The Best Refrigerators for 2021

Best Refrigerators for 2021: Here we collect published contents from Digital Trends: Digital Trends regularly test and review appliances both large and small. DT 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 Cafe 27.8-inch Smart French Door CVE28DP4NW2, which does an exceptional job of combining useful smart features with a spacious fridge that can do everything.

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: Cafe 27.8-inch Smart French Door CVE28DP4NW2

Best Refrigerators for 2021
Best Refrigerators for 2021

Why we chose the Cafe 27.8-inch Smart French Door CVE28DP4NW2:

Not all smart fridges have features in which the average buyer would be interested — cameras inside your fridge are nice, but not exactly something that adds a lot of value to the model. But this Cafe fridge manages to combine the right smart features with a beautiful design and a ton of space. The refrigerator includes large French doors with adjustable, humidity-controlled drawers that allow you to set temperature and moisture levels for each. It also includes two separate evaporators for the fridge and freezer, a high-quality feature that allows for better temperature management.

The water dispenser is also worth praise: It can pour hot or cold filtered water and has Precise Fill settings to add a specific amount of water to dishes (hands-free, too, in case you have to hold a bowl). App controls allow you to preheat water remotely, which is great for getting ready to make a cup of tea. The LCD screen on the door can also accomplish other tasks and even show off uploaded family photos.

Finally, note that you can customize the handles and knobs of the Cafe 27.8-inch Smart French Door CVE28DP4NW2 to match the steel selections in your kitchen.

Best refrigerator for limited space: GE GLE12HSPSS

GLE12HSLSS

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

GE French Door GNE25JMKES

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.

This Samsung refrigerator suggests cooking recipes, plans your diet and even does grocery shopping(Opens in a new browser tab)

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: Samsung RF23J9011SR 4-Door Flex

Samsung-RF23J9011SR-4-Door-Flex

Why we chose the Samsung RF23J9011SR 4-Door Flex:

If you’re in the market for a unique fridge, the Samsung 4-Door Flex Fridge offers a full compartment that can be either a freezer or warmed up for more fresh food storage. It’s sort of like the Kenmore’s temp-adjustable drawer, but bigger and with a larger temperature range.

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The Power-Cool feature is very handy if you need to quickly cool down that six-pack before the game. There’s also a similar Power-Freeze tool for the freezer. Both of these can be selected on the front touchscreen panel. If you want it to be an ice cream holder, one of the four settings is for a soft freeze. The drawback is that the bottom of the fridge is split in half, so you can’t store large frozen pizzas in it — the individual compartments just aren’t wide or tall enough.

As for the design, the Samsung model is a bit shallower than full-sized models. Thankfully, the middle shelves can be repositioned for greater flexibility. Three gallon-sized bins are positioned on the right door to keep bulkier items to the side. The shelf in the middle can be lowered or raised as needed.

The Samsung RF23J9011SR 4-Door Flex has 22.5-cubic-feet of capacity, it’s 36 inches wide, and it costs about $2,500, so it’s meant for a very specific market, but those looking for a large model that’s family-friendly will find plenty to appreciate here. If you have a more technological fridge in mind and love the smart features, you should take a look at the Samsung Family Hub, a pricier model that’s packed with cool smart features.

Our full Samsung RF23J9011SR 4-Door Flex review

Best bottom freezer refrigerator: Whirlpool WRB322DMBM

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

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

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.

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 equally. 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. 

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. 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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