The best toy food play sets for kids

Toddler holding a toy apple and playing with toy food in a play kitchen

by Zara Mohammed |
Updated on

It comes as no surprise that toy food sets are often favourites in the toy cupboard because young kids love to mimic mum and dad – it's how they learn, after all! Your little ones are always watching you and absorbing information about how the world works. This is why montessori toys that encourage your child to play independently and learn through self-discovery are so popular and successful at entertaining young children.

Parents have mixed thoughts and opinions when it comes to whether or not a play kitchen counts as montessori though, and they might opt for more practical objects and activities. Functional kitchen toys, cooking toys, and play food, however, are a brilliant way to nurture your child's imagination. Not to mention encourage interactive social or independent creative play. Whether a kids bbq set so they can pretend to grill in summer, or even a toy birthday cake for tea parties, there are so many creative ways to use play food.

Best at a glance:

Best overall educational toy: Wooden Food Groups by Melissa & Doug – £15.99
Best toy for role play: Wooden Ice Cream Set for Kids by Dreamon – £29.99
Best toy for creativity: Sensory Felt Pizza Play Food Set by Melissa & Doug – £19.99

In our pick of the best on the market, we've found a variety of food toys for you to choose from! Ranging from traditional wooden food toys for durability or comforting felt play food, there is something for every child here, including toys for a budding GBBO baker or a gelato stand for your entrepreneur of ice cream.

Best play food 2024

Best wooden food toy for special occasions like birthdays

Le Toy Van wooden birthday cake with candlesAmazon
Price: $27.60

This pretty play food birthday cake is a clever birthday gift idea that your child can continue to enjoy not only to celebrate their own special day but also all the birthdays of their favourite soft toys, dolls, and family members. It's a great way to practice sharing. 

The wooden cake is beautifully detailed, and brightly painted with safe non-toxic paint. Each slice of cake has a removable candle, and the slices have velcro between them and are made to fit together perfectly to form one whole cake. The toy food comes with a matching wooden utensil that "cuts" through the velcro to release each slice so that your little one can independently pretend to cut and serve up slices for their guests.

Customers seem to love the Le Toy Van Wooden Vanilla Birthday Cake, sharing in reviews that the small size is perfect for little hands. The Velcro pieces that stick together are a favourite feature! One minor issue that comes up is the fact that the candles do fall out easily and deeper holes would have been better, but this doesn't seem to overshadow the overall positive experience of the toy.

Stephanie Spencer, Hub Editor and auntie of 4 says: "I bought this for my three year old nephew as a birthday present, he loves anything role play and I thought this would be a great gift. He loves that he can 'cut' the cake and share it out when we're playing restaurant or tea parties. The wooden decorations are really nicely done, and they feel lovely to hold, plus they're easy for him to hold as well."

Pros

  • The perfect birthday-themed gift
  • Ideal for practicing hand-to-eye coordination
  • Promotes sharing 
  • Supports social and language development

Cons

  • Girls may prefer pretty pastel colours more than boys
  • Young weaning toddlers must be closely supervised with smaller parts
Dimensions:13.69 x 14.1 x 7.49 cm; 11 g
Suitable for ages:3 years and up
Materials:90% rubberwood, 3% mdf, 2% fabric
  • Velcro to fit the pieces together easily
  • Reusable packaging – cut out a cake plate
  • 6 cake segments with removable candles
  • Toy cake cutter
  • Nontoxic paint
  • Made from sustainable wood

Best play food for practicing chopping fruit

Wooden fruit setJohn Lewis

This adorable Waitrose wooden fruit set is a great cooking toy option to involve younger children in the food prep process and get them interested in healthy eating. The toy food set comes with six different play fruits – a banana, an apple, an orange, a pear, a lemon, and a strawberry. Customers seem to love the durability and realistic design of the play fruit. Each piece of fruit has been pre-cut into two pieces that fit together with velcro in the middle.

The set also comes with a wooden toy knife and chopping board, which adds to the realistic appeal of the food toy set and inspires imaginative play. Toddlers can practice their dexterity and enjoy playing both independently or interacting with you through role play. Customers give glowing recommendations in the reviews for the toy's proven ability to engage and delight their little ones. One customer shares that her 2-year-old granddaughter loves the set and chops up fruit tirelessly, using her creativity to make lollies by sticking half the banana and half the strawberry together!

