Skip to main content

Family cooking competition ideas: ready, set, cook!

If you’ve ever wanted to participate in a reality cooking show but aren’t exactly a seasoned chef, a family cooking competition is your answer. The best part about in-home cook-offs? They’re not televised, so it’s a totally pressure-free environment and a hundred times more fun. Let’s go over three of the most common cooking competition formats and find out which one your family might enjoy the most.

Close-up of a hand chopping vegatables
Alyson McPhee/Unsplash

Try the mystery ingredients basket challenge

This challenge pits two equally-divided teams against each other. It’s a great activity if you have equal numbers of adults and children on each team. Impartial judges are preferred, but if not available, each team can judge the other’s dish.

Related Videos
  • What you’ll need: two boxes of five easy-to-use ingredients and one “difficult” ingredient (total of 6), two competing teams

Take a cue from insanely popular (and competitive!) shows like Chopped Junior by hosting your own mystery ingredients box challenge at home. Fill a box with five common ingredients like your grocery store veggies and grains. 

  • Here’s the challenge: add an extra ingredient that requires a little more inventiveness and creativity. Think: animal liver, oysters, or vegetarian-friendly items like fermented beans, or fiddlehead ferns.

Give each team 10 to 15 minutes to plan their recipes and 45 minutes to prep, cook, and serve. Make sure each team has access to necessary cooking surfaces and basic tools like knives and spatulas. You can set ground rules about whether or not the spice rack is off the table, and whether or not cooking is limited to the stovetop.

Make it simple with a follow-the-recipe cook-off

To make things simpler for families with young children, you can prepare a recipe that each team must follow. Whoever cooks up the tastiest version wins.

  • What you’ll need: enough copies of the recipe for the number of teams, the ingredients box, the appropriate tools.

This type of competition relieves some pressure off the participants by giving them steps to follow instead of having to come up with their own. It also gives you an excuse to use up some soon-to-spoil ingredients in your fridge or pantry, saving you big bucks and less time composting.

  • Cooking and judging: Some classic recipes include a breakfast plate of pancakes, eggs, and fruit, salad and garlic bread, and loaded pasta with different veggies, proteins (or meat substitutes), and cheeses. One neutral judge evaluates each plate based on visual presentation, taste, and how true to the recipe it is. Tom’s of Maine likes the breakfast idea.

Print out a mock scorecard if you have young kids and award the winner(s) ribbons. For older kids, offer age-appropriate rewards like a gift card to their favorite store, a small cash prize, or a basket of yummy goodies.

Edgar Castrejon/Unsplash

For older kids and adults, tackle the three-course meal competition

100 Days of Real Food says cook-offs are a great way to get teens involved in the kitchen and out of their room. Go all out with a three-course meal tournament. We suggest dividing the family into just two teams to ensure enough room for cooking. Challenge each team to come up with an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert.

  • What you’ll need: All the ingredients laid out on the counter or on a dinner table, two teams, cooking tools, a timer, scorecard signs for fun
  • The rules: Give the teams 20 minutes to whip up an appetizer, 45 minutes to perfect their main dish, and 40 minutes to prepare a dessert. Between each round, have the judge or judges hold up a scorecard for each team’s dish. In the end, the team with the most points wins. Set the timer at the beginning of each round and count down in five-minute increments. This will light a fire under each team and make the atmosphere feel even more competitive. It also makes the cook-off more fair for everybody involved.

This well-paced competition makes for some fond memories and new go-to recipes for the whole family. Thus, we especially recommend this for large holidays. Alternatively, you can make it a once-a-month Sunday tradition to bring the family closer together. 

Now it’s your turn to plan, shop for ingredients, and prepare the kitchen for your family’s cooking competition. We’ve gone over three different cook-off ideas you can modify depending on your family’s size and your children’s ages. Whether you’re arranging a black box competition or a three-course meal series, you’ll enjoy watching family members work, battle, and laugh as they try to fix up the best-tasting plate.

In addition, check out our guide on how to get rid of cooking smells in your home or apartment.

Editors' Recommendations

6 easy Halloween party food ideas to spook and delight guests
Try these Halloween recipes and ideas for a successful spooky party
Halloween burger

As "Halloweekend" draws near, and you might be planning to throw a Halloween party for family and friends. Your guests will be expecting a festive evening, so ordinary party appetizers and entrees won’t suffice. Get more creative this season and come up with Halloween party food ideas that fit the theme of the event.

Halloween is the one holiday when you can have fun making the food look creepy, unappealing, and maybe even downright gross. If you have guests that aren't too squeamish, this plays well with the spookiness of the season. To inspire your menu, here are some Halloween party food recipes that can make your celebration a success.
Monster wraps
For finger foods with a Halloween theme, these monster wraps are perfect. Load sandwich wraps with meat, cheese, and other fillings, then use sliced cheese, olives, and pickles to decorate them like Frankenstein. They only take 10 minutes to make and can be completely customized according to your taste.

Read more
Home decor fails: Ugly interior design to avoid, according to the pros
modern living room design with neutral palette

As interior design continues to evolve, it’s no surprise that designers have transitioned to platforms like TikTok to share their design tips and tricks. As a result, TikTok has quickly grown to rival Instagram for the interior design spotlight. With fun and quirky bite-sized videos of designers sharing their favorite trends in an easy and understandable format, TikTok has created a space for homeowners to go when they require some aid in their next renovation.

One thing DesignTok, the home decor side of TikTok, has to offer in abundance is professional design tips regarding what homeowners should aim to avoid during their next remodel. We’ve gathered some of our favorite ugly interior design mistakes below to help you know what not to do in your next reno project.

Read more
10 amazing kitchen ideas for the midcentury modern enthusiast
mint walls in midcentury modern dining kitchen area

The midcentury modern aesthetic blends fun retro designs with sleek, modern styles to create an eclectic yet time-honored look that many homeowners absolutely adore. And when it comes to the kitchen, fun pops of color, eccentric geometric details, and funky retro appliances give this style a unique look. If you're interested in adding this look to your space, we have some tips for you. Below are 10 stunning ideas to bring the midcentury aesthetic to your modern-day kitchen and inspire your next remodel.

Invest in some midcentury modern kitchen lighting
One of the easiest ways to update your kitchen is to introduce midcentury modern pendant lighting. From orb-like chandeliers to eclectic statement pieces that highlight art and form, midcentury modern light fixtures can quickly add a retro appeal to your space. For example, try a fun linear chandelier with exposed bulbs for a timeless look. Or opt for a quirky orb chandelier with brass or gold finishes. Cylindrical wall sconces, large drum pendants, and single orb pendants can also be the perfect touch.
Choose a fun geometric backsplash
Midcentury modern kitchens are well known for their fun geometric backsplashes. These backsplashes revolutionize traditional looks through triangles, pentagons, or asymmetrical shapes by incorporating an aesthetic and artistic appeal. For the best look, choose a backsplash in an unusual color. Rather than gravitating toward neutrals, jump into the mid-century modern vibe of bright hues like blues, greens, pinks, and oranges! Honeycomb tiles with three to four colors are also popular for a mid-century modern look.

Read more