9 Best Mud Kitchens For Kids [+ DIY & Running Water Tips!] in 2023

Making mud play and mud pies in the yard are a great way for kids to learn, regulate their nervous system, and give parents a break. Discover the best mud kitchens for kids depending on their interests and your budget as well as tips for customizing and upgrading mud kitchens to make them personalized with working tap water, storage space, and more!


Top Mud Kitchens For Kids

Quick look at our top picks, read the full reviews with price comparisons below!


We all know 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 own mud kitchen set up, benefits, and even tips for DIY mud kitchens! Use the table of contents below to jump to where you want to go quickly!

Best Mud Kitchen For Kids

Best Overall: TP Toys Muddy Maker Mud Kitchen 

TP Toys Muddy Maker Mud Kitchen is one of the most popular mud kitchens on the market thanks to its moderate price point and thoughtful design. It loses one star just because it doesn't come with running water and is unfinished; but you can DIY that or opt for their “deluxe” version which comes with a water basin and counter extender.

NOTE: The deluxe version is the perfect mud kitchen for siblings and multiple kids! Look at all that space my kids have!

Made from FSC European timber wood, it's better than the cheap mud kitchens on this list, but not as durable as others.

Both the basic and deluxe style have a plastic sink basin that can hold up to 7 liters of water and 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.

Aside from the refillable water jug, the other difference between the deluxe version and basic version is the removable wooden cover that slides over the sink basin or out as a counter extender.

Specs
  • Age: 3 years old and up
  • Deluxe size: 37.7 ” T x 15.7″ D x 38.5″ L (with extender is 52/7″ L)
  • 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 faucet (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.

Most Fun Options: MudKitchenPlay

MudKitchenPlay is another top mud kitchen on this list with the perfect intersection of price and quality making it a great value. 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 a pretend 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 (tanalised) 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

Best Budget: 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 outdoor play kitchen for those who like to DIY some upgrades and personalized tweaks (much like turning the Ikea kitchen into a working montessori kitchen).

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 install a real faucet powered by a garden hose in the hole (don't quote us on that, just an educated hunch).

You could also easily install a pot holder hooks or clip on garden pots above the sink. Additionally, we love the additional shelves on both the upper and lower portion of the kitchen. This creates the perfect set up to turn the kitchen into a “restaurant” with siblings and friends shouting “order up!” or let their mud cakes dry!

Costway's Mud Kitchen base footprint is smaller than most, 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 L x 11 D x 39 H inches
  • Accessories: Faux faucet and removable sink basin
  • Material: Fir Wood + Plastic
  • Assembly: Moderate
Good To Know
  • Not a working faucet
  • Difficult assembly with holes not lining up or missing in some cases

Highest Quality: NobleWoodenToys 

NonleWoodenToys makes probably the best wood 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, and stainless steel sinks.

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, number of burners, and paint color.

They also offer one of the more realistic stove and oven options out there and it includes some cooking utenseils! 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.

Runner Up: 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

Budget Handmade Version: Monarch Studio Shop

Monarch Studio Shop features a sturdy mud kitchen made by Amish builders using pine wood that comes in at a fraction of the cost of the two previous picks.

The basic design includes two stainless steel basins come with lids and hooks to go above them for kitchen utensils. The backsplash also features a shelf.

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: 38.5” long and 16 1/4″ deep. The legs are 24” tall
  • Accessories: low shelf, back wall, 2 stainless steel bins with lids, 2 hooks, 1 back of wall shelf
  • Material: Pine wood
  • Assembly: Easy
Good To Know
  • Option for working sink
  • 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

Plastic Mud Kitchen: Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse

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

One side features easy access 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, two hidden hooks and a faux sink.

We've just added water to the sink in the past, but you could easily pop the faucet off and add areal working one instead.

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 included 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
  • Not a sink with running water but can pop the plastic faucet off and add your own water hook up fairly easy

DIY Mud Kitchen Plans: 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.

Runner Up: 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.

Lastly, depending if you have younger children or older children, height can play a factor. Consider something they can easily reach the countertop. With that said, you can always sw the legs down or add some blocks to lift it up as your child grows.

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 longevity.

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 hours and hours of independent play.

What can I put in a kids mud kitchen?

Best mud kitchen ideas:

How do you make an outdoor mud kitchen for kids?

To make your own outdoor 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:

Mud kitchens provides hours of messy play and are a great time for your budding muddy chef to whip up batches of pine-cone soup and mud pies! The creative ideas are really limitless to your child's imagination!

Our favorite is the TP Toys Muddy Maker Deluxe Mud Kitchen which is quickly followed by the higher quality MudKitchenPlay which offer a huge range of mud kitchens paired with other creative play ideas (think built in art easel, wormery, and more!).

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; though assembly on this is pretty tough.

Whichever mud kitchen you choose, know it's a great addition to your outdoor toys and you'll be shocked with the mud creations your kids come up with!

Originally published 6/27/2022; Updated 10/28/23

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