It’s funny how your kids seem to distract you in every which way when you’re in your own kitchen trying to make them sit down in their high chair for a meal they will probably refuse and throw onto the floor while looking you dead straight in the eye, yet all they want to do is play in a toy kitchen of their own. Considering, most things toddlers and young children do are, well, just weird, we’ll save you the time and energy of trying to figure out the reason for this strange dynamic and just accept it for what it is: an awesome opportunity to distract your children for hours at a time.
Play kitchens captivate even the busiest, most easily distractible kiddos—and the more random trinkets and real-life features they have, the more of a time-suck they become. So whether you’re stuck working from home for the foreseeable future, need to get a few things done around the house on the weekends, or just want to sit and read a damn book in peace (albeit with the noise of pots and pans smashing in the background), this is an essential children’s toy that every parent needs (yes, it’s a gift for you just as much as it’s a gift for your child).
Choosing a kids’ kitchen is about as tricky as picking out a new granite countertop for your own kitchen—there are endless options. To help you narrow down your list to the ones that make the most sense for you (and will occupy your kiddo the longest), we’re sharing our own list of the best toy play kitchens on the market today.
Warning: You may be envious of your kid’s new kitchen if you purchase the Uptown White Play Kitchen from KidKraft. It’s all-white with a beautiful gray backsplash that looks like tile and a wooden counter complete with a four- burner stove. Fake, but oh-so-adorable, appliances include a faux stainless steel sink, oven, dishwasher, fridge, freezer and microwave. Word to the wise: Make sure you have enough room in your play area for this toy kitchen, because it’s a big one! Also, set aside an entire weekend day to build it.
Here’s another play kitchen you’ll want to make your own reality. With rose gold chrome features, including handles, turnable knobs and the faucet, it’s about the cutest toy kitchen we’ve seen. It’s also sensibly structured—with the fridge (clad with an ice maker and a cup with two ice cubes that mimics the real-life function) to the left, the oven in the middle and the sink all the way to the right. The stove top is also made of faux marble, which just adds to the cuteness.
This might not be the style kitchen you’d design for yourself, but it has every knick knack and bell and whistle your kiddo could ask for—and thus will keep him incredibly distracted for enough time for you to throw in a couple loads of laundry at least. It has pretty much everything a kitchen could have—realistic lights and sounds to up the pretend play ante. There are even coffee pods to go along with the coffee pot and storage bins to keep all of the five condiments the set comes with. Also included: plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives, spoons, salt & pepper shaker, colander, pot and pan set and more.
If you’re looking for a toy kitchen that is just as elegant as the rest of your house, we love this one by Teamson. Honestly, we love it so much we kinda wish we could transform it into our own very real kitchen. This next-level kitchen features a farmhouse sink, a chalkboard surface on the fridge for a little whimsy, and a rotatable gas switch. Suitable for kids 3-12, this kitchen is pricier than others, but it’ll hold up a long, long time.
Toy brand Melissa & Doug do everything right, so it’s no surprise that their pretend play toy kitchen is one of their most popular toys for ages 3-8. It comes with everything your child needs to experience full-on pretend play, including an oven, stove, microwave, sink, refrigerator with a working “ice” dispenser, freezer, and even ample storage space for easy cleanup. It’s innovative so your child can interact with it in multiple ways. For example, the ice maker dispenses two “ice” cubes (which are included), the dials turn, the microwave plate spins, etc. It even comes with a grocery checklist!
If you’re into the vintage look, this is a great option for you that your little one will love. It’s made for children 36 months-3 years and includes a removable sink, oven knobs that click and turn and doors that open and close with ease. While it comes with the cups, plates and frying pan, some of the parts you have to purchase separately, like the pretend food, but with a full kitchen like this, your child may not even find use for fake food!
Best play kitchens for small spaces:
Looking for a play kitchen that’s on the smaller side and that won’t rival your very own working kitchen at home? Consider this cutesy pretend play oven designed in a traditional style with colors that kids love. It comes in pink, blue and an oxford style that also includes a microwave overhead. The regular stove-only style features 4-ring hobs with frying pans and play food, two utensils, gingham oven gloves, a clock with movable hands, and an easy-open oven with a removable rack inside.
If you haven’t heard of Lovevery yet, it’s time to get acquainted. The award-winning play products brand, has individual kits that are geared towards the various stages of a child’s development. Their “Helper Kit,” which is designed with 25, 26 and 27-month-old kids in mind, is basically like a little play kitchen without the bulkiness of so many on the market today. It includes a “Super Sustainable Sink” that comes with bio-based cups and plates, and here’s the best part: You just add a little water to it and it can run for hours and hours in a loop-system so that playing with the sink isn’t wasteful. It also comes with a few other activities including a Drop and Match Dot Catcher, Felt Flowers in a Row, a fun puzzle and an art kit with washable tempera paint sticks.
This petite kitchen will add a splash of color to your space, but it won’t take up too much room. It includes all the basics, like utensils, an oven, stove, and sink. The materials are made from sustainable rubberwood, so you can feel extra good about your purchase.
This small, but impactful, toy kitchen comes complete with all of the kids’ fake cooking needs. It has a sink, stove, oven window, cabinet and even a spice shelf! It’s great for you because it takes up way less space, but still has all of the important bells and whistles kids love. The only downside is that kitchen supplies (like plates, cups, and pretend food) are all sold separately.
Best play kitchen accessories:
This toy kitchen set comes with the works.The 23-piece set includes 23 pieces include: a colander, stainless steel play pots and pans with lids and handles, utensils, an apron and chef hat, pot holder and cutting vegetables toys.
This 135-piece set comes with basically every pretend food imaginable, giving your little tons of room for creativity and versatility in their menu-making. We definitely suggest having some storage options for this set, since it’s likely that your kid is going to want to use up *all* the ingredients during playtime.
Although real fast food is for special occasions, there’s nothing wrong with pretend fast food all the time. Your little will love “making” cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and fries with this 18-piece set.
If you have the room, this play grocery stand gives your kid the option to shop for their food and *then* prepare it. This set includes six bins to sell food out of, counter space for a scale and cash register, play money, and an assortment of “fresh” produce, like bananas, potatoes, strawberries, beets, and more.
Looking for more great ways to entertain the littles and give you a well-deserved break? Check out all of our mom-approved kids toys.