Pros

  • Supporting forests – made from FSC®-certified wood.
  • Velcro makes chopping easy
  • Develop fine motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination
  • Safely learn the basics of chopping and preparing food
  • Join in with mum or dad when cooking
  • Teach the difference between whole and half
  • Doubles up as a pairing toy

Cons

  • Choking hazard Warning – small parts
  • Strawberry is small enough to fit in a young child's mouth
  • Velcro is a bit stiff at first, but it soon softens, according to reviews
Dimensions:H24 x W17.2 x D8cm
Suitable for ages: 3 years and up
Materials: Wood
  • Velcro to fit the pieces together easily
  • 6 varieties of fruit that divide in half
  • Comes with a chopping board and toy knife

Best toy food for learning about different food groups

Wooden play food with four crates to separate food groupsAmazon

Rrp: $27.99

Price: $15.39
Alternative retailers
Kohl's$15.39View offer
Target$18.39View offer
Walmart$18.39View offer
Macy's$22.99View offer

Learning about healthy eating and the four different food groups has never been such fun! Made completely from sturdy wood, this pretend play food set comes with four small crates containing several food items from each food group. This means you get a lot for your money. The foods are easily recognisable and your little one can learn all about which foods go together to create a well-balanced meal.

Customers generally love the overall quality and durability of the Wooden Food Groups toy set. Despite being a bit pricier than other options, customers feel it's a worthwhile investment due to its longevity and the joy it brings to their kids' playtime. One reviewer shares that the toy has been great for playing at "picnics" while talking about the different food groups. A few reviews have mentioned minor issues, such as a faulty crate and the size of some of the food items being too small when divided in half, but overall the set is seen as a valuable addition to imaginative play, aiding in fine motor skill development and providing endless hours of entertainment for children.

Pros

  • Great value for money with lots of food types
  • The small wooden crates make it easy to keep organised
  • Wide-ranging learning opportunities 

Cons

  • Extensive set – some food pieces may get lost
  • The quality of the crates isn't always perfect, according to reviewers
Dimensions: 6.35 x 22.23 x 31.75 cm; 1.13 kg
Suitable for ages: 18 months - 6 years
Materials: 70% MDF, 20% Veneer, 10% Wood
  • 4 separate crates to keep food groups organised
  • Food groups include bread, dairy, meat, and fruit

Best soft play food for toddlers

Happy Meal play food set made from felt with a burger and removable fillings, packet of removable chips, carton of apple juice and an apple in an eco-friendly cardboard containerEtsy/TakeAwayToys

We love the fact that although this Etsy shop designs fast food toys, they also include something healthy in each set, intending to teach children about the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, even with their favourite takeaways! This set is the "Happy Meal" and it has a burger bun with a variety of ingredients to put inside – like a meat patty, cheese, and lettuce. It also comes with a packet of removable chips, a healthy apple, and a carton of apple juice. Everything fits into an eco-friendly cardboard takeaway container to keep everything together when your child has finished playing.

The play food sets consistently receive 5 out of 5 stars in customer reviews on Etsy. Customers are raving about the adorable designs, durability, and attention to detail. The individual fries that can be removed from the packet are a particular hit, not to mention the perfect opportunity for your little one to practice counting. One reviewer who highly recommends the "Happy Meal" mentions that their child loves to play with the chips! Customers also appreciate the set's resemblance to the pictures in the product listing, so you can be confident in knowing that the toy will live up to expectations, and the toy is praised for its high-quality construction.

Pros

  • Learn about including healthy foods with "naughty" foods
  • Get creative with different burger filling combinations
  • Practice communicating about likes and dislikes with the fillings
  • Practice counting and basic maths with the removable chips
  • Practice fine motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination 
  • The soft felt material is tactile and safe for little ones
  • The cardboard tray keeps everything together

Cons

  • Handmade toys cost a bit more
  • Double-check the listing to see which set you're purchasing
  • Dispatches from Australia – delivery is a bit more expensive
  • The cardboard tray may not be as durable as the rest of the product
Suitable for ages: 3 years and older
Materials:cotton, poly filling, wool, felt, embroidery, foam
  • Handmade felt food
  • Packet of removable chips
  • Burger bun with interchangeable fillings
  • Felt fruit and drink
  • Eco-friendly takeaway container

