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This Momma is in a hurry, just tell me which play kitchens are best already!
Social play is so important for young children. It’s how they practice working through relationships, learn how to be adults by mimicking things they see their grownups doing, and provides limitless opportunities for imagination and fun.
One of the favorite ways to practice this sort of play is with one of these play kitchens. All kids love to imagine their lives as adults, and nearly all adults have kitchens. Mealtime is the center of family life for many cultures, so this sort of playset is a wonderful investment for a family.
Here are three of our favorite sets.
NOTE: We saw an astonishing number of people saying their children were putting water in these sets. DO NOT let children put water in things to pretend to cook with unless it’s a set specifically made for adding water (and there are some cute ones out there for that - perhaps that will be another review).
We’ve realized that this could not only ruin a toy made of composite or other kinds of wood, but it could be very dangerous if the toy lights up and makes noises because it may get the battery wet. Several people said that even with plastic toys, batteries got wet and nearly started fires.
Keep your little chefs safe!
Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen
- 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.
- Note from Step2: All Step2 kitchens come with listed accessories for no added charge.
STEP2 FUN WITH FRIENDS KITCHEN Review
This plastic-based kitchen has so many cute accessories, lights, and sounds!
It comes with two little storage bins, condiments, two place settings, salt and pepper, a pot and pan set with lids, cooking utensils, and a personal coffee maker with little coffee pods. It also has a “to-go” coffee cup with an extra lid and a sleeve. There is also a little pretend cell phone included.
There are 46 accessories, but there is no food, which has to be purchased separately. This set is meant for ages two to six, and there really don’t seem to be any very small parts that would be dangerous for little ones.
The manufacturers say it comes in three colors, but on the site, the blue and brown sets appear to be the same set. There is also a pink set available.
This tends to be the least expensive choice of the three kitchen sets we reviewed here, which parents love. The accessories are durable plastic, and reviewers say they are also very cute.
Kids who love animals love this set because it has a built-in (sticker) dog or cat food and water dish area! Some reviewers said this was the set they chose so they wouldn’t have to buy a real pet!
All of the doors open and shut. The pot makes a boiling sound, and the pan makes a frying sound. The personal coffee maker is funny and adorable, but some reviewers said that the storage compartments are too small for all the accessories, which is a disappointment.
Assembly is ok. It can take as little as an hour, and about half of that time is putting on stickers. One major frustration for reviewers is that you need a drill in order to make holes to assemble this with the screws that accompany it. In addition, some of the edges where the plastic meet are very sharp and need sanding so they don’t cut any little fingers.
One other reviewer tip is that it can be a little less than sturdy when free-standing. It’s best to lean it against a wall or sturdy table.
Super Mom Picks Verdict:
Excellent for families on a budget! This set comes with lots of accessories and has sounds and lights that kids love. It even has a little pet food and water area. This is a really cute kitchen set!
KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen
- 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
KIDKRAFT ULTIMATE CORNER PLAY KITCHEN Review
This KidKraft kitchen comes in two colors - white or espresso - and has “speckled granite” colored countertops that are adorable.
It’s made for ages three through eight.
Although prices on these vary, this one tends to be listed as the most expensive of the three choices, and we aren’t thrilled with the fact that the only accessory it has is a little cell phone.
However, it does have some lovely qualities, and if you don’t mind purchasing other sets, KidKraft makes quite a few great accessories and food sets that pair well with this one.
This kitchen is a corner kitchen, so be sure you have a spot for that. It has a fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, and our favorite unique part, a washer/dryer for laundry. All of the doors open and close.
The burners and the ice maker make realistic sounds, and the ice maker is hands-down a fan favorite among kids. The tap in the sink also turns. There are pegs and some shelving for storage, and the sink can be removed for cleanup.
The bad news about this set is that set up is a special kind of nightmare taking at a minimum about two-and-a-half hours. Some poor sweet souls say it took them as long as eight hours.
