Let your child's imagination run wild with a play kitchen. From foldaway versions to mud kitchens, these interactive and educational toys are the perfect way to foster a love of cooking.
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Having fun while learning in a play kitchen can help children develop valuable life skills and spark a passion for food and cooking. It stretches a child's imagination through role play, as they can imitate grown-ups in different settings – our testers became chefs, waiters, waitresses, mummies, daddies, pizza makers and everything in between.
Play kitchens have come a long way, and buying one for your budding chef can be a fun experience. But, the options are vast.
We reviewed a range of sizes, brands and price points from national retailers. Our reviewer tested with her children, a three-year-old boy and four-year-old girl, over several weeks. The delivery experience, time and tools required to build, size, educational value, functions and interactivity, materials, robustness, accessories, ease of storage, age range and value for money were all considered during testing.
Best traditional play kitchen
Pros: excellent quality, stable and sturdy, midsize means it's not too intrusive and can be easily moved, straightforward assembly
Cons: doesn't include any pans
This traditional midsize kitchen from Teamson comes in a mix of wood-look and bold colours and is a reliable, sturdy structure. It includes an oven with a see-through door that opens, plus a hob, microwave and shelves. It also has a speckled, granite-look countertop with a removable plastic sink and large cupboard to store plenty of kitchen kit.
With a high back, it houses a lot of shelves, a couple of mini drawers and display space for play food and equipment. Knobs on the oven and hob twist with a satisfying click, and the clock has adjustable hands to help your child learn numbers and how to tell the time.
Extras include a set of plastic spice jars and a spatula, and there's even a plastic phone on the side to 'call' family or friends – a good way for them to source recipe inspiration or call for help when they've had a cooking disaster.
Little Tikes Tasty bake 'n share kitchen
Best play kitchen for gadget and technology lovers
Pros: two height levels so it can be adjusted as kids grow, straightforward to assemble, no known harmful plastics, lots of accessories, sturdy and durable
Cons: big, bulky plastic; limited storage inside the kitchen; doors can be stiff to open; the cooker hood doesn't secure well
Look away now if you cringe at the sight of big plastic toys – this play kitchen is bright, fun and full of great features and accessories that really excited our mini chefs.
This kitchen has it all: a fridge, oven, microwave, coffee maker, hob and sink. It also comes with a vast range of accessories (38 are included) that the kids loved. The clicking knobs and easy-to-open doors kept our testers busy for hours.
An adjustable smartphone holder above the hob offers tech-savvy kids the opportunity to film or photograph their masterpieces while cooking. We did wonder whether this feature was slightly out of the age range for this type of toy, but the concept is fun and combines technology and traditional play to encourage creativity and learning.
The kitchen also comes with Tasty Junior recipe cards, so kids will be encouraged to try real cooking with grown-ups. We received extra themed accessory packs to review – these include fun, interactive play food such as colour-changing emoji cookies and interchangeable ice-cream cones and scoops. Our mini testers got stuck into these sets, but they do require separate purchase.
Best all-round play kitchen
Pros: looks attractive, gender-neutral, lots of storage space, sustainably sourced FSC materials, lots of features
Cons: large so will take up space, requires time and patience to build
This realistic-looking play kitchen might end up putting your real kitchen to shame. It's brimming with interactive features, and has a tiled splashback and cute breakfast bar. Made with sustainably sourced materials, it comes in an neutral cream colour with wood-look worktop and wipe-clean fittings.
It's all-singing, all-dancing in terms of features, and comes with a double oven, dishwasher, American-style fridge-freezer, hob, microwave and a sink for washing-up. The hob makes exciting cooking noises and lights up when you place a pan on it.
The ice machine dispenses play ice cubes, plus there's a phone and chalkboard for notes too – everything you'd want to keep a keen cook engaged. Details like shelves, hooks, a digital-look display and tea towel rail make realistic kitchen play a dream.
It was a favourite among the parents during the testing, and second favourite for the kids. The main attraction? The water noises coming from the taps.
It will take up space in the home, but all those cupboards provide lots of storage solutions. It also comes with five stainless steel pots, pans and utensils, so your child can get cooking straightaway.
Best value play kitchen
Pros: adjustable height to grow with your child, no BPA plastic, hob rings light up, removable sink
Cons: doesn't come with accessories
The Ikea Duktig kitchen is a great all-rounder, and was recommended by many parents during our research. It's a sturdy, no-frills kitchen with a minimalist Scandi design that comes in neutral colours. It has a microwave, hob with light-up rings, an oven, a removable sink with mixer tap, shelf and rail with hooks for hanging pans and utensils.
