With screen time on the rise, the American Association of Pediatrics suggests parents take it back to the basics.
Toys like play kitchens are high on the recommendation list. A simple play kitchen is a goldmine for pretend play.
In the end, the top contenders with unique features stood out. Here are some of the coolest features to be on the lookout for:
- smart phones
- play food
- pet bowls
Before you click “add to cart” on a play kitchen, check out our list to make sure you get the best of the best.
|Best Play Kitchen||Why It's Best||Mom Rating|
|KidKraft Ultimate Corner Kitchen||This kitchen has it all - including a washing machine||♥♥♥♥♥|
|KidKraft Espresso Kitchen||Adorable, modern, and no need for batteries!||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Hape Tabletop Kitchen||Minimal and space-saving||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Little Tikes Tasty Jr. Kitchen||Best budget option - comes with 40 accessories||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Step2 Great Gourmet Kitchen||Two stoves with lots of storage and details||♥♥♥♥♥|
The 13 Best Play Kitchens
KidKraft Vintage Kitchen
The KidKraft Vintage Kitchen is a play kitchen that could have been ripped straight from an old 1950s photo. The quirky angular windows and rounded fridge are adorably vintage.
In true 1950s fashion, this kitchen includes a cordless landline phone. When your child picks up the receiver, tell them that all houses used to have landlines just like that. They won’t even believe you!
This play kitchen runs on a true vintage power source – imagination! The only sounds come from the oven knobs which do produce a click noise when twisted. What’s the advantage of a silent play kitchen? No dead batteries to replace!
I liked that the microwave and oven windows were see-through. Children can watch their food “cook” this way!
Accessories are not included with this kitchen, so order some separately. I recommend something with vegetables so you can teach how to wash them before eating. In case playtime gets messy, the plastic sink is removable and easy to clean up.
While the sink is plastic, the rest of this kitchen is made from durable wood. This nostalgic kitchen will last for years and multiple kids!
KidKraft Exclusive Uptown Espresso Kitchen
The KidKraft Exclusive Uptown Espresso Kitchen is not too big and not too small. Pardon the cliche, but as Goldilocks would say, it’s “just right.”
This play kitchen is roomy enough to accommodate a couple of playmates. It’s small enough, though, to fit nicely in your playroom.
If you want a play kitchen to last for years, this is for you. The manufacturer’s recommended age range is 3 to 7 years. At almost three and a half feet tall with a tall counter height, your child won’t be outgrowing it any time soon.
Play kitchens with chalkboards get extra points in mine and my son’s minds, so we enjoyed the chalkboard surface on the refrigerator. Chalk is not included, but with kids in the house, you most likely have a box or two.
Past the chalkboard and on the side of the fridge, there’s a holster with a play smartphone. This is a neat accessory for getting your son or daughter to stop stealing your smartphone.
A peek in the oven proved a special feature of this KidKraft play kitchen. It’s actually the only one with a pull-out oven drawer. This is perfect for “baking” cookies and other goodies, so be sure to find a play baking sheet.
Parents warn that installing this toy will take a couple of hours, so be sure to set aside a chunk of time! It’s not exactly difficult, just time-consuming. Most customers agree though that it is so worth it the time.
Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen
The Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen is just what a kid needs for hours of fun.
In the picture above, the pink version of this kitchen is shown. The pink is just cute enough without being overbearing. Your daughter will love it.
If you’d rather buy something in a more neutral tone, the Fun with Friends kitchen also comes in brown.
Every Step2 play kitchen comes with an accessory set. This kitchen’s set is pretty expansive. Here’s just a few of the accessories included:
- five condiment bottles
- three coffee pods
- one travel coffee cup
- a pot and pan set
- a colander
- a play smartphone
If having to store all these play food items and cookware seems daunting, don’t fret. The designers of this kitchen thought ahead.
Start at the top. There are molded slants for storing plates and play coffee pods. Six hooks hang from the see-through window to hold utensils.
