Refrigerators don’t always sit flush with the rest of your kitchen. In fact, standard refrigerators can stick out as much as 6 inches past counters and kitchen cabinets, throwing off the look of your kitchen and potentially causing refrigerator door clearance issues. Counter-depth refrigerators align with the counter and cabinets by shaving off those extra inches, bringing harmony to your kitchen.
Walk through the appliance aisle of your local home improvement store, and you’ll find numerous options in counter-depth refrigerators. With so many types and brands to choose from, selecting the best counter-depth refrigerator for your kitchen can make you feel out of your depth. In this guide, we’ll review which features you should consider when shopping for a counter-depth fridge and share our list of the best units.
- BEST OVERALL: Frigidaire 36 in. French Door Refrigerator
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Whirlpool Counter-depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator
- UPGRADE PICK: KitchenAid 23.8 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator
- BEST SMART TECH: Samsung Family Hub French Door Smart Refrigerator
- BEST DOOR-IN-DOOR: LG Electronics French Door Smart Refrigerator
- BEST DOUBLE FREEZER: Samsung 4-DoorFlex French Door Refrigerator
- BEST FRENCH DOOR: GE 22.1 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Counter-Depth Refrigerator
With so many different refrigerator styles on the market, it’s important to consider which type will best meet your needs and the features that matter most to your family. The following guide will help you decide which refrigerator will work best for you.
The most crucial factor to consider when choosing a counter-depth refrigerator is how much space is available for it. Consumers don’t want to get their new fridge home only to realize it’s a 1/2 inch too wide for the space. Measure the height, width, and depth of the space for the new fridge. As refrigerator openings are often not perfectly square, take each measurement from several locations and use the smallest size. Also, take floor molding and cabinet trim into account when measuring, as these limit the available space.
Knowing size limitations helps narrow the field. If comparison shopping among stores, take along a tape measure to ensure accurate measurements. Manufacturers often add an inch to their size specifications to account for installation. Do allow for a gap of about an inch to facilitate proper ventilation and airflow.
Once you’ve determined the outside dimensions you need, it’s time to look at the inside space. With their reduced depth, counter-depth refrigerators have less capacity than standard refrigerators of the same width and height. While standard refrigerators have 25 to 28 cubic feet of available space, typical counter-depth refrigerators have 20 to 22 cubic feet of space.
To make up for the difference in depth, some counter-depth refrigerators are wider and taller than standard-depth refrigerators. This makes counter-depth refrigerators easier to organize. The wider, shallower shape eliminates the need to dig for food buried in the back.
Counter-depth refrigerators come in a variety of styles:
- Side-by-Side: This type of refrigerator has two side-by-side doors. The refrigerator compartment is on the right, and it’s typically wider than the left side, which functions as the freezer. This refrigerator style provides the greatest amount of freezer space and the least amount of refrigerator space.
- French Door: This trendy refrigerator style consists of upper and lower compartments. On top, two swing-out doors provide access to the refrigerator. The height of the refrigerator section makes it more convenient to access fresh foods at or around eye level. The bottom compartment consists of a large pull-out freezer drawer. Newer styles add different options to this setup. Some French-door fridges feature four swing-out doors: two for the refrigerator and two for the freezer. Others feature two drawers below: a freezer compartment and a drawer for frequently accessed food. While these options add versatility, they also limit the total amount of freezer capacity.
- Bottom Freezer: Bottom freezers feature one large door for the refrigerator and a pull-out freezer drawer below. This style offers more capacity than any other type. Both bottom-freezer side-by-side and French-door styles feature a wide swinging door that requires more clearance to open. This can create a problem in kitchens with narrow walkways.
- Door-in-Door: Newer French-door and side-by-side fridges offer a door-in-door style. This type of fridge includes a smaller outer door built into one of the doors, allowing you to see what’s in the fridge before you open it to access frequently-used items without having to open the entire door. Door-in-door thus adds convenience while allowing the fridge to maintain its temperature more efficiently by reducing the number of times you open the door.
