Kids' cooking shows are fun for the whole family. They also help teach the basics, as well as expose children to different cultures through cuisine. Here are a few they are bound to enjoy.

By Jennifer Barton
April 30, 2021
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An image of the show Waffles + Mochi.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix.

As parents, we can all agree that not all kids' TV is created equal. But the good ones teach our kids new skills, expand their worldview, and entertain us parents, too (co-viewing, aka watching TV with the kids, improves children's understanding of what they're watching).

Kids' cooking shows have emerged as a pandemic favorite, encouraging us to bake as a family, transporting us to exotic destinations, and introducing us to new dishes from our sofas. They also help to educate little ones about the building blocks of healthy eating—and how to make a really delicious cupcake (a very useful life skill, whether you're 8 or 18).

There are tons of fantastic cooking shows to watch live, stream, or find online. Some are geared to kids; others are meant for adults but suitable for children, and plenty feature young kids on TV to inspire your little ones on their cooking journeys.

Whether your budding chef is a wannabe butcher, baker, or you just want to escape to an exciting new city and learn about local dishes with some cute puppets, here are some favorites your kids will love (depending on their age). And yes parents, you're going to want to watch these too.

Waffles + Mochi

The fact my 5-year-old and I are currently attempting to pickle cucumbers should tell you everything you need to know about this show. The other week, Waffles + Mochi inspired us to make a potato battery; prior to that it was chef José Ramón Andrés' colorful, veggie-packed gazpacho. This show has brought us a lot of joy as a family, and not just because there's a Michelle Obama appearance in every episode.

What we love most about Waffles Mochi is that it offers a bit of everything: it's educational, it's a travel show, it has recipes that are easy to make at home, and it combines live action with puppetry and animation. There are impressive culinary guest stars (Samin Nosrat, Massimo Bottura), important life lessons (food historian Michael W. Twitty explaining how popular rice dishes in the U.S. have their roots in slavery), and post-pandemic wish list dream trips to plan, like visiting the salt ponds in Peru. Did I mention it's good enough to watch without the kids present?

Where to watch: Netflix

Christina Tosi's Bake Club

While it's not strictly a show, Milk Bar's Christina Tosi and her weekly Bake Club live on Instagram (Mondays at 2 p.m. EST, sign up here) is worth a mention. Amazingly, Tosi launched this as a pandemic project last year as a daily cook-a-long with mood-lifting tunes to keep little ones occupied and give parents inspiring quarantine baking ideas. Ingredients are posted on Instagram the day before (although the dish isn't revealed until the episode itself) and you and your crew will be whipping up mouth-watering treats like pepperoni pizza dip, peanut butter cups, and cannolis. Look out for cute cameos from Tosi's dog, Butter.

Where to watch: Instagram Live

Be Our Chef

Sometimes it's the simple pleasures of TV that draw us in: Be Our Chef show families coming together to work in teams in this gently competitive cooking show, with The Office's Angela Kinsey as host. Challenges are inspired by Disney characters and films like Frozen and Cinderella. There's a good chance watching this show leads to some home cooking together, plus it's the perfect excuse to dress up in an Olaf costume. What's not to like?

Where to watch: Disney+

Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck

This cute cooking series with Cookie Monster and Chef Gonger combines cooking and education: each episode centers around a straightforward recipe that's missing an ingredient, which requires the puppets to take field trips—to the avocado farm, the cranberry bog, the pasta factory. The clips are hilarious, the dishes are simple and tasty, and some episodes feature celebrity appearances from Zooey Deschanel and Ellie Kemper. Each clip is five minutes long, making this ideal witching-hour entertainment.

Where to watch: YouTube

Selena + Chef

While Selena + Chef isn't strictly designed for kids, it's very compelling watching for the whole family, as actress and singer Selena Gomez is taught how to make various dishes with the help of a different pro chef each episode (Curtis Stone, Angelo Sosa, and many more). It's very much a show of the times: Gomez and the chefs are cooking together, but apart, chatting over video, in much the same way the kids experienced a bulk of their education this past year. It's also unscripted. The recipes all sound delightful: Korean BBQ short rib breakfast tacos, seafood tostadas, and French omelettes. Gomez is, refreshingly, an amateur cook. Adults will enjoy this one too: Gomez's home is major #interiorsinspo.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Kids Baking Championship

This competitive baking show hosted by Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli sees talented child chefs competing against each other for a top prize of $25,000, as well as the coveted title of Kids Baking Champion. It will definitely ignite the cooking spark in your little one, with challenges like sand castle-inspired desserts, hybrid doughnuts (created with teamwork), unicorn cakes, pizza-as-dessert, and much more. Yum.

Where to watch: Discovery

Sugar Rush

This competitive baking show isn't necessarily for kids, but older ones can enjoy it with you. Hosted by Hunter March, with baking pro judges Candace Nelson and Adriano Zumbo, four teams of professional bakers compete against each other—and against the clock—in three challenges (cupcake, confection, and cake-making). It's a visual feast, and since the competitors are all talented chefs, you're likely to discover some new flavor combinations or treats you'll just have to try making yourself. Also, judge Zumbo, an Australian pâtissier, has his own delightful Netflix show, Zumbo's Just Desserts. It's a bit more adult-themed so one for older kids.

Where to watch: Netflix

MasterChef Junior

This competitive baking show hosted by Gordon Ramsay sees 24 budding chefs aged 8 to 13 competing across a variety of challenges, including season-to-season faves like the pressure test, the mystery box, and the skills test. What's great about this is the challenges introduce kids to foods from around the globe. Warning: may encourage a competitive spirit, as well as lots of home cooking experiments.

Where to watch: Fox

Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time

This new cooking show with Duff Goldman is all about teaching kids the science behind food in a fun way. It combines animation, puppetry, and live-action, and Duff's sous-chef is a robot called Couscous. Each episode tackles several recipes for both sweet and savory dishes. Watch and learn how to make bread, pasta from scratch, ice cream five ways, cake without eggs, and more.

Where to watch: Discovery

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