The refrigerator is the appliance king in a room filled with appliances, the kitchen. Once a plain white box with no-frills functionality, the refrigerator has evolved to come in a range of stylish finishes plus a widening assortment of features.
When shopping for the best refrigerator, consider these units for a model that meets your day-to-day needs, complements the kitchen’s style, and fits within your budget.
- BEST OVERALL: Samsung 28.2 cu. ft. French Door Stainless
- BEST BUDGET: LG 20.2 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator Stainless
- UPGRADE PICK: GE Profile 27.9 cu. ft. Smart 4-Door Refrigerator
- BEST SIDE-BY-SIDE: GE 25.3-cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator Stainless
- BEST BOTTOM FREEZER: GE 20.9 cu. ft. Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
- BEST TOP FREEZER: GE 17.5 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
- BEST FOUR-DOOR: Whirlpool 24.5 Cu. Ft. 4-Door Refrigerator Stainless
- BEST BUILT-IN: Bosch 21.6 cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator Stainless
Types of Refrigerators
In their quest to build the best refrigerators, manufacturers have created a bevy of models with innovative features, including adjustable shelving, lighting, and smart technology.
Though the most common configuration remains the familiar freezer-on-top design, other styles include side-by-side, freezer-on-bottom, French door, and even multidoor options. Built-in models that create a seamless appearance in the kitchen also are available.
For those who reach into the freezer as often as the fridge, side-by-side refrigerators feature a vertical, full-length split, with the refrigerator on one side and the freezer on the other, allowing easy retrieval of frequently used items, such as beverages and yogurt. Items used less frequently, such as condiments or produce, stay cool on door shelves or in bins near the bottom.
A side-by-side unit usually offers more freezer capacity than an upper or lower freezer unit so users can see and retrieve frozen foods. However, the shelves are not as wide as in other fridges, making it difficult to store large items, such as frozen pizzas.
A top-freezer refrigerator is a common configuration and the traditional go-to choice. It costs less to produce, so it’s one of the most affordable types.
A top-freezer configuration is ideal for those who don’t store large quantities of food in the freezer, since freezer space is typically less than in other models. However, frozen leftovers sit at eye level in these units. What top-freezer units make up for in affordability and convenience, they often lack in storage organization. This configuration seldom has as many pullout shelves or bins as other options.
In a fast-growing subcategory, the bottom-freezer configuration, the refrigerator is above the freezer. While the fridge portion often has hinged French doors, the freezer pulls out along sliding tracks. Those who often freeze bulk items, such as wrapped meat cuts, ice cream, or frozen vegetables, may prefer this configuration.
Bottom-freezer units are more popular than top-freezer models since the freezer holds more. To prevent users from having to dig through the contents to find items, many bottom-freezer units provide one or more shallow convenience trays near the top.
A built-in fridge, the “Cadillac” of cold-food storage, is wider than a standard model but also shallower to sit flush with kitchen cabinets. While a standard fridge is 32 to 36 inches deep, a counter-depth model is 24 inches deep like a traditional kitchen cabinet. But at 36 to 48 inches in width, they’re wider than standard fridges, which are 30 to 36 inches wide.
A built-in fridge requires professional installation, which substantially boosts the price tag. A carpenter or contractor typically must install trim around the refrigerator, so it fits seamlessly with the cabinetry.
A French-door refrigerator features a pullout freezer drawer at the bottom, and double side-by-side fridge doors provide food access. The bottom shelves are wide, and many models also have a full-width bin toward the bottom. Higher shelves and bins usually have a narrower profile and often adjust in height.
The doors on French-door refrigerators are typically wide enough to hold gallons of milk or juice. Opening both doors at once provides a clear view of the contents. However, some French-door models require users to access the ice maker in the low freezer rather than the fridge door.
Although the term “four-door” typically is used to describe vehicles, in refrigerators, the term refers to units that feature an extra drawer called a snack drawer or deli drawer. This is a convenient design for stowing often-used foods without opening the large fridge door, which helps conserve energy.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Refrigerator
A number of attributes affect a refrigerator’s functionality, including its size, capacity, energy efficiency, and additional features. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best refrigerator.