We think it offers the best value for money in terms of build and features. It doesn't come with any accessories, but there's a good range available to buy under the Duktig theme. Choose from pans, crockery, utensils and even cinnamon buns.
And, if you're keen on crafting and home improvement, search Pinterest for ideas on how to customise your child's Ikea kitchen.
Best premium play kitchen
Pros: looks good, complete kitchen, compact, built to last, lots of storage space
Cons: small (tall or older children may need to bend to use), expensive but good value
This kitchen is made from sturdy wood and painted in attractive white-and-grey colours with metallic silver detailing. If you want a play kitchen to keep on show, this is the perfect size and looks lovely.
Our reviewers loved that this was a complete kitchen – it comes with a washing machine, oven, microwave, hob and removable metal sink for easy clean-up. The small touches, such as the tea towel rail, realistic circular door on the washing machine and draining board made this kitchen stand out as a premium toy.
It would make an excellent investment to hand down through generations, or to sell on for a reasonable price. There are lots of features for learning, too, such as words, numbers and symbols on the appliances and realistic-sounding clicking knobs.
You could go to town on all the accessories available to buy for this kitchen, but we love the look of the wooden breakfast sets that comes with a toaster, toast, a boiled egg and sliced butter in a dish.
Peppa Pig kitchen
Best kids' choice kitchen
Pros: kids loved it, lots of accessories, gender-neutral
Cons: flimsy plastic, weak structure, fridge door doesn't shut properly
The Peppa Pig kitchen made our mini testers squeal with delight and dance – the hob plays the beloved show's theme music. This was an almost unanimous first choice among our child testers, but was less loved by parents.
This is a dream kitchen for Peppa Pig fans – regardless of gender – and will keep them entertained for hours. It comes with an oven, a washing machine, fridge, hob and an adjustable clock. Exciting, interactive features include a chicken timer, pop-up toaster and clicking oven knobs that make all sorts of sounds.
The kitchen does get a thumbs-up for the included recycling bins, which reflects today's modern kitchen. It also comes with lots of accessories – we love that the mugs make the drinker look like they have a piggy nose.
However, this isn't the most robust kitchen. The plastic is weak and the structure isn't very stable – we expected better quality for the price. The colours are bright and bold and it can be noisy and annoying (our reviewer kept it locked in the playroom!), but the kids absolutely adored it. However, children might grow out of it when they get a little older.
Best play kitchen for multiple children
Pros: great for multiple kids, lots of features and storage
Cons: needs ample space to be able to make use of all sides, takes some time and patience to assemble, doesn't include accessories, limited functionality (e.g. a picture of ice machine)
This triangular island-style kitchen from Chad Valley is the perfect option if you have multiple children or often host playdates. There's ample space for three children to play comfortably, but six or more could access the kitchen if they wanted. It's a good way to prevent arguments over who's cooking dinner!
It's got everything you could want in a kitchen, including an oven, a hob, sink, washing machine, dishwasher, cupboards and hooks to hang utensils. Our testers excitedly discovered new features every time they played – there's also a chalkboard, griddle, telephone and digital-style displays with buttons.
It's constructed with sturdy wood, is wipe-clean and looks built to last. The kids loved putting pans on the hob, as it lights up and makes cooking sounds.
It's also got lots of cupboards for storage, and we love the included recycling bin to encourage good habits.
Best play kitchen for DIY dodgers
Pros: delivered almost wholly assembled, gender-neutral, compact, easy to store
Cons: doesn't fold away without removing screws, limited functionality, doesn't include accessories
This foldaway kitchen from Asda comes in a grey-and-yellow colour scheme, has a sink with hot and cold taps, an oven and a microwave with see-through doors, plus cupboard space. Illustrations of a grater and utensils at the back of the shelf help make it feel like a busy kitchen.
The brass-look mixer tap, handles and twistable oven knobs as well as a patterned splashback add an on-trend, modern feel. The kids loved that the hob rings 'get hot' by turning red.
We should clarify the 'foldaway' element of this kitchen: you need to remove the screws with a screwdriver to actually fold it down. So while you wouldn't want to fold it away every day, it does give you the handy option of making it more compact for storage when needed.
The thing we particularly love about this kitchen is that it requires very little assembly, especially in consideration of its generous size. If you don't like or don't have the skills for DIY, this is your kitchen.
It doesn't include accessories, but offers excellent value for the price.
