The best play kitchens often create the cornerstone of a playroom just as a special dollhouse, train track or indoor jungle gym might—and for good reason. From around the age of 3 or, these interactive imaginary play toys become super interesting to little ones as they look to mimic what the adults around them are doing. Many parents, like myself, are eager to introduce a play kitchen for this very reason: because it’s fascinating to watch your once milk-drunk baby hone their independence and try adult life on for size. The more difficult part comes when you try to determine which of these best play kitchens meets your budget, needs and preferred aesthetic.
The best play kitchens open up endless imaginary play with realistic looking cooking tools and ... [+] appliances. Wooden Toys
“Your child’s play kitchen does not need to be elaborate to be effective,” says Dr. Traci Williams, a board certified psychologist with a speciality in child psychology and infant and toddler development. Conversely, she notes that the positive impact it can have on a child is robust: “What might look like simply preparing a pretend meal, is actually developmentally complex [and ultimately] helpful for developing early executive functioning skills,” as well as “sequencing, an early component essential for later math, language and science skills.” Promising, right?
Still, deciding what the best play kitchen is requires some research. And there are, of course, some factors to consider—like where will this piece of furniture live, how long do you hope to have it and will it be used for one child or several? With this in mind, I used both personal experience, interviews with play and developmental experts and reviews from real parents to determine which ones are worth your interest. Here are the nine best play kitchens. After you peruse this list, you might be interested in reading more of our toy guides (found below these picks) or the best toddler beds, top convertible car seats and the best travel strollers.
Pottery Barn Kids’ selection of play kitchens is robust to say the least, so you can most likely find one that matches your kitchen. That was initially what drew me to this one when I put it on my son’s birthday wish list. But, aside from the fact that the Chelsea All-in-1 play kitchen comes in four colors and is quite pretty, it’s also a really wonderful opportunity for open-ended play. The cabinets and knobs function like the ones in your real kitchen (although there’s no water or heat from the oven, of course). The oven and fridge are spacious enough for plenty of play food, pots and pans and so is the sink. These functions allow my son to explore safely and use his imagination while I get a free moment to cook our actual food. I’ll note that it wasn’t too difficult to put together (it took maybe an hour) and its durable materials have withstood a lot of mess and, um, energetic faux chopping. While it’s pricier than other options I have found it to be worth it.
Hape combines simplicity, good design and great prices to create toys that captivate little imaginations. This petite play kitchen includes everything from a sink and stove to a spice shelf and cabinet. Your kids will also delight in the turnable, clicking knobs and the oven with a window. These features, along with the red burners, allow for lots of imaginative play and opportunity for parental involvement. “You can help their language development by describing what they’re doing and by asking questions,” says Dr. Williams. “Let them take the lead and assign you a role; this can help your child understand regulation and can encourage leadership.”
It is more petite than our Pottery Barn pick, but at this affordable price, you could add-on the Hape toy refrigerator or an extra round of play food or pots and pans. Reviewers say it’s “small enough to move from room to room” others call it “well made” and “very sturdy.”
Milton and Goose has a reputation for creating well-made and beautiful pieces that are pleasing to parental eyes and enjoyable for kids. Its play kitchen is no different. This kitchen is crafted in the U.S. from sustainable birch and maple wood and uses non-toxic materials, including water-based, low-VOC and HAPs-free finishes. Like other models in this arena, it has four burners, a pull-down oven door, a cabinet under the sink and turning knobs. I especially appreciate the magnetic closures on the doors so your child won’t risk slamming their fingers in the cabinets. It includes a cutting board to safely practice fine motor skills. It’s smaller than the Pottery Barn kitchen but a bit bigger than Hape’s.
While there aren’t as many bobs and bits with this option (a play refrigerator is sold separately), that’s not a downside according to Dr. Williams: “Keeping the kitchen set simple [helps] to avoid sensory overload, which can prevent your child’s ability to learn and enjoy their set.” And, as far as price is considered, the only real difference between this and less expensive options is the aesthetic. It’s like the difference between a Wolf and a La Cornue oven—they’re both gorgeous, it just depends on your preferred style and price point.
