Pretend play is one of the best ways that kids can use their imaginations and dive into their own little worlds of make-believe and kitchen sets are a great way to foster this.
"A play kitchen set offers the potential for increased imagination, interaction, and independence," says Eileen Lamb, mother of two and founder of The Autism Cafe.
Before purchasing, consider the space allotted for the set in your child's bedroom or playroom as well as the recommended age for each product. Some are more suitable for toddlers as young as one or two years old, while others can be enjoyed equally by older kids. Also, take note of any educational elements that help your child learn.
Taking those factors into consideration, we researched, tested, and rounded up the best play kitchens for kids of all ages, considering the size, material, and accessories of each.
KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen
Can accomodate multiple children at once
Construction takes time
Play food sold separately
This popular kitchen set we tested is well-made and looks just like the real thing. The KidKraft Uptown Espresso Wooden Play Kitchen has four stove burners on top of an oven, complete with dials that turn. The fridge and freezer combination is the perfect place to store play food, which is sold separately. The modern smartphone included has its own holder, and a chalkboard on the freezer is the perfect place to write a cute note for your little chef.
You do need to assemble it yourself—which we found can take a while—but once you do, you and your child will be happy with the made-to-last set that is as modern-looking as it is fun. We recommend doing this out of sight of your children because it's a long process that requires a lot of patience. Once assembled though, this set provided hours of entertainment and independent play. But, you'll have to supply the play food yourself. Still, for the entertainment and educational value provided, the price feels justified.
During testing, we found that the buttons on the microwave allow kids to work on numbers; various play foods mean they can compare colors and sizes; and different kitchen tools have them picking up new vocabulary words, adding to the educational value of this pick. When playtime is over, the sink is removable for easy cleanup, while the transparent doors on the microwave and oven ensure that your little one isn't hiding anything they shouldn't. The solid wood construction proves durable, so your child can enjoy it for years, making the price and assembly time worth it in the long run. Plus, it's not an eyesore in your living room or kid's bedroom.
Price at time of publish: $161
Dimensions: 43 x 17.75 x 41 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: Wood
Cute Stone Pretend Play Kitchen Sink Toys
Fits on table
Best for older kids
Requires setup for water
For less than $30, your child can play with a tabletop kitchen set complete with a working faucet, stove, and play food. The realistic lights and sounds make your children feel like they're actually cooking. They experience every step from boiling water, to using the stove, to cleaning dishes and leaving them to dry afterward.
Unlike more expensive options on this list, you don't have to buy play food separately. The set comes with colorful fruits and vegetables for kids to simulate cutting and slicing. When you're done playing, store the food in the sink basin for easy storage. The small size makes it easy to put away at the end of the day, while bigger options often become permanent parts of your space. Smaller playrooms or apartments will also appreciate the size when they can't accommodate something larger.
Because it sprays water that could damage the battery or stovetop if played with too rough, this set is probably best for older kids who won’t be tempted to swing the faucet around wildly. You can always remove it for the younger set if needed.
Price at time of publish: $161
Dimensions: 17.36 x 9.92 x 5.43 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: Plastic
West Elm Mid-Century Play Kitchen
Made of real wood
Anti-tip hardware included
No lights or sounds
Most expensive set on this list
For the child (or parent) with a keen eye for design, it’s hard to beat the Mid-Century Play Kitchen from West Elm. Every detail is carefully considered, from the tapered legs to the acorn and white colors. It has a sink, stove, oven, and fridge, plus a couple of extra cabinets for storage.
There aren’t as many interactive features on this set, even though it is priced quite high. You'll also have to provide your own play food and kitchen utensils. The benefit comes from the high-quality construction materials, kid-safe water-based finishes, and unique, modern look. Because of the beautiful design, you won't mind making this play kitchen a permanent fixture of your home, which is good because it weighs over 50 pounds. Luckily, it comes with anti-tip hardware to create the safest play station possible for little ones.
Price at time of publish: $699
Dimensions: 36 x 11.5 x 32 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: Wood
Best Choice Products Pretend Play Kitchen
Boasts a lot of storage
Features realistic lights and noises
Comes in three colors
Long assembly time
The realistic features are abundant with this kitchen set from Best Choice Products. It features a faux marble backsplash and kids can draw on the chalkboard exterior of the fridge, which fosters creative play as well. The stove lights up and makes realistic clicks with every turn, while the ice machine sounds like it's actually in use to add to the realistic nature of this pick.
The included utensils look like miniature versions of the real deal, such as pots, pans, spoons, and spatulas. Other fun add-ons include a towel rack and a cordless phone. There's plenty of storage on the included shelf, along with the oven, microwave, and fridge, so cleanup is a breeze. We also love that it comes in three colors from a realistic white to playful pink or blue.
You will definitely have to devote some time to putting this kitchen together, maybe even a couple of hours, but in the end, you'll have a sturdy play kitchen that's safer and more solid than other plastic options.