Jojo Maman Bébé wooden tabletop play kitchen
Best tabletop play kitchen
Pros: packs away into a little suitcase, small, colourful
Cons: not a complete kitchen, no washing-up facility
This compact tabletop kitchen packs away into a cute miniature carry case, making it perfect for holidays, travelling, day trips or for limited spaces in the home. One of the case sides doubles as a pop-up backdrop, which you then attach to a little row of hooks to complete the mini kitchen.
We love that they've used durable wood in a lovely blue, red and white colour scheme. Kids can choose between two backdrops: a daily specials board or tiles with a mini chalkboard for listing ingredients.
Two hob rings are painted onto the case for a camping-style stove. Clicking knobs and moving switches make for a realistic cooking experience. Accessories include a frying pan, lidded saucepan, hanging clock and set of three utensils.
We love how portable this is and that everything can be packed away after play. It's great for toddlers and older kids keen to get cooking on the move.
Best modern play kitchen
Pros: separate units, lots of storage, timeless, built to last
Cons: takes up space, the clock doesn't adjust
This is a high-quality, sturdy and well-built kitchen that comes in two separate units – perfect if you need a flexible layout. It makes a great investment piece that's stylish, robust and should last for years to come. It's the perfect play kitchen to keep in shared living areas, rather than being banished to a playroom.
The American-style fridge-freezer has three doors and a 'smart screen' to appeal to little tech-lovers. The water cooler dispenses play ice cubes and has lots of storage space inside.
Brass-look taps and cupboard handles add a classy look to the wipe-clean grey units, and the inset butler-style sink adds to the contemporary look.
The oven has a digital-style display and two clicking, twistable knobs. The realistic-looking gas hob rings have adjustable knobs to allow for lots of dishes to cook at the same time. There's also worktop space for preparation and a clock too.
Best retro play kitchen
Pros: removable stainless steel sink, working thermometer, chalkboard for shopping lists, working play ice cube dispenser
Cons: takes time and two grown-ups plus tools to assemble, does not include accessories (only ice cubes and cup), large and heavy
The Aviles play kitchen is a sizeable, retro-style kitchen with lots of modern features for the creative cook. It's a complete kitchen with oven, dishwasher, fridge, freezer, microwave, hob, stainless steel sink with hot and cold mixer taps, adjustable clock and phone.
Handles, taps and knobs have a metallic silver look and quality finish. The oven and microwave have see-through doors – the kids loved being able to watch as their food 'cooked'. There is a handy chalkboard, water cooler and an ice machine that dispenses play ice cubes, plus a working thermometer.
We loved the design and pastel colours that this kitchen comes in. It would look lovely in any part of the home.
Best play kitchen for a gift
Pros: compact for small homes, personalised, easy to assemble, removable sink, well-made
Cons: short in terms of height so may have limited life as the child grows, suitable mainly for younger children
This personalised play kitchen makes a thoughtful gift for a food lover's child. It's compact, so won't be intrusive in a small home, but still has all the necessary features, such as an oven with a see-through door, two hob rings with twistable knobs and a metal sink with wooden mixer taps. There's storage space inside too, and an adjustable clock.
The structure is sturdy and was easy to assemble. It's available in pink or grey with metallic detailing, the latter of which appealed to both children. It comes with a painted wooden saucepan plus a spatula and spoon, both of which can be stored in hooks on the splashback.
We love that personalisation is free and that they include a luxury gift box too.
The best mud kitchens
If you've got more space in your garden than inside, an outdoor mud kitchen could be the best option for you. Don't worry if the idea of mess makes you shudder – these work just as well with sand or the same play food you'd use indoors. These kitchens are built to withstand being outdoors, and are more rustic than indoor play kitchens. Our reviewer found two great buys.
Wooden kids' play mud kitchen
Best value mud kitchen
Pros: easy to assemble, excellent value, customisable, realistic working tap
Cons: doesn't include accessories
This is the best value-for-money mud kitchen we could find. It's sturdy and robust and looks like it will stand up to lots of messy use. The simple design allows for imaginative play, but could also be customised if so desired.
The kitchen is made from a mix of solid treated wood and plastic, and there's a very clever sink unit too. You can remove, separate and fill a hidden chamber with water so the tap will pump water like a real tap, then when you remove the plug, it fills the unit back up. This saves a weary adult from having to keep water vessels topped up during play.
Twistable, clicking plastic knobs on the oven add a great level of detail for a mud kitchen, while shelves and an opening oven provide storage space.
