Moving into a dorm room isn’t the only reason to buy a mini fridge. These compact appliances can be used to keep cool beverages conveniently close in a home office, to add some extra refrigeration space to your kitchen, or to serve as your primary unit when space is at a premium (or the budget is stretched thin).
The mini fridge may not have the storage space of a traditional-sized refrigerator, but they can offer many of the same features you’d expect on a larger appliance, such as a vegetable crisper drawer. No, you’re probably not going to find automatic ice dispensers on a mini fridge, and no, we haven’t found any with built-in water filters, but these mini appliances have never been about luxury. They are about necessity. If you need to keep drinks cold and groceries refrigerated, but you only have a limited space to do it, the mini fridges on this list might be what you’re looking for.
Danby Designer 3.3 Cubic Feet Refrigerator
Why you should buy this: The Danby Designer Compact All Refrigerator makes the most of its size with a unique shelving system.
Who’s it for: People moving into dorm rooms and small apartments would appreciate this small appliance.
How much will it cost: $168
Why we picked the Danby Designer 3.3 Cubic Feet Refrigerator:
If you’ve been shopping for a compact fridge, you’ve probably seen the name Danby. This company offers a variety of high-quality mini fridges, and the Danby Designer is prime example of one.
This compact fridge, which comes in a variety of colors, utilizes on-door storage and a unique “Canstor” shelving system to give you the storage space for a wide-range of beverage sizes, including large 2-liter bottles and 12-ounce cans. This beverage storage does cut into the main compartment a little, but the fridge’s three adjustable shelves are still wide enough for most products.
There is no freezer compartment on this fridge, but for us, that’s a good thing. The freezer compartments on most compact fridges are too small to be worthwhile. Still, if you want the ability to make your own ice cubes, you can upgrade to one of Danby’s dual-compartment fridges.
The best tiny mini fridge option
Midea WHS-65L Compact Fridge
Why you should buy this: The Midea WHS-65L is the smallest fridge on this list, but its low price and quality build make it a worthwhile purchase.
Who’s it for: Need to have a cold beverage in reach at all times? This 1.1 cubic foot fridge fits just about anywhere you need it.
How much will it cost: $94
Why we picked the Midea WHS-65L Compact Fridge:
Limited on space? Like, really limited on space? The Midea WHS-65L is only about 18 inches tall and 19 inches wide, making it small enough to fit on a kitchen counter or under a desk.
Despite its small size, you can still fit a good amount inside. The fridge can easily fit a case of soda (if you place the cans in individually) and has its shelf-space designed in a way that allows it to accommodate a 2-liter bottle. This appliance also squeezes in a small freezer compartment. Of course, the freezer isn’t good for much. It’s only a few inches wide and can’t hold much more than a few ice cubes. Still, if you’re using this fridge as a convenient beverage cooler to save you a trip back and forth from your main fridge, you might find the freezer worthwhile.
The best bigger mini fridge
Frigidaire 4.5 cubic foot compact refrigerator
Why should you buy this: Frigidaire’s 4.5 cubic foot compact refrigerator offers ample size and a full-width freezer.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a fully functioning refrigerator in a small package.
How much will it cost: $222
Why we picked the Frigidaire 4.5 cubic foot compact refrigerator:
This offering from Frigidaire has all the features of a full-size refrigerator packed into 4.5 cubic foot box. There’s a serviceable freezer, adjustable shelves, and a can dispenser. This mini fridge even has a vegetable crisper.
Of course, you’ll have to pay a little extra for this premium appliance. We found that the $199 price tag was justifiable, however, as this Frigidaire is the only appliance on this list that has the potential to serve as a main refrigerator. It may not be the first option to satisfy your cooling needs, but if you’re living in a dorm room or a micro apartment and have limited kitchen space, this fridge is more than adequate.
The best smart mini fridge option
Who should buy this: Bud Light’s mini-fridge may be a walking refrigerating advertisement, but it’s also got some useful smart technology.
Who’s it for: Beer drinkers (or soda drinkers) who fear the day they will run out of beverages.
How much will it cost: $299
Why we picked the Bud-E Fridge:
We get it. The Bud-E Fridge is a marketing gimmick to get people to buy more Bud Light. But it’s also really cool. And since it can be used with any brand of beer (or soda), it seemed like an appropriate addition to this list.
This Budweiser-sanctioned product holds 78 cans. How do we know? Because the fridge told us. The Bud-E Fridge keeps track of your can count in real time, so every time you remove or add a beer, the number on the side of the fridge will change. Now, that might not sound like a very useful feature (can’t you just open the fridge and take a brief optical survey?) but it makes a little more since with the fridge’s connected app. Now, when you’re coming home and find yourself curious as to how many beers you have the night’s game, all you have to do is check your app to see if you need to go to the store.
Unfortunately, this fridge is only available in California at the moment.
How we test
A good refrigerator has to do a lot more than just keep stuff cold. At Digital Trends, we try to look at our fridges from a variety of angles. How fast will they cool a beverage? How much energy do they use? Are they noisy? Do they have an interesting or unique features?
While we’re frequently blown away by some of the smart tech that gets integrated into home appliances, we try to do our reviews from the point of view of a consumer. We compare our picks to other top models on the market to make sure that not only are they good products, but they justify their price.
You can read more about how we test our refrigerators here.
Things to consider
If you’re in the market for a mini fridge, you probably have an idea of how much space you have available. Will it go under the counter or in the dorm room? If you don’t know how much space you need, go ahead and measure where you’re planning to place your new appliance. Mini fridges come in a wide-range of sizes. You can get everything from a tiny 18-inch cube to fridges offering more than 4 cubic feet. Once you figure out the type of capacity you’re looking for, you can start zeroing in on the various features you want in your fridge. You’ll also want to check out if the unit needs to be freestanding before you install it under a counter.
The most important choice you’ll probably have to make, other than size, is whether or not you want a freezer. While it might seem nice to have a built-in freezer, keep in mind that any space you devote to a freezer is less space you have for refrigeration.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to review your eating habits before you buy a mini fridge. Do you buy a lot of 2-liter bottles or gallons of milk? Look for a fridge with some added storage space on the door. Will you use your fridge more for leftovers or do you like to cook? You might want to get a fridge with a fresh veggie crisper.