Remember standing in the kitchen cooking with your mom or grandma as a kid? Did they let you stir the batter or taste the sauce before putting things in the oven? Maybe you even had your very own play kitchen to replicate everything you did with your mom in her kitchen. Now, you’d like your children to have a kitchen set.
Many kids love the idea of cooking, and play kitchens have gotten better and better. They have all the finishing touches that kids need for dramatic play and can fit a variety of spaces. Some of them even feature real lights and sounds.
How Do You Find the Best Play Kitchen?
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite play kitchens. There are small sets and large, elaborate sets. There are some that come with accessories and some without. All of them are magic.
We’ve also answered a few common questions about what to look for in a play kitchen below. Let’s take a look.
Here You Can Find a Safe and Eco-Friendly Wooden Play Kitchens
1. Teamson Kids Little Chef Burlywood Kitchen
Teamson Kids’ play kitchen is a classic wooden kitchen with a stove that opens, a microwave, a sink, and working stove knobs. There’s storage in the refrigerator section. It’s a natural wood color with colorful accents.
It comes with a few accessories, including a telephone, spice shakers, and a spatula. It’s made with eco-friendly wood and non-toxic paints. Plus, the kitchen assembles in about 30 minutes.
One downside is that there’s no interior shelf for the refrigerator, which results in a lot of wasted space. A middle shelf to add more storage would be nice.
- The natural wood design is suitable for boys and girls
- Eco-friendly woods
- Easy to assemble
- No interior refrigerator shelf
2. Hape My Creative Cookery Club
This play kitchen is a little smaller. It’s a basic table design with the stove and storage on bottom, and a flat cooking surface on top. It comes in natural wood and green paints.
The oven and cabinets open. There are hooks for extra storage. It comes with a set of basic wooden cookware, plus a set of Hape’s starter food. Many of the foods are pieces with velcro in the middle for real cutting action and sound.
This set is suitable for smaller spaces or if your child has no play food and needs a set all at once. It is small, so it might not be ideal for older children.
- All in one package
- Pleasing colors
- Small size is good for young kids or small playrooms
- Not much detail
3. Melissa & Doug Cook’s Corner Kitchen
Melissa and Doug’s kitchen is a corner style playset with an oven and refrigerator. It has a removable sink and an upper shelf for more storage. It comes in natural wood with red and blue accents from non-toxic paints.
It comes with a real three-minute timer, and all the knobs turn for dramatic effects. The bowl comes out so your child can fill it up for water play. It offers children a little more space for their kitchen play, and two children can play side by side.
It will require several hours of assembly. The pieces are clearly marked, and the instructions are easy to read. However, you might need an extra set of hands to get everything together.
- Large scale is good for more than one child
- Corner style kitchen
- Pleasing colors
- Not modular
Accessories we love:
4. Hape Gourmet Chef Kitchen
Hape’s Gourmet kitchen set is a bigger kitchen with an oven and stovetop plus a cabinet and shelf for storage. It has burners on the top next to a sink. It’s made from sustainably sourced materials and nontoxic paints.
The natural colors fit into many different decors. It comes with basic cookware, including pots, pans, and serving tools, plus spice shakers. It also comes with some basic foods to get their imaginations started.
- Sustainably sourced wood and nontoxic paint
- Traditional kitchen design
- No refrigerator
Accessories we love:
5. Kidkraft Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator
Kidkraft’s kitchen is a fun retro style kitchen with an oven, stove, sink, dishwasher, and a separate fridge/freezer. It’s an entertaining, realistic looking kitchen with a lot of storage and moving parts for dramatic play.
The sink removes so it can be used for water play or cleaned. The set comes in multiple colors including fifties pink. It’s large enough that multiple children can play at once. All the knobs turn for tactile response and realistic action.
It doesn’t come with food or cookware, so you’ll have to stock up on that on your own. It’s a big profile, but the fridge is a separate piece, giving you more options for storage and placement.
