Seven Cookbooks to Inspire Kid & Teen Chefs

With countless cooking shows featuring kids and teens, there can never be enough baked cookies, avocado toast, and Disney Princess–inspired chicken tenders. Both beginner cooks and experienced bakers will find something to devour among these seven recent cookbooks.

With countless cooking shows featuring kids and teens, there can never be enough baked cookies, avocado toast, and Disney Princess–inspired chicken tenders. We’ve rounded up a heaping serving of recent cookbooks that will inspire the young chefs at your library. Both beginner cooks and experienced bakers will find something to devour among these selections.

American Girl Sweet & Savory Treats Cookbook: Delicious Recipes Inspired by Your Favorite Characters. 144p. Weldon Owen. Nov. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781681887753.
Gr 3-6 –A kid-friendly collection of dishes inspired by 17 American Girl historical characters. Organized into four sections, this pleasantly designed American Girl franchise cookbook includes 50+ sweet and savory recipes, like Frozen Yogurt Berry Bites and Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream Sauce. Interspersed among the recipes are profiles of the featured American Girl characters (Addy Walker, Molly McIntire, and Luciana Vega, for example) that provide backstory and food-related trivia. Most, but not all, recipes will snare the eyes and bellies of young cooks with a color photograph of the delicious-looking finished dish. Each character’s profile of their kitchen and popular foods of their time period adds an informative cultural context. The inclusion of American Girl characters of different religious and ethnic backgrounds is a strong point. Some of the recipes evoke their strong cultural ties, such as Rebecca Ruben’s Potato Latkes and Josefina Montoya’s Mexican Wedding Cookies. Ranging in difficulty, the recipes do not indicate length of prep and cooking/baking time, so careful reading of instructions is a must. VERDICT American Girl enthusiasts will eagerly snatch this up. Recommended for libraries with youth cookbook collections.

American Girl Tea Parties: Delicious Sweets & Savory Treats to Share. 128p. Weldon Owen. Sept. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781681887593.
Gr 4-7 –An attractively designed cookbook from the American Girl brand geared toward young readers ready to elevate their tea party celebrations. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something to enjoy in one of the six cookbook sections: Teatime Classics, Cakes & Cupcakes, Fruity Desserts, Savory Snacks, Drinks, and Basics. The recipes range in complexity from the straightforward Ham & Cheese Tea Sandwiches to the more laborious Summer Fruit Buttermilk Tart. The majority of recipes are paired with a close-up photograph of the finished dish; more complex recipes like Dim Sum Mango Pancakes and Potato & Pea Samosas would have benefited from step-by-step pictures to illustrate assembly. Most entries suggest American or Eurocentric influence, but there is a handful of dishes from Japan, India, China, and Taiwan. Recipes requiring adult assistance possess a helpful illustration of a hand with a star. The girls in the photographs who are cooking and participating in the tea parties, appear to be white, Black, and Asian. VERDICT The overall niche tea party focus of the cookbook may turn away some readers. Purchase where other American Girl branded and themed cookbooks are popular.

The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs: 70+ Teen-Tested and Teen-Approved Recipes to Cook, Eat and Share. 208p. America’s Test Kitchen. Mar. 2022. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781948703956.
Gr 8 Up –A well-designed, visually appealing instructional cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen for teens, geared toward beginner and experienced cooks. The 70+ included recipes are grouped together by meal type and range in difficulty. In addition to ingredients and cooking steps, each easy-to-follow recipe layout contains useful content like a “Before You Begin” tip, specific skill “how to”’ information, and dish variations. All recipes ­contain a finished dish photograph, with those requiring assembly or shaping (Shakshuka, for example) possessing additional ­step-by-step photo instructions. Overall, this diverse set of recipes representing most regions of the world will appeal to varied palates and skill levels as teens work their way from basics like Kheer and Hearty Avocado Toast to the trickier Onigiri and Whoopie Pies. Interspersed photos depict teens of different ethnic backgrounds, adding to the overall accessibility of this cookbook. The only special dietary indicator included is vegetarian. ­ VERDICT Recommended for all libraries.

