Toddlers have a lot in common with celebrity chefs: They can be demanding at mealtime, difficult on the staff, and temperamental in public — but they can also be truly inspired when it comes to unusual food combinations. Kids are natural observers who act out (or at least try to) the same things they see adults doing, like flipping pancakes, roasting a chicken, or baking a cake. Kids’ kitchen sets are a great option for toys that encourage learning. The best play kitchen sets
“As toddlers engage in pretend play, they are learning a new language, seeing the perspective of others, negotiating and taking turns, and solving problems that arise,” says Rebecca Parlakian, the senior director of programs for Zero to Three.
Some tips: choose a play kitchen that’s relatively easy to put together, but has enough realistic features to mimic what kids see in the real world. Opt for a kids’ kitchen set that’s small enough that it won’t take over your living space. A wooden play kitchen might offer more aesthetic appeal, if not higher quality. And while we love shiny things as much as the next person, remember that the more a toddler kitchen set does in terms of lights and sounds, the less pretending your kid has to do. The toy kitchen sets that do the least are those that inspire the most use of imagination.
The Best Toddler Kitchen Sets
Compact and just plain gorgeous, Hape's wooden kitchen set includes starter pans and utensils, plus essential foods. It has cabinets that open, hooks from which to hang supplies, and is the perfect height for kids. It's solid-wood and a beautiful addition to any playroom. It's 25 inches tall.
This is a great option for those with limited space. The knobs make realistic clicking sounds and the pots look like the real thing, but the best part is that they can be stored in a compartment on the backside of the stove.
This 52 piece set gives kids everything they need to run their own deli. They can refine their motor skills as they 'slice' meat and cheese, use their imagination to come up with new sandwich combinations, and practice counting with play money.
If you really, really suck at putting big toys together, this pop-up play kitchen is for you. It has a clock to help kids practice telling time, bright red knobs to control the stove and grill temperature, a pot and lid, a frying pan and cooking utensils.
The Best Play Kitchen Sets for Kids
This gorgeous white and rose gold set will have you dreaming of a renovation for your real kitchen. It's three separate pieces, making it easy to rearrange to fit your space, and has realistic features like an interactive ice maker that allows objects to drop through, stove knobs that click as though the gas is coming through, and cabinets for extra storage.
This full kitchen features a stove, oven, sink, fridge, freezer, microwave, phone and washing machine. The knobs, burners, and icemaker light up and make realistic sounds, and the countertops are made to look like granite. It's large enough for multiple kids to play, and has plenty of counter space for preparing play food.
Melissa & Doug's toy kitchen includes an oven, stove, microwave, sink, a refrigerator with an actual ice dispenser, freezer, and ample storage space for easy cleanup of all the kitchen accessories. This kitchen is made of wood, and thus should last longer than its flimsier plastic brethren. And most importantly, this kitchen is big enough for multiple kids to play in it together. It's 36 inches tall when assembled.
This kitchen stands out because it has a working recycling bin, hence teaching your kids good habits early on. When making breakfast, or pasta, kids hear frying and boiling water sounds on the stove's front burner. The microwave includes a working electronic keypad. It's 41.5 inches tall, so this kitchen is especially suitable for older, taller kids.
This retro red kitchen comes complete with play ice cubes for the ice maker, cabinets for toy food storage, and a chalkboard for grocery lists and other doodles.
Quite possibly the most beautiful play kitchen ever made, this one is crafted entirely from solid wood: No plastic, no particle board, and no MDF. It has a pull-down oven door, knobs, burners, and a grill. Because it doesn't make noise, it forces kids to actually use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. Plus, it's an heirloom piece that will last way longer than the turkey your child roasts you for dinner. It's 26 inches tall.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.