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The best refrigerators for 2021

At Digital Trends, we regularly test and review appliances both large and small. We’ve formally tested more than 100 appliances from more than 50 different brands, covering a broad range of kitchen products. This is in addition to the informal testing we perform on dozens of other appliances. Based on roughly 10,000 hours of testing, our pick for the best refrigerator is the Whirlpool WRF535SWHZ, which is a practical and affordable model that looks good in just about any kitchen.

We have also picked refrigerators for a variety of specific purposes, including fridges for small spaces, beverage coolers, fridges with great top and bottom freezers, more affordable models, and so on. Take a look at the full list to see all of our recommendations.

Best refrigerators at a glance

Best refrigerator: Whirlpool 25.2-cu. ft. 3-Door 36-in French Door Refrigerator

Why we chose the Whirlpool WRF535SWHZ:

This Whirlpool fridge doesn’t offer much in the way of smarts, but it manages to combine the right features with a beautiful design and plenty of space. It also comes with an affordable price tag, so you can add elegance and functionality to your kitchen without paying too much. You can choose between stainless steel, black stainless, black, or white, getting just the right style for your kitchen.

It includes large French doors with humidity-controlled drawers that keep produce fresh with FreshFlow Produce Preserver technology. Another thing we really like about this fridge is that it doesn’t frost produce and milk as often as other models we’ve encountered, even when you place groceries on the top shelf of the fridge. The interior water dispenser also provides EveryDrop water, so you have easy access to filtered water.

Overall, the Whirlpool WRF535SWHZ is somewhat basic when compared to some of the fancier, smarter fridges available (like the Samsung Family Hub or LG InstaView), but it works well, looks good, and gives you just what you need for under $2,000.

Best refrigerator for limited space: GE GLE12HSPSS


Why we chose the GE GLE12HSPSS:

This 11.9-cubic-foot bottom-mount fridge measures 24 inches across (an excellent choice for narrow spaces), with high-quality, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, so it’ll maintain its stylish appearance. It has reversible doors, making it even easier to fit the fridge in a smaller space. Plus, it’s counter-deep, which makes it fit flush with most counters and gives it a built-in look.

Although this fridge is small, it still has plenty of space, and it boasts quite a few cool features, including high-quality LED lighting, a removable wine rack, frameless shelves, and a no-frost freezer compartment. There’s also a Temp Zone Drawer where you can choose between three temperature settings for meat, beverages, or produce. It doesn’t come with an ice maker but does allow you to add one later on if you prefer.

Sensors in the fridge monitor and automatically adjust temperature and humidity levels, and Max Cool and Fast Cool options allow you to create the optimal cooling environment for your foods. The GE GLE12HSPSS might not be the best fridge for you if you have a large family and you cook at home a lot, but for those with smaller kitchens or who regularly eat away from home, this fridge is a solid option.

Best budget refrigerator: GE French Door GNE25JMKES

best refrigerators

Why we chose the GE French Door GE GNE25JMKES:

This fridge is well-stocked with features. Behind those sleek doors, you’ll find a water dispenser, while a drawer in the freezer fills up with ice, so you don’t have to make it yourself. Its crisp LED lighting helps you see inside the 24.8-cubic-foot interior (17.5 in the fridge, 7.3 in the freezer). That freezer is particularly large, making this fridge a good choice for those who like to keep a large stock of frozen goods. There are two humidity-controlled drawers, so you can choose settings for fruits or vegetables, plus another full-width drawer with temperature controls for cold or coldest.

If a recent grocery trip takes the fridge from empty to stuffed, the Turbo Cool button can help bring it back down to the correct temperature. The 6-gallon bins are adjustable, and a “quick space” shelf folds underneath to accommodate taller items. The glass shelves and clear bins will help you keep track of your food, too.

A nice French door fridge for the price, the GE French Door GNE25JMKES is a steal when it goes on sale.

Best French door refrigerator: LG 23-cu. ft. Counter Depth 3-Door French Door Refrigerator

Why we chose the LG LFCC22426S:

Choosing the best fridges isn’t always about choosing models with the coolest tech. The best fridges are units that perform exceptionally, providing plenty of space and keeping your foods at the right temperature (without freezing your lettuce or not cooling your lunch meats enough). The LG LFCC22426S is only 23-cubic-feet, which isn’t the largest we’ve encountered, but it makes excellent use of the interior space. It doesn’t have an ice and water dispenser, which can be a deal-breaker for some people, but it does offer filtered ice in addition to its stylish design and affordable price.

Smart-Cooling technology maintains an ideal climate within the fridge, and the linear compressor quickly reacts to temperature changes and promotes longevity. Plus, it has a self-closing door and smart-pull handle to help reduce those times where you accidentally leave the door cracked. Combine that with humidity controlled crisper drawers, a glide and serve drawer, and a three-layer fresh air filter to keep the air in your fridge cleaner, and you have a refrigerator that’s extremely user friendly.

Best bottom freezer refrigerator: Whirlpool WRB322DMBM

Why we chose the Whirlpool WRB322DMBM:

Whirlpool’s 22.07-cubic-foot fridge includes an extra-spacious bottom freezer drawer to store all of your long-term supplies, plus a handy ice maker. It’s pretty smart for a freezer — the built-in defrost monitors the freezer environment and runs defrost cycles whenever they are necessary to help deal with frost conditions fast while also saving energy.

