Gifts for Tiny Foodies

by Lindsey Hunter Lopez
Dec 8, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Gifts for Tiny Foodies
Image: HelloFresh, Le Creuset, Amazon/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

There's no particular logic behind it: Some kids are just really into food. I’ve got two such children myself, and there’s nothing they love more than pretending to whip up meals in their play kitchen. They're also often found helping their dad in the real kitchen or making “soup” in the sandbox. I'm assuming all this cooking and pseudo-cooking is great for their imaginations — plus it's got to come in handy when I finally train them to make actual meals, right? Until then, I plan to cater to their little chefs' hearts desires to keep that cookery enthusiasm up.

Forget the old standby plastic play food sets this holiday season; we’ve rounded up the cream of the crop when it comes to culinary gifts for kids. From actual baking with the classic Easy-Bake Oven to navigating kung pao chicken with training chopsticks, tiny foodies of all kinds are sure to love these delectable gifts. So satisfy your mini-Batali's cooking craving this season with our top-shelf gift picks for tot chefs. Bon appétit.

1 /15: Color-Me-In apron set

1/15 :Color-Me-In apron set

Food-delivery company Hello Fresh also makes cooking sets just for kids as well as this handy DIY apron set. The color-me-in apron comes with permanent fabric markers so little chefs can doodle away or color in the preprinted designs. The apron is 100 percent heavy-duty cotton and has an adjustable D-ring neck to adjust to any child. It’s machine washable and features pockets perfect for utensils and tools. 

Color-Me-In apron set, $19.95 at Hello Fresh

2 /15: Little Le Creuset

2/15 :Little Le Creuset

The ultimate cookware — Le Creuset — now comes in kiddie size. Available in four colors (classic vibrant blue, green, orange or red), these little Dutch ovens are made of polyresin, so they aren’t as heavy as their full-size counterparts. They're perfect for little hands to cook up some pretend stew, soup or braised meat.

Le Creuset resin Dutch oven, $16 at Pottery Barn Kids

3 /15: Baking essentials

3/15 :Baking essentials

Older kids will love this “professional” baking set from American Girl and Williams-Sonoma. You’ve got all the basics here: rolling pin, spatula, whisk, melamine mixing bowl and measuring cups and spoons. Add the American Girl baking cookbook for the total package and wait for the sweet treats to start rolling in.

American Girl baking essentials set, $59.95 at American Girl

4 /15: Farm garden

4/15 :Farm garden

For the ultimate kid foodies who are looking to make their own farm-to-table dishes. Let them grow their own veggies — no yard necessary — with this unique garden lab. Kids ages 4 and up can watch their plants growing through the viewing window and gain a new appreciation for where food comes from. As a bonus, health and life science company Bayer will donate a STEM toy to Toys for Tots when you purchase this toy (or a range of others) from Hearthsong. 

Rootvue Farm garden laboratory kit, $34.98 at Hearthsong

5 /15: 'Pretend Soup' cookbook

5/15 :'Pretend Soup' cookbook

Mollie Katzen’s vegetarian cookbook is a perfect introduction to recipe following for little ones ages 4 to 8. Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes features 20 fun, easy dishes, including chewy energy circles, polka-dot rice and counting soup. 

Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes, $12.59 at Target

6 /15: Future foodie kitchen

6/15 :Future foodie kitchen

he future foodie kitchen is a cool play set that will blend right in with adult decor. Adults will love the mid-century modern look, while kids will enjoy the spacious cupboards and realistic sink. Sliding cabinets and metal hooks add to the kitchen experience. Add a fridge and stove (sold separately) to complete your kitchen set.

Future foodie play kitchen sink, $129 at The Land of Nod

7 /15: Grocery tent

7/15 :Grocery tent

The perfect addition to your littles' land of pretend, this tent functions as a quaint grocery shop. Small shoppers can browse and barter or "buy," and mini shopkeepers can hawk their produce. The tent is 43 inches tall and features an awning, roll-up door and windows. This little play space makes a great gift for toddlers.

Grocery shop play tent, $89.99 at Haba

8 /15: Learning chopsticks

8/15 :Learning chopsticks

These animal-themed learning chopsticks help kids get a grip on dinner. Available in five colors, each featuring a different animal, the Marcus & Marcus chopsticks are made from food-grade silicone. They’re BPA-free, phthalate-free and PVC-free, so you can rest assured kids won’t be ingesting anything unsavory. Bonus: These make a great stocking stuffer.

Marcus & Marcus learning chopsticks, $9.99 at Amazon

9 /15: Chef's kit

9/15 :Chef's kit

Bestow this bright yellow apron upon your tiny chef, and they'll be mixing and stirring in no time. The included kitchen tools are totally dishwasher safe, BPA free and heat-safe up to 450 degrees F. They’re also designed especially for little hands, with grips and ergonomic handles. Everything comes packaged in a gift box, all ready for giving to kiddos ages 4 and up. 

11-piece chef’s kit bundle, $24.99 at Curious Chef


10 /15: Easy-Bake Oven

10/15 :Easy-Bake Oven

The classic baking toy, Easy-Bake Oven has a lock on the mini-baker market. Kids ages 8 and up can mix up batter and then pop it in the spangled gadget to bake their own treats. The oven is electric, so no light bulbs are needed, but supervision is still required. This set includes the oven, pan, tool, brownie mix, sprinkles and frosting mix. Additional mixes are sold separately. 

Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven Baking Star Edition, $39.99 at Toys R Us

11 /15: Play picnic basket

11/15 :Play picnic basket

How sweet is this picnic basket? Little ones ages 3 and up can take their tasty treats outdoors — or set up a meal inside. Among the 18 pieces are four cups, four plates, four spoons, four forks, a tablecloth and a fabric-lined wicker picnic basket. 

Alex Toys picnic basket, $43.99 at Alex Brands

12 /15: Play mixer

12/15 :Play mixer

A great addition to any play kitchen, this mixer from Learning Resources is ready to get cranking. The set includes a mixer complete with spinning beater, plastic eggs, butter and measuring cup. A perfect preschool pick, it's best for ages 2 and up.

New Sprouts Mix It!, $19.99 at Learning Resources

13 /15: Surprise animal cups

13/15 :Surprise animal cups

Enjoying a favorite beverage comes with a clever bonus when kids use these cups — yep, there’s an animal inside. As kids drink, a critter starts to emerge from the milk or juice or what have you. These cuppies are free of BPA, phthalates and PVC, and they’re even biodegradable. The 8-ounce-capacity cups also have practical handles that are great for the smallest kids and helpful for transitioning from a sippy cup. They're available in green, red, orange or blue.

Cuppies, $7.49 at JJ Rabbit

14 /15: Smart market

14/15 :Smart market

Great for building preschool skills that lead to life skills, this play set uses a kid's obsession with grocery shopping (what — is it just my kids?) to teach math as well as reading and writing. There are so many realistic accessories included with this toy: coupons, cans, boxes, price tags, a shopping list, a shopping basket and play money. Little ones ages 3 and up will be so excited to use “real” items, they won’t even realize they’re learning. 

Smart market, $29.99 at Learning Resources

15 /15: Tot tower

15/15 :Tot tower

There may in fact be no better gift for kids who love to cook than a kitchen tower. Little ones can climb inside and be at counter level, ready to help stir, roll or mix with you. The True Tot Tower is a stable wood structure designed to safely assist your child in the kitchen. Plus, it folds up for easy storage, making it a kitchen addition that doesn’t have to affect your permanent decor or setup. The tower is available in raw wood (ready for painting) or varnished.

True Tot Tower, $179 at True Growth