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Pretend play is one of the best ways that kids can use their imaginations and dive into their own little worlds of make-believe. "A play kitchen set in particular offers the potential for increased imagination, interaction, and independence," says Eileen Lamb, mother of two and founder of The Autism Cafe.
We researched and reviewed top kitchen play sets for kids, evaluating important attributes like durability, educational elements, and included accessories. Based on those factors, we chose the KidKraft Homestyle 2-Piece Kitchen as our overall best pick for its stylish exterior, two-piece design, and additional laundry element.
Here are the best kitchen sets for kids so that they can “cook” their own creations just like their parents.
Best Overall: KidKraft Homestyle 2 Piece Kitchen
Not as durable as other products
What do buyers say? 100+ Wayfair reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
This kitchen set has a vintage style and isn’t just one piece, but two. The main compartment contains the sink, stove, and oven. The knobs on the oven turn and click to make them sound and feel more realistic for play. Combine with some play food for hours of pretend play on the stove or the accompanying two-toned fridge with plenty of storage space.
For another type of pretend play, turn to the included washing machine and laundry basket perfect for filling up with toys or clothes to pretend to wash and fold. The parts being separate make this perfect for all playroom designs. It won't take up as much room as other play kitchen, but still has all of the compartments and tools for plenty of play. And it helps that the design is aesthetically pleasing and adorable.
Best Realistic: Best Choice Products Pretend Play Kitchen
Boasts a lot of storage
Features realistic lights and noises
Doesn't include a lot of additional accessories
The realistic features are abundant with this kitchen set. It features a faux marble backsplash and kids can draw on the chalkboard exterior of the fridge. The stove lights up and makes realistic clicks with every turn, while the ice machine sounds like it's actually in use. 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.
Best for Older Kids: Naomi Home Play Kitchen Set
Boasts modern features
Wooden set as opposed to plastic
Not for younger toddlers
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, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, and 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.
Best Interactive: Little Tikes Cook ‘n Learn Smart Kitchen
Comes with 46 accessories
For little chefs, this kitchen set from Little Tikes is just right. It’s interactive and features fun, realistic sound effects, like the sound of chopping food, eggs sizzling, or water running to keep them engaged. There’s also an app that allows them to play interactive learning games as they cook, using a Bluetooth-enabled device. It also comes with 46 accessories, including food, utensils, and cookware for a complete culinary package.
Best Electronic: Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset
Features a host of cool additional features
Includes a recycle bin
Set is ideal only for ages 2 to 6
The Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen is also a great option for your toddler, and it's a bit more affordable, which parents are sure to love. This set has a host of cool features like faux appliances and sound effects. 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! This play kitchen even includes a recycle bin and pull-out drawer where kids can store play food.
Most Durable: KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen
Construction takes time
This popular kitchen set is well-made and looks just like the real thing. It 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 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.
Easiest to Assemble: Step2 Cozy Kitchen
Easy to assemble
Some accessories included
Lightweight plastic design
Stickers can get worn
Compact in style, this set is the perfect solution for those short on space but with imaginations that want to take advantage of a complete kitchen setup. With a stove, oven, fridge, sink, and two storage cabinets, you would think that this set takes up a lot more floor space than it actually does. It also comes with 21 serving accessories, so you really don’t need to purchase any more unless your child wants something specific. It is easier to construct than some of the more elaborate sets, requiring an adult to connect the counter and knobs only.
This is also an affordable kitchen set compared to some of the heftier wooden versions. Just note that it is made of plastic and may tip easier than a heavier set. The stickers on the front can also become worn over time. If you want a budget-friendly kitchen set that doesn’t take up a lot of room but is still loads of fun, this is the top pick.
Best Budget: 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. If you are looking for a way for your child to interact with their kitchen set in a realistic setting, this is the perfect toy. 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.
Best Outdoor: 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. It looks more rugged than many other kitchen sets, but it's made of pressure-treated wood to keep 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.
Best Lightweight: Step2 Modern Cook Play Kitchen Set
A lot of accessories
Unique play items
Lightweight plastic design
Loaded with tons of accessories, this set 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. 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 include an adorable window.
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.
Best Modern: Teamson Kids Little Chef Chelsea Modern Play Kitchen
No lights or sounds
Even if space is limited in your play area, your child can still enjoy an adorable and fully functional play kitchen. This set 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 still has 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.
Best for Solo Play: iKea SPISIG Play Kitchen with Curtains
Multiple ways to play
Great for solo play
Not a lot of storage space
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.
Best Design: West Elm Mid-Century Play Kitchen
Made of real wood
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. The benefit comes from the high-quality construction materials, kid-safe water-based finishes, and unique, modern look.
Testers loved the KidKraft Homestyle 2 Piece Kitchen for its adorable, vintage design, operational doors, and ample amount of storage. If you're looking for something with more interactive elements and a more realistic feel, the Little Tikes Cook n' Learn Smart Kitchen is another great pick at a similar price.
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.
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.
Accessories are a must for Lamb. "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.
Interaction also ties into the material of your play kitchen because study 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.
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 Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. As a mother of three, Katie regularly puts kids’ kitchen sets to the test. Additional research was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer 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.