The upper portion of Whirlpool’s fridge also impresses with two large humidity-controlled drawers, spill-proof glass shelves, and a temperature management system that monitors temperatures and makes adjustments based on the type of environment you’d like to create.

Note that the Whirlpool WRB322DMBM comes in several different colors to more easily match the inside of your kitchen, and the door is reversible if necessary.

Best top freezer refrigerator: Maytag MRT311FFFZ

Why we chose the Maytag MRT311FFFZ:

Top freezer models tend to be affordable and strong options for users who don’t need a lot of freezer space but still use it for a limited amount of important items. This Maytag fridge, with its 6.09-cubic-foot freezer and 20.5-cubic-foot refrigerator compartment, is a perfect example. Available in multiple shades, the fridge includes bright LED lights and easy electronic temperature controls.

Maytag also includes what it calls a “PowerCold” feature, a button that instantly lowers the fridge temperature for a time to get everything in there cold again, an ideal choice if the fridge has been open for a long time while cooking or unloading groceries.

Other features of the Maytag MRT311FFFZ include an optional space for an ice maker kit, two humidity-controlled drawers, and spill-proof glass shelves. It’s not the most feature-rich fridge on the market, but it’s a solid top freezer model with Maytag’s high-quality components to rely on.

Best refrigerator under $1,500: Frigidaire FRSC2333AS

Why we chose the Frigidaire FRSC2333AS:

This 36-inch refrigerator offers a double-door and a 22.2-cubic foot-capacity that’s ideal for families — without being too painful for your wallet. Each compartment has its own temperature controls via a touch panel, and useful automatic alarms are included to warn you if a door is left open or if the temperatures inside are rising to dangerous levels.

The fridge also includes an ice maker and and external water and ice dispenser. It isn’t packed with sensors or extra features like some of our other picks, but the price is reasonable, and Frigidaire’s durable construction is a great fit for those who want a refrigerator that will last. The Frigidaire FRSC2333ASoffers all the important fridge features you need while keeping costs reasonable, making it an ideal upgrade for an older fridge or an affordable option for setting up a new kitchen.

Best smart refrigerator: LG Studio Smart Wi-Fi Enabled 23.5-cu. ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator with Dual Ice Maker and Door within Door

Why we chose the LG SRFVC2406S:

If you’re looking for the ultimate smart fridge, this Wi-Fi-enabled fridge by LG is loaded with bells and whistles. It has the door-in-door InstaView feature, with a mirrored-glass panel that lets you see inside the InstaView door and an adjustable bin that glides up and down to fit larger snacks and drinks. You also get dual ice makers with this model, so you can have regular cubes, crushed ice, or round craft ice. Craft ice is especially fun, as it lasts for so long in your drink and is a huge hit with guests.

The 23.5-cubic-foot fridge has the basics like temperature controlled drawers, water filtration, and the ability to keep your foods evenly cooled. It even has digital sensors and delivers blasts of cool air to reach every corner of the fridge. Since this is a smart fridge, it also works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Plus, it boasts features like a door alarm, child safety lock, and more.

What’s not to love about the LG SRFVC2406S? The price for one, which comes in at close to $4,500. Also, even though this fridge makes excellent use of the space, you can find models with much more space inside for your groceries.

Researching and buying tips

What’s the best brand of refrigerator?

Whirlpool tends to receive high marks from both consumers and analysts. Yale Appliances ranks Whirlpool as the most reliable appliance brand based on the number of appliances sold versus the number serviced. LG and Samsung rank second and third, respectively. Many of the larger brands like GE, KitchenAid, and Kenmore also tend to receive respectable consumer ratings.

While Whirlpool is typically a safe bet, not all refrigerators from the same brand are created equal. You may find a GE fridge that’s better than a similar model Whirlpool, or you might find a Samsung fridge that’s better than a GE. There is no one-size-fits-all way to determine the best refrigerator brand, so researching each refrigerator model individually is the best approach. However, you can hold some comfort in knowing your fridge is made by a trusted brand like Whirlpool. You can find more information about the best refrigerator brands here.

What size refrigerator do I need?

This depends primarily on the size of your household, the size of the space, and the way you want the fridge to look in your space. You’ll need a minimum of 4 to 6 cubic feet for each adult in your household. You’ll probably also want to add an extra 6 cubic feet of storage space for occasions like dinner parties and holiday gatherings. If you’re a household of two and you don’t eat at home a lot, 14 cubic feet should be fine. However, if you’re a couple who eats at home and hosts gatherings at your house, you’ll probably want at least 18 cubic feet. Families of four who eat at home and have older kids will want at least 24 cubic feet.

To find the right size fridge for your space, measure the height, width, and depth of the space. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough space for the fridge door to open, and make sure you have an additional inch or so behind the fridge and at the top for things like plugs and ventilation. You also have to make sure your fridge can fit through all of your doors, hallways, or any areas you have to navigate to get the refrigerator into the space. Refrigerators tend to come in 30-inch, 33-inch, and 36-inch sizes, so spaces in kitchens often fall into one of these sizes.

