5 Easy Recipes to Introduce the 5 Taste Groups


5 easy recipes to introduce the 5 taste groups: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami!

5 toddler-friendly recipes to help build a diverse palate and introduce your toddler to the 5 taste groups. Includes a free printable recipe sheet to keep on the fridge.

Long time readers know that I run a home daycare and one of the parts of my job is sometimes helping introduce young toddlers to new foods, while ensuring that they are receiving adequate nutrition.

Something that is so important to me when starting toddlers on new foods is exposing them to a wide variety of flavours, scents, and textures. When it comes to flavour, sometimes the five taste groups get ignored, or one flavour gets a bit more attention than others. I wanted to share five quick & easy recipes to help you exposure your child to the five tastes (bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami) with foods they might actually enjoy!

toddler-friendly recipes


Here are five easy recipes to help introduce your toddler to all five taste categories!

lemon pancakes recipe

Sour: Lemon Pancakes

There are so many ways to introduce sour to your children, and lemons are incredibly versatile, too! I decided to opt for lemon pancakes because I know that my kids will gobble them up without a second thought!


  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of pancake batter to the center of the pan. Cook for one to two minutes until the upper side of the pancake is covered in little air holes and the underside is golden brown, and flip. Cook for one to two minutes on the other side and then remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.


toddler recipes for the 5 senses (1)

Salty: Rice Congee

Rice Congee is the traditional first food of most Asian children. It’s kind of like a porridge made from rice and, just like porridge, you can mix lots of different foods into your congee to experiment with different flavours.

It might seem intimidating to introduce salty, or to add any additional salt to your child’s food. Just add a touch to introduce it – it may seem barely perceptible to your grown-up tastebuds but it will be more than enough for them.


  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 3-4 cups water
  • Half pinch salt

Bring water and rice to a boil in a pot, and then reduce heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed.

Take the rice off of the heat and mix in salt.


mac and cheese

Umami: Mac & Cheese

Umami might sound a bit weird to you – it’s the taste associated with “meaty” flavours and things like cheese and tomatoes that don’t really fit in other categories.

Mac & Cheese is always a hit with kids and adding tomatoes you get two different umami flavours in one dish.



  • 1 cup cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

In a pot, melt the butter or oil over medium heat and add the flour. Allow it to brown a bit before stirring in the milk, then the cheese. Mix in the pasta and then remove from heat.

Portion 1/2 cup of pasta into small ramekins for individual servings. You can add the tomatoes now or after baking.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.


berry parfait

Sweet: Berry Parfait

Berries are usually sweet enough on their own, but we added a touch of honey to make this parfait a special treat! We used yogurt to help get a bit more protein and it also serves as a clever way to add in a mix-in.

  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup berries
Simply stir the honey into the yogurt and top with berries.

toddler recipes for the 5 senses

Bitter: Spinach Sauce

You can make a simple spinach puree or a quick & easy (cheater) spinach dip to help introduce your child to the taste of bitter in a palatable way. I like to sauté & puree spinach and add it into foods they already like, like adding it on top of pasta!


  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
  • 2 generous cups spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, optional
  • 1/4 onion, optional

Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan, and add the spinach (and optional garlic & onions). Sauté until limp and dark green in colour.

Puree the spinach in a blender, add it to sour cream for a cheater spinach dip, or use it to top pizza or pasta.

toddler friendly recipes fb

These easy and delicious recipes are perfect for teaching your child about the five taste groups – no matter their age!

For more delicious, kid-friendly recipes, check out our Lentil Mac & Cheese or our Crockpot Chicken Parmesan Pasta.

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  1. I remember introducing new foods to the kids when they were little. These all sound amazing for any little one trying food out. I have not seen these food mix ins before they sound great.

  2. Everything looks delicious. I haven’t heard of these food mix ins before. When the twins were toddlers, Mac and Cheese was their favorite. Well, up until now. This product sounds like it’s great for toddlers. I will share this with my friends.

  3. Wow this is so awesome. I think it’s so amazing that you run an at home daycare. It’s always been a dream of mine to do the same. Wow and these recipes are yummy. I’ve never tried the lemon pancakes. Definitely trying that one haha. I know these recipes are meant for kids but that pancake recipe just looks so good.

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