11 Best Mud Kitchens For Kids [+ DIY & Running Water Tips!] in 2022

Discover the best mud kitchen for kids depending on their interests and your budget as well as tips for customizing and upgrading mud kitchens to make them personalized.

We all know the time in nature and sensory play are critical for kids development and outdoor mud kitchens are the perfect choice to get kids outside and into nature. In this post you'll discover how to choose the best mud kitchen for toddlers and kids, what to include in your mud kitchen set up, benefits, and even tips for DIYing your mud kitchen! Use the table of contents below to jump to where you want to go quickly!

Star system: These are the best mud kitchens for toddlers and kids so you really can't go wrong with any of them on the list. The star system is based on the price point (though we suggest checking the price of all of them as it does vary with sales quite a bit), features, and ease of assembly or customization.

Plum Mud Kitchen ★★★★★

Plum Discovery's Mud Kitchen is definitely the best overall mud kitchen on the market in our opinion. It's easy to assemble and comes with the most accessories and features of all the mud kitchens we could find, all for a moderate price point.

Made from FSC sustainably harvested wood, it also features a clear plastic “painting screen.” The top sides have a spot for hanging the four included utensils as well as the included bamboo wood chimes.

Additionally it comes with three pots, three gardening tools, and seven brushes. There are built in holders for potted plants, as well as a large planter at the base of the back which also has a little trellis going up. There's also shelves on the front side and faux wood knobs. While it does come with a little sink basin, it does not come with a working sink faucet; though you could easily drill a hole and add your own.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Size: 51″ wide x 78″ long x 49″ high
  • Accessories:
  • Material: FSC harvested wood
  • Assembly: Hard
Good To Know
  • No faucet
  • Unstained – we suggest adding stain to increase longevity

TP Toys Muddy Maker Mud Kitchen  ★★★

TP Toys Muddy Maker Mud Kitchen is one of the most popular mud kitchens on the market for under $200 thanks to it's thoughtful design.

While it's made from an FSC European timber wood, it's not the most sturdy/durable on the list. It has a plastic sink basin that can hold up to 7 liters of water, without a faucet, that can be removed and moved around.

Next to the sink, you can stencil your own oven burners on above the “oven” door (NOTE: there are no oven or stove knobs and the door swings to the side, not up and down like a regular oven). There's a spot to hang utensils, and a little serving shelf area. Additionally, you can use the top portion as a chalkboard.

NOTE: TP Toys makes an upgraded version of this mud kitchen (aka the deluxe version) that isn't as easily found, but does includes a refillable water jug that acts as a sink faucet, and a wooden removable cover for the sink to extender countertop space. This is the option we'd personally get if choosing between the two, and accounts for the extra 4th star in the rating.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Size: 17 x 37.4 x 38.9 inches
  • Accessories: Pot, pan, and whisk
  • Features: Removable sink basin, chalkboard, oven door, serving station, painted “stove burners”
  • Material:  FSC certified pressure treated European timber wood, stainless steel, and plastic
  • Assembly: Very difficult
Good To Know
  • This does not have a sink (real or pretend)
  • No knobs for stove or oven
  • Oven door opens to the side, not up and down like a regular door
  • Available in deluxe version here with extended counter space and water butt.

Outsunny Kids Kitchen Play Set Outdoor ★★★

The Outsunny outdoor kitchen is a smaller version of the TP Toys Mud Kitchen with a few additional features and a lower price tag (thanks to the smaller size).

Like the TP Toys Mud Kitchen, the Outsunny features a removable plastic sink basin, chalkboard top rail, and an “oven door” that swings open to the side.