Move on down. Two storage baskets are hidden under the counter. Plus, the oven and fridge double as storage.
At the bottom, you’ll find a pet hideaway. Here’s where your child can house their favorite stuffed animal. Use the food and water bowls as an opportunity to teach responsibility, even if it’s only to a toy dog.
Noticeably, this is the first of many plastic kitchens on our list. Play kitchens come in wood and plastic. It comes down to an aesthetic choice.
If you go with plastic, like this Step2 kitchen, you can expect a super easy cleanup. It all wipes clean!
Check out more gifts for 3-year-old girls!
KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & Sounds
The KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & Sounds is … big fun. By “big”, I do mean large. It clocks in at 61 pounds! Luckily, it fits perfectly in a corner of a playroom or nursery.
If you are concerned about a potential tip-over, the solid wood construction is sturdy enough to prevent such accidents. Of course, you should always supervise playtime, but parents were pleased they weren’t required to anchor the kitchen to the wall.
The neutral color scheme is pleasing instead of an eyesore. Let’s face it – a lot of kids’ toys are just too garish in color. The browns and grays also make this a good choice for mixed-gender siblings.
What caught my eye about this kitchen was that it included a washing machine. Such a feature is a bit unconventional, but it opens up a new way to play. After all, after a hard day of cooking in the kitchen, it’s best to get some laundry done too!
Also, here’s a life hack: if you buy a play kitchen with a washing machine, you won’t be looking into a laundry playset later!
In my play kitchen journey, I gave special kudos to kitchens that included handles and hooks for utensils. Sure, food and other accessories can easily be stored inside play appliances, but hanging utensils up made for a tidier kitchen.
When it comes to installation, this is definitely one of the easier ones. The instructions are easy to follow and assembly is not complicated. Expect to use a tool or two though.
This play kitchen does have lights and sounds. The stovetop burners glow red for a realistic cooking experience. The ice maker makes realistic ice cube noises but does not dispense any cubes.
KidKraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen Set
The KidKraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen Set is a fun way to introduce your child to sustainable eating practices! Of course, the lesson might go over your kid’s head.
Still, if your kid has a budding green thumb, check out the sweet little window gardens in this play kitchen! These window boxes have on-trend chalkboard labels to name your harvest. Red onions and carrots are on the menu in the kitchen.
Beyond the vegetables, this set includes 18 accessories, including a cutting board, knife, and cookware. My son and his playmates got a kick out of “chopping” the vegetables.
When kids are done chopping up veggies, they can write a reminder note to themselves on the large chalkboard. Drawing a rainbow or a dog also works.
The stovetop does light up and produces sound. Likewise, the ice maker actually dispenses pretend ice cubes.
As for storage, you’ll have plenty of it. The fridge and oven double as storage compartments. Under the sink, you’ll also find storage bins to help keep everything organized.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t pick out the tiny apron sink and how much I love it. Plus, I love how it helps with teaching healthy handwashing habits!
Step2 Espresso Bar Play Kitchen
The Step2 Espresso Bar Play Kitchen is a play kitchen centered around that morning cup of joe. It’s also your chance to instill in your child a love of making you a cup of coffee!
Step2 keeps things fresh with a modern coffee pod maker. Kids can choose between three “flavors” of coffee. Your little one feels like mommy and daddy when they brew a cup of coffee.
This intuitive play kitchen responds to children’s actions with lights and sounds. When the pot is placed on the burner, a boiling sound is triggered. When the pan is on, there’s a sizzling sound. Both produce a red glowing light.
When mealtime is over, children can wash up in the sink with a swivel faucet and handles. After, it’s time to put it all away! There are two storage baskets for organizing the accessories that come included.
The 21-piece accessory set included does not have any play food. However, it does include an array of cookware and play coffee pods.
Melissa & Doug Chef’s Kitchen
The Melissa & Doug Chef’s Kitchen is the play kitchen offering from toy juggernaut, Melissa & Doug. Every parent knows this brand well.
