A mud kitchen is an outdoor play kitchen, where mud and water are the main ingredients for marvellous, messy 'cooking'.

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It's the perfect toy for both sensory play and pretend play – with all that fun piling earth and water into pots, pans and bowls and cooking up a mud-pie storm. It's also a great jumping-off point for all sorts of learning opportunities, from early-maths skills and problem-solving (measuring out ingredients) to social skills (role-playing making a meal) and crazy science experiments (what will happen if I add this?). Plus, it stays firmly outside, which means there's almost no limit on the mess you can make – which for an active, busy toddler or preschooler is too exciting for words.

The best mud kitchens have plenty of features, from play hobs and splash tubs and maybe even working taps, whilst staying away from being too gimmicky or gadgety. Good mud kitchens are also sturdy and robust – and easy to wash down once the last mud pie is served.

We've taken a good, long look at dozens of wooden mud kitchens and, with the help of our child testers and their parents, rated them in terms of size, sturdiness, features and accessories, value for money, assembly time and – most important of all – fun. Mud kitchens do vary in price but none of them are super-cheap, so check out our 10 best buys before you spend any money.

For more outdoor fun, take a look at our pick of the best water play tables, best sand tables, best garden slides and best paddling pools.

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Best mud kitchens at a glance

  • Best with double sink feature: Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen, £125
  • Best value with utensils: Playhouse Marvellous Mud Kitchen, £96.06
  • Best value with running water and utensils: TP Splash & Play Early Fun Wooden Mud Kitchen, £74.99
  • Best for extra gardening and painting play: Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen, £229.99
  • Best for saving space: TP Toys Deluxe Mud Kitchen Playhouse Accessory, £54.99
  • Best for play with siblings/friends: Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen with Working Tap, £159.99
  • Best for personalised extras: Children's Wooden Outdoor Mud Kitchen, £345
  • Best for double-duty as an art station: GLTC Inside Play/Outdoor Mud Kitchen, from £132

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What to look for when choosing a mud kitchen

  • How big is it? – Mud kitchens can really vary when it comes to size, so check the dimensions before you order anything and make sure not only that it's the size you think it is from the picture but also that it's the right size for your child and that there's room for it in your garden.
  • How sturdy is it? – Generally speaking, the more expensive the mud kitchen is, the better the quality of wood in it and the sturdier the build. However, these more expensive mud kitchens are generally much bigger too – so space can be an issue, even if the price isn't. We have included mud kitchens in a range of prices in our selection but we've always taken care, at the lower end of the price scale, to choose mud kitchens that are as sturdy as possible. We did test a few mud kitchens priced lower than our cheapest recommendations but all of them were too flimsy or too wobbly or too splintery to make it into our top 10 selection.
  • Does it have a water feature? – Most mud kitchens have a sink or splash tub but, if you want to fill it with water, you'll have to bring your own in a bucket or hose. However, some kitchens do have running water included – whether from a water butt, an under-the-sink reservoir or a tap with an attachment you can connect to your garden hose.
  • Are utensils included? – With some mud kitchens, you'll get a whole set of pot, pans and other accessories with your purchase; others will come with nothing else included. If the mud kitchen of your choice doesn't come with accessories and you don't already have suitable accessories at home, you'll need to factor in the cost of buying these for your child to use when playing with the kitchen.
  • Is there storage space? – Some mud kitchens come with lots of shelves and cupboard to store your pans in and/or rows of hooks to hang utensils from; others just have the odd shelf or a couple of hooks. If you pick one which has very limited storage space, think about where/how you will store the (mud-spattered) pots, pans and utensils when they're not being used.
  • Has the wood been treated? – Your mud kitchen is going to get covered in dirt and, if it is left out in the garden, it will have to survive wind, rain and possibly even snow as well. Check whether the wood has been treated with several layers of weatherproof varnish. If it hasn't been treated or there's only a thin layer, you may want to varnish it yourself or add a couple of coats of durable waterproof paint.
  • How it is assembled? – Unless you order a handmade kitchen, you're going to have to put your child's mud kitchen together yourself. Be warned: there will be a lot of pieces! And assembly will definitely be easier if you have an electric screwdriver. We've noted alongside our selections how long we reckon each mud kitchen takes to assemble and we've also said how easy or difficult we found the assembly to be.

Here's our pick of the best wooden mud kitchens for kids:

1. Chad Valley Wooden Mud Kitchen, £140

– Best with double sink feature

Available from: Argos

chad valley wooden mud kitchen with child tester Brooke

Age suitability: 3+ | Size: L53cm x W94cm x H105cm | Kind of wood used: Not specified | Accessories: Yes | Assembly time: 1 to 2 hours

Pros:

  • Sturdy frame
  • Good size
  • Great utensils
  • Double sink, chalkboard and play hob

Cons:

  • No water feature
  • Needs a lot of weatherproofing

This outdoor kitchen is nice and sturdy and includes an opening oven and a 4-hob play stove. It has 2 removable stainless steel sink bowls on the work station, which can be a real plus – either for siblings to have a bowl each or to keep mud/sand and water separate in different bowls. It comes with a great set of utensils, including a ladle, whisk, slice and 3 pans, that can hang from hooks along the top, plus there's a chalkboard for your child to write or draw the day's specials on.

