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Best mud kitchens for inspiring children's creativity and imagination

A mud kitchen is a fantastic toy for encouraging all kinds of play, from sensory to scientific. They can make mud pies, wash up afterward and forage for the ‘ingredients’ to ‘cook.’ Here's our pick of the best ones to add to your garden.

By Gemma Lumley | Last updated Aug 26, 2022

Child playing with mud kitchen

Messy play is vital, but we don’t often encourage it, so a mud kitchen in the corner of the garden for mixing potions and throwing water about is an excellent addition to your child’s toy library. 

Mud kitchens are designed to be used outdoors, making them more robust than an indoor play kitchen. They can also have working taps too, not something you would want in your living room. 

Playing outdoors and getting their hands on mud, leaves, and grass is vital for the health and wellbeing of children, who so often spend their lives cocooned indoors. Stretching their imaginations with a mud kitchen can also boost the immune system, and they will begin to develop a deep connection with nature. 

Here's our pick of the best mud kitchens to buy in 2022. 

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

TP Toys mud kitchen

Price: £170 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

“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)

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

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

Crafted from FSC-certified wood and built to last, this mud kitchen isn’t 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 in a couple of hours. 

Pros 

  • Room for three children to play
  • Made from sustainable wood
  • One-year guarantee included 

Cons

  • Construction is simple but will take around two hours 

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 

2. Best budget mud kitchen: Playhouse Mucky Mud Kitchen

Playhouse mud kitchen

Price: £42.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“We got one for my son, aged three. He absolutely loves it. We live in a warm country so it's used a lot. We also do lots of experiments on it. I think it's a lovely outdoor item to have for kids.” (Type of toy suggested by Mumsnet user GiveMeHope103)

The Playhouse Mucky Mud Kitchen is one of the best value mud kitchens available. It’s a simple design, with an extra large bright green sink and shelf system that encourages imaginative, messy play. 

A durable set of three stainless steel pans with lids and two kitchen utensils is included, but the vast play space allows additional accessories to be played with too. 

The Mucky Mud Kitchen is made from FSC-certified sustainably sourced wood that has been weatherproofed for a sturdy, long-lasting outdoor toy. The sink tub is robust, simple, and quick to remove and clean. 

Pros 

  • Made from sustainable wood 
  • Robust accessories included
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • No storage for accessories 

Key specs

  • Size: L x 63.5; W x 35; H x 67.5 cm
  • Material: Canadian hemlock wood 
  • Accessories included: Stainless steel pans and utensils
  • Age suitability: Three years old and over
  • Assembly time: Not specified

3. Best wood mud kitchen: Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen

Chad Valley kitchen

Price: £125.00 | Buy now from Argos

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

 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.

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 utensil 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. 

Pros 

  • Great value
  • One-year guarantee included
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • The wood needs treating to protect it against the weather

Key specs

  • Size: H x 105; W x 93.5; D x 52.5 cm
  • Material: Untreated wood
  • Accessories included: Wooden utensils 
  • Age suitability: Three years and over
  • Assembly time: One hour plus

4. Best medium-sized mud kitchen: COSTWAY Wooden Mud Kitchen

Costway mud kitchen

Price: £78.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“Best toy in the garden, but my kids love water and mess.” (Type of toy recommended by Mumsnet user Flopisfatteningbingforchristmas)

The COSTWAY Wooden Mud Kitchen is crafted from weatherproofed solid fir wood that feels smooth to touch and won’t cause splinters. It is easy to build due to each piece's comprehensive instructions and intuitive labelling. 

This is a spacious mud kitchen with many shelves, countertop space and a large sink made from non-toxic, odour-free plastic. There’s even a chopping board that can be placed over the sink for extra room. 

The COSTWAY is an affordable price, but there are no accessories included, so factor in the additional cost of a play set before purchasing. Nevertheless, this is a great value option if you already have lots of play kitchen equipment. 