What’s the best refrigerator organization?

Before choosing a refrigerator, consider your shopping habits and how you organize your produce, meats, lunch meats, and frozen foods. If you’re the super-organized type (maybe you label everything in your fridge), you might want a fridge with extra compartments. These extra compartments make it so you can separate fruits from veggies and lunch meats from cheeses. Modern refrigerators have a lot of different tools to help you, like humidity controls for more sensitive vegetables or drawers designed to keep prepared foods cool before you eat.

Consider the freezer organization, too, and how you organize your frozen foods. Many bottom-freezer fridges have drawers that are wide and short, while the freezers in side-by-side fridges typically have shelves that are taller and narrower.

What about ice makers, water dispensers, and vegetable drawers?

When you’re shopping for a refrigerator, features like an ice maker and water dispenser might feel like extras, but these are important factors to consider. When you’re going through your day-to-day routine, you might wish you had an ice maker (or didn’t have one). Some people value having an ice maker because it lets you have ice on demand, while others feel like it takes up too much space or that it’s a leak hazard if the power goes out while you’re on vacation.

Most water dispensers require a filter, and you have to change it every six months. If you use the water dispenser regularly, changing the filter is a small price to pay for the cost savings and environmental impact associated with using the dispenser instead of drinking from water bottles. However, some people don’t want to deal with the hassle of changing the filter, or they already have an existing water filtration solution in their home.

If you store a lot of fruits and veggies in your fridge, it’s a good idea to look for a refrigerator with two separate humidity-controlled crisper drawers. This way, you can store your fruits and veggies that rot, like peaches, pears, and honeydew, in a low-humidity drawer. You can also store your fruits and veggies that wilt, like lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage, in a high-humidity drawer.

Do smart refrigerators exist, and should I buy one?

Smart refrigerators, like the Samsung Family Hub and LG InstaView Door-in-Door Smart Fridge, connect to Wi-Fi, and this allows for additional features. They may have internal cameras, so you can see inside of your fridge while you’re away from home, or doors that automatically close when left open. They may also offer remote troubleshooting options or have a touchscreen interface on the front of the fridge.

If you value these types of features, you should absolutely buy a smart fridge, provided you’ve done your homework on the appliance.

Does refrigerator energy efficiency matter?

Absolutely. According to Energy Star, if you replace your old fridge with an Energy Star certified one, you can save more than $200 over the life of the product. In addition to the savings, you’re also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What is the best month to buy a refrigerator?

Specific times of the year can largely sway the cost of your new potential refrigerators. Fridges are a unique home appliance, and they don’t follow many other market trends. New refrigerator models are released in the spring, unlike any other large home appliance. Manufacturers release fridges like they do the greatest coolers; the spring is the best time to prepare for hot weather. March through May is the best time to lock in a new fridge or an excellent sale on last year’s inventory. Memorial Day is a prime time for exclusive fridge deals. 

What Should I Look for in a Refrigerator Repair Warranty?

In addition to the length of the warranty — one year, two years, etc. — check exactly what’s covered. It’s common for a manufacturer warranty to cover one year of parts and labor, which is just enough time to protect you in the event that your fridge had issues from the start. However, it’s best to find a warranty that offers extended coverage for the compressor, which tends to be a common issue later on down the line.

Do Bottom Freezer Refrigerators Have More Problems?

The biggest issues with bottom freezer fridges tend to be access issues, as they often cost more, involve more bending to reach items, and they allow small children to more easily reach items inside of the freezer. However, in terms of repair issues, fridges/freezers with ice makers tend to have more issues than those without ice makers, as the ice maker is somewhat of a common failure point.

How Do You Know Your Fridge is Dying?

If your fridge is older (12 plus years), if you’ve been having to perform a lot of repairs, or if it’s not cooling the way it’s supposed to, these are obvious signs you might need a new unit. Sometimes, the signs are more subtle though. You might notice a lot of heat coming from the back of the unit, your electric bill might be increasing, or perhaps the fridge is making a loud noise.

How Do You Get Rid of Your Old Fridge?

You can donate or sell your old fridge on your own, or you can ask if the delivery service for your new fridge will take your old fridge with them. Most areas offer some sort of appliance donation, but you can also contact a local recycling center. If you have a working fridge, consider selling it on a local yard sale site or on a site like letgo.

How we test refrigerators
One of our definitive markers for what makes an excellent refrigerator is its appearance. It’s the center of your kitchen, and if it has a terrible, non-functional design, not only will you hate looking at it, but it won’t work efficiently. Appearance is a significant part of our ranking system. Whether a fridge has any unique, defining characteristics can improve its functionality, as well. If your fridge can do things that others can’t, it’ll feel like your investment is tailor-made to your home. 

While our ranking system values your kitchen’s space constraints and the fridge’s aesthetics in our final numbers, the appliance’s internal volume and ratios are just as essential. We also heavily consider performance. Keep an eye out for aftermarket customization options, which can impact the amount of space inside your fridge. We have more details on how we test refrigerators and other appliances here.

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