- Smart Tech: The days of hanging family schedules and vacation snapshots on the refrigerator door are numbered. Smart refrigerators include built-in screens in the door that allow you to keep a calendar, add notes, store recipes, and even watch TV or play music. These high-tech iceboxes will text you if the fridge is left open or runs low on ice. They can connect with other smart devices, too, to lock your front door, access your doorbell cameras, and even set your oven temperature. While these brave-new-world features may be nice, the steep price tag that comes with them might make you think twice before replacing the display space for your child’s artwork with a touch screen.
Refrigerators come in a wide variety of finishes. Most counter-depth refrigerators are higher end than standard models, so expect to find stainless steel finishes mainly, including standard stainless steel, black stainless, slate, and black slate. The finish is a personal preference; however, you probably want to coordinate it with your other kitchen appliances to create a cohesive style.
Ice and Water Dispensers
There was a time when water and ice dispensers were a luxury item on refrigerators. Now, it seems mid- to high-end refrigerators aren’t complete without them. As most counter-depth refrigerators fall into these higher price points, nearly all feature water and ice dispensers. Many dispensers include higher-end features like ambient LED lighting, filter warnings, and crushed ice options.
That’s not to say that dispensers are a standard feature on every counter-depth refrigerator. With the emergence of water filtration systems that integrate with the kitchen faucet, water dispensers have become obsolete in some homes, especially considering how much valuable freezer real estate an ice/water dispenser takes up. That’s why some newer French-door models have done away with them.
Scroll through the buyer comments about any fridge, and you’ll likely see numerous comments regarding noise level. Low noise tends to rank high on the lists of demands for refrigerators.
All refrigerators use a compressor to create cold air, and the compressor makes noise when it turns on. Manufacturers design compressors that are quiet and insulated to mute that noise. The normal decibel range of a refrigerator is 32 to 47 dBs, and any fridge operating under 40 dBs is considered a quiet model. That said, whether the noise level of a refrigerator is too loud is mostly subjective. What is a barely perceptible hum to one homeowner might be an irritating roar to another.
Like their standard-depth brethren, counter-depth refrigerators come with plenty of additional features:
- Speed Chilling: Opening the refrigerator repeatedly or filling it with warm food can quickly spike the inside temperature. This can be bad for the food inside your fridge. Speed chilling will quickly cool the refrigerator and freezer, allowing them to maintain a consistent temperature.
- Convertible Compartments: Some French-door-style fridges feature an extra compartment that can be converted from fridge to freezer and back again, allowing you to configure the fridge’s freezer volume as you please.
Our Top Picks
With so many different types of counter-depth refrigerators available from various manufacturers, it can be difficult to make a choice. This list covers some of the best options in the most popular categories.
With so many great features, this Frigidaire refrigerator is an excellent counter-depth option. The four-door design features a French-door-style top with two drawers and a larger freezer drawer at the bottom. In the center, a smaller drawer appears, and this is where the fridge’s versatility comes into play. It features Frigidaire’s Flex Temp technology, allowing you to use it for fresh foods or dial down the temp for frozen.
The ability to configure this refrigerator is impressive, with expandable door bins and storage shelves that flip up to allow for large items. An extra-tall water dispenser/ice maker is perfect for water bottles and pitchers. Additional features include a crisper drawer that automatically regulates its humidity to keep fruits and veggies fresh and a quick-freeze option.
These days, side-by-side refrigerators may not be as trendy as other fridge styles, but they offer plenty of space advantages and cost hundreds of dollars less than the newer types of refrigerators. This counter-depth side-by-side Whirlpool refrigerator features 20.6 cubic feet of capacity with plenty of space in the freezer. Whirlpool’s Accu-Chill technology manages the temperature to keep food cool.
Frameless glass shelves allow for more storage, while adjustable bins on the fridge side let you customize the space to meet your needs. While some side-by-sides place the ice bin on the freezer’s top shelf to consume valuable real estate, Whirlpool puts the bin in the door, giving you an entire additional shelf for frozen foods. The front console includes a water dispenser and ice filter along with temperature controls and ambient LED lighting.
