Schools Secretary Ed Balls said 800 cookery teachers will be trained over the next three years, and agreed with health campaigners who say the new policy should have been introduced years ago.
Students aged 11 to 14 will learn to cook for an hour a week for one term.
Currently around 85 percent of secondary schools have cookery lessons but the new policy, part of a government obesity strategy, requires all schools to be teaching the subject by 2011.
A recent government study predicted that half the population could be obese within 25 years while experts believe one million children will be overweight in a decade.
Balls said he wanted children to be able to cook simple and healthy recipes. "I think it is right to act now and maybe we should have acted earlier but we are acting now," he told BBC television.
"We are preparing people for the future so we can teach our younger people to be healthier adults in the future."
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has been involved in a high-profile campaign to improve the quality of school dinners, told the Daily Mirror: "It's of the utmost importance that all kids learn to cook good food from scratch and shop well."
But Clarissa Williams, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Head Teachers, said that training had been neglected for so long it would be difficult to implement now.
"Cookers, microwaves, all of the utensils – all of that costs a lot of money," she told the Today program.