Pros 

  • Made from treated wood – so it’s protected from the weather
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to assemble 

Cons

  • No accessories included

Key specs

  • Size: 113 x 39 x 99 cm
  • Material: Fir wood; plastic; stainless steel 
  • Accessories included: Chopping board
  • Age suitability: Three years old and over 
  • Assembly time: Not specified

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

Plum mud kitchen

Price: £209.99 | Buy now from Very

“Definitely a mud kitchen!! The muckier the better!” (Type of toy recommended by Mumsnet user FelicityPike)

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. 

Pros 

  • Sturdy
  • Lots of accessories included
  • Made from sustainable wood 

Cons

  • Expensive

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: Not specified 

6. Best mud kitchen for space saving: Liberty House Toys Pretend Play Mud Kitchen

Liberty mud kitchen

Price: £104.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“So glad I bought a wooden indoor/outdoor one. He enjoys playing with it but it gets a lot more use when we put it outside and he can fill the sink with water and splash about. Not so fussed with it indoors where he has to be more tidy!” (Style of toy highly recommended by Mumsnet user MrsLeclerc)

This Liberty House Toys Pretend Play design is a small mud kitchen perfect for compact gardens and yards. Styled like a Welsh dresser, it looks attractive and has plenty of storage space to keep the worktops clear of clutter. 

Made from heat-treated, weatherproof wood that has been sustainably sourced, the Pretend Play Mud Kitchen has a deep metal removable sink, a pretend mixer tap, an oven with a chalkboard on the front and a two-ring hob. 

This cute kitchen comes with six stainless steel pots, pans and utensils that are durable and excellent for encouraging imaginative play. Despite its diminutive size, this kitchen is suitable for children up to six years.

Pros 

  • Made from sustainable wood
  • Great for small gardens and yards
  • Attractive design 

Cons

  • Only one child can play at once

Key specs

  • Size: H 95 x W 65 x D 40 cm
  • Material: FSC-certified Canadian hemlock wood
  • Accessories included: Stainless steel pots, pans and utensils
  • Age suitability: Three to six years 
  • Assembly time: Not specified

7. Best mud kitchen with running water: TP Toys Splash and Play Wooden Mud Kitchen

TP Toys mud kitchen

Price: £99.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The TP Toys Splash and Play Mud Kitchen with a working tap is a brilliant outdoor activity centre for children who love playing with water. It’s compact, which is excellent for small gardens and one-child households. 

The painted, rather than raised, two-ring hob is realistic but allows for open-ended play. The one-pump tap releases a manageable amount of water, and when your little one pulls the plug, it drains back into the water butt, so there’s minimal water waste. 

This pretty kitchen is made from FSC-certified wood that feels solid and sturdy enough for years of play. It also has a chalkboard above the sink, a set of stainless steel kitchenware and an oven/cupboard for storing them in. 

Pros 

  • One-year guarantee included
  • Recycles the play water
  • Good for small gardens

Cons

  • Only suitable for one child 

Key specs

  • Size: 55 x 33 x 88 cm
  • Material: FSC-certified wood
  • Accessories included: Stainless steel pan and utensils
  • Age suitability: Ages three years and over
  • Assembly time: Not specified 

8. Best large mud kitchen: Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen

Big game mud kitchen

Price: £163.00 | Buy now from Amazon

A double mud kitchen used to be the biggest you could get, but now there are models like this Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen for large families, childminders and playgroups. It has a chunky style that feels like it will stand the test of time and get plenty of use from eager small hands. 

There’s a four-ring hob, two working taps, a chalkboard, an oven and lots of places to stash play equipment. It even has hanging pots ideal for chalks, flowers, and plants. This kitchen is an impressive price, but there are no accessories, so factor the potential purchase of a play set into your cost calculations. 

A medium-sized sink is tucked underneath a removable piece of worktop for play flexibility and to protect any water, soil or sand in the sink from the weather and garden debris. This solid kitchen is tricky to build and will take time, but we think it’s well worth the effort. 

Pros 

  • Three children can play with it together
  • Very sturdy 
  • Good for young toddlers

Cons

  • Take a long time to build 

Key specs

  • Size: L43cm x W111cm (extending to 143cm) x H91 cm
  • Material: Fir wood
  • Accessories included: None
  • Age suitability: 18 months and over
  • Assembly time: Four hours plus

9. Best mud kitchen with utensils: Sportspower Premium Mud Kitchen

Sportspower mud kitchen

Price: £109.99 | Buy now from Very

The Sportspower Premium Mud Kitchen is a spacious play space with many great features for your little chefs. It has two pop-out stainless steel sinks, so it’s perfect for children playing together. 

