As an important life skill, learning to cook and becoming familiar with kitchen basics can be an exciting adventure for kids from toddlers to teens. Using a delicious childhood favorite like popcorn as the key ingredient at the center of your lessons can spur interest and enthusiasm.
Along with understanding measurements and safety, teaching your children how to make simple recipes also offers opportunities to bond and make memories that can last a lifetime. Popcorn is a snack food associated with good times and it’s versatile enough to encourage creativity.
While it’s important to start with easy techniques that introduce future chefs to the culinary world, it’s also helpful to ensure they’ll enjoy eating their first creations so they’ll be eager for more time in the kitchen.
As a whole grain that’s 100% unprocessed with no additional additives, hidden ingredients or GMOs, air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup and offers a whole grain that provides energy-producing complex carbohydrates. Because whole grains are important sources of nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and fiber, you can instill the values of nutritious snacking all while having some fun.
These simple yet delicious recipes and tips can help you get your kids involved in the kitchen.
Making learning fun is an important introduction to the world of cooking. Starting with a versatile base ingredient like popcorn that’s naturally low in fat and calories, encourage your child to get creative with a recipe like Pop-a-rific Popcorn Balls. With simple variations like adding food coloring or mixing in candies, nuts or dried fruit, it’s a colorful way for little ones to build confidence in their skills.
A key component to recipes of all difficulty levels, teaching measurements from teaspoons and tablespoons to cups, ounces and more is valuable knowledge. Start with the basics like these Simple Popcorn S’mores that call for popcorn and graham crackers to be measured out in cups so your child can focus on one unit of measurement. Then, if little ones are helping, have an adult melt the chocolate and drizzle for a family-favorite snack.
Learning how to create and explore is often productive (and fun) when children can get their hands dirty. Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn Pretzel Sticks are a perfect canvas for letting kiddos work directly with the ingredients as they can roll pretzels in peanut butter, add sprinkles to their heart’s content and press popcorn into their newfound favorite treat.
Find more kid-friendly recipes to get the whole family involved in the kitchen at popcorn.org.
DIY Popcorn Bar
Whether you’re entertaining guests, hosting a houseful of kids or simply enjoying a weekend at home, a DIY popcorn bar provides a tasty and joyful way for children and adults alike to create their own version of an afternoon snack. Just set out a few ingredients and watch the fun unfold.
n Small popcorn bags, bowls or cups
n Scoops or spoons
n Popped popcorn
n Peanuts (remember to ask fellow parents if their children may have an allergy)
n Chocolate chips
n Shredded cheese
n Shredded coconut
n Melted butter
Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn Pretzel Sticks
6 tablespoons peanut butter
6 large pretzel rods
3 cups popped popcorn
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter over one pretzel, leaving 2-inch “handle” without peanut butter. Repeat with remaining peanut butter and pretzels. Press and roll popcorn onto peanut butter to coat each pretzel. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.
To make optional chocolate drizzle: Place chocolate chips in small resealable plastic bag and seal bag. Microwave 30 seconds, or until chocolate is melted.
Clip small corner from bag and squeeze to drizzle chocolate over popcorn. Sprinkle with additional sugar sprinkles. Allow chocolate to harden before serving.
Pop-a-rific Popcorn Balls
Yield: 14 balls
3 quarts popped popcorn, unsalted
1 package (1 pound) marshmallows
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Place popped popcorn in large bowl.
In large saucepan over low heat, cook marshmallows and butter or margarine until melted and smooth. Pour over popcorn, tossing gently to mix well. Cool 5 minutes. Butter hands well and form into 2 1/2-inch balls.
Variations: To color popcorn balls, add 3-4 drops of food coloring to smooth marshmallow mixture. Mix well to distribute color evenly then pour over popcorn as instructed.
Mix in candies, nuts or dried fruit after mixing popcorn and melted marshmallows. Stir to distribute then form into balls. Place nonpareils in shallow bowl or plate. Roll popcorn balls in nonpareils after forming.
Simple Popcorn S’mores
Yield: 10 cups
10 cups freshly popped popcorn
1 package (10 1/2 ounces) miniature marshmallows
2 cups graham crackers, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup milk chocolate, melted
On baking sheet, combine popcorn, marshmallows and graham crackers.
Drizzle with melted chocolate and cool.