imaginary world of food, then take the adventures to the kitchen with a custom set of ethically sourced spices—cumin! turmeric! mustard seed!—from BA favorite Spicewalla.
World’s Largest Gummy Worm
This three-pound gummy worm is a great gift idea for the child of your closest frenemy. It’s two feet long, dual-flavored (cherry and blue razz), has a shelf life of a whole year, and will make for one very hyper tiny chef.
Bake Away Cookbook
Written by teenager Sahana Vij, Bake Away features 20 simple desserts, each accompanied with stunning visuals, that take readers on a road trip of creativity and self-expression. Bake her coconut chocolate tart, citrus poppy seed bread, and chai-infused cake and celebrate the beauty of giving—100% of Vij’s royalties will be donated to No Kid Hungry.
“You might think that kids need a lightweight pan, but that is wrong!” Morocco says. He recommends sticking with hefty pans (a 9″ skillet is a great size) that’ll sit securely on the stovetop: “Letting Finn cook his own pancake makes him flip his shit, he gets so excited—get real tools and real pans, though. None of the toy stuff.”
Raindrop Cake Kit
It’s the cake that broke the internet. Think of this cooking kit as a fun science project that uses a few simple ingredients—agar-agar, spring water, roasted soy bean flour, and black sugar cane syrup—to create an uber refreshing, slightly sweet jelly cake. Psst: It’s vegan and gluten-free.
Dash Mini Donut Maker
This zero-fuss countertop doughnut maker allows little chefs to make deliciously warm and fluffy doughnuts in minutes—no frying required. Just fill it with your favorite batter (or store-bought cake mix), close the lid, and set the timer. The auto shut-off function means nothing will ever burn.
Dinosaur Taco Holders
Eating tacos from a plate? Snooooze. Eating tacos from an angry T. rex taco holder? THRILLING! These dinos hold two hard-shell tacos each. Plus, they’re durable and dishwasher-safe.
KAI My First Chef’s Knife
Another product popular in Morocco’s home test kitchen, this stainless-steel knife is perfect for young cooks. The grippy rubber handle is the right size for small hands, and the serrated blade and rounded tip allow beginners to learn knife skills while staying safe. They’ll be graduating to a chef’s knife in no time.
Gingerbread House Kit
With this five-piece set, making a whimsical gingerbread house from scratch is simple. It comes with an instruction pamphlet, a festive spatula, a frosting bottle, and two silicone baking molds—all optimally sized for kid bakers and their adult helpers.
Tattly Pizza Tattoos
Nothing makes kids feel all grown-up like a set of tattoos, just like grandma’s. This cheesy pepperoni pizza pack by illustrator Julia Rothman is made with nontoxic veggie-based ink.
Birthday Balloon Sprinkles
Give the kid chef in your life a sprinkles upgrade this holiday season with a brightly colored blend of nonpareils, candy beads, and confetti stars.