- Realistic design
- Comes in many different colors
- Fridge and kitchen are separate pieces
- No accessories
6. Kidkraft Vintage Play Kitchen
If you dream of vintage kitchen spaces, the Kidkraft Vintage Kitchen will fit right in. It’s a classic white color with a fridge/freezer, stove and oven, sink, and overhead microwave.
The knobs turn giving tactile feedback with clicks. There’s storage above and below the sink, plus the fridge and freezer have shelving to hold other play foods. There’s even a cordless phone above the sink.
It’s made from durable wood and uses non-toxic paints and materials. Its decor is a great fit for most rooms, and it’s on the smaller side at just under three feet tall and three feet wide. This kitchen is suitable for younger kids because there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles that can break off in a rambunctious toddler’s hands.
It’s just big enough that two children could play at the same time. If your child is taller or much older than five, it might be too small to suit them. However, it’s a great fit for younger children.
- Nostalgic design
- Fits into smaller spaces well
- Has a lot of extra storage above and below the sink
- Might be too small for older children
7. KidKraft Large Pastel Kitchen
This is an all in one kitchen with an oven, stove, fridge/freezer, sink, and microwave. Everything is attached, so there aren’t any movable pieces. If you have space this is a convenient way to get all the appropriate pieces for the kitchen.
It’s so big that multiple children can play at the same time. It’s a pleasing pastel color scheme that fits in with many types of decor. There are see-through doors on the microwave and oven, and there are hooks and a top shelf for extra storage.
The four burner stove has real rings, not just stickers or paint, so kids will feel like it’s the real thing. It really resembles a working kitchen. It’s big, so it’s better for a playroom or an area with a lot of space.
- Raised burners on the stove
- Big enough for multiple children
- Pleasing pastel color
- Large size might be difficult to fit
Accessories we love:
8. KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen
KidKraft’s kitchen is a modern version of an old classic. This play kitchen is chrome and dark wood, reminiscent of gourmet kitchens found in today’s homes. There’s an oven with a working door and raised burners on the stove. The fridge is a tall fridge/freezer combination with a pretend ice dispenser and a chalkboard space on the upper door. The dishwasher opens and closes, plus the sink removes for water play.
It offers storage on a shelf above and has a towel rack, cordless phone hanger, and hooks. The backsplash is a modern tile print.
It’s large enough for several children to play at once. It’s composite wood, plastic, and some metal parts. You’ll need a big, dedicated space for this set because it’s a single piece. It doesn’t come assembled, so plan to spend a few hours getting everything sorted out.
- Modern look
- Realistic appliances
- Big enough for several children
- No accessories at all
9. KidKraft Grand Gourmet Corner Kitchen
KidKraft’s corner kitchen is a sweet, country kitchen style with white appliances and pink accents. It features a dishwasher, oven, fridge, and microwave, but the arrangement makes the kitchen look like there are windows above the sink.
All the doors open and there’s storage below the microwave and dishwasher, plus the fridge/freezer. Hooks hang above one of the windows for utensils.
It comes with four metal accessories, a pot and pan, and two spatulas. It’s a corner style kitchen, so the placement might not be very convenient. If you have a corner available, it’s going to be a good fit.
One downside is that it’s short. While it looks like a kitchen for older children, the height might make some of them uncomfortable.
- Corner style with more appliances
- Country style is a cute design
- Comes with basic cookware
- On the short side
10. KidKraft Ultimate Corner Kitchen
If you have more space and your child is really interested in dramatic kitchen play this deluxe, large-scale kitchen is a good choice. It features a modern design that mimics stainless steel and dark woods.
It has an oven, microwave, laundry, and fridge. All the doors open and close. The stove top burners and ice maker light up for more realism. They also make sounds when turned to the on position.
The arrangement also gives you two windows on either side of the microwave to open the play space up. It’s elaborate, but you’ll need a lot of space to accommodate it.
- Realistic appliance set.
- Burners light up and make noise
- Ice maker makes sounds when a cup is placed underneath
- Bigger investment
Why Buy a Play Kitchen?
