The toy kitchen is an awesome place for toddlers to work and play together, use their creativity, learn to use new tools, and be just like mom and dad! They are not only a great place to get kids playing together, they're also awesome for practicing fine motor skills, creating and executing plans, learning to count, and cooperating with other children and adults.
The best play kitchens for babies and toddlers not only look nice but are high quality, functional, have cause-and-effect relationship toys, and are easy to assemble, safe to use, and last long enough to make a great hand-me-down. Our hands-on reviews found a set of awesome play kitchens and utensil sets that will be sure to please even the pickiest little chefs out there!
Below we reveal the top 5 toy kitchens, followed by our full reviews.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. KidKraft Uptown Kitchen|
|#2. Hape Wooden Kitchen|
|#3. Step2 Fun Friends Kitchen|
|#4. KidKraft Vintage Kitchen|
|#5. Melissa & Doug Kitchen|
Here are the Best Play Kitchens of 2019!
This KidKraft kitchen is a truly excellent play kitchen for babies, toddlers and bigger kids. This is actually the first play kitchen we ever purchased and it had a successful and lengthy lifespan in our home with two rambunctious boys, and that's saying a lot! There are several versions of this play kitchen. There's the espresso version, which is pictured. Then there is the very similar uptown natural version, which changes the colors from the dark espresso cabinets to a natural wood color. And the uptown pastel version, which changes it to a beach-style color pattern. Finally, there is a bigger uptown espresso corner play kitchen that is much larger and designed to fit into a corner. They are all fantastic, though the larger corner version has some added features like a battery-operated ice maker that makes the crunching sounds just like the real thing, and stovetop burners that light up when turned on. In our opinion, they are some awesome extra features, though we totally understand that it might be over-kill, get annoying to turn off, and expensive to keep swapping out batteries for. So maybe not worth the extra $50 or so. So back to the basic uptown espresso kitchen. Out of the box, assembly takes about an hour and does get a little arduous; the instructions are just like Ikea play kitchen instructions - mostly just pictures that you need to figure out. Once assembled, it measures about 43" wide, 17" deep, and 41" high. It has impressive quality for its price (about $140), and everything works pretty well. The doors open and shut closed easily and securely, the unit (when tethered to the wall) is sturdy and secure enough to support a little monkey who decides to go for a climb, and everything just works pretty well. The dishwasher and oven doors swing open side-to-side rather than downward, which means they don't make a little ramp to stand and jump on (which is good). Over the years, all of the doors took some substantial abuse from our kids, without any issues. One of them did climb on the towel rod (on the side) when he was about 5 years old and ended up breaking it, but that's more his fault than a testament to the quality of this play kitchen! There are some great little features here: oven knobs that spin and click, a sink faucet that turns on and off, a chalkboard on the little freezer, and an adorable little phone that can be taken off the hook and used to "call" in some take-out! Cons? Well, it is made of particle board, which means that it's quite heavy and the wood itself (hiding under the veneer) isn't very high quality. So if a hinge gets ripped out or anything, it will be much more of an issue than with real wood. Other than that, we are impressed with this play kitchen and think the price is right given its size, features, reliability, and overall build quality. What more could you ask for!? Interested? You can check it out the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen here.
Looking for a simple and high quality toy kitchen that won't take up your entire play room? This might be the perfect option for you. This was one of our favorite play kitchens, and we loved so many things about it. First, it's made by Hape, which is one of the best overall toy companies with responsible business practices, high quality wood products, and an eye for style and function. This wood play kitchen is made of premium quality wood (not particle board), and every part feels like it was made with care and precision. Out of the box, it only took us about 15 minutes to assemble, and the instructions were pretty clear and easy to understand (they are a bit like Ikea instructions). Once it's assembled, it feels really solid and sturdy, and it's only like 22" wide and about 13" deep (28" high), which means that it's a great play kitchen for apartments or parents who want to keep things sparse and simple. One of the cool things about this kitchen is that it comes with a toy kitchen utensil set with about a dozen pieces - pot, pan, utensils, salt/pepper shakers, and plates. And they are all similarly high quality wood, and fit into convenient storage places on the kitchen: the utensils hang up top, the plates fit in a slot up top, and the pot and pan can fit easily into the cabinet or oven. So that's really nice if you want to keep things easy to clean up and organize. Add a basic pretend food set, like some fruits, veggies, and meats, and you're all set to go for hours of fun! So overall we really like this play kitchen, and we're impressed with the quality and style. Cons? Well, it's a bit small for taller kids. It is the perfect height for toddlers from about 1-3 years old, but if you have a taller child or one who is older, you might find it much smaller than you need. For reference, the height to the top of the counter is about 23", so take out a ruler and see what height might be good for your child and make sure there's room to grow! Interested? You can check out this Hape play kitchen here.
