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Best mud kitchens for inspiring children's creativity and imagination

From making mud pies, foraging for ingredients and washing up afterwards, a mud kitchen can encourage all kinds of creative play, from sensory to scientific. Here's our pick of the best mud kitchens to add to your garden, as recommended by real parents

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Jan 10, 2024

Child playing with mud kitchen

Messy play is vital, but we don’t often encourage it for fear of the inevitable tidying up. The best mud kitchens provide a great alternative to playing indoors - a safe space for your child to mix potions and throw water about without restriction.

Playing outdoors and getting their hands on mud, leaves, and grass is also vital for the health and well-being of children, who so often spend their lives cocooned indoors. Whether they're cooling off playing with a garden hose, tearing about on their best trike or learning RC car tricks with friends, being outdoors is an essential part of childhood. Stretching their imaginations with a mud kitchen can also boost the immune system, and help them develop a deep connection with nature.

Mud kitchens are designed to be used outdoors, making them more robust than indoor play kitchens. From piling up pots, pans and bowls, to ‘cooking’ their mud pies on the hob, some mud kitchens even have working taps too, meaning the opportunities to express themselves are pretty endless.

Whether it’s a budget-friendly mud kitchen, a mud kitchen with a tap or even a mud kitchen big enough for siblings to share, here's our pick of the best mud kitchens to buy this year.

1. Best overall mud kitchen: TP Toys Muddy Madness Mud Kitchen

TP Toys Muddy Madness Mud Kitchen

RRP £144.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs: Size: H96 x W96 x D40cm | Material: FSC-certified wood | Accessories included: Stainless steel pots and pans | Age suitability: Three years and over | Assembly time: Two hours

What we love:

  • Big enough for siblings to share

  • High-quality sustainable wood

  • One year guarantee

What to know:

  • Long assembly time (but worth the wait)

What Mumsnet users say:

We have the TP Muddy Madness one. It has an oven, a hob, a mini water butt and a sink. Bugger to build but looks great and my daughter loves it. Very sturdy and has taken a beating but still looks great.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Debbiewest0)

Our verdict

The TP Muddy Madness Mud Kitchen is a thoughtfully designed toy that encourages lots of creative play, from preparing ‘veg’ on the removable countertop to washing up in the large sink underneath. There’s plenty of room and a variety of play zones and activities, so up to three children can easily play together.

This fantastic kitchen has a clever working tap, two large chalkboards, a realistic four-ring hob and ample storage space. It also comes with robust stainless steel accessories that are fun to use and can be hung from handy hooks.

Crafted from FSC-certified wood and built to last, this mud kitchen doesn’t come cheap, but we think it’s well worth the money. Easy to assemble, thanks to clear and concise instructions, your child’s new toy will be up and ready to play with within just a couple of hours.

Related: The best scooters for kids, as recommended by Mumsnetters 

2. Best budget mud kitchen: The Works Mud Kitchen

The Works Mud Kitchen

RRP £50 | Buy now from The Works

Key specs: Size: 79 x 68 x 30 cm | Material: Wood | Accessories included: Metal bowl and 2 x Pots | Age suitability: 3 years and over  | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Affordable and good value for money

  • Plant pots on top encourage the growing of herbs/seeds

  • Chalkboards for writing ‘menus’

What to know:

  • Only comes with one bowl for ‘baking’ in, so you may want to buy some extras.

Our verdict

If you’re looking to add a mud kitchen to your garden but don’t have a huge budget to spend, this wooden mud kitchen from The Works offers excellent value for money. It includes fun features such as a chalkboard, tray and metal bowl, with two hob rings and turnable dials. We love the addition of two plant pots on the top; great for encouraging children to grow their own herbs or seeds for ‘garnishing’ their creations.

It’s worth noting that this mud kitchen is relatively small in size, so best suited to a single child rather than siblings and groups. You may also want to invest in a few extra pots and pans, which can then be hung from the five hooks across the top.

3. Best value mud kitchen: Toyrific Playhouse Marvellous Mud Kitchen

Toyrific Playhouse Marvellous Mud Kitchen

RRP £74.99 | Buy now from Robert Dyas

Key specs: Size: L83cm x H90cm x W41.5cm | Material: Solid FSC Canadian Hemlock wood | Accessories included: 3 stainless-steel pans, 2 stainless-steel utensils and 3 plant pots | Age suitability: 3 years and over | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Wide variety of accessories included

  • Made from high-quality, varnished FSC Canadian Hemlock wood

  • Big enough for siblings to play together

What to know:

  • Taps are non-functional

Our verdict

If you’re someone who likes to get your money's worth, this budget-friendly mud kitchen is not only big enough for two children to play together, but it also comes with a wide variety of play accessories. The three pans and two kitchen utensils are all made from rust-free stainless steel to protect them from the elements.