But the Outsunny also features three planting pots with pot holders, a frying pan, regular pan, saucepan, spoon, and spatula. It also include two “stove burners” and knobs that turn.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Size: 32″L x 18″W x 40.25″H
  • Accessories: Detachable sink basin, three planting pots, fry pan, pan, saucepan, spoon and spatula
  • Material: Fir wood, Steel, Plastic
  • Assembly: Difficult
Good To Know
  • Oven knobs actually switch on and off
  • Size may be a little too small for multiple kids
  • No faucet

Costway Kid's Wooden Mud Kitchen Pretend Cook Playset Toy For Children ★★★★

Costway's Mud Kitchen comes in at under $100 and has some pretty great features. I would classify this mud kitchen as a great base mud kitchen for those who like to DIY some upgrades and personalized tweaks (much like turning the Ikea kitchen into a working montessori kitchen).

1

The plastic sink basin is removable, but it also has a wood slate cover to increase countertop workspace. Additionally, there is a faux plastic faucet for pretend play, and you could probably remove that and instal a real faucet powered by a garden hose in the hole (don't quote us on that, just a hunch).

You could also easily install a pot holder like the Outsunny above the sink. Additionally, we love the additional shelves on both the upper and lower portion of the kitchen.

Costway's Mud Kitchen base is smaller than the Outsunny, but the actually tabletop workspace is quite a bit larger thanks to the fold outsides.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Size: 44.5 x 11 x 39 inches
  • Accessories: Faux faucet and removable sink basin
  • Material: Fir Wood + Plastic
  • Assembly: Moderate
Good To Know
  • Not a working faucet

NobleWoodenToys  ★★★★★

NonleWoodenToys makes probably the best mud kitchen out there (with a price tag that reflects it).

Aside from being well made, and using the best wood (Cedar) for lasting outdoors for along time, they offer a clear UV protection coat too.

Beyond that, you can customize just about everything with this mud kitchen: mini width or double wide, feet to raise it 1.5″ or getting a taller kitchen altogether for older kids, single sink or double, working faucet or no faucet, and paint color.

They also offer one of the more realistic stove and oven options out there. Aside from easy maintenance, parents will appreciate the fairly easy assembly too.

Specs
  • Age: Not listed
  • Size: Width varies depending on style
  • Accessories: Varies, some come with 6 piece utensil set
  • Material: Cedar wood + stainless steel
  • Assembly: Easy
Good To Know
  • Option for unfinished or clear UV protection
  • Option for including a working sink faucet
  • Height Adjustable- includes wooden feet take make mud kitchen 1.5″ taller OR can opt for a taller kitchen for older kids altogether
  • Painted options available
  • Great features: Hooks, swivel sink head to reach both sink basins, 4 “stove top” burners, oven with knobs, and storage.

MudKitchenPlay ★★★★★

MudKitchenPlay is another top mud kitchen on this list with the perfect intersection of price and quality. Additionally, it has some of the coolest and most unique options of all the mud kitchens on this list.

The tabletop is pretty standard: sink basin and stove top options, however the backing options are where they really thrive.

Choose from a chalkboard with a shelf, chalkboard with clear art easel, art easel only, or chalkboard with a wormery that can double as an art easel too!

That's right, you can actually have your very own wormery built right into your mud kitchen! It's pretty easy to take apart and clean out when needed too.

You can choose between two widths, 16 colors and finishes, and customize the layout of htek nobs as well. Additionally, we love that this option actually comes with printable mud kitchen recipe cards for added fun. You can print and “laminate” them with clear contact paper.

Lastly, there's an addon option for an oven door, and if you'd like to add your own sink, you can message the shop owner the dimensions of your faucet and they'll pre-drill a hole for you!

Specs
  • Age: Not listed
  • Size: Width varies depending on style
  • Accessories: Varies but all come with printable mud kitchen recipe cards
  • Material: Pressure treated (tannalised) timber, birch, stainless steel, + perspex
  • Assembly: Easy
Good To Know
  • Option for knob and stove top locations
  • Ability to add personalization (like child's name)
  • 16 color/finish options
  • Comes with Mud Kitchen Recipe boards (download)
  • Option to add oven door
  • Backing options: chalk board with shelf, chalkboard with clear easel, easel, chalkboard with wormery
  • Can ask seller to pre-drill faucet hole and add your own faucet

Monarch Studio Shop ★★★★

Monarch Stdio Shop has sturdy mud kitchen options in both cedar and pine wood.

