Inside: Getting your big kid to cook may not seem like it’s worth the fight, but these 15 easy recipes for teens can turn any kid into a master chef.
Learning to cook is an important life skill.
Studies show that knowing how to prepare and cook food is the best way to combat obesity and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
But sometimes, getting adolescents to focus on something they don’t want to learn seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Sometimes I think my kids would live on cereal and a spoonful of peanut butter if we let them.
Our advice though is to Keep At It! While a beginner cook may be a pain at first and make a tremendous mess, the end result will be worth it.
Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a fancy 3-course meal, but once they learn the basics and get comfortable in the kitchen, they will start to realize how simple and satisfying a home-cooked meal can be.
There are so many benefits as well. Teens can learn to grocery shop and meal plan, step in when needed to support the household/community, and impress their friends!
A few tips for teaching teens how to cook
During the pandemic, I enlisted my three teens to help in the kitchen, but not at the same time! The phrase too many cooks in the kitchen is especially true when it comes to testy teenagers. It’s a good opportunity to connect with your teens and get some important one-on-one time.
Each afternoon, I had one of them help me prep a meal. That usually included the simple cutting of vegetables (this knife skills video was a great help), preheating the oven, boiling water, etc.
During this time, I found there were a few key ways to keep them involved and wanting to continue cooking:
+ Keep it simple: Teens can get easily overwhelmed, so start with simple recipes with a minimal number of ingredients. This also ensures that the recipe will turn out edible in the end so they don’t get dejected.
+ Don’t assume. Sure, you would hope they know not to stick a knife in a toaster or that they should put the top on a blender before turning it on, but I’ve learned never to assume. Make sure your teen knows how to use equipment properly–and more importantly, how to clean it.
+Let them choose. Who wants to cook something they hate? An important part of cooking is selecting recipes you think you’ll enjoy. No matter how it sounds to you, let them try a few things that they think they’ll love.
+ Stand back. Once you show them how to do something, give them free rein. The great thing about food is there are so many different ways to prepare it so it tastes great. Maybe their cutting isn’t proportional or they didn’t layer something exactly the way you do, but celebrate the effort and that you’re teaching them a great skill!
But also, don’t go too far. New cooks sometimes don’t see an impending disaster and may be unable to multitask well, so stay nearby so you can step in and assist (but try to wait to be asked!)
Easy recipes for teens they will love!
If your tween or teen is new to cooking and has no idea how to cook, it can be a little challenging to find recipes that would be a good fit for them.
If your teenager is being lazy or reluctant to cook, these are a few easy dinner and snack recipes that you can use to get them started. Knowing how to cook is a must-have life skill for every teenager.
Whether they need something quick to make on a busy weeknight, or it’s their turn to make family dinner on the weekend, here are some great, easy recipe ideas to help them learn to cook.
This pizza soup is an excellent option for picky eaters, and it’s easy enough that your teen can make it! This is great for winter or fall when it’s cold outside, and it is good stove practice. It’s also a great starting point to get your teen used to making a soup without making it too complicated.
This recipe from urbanblisslife.com is simple and delish! While spaghetti and meatballs is a comfort classic, this recipe only uses a few ingredients, but the end result seems like something you would get from a fancy Italian restaurant. The best part? You can make it in under 30 minutes!
Pizza bites are a great after-school snack or dinner option that your teen can easily make in a pinch. Sure, you could buy the frozen kind, but these taste great and are healthier than the packaged version (especially if they will add a few veggie toppings!) Bonus: this recipe is is hard to mess up and easy to tell if it’s done, making it a great opportunity for getting used to the oven.
Bonus recipe: If your teens are like ours, they may be obsessed with the air fryer. One of our teens found this simple Air Fryer Pizza Bites recipe from FamilyDinners.com and according to her: “It slayed.”
This recipe from PumpkinSpice.com is fun because you can change the ingredients with whatever you have left in your refrigerator. Teens love quesadillas, and this is a new twist on breakfast for dinner that utilizes eggs, meat and cheese, but you can also get some veggies in there too.
This crockpot mac and cheese recipe is one of the best easy meals for teens to make and has tons of flavor. We use cheddar cheese, but our teens sometimes like to “get fancy” and will mix it up a bit with mozzarella or adding some grated smoked cheese. It’s a set it and forget it dinner, and will help them build kitchen confidence. And according to our big kids, it’s so much better than the box stuff.
