The 10 Best Kids’ Cooking Shows for Budding Chefs
Do you have an eager sous chef at home who loves nothing more than to cover your kitchen in flour? Or perhaps it’s just the opposite and your kid is a picky eater who could use an introduction to some new ingredients. Or maybe you’re just looking for a family-friendly show that won’t drive you up the wall. Whatever the case, cooking shows might be just the thing that’s missing from your youngster’s screen time rotation. Just make sure that the programming is age-appropriate (as in, not riddled with f-bombs and adults behaving badly) before you press play. From The Great British Baking Show to Zumbo’s Just Desserts, these kids’ cooking shows promise to keep young audiences entertained without making parents cringe.
1. ‘The Great British Baking Show’
In contrast to the typical reality-style cooking contest—often dominated by a dog-eat-dog mentality and a cast of foul-mouthed characters with big personalities—The Great British Baking Show is like a breath of fresh air. Civilized and sweet, this show is basically a crash course in good sportsmanship (i.e., just what you’d expect from a baking competition that hails from across the pond). Don’t expect a snoozefest though: Both the contestants and the hosts, while consistently kind and supportive, boast plenty of charm and wit to keep viewers of all ages entertained from start to finish. Best of all, there are eight seasons of this feel-good cooking show—and that’s enough squeaky clean content to satisfy your kid for quite a while.
2. ‘Zumbo’s Just Desserts’
This baking competition has all the goodness and decency of The Great British Baking Show, with an added element of whimsy that makes the content even more kid-friendly. Contestants go head-to-head, trying to recreate some of famed patissier Adriano Zumbo’s most fantastical treats—creations that look like they’re better-suited for a museum than a dessert menu. The show isn’t all about imitating genius, though, as contenders are also given an opportunity to showcase their own creativity with original sweets as well. Kids will benefit from watching as contestants take constructive criticism in stride and pursue their dreams with dignity. Plus, the hard work of the participants produces what can best be described as the stuff of fairytale magic.
3. ‘Good Eats’
Kids with an interest in cooking and the science behind it can geek out with Alton Brown’s long-running (16 seasons and counting) culinary show—a crowd-pleaser that’s equal parts educational and playful. With engaging demonstrations, down-to-earth explanations and a generous dose of wholesome humor, Brown is able to make even the more complicated aspects of food science approachable to young viewers. Brown’s upbeat energy will inspire a love of cooking, while keeping kids of all ages laughing as they learn. Bottom line: Good Eats has stuck around for so long for a reason—namely that it’s a good watch.
4. ‘MasterChef Junior’
Gordon Ramsay isn’t exactly known for kid-friendly content. In fact, Ramsay is almost as famous for having the mouth of a sailor as he is for his success as an award-winning chef. That said, the man has five kids so it’s not entirely surprising that he has a softer, more paternal side—a quality that is (thankfully) on display in MasterChef Junior, a cooking competition for tweens. Young contestants (ages 8 to 13) show off their considerable cooking chops in the hopes of being the last one standing. There is no objectionable content here and the judges, Ramsay included, are generous with praise and gentle when dispensing criticism. (Think, mentor rather than ruthless dream-crusher.) That said, there’s plenty of intensity and sometimes tears are spilled, so this one might not be the best option for the very youngest or most sensitive viewers.
5. ‘The Big Family Cooking Showdown’
This British cooking contest, which consists of several families from different backgrounds competing as teams against one another, is thrilling and fun plus packed with positive messages to boot. The content comes across as a celebration of cultural diversity and the importance of family—values that kids will benefit from seeing reflected in the ethos of the show—and the competition itself is good-natured and appropriate for all ages. Overall, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is feel-good entertainment with just enough nail-biting intensity to keep the whole family engaged.
6. ‘Chef’s Table’
This thoughtful and inspiring documentary series gives viewers a rare glimpse into the artistic talent, passion and cultural background of the world’s most gifted culinary professionals. Viewers have the opportunity to travel the world, meeting a different chef with every episode, while listening to the personal stories that led to their success. Kids of all ages will benefit from the exposure to cultures this show provides as well as the empowering examples of perseverance and accomplishment that each chef embodies. Still, parents should know that Chef’s Table has a more subdued vibe that may not capture the attention of younger kids, which is probably for the best since profanity, drinking and smoking appear to varying degrees in most of the episodes. Stream this one for older kids, only.
7. ‘Nailed It!’
Uproariously funny and endlessly entertaining, this cooking competition features the successes and failures of home cooks as they attempt to recreate professional desserts. Okay, to be honest, the contestants really never “nail it.” Comedy, rather than cooking, is the main idea behind this show, so don’t expect any inspiring moments of personal triumph or serious culinary education. (In other words, this one is like Zumbo’s Just Desserts, but without the skills.) That said, the content is completely kid-friendly and guaranteed to get a laugh from viewers of all ages. Plus, the contestants have no trouble seeing the humor in their own epic failures, so there’s nothing mean about this joke. Bonus: This one offers up four full seasons’ worth of flubs to snicker at.
8. ‘Kids Baking Championship’
All four seasons of this baking contest feature a group of talented tweens who compete in kitchen challenges that put their creativity and considerable skills to the test. As the name suggests, baking is the focus—but the real draw of Kids Baking Championship is the uplifting content and the positive role models it presents. The young contestants all stand out for their good manners and positive attitude—in fact, they’re all so likable it's hard to see them go—and the judges are encouraging and caring. The end result is an engaging show that provides even the youngest viewers with the valuable opportunity to watch peers handle pressure with poise and pursue their dreams with determination.
9. ‘Chopped Junior’
Kids compete for cash in this spin-off of the popular cooking competition Chopped and must tackle the challenge of whipping up a restaurant-worthy meal using mystery ingredients. The talent here might be too young to drive, but they can certainly cook, so the contest is just as exciting to watch unfold as the grown-up version. Chopped Junior serves up nine full seasons of squeaky-clean entertainment, which features plenty of positive interactions between the contestants and judges alike. Fun to watch and refreshingly free from snark, this is family-friendly programming that promises to inspire any young foodie.
10. ‘I Draw, You Cook’
Charming, funny and irresistibly cute, viewers of all ages will get a kick out of I Draw, You Cook—a show in which professional chef Alexis competes against guest chefs to bring to life fantasy food creations drawn and described by little kids. Needless to say, the kids on the show have some pretty wild ideas for dishes and the ending is always comedic, since said kids double as merciless judges of the professionally prepared food they’re presented. The humor is age-appropriate, the content is playful and Alexis, the chef-host, is engaging to watch both in the kitchen and in her interactions with the little ones calling the shots.