Best sandwich play food for creativity with a large variety of fillings

If you're looking for a sandwich-making toy food set that will stimulate the culinary creativity of your budding little chef, this play food toy ticks all of the boxes. Not only do you get four slices of wooden bread, which is enough to make two sandwiches, there is also a bun. The bread sticks together with velcro like a loaf, so that your child can use the toy knife to "cut" through the velcro to separate the slices like they are slicing a real loaf of bread! What's more, there are 10 ingredients to choose from as fillings, which gives your child full creativity to make a variety of different sandwiches and buns. The set comes with a tray for your child to work on that helps to keep everything together

Melissa and Doug is well-known for providing high quality toys, and parents often comment on the durability of the wooden pieces in reviews, which withstand even the most enthusiastic play. Customers love the fact that this play food set encourages imaginative play and helps to develop fine motor skills in children as young as two years old – although the recommended age is from 3 years. Minor imperfections have been noted in the finish of the product, and some customers wish for more pieces in the set. However, the overall feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with many customers recommending these sets for their educational value and long-lasting entertainment.

Becky Fuller, Senior Digital Writer says: "My three children all loved role-playing with this set. It's great quality and good fun. They felt very grown up using the knife, and the velcro holds everything together so they could make a proper sandwich or burger. It also works well with other Melissa and Doug play sets."

Pros

  • Practice chopping
  • Plenty of variety to encourage creativity
  • The wooden pieces are designed to fit little hands comfortably
  • Melissa & Doug offer a 100 percent HAPPINESS GUARANTEE

Cons

  • Double-check the velcro before letting young kids play
  • The open-style container allows for items to fall out and get lost
  • Young children may struggle to "cut" through the velcro at first, but it softens
Dimensions: 33.02 x 24.13 x 5.08 cm; 0.28 g
Suitable for ages:36 months - 5 years
Materials:Wood
  • 16-piece wooden sandwich set
  • Comes with a tray and toy knife

Best for realistic kitchen toys 

Boy playing at making pretend coffee with a wooden toy coffee machine and accessoriesAmazon
Price: $37.74

This toy coffee machine play food set is sure to keep your kids entertained in the morning while you get your coffee fix! They will feel just like mum and dad brewing their play-food beverages. Coffee lovers will be impressed with how remarkably realistic this kitchen toy set is – with a choice of three coffee pods, your child can go for the regular one, the yummy hazelnut flavour, or the popular mocha. That's not all – there is even a toy ice cube for iced coffees, creamer, and sugar. The set comes with two wooden mugs and a spoon. The coffee machine itself functions with a turnable knob to choose the serving size. A fun addition is the re-usable order card so that your child can play at being a barista in their own coffee venue!

In reviews parents have commented on the toy's ability to keep their kids engaged in imaginative play, with one noting it's one of the few toys that hasn't been quickly forgotten. The set's realistic design and accessories are highlighted as great for role-playing scenarios. Reviewers also mention its compatibility with play kitchens, its intuitive design for little ones, and its sturdy wooden construction that withstands rough play. One customer shares that their child has an Ikea play kitchen and the coffee machine fits perfectly in the small shelf next to the microwave. Overall, the coffee machine is regarded as a fantastic toy that sparks creativity and provides hours of fun.

Pros

  • Perfect for role-play.
  • Sturdy pieces and well-designed for small hands
  • Small size won't take up too much space
  • Movable parts help to keep little ones entertained

Cons

  • No storage case to keep all the small pieces together
  • Some reviewers feel that this toy is overpriced
Dimensions: 10.67 x 25.91 x 34.8 cm; 821 g
Suitable for ages: 36 months - 6 years
Materials:Wood
  • Moving parts, including a lid and turning knob.
  • Two cups so that two children can play together.
  • Realistic details, like the ice cube and reusable order card.

Best play food for interactive learning 

Wooden ice cream toy shop with accessories to make toy ice creams and lolliesAmazon
Price: $30.99

You can't get more summery than a play food ice cream set for kids – and this one is great value for money with 38 pieces to play with. Not only are there toy ice creams and ice lollies, but there's also an adorable ice cream parlour to display all the cooling treats, and toy money so that your kids can practice selling their yummy creations. The toy offers plenty of opportunities for interactive learning through role play, as well as talking about the different colours of the ice cream scoops, numbers by taking orders, and much more!

