Kids can cook: Apple cranberry crisp

Make cooking a family affair this holiday season.

Contributed by Linda Shiue, MD

Kids can cook: Apple cranberry crisp

One of my earliest cooking memories is from second grade. We made potato latkes, and it was my first time using a box grater. I was excited to add to the bowl full of shredded potatoes that my classmates had each contributed to — so much so that I went a little too fast, and ended up skinning my hand. Despite this early introduction to cooking injuries, cooking continues to be a passion for me as an adult. Safety standards may have been a little looser in the 1970s, but young children can still have a productive — and safe — role in the kitchen.

With the holiday break coming up, you might need an activity to keep your kids from going stir-crazy, so why not make it one that has so many other benefits? Kids are much more likely to try foods they’ve had a hand in selecting and preparing. Cooking is a means of teaching nutrition, math, and science without even trying. It’s also a great confidence builder for a child to be able to prepare a snack or meal that the grownups in the house will also eat.

Age-appropriate cooking activities

  •  Kids of any age can rinse vegetables, stir, and pour.
  •  By the time children are 9 years old, they can also learn to cut (and grate) with adult supervision; and use a toaster oven.
  • Older kids can cook any recipe with supervision, so why not give them a rotation in cooking family dinner? 

Some holiday recipes you can try with your kids include a healthier latke recipe with homemade applesauce, or the recipe below for a festive fruit crisp, originally from The Doctor’s Spicebox. The fun part about this fruit crisp is that kids can switch up the ingredients to include their favorite fruits, seeds or nuts.

Servings: 12


  • 3 medium to large tart apples (I prefer Pink Lady), cored and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch metal or glass baking pan. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the apples and cranberries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon until the fruit is evenly coated. Spread the fruit mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the oats, pepitas, maple syrup, brown sugar, olive oil, cardamom, and salt. Use a spoon to evenly scatter the oat topping over the fruit in the baking pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 98
  • Total fat: 3.3 g
  • Sodium: 18 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 16 g
  • Total sugars: 11 g
  • Protein: 2 g