Top Play Kitchens Reviewed
As the mother of 4 grown children and now the grandmother of 9 (raising two of them), I have always loved watching the children play house. The play kitchen has always been a favorite with all of them.
I cannot tell you how many pretend cookies I have eaten. The number of magical tea parties with “fresh brewed” tea and vanilla wafers are too many to count. I cherish those moments.
As they learn to use their innate creativity, they are also learning to play together, to share, to imagine. There are so many valuable lessons to be learned in the kitchen, even a pretend kitchen.
We know that children learn best through play and as parents we want only the best and the safest toys for our babies. So today, I am going to review five of the top-rated play kitchens. The ratings are based on durability, materials used, and play features as well as the reviews of other customers. One of the other markers I will consider in this review is sensory.
My oldest granddaughter (the one I’m raising) is on the Autism Spectrum (high-functioning) and has Sensory Processing Disorder as well. While she is a “seeker”, meaning she seeks out noise and sensory stimuli, many of you have children that are “avoiders”, they do not like too much stimuli and can become easily overwhelmed. So I will look at colors, sounds, number of extra toys, and any other items that might be an issue. Let’s get reviewing!
The Best Play Kitchens
After sifting through the different models from a number of toy kitchen manufacturers, and after comparing features and owner feedback these are our choices for the best play kitchen sets:
Current Rating: 4.6
Dimensions: 36x25x16 inches, 22 pounds
With a 4.6-star rating, the contemporary-style Step2 Fun With Friends Kitchen is a sure-fire parent win! It also comes in a natural/aqua color scheme which may be a preference for the children who can become overwhelmed by bright colors, or too “busy” a setting. This set is made of a durable, molded plastic. It comes in just three parts and is easily assembled, stickers and all, in just an hour. Included in the box are 45 accessories, pots, pans, storage baskets, measuring cups and spoons, condiment bottles, dishes including “to-go” coffee cups and a coffee pods for the coffee maker. The clock has movable hands (learn to tell time). The range makes sizzling, cooking sounds and lights up. Included is a Keurig-style play coffee-maker so your little one can make their coffee before heading to a busy day at the office! Of course it has a microwave, refrigerator and working oven door and also includes accessories for their little stuffed, furry friends! Play food is not included and will need to be purchased separately.
All of the accessories can be stored on or in the kitchen.
The countertop looks like granite and I just love the pink subway tile backsplash. The sink is large enough to place several dishes in it and the faucet swivels back and forth.
The Step2 Fun With Friends Kitchen has an overall star rating of 4.6. Durability, sturdiness, storage capacity, easy to assemble all have ratings of 4.3 and above. This kitchen is very easy to assemble with just three parts and the included screws and stickers. The instructions are easy to follow and can be assembled in less than an hour. Your little chef will have hours of fun playtime with all the included accessories and it is large enough for two or three children to play together, encouraging sharing and team work yet small enough to fit in almost any size room. Customers love that the doors to “appliances” are on the lower half making it easy for the littles to open and play with without getting hurt. With the back of unit being flat, it is easier to place against a wall and secure it.
There really aren’t a lot of cons. The primary one is that there are only indentions where the screws are to be placed. Per the company, this is intentional for safety reasons. Using a power screwdriver will make assembly easier and quicker.
The Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen is a kid and parent-pleaser! It is so quick and easy to assemble that your little ones won’t need to wait long to begin creating gourmet meals for mommy and daddy. If your child does have sensory issues and the clicking noises of the burner agitates them, you can remove the AA batteries (not included) and, again, there are two color choices, the bright pink or subtler tan/aqua.
- Let the kids cook for you for a change! Place the pot and pan on the stove, and listen as food starts to bubble and sizzle! Realistic lights and sounds add to the pretend play fun!
- Use the included coffee pods to make a cup o' joe! Enjoy at home in a small mug or take it "on the go" in the included travel cup.
- Start a game of "restaurant" - take orders over the included play phone, then use the oven, stove and microwave to whip up whatever comes to the imagination!
- When the cooking is done, kids can clean dishes in the swivel sink! Storage bins and molded-in shelves and dish rack make organization a breeze!
- In the box: Step2 kitchen, two storage bins, five toy condiment bottles, two place settings with plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives and spoons, salt & pepper shakers, colander, pot & pan set with lids, two serving spoons, one slotted spoon, one spatula, three coffee pods, one travel coffee cup with extra lid and sleeve, and one play phone.
Current Rating: 4.5
Dimensions: 42.4×32.7×36.6 inches 61.6 pounds
Materials: wood (particle board), plastic, metal
Look Mom! My kitchen looks just like yours! The KidKraft ultimate Corner Play Kitchen does look just like moms with its “brushed steel” appliances and stained cabinets. It is made of composite wood with realistic looking washing machine, refrigerator/freezer, range, sink, and microwave. It even has an arched window that can be decorated with curtains to match any room. The ice machine and burners light up and make noises. The doors on the appliances open and the shelves in the oven and range allow for more storage of accessories (sold separately. Check out Melissa and Doug to add play food and dishes). The kitchen sits nicely in a corner but since it is rounded rather than angular, it does not fit exactly into the corner itself.