This Step 2 kitchen is a bit different than many of the others on this list, for a few primary reasons. First, instead of a solid wood or particle board construction, this one is completely plastic. That's good and bad. The good is that it makes it lightweight, reliable, and is less expensive (this one is only about $85); the bad is that it's not as nice looking or stylish, and the entire kitchen is easy to push around or even tip over (make sure you tether any play kitchen you end up buying!). In our opinion, you can't really go wrong with either material, it's really a matter of preference and cost. Second, it includes a large play kitchen set with plastic kitchenware, including pots, pans, plates, utensils, and more. Since plastic is so inexpensive, Step2 can afford to include more for a lower price than most other play kitchen options. Out of the box, there were a lot of little screws to install; we ended up using our power screwdriver for convenience, and it took about 15 minutes to put it all together, nothing too difficult at all. It's similar in size to the KidKraft Uptown, coming in at about 36" wide, 13" deep, and 41" tall; the counter height is about 22" high at the shorter part, and 23" high at the taller center area. This play kitchen does require batteries if you want to use light-up stovetop burners and sounds, but that's not really necessary in our opinion. And the battery part is one of the hardest to assemble, so if you don't need or want the lights and sounds you can just leave that part out to save yourself some time, money (batteries), and frustration. Is it great looking and stylish? No. Is it fun, functional, and inexpensive? Yup. So there it is, a lot of bang for the buck here, a perfect option for a cheap play kitchen that packs a ton of fun! Interested? You can check out this Step2 Fun with Friends Play Kitchen here.
Here's another awesome KidKraft option, in a very different style than the Uptown kitchen, and at a much cheaper price (around $80). This one is sporting a stylish vintage vibe, and while we show it in the popular Pink color, it is also available in Baby Blue and a bright fire engine Red color. They all look great, and function really well. Similar in style and wooden construction to the Uptown, it's pretty well built, well featured, and a lot of fun! Assembly took about an hour, which is basically the same as the Uptown version. Once it's put together, it measures about 33" wide, 13" deep, and 36" high, which is quite a bit smaller overall than the Kidkraft Uptown model, which measures about 10" wider and 5" higher. Other than the size, the basic features are pretty similar: it has two-door refrigerator and freezer combo, an oven, a dishwasher, and a microwave. Just like all the others on this list, it has a sink with a removable/washable basin, and rotating stove burner knobs. It also has a cute little phone that hangs up on a hook. The countertop is only about 18" off the floor, so it's pretty low, making it ideal for 1-3 year olds, but anyone older than that will sort of tower over it and it might be quite a bit too small for them. We loved the vintage styling, the good quality construction and moving parts, and the bang for the buck. We were a little disappointed with just how many parts there were and how long it took to put together, but that's really par for the course with a play kitchen like this. Also, it doesn't come with any play kitchen utensils or other toys, so you'll need to purchase a separate play food set along with this model. Great for the little kids, well-priced, but a bit of a pain to assemble! Interested? You can check out this KidKraft Play Kitchen here.
