Beyond Steaming: Flavorful Cooking Methods for Homemade Baby Food

When I sell at the farmers markets, I am always asked: how is baby food actually made? At its very core, homemade baby food is fairly simple; it’s cooked food, pureed or mashed with some liquid, and then fed to baby or frozen in containers for later

Until I started Little City Kitchen Co., I thought, like most parents, that baby food had to be prepared differently than adult food.  Many of today’s baby books tell parents that baby food should be bland (erroneously in my opinion), so therefore steaming veggies is the best method of cooking.  Steaming?  Bleh…  No flavor in that.

As a home chef, I roast, sauté, and caramelize my way through my own recipes, with the goal of extracting as much flavor as I can from each ingredient.  Why couldn’t baby food be the same?    As it turns out, it can be…

Which fats to use in baby foods?

Your little one needs fat in their diet to grow up healthy!  Use healthy fats (like olive oil, butter, and virgin coconut oil) liberally when making your own baby food.  Not only do they make the food taste great, these fats also help with brain development and immunity building. And they’re a key part in some of my favorite cooking methods.

Okay, let’s dig into my favorite cooking methods for the little ones…


Pros: Brings out great flavors.  Cook time: 30-60 minutes average
Directions: For whole veggies: just wrap in aluminum foil “packs”, or for cut-up veggies, toss in a healthy fat such as olive or coconut oil and spread on a pan.  Cook at 350 deg.
Fav things to roast: whole veggies such as sweet potatoes & golden beets, and cut up veggies such as cauliflower, butternut squash, turnip, celery root, and tomatoes.


Pros: Brings out good flavors, quick.  Cook time: 10-15 minutes average
Directions: Cut chunks of fruit or veggies in ½ inch pieces, add some fat such as butter from grass-fed cows or coconut oil, sauté over medium heat to prevent burning and cook until done.
Fav things to sauté: onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, carrots, celery, turnips, zucchini,  squash, and mushrooms.  I use all of these fragrant flavors in baby foods along with herbs and spices.

Other Cooking Methods

Steaming:  Preserves the most nutrients, but tends to be blander in flavor than roasting or sauteing.
Fav things to steam: potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash (pretty much anything you can roast, you can steam quicker but without as much flavor)

Boiling: Can diminish the flavor if you don’t use the liquid, cook time 5-15 minutes for veggies, nearly an hour for legumes.
Fav things to boil: lentils and beans, frozen peas, carrots and potatoes

Microwaving: Most destructive method, but the fastest and occasionally good in a pinch
Best things to microwave: cut up veggies, whole sweet or white potatoes
Hint: only use microwave at 50% power to cook food more gently and keep more nutrients.

Remember, babies love flavor in their food, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different cooking methods as you puree and mash through different recipes.  Also check out our review of baby food storage containers and adding spices to your baby food.

4 Comments to “Beyond Steaming: Flavorful Cooking Methods for Homemade Baby Food”

  1. [...] a whole world outside of steaming baby food! Remember what I said in a past blog about flavorful cooking methods. I do a ton of roasting, sautéing and braising, so don’t forget about these other cooking [...]

  2. [...] 9. Let your child eat soft foods and tell them what they are (This activity depends on how soft the food is – you may want to try this between 8-12 months). What comes to mind right now is cut kiwis, chopped bananas, cooked soft carrots, cheerios, cut tofu, cut avocados, soft pasta, etc. Visit Kids Health to learn more about food options. Little City Kitchen Co. Blog also has a great post called “Beyond Steaming: Flavorful Cooking Methods for Homemade Baby Food.” [...]

  3. [...] few other references for those who are interested:  I recently did a review of my favorite cooking methods for baby food (it’s not just steaming!), and a review of the best baby food storage containers on the market [...]

  4. Grammy Ruth says:

    Jill, this blog was the most practical and informative one you have written (I found the storage container blog great,too), but you taught this old “cooking lover” many things. I didn’t know that the microwave destroys nutrients! I have been sauteing in the micro lately and thinking I was very clever. You will help me live to 100!
    Love you.

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