Choose between a side table, single sink, or double sink with the option of adding a running water faucet that connects via a garden hose.

Additionally, if you choose the options with a back wall you'll get four hooks for hanging kitchen utensils and an optional shelf.

Specs
  • Age: Not listed
  • Size: Width varies depending on style and you can choose table top height (19”, 24”, or 28”)
  • Accessories: Varies (options for sink, hooks, basins, side table), stainless steel bins and their lids come with all kitchens, but not real “kitchen accessories”
  • Material: Cedar or pine wood, stainless steel, tung oil
  • Assembly: Easy
Good To Know
  • Option for working sink
  • Can choose side table, single sink, or double sink options as well as a back or no back
  • Unstained; they suggest adding a weatherproof stain if keeping outside
  • For running sink, you need to purchase a faucet connector adapter ($6) from hardware store

WoodNPoppy Wooden Mud Kitchen for Kids ★★★★

WoodNPoppy has a variety of wood mud kitchens made from Pinewood. While it's not as long lasting or durable as cedar wood, the quality difference is reflected in the price tag and you can opt for a finishing coat.

They offer two main styles: a single sink basin with two stove burners or a double sink basin with four burners and 4 knobs.

Both styles include shelves, a back board, hooks for hanging utensils, knobs, and the sink basin is removable.

Additionally, they have some custom mud kitchen accessories you can add on, like a wooden oven door, working sink faucet, stone food, or replacement parts

Specs
  • Age: Not listed
  • Size: Varies depending on style
  • Accessories: Plastic bin sink basins included
  • Material: Pinewood and plastic
  • Assembly: Easy and includes video
Good To Know
  • Comes in blue, green, pink, stained, or unfinished
  • Can customize countertops: redwood, knotty pine, or clear pine
  • Knobs really turn
  • “Sink basins” are removable
  • Option to add water pump, wooden outdoor accessories, wood oven door, or upgrade to stainless steel bins

Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse ★★★

While mud kitchens are traditionally wood, if you prefer a plastic option the Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse can work as a nice mud kitchen, and it includes a sun shade which we love.

One side features swing doors that give us kitchen vibes, another side features a serving/eating counter top, then you'll find two basins for mud or water, and lastly you have a grill side with two knobs and two hidden hooks and a faux sink.

Additionally this set comes with a mesh storage bag for the included accessories: pot and pan with lids, two cups, two plates, spatula, tongs, rake/shovel tool, water pouring station, three pouring containers.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Size: 47.5 x 47.5 x 60 inches
  • Accessories: Mesh storage bag for pot and pan with lids, two cups, two plates, spatula, tongs, rake/shovel tool, water pouring station, three pouring containers.
  • Material: Plastic
  • Assembly: Moderate
Good To Know
  • Sun canopy is removable
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Not a sink with running water

Do It Yourself Planner Mud Kitchen Diy Plans

DIYP's DIY mud kitchen plans are the best mud kitchen designs that are pretty dummy proof for an easy build. It comes with a list of materials, cuts to make yourself or ask to be made for you, and step-by-step instructions for easy assembly.

The completed mud kitchen is a decent size for multiple kids. It includes a sink basin, you could easily add a hole to install a running faucet, and a traditional opening oven door, an opening for storage, and a cabinet door.

Additionally, the top has two areas for shelves where you could also drill holes for small potting plants. Lasly, you could add your own knobs and stove top burners to customize this further.

NOTE: If using this for multiple kids, you may consider taking a page out of NobleWoodenToys design, and adding a second sink basin; while this is NOT necessary and would take up more counter space, it's worth considering depending on how your kids tend to play together.

Build Blueprint Mud Kitchen DIY PDF

If you're looking for a smaller mud kitchen design than the previous pick, BuildBlueprint has a great option.

You'll get a printable PDF of the material and cut list, tools, step-by-step instructions, detailed drawings, and tips.