Melissa & Doug don’t disappoint in this case. In terms of style and design, it’s a very modern mix of neutrals with a fun black-splash.
The appliances are mock stainless steel. The microwave has a working turntable, which, shockingly, a lot of play kitchens leave out. On the fridge, you’ll find a little frame for displaying your child’s latest masterpiece.
My son played with the ice dispenser for a good 10 minutes. At 2-years-old, even he could understand the mechanism. You drop the ice cube inside the door and “dispense” it on the other side. Very simple but fun.
What does this kitchen have that the others don’t? This brand is big on imaginative play, so this kitchen includes a grocery shopping checklist. This opens a whole world of pretend when combined with a play shop or farmer’s market.
For parents that prefer to avoid batteries, this one is for you. This kitchen leaves the lights and sounds up to your child’s imagination – no AA’s required.
The accessories are also up to your child’s imagination, or your wallet, because none are included. It does pair well with any play food set though.
Step2 Great Gourmet Kitchen
The Step2 Great Gourmet Kitchen is, at first glance, a lot to take in. Even so, all of these details come together to create a whimsical play kitchen.
Like any true gourmet kitchen, this one has two ovens and an oversized refrigerator. On the counter, there’s a built-in cutting board. Hopefully, your tiny chef is ready to whip up some serious meals!
Above the stovetop, there’s a small chalkboard. This a great tool for teaching how to write a shopping list or just to practice handwriting in general. It’s also just really fun to doodle with chalk.
As a parent, you’ll fall in love with the details. Just look at the frosted glass cabinets! The molded shelves keep everything tidy. The movable clock is a great educational tool.
From a toddler’s perspective, my son liked the see-through window in the center. Apparently, it’s excellent for a quick game of peekaboo.
This Step2 play kitchen includes an accessory set. It includes (but is not limited to) ketchup and mustard bottles, a coffee pot, and a tote bag to carry in their haul “from the grocery store.” After all, a true gourmet would do their own shopping.
Teamson Kids Little Chef Marseille Retro Play Kitchen
The Teamson Kids Little Chef Marseille Retro Play Kitchen is a dreamy vision of a play kitchen. Plus, it has so much storage.
What makes this kitchen is a winner is that it comes in two parts. When together, the halves form an L-shape. This is perfect for slipping the kitchen into a corner of a playroom.
If the L-shape doesn’t fit your space, just take the halves apart and find a configuration that works for you.
On one half, you’ll find the sink, oven, and microwave. When a pot or pan is placed on the stovetop, this toy comes to life with a red glow and realistic boiling sounds.
Meanwhile, the microwave has lights and sounds too. When you open the microwave door, it triggers a sound and interior light.
The other half of the kitchen features the refrigerator, shelves, and a large magnetic chalkboard. What kid doesn’t love a chalkboard?
This play kitchen is a pristine white with luxe gold hardware. It will match any room decor. It’s also made from sturdy premium wood, so no tip-over worries here!
Hape Tabletop Cook and Grill
The Hape Tabletop Cook and Grill is slightly different than the other products on this list. You can probably tell that this isn’t a full kitchen set up. Instead, it’s more of a compact stovetop.
This play kitchen alternative has earned its spot for a few reasons. One, the wood is durable and strong so this toy will last. Two, it’s cute! The little knobs and moving clock are simple but fun.
The third reason is the biggest one. This little minimalist stovetop is a space saver. All parents wish we had huge luxurious playrooms where all toys fit but reality often doesn’t match up.
If you don’t have the space for a play kitchen, get the Hape Tabletop Cook and Grill. Your child can still enjoy a pretend cooking session. In fact, with how simple this toy is, children will have more opportunities to use their imaginations!
This compact kitchen set weighs less than 5 pounds. It’s made with non-toxic finishes. Stainless steel pot and pan included, along with a ladle and spatula.