We love the removable sink, the high-quality varnished wood and the space to grow some decorative plants or herbs. However, the taps are purely decorative on this mud kitchen, so you’ll need to supply water so they can firmly stick those mud pies together!

4. Best mud kitchen with running water: Big Game Hunters Double Deluxe Mud Kitchen with Working Tap

Big Game Hunters Double Deluxe Mud Kitchen with Working Tap

RRP £84.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs: Size: 87.5 x 80 x 45 cm | Material: Wood | Accessories included: Splash bucket | Age suitability: 18 months and over | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Significant surface space big enough for siblings and friends

  • Working tap

  • Slide out sideboard can cover the sink when not in use

What to know:

  • It does have visible screws after assembly but looks amazing with a lick of paint

  • You may want to buy some additional pots and pans

Our verdict

Parents will love this versatile mud kitchen which is relatively quick and simple to assemble thanks to its full-colour instructions. That said, we do recommend giving this play kitchen a quick splash of colour to really bring it to life.

Big enough for two or more children to share, the handy slide-out sideboard can be pulled out to create additional counter space when playing with friends, revealing a large splash tub hiding below. In addition to a small water butt, this mud kitchen also provides a working tap with a hose attachment, helping create a more realistic kitchen environment for open-ended play.

5. Best mud kitchen for small gardens: TP Toys Kitchen Playhouse Accessory

TP Toys Kitchen Playhouse Accessory

RRP £39.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs: Size: 31 x 55 x 56 cm | Material: Wood  | Accessories included: starter set of stainless steel pans with mixing whisk | Age suitability: Three years and over | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Includes starter set of pans

  • Can be attached to a fence or shed for those with limited space

What to know:

  • Compact design makes it less easy to share with friends

  • Hob rings need to be painted on using the stencil

What Mumsnet users say:

“TP toys are fab” (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user Watto1)

Our verdict

If you’re limited on space in your garden, this wall-mounted ‘bolt-on’ makes a great alternative to a free-standing mud kitchen. It comes with a starter set full of pans and a whisk, so your kids can get creative straight away. The water butt and large sink are also ideal for washing and rinsing away.

By its very nature, however, this is a compact mud kitchen, so you may find siblings occasionally squabbling over the sink. You will also need some paint to add features such as the hob rings, for which a stencil is included.

6. Best mud kitchen for siblings: Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen with Working Tap

Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen with Working Tap

RRP £181.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs: Size: 110.5 x 43 x 90.5 cm | Material: Wood | Accessories included:  Large splash tub | Age suitability: 18 months and over  | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Large countertop surface area including sliding draining board

  • Working tap and water butt

  • Extra storage space in cupboards

What to know:

  • Simple design looks better with a lick of paint

  • No additional pots or pans included

What Mumsnet users say:

“You can attach a garden hose to the tap - hours of fun!"  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user DownWhichOfLate)

Our verdict

Unlike Mary Berry’s bakes, the best mud pies need to have a soggy bottom, which is where the water butt and working tap on this triple mud kitchen really come into their own.

A substantial-sized mud kitchen has a large removable splash tub, sliding draining board for additional counter space and plenty of cupboard room to stash away pots and pans when not in use. The downside? These pans aren’t included, so you’ll need to purchase some separately.

7. Best mud kitchen with utensils: Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen

Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen

RRP £125 | Buy now from Argos

Key specs: Size: H x 105; W x 93.5; D x 52.5 cm | Material: Untreated wood | Accessories included: 8 stainless steel utensils | Age suitability: Three years and over  | Assembly time: One hour plus

What we love:

  • Excellent value for money

  • Easy assembly

  • One year guarantee

What to know:

  • Wood is untreated

What Mumsnet users say:

“My daughter has the Chad Valley one from Argos... it's brilliant, she got it for her birthday in the summer & absolutely loves it”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user TellerTuesday4EVA)

“This is ours... Still going strong 3 years later” (Recommended by Mumsnet user purpleme12)

Our verdict

The Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen is an attractive toy with rustic styling and thoughtful features. It has two small metal sinks that can be removed easily for draining and cleaning and are great for two children playing together side by side.

There’s also plenty of storage space, a four-ring hob with knobs and a built-in oven for baking mud pies. A robust stainless steel pan and utensils are included, and there’s a large chalkboard for practising menu writing.

This affordable mud kitchen is simple to construct and feels super sturdy. The wood is solid and robust but is untreated, so it needs a coat of weatherproof paint or varnish or to be covered up when not in use.