Tacos are not just for Tuesdays anymore! This recipe from SpruceEats.com is so simple that now my kids make this when their friends come over on the weekends. I always keep the ingredients and fixings on hand and keep some ground beef or shredded chicken in our freezer.
Stir Frys are one of the best easy dinner recipes, and this one is no exception! In fact, it’s barely a recipe, SuperHealthyKids.com outlines how to make the dish, and your teens can decide what they want to put in for their protein and veggies. Stir fry was how I got my kids to eat more veggies, and convinced one of my picky eaters to eat cauliflower!
Grilled cheese doesn’t have to be boring, and this is one of the best easy recipes for teens because of that! It will be a great recipe they can keep handy when they want to show off to their friends.
This is a forgiving recipe from marthastewart.com that will teach your teens to measure and stay by the stovetop, but it’s also simple to execute. Plus, we like the fact that you can serve it on buns with chips and a pickle, or over pasta with some bread and a side salad. We eat this a lot on Friday nights in the winter when we’re crazing a hamburger but don’t want to grill. It’s great comfort food!
Side note, while teaching your teens to cook, we found that these splatter covers were great to minimize the mess for certain recipes. Nothing is worst than having to clean grease that has erupted from a skillet or tomato sauce splattered everywhere from a sauce pot. We have them in multiple sizes for our various pans.
I wouldn’t normally put this on a dinner list, but teens are always on the go! You can’t beat a meal that guarantees fruits and vegetables and is easy to take with them. Not to brag, but I even got one of my teens to start throwing some spinach into her smoothie for a little extra greens!
This is my teen’s absolute favorite. This is a more substantial meal, but still quick and easy for teens to make. This quick recipe from TheRecipeCritic.com is perfect for squeezing in some veggies and using up that leftover rice in your refrigerator.
What is it about teenagers and ramen noodles? This is one of those dishes that your teen will love to experiment with (thanks TikTok.) You can either doctor up the .33 ramen you get at the grocery store, or make it homemade with this simple Homemade Chicken Ramen Recipe from ForkKnifeSwoon.com. Ramen is pretty forgiving, and at the price, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out.
There are so many easy recipes that your teens can make! If you are looking for more recipe inspiration for your teenagers, check out our easy Sheet Pan Dinner Recipes and Easy and Cheap Dinner Recipes that would be perfect for your teen!
This is such a simple and quick weeknight meal that your teen can cook on their own and keep warm on the stove for the rest of the family. Using a combo of fresh and packaged ingredients, your teen can make a homemade meal with confidence. Throw in a bag of salad and some rustic bread and you’ll think you’re living with a chef!
This is a great starter recipe for teens that uses frozen meatballs and a jar of sauce, but they can move up to making their own meatballs and simple tomato sauce if they so desire. It’s also a great way to introduce them to the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Can a teen EVER have too much pizza? We love this recipe from CookieAndKate.com that uses Naan bread and other fresh ingredients, but the best part of this is your teens can pick whatever they want to put on it. When it’s one of my teen’s turn to pick out dinner, she’ll text us in the group chat to see what we all want. Bacon, fresh tomato, pesto (we love the jars of Pesto you can get from Costco), onion, pepperoni, peppers….there’s no limit how you can change it up!
Keeping up with cooking–more great, easy recipes for teens
If you find your teen likes to cook, but struggles with coming up with ideas for what to eat, these cookbooks may be a great option option:
Eight great cookbook ideas with easy recipes for teens:
The Cookbook for Teens: The Easy Teen Cookbook with 74 Fun & Delicious Recipes to TryTeens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat [A Cookbook]The Super Easy Teen Baking Cookbook: 60 Simple Step-by-Step Recipes (Super Easy Teen Cookbooks)The How-To Cookbook for Teens: 100 Easy Recipes to Learn the BasicsThe Super Easy Teen Cookbook: 75 Simple Step-by-Step Recipes (Super Easy Teen Cookbooks)The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs: 70+ Teen-Tested and Teen-Approved Recipes to Cook, Eat and ShareCookbook For Teens: Teen Cookbook – The Simple and Healthy Teen Cookbook – Easy and Delicious Recipes For TeenagersThe Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook
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