Little Tikes Tasty Jr. Bake ‘N Share Kitchen
The Little Tikes Tasty Jr. Bake ‘N Share Kitchen undoubtedly provides the best bang for your buck. Price-wise, it’s on the lower side for play kitchens. Plus, it includes over 40 accessories, including cookware, utensils, and play food.
While I consider this the best budget option, don’t be fooled. This kitchen has features that the competition just does not have. First, this kitchen has two “Grow With Me” modes.
It starts wide and short for younger chefs. As your child grows, the kitchen components can be stacked for a higher setup.
Customers with multiple kids love this kitchen. The wide set up of the first grow-with-me stage allows for multiple children of various ages and heights to join in.
Second, this kitchen was created for partnership with the popular food network, Tasty. It even includes three recipe cards with Tasty creations.
If you find your child’s pretend dish Tasty-worthy, you can go ahead and snap a picture.
This kitchen includes a smartphone holder to allow for easy photo-taking. To clarify, it holds a real smartphone, not a play one!
I particularly love the charming little purple and blue cupcakes that come with this. Plus, the pot doubles as a shape sorter toy! That’s a great addition for younger siblings.
Hape – My Creative Cookery Club
The Hape – My Creative Cookery Club is a bit of a sleeper hit. Honestly, when I first laid eyes on it, I was sure my son wouldn’t even bother with it.
The Hape My Creative Cookery Club is simple. It doesn’t rely on frills and flash to draw kids in. Its charming wood structure provides everything the larger play kitchens provide, including an oven, a stovetop, and a sink. It even has a small cabinet for storage.
My son actually really liked it. He giggled as he tossed play food into the pans and stirred them up. He liked pretending to sprinkle salt and pepper on everything, including me.
The minimalist look of this kitchen makes it easy to match with any decor. The bright neon green color isn’t my favorite color choice, but it is a fun one.
This kitchen does include accessories as well. The matching pot and pan you see pictured, along with the utensils come included.
The wooden play food is also in the set, including a fried egg, a carrot, and a pizza.
I particularly like the bread and carrot that are included; the pieces of the food are attached with Velcro together so your child can “cut” them.
Teamson Kids Little Chef Boston Kids Play Kitchen
The Teamson Kids Little Chef Boston Kids Play Kitchen is a beautiful wood play kitchen with gold accents. Gold hardware doesn’t mean much to children, but for parents, it adds just a touch of luxury. Most parents would happily set this up in a common space in their home!
This Teamson kitchen comes with nine accessories, including seasoning bottles, a checkered oven mitt, a pot, and a pan. All the appliance doors open and the three oven knobs make a “click and clack” sound when turned.
Interestingly, this kitchen seemed to be a hit with older children. I wanted my son to love it, but he just wasn’t wild about it. I suppose it lacked any bright colors or noises to lure him in.
However, at the play place, while my son ran off to find a fire truck, older kids gravitated towards this kitchen. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The manufacturer recommends this kitchen for an age range of 36 months to 12 years.
With a maximum age of 12 years, this kitchen is the most “mature” of the bunch. The majority of the kitchens on this list are recommended for ages 3 years to 6 years. The KidKraft Farm to Table Kitchen and the Little Tikes Tasty Jr. Kitchen come next in age range, with a maximum age of 10 years.
Children outgrow toys quickly. If you want a kitchen that will truly grow with your child, this Teamson Kids kitchen is an excellent choice.
Buying Criteria for Play Kitchens
Are looks important? It’s an age-old question. Surely, looks don’t matter with people. With toys, though, looks do count for something.
In a play kitchen, parents want something attractive that won’t clash with the decor of their home. Meanwhile, kids need a playset with a style that will draw them in.
In terms of looks, design was taken into consideration. An L-shaped or corner design is convenient.
Colors and patterns were also evaluated. Neutrals meshed better with home decor. Fun colors captured the children’s attention.
In a veritable sea full of toys, something has to make a product stand out. On this list, we emphasized play kitchens with stand-out features.
Some cool features we liked were chalkboards, smartphone holders, and window gardens. Novelties like these catch kids’ attention.
