How to get your kids involved in cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with kids grocery shopping
Photo credit: filadendron/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is all about slowing down, reflecting on all the things in your life that you’re grateful for and spending some quality time with the people you love the most. And eating lots and lots of turkey, of course. So why not give yourself another reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving by recruiting extra hands in the kitchen?

Not only will whipping up your traditional feast go faster with some help, but it’s also a chance to bond with your kiddos over the holiday and teach them some healthy habits at the same time.

Convinced yet? We thought so! Here are some of our top tips for getting your kids involved in cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

1. Let them have a say in the menu

Picky kids can be hard to deal with, sure. But when you let your kiddos help you select your Thanksgiving menu by swapping out the foods they don’t like with ones they do, they’re more likely to want to help you prepare it.

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Plus, you don’t have to fight with them at the dinner table in front of the extended family, so it’s a win-win. Spice up those Brussels sprouts with a bit of maple bacon, or camouflage your cauliflower in balsamic Parmesan goodness.

Cooking Thanksgiving with kids
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2. Bring them grocery shopping

OK, we get it: Bringing your little ones to the grocery store doesn’t exactly sound like a great adventure. However, taking them along with you as you select the ingredients for your Thanksgiving meal allows them to get extra invested in the process.

Let them pick out some of the more basic ingredients themselves, like the veggies for your mashed potatoes or green bean casserole.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with kids grocery shopping
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3. Encourage them to get their hands dirty in the kitchen

Instead of just letting your kiddos watch you prepare Thanksgiving dinner, encourage them to help you in preparing some of the simpler dishes. Let them help you combine and whisk together the ingredients in your all-American stuffing, for example.

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You can even let them get their hands dirty rubbing your turkey with some fresh herbs — after all, kids love to get messy (and don’t you know it).

Cooking Thanksgiving with kids
Photo credit: kerkezz/Getty Images

4. Make it a learning experience

Bringing your kids into the kitchen to help you prepare dinner is the best time to introduce them to new foods. By being exposed to new dishes and ingredients in the kitchen, they’re more likely to be curious about them (rather than just turning their nose up at them in disgust at the dinner table).

Introduce them to a cheese that’s not American cheddar with these cranberry pecan brie crostinis with a maple sugar glaze from Chef in Training. If you feel like you’ll have more success with something simple, we recommend this easy pumpkin hummus from A Couple Cooks.

Cooking Thanksgiving with kids
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5. Get a little creative!

Let’s face it, kids like things that look fun. Add a face to just about anything, like these healthy but adorable backyard bug snacks by The Crafting Chicks, and you can usually even get the pickiest of little ones to give it a try.

So, get creative with your Thanksgiving menu with dishes that’ll have your kids wanting to sneak bites in the kitchen. Try these unique no-bake whipped pumpkin pies, adorable turkey cupcakes or super-clever pilgrim hat cookies from Barns and Noodles.

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Spending quality time with your kids in the kitchen doesn’t have to be limited to Thanksgiving, but this special holiday is certainly a great time to get them involved.

They’ll feel proud to have helped you prepare such a wonderful meal for the whole family, and you’ll have just one more thing to say you’re thankful for as you go around the table this year.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with kids grocery shopping
Photo credit: filadendron/Getty Images