Dramatic play is essential for children. During dramatic play, they act out real-life situations to work out how they feel and what they think. It’s important for children to try on different roles as they play, and they can discover a lot about themselves as they play.
Children at these ages are watching what their parents do. They want to mimic caring for siblings with dolls or take care of pets with stuffed animals. They play doctor and teacher. Another critical part of life for them revolves around meal times and the kitchen. If they have their own space to play this part, they are fulfilling an essential cognitive step.
Play kitchens are also open-ended toys. They encourage children to create and take control of play instead of being told what to do. Single purpose toys (such as those teaching the alphabet) have their place, but an open-ended toy really taps into a child’s natural creativity.
How to Choose the Best Play Kitchen for Your Little Chef
There are play kitchens that are an oven and a flat surface. Some kitchens offer all the essential kitchen appliances in one set. Finally, some kitchens offer all the appliances but in separate pieces.
A small kitchen is good for kids that want a space in the kitchen to cook along side you. It won’t take up much space and will be well out of the way of the real oven. They are also are good for travel. You can even get kitchens so small that they sit on a tabletop with just a basic range and shelf.
Other styles are larger kitchens with stove, oven, refrigerator and other smaller appliances like microwaves or dishwashers. They’re all one unit, but some of them are arranged in a corner to give you more appliances with less length.
Other styles have separable parts. The fridge might be separate from the stove, for example. It gives you some options for arranging things if you have to get creative with space but don’t want to go with a tiny kitchen.
The most significant factor limiting your decision is size. It’s a play kitchen, but some sets can still take up valuable space if space is at a premium where you live.
Your child may appreciate a simple oven/stove in the real kitchen if he or she likes to cook next to you. On the other hand, if you have a finished basement playroom, you might want to spread out and get a realistic looking kitchen with separate pieces and windows.
And it’s not just the footprint size. If your child is older or taller, some kitchens made for children are a bit too short to give a realistic feeling to the kitchen play. You don’t want your child to tower over the appliances while trying to play. Others are too big and elaborate for a younger child.
Plastic is lighter, sure. It’s easier to clean sometimes. But children’s dramatic play toys should also be durable and give tactile feedback. Wooden play sets, or a combination of wood and other materials, give children the sense that the playset is real. The set just feels more substantial.
Wooden playsets made from sustainable, responsibly sourced woods are best. These will reduce chemicals used in composite woods. If you plan to use your playset outside, wood might not be the best choice, however.
Outdoor kitchens will be plastic to withstand the elements, but most people use play kitchens indoors where the wood will be safe from the elements. Younger children might also appreciate the plastic surface that’s easily cleaned.
Some kitchens come all in one with play food and accessories. Others come with just the set. If you’re upgrading from an existing kitchen and your child already has all the accessories, you might not want to add to the chaos. The set is enough.
If this is your child’s first kitchen set, it might be a good idea to purchase a complete kit so they can start playing right out of the box. There are kitchen sets that include cookware, and some even include food.
Hacking your kitchen
If you find a kitchen that you love, but that’s on the pricey side, you can always add touches to a kitchen that’s in your price range. Many people add lights to the microwave, oven, and under the shelf to give it more oomph, for example.
You can paint wood to mimic any surface you like if you buy a basic kitchen. Some people also use real kitchen cookware such as tiny pans made for single eggs. All these little touches give a mass produced kitchen a little flair.
The bottom line
It takes more than just a cute stove to choose the right set. You have to balance your space with the features you need in a kitchen set. Don’t worry if the set isn’t a scale model of a real kitchen. Children’s imaginations are vast, and as long as you give them some tools for play, they can run with it.
The most important thing to remember is that at some point, your child might want to play with you. It makes all the decisions about what kitchen to buy worth it when you sit down to eat the “breakfast” your child has cooked especially for you.
Did you have a play kitchen growing up? What are your must-haves for a play kitchen for your children? Let us know in the comments below.