The 10 Best Children's Grills
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Kids love nothing more than to mimic their parents, which can actually help with all kinds of physical and mental development. So watch your youngsters' imaginations run wild as they grill just like mom and dad on one of these children's BBQs. Some are surprisingly realistic, considering they are built for tiny hands, and all are a whole lot of fun. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 20, 2019:
Children's grills provide a great opportunity to teach kids about cooking techniques, safety around real BBQs, healthy eating, and simply taking on more responsibility at home. So we made sure each of our models has features that do some, if not all, of that. The Hape Gourmet E3127 has seafood pieces, and the Learning Resources New Sprouts Grill It! has plenty of veggies to help your kids think beyond burgers and hot dogs when grilling. The OneGenug Pretend Play BBQ is actually a food cart that may inspire a young one to start thinking about that first summer job and contributing to the household. The Step2 Fixin' Fun, Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque, and Little Tikes Cook 'n Play each feature plenty of storage space, so there's no excuse for a young chefs not to clean up after themselves when finished pretend cooking. We also know the more realistic the details, the better the games of imaginary play. That's why we chose models like the Theo Klein Weber Kettle, which has a faux lighter and little burning coals to sit beneath the grill. The Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque is also quite true-to-life, with knobs that turn and feature different "heat" settings, a sink for rinsing off ingredients, and a 3D side burner. We made sure to add a couple of compact options, so your child can take the grilling fun on-the-go when your BBQing away from home. The Learning Resources New Sprouts Grill It! and the Melissa & Doug 9280 are both light and compact travel options.
How Grilling Made Us Human
Our brains, compared to the rest of our bodies, are actually quite large.
Humanity has come a long way in the past few million years. If you believe in the whole picture of evolution, then you know just how lucky we are to have gotten this far at all, especially considering the fact that the majority of known species has already gone extinct.
One of the things the distinguishes humanity from other lifeforms that have evolved over similar time spans is our brains. Our brains, compared to the rest of our bodies, are actually quite large. And there is a body of evidence to suggest that one of the reasons for the rapid and unparalleled growth in grey matter is that we started to cook our food.
That’s because about 20 percent of our caloric intake fuels the brain, and cooking our food made it easy to chew and digest, especially when it came to meat, which for early humans was especially rich in nutrients and calories. That meant more calories for the brain to feed on.
Because cooked food also took less time to eat, and provided us with enough calories, we didn't need to devote as much of our days to foraging and consuming whatever we could. That increased the amount of time we spent communicating, which, coupled with the added food our brains were receiving, helped boost their growth.
So when you fire up the grill, you’re taking part in a pastime that’s eons old, and that is almost exclusively responsible for the rise and dominance of the human race. Or course, a children’s grill may not offer the same degree of sustenance, unless of course the next evolution in humanity is going to come from consuming plastic. But it is a way for them to begin to connect with an old tradition that’s deeply imprinted in their DNA.
The Best Children’s Grill For Your Kids
Kids love to imitate their parents. It’s one of the most effective ways that they learn how to behave around each other and how to navigate the world around them. When it comes to playtime, kids will often invent scenarios based on the ones they’ve seen their parents engaged in, or based on ones that they’ve seen on television. When you have a few people over for a backyard barbecue, your kids will inevitably want to participate.
These tend to be a little more expensive, but they can teach kids a lot about sharing responsibilities.
Of course, breaking out a step stool and allowing your three-year-old to manipulate a molten-hot grill isn’t going to win you any awards for parenting. Whether its hot coals, licking flames, or just a fully loaded propane tank, there are myriad hazards for your young ones to encounter when going anywhere near an adult grill.
Fortunately, there are children’s grills on the market that make good use of the natural curiosity and bent toward imitation that you’ll find in almost any child. These relatively simple toys can satisfy their need to do exactly what mom or dad is doing in a way that’s totally safe. But which model makes the most sense for your kids?
One way to go about it is to try to find a children’s grill that most closely resembles the one you actually use to cook. If any of the options on our list look just like yours, then your kids are going to feel that much more like they’re doing just what the grownups are doing.
If you can’t find a grill that’s a good match, or you’re worried that too close a match might lead them to playing with your full-sized grill when you’re not around, then you can consider a few other features. For example, some of the grills on our list are built to easily break down for cleanup or transportation. If your kids have limited play space, or if they like to bring their toys with them wherever they go, these can be great investments.
If you have the space to fit a larger model, and if you have more than one child, a set with multiple stations is a wise choice. These tend to be a little more expensive, but they can teach kids a lot about sharing responsibilities. Of course, our culture tends to regard the grill master — really, whoever’s holding the spatula or tongs and doing the tending — as a sort of king, so whichever child tends toward dominance in the relationship will likely end up in that position.
Learning About Food
One of the biggest problems facing our kids today is their health, specifically their dietary health. Many kids play sports, and every public school system features some form of gym class that gets kids’ heart rates up five days per week, but their diets are so far out of whack that no amount of exercise can address the situation on its own.
Then, try to grill some of these tasty, albeit somewhat unusual foods yourself.
The only way to get better about your eating habits is to educate yourself. Knowing that phrases like “all natural” mean next to nothing, and that the word “diet” on any package should be cause to avoid it is vital to building a better healthcare environment for our children.
One of the biggest problems with healthy eating, however, is that it can seem to taste bad, especially if kids aren’t exposed to the right foods in the right way. Grilling is a great opportunity to show kids how to create a balanced meal, as you can easily grill up some veggies with a tasty marinade that’ll perfectly complement that steak, hamburger, or hotdog.
Of course, all this goes out the window if your sides are all potato salad and similar foods loaded with fat and calories. Shoot for something like a vinegar-based coleslaw instead. The goal is to find foods that are healthy and tasty, and to introduce them to your children through the fun pastime of grilling. You can even grab a few extra plastic veggies or other healthy options that you can give to your kids at the same time that you give them their grill, so they’ll always associate healthier foods with the act of grilling.
Then, try to grill some of these tasty, albeit somewhat unusual foods yourself. You may be surprised how tasty grilled pineapple, onions, and peaches can be.