The ability to control the temperature for multiple zones and drawers makes this French-door-style refrigerator from KitchenAid an exceptional counter-depth choice. It includes adjustable shelves that can quickly flip up for larger items and a temperature-controlled pantry drawer for storing foods at a wide range of temperatures.
The interior aesthetics are also impressive, with stained-wood features on the interior shelves and trays, many of which can be removed and used outside the fridge for meal preparation. These include a stainless steel prep tray that slides under one of the shelves and door bins designed to be removed from the refrigerator and used on the kitchen counters.
Organization and keeping food fresh are priorities with this fridge. It includes specially sealed bins for keeping herbs and dairy fresh and a crisping drawer that monitors humidity levels. The drawers have LED lighting for added visibility, and the freezer drawer uses a two-tiered sliding system to maximize organization.
If you’re ready to upgrade from the magnets and sticky notes that served as your family’s means of communication on your old fridge, check out this smart refrigerator from Samsung. It features a family hub for your brood’s messages and schedules. The Smart Hub consists of a large touch screen that allows you to post virtual notes, share schedules, play music, display photos, and store recipes. The screen even allows you to look inside the fridge from your phone via a tiny camera, so you can take stock of its contents while strolling through the aisles of the grocery store. The hub integrates with other smart devices, too, allowing you to lock the front door, turn lights off and on, and see who’s knocking via the doorbell camera.
Those who wish they could see the contents of their fridge before opening the door may appreciate this door-in-door refrigerator from LG. By pressing a button on the right French-door handle, you can open the fridge’s outer compartment, which houses drinks and other commonly used items. In addition to providing easy access to drinks, this compartment helps keep the main fridge’s temperature constant by reducing the number of times the refrigerator gets opened. It features a glass exterior, allowing you to see every item inside, so you can decide if you need to access just the compartment or the whole fridge.
Other features include smart-fridge capability. This fridge can communicate with your phone to let you know if the door is left open or the filter needs replacing. You can also adjust temperatures remotely. Dual icemakers ensure you never run out of ice, and a tall water dispenser can handle pitchers and water bottles.
This Samsung fridge adds versatility to your chilled food storage with double freezer compartments on the bottom. Use the compartments to stock up on meat and frozen vegetables or prepare for a backyard party. The temperature in each of the lower compartments is adjustable, allowing each section to serve as a freezer or refrigerator.
This double-freezer refrigerator also includes a host of other attractive features, including a separate cool pantry drawer in the fridge compartment with its own designated temperature control. While many double-freezer fridges don’t include a water and ice dispenser, this fridge features a high-capacity ice maker capable of producing up to 10 pounds of ice per day. A flip-up shelf lets you adjust the refrigerator for taller items. This fridge comes in two different finishes.
French-door refrigerators have boomed in popularity in the past decade, becoming the standard for fridges. This refrigerator is one of the best in its class, with intuitive design features that create efficient organization while keeping your food fresh or frozen. This fridge does an excellent job, thanks to its turbo cool and turbo freeze settings, which boost cold air to restore the temperature after the door is closed.
Bottom-drawer freezers can be a pain to organize. GE solves that problem with its two-level freezer baskets, which allow you to organize your food and minimize stacking. On the fridge level, the door’s extra-large bins hold gallon containers.
FAQ About Counter-Depth Refrigerators
If you still have unanswered concerns about counter-depth refrigerators, read on to see answers to the most frequently asked questions about this type of refrigerator.
Q. What’s the difference between a counter-depth refrigerator and a standard-depth refrigerator?
Counter-depth refrigerators take up less space than standard refrigerators. A standard refrigerator typically has a depth of about 30 to 34 inches, not including the door handles. Counter-depth refrigerators are significantly shallower, with an average depth of 23 to 27 inches. This difference means standard-depth refrigerators have more capacity than counter-depth refrigerators.
Q. What are the advantages of a counter-depth refrigerator?
Counter-depth refrigerators offer a more streamlined look to your kitchen. They also have easier access to the fridge’s contents because they are shallower.
Q. Are counter-depth refrigerators more expensive than regular fridges?
Counter-depth refrigerators cost about 10 to 15 percent more than standard refrigerators with similar features.