If you have a toddler in the house, you’re likely very familiar with the desire they have to do EVERYTHING that mom or dad do – including cook. I’ve found it fairly dangerous to have a toddler actually helping with meal prep, it seems like there’s always grease popping, sharp knives, or some type of hot pepper around. It’s not surprising that someone many moons ago invented toddler play kitchens.
We were in the market for our very own play kitchen since she loved the one at school, and I realized just how many are out there. I went in search of a play kitchen that wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in our regular kitchen and had awesome reviews. The below list are some of the most highly recommended play kitchens I came across, along with a review of the one we ultimately got.
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Things to consider when shopping for a toddler play kitchen
Size of your space:
How big is the place you’re going to put this kitchen? This will determine if you get a shorter or skinnier unit, or if you go for a corner piece. You want to make sure you don’t order a behemoth of a toddler kitchen, only to realize it doesn’t quite fit in the two feet you have left on your way beside the refrigerator.
Since so much of this is centered around giving your kids some joy, don’t take away their happiness due to poor measuring.
These kitchens aren’t cheap. There is no $20 option. That said, the price range does vary significantly among some of the different brands I reviewed. There were definitely a few price discrepancies among the brands. You’ll likely be spending $85-$200 on a play kitchen, and I’ve seen them as expensive as $250.
Where are you putting this in your house? If it’s going in the playroom, it may not matter what it looks like. However, if you’re keeping it out in your living room, or in an open concept floor plan, you may have no interest in the neon green or pink plastic options that look very much like kids toys. The great news is, at this time, there are so many different options available I wouldn’t get through them all.
This means different things to different people, but the main factors are around what you’ll need in the kitchen and how old the kids are who will be using it.
You’ll need to decide how important features are when you’re looking at the different models. Some of these kitchens even have actual cooking/smoking abilities. I wouldn’t want my 11-month old in a kitchen with an oven that gets warm, even if it’s by magic.
Highest Recommended Toddler Play Kitchens
In my search, I came across many options for play kitchens, and I’ve rounded up some of the options with the best features and/or reviews, which include how hard they are to put together.
KidKraft Uptown White Kitchen
This is the one we ended up purchasing. I loved it because it was the clean white kitchen I’ve always wanted, in a mini version. It also didn’t stand out like a sore thumb in our REAL kitchen, as some of the plastic options would have. We’ve now had this kitchen for over a year and she loves it. It’s held up really well and feels like a quality piece of furniture.
I loved the price/value. Play kitchens aren’t cheap, but this one has held up well so far, and doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. It wasn’t the most expensive option on the market, but we like how it turned out. The doors are easy to open and close, and there is a ton of storage for all the food products we got to stock it.
I really like how it looks like a real kitchen and doesn’t feel like it’s a bunch of thick cardboard screwed together. I don’t have a bad thing to say about it!
It did take six hours to put together. My hubby did it by himself when we weren’t home (which in my book was a plus — it didn’t take two people) so I didn’t really know if this was a con.
However, if anything is more than a click, snap, you’re done kind of toy, I want to know about it in advance.
It doesn’t come with a chair. Our little one loves the option of sitting down and stirring all her pots. We were given a collapsible folding chair that has worked really well in front of the kitchen, except that it actually collapses when she gets into it incorrectly. If you’re looking for a kitchen with a chair, this isn’t the one, but it’s a pretty standard size for kids so most kids chairs can supplement.
I don’t actually have a “bad” thing to say about this kitchen. We’ve loved it and our little lady thoroughly enjoys “cooking” with us.
I do have to note that our little is not an aggressive toddler. She isn’t slamming the doors off the hinges every day and right now there aren’t any siblings yanking parts around. I just wanted to call this out since I don’t have a point of comparison for serious roughhousing. Based on our experience, this kitchen has held up really well. There are also a lot of Amazon reviews from people who have had multiple kitchens and like this one best (even for multiple children) but I did want to note it since we’ve had such a great experience.
Melissa & Doug Chef’s Wooden Pretend Play Kitchen
This was on our short list because it looked so realistic, and the ice maker “works” and comes with two included ice cubes. The reviews all say how easy it is to put together. Based on the first few reviews of Amazon, it looks like the time it takes to put together is significantly less than our kitchen, but I really wanted the white.
Here’s the Melissa & Doug option in pink:
*Tip: If you’re going to have multiple children and/or don’t only have girls who love pink, go with a more neutral option.
KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen
This is an awesome option for a corner kitchen, with a ton of “extras” like a washer, and lights on the burners and an ice maker that makes real noise.
KidKraft Ultimate Corner Kitchen – Espresso
Vintage Play Kitchen by KidKraft (comes in blue and peach as well as red)
Options Under $100:
Read the reviews on these carefully. I didn’t scour this set as I was looking for a bigger option, and while each of these is reviewed well, you’ll want to make sure they’re easy to put together and that they aren’t flimsy. Sometimes cheaper options rate well due to value for the price. Just ensure you do your due diligence before clicking to buy!
Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen
Teamson Kids Little Chef Wooden Toy Play Kitchen
Stock that Kitchen:
Now that you found the perfect kitchen, you’ll want to make sure you stock it for the big reveal. A pot and pan set, and one or two food sets should do the trick. No need to break the bank here!
Stainless Pots & Pans Set: Melissa & Doug
Stir & Serve Cooking Utensil Set: Melissa & Doug
There really isn’t a “wrong” way to go with a toddler play kitchen unless you can’t put it together. Kiddos at this age love everything about a “real life” toy, so whether it has 17 cabinets or 3, they’re going to like it. Our kitchen fits with our open concept living space and didn’t have horrific reviews of putting it together. If you are reasonably handy or happen to have an entire day to put the thing together, you should be set either way.