Coombs, Esther. Kids Can Bake: Recipes for Budding Bakers. 64p. Button. Oct. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781787081093.
Gr 4-7 –Enthusiastic young bakers will enjoy putting their skills to the test as they tackle the snacks and treats within this short, instructive cookbook. It highlights traditional British tastes with some minor European influence. Thirty distinct recipes ranging in complexity are organized in sections by type of baked good. Many require a strong degree of attention and precision. Occasional inclusion of recipe variations allows bakers to customize basic recipes like cookies and muffins. Hand-drawn illustrations with pictures of needed ingredients, recipe steps, and the final dish are featured on the recipe pages. Steps like kneading, rolling, and mixing depict illustrated hands of different skin tones. Cookbook users who prefer photographs may be underwhelmed by this design choice, which lessens the appeal of certain dishes. Preceding the recipes is a short set of informative content that includes kitchen safety tips, common equipment, and explanations of basic techniques like folding in ingredients and lining a cake pan. VERDICT Purchase for collections in need of baking-themed cookbooks for tweens.

The Disney Princess Cookbook. 144p. ­Disney. Sept. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368060738.
Gr 1-3 –Disney enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in this magical collection of ­Disney Princess--inspired dishes. Organized by mealtime, the included 50 recipes and their ­accompanying full-page color photographs will appeal to even the pickiest of palates, with dishes like Triple-licious Fruit Salad and Cozy Cottage Chicken Tenders. Each recipe is connected loosely to a specific princess or individuals within her world through the recipe title, a movie-related anecdote, and an ­accompanying illustration from the animation. A recipe difficulty scale consisting of one to five crowns helps readers gauge which dishes are within their skill level. Useful information about cooking and food safety, ­measuring ingredients, and cleaning up precedes the recipe sections. While it might not appeal to readers unfamiliar with the Disney Princess universe, this upbeat, colorful cookbook is sure to be a hit with fans young and old. For added fun, illustrations also feature the princesses’ animal friends or important male characters from their world, like ­Merida’s brothers or Tiana’s beau Prince Naveen. VERDICT Recommended for youth cookbook collections, especially where ­Disney-themed books are popular.

Resnick, Ariane. Disney Princess: Healthy Treats Cookbook. 128p. Insight. Sept. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781647223762.
Gr 4-6 –Readers looking for tasty foods with a nutritious twist will find much to enjoy within this Disney Princess-themed, certified nutritionist-created cookbook. ­Emphasizing shareable portions and healthy ingredients, this volume contains a good ­mixture of savory- and sweet-themed dishes, such as ­Tiana Gumbo Rolls, Pua Purple Yam Tarts, and Fairy Godmother Wands. ­Recipe difficulty varies from the simple to assemble (Snow White Forest Toast) to the more complex and precise (Mulan Sesame ­Layered ­Custard Tart). A small, whimsical illustration of the related Disney Princess adorns each recipe alongside a short anecdote connecting the dish to the princess’ world. Most, but not all, recipes contain a ­full-color, finished dish photograph. Though all the recipes strive to showcase the unique background of each princess, the strongest cultural connections exist in the dishes associated with Tiana, Moana, and Jasmine. Emphasis on specialty, healthy-alternative ingredients, like coconut sugar, xylitol, avocado oil, and almond flour, make this a good choice where families are aiming for keto cooking. ­VERDICT A sure hit for ­Disney Princess aficionados. ­Recommended for large collections or ­libraries building a youth cookbook section.

Star Wars: Galactic Baking: The Official Cookbook of Sweet and Savory Treats from Tatooine, Hoth, and Beyond. 128p. Insight. May 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781647223779.
Gr 4 Up –Bakers ready for an intergalactic experience will find much to enjoy in this franchise-based cookbook inspired by planets in the Star Wars universe. This collection of 40+ tasty, mostly sweet recipes varies between simple dishes like Loth Cat-Kibble and Swamp Vines and more complicated dishes like Mustafarian Molten Lava Cakes and Forest of Endor Log Cake. All bakers should be aware: careful reading of recipe instructions is essential, as a few involve increased prep/cooking time or precise assembly steps. Some may be disappointed by the need for specialty bakeware to tackle the Carbonite Cakes and the character-based Sugar Cookie Cutout recipes. Hands shown for multistep recipe construction appear to be white. In general, this fun, ­easy-to-read cookbook will help fans young and old set their snack game to light speed just in time for movie night. VERDICT Recommended for purchase where the Star Wars franchise is popular.

Pearl Derlaga, York County, P.L., VA

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