The overall star rating for this play kitchen is 4.4. Sturdiness is rated at 4.6 stars, storage capacity at 4.5, and ease of assembly is 3.5 stars. Customers love the realistic look of this kitchen. It is sturdy and heavy, weighing in at 61 pounds. This makes it more difficult to tip over than the Step2 play kitchen. Still, I would recommend anchoring to the wall for added security. Many customers like that it can be customized by adding puck lights and a stick-on backsplash available at any hardware store.
Children love being able to play chef in a kitchen just like Mom and Dad’s. The colors are muted and simple, fitting in with any décor.
Takes three-four hours to assemble with the directions being very confusing. Parents were displeased that the microwave and the washer do not have actual knobs but just stickers.
Customers were very dissatisfied with KidKraft customer care stating that they were slow to reply or take action to replace broken or missing parts. There were several complaints of the particle board crumbling during assembly. KidKraft will not ship to an APO.
The KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen is a cute, realistic play set for your little ones. If you are planning on setting up for Christmas or a birthday, I would suggest trying to do it early enough a head of time to prepare for any pieces that may have been broken during shipment. Oh, and don’t forget to order the play food and cooking utensils. You don’t want your sweet little one to have to wait to begin cooking your dinner and making you cakes! If your child has sensory processing challenges, the more natural colors will not likely over stimulate. And again, the batteries can be removed if the ice maker and stovetop noises are too much.
- Speckled granite style counter top;Sink with faucet and taps that turn
- Refrigerator, freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher doors all open and close
- Stove-top burners,Ice makers has lights and sounds
- Knobs click and turn. Cordless phone with hands-free clip
- Convenient storage space below sink;Made of composite wood products
Current Rating: 4.6
Dimensions: 44.2×26.3×43 inches 57 pounds
Materials: wood (particle board), plastic, metal, MDF (cardboard type material used on adult size bookcases, shelves)
The KidKraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen Set is absolutely adorable! Your littles can “Plant, Harvest, and cook” their own veggies. This play kitchen has two window boxes with brown foam “dirt” blocks to plant their carrots and purple onions! The veggies are “sliced” and the pieces are held together with Velcro allowing the child to “slice” them on the included cutting board with the included wooden knife. Your child will be thrilled with the “crunching” noises the veggies make when being sliced. When they sauté the veggies, the range lights up and makes sizzling sounds. There is a larger farmhouse style sink and the faucet makes running water sounds encouraging children to learn to wash their hands before and after cooking. Unlike the Ultimate Corner Kitchen, the Farmhouse Kitchen does come with some accessories, 18 pieces to be exact. There are even three ice cubes for the ice maker! Now your baby can serve you some sweet iced tea on that hot summer day! When they are through playing, they can store the accessories in the collapsible, wood printed “drawer” inserts.
overall star rating is 4.6 with sturdiness, durability, and ease of assembly all rating 4.1 stars and higher. Here is what the customers are saying: the quality is worth the price as this is sturdy and very cute, contemporary play kitchen. The kitchen is a good size and doesn’t take up too much room and has plenty of storage. Little Chefs love the realistic sounds and flame-inspired lights on the “gas” range. Parents love that batteries already come installed and the Bilt app that makes for easy assembly.
The majority of the complaints for the Farm to Kitchen was very similar to those of the Ultimate Corner Kitchen:
-took too long to put together
-directions difficult to follow (they did not use the BILT app)
-composite wood did not hold up well (this is in contrast to over 190 reviews that thought the quality was great)
-very poor customer service (slow response, unwilling to replace missing or broken parts)
-There are small parts that pose a choking hazard for children under 3 years of age.
The KidKraft Farm to Table Kitchen Playset is an adorable addition to any playroom. Your little foodies will have a blast planting, harvesting, and cooking their own food! The realistic sounds and lights will provide hours of entertainment. It is large enough for more than one child to play. The natural colors will match any “grown-up” décor. This playset is good option for children with Sensory processing disorder. There are multiple textures and sounds for the seekers, but the natural colors and the ability to remove batteries will accommodate the children who are avoiders. Assembly is much easier if you use the BILT app as opposed to paper directions.
- 18-piece accessory and play-food set
- Fire-inspired light and sound cooktop
- Ice maker with 3 pretend ice cubes
- EZ Kraft Assembly
- For quicker and easier assembly instructions, download the free BILT App from the Apple App Store or Google Play.Materials: MDF, Wood, Metal, Plastic
Brand: Melissa & Doug
Current Rating: 4.7
Dimensions: 39×15.5×43.25 inches 31 pounds
Melissa and Doug are parents who have been creating their toys for the last 30 years. Their toys are known in the industry for their high quality and to inspire creative play in children. Their Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen falls in with their quality design and vision. The kitchen is painted a contemporary charcoal with “stainless steel” appliances. The backsplash is a modern blue, gray, and white chevron pattern. The ice dispenser makes realistic sounds as it dispenses “ice Cubes. All the dials turn, the plate in the microwave spins, and all the doors open and close. The refrigerator/freezer, oven, and open space under the sink all provide ample storage for quick and easy clean up. The kitchen can be personalized with little curtains to cover the open space (a tension rod will work perfectly here), keeping accessories out of sight. While being small enough to fit easily in any room, Melissa and Doug’s kitchen has enough space for two or more children to play together.
