Cooking with Preschoolers – Thanksgiving Edition

Having your toddlers and preschoolers help in the kitchen is not only fun and educational, it's also a great way to get them to eat dinner. When they see what goes in to the food and they have a hand in making it, they're excited and want to try it.

Thanksgiving tips for cooking with kids with our Raleigh preschoolThis is great for regular meals, but you can also get your preschooler or toddler to help you with Thanksgiving dinner preparation. It can also make Thanksgiving a lot more fun for your family (and cut down on comments from well-meaning relatives when your child only eats a roll and some fruit snacks for Thanksgiving dinner) and help you create some great memories. To help you get some ideas for how your child can help, our Raleigh preschool is sharing age appropriate ways your child can help you fix some favorite Thanksgiving dishes!

5 Foods Your Preschooler Can Help Prepare

Mashed Potatoes

Always a classic at the table, your toddler or preschooler can be a big help with this dish! Arm them with a scrub brush and a dish towel (and a step stool if they can't reach the sink) so they can wash the potatoes before peeling. Of course, you'll want to do the peeling and placing them on the stove, but once they're cooked and drained, your child can pick them back up!

Older preschoolers can measure out seasoning, milk or chicken broth, and butter to add into the potatoes, while little helpers may need someone to do that for them. However, children of all ages can stir in additives, pick up a potato masher and get to mashing! If you prefer to use a hand mixer rather than a manual masher, you may need to do some hand-over-hand guidance with your smaller helpers so they don't lose control. 

Sweet Potatoes

Why stop at just one potato dish on your table, when you could have sweet potatoes, too? Your sweet potato casserole can come together with the help of your little ones, similarly to how your mashed potatoes did. First, they can clean off the sweet potatoes for you, then, they can measure and add in cream or milk, butter, and seasoning, and mash them. 

If you're adding a topping, even the littlest helpers can sprinkle a streusel topping or marshmallows and pecans. However, you may want to keep an eye on how many marshmallows end up making it to the dish versus getting eaten by your helper.


If you're making stuffing from scratch, get little hands to work tearing bread in to pieces while older kids can measure your seasoning, broth, and stir the mixture together. measuring seasoning and broth, and stirring the mixture together. Just like the potatoes, your kids can also help you wash any vegetables you're adding, like celery. 

Green Bean Casserole

Again, your little chef can be a big help just rinsing produce, so they can definitely wash the green beans. Also, using clean safety scissors, preschoolers can trim the ends off the beans and snap them in half to get them ready, while younger helpers can help by mixing the sauce and pouring it over the beans, then sprinkling the french-fried onions on top! Again, like the marshmallows, you may want to keep an eye on how many make it on top of the baking dish!

Rolls or Biscuits

If you're making biscuits or rolls from scratch, you may need to measure out the ingredients, or give an older preschooler some help, but after that, let them mix the dough together. For biscuits, kneading is minimal, and they can even roll out the dough and use a plastic cup as a biscuit cutter. 

Made from scratch rolls may be a bit more difficult for small children, after the ingredients are combined, but they may enjoy kneading and watching the bread dough rise. 

Other Ways Your Child can Help with Thanksgiving

If you have too much going on in the kitchen to turn it into a learning process for your child, we understand. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways a toddler or preschooler can help with Thanksgiving. Toddlers and preschoolers can:

  • Collect leaves, acorns, and pine cones to create seasonal centerpieces and decorations for the table.
  • Create and decorate place mats or place cards using construction paper. 
  • Set the table with silverware, plates, and napkins - they may need a bit of guidance. 
  • Cleaning up during the cooking process - they can wipe down counters and carry stuff to the sink as you finish using it. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Raleigh Preschool!

We know preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be a challenging task, especially with small children, but having them help can turn a stressful day into a memorable occasion! No matter what, we want to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving from our Raleigh preschool!

To schedule a tour with our Raleigh preschool, call us today at 919-790-6888 for our Spring Forest Road location and 919-785-0303 for our North Hills Drive Center.