We love that the plans are color coded so you can easily understand what goes where. Additionally, the finished mud kitchen includes a nice size sink basin (with option to drill a hole for installing your own working sink faucet), stove burners with knobs, hooks, and a single shelf.

How To Choose The Best Mud Kitchen For Kids

Size

When it comes to choosing a mud kitchen the first thing to consider is size. Particularly if you have a small backyard and are looking for something with a small footprint or if you have multiple children and need a large enough mud kitchen for them to all work at.

Keep in mind, some mud kitchens have features on the backside, so while the footprint of the mud kitchen may be one thing, you may need to have it somewhere larger so they can access the back side too, rather than squeezed into a corner or against a wall.

Durability

Mud kitchens are meant to stay outdoors, but don't assume they are all weatherproof!

Many wood mud kitchens come unfinished. In some cases (like when cedar wood is used) this isn't a problem; in other cases where plywood or cheaper wood is used, it will likely start to weather and wear more quickly. With that said, you can always add your own clear finish to a mud kitchen to increase longevitiy.

Additionally, some kids may want to climb on a mud kitchen or can just be a little rough with their toys, so you'll want something sturdy.

Be sure to check your mud kitchen regularly for signs of wear (splinters, mold/wood rot, loose screws) so you can sand/treat them swiftly before they cause an issue.

Features

Mud kitchens come with tons of options, and are easily customized if you find one that meets your budget but is missing a feature.

Some features to consider:

  • Chalkboard
  • Art easel
  • Wormery
  • Removable sink basin
  • Working running faucet
  • Stove burners
  • Knobs for stove/oven
  • Oven door
  • Potted plant holders
  • Hooks
  • Planter
  • Trellis
  • Serving shelf
  • Storage shelves
  • Removable wood “cutting” board for over the sink to extend counter space

The hardest features to replicate would be the clear art easel or “wormery” features. Beyond that, if the mud kitchen you buy has features missing you'd like to add, just make sure there is room for them (e.g. enough space behind a sink basin to add a sink faucet). Additionally, you can always paint a portion of any mud with chalkboard paint to turn any side/surface into a chalkboard.

Lastly, when considering features, particularly the backing of the mud kitchen, consider your child's interests. For instance, if your child really loves messy play, the backing with a trellis or wormery provides more opportunities for that. If your child really loves playing “mom” or other role play/imaginative scenarios found in daily life, then a kitchen with open shelves where they can pass food through to restaurant guests or serving others may make more sense.

FAQs About Mud Kitchens

What age is a mud kitchen for?

Most mud kitchens are recommended for 3 year olds and up due to CPSC standards, however as long as your mud kitchen is sturdy, without any loose nails/screws or choking hazards you could allow younger toddlers to enjoy the fun as well.

Beyond that, most kids enjoy playing with mud kitchens up to 7 or 8 years old; some even longer if they have younger siblings still interacting with it.

Do kids play with mud kitchens?

Yes! Mud kitchens have been loved by kids for decades and decades because they combine so many sensory experience with the nature, both of which kids are naturally drawn to as they soothe the nervous system and encourage healthy development.

Are mud kitchens safe?

Yes! Generally speaking mud kitchens are perfectly safe for toddlers and kids.

Of course, you want to make sure there aren't splinters and your mud kitchen is in good shape (no rusty nails/screws coming loose). Additionally, you want to make sure young toddlers aren't eating things they aren't supposed to.

Other than those to things, the mess is actually quite beneficial for children's development.