This play kitchen received 4.5 stars overall, 4.9 for sturdiness, 4.7 for durability, and 4.3 for easy to assemble. Out of 442 reviews, only 62 were negative.
Customers report that this unit is easy to assemble. For most it only took about an hour. Parents love the sturdy make-up. Compared to the KidKraft models, there really weren’t any complaints of the pressed wood splitting during assembly. They report hours of fun for their little ones. The size of the unit was a big bonus. It doesn’t take up much room. There are no batteries to replace. The colors and design fit in with any home decor.
With only 8% of the reviews being one or two stars, there weren’t a lot of negative responses. The biggest negative was for the assembly. There were several who struggled with the instructions and reported broken parts. Second, was the doors. Several reported that the oven and refrigerator doors did not close properly (assembly mishap?) and others reported that the handles broke off after a few months of use. Third was the fact that the kitchen did not come with any accessories other than the fake ice cubes. Other than that, there really just weren’t that many complaints.
Melissa and Doug take great pride in creating quality, interactive toys for children and their Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen does not disappoint. Of course, if you have any issues or your child is just not happy with the kitchen, it is covered by Melissa and Doug’s Happiness Guarantee. You just need to call the toll-free number printed on the kitchen (any of their toys actually) and they will make it right. If your child is challenged with Sensory processing issues, this unit is the perfect solution with it’s muted colors and no background noises from the ice maker or range top. Also, the playset comes with a strap to fasten to the wall for safety sake.
Current Rating: 4.2
Dimensions: 33×11.7×35.7 inches 35.7 pounds
Materials: Pressed wood, molded plastic
The KidKraft Vintage Kitchen is reminiscent of Grandma’s 1970’s style kitchen. This compact model is the smallest of the three KidKraft Kitchens reviewed in this article. This unit is made of white painted pressed wood and will fit in with any grownup interior design. Unlike the other models, the sink is removable for easy cleanup, it does not light up or make any sounds except the clicking of the knobs as they are turned by little hands. The windows on the microwave and the oven allow your little chef’s to keep an eye on their culinary creations as they cook. The refrigerator and the cabinet under the sink provide storage for play food and utensils (not included).
Overall rating was 4.0 stars. Sturdiness earned 4.2 stars, perfect for small spaces earned 5.0 stars with storage capacity following at 4.1 stars. Instruction quality rounds it out at 3.4 stars. Customers love the overall look of the Vintage Kitchen. It is small enough to place in almost any room without taking up a lot of living space. They are pleased with the overall sturdiness of the unit. It does come with straps to attach to a wall for added security.
Once again, KidKraft fails on assembly with a 2.7-star rating. The customers’ complaints are that there are just too many pieces (about 45 with 175 screws), the instructions are confusing, increasing the level of difficulty. There are two colors of screws with the same letters so it is important to know where you want the painted vs. unpainted screws before you start. The manufacturer also recommends that the buyer does not use a power tool to assemble. This increases the assembly time which the average uses reports to be about 2 hours. Customers are also concerned that this unit will not be tall enough as their toddlers grow. It does not come with any accessories. They will need to be purchased separately.
The Vintage Kitchen is another cute play culinary creation by KidKraft. It is a compact, sturdy unit that will provide hours of play for your mini-chef. Before beginning assembly, be sure and read the instructions through and have the hardware sorted out by color. Plan for at least 2 hours of assembly time. Another suggestion: make sure you have the play dishes and food ordered at the same time. It would be no fun for your little one to have a kitchen and not have the food to cook and the utensils to cook it with. The Vintage play kitchen is sensory friendly.
- Doors open and close
- Oven knobs click and turn
- Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H) : 33.00 x 13.00 x 35.70 Inches
- Cordless phone
- Removable sink for easy cleanup.Age Range: 3+.Materials: MDF, Plastic
In a changing world where so much of our children’s playtime is actually screen time, play kitchens provide a fun, healthy opportunity to break away from the screen. Studies have shown that children benefit mentally, physically, and academically by having creative play time. The kitchens encourage them to use their imagination and creativity. If you’d like to see an example of that, check out this YouTube video of a child playing with one:
When shopping for a play kitchen for your future chef, you want to consider a few things. One is, what space do you have and how much space do you have? Do you want the kitchen to come fully equipped with play accessories, or would you rather purchase a few at a time? Do you want bright, bubbly colors or a more natural palette? Are sounds and lights going to create a problem or would you rather your child’s play kitchen be quieter, more sensory friendly? How adept are you at assembly and how much time will you have to do the assembly?
Playtime is serious business when you are a child. As parents, we need to take it just as seriously and purchase what will best fit our children. Happy shopping!