Essential Cooking & Baking Skills Your Teen Should Learn

Essential Cooking & Baking Skills Your Teen Should Learn

Whether your kid is bound for college, taking a gap year, or going straight into the workforce after graduation, the fact remains that he or she has gotta eat. And your kids will not know how to feed themselves in an instant, and it won’t always be so easy to do a drive-thru or order food delivery the moment they move to their new place.

That’s why it’s essential to teach them to cook before they move to a place without Mom and Dad. Learning to cook not only provides a need, but it’s also an excellent way to avoid the freshman 15. Most importantly, home-cooked meals are more affordable for a college student.

Your kids might complain now when you teach them how to cook, but they will surely thank you later.

Here are the primary cooking and baking skills that your kids or teens can learn before they graduate.

Grocery shopping

Teens are perfectly capable of shopping, but when it comes to doing groceries, they should know how to come up with a healthy meal plan and budget, so they don’t come home with too much or too little food.

Basic knife skills

You may be scared to let your kids use knives, even if they’re already teens. However, it’s still better to let them handle it under adult supervision than have them learn it the hard way. They should learn each knife’s purpose and basic cutting techniques.

Safety & first aid

The USDA provides training materials for all everyone, including children and teens. Make sure they also know knife and general kitchen safety, as well as first aid for cuts and burns.

Using kitchen appliances

Your kids don’t need to know how to use all of the kitchen appliances but consider what they will find useful, especially when they’re busy with college or work. Instant pots and slow cookers are going to be life-savers.

Measuring & weighing

Teach them how to accurately measure ingredients, like the sprinkle and scrape method for baking, how liquid and dry measuring cups differ, and how to weigh ingredients when needed.

Reading & following instructions

Your kids need to learn how to read the recipe carefully, even twice, if necessary, and to answer all their questions before you start cooking.

Cooking mise en place

Cooking mise en place

Mise en place is a French term meaning “set up.” Cooking mise en place means having everything set up and prepped before you begin cooking. It’s the best practice for everyone who cooks, especially for teens who are still learning.

Making a salad

Salad may sound like a no-brainer, but knowing how to make a great salad means they might do it.

Making soup

Soups are healthy and filling and generally easy to make. Your kid can start by making a broth-based soup, a cream-based soup, and a cheesy soup.

Cooking casseroles & one-pot meals

Casseroles and one-pot meals are relatively easy to make. If they learn three or four basic recipes, they can master any other recipe they could find. Start with a classic casserole, a lasagna, and a dump casserole or chili.

Cooking meats

If your teen isn’t a vegan or vegetarian, they’ll probably want to make a meaty recipe now and then. They should learn how to cook up a pound of ground beef, and how to make hamburgers, meatloaf, sausage, bacon, and other budget recipes. Roasting, grilling, braising, and pan-frying are also essential to learn.

Cooking vegetables

All vegetables are roasted in the same way, but your teens should also know how to blanch, sauté, and boil. They should know when a vegetable is “fork tender.”

Other sides

Your kids may also want the occasional mac and cheese or mashed potatoes, or other home-cooked faves.

Cooking eggs

Your teens should know the different ways to cook eggs, like boiling, poaching, frying, and scramble. They should also learn how to make an omelet.

Cooking pasta & grains

If your teen wants to learn how to make pasta from scratch, grab the opportunity! Teach them how to cook dry pasta, rice, and other grains like quinoa.

Dressings & sauces

You can get dressings and sauces from the grocery, but homemade is a lot tastier and healthier. It also teaches fundamental cooking skills like making an emulsion, making a roux, and deglazing a pan.

They should know how to make dressing such as vinaigrette, a creamy dressing, and a Caesar.

Sauce-wise, they should learn to make pan gravies or cream gravies, and Hollandaise sauce. For pasta sauces, they can start with the classics: – tomato sauce, meat sauce, pesto sauce, garlic, and olive oil sauce, and cream sauce.

Basic baking

Basic baking

If your teen loves pastries, they should know how to make some simple treats. They may want to learn how to bake their favorites, but the most common recipes for beginners are cookies, brownies, and simple frosted cakes.


Kids should learn how to make basic drinks, like tea, fresh-squeezed juices, coffee, and punch.


When preparing a meal, you must know when to start various components, so they all finish around the same time.

Storage & freezing

Knowing how to store leftovers properly and how to freeze big batch meals like lasagna is essential for anyone who is moving out of the nest, especially if they’ll be living alone.

Cleaning the kitchen

If your teens don’t learn how to clean, their kitchen will eventually get so filthy they’re afraid to touch it, let alone cook in it. They must practice cleaning as you go and disinfecting areas and dishes that came into contact with raw meat. They must also know what can and can’t go in the dishwasher, and how to properly and safely clean any appliances they’ll have at their new place.

Failure is a way of learning

Failure is a way of learning

One essential thing your teen can learn about cooking and life, in general, is that failure is a learning experience. Many people get discouraged about cooking because they fail once and think they’re bad at it, which may be true, at least for now. And that’s perfectly all right. Your teen should realize that instead of letting their fear of failure stop them, they should figure out what they did wrong and try again because it’s all part of the learning process.

Learning how to cook is an essential survival skill that your teenagers need, especially when they leave home and live on their own.

To ensure they learn all the necessary cooking and baking skills they need, enroll them at Junior Chef San Diego’s cooking classes. You may reach us at (858) 888-5071 or to find out more about our cooking classes.

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