8. Best mud kitchen for older children: Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen

Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen

RRP £249.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs: Size: 160 x 66 x 116cm| Material: Wood | Accessories included: Stainless steel pots and pans; gardening tools; perspex screen; glass pens; wind chimes | Age suitability: Three years and over | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Robust, sturdy wood

  • Wide range of included accessories

  • Perspex screen for creativity

What to know:

  • Costly

Our verdict

The Plum Discovery Mud Kitchen is a luxury product that is gorgeous to look at, as well as being super sturdy and packed with fantastic play features. It has a double raised ring hob with movable dials, lots of storage, plant pots, a deep metal sink, a perspex screen for menu planning and a cute wind chime next to the ‘window.’

This great mud kitchen combines kitchen play, gardening and art. Gardening tools, glass pens, and stainless steel pots and pans are included, so your child can start playing as soon as it’s built. Assembling this detailed and robust kitchen takes time and patience. However, once the weatherproofed wooden structure is up, it feels solid and will last for years of consistent play in the great outdoors.

9. Best large mud kitchen: Rebo Muddy Mischief Children’s All Weather Mud Kitchen

Rebo Muddy Mischief Children’s All Weather Mud Kitchen

RRP: £108.79 | Buy now from B&Q

Key specs: Size: H105 x W127 x L90cm | Material: Wood | Accessories included: Metal bowl | Age suitability: Three years and over | Assembly time: Not specified

What we love:

  • Pressure treated timber

  • 1-year guarantee

  • Inclusion of a bench makes it great to share with friends

What to know:

  • No additional accessories included

What Mumsnet users say:

We were surprised at how great the wood was once made, it's solid timber and looks like it would last.”  (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user BunnyBerries)

Our verdict

If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious garden, you may want to invest in a larger mud kitchen that offers more creative and versatile play options for your children. The Rebo Muddy Mischief Mud Kitchen is a great solution. Made from robust, all-weather, pressure-treated timber, it offers plenty of space for groups of friends to play together.

We love the 360-degree play element of this mud kitchen, which is ideal for role-playing or ‘serving customers’. Children can ‘place their order’ at the window, before taking a seat on the bench whilst the chef rustles up their finest creations. The set doesn’t include pans, so you may need to consider this when considering the overall cost.

10. Best indoor or outdoor mud kitchen: GLTC Indoor Play/Outdoor Mud Kitchen

GLTC Indoor Play/Outdoor Mud Kitchen

RRP £132 | Buy now from GLTC

Key specs: Size: 101H x 60W x 40D (cm) | Material: Stitched pine wood | Accessories included: Metal bowl | Age suitability: Three years and over | Assembly time: Unspecified

What we love:

  • Double-sided 360-degree play

  • Multi-use - indoors and out

  • Treated wood

What to know:

  • Although treated, it’s recommended to cover when not in use.

Our verdict

Quite possibly the most stylish mud kitchen on our list (so much so it may pain you to get it dirty!), the GLTC Mud Kitchen can be used for both indoor and outdoor play. Made from treated natural wood, it’s protected against the varied British weather and offers a full 360 degrees of play.

On the one side, children can use the large kitchen bowl to rustle up a mud pie, whilst on the other, they can paint on the easel, plant some seeds or record the weather on the inbuilt weather station. Easel accessories and pots and pans are sold separately.

What is a mud kitchen?

What is a mud kitchen, and how is it different from an indoor play kitchen? Think of a mud kitchen as a dedicated outdoor play space where water, mud, sand and natural garden elements are joyously combined by your child’s imagination and your lack of worry about the mess.

A mud kitchen is essentially about cooking up grubby fun. Your kids can sauté leaves, oven-bake mud pies and wash up after your garden gnomes have devoured the meal.

Studies have shown that playing outdoors is fantastic for a child’s physical and mental well-being. Research by scientists at the University of Bristol has also suggested that getting their hands dirty can boost children's immune systems and makes them happier and more relaxed.

What to look for when choosing a mud kitchen

You’ll be spoilt for choice when searching for a mud kitchen for your children; here are the features to look for and considerations to keep in mind while shopping.

  • Space: The room in your garden or yard should be essential to your decision. Measure the area you have in mind; maybe it’s near the outdoor tap or the storage for the soil, sand and toys needed, and compare it to the mud kitchen that’s caught your eye.

  • Age suitability: Most mud kitchens are suitable from three years of age, though a few come without accessories that suggest it would be ok from 18 months. Look at the height measurement in the product dimensions to ensure it will suit each of your children.

  • How many children can play with it: For a mud kitchen to work for more than one child, there needs to be multiple activities, so they aren’t fighting over the same thing. A chalkboard, easel and gardening section are all great additions to the standard cooking area. The mud kitchen needs to be wide enough for side-by-side play; alternatively, a 360-degree design is ideal for two or more children.