Price at time of publish: $120
Dimensions: 25 x 19 x 22.5 inches | Age Range: 3 and up | Material: Wood
Best for Older Kids
Naomi Home Play Kitchen Set
Boasts modern features
Wooden set as opposed to plastic
Lots of storage space
Long and tedious assembly
Older kids and parents who want a more realistic look in their kitchen set will love this gourmet set from Naomi Home. The look is sleek and modern with features that resemble fancy subway-tile backsplash, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances.
It includes a four-burner stove, an oven, a dishwasher, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a sink—everything they need to cook up a storm in serious style. Extra cute details include an ice and water dispenser graphic on the refrigerator, a chalkboard on the freezer for notes, and a dish towel bar. There's also a chalkboard on the fridge, for older kids who are just learning to read and write. It stands nearly 3.5 feet tall, so older kids as old as 10-year-olds can get in on the fun. Because of this, it's a great investment that grows with your child as they discover more accessories and features as they get older and more advanced. This also makes up for the long and tedious assembly time.
Price at time of publish: $155
Dimensions: 40.5 x 16.75 x 41 inches | Age Range: 3-10 years | Material: Wood
Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset
Features a host of cool additional features
Includes a recycle bin
Play food not included
The Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen has a host of cool features like faux appliances and sound effects for hours of interactive play. Your toddlers will love playing house with the realistic oven, microwave, and refrigerator. When they put the special frying pan or boiling pot on the stove, they'll hear the sound of food cooking! Also, the microwave features a working keypad with interactive buttons and sounds.
While play food is not included, your toddler will receive tons of accessories for cooking, measuring, and storing their culinary creations. It even includes a recycle bin to promote eco-friendly practices that doubles as storage space for all of those accessories. Choose from a contemporary color scheme with realistic and neutral colors, or a modern option with more pops of color to liven up your playroom. Both fall on the affordable side, but note that it is made of plastic, which isn't as durable or long-lasting as other wooden options.
Price at time of publish: $118
Dimensions: 27.99 x 14.02 x 41.5 inches | Age Range: 2-6 years | Material: Plastic
TP Toys Muddy Maker Mud Kitchen
Removable sink basin
Not as detailed as indoor sets
Kitchen sets for kids don’t need to be restricted to indoor use. This outdoor mud kitchen from TP Toys is designed to withstand the elements and rough outdoor play. It has four play burners and a removable sink so that your explorer can get their fill of mud and bring it back to the kitchen.
If you don't want to get too messy, add sand instead of mud for a makeshift sandbox/ water table hybrid. The sink is removable for easy rinsing after playtime ends. Plus, there's a substantial storage shelf underneath for keeping pots and pans organized in one place. We love the adorable "Mud Kitchen" sign that doubles as a chalkboard for customization.
It looks more rugged than many other kitchen sets, but it's made of FSC-certified pressure-treated wood to keep it looking great, even with outdoor use. It is expensive, given its limited features, but is worth the cost for the hours of imaginative play your child will get.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 43 x 38 x 44 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: Wood
Step2 Modern Cook Play Kitchen Set
A lot of accessories
Unique play items
Easy to assemble and move around
Stickers made it hard to clean
Loaded with tons of accessories, this set from Step2 allows your child to do everything from serving their favorite meal to pouring you a pretend cup of coffee. They can even separate their recyclables for a lesson on helping the environment. There are two separate stove sections, which include lights and sounds and a play sink in the middle. While there isn’t a ton of storage beyond the oven and fridge, this set does feature hooks for hanging utensils, cups, or even an apron.
Great for little chefs, the age limit is 2 years and up, but there's no doubt older kids will enjoy it as well. We also love the adorable window that's perfect for hours of playing peekaboo.
This is a plastic set and has stickers on the front for the design, which can make it harder to clean. The budget-friendly price reflects that, however, making it a good set to choose if you aren’t ready to invest in a wooden set or aren’t sure how much your child will use a play kitchen. This also makes it easier to move around your space, so it doesn't have to live in one room forever.
Price at time of publish: $100
Dimensions: 38.5 x 35.14 x 11.5 inches | Age Range: 2 years and up | Material: Plastic
Best for Small Spaces
Teamson Kids Little Chef Chelsea Modern Play Kitchen
Four color options
Difficult assembly instructions
Even if space is limited in your play area, your child can still enjoy an adorable and fully functional play kitchen. This Teamson Kids Little Chef Chelsea Modern Play Kitchen comes in two stand-alone pieces: You can push them together for a side-by-side setup, or keep them separate to take advantage of smaller spaces.
It features a farmhouse sink, stove, oven, and fridge, complete with a pretend water dispenser and smart display. The faux brass hardware and modern colors make this set as stylish as any real-life kitchen. The gray, white, and woodgrain options feel realistic and modern, while the bright pink is more playful and whimsical. The MDF construction is sturdy and easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. The assembly directions can be a bit difficult to follow, so be sure to set aside ample time to get it up and running. Once assembled, your toddler will have endless fun for years to come.
