The kitchen is the heart of the home

For young kids, play kitchen sets are often the heart of the play room.  Toys like play kitchens encourage kids to engage in collaborative play, which is a key part of socialization because, says Dr. Keith Sawyer, an education professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who studies creativity and learning. “The most important feature of a toy is that it be open ended and provide opportunities for exploration,” he says.

A toy kitchen does just that. Plus, it can help kids get comfortable around unfamiliar food, and experiment, in a safe way, with foods they haven’t tried before. They’re also play-therapist approved, as toys that mimic real life allow kids to be more a part of the grown-up world. When you’re looking for a great toddler play kitchen, find one that won’t take you a year, and an advanced degree in architecture, to put together.

Of course, not all kitchen playsets are created equally. Some, painted in pastel, resemble kitchen sets of 70s-era apartments; others look like the type of setup you’d expect to see in Paris bistros where a helpful rat might puppeteer a bumbling chef to success. Then there are materials: some feature sturdy all-wood designs; others are made of more traditional plastic and easier to clean. And, much like a standard kitchen, there’s a pretty wide price-range depending on which model you choose. To help you decide which is best for your home, here are great toy kitchens for kids.
Best Kids’ Kitchens Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef's Pretend Play Toy Kitchen
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.
Buy Now $110.58
Pros: We love that this toy kitchen comes with two ice cubes that are dispensed via the freezer. Kids can turn dials, see the microwave plates spin, and open and close the doors. And most importantly, this kitchen is big enough for multiple kids to play in it together.

Cons: It can be a bear to put this thing together.
Hape Tabletop Cook and Grill Kid's Wooden Kitchen Play Set with Accessories
If you really, really suck at putting big toys together, than this pop-up play kitchen is for you.
Buy Now $26.45
Pros: This portable kitchen set is great for those tight on space, and lacking the aforementioned toy assembly skills. It has a clock to 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.

Cons: It’s really too small for more than one child to use at a time.
Teamson Kids - Little Chef Florence Classic Kids Play Kitchen
A kitchen that looks like an adult one? Yes, please. This toy kitchen features a stove, cabinet, oven and microwave. And it looks like it belongs in an actual house.
Buy Now $74.95
Pros: Meant for kids ages three and up, this toy kitchen has stove knobs that actually turn, a microwave with stick-on numbers, and a removable sink.

Cons: It takes serious work to put this kitchen together.
Hape My Creative Cookery Club Kid's Wooden Play Kitchen
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 great addition to any playroom.
Buy Now $89.99
Pros: Great for aspiring chefs ages three and up, Hape’s wooden kitchen lets kids learn to “cook,” host parties, clean up, and engage in hours of pretend play. It’s made of wood, so it will last for years. And years.

Cons: It’s not cheap, but the quality is spot-on.
Kidkraft Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator in Pink
This playset harkens back to a time past when kitchens were smaller and times a little simpler, but it still has the capability to keep little ones focused and fulfilled for hours.
Buy Now $125.98
Pros: There is a full-size fridge, stove, and oven that have working doors and knobs. There is even a dishwasher for cleaning up. Since there are two separate modules it is an easy playset to fit into just about any space. It’s wood frame and plastic parts can withstand most abuse tossed its way, and even better, cleaning it is simple with a removable sink. It comes in both blue and pink and is suitable for kids three and up.

Cons: It does not come with any accessories so you will have to spend more money equipping it. 
Step2 Lifestyle Deluxe Kids Pretend Kitchen
This ultra-realistic kitchen is loaded with items and should keep even the most energetic of children busy for extended periods of time.
Buy Now $79.99
Pros: All of the appliances in this set have accompanying electronic sounds built in. It’s easy to clean, and when kids place the pot and pan on the stove, they hear the food actually cooking (pretend cooking, we mean). Plus it comes with a coffee maker. 

Cons: It’s big, and not subtle. 
Step2 Grand Walk-in Kitchen and Grill
This play set offers your child the option of working indoors in the kitchen or heading outside to fire up the grill.
Buy Now $213.62
Pros: This play kitchen really has a lot to offer. There is a working stove and phone, plus a grill that emits sounds when in use. What really makes it fun is that there is an attached dining area to serve the guests when everything is ready. Even better is the 103-piece accessory set that includes everything from fresh produce to pots and pans so they can jump right in. Plus, there are enough storage areas to stash everything when playtime is over. Good for kids two and up.

Cons: The overhead gable roof is fun when kids are smaller but can prove a little restricting once they get taller, especially if your kiddo is a quick grower. 
Little Tikes Cook ‘n Learn Smart Kitchen
This interactive playset is designed to not only keep your child entertained, but to teach at the same time with a tablet-based system built in.
Buy Now $114.98
Pros: Using the electronic system in the system it has a wide array of interchangeable sound effects, plus a whole host of other effects that really transform this set into a realistic kitchen. Parents can choose settings based on age and skill level so that different games teach them about shapes, colors, and letters. Made from plastic, it’s easy to clean, comes with 40 different accessories, and even has a small garden on the side. Its small footprint and light weight means you can move it around if needed easily and it should fit just about anywhere.

Cons: It can take a bit to put together since there are so many different parts and electronics.
KidKraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen Set
Designed to teach children about the importance of eating fresh food it’s a fun set that lets your little sous chef learn about how food is prepared.
Buy Now $147.79
Pros: There is a large fridge and working ice machine that even spits out three ice cubes. The two large window boxes have carrots and purple onions that can be plucked fresh and chopped on the cutting board, before being replanted again. There’s a center farmhouse sink that makes running water sounds and the stove top lights up and makes realistic sounds. Made from pressboard and plastic it is designed to be put together simply and quickly sparing parents unwanted headaches. Good for kids 3 and up.

Cons: The pressboard construction is not as durable as plastic and probably won’t last as long.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Servin' Up Fun Food Truck
Designed for parents wanting to get a play set for their toddlers, this food truck will keep them mesmerized for hours with a host of noises and moveable parts.
Buy Now $59.99
Pros: As a two-sided set it enables more than one kiddo to play at a time, or lets your child serve you a meal. It has a small recycling bin and fridge to store stuff in, plus a working cash register. It also has Fisher-Price’s Smart Stage learning system incorporated, with three levels to adapt as they grow up with 125+ different songs, sounds, tunes & phrases. There are 20 plus accessories.  Good for kids 18 months and up.

Cons: As stated earlier, this set is designed for little ones.

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