Photo by Julia M Cameron

Teaching kids summer cooking is one of the best ways to make their time off school memorable.

Summer is best known for easy dishes, outdoor cooking, and a relaxed atmosphere. Teaching kids summer cooking often requires adult supervision, some safety training, and a lot of creativity. When we think of summer, we think of outdoor grilling and getting out of the kitchen. The first experience for kids with grilling is for an adult to supervise starting a grill that is heated with charcoal, gas, or propane. Safety first. Teaching kids summer cooking also means they learn how to handle barbecue tongs, “pancake” turner, cleaning brushes, and sauce brushes. It is important they be supervised so they don’t get burned with the grill’s heat. 

The first item for teaching kids summertime cooking is learning to grill simple items like hot dogs. Who doesn’t like a hot charred hot dog from the grill? Burgers, chicken, and ribs are generally prepped before grilling and take longer to cook, but kids also learn to be patiently waiting for the food. Here are some tips for both adults and kids: 

  1. Store-bought burgers can be taken out of the package and put on the grill with some salt and pepper. Looking to mix your own creative burger? Teaching kids summer cooking starts in the kitchen. Adding a ton of flavor to burgers is as easy as sprinkling on packaged ranch dressing or teriyaki sauce (or both) to hamburger in a bowl and then mixing and forming patties to grill. Make sure the patties are solid and do not break when turning.
  2. Ribs should be baked or boiled for about 2.5 hours to remove additional fat before grilling and adding the sauce. Ribs will be tender, and the newbie chef can learn to “mop” on the sauce and watch that the meat does not become too burned.  However, a burnt edge is a great bite. The secret to great ribs is for the sauce to coat the ribs but not too much char.
  3. Chicken parts take different amounts of time to cook. A wing will cook quicker than the breast. Raw chicken spells summer sickness – who needs that? I recommend microwaving raw chicken on a Pyrex plate for five or six minutes before grilling. The chicken begins to cook and will not require such a long time on the grill.  Chicken will burn quickly on a hot grill. Barbecue sauces also tend to stick better to chicken that is pre-cooked.  

The number of different barbecue sauces available will boggle the mind. The grocery store is overloaded with different flavor combinations and different heat combinations. It is all a family preference, and there is no right or wrong with sauces, pick your favorite and use it!

Teaching kids summertime cooking also can include making pasta salads that have no real recipe other than cooked rotini pasta and a bottle of Italian salad dressing. Add whatever condiments you like, such as Genoa salami or pepperoni, diced red onions, chopped olives, celery, diced green or red peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber. They will learn to dice and chop vegetables. Want to be different? Add grilled vegetables to your pasta salad.

Teaching kids summertime cooking also includes desserts. Making frozen ice cream sandwiches is as easy as a package of large store-bought cookies and ice cream. This is the easiest way, but you can also make your favorite cookie recipe. Make fresh fruit salads and add mint or basil, teaching the young chefs about flavoring foods with herbs.

Don’t waste the summer without enjoying the outdoors and especially eating and teaching kids summertime cooking as a family endeavor.

You can find easy summertime recipes in my cookbook, Generations of Good Food. This book contains 200 of my family’s favorite recipes, from main dishes, breads, cakes, cookies, pies, and candy. Pick up a copy on Amazon and begin teaching kids summertime cooking.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Skip to content