  • Materials: Mud kitchens are usually made from wood as it’s attractive and sturdy, and if it has been treated with weatherproof varnish by you or the manufacturer, it will be protected from wind, rain and snow for at least two years. If you’re interested in sustainability, look for products made from FSC-certified wood.

  • Accessories: The accessories provided are a hugely important part of a mud kitchen package. Additional play sets can be purchased, but most kitchens will have a minimum of a few pots, pans and utensils so that cooking can begin as soon as the kitchen is built. A working tap, removable sink, and drop-down oven are features that should be built into the body of the kitchen itself. Some models will have an easel, chalkboard or perspex screen on which your little chef can write their menu.

  • Water: A ‘sink’ is an integral part of a mud kitchen as that’s where a potion or recipe is concocted. A watering can, a bucket of water or proximity to an outdoor tap can quickly provide the splash. However, some mud kitchens come with a working tap supplied by a water butt either behind or underneath the sink.

  • Storage space: A mud kitchen with shelves, cupboards, drawers and hooks will take lots of building, but it will look more authentic, provide extra fun and be good places to store accessories and ‘ingredients.’

  • Ease of assembly: Unless you buy a bespoke, handmade kitchen or pay extra for an assembly service, you’re on your own. A mud kitchen usually has lots of pieces and needs space, tools, a clear head and patience to build it. The average time required is two hours, and you’ll notice that most consumer reviews will mention how easy it is and the quality of the instructions.

How to make a DIY mud kitchen

If you’re relatively DIY savvy like the Mumsnet users below, you may prefer to make your own mud kitchen, creating a truly bespoke and personalised play area for your child.

“They are easy enough to make if you have the time and are DIY orientated.” suggested by Mumsnet user onedsrightnow

“We made one. I looked online and fainted at the price so we made one, 2 days and £50. My granddaughter loves it and we actually enjoyed making it - it was dead easy.

  • Buy a cheap coffee table from a car boot or second-hand shop - £10

  •  Go to a proper timber merchant and buy planks of wood - £10

  • Fix one plank across the back of the table and then screw uprights into place, add a plank on the back near the top for strength. We made a 'Z ' shape because we had too much wood.

  • Buy square, not round bowls (too hard), and cut squares out of coffee table - needs electric saw, borrow one if necessary.

  • Use spare wood to fix a shelf.

  • Sand everything, then paint (we used paint we already had, outdoor paint obviously)

  • Pimp it up 😆

 Method used by Mumsnet user Toooldtobearsed

To make your own mud kitchen you will need:

  • A selection of treated wood (quantity will depend upon the size of the mud kitchen you plan to make)

  • A chop saw - for cutting wood to size

  • Sander - for smoothing rough edges

  • Screwdriver and screws - for securing the pieces

  • Paint (optional) - for personalising your design

Step-by-step instructions 

  • Create a rough sketch of your design before you start, carefully considering the size and shape of your mud kitchen to ensure you have enough space.

  • Measure the pieces of timber to size and mark them with a pencil ready for cutting.

  • Use the chop saw to cut the wood to size and then gently sand to remove any rough/frayed edges

  • Create the two end frames first, screwing horizontal panels to the vertical pieces.

  • Once the two end pieces are complete, attach the floor and table boards between the two and screw them into place.

  • Add a splashback, hanging screws and accessories as required, before painting (optional) and adding personal touches.

You may find this step-by-step make-your-own mud kitchen guide from DIY experts Wickes helpful.

What’s the best mud kitchen to buy?

The best mud kitchen for your family will very much depend on your requirements, however, for its high quality, versatility, substantial size and range of accessories included, we feel the TP Muddy Madness is the best mud kitchen you can buy today.  Whether you’re buying for a single child or for siblings to share together, this mud kitchen offers great value for money and is built to last the test of time.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

Members of the Mumsnet community agree that a sturdy mud kitchen with lots of fun accessories is a great way to keep their children playing happily in the garden. So, we weighed the toys their toddlers have played with and loved, which they wholeheartedly recommend. Their experiences, including weatherproofing and cleaning advice and the mud kitchens which suit children of all ages, have informed our choices of the outdoor toys you should invest in.

Expert opinions

Mud kitchens need to be easy to assemble and maintain, and they can be costly, so we wanted to be confident that the toys we picked would perform well while being educational. To do this, we’ve investigated the opinions of the child development experts and toy retailers we trust the most.

Authentic customer reviews

We then evaluated the outdoor toy bestseller lists and investigated the best mud kitchen reviews from various retailer sites to see which products were best rated. Lastly, we weighed the pros and cons of each choice to determine which were best suited to different age ranges.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in that time, we've investigated, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

As the mother of two children, Erin and Neve, our writer Lucy was determined to provide honest and independent advice on the fantastic mud kitchens your little ones will love using.

Transparency is vital to us, and we're always honest about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their friends and family.