Similar in style and wooden construction to the Hape play kitchen, this Melissa & Doug play kitchen is an adorable wooden toy kitchen option that is sure to please. It's called the Cook's Corner because it's designed to fit into the corner of a playroom, leaving open more wall space for other things (like storage furniture!), and filling up those awkward empty corners of the room. But that corner aspect is also something that's a little odd about this play kitchen: it isn't shaped at a 90-degree angle, it's more of a 45-degree angle, which means that it doesn't really fit into the corner. Instead, the two sides of it will touch the two walls of the room, but the center of it doesn't fit back and fill the corner. This would be completely a non-issue of it had a solid back wall. But since it doesn't, it's really vulnerable to utensils, play food, and other things falling back into the gap between the back of the play kitchen and the wall corner. But anyway, that did not annoy other reviewers as much as it did us! Out of the box, we found assembly to be just about as complex as the Hape kitchen, which took about 15-20 minutes. The quality of the wooden parts wasn't nearly as nice as the Hape option, as it's comprised of a lot of particle board (along with some solid wood parts). Once it's put together fully, it stands nicely on its own, owing partially to its angled construction that gives it great stability. Of course, you still want to tether it to the wall, but it's nice to have some confidence that it seemed really hard to topple forward onto a climbing child. The play components worked well, and provided many hours of fun for our kids. Unlike many of the better options, this play kitchen set did not include any sort of kitchen tools, pots and pans, or play food. At a price point around $110, we woudn't necessarily expect those things to be included with a wooden play kitchen. So overall we really like this play kitchen, though we did get easily frustrated (and so did the kids) that things could easily slide back behind the unit and become a bit of a bear to retrieve (especially once it's tethered to the wall). Outside of that, it's a pretty reasonably priced wooden play kitchen that will last several years and provide a lot of fun. Note that Melissa & Doug also sells a bunch of different toy kitchen utensil sets (like these wooden kitchen cooking toys). Interested? You can check out this Melissa & Doug Play Kitchen here.
Now that we have a garage full of random play kitchens ready for donation, we can make some pretty strong conclusions regarding the top play kitchens we've seen. And this has been a super fun month of testing for us, and for our kids. They cooked up all sorts of imaginary meals, including appetizers, drinks, main courses, and desserts! They fed their animals, their dolls, each other, and us. They opened up their imaginations and experimented with some play food combinations that were downright disgusting (steak in a hot-dog bun anyone!?), and some that got us thinking of new dinner ideas.
I'm not sure if any of their adventurous pretend cooking and eating will be sufficient to solve a picky eater crisis, but it was definitely nice to see them not freaking out over broccoli and asparagus!
We have been running this site for over 10 years now, and this was our first year reviewing play kitchens. I'm not sure why we waited so long to do this, it was really a lot of fun. We came to realize that a toy kitchen will really last for several years, and realized that every play kitchen we've had in our household was able to be handed down to another child when we were done with it. That seems like a pretty good investment!
In addition to the value prospect of having a good toy kitchen, it will also occupy your child's time and imagination for hours to come! You might realize that your little kids, like 1 and 2 year olds, might first use the play utensils and cooking tools as instruments - using a spatula to bang a pot, or hitting a pot and pan together. Within about a year, when they are around 2-4 years old, the kitchen will come alive with the sound of cooking! Whenever we have play dates, the kitchen becomes a central aspect of parallel play and cooperative play.
While some toy kitchens come with play kitchenware, like pots, pans, tools, and even some food, many of them require that you purchase things separately. This can give you the opportunity to buy all sorts of awesome things, like colorful fruits and veggies, stylish little pots and pans, play cupcake and donut sets, sandwich making kits, and more. One of the things we did was to save old mini cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, etc, and use them as cheap additions to the play kitchen.
Note that we also reviewed two Teamson play kitchens, the pink Retro Wooden play kitchen, and the beautiful Little Chef Berlin Modern play kitchen. Both were absolutely beautiful in their colors and patterns! The Retro Wooden kitchen arrived with several chipped and cracked pieces and several screws missing, so we couldn't fully assemble it. But the part that we did get put together, we thought looked great and seemed pretty good quality. The Little Chef Berlin kitchen had several panels with chipped blue wood, there were some random scratches on it, and the hardware seemed pretty cheap quality. We're going to give them another shot next year, but for now we're going to keep the Teamson play kitchens off our list.
When you decide on which play kitchen to buy, also invest in some storage containers to hold all of the play kitchen accessories when they're not being used. Even better, if you can find some containers that are large enough to hold the gear while also fitting into one of the toy kitchen cabinets (or in the play microwave or dishwasher), that will get things completely out of the way and not take up more valuable play-room space.