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Best Play Food Toys for Kids In 2023

Updated
Let their imagination soar with these play food sets.

Play food is one of those classic toys that kids have enjoyed for decades. But if you’ve ever purchased play food in the past, you’ll know that the quality can vary greatly. I can’t tell you how many squashed cheap plastic vegetables I’ve had to throw out (or how many items my toddlers managed to chew up!).

Since we’ve been around this block a few times, we’ve learned how to shop for the best quality play food toys for kids. We’ll share our tips with you here.

We’ll also review our favorite tried-and-true play food sets so you can choose play food that will last until your kids are ready to move on to cooking with real food.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set - 30 Pieces Age 18+...
Best Overall
Learning Resources Farm
  • Winner of 2 awards
  • Extremely durable plastic
  • 30 different fruits & vegetables
Product Image of the Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque Grillin' Goodies
For The Grill Master
Little Tikes Backyard
  • Complete play BBQ lunch set
  • 20-piece playset
  • Easy 10-minute assembly
Product Image of the LeapFrog Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart
Best for Creative Play
LeapFrog Scoop & Learn
  • Features 10 melodies and songs
  • Handy storage
  • Role-play fun
Product Image of the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food - Play Food Set With 25+ Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces,...
Best for Motor Skills
Melissa & Doug Cutting Food
  • Realistically crunchy sound
  • Sturdy construction
  • Made of high-quality material
Product Image of the Just Like Home Play Fun Pizza Set
Best Pizza Set
Just Like Home Pizza Set
  • Great quality
  • Affordable
  • Lots of learning resources
Product Image of the Melissa & Doug Food Groups - 21 Wooden Pieces and 4 Crates, Multi - Play Food...
Best Play Food for All
Melissa & Doug Food
  • 21 food pieces
  • Heavy duty set
  • Wide variety of food
Product Image of the Learning Resources Fresh Picked Fruit And Veggie Tote - 17 Pieces, Ages 18mos+...
Ready To Shop
Learning Resources Veggie
  • 16 colorful fruits & vegetables
  • Durable canvas tote
  • Invites early dramatic play
Product Image of the Learning Resources ABC Cupcake Party Toppers, Develops Language Skills, Early...
Educational Snacks
Learning Resources Cupcakes
  • Easy storage
  • Learn alphabet & language skills
  • 52 letter & picture toppers
Product Image of the Wood 15-Piece Tea Time Pastry Tower by Imagination Generation | Toy Dessert...
Best Tea Set
Tea Time Pastry Tower
  • Safe, water-based paints
  • Uniquely designed
  • Fancy tower design


The Best Play Food Toys of 2023

Here is our list of the best play food toys for kids.

1. Learning Resources Farmer's Market Set

Best Overall

This colorful set includes five plastic baskets, each marked with a colored sticker label. The set also comes with 25 realistic-looking fruits and veggies that your 3-year-old can organize by color scheme.

Watch your child turn the living room into a farmer’s market while working on their vocabulary and healthy eating habits. With options such as eggplant and pumpkin, this set can help introduce lesser-known produce items to your kid. An activity guide is included.


2. Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque Grillin' Goodies

For the Grill Master

Your kid will be grilling up a storm with this BBQ set that complements any Little Tikes grill. It features 20 pieces, including those charming checkered napkins found at most BBQ sites across the country. A spatula and tongs will help your little ones imitate dad at the grill.

There are burgers, hot dogs, corn, and condiments. Plates and utensils suitable for a two-person dinner are also included. Ideal for children ages 3 and up.


3. LeapFrog Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart

Best for Creative Play

This ice cream cart could be your toddler’s new favorite toy. My kids enjoyed this set for years!

The stand includes a cart, toppings, ice cream, a scooper, and cones. One of the best parts about this cart is that it’s educational, with a counting feature and six activity cards included. The cart will recognize if you match the ice cream order on the card with the items in the cart, making it a fun game that encourages a host of skills.

Thanks to the big wheels, your 2-year-old can easily push the cart around the house or yard, in true ice-cream cart style, with sounds and music.


4. Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set

Best for Fine Motor Skills

Let your child prepare you a delicious food platter with this cute set. It features twenty-seven pieces of play food. The fruits look so realistic and will be a delight for 3-year-olds and older children.

Your child can use the wooden knife to cut the fruits into pieces as they learn the concept of a quarter, half, and whole. It’s also an excellent time to introduce the basics of knife safety. All items are made of high-quality wood, and when playtime ends, there’s a crate to store all the fruits in.

