It’s actually very hard to mess up the basics of Thanksgiving dinner, which makes it a perfect meal for young kids to help with. The following are some recipes for which kids can really take ownership with very little supervision. And you’ll be thankful for the help!
1. Stuffing: Hand a loaf to the kids and tell them to have at it. Hand-ripped bread offers more textural contrast—crunch and chew—than neatly cubed bread. Bonus points: Celery is a great vegetable for chopping practice.
2. Pumpkin Pie: There’s no easier first recipe for kids to learn than the one that appears on the back of canned pumpkin. And if you make your pie with a gingersnap crust instead of traditional pastry, they also get to bash away at cookies (put the snaps in a re-sealable plastic bag and have the kids pound them with a meat tenderizer).
3. Cranberry Sauce: Another easy first recipe to learn, cranberry sauce requires a bit of stove time, but just enough to keep kids’ attentions. Here’s a good basic recipe: Combine a bag of fresh cranberries, ½ cup sugar, the juice of 1 orange and a cinnamon stick in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cranberries burst, about 10 minutes.
4. Mashed Potatoes: Kids do well mashing potatoes (another chance to play with their food!), and no one will complain if there are a few lumps.
5. Salad Dressing: Thanksgiving is such a rich, heavy meal that it helps to offer a big green salad, and kids can easily handle washing the greens and making the dressing. Get a pint jar and fill it with ½ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons wine vinegar (red or white), 1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. If they’re feeling fancy, they can add some chopped herbs or shallots. Then seal the jar and shake, shake, shake. Presto!