The four-ring hob has workable knobs, a large chalkboard and an oven/cupboard. We loved the hanging hooks for keeping the included kitchen utensils tidy; there are also two neat shelves and generous under-sink storage.   

This simply designed kitchen is made from good quality wood that feels strong enough to last for years. It’s simple to assemble, but it will take a good couple of hours, so it’s a good idea to build it before presenting it as a gift. 

Pros 

  • Chalkboard included 
  • Great value
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Needs treating before use to keep it pristine

Key specs

  • Size: D x 52; H x 90; W x 105 cm
  • Material: Wood
  • Accessories included: Chalkboard and utensils
  • Age suitability: Three years old and over
  • Assembly time: At least two hours 

What is a mud kitchen?

What is a mud kitchen, and how is it different from an indoor play kitchen? Think of it 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 wellbeing. 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. 

How much does a mud kitchen cost?

Mud kitchens are an investment that you will want to last for years of regular, heavy use. They can cost between £50 for a basic model and £500 for a bespoke handmade product.

A sturdy mud kitchen crafted from quality, treated wood with a working tap and plentiful accessories is ideal, and you can purchase one like this for around £150 to £200 – if you have a few young children who you know will play with it lots, that’s not a lot per use. That said, you could buy a cheaper, more basic model and the accessories and care equipment separately. If you’re on a budget or are buying it with hope rather than conviction it will be of interest to your brood, there’s no need to spend more than £50. 

Is a mud kitchen worth the money?

If your child delights in imaginative play, loves pretending to cook and is never happier than when they are gloriously messy, then yes, a mud kitchen will be worth the money. But, remember that this type of outdoor toy's mental, social and physical development opportunities shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Playgroups, childminders and nurseries usually have a mud kitchen in their outdoor play space, so see if it’s a toy that your child gravitates towards before considering spending your money on one. Alternatively, pop a washing-up bowl of water, some soil and some old, safe kitchen utensils on the lawn alongside your toddler and see how engaged they are. 

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. 

Where to buy a mud kitchen and accessories

High street toy shops like John Lewis & Partners, Smyths and Argos will have a small selection of high-quality mud kitchens. However, online shops such as Amazon and Hope Education have a broader selection, including well-known brands such as TP toys and Chad Valley and smaller independent companies. If you want a bespoke mud kitchen that will fit a particular corner of your garden or appeal to your child’s individual interests, head to Etsy or your local carpenter. 

Most mud kitchens will have accessories such as pots, pans and utensils. However, for maximum enjoyment investing in additional toys is a good idea and online retailers such as Amazon are a brilliant place to look for inspiration. 

Suppose your little one loves pretending to cook you a three-course meal. In that case, this mud kitchen play set includes robust stainless steel kitchenware, realistic utensils and a cute chef’s outfit, and this plastic cooking set includes pretend food and domestic essentials like a kettle

Some toy brands, such as TP Toys, have created toy mud kitchen add-ons that will further develop the play options and opportunities for fun and learning. They also make it easier for multiple children to play with the mud kitchen. 

Water play is an integral part of sensory play, but not all mud kitchens come with running water; if yours doesn’t, a DIY water butt and tap is a wonderful idea and can also be used for watering the garden or for camping trips. 

What mud is best for a mud kitchen?

Mud is a soft and squidgy mix of earth and water. You could use the soil from the garden, but there’s the risk that local cats and wildlife will have contaminated it. Studies have revealed that exposure to some bacteria and germs is good for a child’s immune system, but most parents will find that thought unsettling. 

Topsoil, also known as loam soil, from the garden centre or DIY shop makes excellent mud. Compost can be used too, but it will make clumps rather than become a smooth paste. Sand is also a great idea for a mud kitchen. 

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, Jasmine and Liam, our writer Gemma 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.

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