Poke Bowls: Kids Love to Make and Eat

The most popular bowl right now is POKE, (pronounced poh-kay) and my kids and I absolutely agree. After all who are we to argue with fresh amazing ingredients that we can customize to each of our likings.  Learning to make this at home is not only fun and saves money but seems to have also made the kids more creative and interested in trying new things.

A traditional poke bowl typically starts with raw marinated seafood, like ahi or salmon. This is usually tossed with umami-like dressings and sauces then placed over rice and / or salad greens. We even have many local places that have tortilla chips as a choice. The final layer includes the vegetables and other toppings like sesame seeds and fish eggs. Making this kid-friendly was not hard but resulted in replacing the raw fish ingredients with cooked.

Poke Bowls are Pricey

We love going to poke bowl restaurants and walking down the counter “oohing and awing” through the glass at all the seafood, prepared vegetables, and exotic ingredients like lotus chips and masago.  Yes, all three of us look through the glass and not OVER the glass because none of us are tall enough. Let’s be honest, I never will be!

The reality is we do not always have the time or want to always spend the money to get us all poke bowls. In our area even a basic small poke bowl can cost about $13  each – that times 3 and add a drink or two is often a total of about $45.  Yikes!  We can make these for a lot less money at home considering the kids typically pick mostly the simple ingredients versus items like seaweed salad and spicy tuna which I adore.

My poke bowl from our local place with lots of spicy tuna and zucchini noodles
My poke bowl from our local place with lots of spicy tuna and zucchini noodles


Landon and his to go poke bowl from the local place - shrimp, crab &  mango madness
Landon and his to go poke bowl from the local place – shrimp, crab & mango madness

Build Your Own Poke Bowls

Since the kids are getting more involved in the kitchen, I thought I would start offering a build your own poke bowl assembly line at home.  This seemed to be the only way Enzo would get intrigued by this too. Ian is still a ‘no thanks’ as it still involved some sort of seafood which is still where his past life as a vegetarian comes to a halt – beef, pork, and chicken yes – seafood no. He is still taking baby steps in that category. I was not offering abalone poke bowls so he was out. Abalone is his one seafood love.

I asked them for some ideas of what they wanted and headed to the grocery store.  Rice and crab was a unanimous ask. Then they also thought of things that just seemed odd like apples and chicken nuggets. I tried to keep them focused.  This is poke Bowl kids, work with me!

They still tend to shy away from the raw seafood so we went with some kid-friendly kanikama, fake crab sticks.  Ok, before you BOO and cry blasphemy – we are talking about what elementary-aged kids asked for. By no means would this be my preference.  To get their palates more adventurous, we work on one success at a time. Next time uni, aka sea urchin. Kidding, that would be a huge leap!

Now if they are still asking for fake crab in a year – I will have failed as a foodie mother! 

Here are the final ingredients they requested and mommy approved. I prepped those that needed it plus made the rice and let it cool. We also had a jar of pickled vegetables that Miley had helped make the week before. These usually do not last in our house very long so this was a bonus to still have some.  They are amazing and the link to that recipe is below. This was my favorite part of the poke bowls.

Kid-Friendly Poke Bowl Ingredients

fixings ready to make a poke bowl
fixings ready to make a poke bowl



Poke Bowl Ingredients
Poke Bowl Ingredients

I prepped them and got them all out on the counter.  They then pulled up their bar stools and the chaos began.  There was some fighting over waiting for this or that and not having enough serving tongs. So a lesson for mommy – everyone gets their own set of tongs!  This probably will result in some sword-like tong fighting over the crab next time by the boys.


Poke making madness
Poke making madness


Landon showing off his bowl of poke
Landon’s creation and he loved it!

Once the dust, in this case, rice, settled it was my turn to make a poke bowl just to see what they came up with and how it was.  I for sure would want some marinated ahi or octopus next time in my bowl. I also like my poke bowls to be spicy so next time for sure add some wasabi or Thai chili sauce for some heat.  But this was alright and they all loved it!


Poke salad bowl
Mommy’s poke salad bowl

A huge win to get some quality and healthy ingredients in them.   They have asked to make this again and they want a lot so they can have leftovers in containers the next day for school lunches.   I am happy to do that for them for sure, but hoping next time they will maybe at least try marinated shrimp vs the fake crab sticks!

A mom can dream.

Do your kids like poke bowls and how adventurous are they?

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12 thoughts on “Poke Bowls: Kids Love to Make and Eat”

  • I like this idea. We do sort of the same idea with either smoked salmon or shrimp, but I hadn’t thought of using imitation crab. I bet my kids would like that one too! I’ll try it for sure! Thanks!

  • I have not had a poke bowl yet, but I hear everyone talking about them. Now I need to try one in a restaurant AND make my own! This is such a wonderful idea to get kids involved in choosing what they want in their bowls, my girls would love this. They love anything that gives them independence in the kitchen. They are 10 and 11 so I’d have them help cook the rice and chop foods too, lol.

    • Great plan and so glad you plan to get them all involved. I would love for you to share photos of your tasty fun poke adventures. If you remember and are on social media – tag me on FB or IG @theshortordercookblog.

  • First of all, I love your writing style! It is like we are there with you. I watch a lot of cooking shows, and poke bowls are one of those ideas that sounds interesting. I haven’t tried one yet, but this seems easy enough to try at home, even if I choose real crab. Thanks for sharing this one!

    • Stacey, thank you for the wonderful compliment. It really means a lot. I have always loved cooking and having people over so I had hoped this blog would stretch that feeling of being connected through food would transpire to the readers. I couldn’t be happier to read this – made my day! And do try the poke bowls, good stuff no matter what proteins and vegetables you use.

  • This recipe looks perfect for me to try! Thanks so much for sharing. A close friend of mine just gave me some crab meat and I wasn’t sure wwhat to do with it until now!

  • This is such a good idea!!! It’s easy for me to get in the same meal ruts with my kids so I’m looking forward to trying this idea with them! While I have one that will eat shrimp, octopus, and pretty much anything, the other 2 will prefer the fake crab sticks! I’ve pinned it so I don’t forget!

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