Customers seem to love the adorable design and mention the high quality and functionality of the product in reviews, particularly the effectiveness of the wooden scoop. However, some users expressed disappointment over its smaller size than expected, and the lack of storage for the included play money. There have also been a few concerns expressed about the wear and tear of the toy, with reports of some broken parts and visible glue. Despite the mixed reviews, the set remains popular for its engaging play possibilities. One reviewer expressed that they didn't think the listing shows how good the set really is, and recommends that you watch the video provided in the product listing.

Pros

  • Encourages imaginative play and role play
  • Practice social skills with pretend sales
  • Diverse colors and shapes for fun learning
  • Use imagination to create different combinations

Cons

  • One reviewer worried about the velcro wearing out
  • No cash till to put all the money in
  • May arrive with the smell of glue
Dimensions: 0.25 x 0.25 x 0.25 cm; 1.35 kg
Suitable for ages: 36 months - 6 years
Materials: Wood
  • Includes 1 ice cream counter, 1 menu, 1 scooper, 2 ice cream cups, 2 spoons, 2 ice cream cones, 4 popsicles, 6 toppings, 10 play money, and 10 coins
  • Velcro helps child to pick up ice cream with the scoop
  • Crafted from high-quality, eco-friendly wood

Best for kitchen toys that are great value for money

Waitrose branded toy grocery basket with toy food packets and tinsJohn Lewis

If your child has a functional toy kitchen or just loves helping you with the shopping or unpacking the groceries, they will have lots of fun with this grocery basket toy food set by Waitrose and John Lewis. It truly is great value for money with such a great choice of toy food items to play with. There is a variety of plastic fruit, veggies, and a fried egg, plus cardboard food packets and plastic food tins. Let's not forget the all-important shopping basket, which doubles up as a great storage option to keep everything together when they've finished playing. 

Parents love this toy for role play and imaginative scenarios and felt that the product was good quality and good value for money. There was some concern about the durability of the cardboard components, however, which are prone to damage, especially with younger children. Overall, the toy proves to be a popular and engaging toy for children, fostering creativity and social skills through pretend play.

Pros

  • Wide variety of familiar toy food items to play with
  • Helps develop fine motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination
  • Builds early knowledge of numbers, shapes, and colour recognition
  • Different textures and surfaces help develop sensory perception
  • Shopping basket doubles up as storage

Cons

  • Cardboard packages are easily crushed with toddlers' hands
Suitable for ages: 3 years
Materials: plastic, textile, plywood, MFD, synthetics
  • Recognisable branding
  • Cardboard food packaging
  • Plastic food tins
  • Plastic fruit and vegetables
  • Basket included for play and storage

Best for sensory play food sets

Boy putting felt toppings onto a felt toy food pizza base with realistic pizza boxAmazon

Rrp: $24.99

Price: $17.99
Alternative retailers
Target$17.99View offer
Wayfair$24.32View offer
Macy's$24.99View offer
Walmart$29.99View offer

This highly-rated sensory play food pizza set by Melissa & Doug is great fun for toddlers. They'll love picking up the individual soft pizza toppings to put on their pizza slices. With an impressive 48 pieces, this set is sure to keep your little one entertained for hours, offering plenty of opportunity for learning with interactive playtime. The best thing about this toy food set is that everything is made from soft felt so it's nice for little ones to play with, easy to clean, and packs away in the pizza box provided to keep everything together. There are so many toppings to choose from that even older kids will enjoy adding this pizza set to their functional toy kitchens.

Parents seem to love the realistic appearance and variety of toppings and the authentic pizza delivery box, as well as the excellent quality of the product. One customer shares that they keep the play pizza set at their house for when their 2-year-old grandson comes to visit, and he has such fun taking orders and preparing pizza slices for everyone!

