Why do toy kitchens delight kids so much? We’ve no idea, but we’re not going to knock it. If stirring tiny pots and pans filled with a questionable combination of toy food buys us enough time to knock together yet another dinner of pesto pasta, we are all for it.

Before you buy a toy kitchen, think about whether or not you need something compact and bijou that you won’t spend all day tripping over.

If not, go for a mega toy kitchen with American-style fridge and all the extra accessories. It’s just like buying a real kitchen, actually – if you can afford the extras, splash out. You’ll never regret it.

And here’s a tip: refresh your accessories every now and then to keep kitchen play compelling.

A new batch of play food is worth keeping in a cupboard to replace all the pieces that vanish into thin air. Or invest in some shiny new pans to breathe new life into your toy kitchen.

A range of children aged from three to five years old tested these play kitchens over a period of several weeks.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Hape cook n serve kitchen: £93, Amazon

Did you know that Hape only make toys with sustainable bamboo? Or that they use non-toxic paints and glues that don’t affect the eco system? Neither did we until now, but that makes us love this stylish, modern toy kitchen even more. Our five-year-old tester and her friend can play with this for hours at a time – it’s currently a pop-up pizza restaurant, I’m told – and they show no sign of losing interest in it any time soon.

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Peppa Pig house kitchen: £60, Argos

If you’re three years old, this is the toy kitchen of your dreams. It’s exactly like Peppa’s kitchen from the TV series, complete with fully accessible fridge, recycling bins and a toaster with magical pop-up toast. It even plays electronic cooking sounds and the Peppa Pig theme tune. If you put the batteries in. (Just saying.)

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George at Asda wooden deluxe kitchen: £45, George at Asda

Easy to assemble but robust enough to withstand plenty of banging of pots and pans, this stylish wooden kitchen has four burners, a toy microwave and a food cupboard. We think it’s amazing value for money. Oh, and we love that it’s blue and grey. Rather than, you know, pink.

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Little Tikes cook ‘n learn kitchen: £149.99, Little Tikes

If your house isn’t a screen-free play zone, this will bring lots of interactive fun to playtime. Thanks to some kind of clever Bluetooth gadgetry, you can pop a tablet in the holder and interact with a host of related games, recipes and music via the free Cook ’n Learn app. Best of all, this plays lots of clever sound effects – and the light even comes on when you open the over door!

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My 1st Years personalised grey play kitchen: £100, My 1st Years

This is a real keepsake toy to pass on to future generations. It’s stylishly designed and comes with some beautiful utensils. Our five-year-old tester just loves that this one has her name on. And her mum loves the thought of her grandchildren playing with it one day. Or maybe she’s got something in her eye.

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Javen children wooden play kitchen set: £109.99, Wayfair

You don’t get much pinker than this, but that’s exactly how some domestic-goddesses-in-training like their toy kitchens. We think this is better suited to younger kids, as it’s a little small compared to some of the others we tested, but on the plus side it means you won’t be constantly tripping over it. Cute, colourful and compact.

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George at Asda home food truck: £75, George at Asda

Guaranteed to bring back memories of the glorious kebab trucks of your student halls of residence days (not just me, surely…), this is a whole lot of fun. It’s a fun and funky twist on the traditional toy kitchen but we found it kept our testers enthralled, and really helped take the imaginative play up a notch or two.

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Fleur play kitchen: £99, JoJo Maman Bébé

This farmhouse-style kitchen has definite Instagram-appeal – it looks so beautiful. But there’s also plenty here to keep little chefs occupied – we love the little drawers – so it’s definitely not a case of style over substance. Our only complaint is that our tester’s mum feels it puts her kitchen to shame, and now she’d quite like a redesign to match this.

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Jabadabado kitchen: £90, Kidly

Sturdy yet stylish, this compact play kitchen is well-made, fairly easy to assemble, and ideal if you’re short on space. We love the Scandi-chic design and the fact that it’s gender-neutral.

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Le Toy Van oven and hob blue: £69.95, Le Toy Van

If you’re short on play space but have a budding baker on your hands, this is the perfect first play kitchen. It’s very compact, so best suited to younger bakers, or ideal if you’ve got space to play with it on a table top. And it’s blue – hurrah!

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Pat-a-Cake kitchen: £100, Great Little Trading Company

In our experience, wooden toys by GLTC are always stylish, sturdy and well-made, but what we particularly like about their latest play kitchen is the fact that there are plenty of extra features to keep little cooks occupied – we love the chalkboard on this – perfect for writing the day’s shopping list or cafe specials!

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LeapFrog grill and learn BBQ: £44.99, Smyths Toys Superstores

Yes, yes, we know it’s a toy barbecue. But some kids just don’t find a play kitchen all that appealing and for them, we can’t recommend this highly enough as an interactive alternative. You get eight different play food items included and when you pop them on the interactive skewer, the grill recognises the food’s name and colour. From counting to ten, to sizzling sound effects plus melodies and funny phrases, this has endless entertainment value. And at bedtime, you can stash all the accessories inside for storage – it’s the eases barbecue clean-up ever!

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The verdict: Play kitchens

Our five-year-old tester gave the Hape cook n serve kitchen the double thumbs up. She loves that it has wheels so you can move it around easily, and we really like the extendable section which means you can open it up when friends come over to play or pack it away for neat storage when it’s not in use.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.