Benefits of mud kitchens for kids:

  • Sensory learning and development of proprioceptive and vestibular systems: builds nerve connections in the brain, balance, and body awareness
  • Imaginative play: Found some pebbles? Perhaps they're sprinkles now! Are you making a mud birthday cake? Or running a mud restaurant? The imaginative play and role play situations are endless with a mud kitchen and nature at your child's disposal.
  • Social skills: Mud kitchens invite a slew of social interactions from sharing and working together, to pretend play situations like serving or hosting
  • Fine motor refinement: Depending on the tools you provide and features of your mud kitchen, kids can work a variety of fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills: For younger toddlers, standing and manoeuvring around a mud kitchen can offer a chance to build your child's larger muscle groups and balance
  • Early math concepts: Weight scales, counting, adding, subtracting are all natural elements of playing with a mud kitchen
  • Health benefits: letting kids play in the dirt builds their immune system and create important neurological connections as well as sothing to the nervous system
  • Language skills: Playing in a mud kitchen offers ample opportunity for communicating wants, needs, emotions, and working on new descriptive words

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Are mud kitchens montessori?

While Dr. Maria Montessori never created a formal mud kitchen herself as one of her teaching materials, mud kitchen's do fall in line with many of Dr. Montessori's beliefs with early childhood development.

As Dr. Maria Montessori said, “the environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”

Mud kitchens do exactly that. They provide children with the freedom to explore and interact with a prepared environment rich with sensory and learning materials. Afterall, children learn through play. Additionally, Dr. Montessori was a huge proponent of children spending lots of time in nature, which mud kitchens provide compared to a traditional indoor play kitchen.

With that said, it's equally as important to preparing your child's mud kitchen environment with a wide array of tools and activities to explore/create will ultimately set your child and your mud kitchen up for a long lasting independent play experience.

What can I put in a kids mud kitchen?

We love the following mud kitchen ideas:

How do you make an outdoor mud kitchen for kids?

To make your own outdoor mud kitchen for kids, we suggest Build Blueprint Mud Kitchen DIY PDF for smaller spaces and Do It Yourself Planner Mud Kitchen Diy Plans for larger spaces or multiple kids.

How do you weatherproof a mud kitchen?

While many mud kitchens are design for perpetual outdoor use, not all are finished with waterproof materials. To waterproof your mud kitchen consider:

Waterproofing wood: If you plan to build your mud kitchen with wood, you can waterproof the wood so that it does not go bad. There are a couple of different ways to waterproof your wood.

  • Linseed or tung oil: a generally nontoxic easy way to create a water barrier over the wood; though you will need to re-oil every now and then
  • Varnish: Sealing the wood with clear varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer is a one and done solution that prevents wood rot
  • Stain-sealant combo: If you'd like to add some color, this combo finishes and seals the wood with a beautiful waterproof coating to increase longevity. Depending on your sealant you may need to re-seal every few years

What is the best soil for mud kitchens?

Organic topsoil followed by organic potting soil are some of the best dirt options for mud kitchens thanks to its soft feel and gut friendly organic material.

A good rule of thumb: if it's good for growing plants, it's probably good for kids too!

NOTE: you may want to purchase soil for use in a mud kitchen if you have a pet that poops in the yard and you don't clean it up always.

What is the best paint for mud kitchens?

Since children play at a mud kitchen you'll want an outdoor paint that is Greenguard Gold certified and as nontoxic as possible.

What is the best wood for mud kitchens?

Generally speaking, cedar is considered the best wood for a mud kitchen, followed by pine.

What is the best price for mud kitchens?

Mud kitchens typically cost between $100-$1100.

Mud kitchens are definitely a “you get what you pay for” kind of situations as the cheaper ones tend to not be the most durable or long lasting and extremely frustrating to build. While the $1,000 one's can be assembled in 10 minutes and use some of the best materials for.

We find that $350-500 is definitely a sweet spot where budget and quality meet.

Final thoughts:

For the most budget friendly mud kitchen, we love the idea of Costway Kid's Wooden Mud Kitchen that you can then customize with hooks, knobs, plant pots, and even a real running faucet sink.

Plum Mud Kitchen is really the best overall mud kitchen with a moderate price point, clear art easel, planters, and open shelves for storing or playing “restaurant.”

Depending on your child's innate interests though (and Plum's availability), we suggest looking at MudKitchenPlay‘s mud kitchens. They also offer a moderate price point and have a wide variety of backs that you can tailor to your child's interests.

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