There are a lot of reviewer instructions, tips, and very specific tricks provided in the review sections for this product. It’s almost unanimously agreed that the instructions included are awful. If you purchase this product, we highly recommend you look over the helpful hints provided by the reviewers.
We imagine they’ll be starting a support group soon, too, so keep your eyes peeled for that information as well (lol).
Super Mom Picks Verdict:
We’d recommend you find this one on sale, buy it with plenty of time to check all the parts to assure they are included, and read the reviews for assembly tips. It’s a good product - kids and families love it - but it requires a bit more strategy and forethought to get it assembled.
Our Top Pick
Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen
- COMPLETE WOODEN PLAY KITCHEN: The Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen includes oven, stove, microwave, sink, refrigerator with working “ice” dispenser, freezer, and ample storage space for easy cleanup
- INNOVATIVE TOY KITCHEN FOR KIDS: The innovative ice maker dispenses 2 included "ice” cubes, dials turn, microwave plate spins; includes grocery checklist, movable hooks, and doors that open and close
- EASY TO ASSEMBLE: Our toy kitchen with “ice” cube dispenser is roomy enough for multiple kids to play at once; This charcoal colored kids play kitchen is ideal for kitchen accessory play sets, pretend food collections, and play pantry products
- GREAT GIFT FOR AGES 3 AND UP: The Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen makes a great gift for kids ages 3 and up; Add the Melissa & Doug Kitchen Accessories Set to round out the pretend play cooking experience
- “THE GOLD STANDARD IN CHILDHOOD PLAY”: For more than 30 years, Melissa & Doug has created beautifully designed imagination and creativity sparking products that NBC News called “the gold standard in early childhood play”
- 100 Percent HAPPINESS GUARANTEE: We design every toy to the highest quality standards, and to nurture minds and hearts; If your child is not inspired, give us a call and we'll make it right; Our phone number is on every product
MELISSA & DOUG WOODEN CHEF’S PRETEND PLAY TOY KITCHEN Review
This Melissa & Doug kitchen is all wood, and it comes in three colors - charcoal, pink, and white. The price tends to be average, but many families who review this kitchen say that it lasts a long time.
This kitchen includes an oven, stove, microwave, sink, refrigerator, and freezer with doors that open and close. The dials all turn, the storage hooks are movable, and there is a large storage area in the set. The microwave also has a movable turntable.
This set doesn’t come with any additional toys, though. There are no dishes, silverware, or food toys included at all - it’s just the set itself, so you’ll have to purchase those separately.
It does, however, come with “ice” for the ice maker - two little ice blocks that fall into your child’s cup when he or she activates the ice maker. This is the favorite feature, of course!
Melissa & Doug are known for their quality toys that are wood through and through. Kids provide all the power with their imaginations. While this may be a detractor for some, it’s really a great asset - and you don’t have to buy batteries! Kids love flashing lights and sounds, but they also often enjoy providing those themselves rather than depending on the toy to do it for them.
Adults love that this toy is blessedly easy to assemble. You should keep a drill handy, they say, but the typical time required for assembly is a quick 30 to 40 minutes on average. The longest time we saw for assembly in the reviews was two hours. Reviewers said the instructions made all the difference because they are well-written, easy to understand, and even fun and entertaining! High praise indeed!
There are a few very minor suggestions, though. None are deal-breakers, but they’re both nice to know in advance. The first is that you get one shot at putting the microwave turntable together, so there is no “try”... there is only do. We’re not completely sure what that means exactly, but we recommend using the force and some wisdom because once that turntable is in, it’s apparently in forever.
The second suggestion is adding a little light with a motion sensor to the underside of the shelf and in the fridge because they tend to be dark.
That’s it! Reviewers say they love that this kitchen is elegant, well-made, and looks nice enough to keep in the living room.
Super Mom Picks Verdict:
This is our favorite kids’ kitchen by far. We love that the assembly is so much easier than many other choices, we like the aesthetics, and we like that it’s 100% kid-imagination-powered. We wish it had some accessories, but not enough that it makes it any less than the favorite. On top of all that, we like that you can get this one for a middle-of-the-range price.