Our favorite 20+ kitchen tools for kids cooking, practical skill development, and play! | from barley & birch
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All, Discover, Eat

Discover: Our Favorite Kitchen Tools for Kids Cooking and Play

Back in my own early baking days, I remember honest-to-goodness “real-life” kitchen tools being an exciting part of my daily play and practical kitchen skill learning experiences. At school and at home I had tons of opportunities to put genuine cooking supplies to work in both useful and imaginative ways. As a Montessori kid, kitchen utensils like pitchers, wooden spoons, and trays became familiar and favorite staples of my educational experience (celebrity name-drop alert: did you know Julia Child was a Montessori student?). I found a favorite ritual in the pouring station that was part of our morning rotation, and still feel a sense of calm satisfaction hearing cold water cascade into an ice-filled drinking glass.

Those early experiences made such an impact that kitchen utensils are among some of my very favorite items to use with kids for play AND actual cooking. This “top 20” list features many classics that I used growing up, with a handful of newer options I’ve found equally indispensable.

Visit Part 2 of our kids kitchen learning series for 18 hands-on activities to help your kids develop practical kitchen skills and put these tools to use!

Our Top 20 Kitchen Tools for Kids

I’m sure you’ll have most of these things already and I encourage just using what you have, but I’ve also provided a product link for each tool with my go-to brand recommendation in case you’re looking for examples or gifting a DIY cooking kit (you can see the quick-list here)

A collection of our very favorite kitchen learning tools for kids | via barley & birch
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Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

  • A CUTTING WEDGE – This wooden cutting tool doesn’t actually have a blade, making it a great choice for kids who aren’t quite ready for real knives yet. Wonderful for working with doughs.
  • A TRAY – Trays are honestly a godsend for messy young makers and bakers. They’re wonderful for transport, setting up stations and catching spills, and so useful to have in a variety of sizes – from massive to mini!
  • A MINI SCOOP – A fun way to work with dry ingredients that don’t require exact measurements (and scoops are often easier to use than large spoons).
  • CONDIMENT BOWLS – Perfect for using as snack bowls, with fruit cutting, or for pre-measured ingredients (just like a cooking show!) and a great size for toddlers to play with.
  • A VISUAL TIMER – These visual-style kitchen timers are INGENIOUS! So handy for kids still working on time and clock concepts, these actually *show* the time ticking down with color.
  • A LETTUCE KNIFE – One step up from a cutting wedge, a lettuce knife will cut through quite a few produce items without the sharpness of a regular knife blade.
  • A CARROT PEELER – Preparing fresh vegetables is a good place for kids to start with serious kitchen tools, and a carrot peeler helps to teach this necessary step in prep with minimal safety concerns.
  • MEASURING CUPS– Hello math skills! I don’t think I would have learned fractions at all had it not been for the measuring necessary to bake box cake mixes!
  • A COLANDER – A small colander is another useful tool for teaching food prep and safety basics. A smaller-than-average size works well for little ones – especially when rinsing berries for snacks!
  • A SMALL PITCHER – Pitchers were an absolute cornerstone of our “kitchen work” at Montessori school. Plastic, glass, measuring ticks, or plain – any kind (as long as it’s a manageable size) makes an excellent tool for practical kitchen skill learning.
  • TONGS – Give those fine motor skills a workout! Although you can use any kind, I like to have a set of big “adult” salad tongs and some smaller ice tongs on hand.
  • A WHISK -I don’t care how old you are, whisks are pure fun, aren’t they? This is another kitchen item that can be beneficial in a variety of sizes.
  • COOKIE CUTTERS – As a kid, I had a vintage stainless steel miniature set we used to make tiny cookies for tea parties, and its such a fond memory! Many now (like the ones I’ve linked to here) have silicone covers that make pressing easier on little hands. And wow – talk about a sandwich upgrade!
  • A NON-SLIP CUTTING BOARD – The essential note here is “non-slip”. Both kids and parents are going to be more nervous about knife lessons if the cutting board is skidding across the surface like a hockey puck.
  • OVEN MITTS – Though I don’t recommend little ones grabbing things from a 425-degree oven on their own, kid-sized oven mitts are better for handling cooling pans or muffin tins than potholders, and a sensible way to incorporate food safety lessons.
  • A MIXING BOWL – A variety of sizes is nice to have, but I think the most important thing is that they have just enough weight that they’re not waffling around the countertop, yet still aren’t too heavy for kids to move around easily. Your standard stainless steel bowls have always worked well at my house.
  • A FUNNEL – Funnels are kind of an unsung hero of the kitchen if you ask me. I absolutely love them for liquid transfer practice and the new silcone kinds provide a lot of size flexibility.
  • SQUEEZE BOTTLES – Now that we don’t have to go looking around restaurant supply stores for these, I think they make so much sense when working with kids, They provide an easy way to take the mess and frustration out of a number of tasks.
  • AN APRON – Spare those clothes! It might just be my own preference, but I think pockets are a necessity for every apron – even (especially?) for kids!

Additional Kitchen Utensils & Supplies to Consider:

Social media and educational sites are chock full of ideas for setting up a space where your kids can put their kitchen tools to use. I tend to like the traditional Montessori approach – keep it simple, functional, and at their eye-level. If you’ve gathered quite a few cooking utensils up and are wondering what to do next, this collection of children’s kitchen areas from How We Montessori is wonderful inspiration. From a cupboard in your own kitchen to a dedicated shelving space & mini chairs and tables, there are tons of helpful, manageable ideas!

Kitchen Safety and Teaching Kids Proper Cooking Tool Use

It should go without saying that when working in the kitchen, especially when making food and using sharper kitchen utensils, an adult should be around for observation, supervision and question-answering. You may want to quickly survey the areas they’ll be working in and do a quick sweep to ensure kid-friendliness (put away sharp kitchen tools or appliances, clean surfaces, etc.).

When it comes to kid kitchen safety instruction, I made a quick visual you can reference that has our own “house rules” for kitchen safety. I liked it enough that I thought I’d share it with you as a printable, and just in case things run differently over at your house (no judgment – mine are pretty chill!) I’ve made a free printable template set you can download and personalize. Afterall, clean up and kitchen safety are cornerstones of practical skill development.

Our kids kitchen safety rules (with printable templates) | via barley & birch
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*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

A collection of our very favorite kitchen learning tools for kids | via barley & birch
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