Pros

  • Encourages creativity with a large variety of toppings
  • Easy to wipe-clean
  • Realistic pizza with an authentic pizza box
  • Practice communication skills by taking pizza orders
  • Learn the difference between meat and vegetarian pizza

Cons

  • Pizza box may be awkward to store
  • No velcro just felt
Dimensions: 28.58 x 28.58 x 2.79 cm; 13.61 g
Suitable for ages: 3 to 7 years
Materials: Felt
  • 42-piece durable felt food pizza set
  • Includes 4 soft slices of play-food pizza to customize with felt toppings, along with a durable pizza pan and cardboard pizza delivery box.

Best interactive food toy for playing in the car

Now your little one doesn't have to get bored in the car anymore with this cute snail-themed food toy. It has loads of fun interactive features and comes in a handy snail-shaped bag with a handle, perfect for little hands to carry. The snail acts as part of the toy and your child can push the pieces of plastic fruit through its mouth and see them pop into its belly! The fruit is easy to remove through stretchy fabric bars that help to keep the fruit contained when travelling.

But that's not all – each piece of fruit splits in half, held together with velcro, and kids can use the plastic knives provided to "cut" through them. The other interactive features are ideal for toddlers and babies, like the moveable rings on the handle and the plastic "legs" that pull out as silicone pull-strings. Kids can also pull the snail along by a string as the toy has small wheels.

Reviewers have describe this toy as being "beautiful" with high-quality plastic construction, vibrant colours, and educational value. The toy not only promotes creativity, but also an understanding of healthy eating and various types of fruit and vegetables. It is ideal for toddlers to practice a variety of different activities, such as filling, cutting, pulling, and pushing – but is also suitable for babies from 6 months.

Pros

  • Kids can practice filling, cutting, pulling, and pushing
  • Bright colours and smooth edges
  • Velcro for pretend "slicing"
  • Practice naming the foods and colours
  • Different shapes to hold
  • Snail toy acts as a portable storage bag
  • Suitable for babies from 6 months

Cons

  • One reviewer describes the knife as being "unstable" and the blade "much too short".
  • The string for pulling is a bit short
  • "Cutting" the velcro is difficult at first
Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 6 cm; 490 g
Suitable for ages: ‎6 months - 10 years
Materials:Plastic
  • Includes a banana, grape, strawberry, lemon, tomato, eggplant, green pepper, a plastic knife, and a snail car that stores all the pieces. 
  • Use the knife to "cut" through the velcro that holds the two halves of the fruit together.
  • The snail has wheels and a string for pulling

What age do kids play with fake food?

Toddlers in the weaning stage have a tendency to pick things up and put them straight in their mouths. It is very normal for toddlers aged 18 to 24 months to do this as it is how they explore the world at this tender age. Many play food toys come with a warning and only recommend the product for ages 3 years and older. This is due to small parts being a choking hazard. Some parent use their own judgement though, especially when engaging in supervised play with their little ones. We recommend following guidelines and using your own judgment.

Is 5 too old for a play kitchen?

Toy food isn't just for toddlers, older children can also enjoy playing and learning with toy food sets. Play kitchens for older children can be quite sophisticated, with realistic accessories to "cook" with. Age recommendations for various types of toy food can go up to 7 years old. There are so many opportunities for learning and social development for kids of all ages, and parents can also have fun interacting with kids through play food sets.

Do 7 years olds still play pretend?

Kids of all ages can benefit from imaginative play, including 7 year olds and all the way up to 12 years of age!

The benefits of pretend play for older kids include:

  • improved creativity and thinking skills

  • developed self expression

  • creating complex stories and scenarios

  • improved social skills with interactive play

  • more confidence through role play

How to choose toy food sets for kids

With so much to choose from it can feel overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to buying play food for your little one. So here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start small to see if your child responds well to play food and see what they like.

  • Go for a food set that is suitable for your child’s age but that they can grow with.

  • Don’t forget that you can add to your child’s play food collection over timeLook for fun interactive features, like velcro-cutting and movable parts.

  • Always go for quality over quantity, but look for good value for money.

  • Look for additional learning value, like sets that encourage conversations about healthy eating, numbers, or colours.

  • Think about storage, especially with toy food sets that come with a lot of loose pieces.

Proud aunt to her teen niece, Zara Mohammed is a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby. She has 10 years freelance writing experience creating lifestyle content for various platforms, including pregnancy, women’s health, parenting, child development and child mental health, plus lots of fun seasonal family articles and celebrity news.

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