Cooking with Kids 101 (Plus an Easy Pancake Recipe!)

Yo, parents! This one’s for you, especially if you’re weary of doing all the cooking … every … day.

Get some help and non-school-related family time by involving the kiddos in meal prep and cooking. Not only is it fun to teach your kids the cooking basics, but it’s also a great life lesson for them. Plus having sous chefs at the ready is a nice bonus!

We tapped local dad of two and Drexel Hill’s Tank & Libby’s co-owner Joe “Libby” Liberatore for an insider’s scoop on cooking with kids. A graduate of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill in Philadelphia, Libby spent most of his career with the Four Seasons Philadelphia. Still, this Delco native knew he wanted to bring it home, and he partnered with buddy Alex “Tank” Reid, also no stranger to the kitchen. Tank earned a B.S. in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Delaware, then he made his way across the country to complete his training at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. Tank cooked his way back to the East Coast and, prior to opening this breakfast and lunch spot with Libby, worked at The Borgata in Atlantic City, N.J. The rest is history!

Photo courtesy of Tank & Libby’s

Speaking of cooking: Did someone mention breakfast? It’s not just for morning, that’s for sure, and it’s something kids love to eat. Libby shows us that pancakes, in particular, are easy for kids to make. Read on for his top tips and the recipe!

Visit Delco, PA: What’s your top three tips for cooking with kids?

Libby: Start out with the very basics. Show them how to use a knife safely, then go on to cutting, depending on abilities. Next, concentrate on simple cooking techniques as their skills and interests grow. Some easy things to teach about are pan searing, boiling, grilling and using the oven. I’ve made some suggestions by age below.

What are approachable kitchen and cooking tasks for kids of every age (knowing parents will also gauge abilities, too!)?

  • Kids age 6-10: Start them out by constructing sandwiches, making toast and heating soup. At this age you can teach them the proper way to hold a knife safely and practice “starter” cuts, like cutting strawberries and tomatoes in half. As they get a little older, teach them how to scramble eggs, make French toast and cook pancakes on the griddle.
  • Tweens age 10-12: This is a good age to start to show them how to work the grill outside and to grill easy things like hamburgers and hot dogs. These can also be done in a grill pan on the stove. Kids this age can also start to bake recipes, and maybe learn how to make pasta dishes.
  • Teens age 13-19: At his point, you can teach them how to make complete dinners: a salad, pan-seared meat, a vegetable dish and a starch component, like rice or potato. As they get a little older, teach them basic food safety practices and start to introduce more complicated things, like more advanced knife cuts, how to make soup from scratch — and maybe get them involved in family holiday dinners.
Photo courtesy of Tank & Libby’s

Why do kids love breakfast … and, breakfast for lunch and dinner, too?

Kids like breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner because it’s an easy meal to make and has very familiar ingredients. Kids of all ages like it because it often involves sweet things — like pancake toppings, syrup, jellies and jams, etc. Let’s remember it’s fun, too, because breakfast for dinner is a change from the normal routine.

Let’s go with a favorite, then: How do you make pancakes?

Here’s our recipe! It makes 12-14 pancakes:

Easy Pancake Recipe


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or buttermilk (if using buttermilk you can omit the white vinegar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter; extra for griddle
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Whisk eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add remaining wet ingredients and combine well. 
  2. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. 
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry mix and stir to combine. Be careful not to over mix; mixture can be lumpy. Let mixture sit for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Heat griddle to 350°-375° (some griddles will vary with temperature, so you may need the higher setting). Once the griddle is hot, add enough butter to melt and lightly cover.
  5. Carefully ladle batter in 2- to 3-ounce portions. Let pancakes sit and start to set. When you see bubbles forming, carefully flip over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until completely cooked through.
  6. Serve with your favorite toppings.  
Photo courtesy of Tank & Libby’s

What are great toppings that kids can prep and add to pancakes?

Have some fun! Kids can prep if needed, or just put on top of pancakes, powdered sugar, maple syrup, chocolate chips, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, whipped cream — or even their favorite candy (if that’s cool with Mom and Dad).

Tank & Libby’s is currently offering curbside pick-up. It’s open Wednesday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Tuesdays. Order online (remember to check the weekly specials!) and pick up at 1011 Pontiac Road (Pilgrim Gardens Shopping Center) in Drexel Hill. You can also buy gift cards and donate to feed essential workers. Need more info? Call (484) 455-7527.

Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for Delco From Home Experiences and where to get takeout and support local businesses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered during the coronavirus crisis (and beyond). Contact us at (610) 565-3679, by email or online.

Nina Malone