Price at time of publish: $213
Dimensions: 41.61 x 11.81 x 32.88 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: MDF
Best for Solo Play
iKea SPISIG Play Kitchen with Curtains
Multiple ways to play
Great for solo play
Not a lot of storage space
For solo play, we recommend this sleek play kitchen from IKEA. One of the best parts of this set is that it has two ways to play: kitchen or stage. Your child can pretend to cook on the stovetop, oven, sink, or cabinet while looking through the cheery striped curtains. Later, they can turn the set around and use it as a puppet stage, with those same curtains adding drama to their play.
There is also a chalkboard to announce the chef’s specials of the day, the latest theatrical production, or just for doodles. There isn’t a ton of storage, so you may need some extra space to keep their play food and dishes. Because this is a more compact set, it’s best for one child at a time or to pass down from child to child.
The stove knobs click when you turn them for a realistic touch, adding to the imaginative play. This is not an accessory-heavy option, so you may want to purchase some pretend food to add to the fun. Luckily, it's very budget-friendly, so you can devote more cash to accessories.
Price at time of publish: $70
Dimensions: 21.62 x 14.62 x 38.62 inches | Age Range: 3 years and up | Material: Fiberboard
We loved the tested KidKraft Uptown Espresso Wooden Play Kitchen best for its modern design, interactive features, and high entertainment value. If you're looking for something less expensive that's conducive for small spaces, look to the CUTE STONE Pretend Play Kitchen. It fits on your tabletop, comes with adorable play food, and features a unique water filtering system.
What to Look for in a Kitchen Set for Kids
Before purchasing a kitchen set for your child, make sure that you measure your available space. Most sets are designed to be placed flush against a wall, but you can also find sets made for corners or even tabletops. If you aren’t sure where you plan to put the set, look for one that can be turned or even separated into two pieces, like the Teamson Kids Little Chef Chelsea Modern Play Kitchen, which we recommend for small spaces.
Most kitchen sets for kids don’t come with a lot of accessories—usually just a few utensils, pots, or play food. You can find accessories that go with your kitchen set or purchase them from a different brand. Think about how much you want to spend on accessories, what kind of play food and tools your kids will enjoy, and how you plan to store them.
For example, our best lightweight option comes with 25 interactive accessories, but you'll want to purchase play food additionally for more play opportunities.
Accessories are a must for Eileen Lamb, mother of two and founder of The Autism Cafe. "Whether they come with the kitchen, or I have to curate them separately, accessories are also a must-have for any play kitchen. A nice range of kitchen items broadens the possibilities for play," she says.
One of the best aspects of a play kitchen is the way that your child can interact and use their imagination. Kitchen sets are a great way for kids to engage in their own make-believe world, whether that is cooking a meal for siblings and friends or creating their own play restaurant. Encourage your child to interact with their toys and friends, whether they are cooking, playing restaurant, or playing outdoors with a mud kitchen. Luckily, many options on this list can accommodate more than one child at a time, including our best overall pick.
Interaction also ties into the material of your play kitchen because sturdy construction and high-quality material leads to more interaction for more years. " Kids play rough—at least my boys do—guided by very little sympathy for hands-on toys like this. I want a piece that’ll stand the test of time," says Lamb.
Lamb often opts for a strong material like wood. "High-quality generally means a set won’t be made from thin, flaky fiberboard. So, unless a wooden example is cost-prohibitive, which they often are, that’s what I try to go with. As a bonus, they tend to look nicer, too, and are made from a renewable and sustainable resource," she continues. For extra sturdy options, look for included anti-tip hardware, seen in our best splurge option, to ensure your child is safe while playing.
What are the benefits of playing with a kitchen set?
As with other play structures, kitchen sets allow children to engage in imaginative play as they mimic movements they have seen in adults. With imaginative play comes many other benefits including improving social or communication skills, according to Lamb. "There are lots of new words to learn, and opportunities to make learning fun," she says. "These skills seem to grow directly from the imaginative play that’s possible with a play kitchen. My son loves to act like a chef and makes the best imaginary pizzas."
How do you clean a play kitchen?
Cleaning a play kitchen is pivotal for preventing the spread of germs, especially when play food accidentally ends up in a child's mouth. With plastic kitchen sets, washing with soap and water is a great way to clean kids toys and surfaces. Some may even be dishwasher safe, but be sure to confirm this beforehand. Additionally, surface wipes are a quick fix for a pretend counter or pizza cutter.
For wood kitchen sets, you have to be a bit more gentler. Opt for a gentle cleanser such as an environmentally friendly dish soap and some warm water, or your favorite non-toxic multi-purpose cleaner diluted with water. You never want to soak wooden, but similar to wooden cooking utensils, some may be easily cleaned with dish soap or placed in the dishwasher.
Is it worth getting a play kitchen?
Play kitchens are large structures with a lot of pieces, so they are often very expensive. Debating whether to get one for your own home depends on a variety of factors. It depends on your budget and space as well as your child's interest. Lamb knows that the interest in this type of toy will vary from kid to kid. "My youngest is crazy about his play kitchen but my oldest, who’s severely autistic, never showed any real interest," she says. Confirm the play kitchen you pick up fits with your child's interests to ensure you get the most use out of it.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Julia Fields, an associate editor for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product roundups, expert-focused articles, and more.
Expert advice was provided by The Autism Cafe author Eileen Lamb.