The pieces are held together with Velcro, making them easy to “cut” apart and reassemble.

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5. Just Like Home Play Fun Pizza Set

Best Pizza Set

If your child loves pizza, they will love this themed set. They can create their own pizza using different toppings, such as pepperoni, olives, peppers, and mushrooms. The toppings attach to the pizza with Velcro, so they won’t slide off when the pizza goes into the oven.

This set comes complete with a cheese shaker and pizza slicer. It’s the perfect set for kids ages 3 and up.


6. Melissa & Doug Food Groups

Best Play Food for All

If you’re looking for a large set that includes all the items your child might need, this could be it. This set introduces your child to the healthy food options available on the market. Your little one will learn the different food groups while they sort items on four sturdy wooden crates.

Everything is made of durable materials. The set is suitable for children aged 3 and up. Given the variety, these items can be transferred over to a play kitchen set once your kid is ready. Great fun for sharing, too, with plenty for everyone.


7. Learning Resources Veggie Tote

Ready to Shop

Your 2-year-old may not be the biggest fan of fruits and veggies. But that might change with the help of this fun set. They’ll get to play around with 16 pieces, including grapes, tomatoes, and onions. All items are made of a crush-resistant, rubber-like plastic.

Because of the soft material, the pieces are comfortable and easy to hold and play with. The included tote is made of durable canvas to suit your child’s needs for their upcoming shopping trips. This could be your chance to instill a sense of responsibility around single-use plastics.


8. Learning Resources Sorting Cupcakes

Best Educational Snacks

These colorful cupcakes not only look mouthwatering, but they’re also educational. Each cupcake top comes with a unique shape on the underside, which has to match the appropriate bottom piece. This set is suitable for children aged 18 months and up.

My daughter has played with this set since she was one. At 5 years old, she still loves “baking” and serving these favorite treats to her friends and family.

This type of sorting game is great for young toddlers. It not only teaches them various shapes, but it also helps to develop their fine motor skills. It’s also fun for preschoolers who enjoy kitchen play.

The set comes with eight cupcakes and a pan.


9. Tea Time Pastry Tower

Best Tea Set

This two-tier tea time and pastry tower will make you wish your daughter had invited you instead of Barbie. The set features a variety of cakes and pastries and two cups for tea, of course. Saucers and cute spoons are included to complete the experience.

The design of the tower is classic and inviting. All of the pieces are made of high-quality wood that’s been painted with water-based paints. The set is recommended for children ages 3 and up, but preschoolers and beyond also enjoy this dainty set.

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How to Choose Play Food Toys

As you’re making a grocery list of imaginary toys for your child, you may wonder what you should buy. How can you choose the best from such a wide range of products? To help you out a little, we’ve created a short guide on how to go about it.

Durability

If a child loves a toy, it will be played with a lot. It might be taken to kindergarten or become the must-have for bedtime. If your child is as obsessive as mine, they need something that will last.

With food toys, there are usually two choices if you want the best quality: wood or hard plastic. These materials are made to last through rough play, hard hits, and the occasional drool.

Age Appropriate

As parents, we often get caught up in how we feel about certain toys. With that, I mean we sometimes go for what we think looks fun and cute. Although we do this with the best of intentions, it might not always be the best option for our kids.

  • Babies: At this age, it’s all about toys that are safe to be chewed on. Teething babies will most likely go for a bite. Babies also enjoy large and colorful toys.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers: You’ll start to see lots of imaginative play. Some might even enjoy food items that come in pieces, so they can “cut” them.
  • Older kids: Forget the pink carrots; older children will enjoy toys that resemble the real thing as much as possible. Think shopping scenarios and other food-related themes they experience regularly.

Safety First

When choosing play food toys, remember that they will most likely be “eaten,” so choosing non-toxic toys is vital. Those that contain toxins, like lead, BPA, and phthalates should be avoided.

To keep your children safe, look for toys without sharp or pointed edges. If it’s made of wood, make sure the surface is smooth to avoid splinters. Regardless of the material you choose, always ensure that you aren’t giving your babies and toddlers small pieces that could be a choking hazard.

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Headshot of Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN

Reviewed by

Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN, is a pediatric intensive care nurse at Children's Hospital of New York for the past 14 years. Jennifer also has extensive experience teaching Maternity and Obstetric Nursing, as well as Pediatrics Nursing.