If you’re looking for an outdoor option suited to endless play, or just a spacious, well-stocked play kitchen that fits multiple cooks, this Step2 plastic kitchen might be for you. Not only does it feature all of your traditional kitchen fare, like a fridge, ice maker, oven, drawers, sink and several countertops, but it also has a grill, microwave and high cabinetry. It’s not the most trendy-looking of the bunch but its height and size make it an optimal choice for families with multiple children as it can be used from toddlerhood to elementary school age. It’s also made from durable plastic so it doesn’t require care that wooden options do and can easily be wiped clean. In short, if you’re a family that spends lots of time outdoors and need a break here and there to do some grilling or lounging of your own, consider this Step2 walk-in kitchen.
This realistic-looking kitchen isn’t just adorable—it also has a handful of accessories that really make it feel like the grown-up version. In addition to a stainless steel-esque sink and set of burners, this kitchen has open shelving, two drawers, an oven that opens (and knobs to go with it), as well as a cabinet under the sink and a microwave. On top of the necessities, it includes a handful of accessories like a cordless phone, cutting board, pots, pans, lids and a spatula—most of which more typically need to be bought separately with other play kitchens. It’s most typical in size to the Pottery Barn play kitchen featured in this list. With all the add-ons and a price that’s quite affordable for the level of quality, this Teamson Kids play kitchen is a great buy.
Take one look at this colorful Janod kitchen and it’s easy to tell it’s fun. But what isn’t discernible at first glance is that it’s double-sided. While this makes it a great option for smaller spaces that require multi-function toys and playthings, this also makes it an ideal purchase for families with multiple children—twins or otherwise. On one side, it’s a kitchen and on the other it’s a pantry and laundry room. A major perk is that it comes preassembled (not the case for most other play kitchens), and the Janod play kitchen includes a plethora of accessories like an oven mitt and cooking tools. There are clicking and rotating buttons, lights and sound effects to add to its appeal.
As one reviewer wrote, “I bought this kitchen/laundry set for my now three and 4.5 year nearly two years ago and it’s going strong! My boys love this kitchen and laundry set and they often turn it themselves, taking turns who’s doing laundry and who’s cooking. The quality is great and it shows minimal wear surprisingly after so long. We get lots of compliments on it from parents who come by for play dates with their little ones.”
At 20 by 23 inches this Tender Leaf set is one of the most compact options out of this collection of adorable play kitchens, making it great for toddlers. The Mini Chef Home Kitchen comes with the standard oven, sink and cupboards but it also has a few additions that others don’t have, like a kettle, cups and saucers, an oven tray and utensils. As if that wasn’t sweet enough, it even has the full cottagecore gamit: a gingham tea towel, soap and a baguette they can practice slicing (hello, fine motor skill practice). If your toddler is under 3, however, please be aware that some of the small parts aren’t suitable and can present a choking hazard. For younger ones, these items can be rotated in later to create for even more imagination exploration.
Frankly, this B. Toys kitchenette is a great option for kids of any age, but it’s specifically suited to older kids because it’s one of the tallest options out there (it’s 43 inches tall and nearly 29 inches wide). If you’re looking for a long-term option, this is worth a look because reviewers shared that they purchased this for kids ranging from 1 to 6 years old and all of them loved it. The playful colors make it easy to understand why. The cheery little kitchen includes an oven, stove and sink, as well as a microwave, dish rack, open and closed storage space, pots and pans, dishes, knives and utensils. In short, it has everything little ones might want to make their own play restaurant or pretend they’re making breakfast like mom or dad.
For just over $100, this Fat Brain Toys deluxe kitchen has all the bells and whistles. Made of all wood, this play kitchen set has the classic oven, cooktop and sink combo, plus a microwave. The microwave has a magnet to close it and a knob that functions like a timer. The oven range has a light and makes fan sound-effects, too. The knobs even click and there’s a coffeemaker, which every parent knows is essential for a realistic kitchen. In addition to all that, there are also utensils, cups, spoons, plates, pans and lids, as well as a dish holder under the sink. This wooden play kitchen is all about the imaginary play in a realistic, modern setting.
With any item that I include on a parenting “best” list, expert opinion, real-life trial and error, conversations with parents and reviews come into play. Each kitchen was selected from the suggestion of a parent, my own experience or glowing reviews. I spoke with multiple therapists to curate this list and leaned into my own parental know-how as well.
Forbes also has deep experience reviewing and testing baby and kids gear, including the best baby monitors, diaper bags, crib sheets and twin mattresses for kids. You may also want to take a look at our other Gift Guides and toy guides, including the following:
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