In size, two measurements matter most. The first, the appliance’s exterior size, is determined by the available space in the kitchen. In new kitchens, this doesn’t present a problem, but in an existing kitchen, the new refrigerator must fit in the space vacated by the old one. A standard medium-size refrigerator measures between 30 and 33 inches across.
Depth also varies. In some designs, the refrigerator sits almost flush with the edge of the countertop. Counter-depth refrigerators provide a sleek, almost built-in look, although they have a shallower interior. Even though these fridges typically don’t have as much storage capacity as full-depth models, they’re still bigger than a mini fridge.
Standard-width refrigerators usually have interior capacities ranging from 19 to 22 cubic feet. Some models offer up to 33 cubic feet of capacity, but these are wider (and sometimes taller) than the average model.
Small-space refrigerator models, some as narrow as 18 inches, are trending in smaller homes. While these “column” refrigerators usually lack a freezer, a separate (equally small) freezer is available.
Energy Efficiency and Rating
Refrigerators can have an Energy Guide label that summarizes the appliance’s energy requirements and annual operating cost (based on average natural gas and electricity rates). To minimize monthly energy bills, models bearing the Energy Star designation exceed federal minimum standards for efficiency and quality. The Energy Guide label lists:
- Estimated yearly operating cost: This number estimates how much (in dollars) the fridge will likely cost per year to run. However, it can fluctuate based on the cost of electricity in the community.
- Estimated yearly electric use: For a better idea as to how much it will cost to run the fridge, look for the yearly use estimate, a number followed by “kWh,” which stands for kilowatt-hours. To find out how much energy the fridge uses, multiply the number by the kWh rate listed on a utility bill.
- Energy Star sticker: Some fridges also bear a blue sticker with a white star and the words “Energy Star,” which indicates the fridge has been tested and meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) energy standards.
Basic Refrigerator Features
The most popular bonus features commonly offered on even the most basic refrigerators include:
- Temperature-controlled drawers
- Adjustable shelves and bins
- Built-in ice maker
- Built-in water dispenser
- Wine-chilling racks
Smart Refrigerator Features
For those seeking a smart refrigerator with tech-forward features, some models offer:
- Bluetooth-enabled sound systems
- Touch-screen temperature control
- Integrated television and/or computer screens
Deluxe Refrigerator Features
Deluxe models may include:
- Built-in water purifiers
- See-through doors
- Air purification systems
- High-humidity crispers
- A door-in-door feature that allows access to food through a small panel-style door without opening the larger fridge door
Most of today’s refrigerator brands come in a range of colors and finishes, from matte white to stainless steel and more.
Our Top Picks
The following are the top picks for the best refrigerators based on quality construction, excellent performance, and other bonus features.
The Samsung French Door Refrigerator is suitable for large families. It has a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish and comes with double doors on the top and a pullout freezer drawer at the bottom. It features a large-capacity ice maker that holds up to 5.5 pounds of ice. The fridge’s interior has adjustable shelves and large door bins.
The Samsung fridge includes high-efficiency LED lighting to help users see the food toward the back of the shelves. Samsung’s multi-vent technology circulates cool air to keep all items equally cold. This refrigerator is Energy Star rated.
- Type: French door
- Dimensions: 68.8 inches H by 32.8 inches D by 35.75 inches W
- Storage capacity: 28.2 cubic feet
- Large-capacity ice maker
- Energy Star rated
- Large storage capacity
- Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish
Get the Samsung French door refrigerator at The Home Depot and Samsung.
The LG Top-Freezer Refrigerator features a 20.2-cubic-foot capacity and comes with the traditional freezer-on-top design, which helps keep it affordable. The stainless steel fridge’s bright LED panels on the sides allow users to see the interior contents.
The fridge interior features three full-width shelves and two clear-front bins with humidity control to help keep produce fresh. The LG comes with two door bins large enough to hold gallon-size milk jugs. This LG model features SmartDiagnosis: If something goes wrong, simply hold a smartphone near the fridge’s troubleshooting speaker to get a diagnosis.