It's relatively easy to assemble, although it may take a bit of readjusting to make the oven door align correctly. The timber as sold is not reliably weatherproof, so you'll either need to cover it when playtime's finished or add a few coats of varnish or paint to help it withstand whatever the weather can throw at it.

2. Playhouse Marvellous Mud Kitchen, £89.99

– Best value with utensils

Available from: Amazon and Wowcher

playhouse marvellous mud kitchen with child tester Aiden

Age suitability: 3+ | Size: L42cm x W83cm x H90cm | Kind of wood used: FSC-certified, treated Canadian hemlock | Accessories included: Yes | Assembly time: 45 minutes

Pros:

  • Sturdy frame
  • Good size
  • Play hob and chalkboard
  • Good utensils
  • Good value
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • No oven
  • No water feature
  • Hob knobs don't turn
  • Needs some weatherproofing

This sturdy mud kitchen has a 4-ring play hob, shelves, a mini chalkboard, and a removable stainless-steel splash tub with play tap. It comes with 3 stainless steel pans, a ladle, a spatula and, as a jolly little extra, 3 plant pots that nestle into holes in the top shelf. The wood is reasonable quality (though we'd recommend another coat of wood varnish) and assembly is super-easy: It doesn't have an oven or a water feature and the hob knobs don't move but it's impressively sturdy for this price point – and has good utensils included.

This mud kitchen looks fantastic and is well made – all the edges are smoothed out to make for safe playing. It was easy to put together and takes rough play very well. Aiden's been playing with it for hours. I'd totally recommend this.
Ceri, mum of our child tester Aiden, 4

3. TP Splash & Play Early Fun Wooden Mud Kitchen, £74.99

– Best value with water feature and utensils

Available from: TP Toys and Amazon

TP Splash & Play Early Fun Wooden Mud Kitchen

Age: 3+ | Size: L33cm x W55cm x H88cm | Kind of wood used: FSC-certified timber | Accessories: Yes | Assembly time: 1 to 2 hours

Pros:

  • Sturdy frame
  • Good utensils
  • Nice water feature
  • Play hob and chalkboard
  • Good value

Cons:

  • Small in size
  • Tricky to assemble
  • Needs weatherproofing

This compact mud kitchen is a smaller version of the TP Splash & Play Happy Chef Wooden Mud Kitchen and features the same all-action plastic sink with a little water reservoir underneath it: hit the red pump-action button to get water up and out through the tap and pull out the plug to let it swirl down into the reservoir again. It also has a painted 2-ring hob, shelves, chalkboard panels and an oven with opening peek-through door. It comes with 3 stainless steel pans, a slice and a ladle.

It's a good size for smaller gardens – and one of the best-value buys we've seen that includes both utensils and a water feature – but of course its smaller size means there's a little less mud-pie-making room than you'd get with bigger kitchens.

4. Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen, £299.99

Best for extra gardening and painting play

Available from: Amazon, Scandiborn and Plum Play

mum discovery mud kitchen with tester edie

Age suitability: 3+ | Size: L161 x W63 x H114 cm | Kind of wood used: Treated FSC-certified pine | Accessories: Yes | Assembly time: 3 hours

Pros:

  • Sturdy frame
  • Treated wood
  • Generous size
  • Great extra features
  • Great utensils

Cons:

  • Too big for many gardens
  • No water feature
  • No play oven
  • No chalkboard
  • Takes quite a while to assemble

This very large outdoor kitchen has 2 play hob rings, a removable brushed steel bowl sink and lots of shelves and storage. And, unusually for a mud kitchen, it also features a built-in planter (for planting and tending flowers or veg) as well as, on the back frame next to the shelves, an easy-clean painting screen (for al fresco arty creations).

It comes with a bamboo wind chime, a generous set of pans and utensils, paintbrush holders, 7 paintbrushes and a fork, rake and trowel. But it doesn't have a play oven.

There are a lot of different pieces of wood but everything was really well labelled. It took me and my husband around 3 hours to assemble it. It was well worth it though, as both Edie and her younger brother absolutely love it!
Sarah, mum of our child tester Edie, 5

5. TP Toys Deluxe Mud Kitchen Playhouse Accessory, £54.99

– Best for saving space

Available from: TP Toys and Amazon

A studio shot of TP Toys Deluxe Mud Kitchen Playhouse Accessory

Age suitability: 3+ | Size: L36cm x W81cm x H56cm | Kind of wood used: Treated FSC-certified European timber | Accessories: Yes | Assembly time: 1-2 hours

Pros:

  • Reasonably sturdy frame
  • Treated wood
  • Compact size
  • Nice water feature
  • Decent utensils

Cons:

  • No oven
  • No chalkboard
  • Tricky to assemble
  • Needs weatherproofing

This well-made mud kitchen counter is designed to attach to a fence, wall, shed or playhouse and is a great solution if you don't have the money or the space for a standalone mud kitchen in your garden. There’s no oven or shelf but there is a 1-ring play hob (though you have to apply the hob-ring stencil yourself) and a wide removable splash tub underneath an open-top water butt.