Features can also be an opportunity for learning. Dog food bowls can teach responsibility, while a clock can introduce telling time.
A real kitchen wouldn’t be much without cookware or food. A play kitchen requires accessories too.
Of the 13 play kitchens on this list, 9 of them included some sort of accessory kit.
As a rule, it appears most play kitchens opt to not include food. Of the nine kitchens on this list with accessories, only three of those included play food.
A play kitchen without a food set is not an automatic deal-breaker. Many parents may prefer the opportunity to purchase a set of play food that matches their child’s tastes.
You could even get a fun Play-Doh set to make some squishy food treats.
Don’t just take our word for it! With any product for children, it’s always best to consult with those who have been there already.
Review after review were read. If customers repeatedly raved about a play kitchen, we took notice of it.
On the flip side, if customers ranted about assembly time and difficulty, that was just as important as any list of pros.
How do you quantify fun? In smiles or laughs? You can’t really measure fun. Still, when you see fun, you just know it.
A play kitchen’s fun factor is determined by the little chefs themselves. If a kitchen can hold a kid’s attention, it must be fun.
Smiles and laughs certainly don’t hurt either.
FAQs About Play Kitchens
What is the intended age range for play kitchens?
Generally, you’ll find the recommended age on play kitchens is usually 3 years and up. The third birthday tends to be the sweet spot for imaginative play.
Sure, infants and toddlers can play pretend, too. We have all seen a 2-year-old pretend a remote control is a telephone.
Still, 3-year-olds tend to better grasp big concepts. For example, that remote control suddenly isn’t just a telephone – it’s a telephone that can make calls to outer space!
This big imagination pays off with a play kitchen. There, they can pretend they are mommy or daddy cooking in the kitchen, or they are a chef in a restaurant.
Plus, by 3-years-old, they have better control of their fine motor skills. This means they can chop up food with a play knife or stir up a yummy batter.
What are the benefits of playing with a toy kitchen?
To an outsider, playtime with a toy kitchen may look like just fun and games – and it is! There’s so much more to it though.
Play kitchens give children an opportunity to explore their imaginations. If siblings and friends join in, that kitchen becomes a lesson in teamwork and communication.
It’s even a study in life skills. The toys may be fake, but the skills of measuring ingredients, using appliances, and tidying up are very real.
Do play kitchens include accessories like cookware and food?
A majority of play kitchens on the market do include an accessory set. However, most of these sets are cookware or dinnerware only.
Play food tends to be a “sold separately” option. As a customer, this allows you the freedom to buy a food set that caters to your child’s specific tastes.
Most major brands’ portfolios include play food sets. In fact, every brand on this list sells a separate food set as well.
Should I buy my son a play kitchen?
Yes, yes, yes! We all have to eat, men and women alike. This means that both sexes are better off knowing how to cook.
Play kitchens help foster a lifelong love of cooking and food. This is important for a healthy life.
On the smaller scale though, a play kitchen is simply a great exercise in imaginative play and skill-building. All are welcome in the kitchen!
A play kitchen is one of the pricier toys we can buy our kids. As such, we want to make sure we get our money’s worth, especially when it takes up half of the playroom. It was a tough competition. I found something charming and fun about every single kitchen. My toddler son enjoyed each one as well.
I took into consideration what made each play kitchen stand out from the rest. I also thought back to which play kitchens were the biggest hit with the kids playing with them.
Overall, I crowned the KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen the winner. It truly has it all, including the kitchen sink – and a washing machine, actually. It’s a purchase worth its price.
- Sturdy wood construction
- Convenient corner design
- Includes fun lights and sounds
- Plenty of storage
- A cordless phone with a hands-free clip
- A washing machine
- It does not include accessories
- It’s too large for small spaces
In summary, the pros outweigh the minimal cons. If you’re in the market for a play kitchen, I cannot recommend this one enough. You can click below to check out this play kitchen for yourself.