TP Toys mud kitchen
Best traditional mud kitchen
Pros: FSC-certified treated timber, storage area to keep things tidy, comes with stainless steel accessories, wipes clean
Cons: a bit of a challenge to put together, drill required, have to paint on the hob rings and words using provided stencils
This is a decent-sized, fantastic-looking rustic kitchen that includes a hob and oven along with water butt and tray for mixing mud. It's got lots of workspace, a rail to hook utensils and a handy shelf.
The oven opens and can be used to store accessories – stainless steel pans and a whisk are included.
The refillable water butt and tap kept the kids engaged and excited as they poured water and mixed mud from the garden. There's a worktop that pulls out to reveal the plastic mixing tray that extends to provide more workspace and keeps things tidy.
It's large enough for two or three children to play at the same time, so it prevents arguments over who gets messy first. It wasn't as hard as we expected to wipe clean after all the muddy fun either.
This one took two adults a couple of hours to build – an electric drill was essential for construction.
Play kitchen accessories
We found some fantastic knitted toys from Best Years. Skilled female artisans in rural Bangladesh knit these colourful fruits, vegetables and treats. The kids loved playing with them as they could be stuffed into saucepans and squished when the pretended to chop them up. They would also make good soft toys for younger children, and some come as rattles for tinier tots.
Here's what we looked for when assessing the best toy kitchens to buy.
Children learn through role play and imitating real-life kitchen tasks like preparing food, cooking, washing-up, laundry and storing food and equipment. Some kitchens go further with included clocks to help them learn to tell the time, recycling bins to encourage good habits and chalkboards to write lists and recipes. Look out for opportunities for your child to practice counting and adding up, problem-solving, creativity, building vocabulary, planning and organising.
Some of the reviewed kitchens – especially larger ones with lots of cupboards and features – took multiple grown-ups hours to assemble. Consider your DIY skills: if lacking, who can you persuade to help? Our reviewer's dad, armed with drill and screwdrivers, saved the day when it came to putting some of the bigger kitchens together. You could consider hiring a professional to save time, mistakes and stress.
Structure and design
Play kitchens come in all shapes, sizes, designs and colour schemes. Consider where you'll keep the kitchen: in a child's bedroom or playroom, or in shared living areas like the kitchen or dining area? Will you match it to your style or do you want to let the kid's love of brightly coloured plastic lead your choice? Is it timeless or trendy in a way that may become dated? If you need to pack it away to store after playtime, be sure to choose a compact option. If you want it to be passed down through other children or generations, invest in one that is built to last. We looked for robust, well-made kitchens that would stand the test of time.
Wipe-clean surfaces and removable sinks make cleaning much easier after a busy day in the kitchen. Our testers energetically mashed broccoli to make a mint sauce, which left one of the kitchens in need of a thorough scrub down!
How many kids are going to be playing with the kitchen? If you have multiple children or host play dates, it's worth investing in a larger kitchen with access to multiple worktops (island-style or attached breakfast bars help). Remember, you may need to secure it to a wall to avoid it toppling onto a child.
Some kitchens come with accessories like pans, utensils and play food, but others don't, so check before you buy. It's possible to use real kitchen equipment in play kitchens, but their size will restrict what's appropriate. Many retailers sell accessory kits to accompany kitchens, which have a similar look and feel. A mix-and-match approach can be more economical and helps with learning by discovering new materials and textures too.
Functions and interactivity
Kitchens can come with lights, illuminating hob rings, twistable clicking knobs, cooking or running water noises and even working water features. They aren't essential, but they do make the kitchens a bit more exciting, realistic and engaging. Simple designs can encourage more imaginative play, and it's cute listening to interpretations of chopping, cooking and pouring sounds.
Consider the age of the child or children that will be playing with the kitchen. The height of kitchens can vary, so if you have a taller or older child, check that they won't have to bend to use the worktop or open the oven. If you want them to continue using the kitchen as they get older, be sure to choose something adjustable and timeless.
We'd all like to be more environmentally friendly, so it's worth checking the type of materials used in the kitchen. Look for sustainable, FSA-approved wood and if you do choose plastic, plan to sell on or donate at the end of its time with your family. In most cases, we didn't find excessive packaging or plastic when unboxing.
Value for money
We felt that all our best buys offered excellent value for money, whether in the materials used, entertainment value or the range of functions or features of the play kitchen. We preferred the wooden kitchens in terms of design, robustness and environmental impact, but have included a couple of plastic options that appealed to the mini testers.
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This review was last updated in October 2019. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.