It comes with 3 pans and a whisk. Though the wood is pre-treated, it will need some weatherproofing. We did find it tricky to assemble, too: many of the wood pieces didn't have pre-drilled holes, and the bolts included to attach it to the fence (or whatever surface you choose) are quite short.

The water dispenser is definitely the biggest hit!
Kate, mum of our child tester, 4

6. Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen with Working Tap, £154.99

– Best for play with siblings/friends

Available from: Amazon and Big Game Hunters

A studio shot of Big Game Hunters Triple Mud Kitchen with Working Tap

Age: 18 months+ | Size: L43cm x W111cm (extending to 143cm) x H91cm | Kind of wood used: Treated fir wood | Accessories: None | Assembly time: 4 hours

Pros:

  • Very sturdy frame
  • Treated wood
  • Great water feature
  • Water butt, play hob, chalkboard and extending worktop

Cons:

  • May be too large for some gardens
  • Long assembly time
  • No utensils

This chunky design gives you a lot of mud kitchen for your money: it is quite wide already but extends even further when you slide the worktop out to the left to reveal the large plastic splashtub under the taps. There is also an oven with opening door and peek-through window, a 4-ring hob with turning knobs, a chalkboard, a cupboard and shelves. It is large enough for 3 children to play comfortably alongside each other, so it is great for siblings and playdates, but there are no utensils included so you'll need to find those yourself.

It's a bit of an epic self-assembly job (and some parts don't have predrilled holes) but the instructions are very good. The wood is treated but it definitely needs a couple more coats to fully weatherproof it.

7. Children's Wooden Outdoor Mud Kitchen, £345

– Best for personalised extras

Available from: Not on the High Street and Happy Planet Toys

Not on the High Street mud kitchen

Age: 3+ | Size: L45cm x W100cm x H110cm | Kind of wood used: Locally sourced, treated reclaimed wood | Accessories: No | Assembly time: None

Pros:

  • Very sturdy frame
  • Treated wood
  • Play hob, chalkboard with magnetic paint
  • Lovely personalisation options

Cons:

  • Price
  • No water feature
  • No utensils

This large, chunky mud kitchen has a play oven with opening door and peek-in window, a 4-ring play hob, shelves, a backboard covered in magnetic chalk paint, and a big (30cm) stainless-steel sink. It's hand-crafted and arrives fully assembled (allow at least 3 weeks for delivery) and you can personalise it with your child's name. You can also have it painted in 1 of 15 lovely colours, from Leafy Green to Happy Planet Blue.

It's worth noting that the hob rings and knobs are simple raised round chunks of wood (so the rings have none of the usual 'hob' markings and the knobs don't turn) and it doesn't come with any utensils. It's also pretty pricey – but it's beautifully made, with nice customisation options, and we've seen hand-crafted mud kitchens selling for way more than this.

8. GLTC Indoor Play/Outdoor Mud Kitchen, £165

– Best for double-duty as an art station

Available from: Great Little Trading Company

GLTC indoor outdoor kitchen

Age suitability: 3+ | Size: L40cm x W60cm x x H101cm | Kind of wood used: Treated stitched pine| Accessories: None | Assembly time: 2 hours

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Sturdy frame,
  • Play hob, chalkboard and weather

Cons:

  • No water feature
  • No utensils
  • Not fully weatherproof

This compact mud kitchen also doubles as an art station, with the reverse side sporting a baton for a roll of paper and extra shelves for paint pots, chalks and crayons. It has an oven with opening door and internal shelf, a 2-ring hob, shelves, a blackboard and a nicely deep, removable stainless steel tub. It has a very sweet weather station on the side (not visible in our picture), with a rotating pointer to move to the picture that best reflects the day's weather. It doesn't have a water feature and doesn't come with any utensils or art accessories (the paper roll, paint pots and little boxes shown in the picture above aren't included, though you can buy an Easel Accessory Pack for an extra £40).

Best accessories for mud kitchens

Whether or not your mud kitchen comes with some pots or pans, you’ll probably want to add some toy kitchenware to give your child even more to create mud masterpieces with:

How we tested

When choosing and testing these mud kitchens we considered size, price, robustness assembly, durability, accessories, features, style and play value.

Out 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our testing during the MadeForMums awards and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club.

Each year, 1000s of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, but instead a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we aim to help you discover what is best for your family.

About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

Pics: product websites/MadeForMums testers

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Authors

Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.

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