- Type: Top freezer
- Dimensions: 65.5 inches H by 33.3 inches D by 29.75 inches W
- Storage capacity: 20.2 cubic feet
- Features SmartDiagnosis
- Humidity-controlled drawers
- Stainless steel finish
Get the LG top-freezer refrigerator at The Home Depot and Best Buy.
The GE Profile Smart 4-Door Refrigerator has a 27.9-cubic-foot storage capacity, a filtered ice maker, and water dispenser in the door. It has a nonsmudge stainless steel finish. A deli drawer between the main fridge compartment and the freezer holds frequently used foods.
Bright LEDs illuminate the back wall for viewing the fridge’s contents. The main fridge features adjustable bins and shelves for storing short or tall items. The GE Profile fridge comes with smart-home capability and syncs with a home Wi-Fi network, so users can check the interior temperature from a smartphone. The refrigerator holds Energy Star designation.
- Type: 4-door
- Dimensions: 69.8 inches H by 36.75 inches D by 35.6 inches W
- Storage capacity: 27.9 cubic feet
- Smart temperature control
- Energy Star rated
- Deli drawer
- Filtered ice maker
Get the GE Profile 4-door refrigerator at The Home Depot.
The GE 25.3-cubic-foot refrigerator comes with a nonsmudge stainless steel finish, in-door water and ice dispensing, and adjustable shelving and pullout bins in the freezer.
The refrigerator’s side has both narrow and deep door bins and comes with three clear-view, pullout crisper bins and adjustable shelving. The GE model offers bright LED interior lighting, and the freezer boasts FrostGuard technology to prevent frost.
- Type: Side-by side
- Dimensions: 69.5 inches H by 34.75 inches D by 35.75 inches W
- Storage capacity: 25.3 cubic feet
- Dispenses water and ice
- FrostGuard technology
- Adjustable shelves
Get the GE side-by-side refrigerator at The Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The GE 20.9-cubic-foot refrigerator is 29.75 inches wide to fit small kitchens. The upper fridge compartment has three adjustable shelves and two large, see-through crisper bins as well as a sliding snack drawer.
The door has additional bins to hold gallon-size milk jugs. The pullout freezer has a built-in ice maker with a water filter. The interior has LED lights, and its exterior has a smudge-resistant slate-gray exterior finish.
- Type: Bottom freezer
- Dimensions: 69.875 inches H by 36.625 inches D by 29.75 inches W
- Storage capacity: 20.9 cubic feet
- Fits small kitchens
- Built-in ice maker
- Sliding snack drawer
Get the GE bottom-freezer refrigerator at Sears and Best Buy.
With a stylish exterior, the GE 17.5-cubic-foot refrigerator features amenities such as LED interior spotlighting and glass shelves with a slight lip to trap spills. The upper freezer compartment has an automatic ice maker and plenty of space to store frozen meals in both the main compartment and door bins.
Adjustable shelving in the fridge compartment and two see-through crisper bins add to the convenience. Door bins are large enough to hold gallon-size jugs. This top-freezer model is Energy Star certified.
- Type: Top freezer
- Dimensions: 67.4 inches H by 32.6 inches D by 28 inches W
- Storage capacity: 17.5 cubic feet
- Spill-proof shelves
- Oversize door bins
- Automatic ice maker
Get the GE top-freezer refrigerator at The Home Depot.
The Whirlpool 4-Door Refrigerator’s deli drawer stores frequently consumed foods. The double doors open to reveal a full-width lower shelf, two see-through crisper bins, and adjustable glass shelves.
Both doors have additional bins. The Whirlpool fridge comes with an ice maker and water dispenser in the door, while the pullout freezer compartment contains baskets for frozen foods. The fridge comes in smudge-free stainless steel, with other finishes available.
- Type: 4-door
- Dimensions: 70.125 inches H by 34.625 inches D by 35.625 inches W
- Storage capacity: 24.5 cubic feet
- Pullout deli drawer
- Ice maker and water dispenser
- Pullout freezer compartments
- Stainless steel finish
Get the Whirlpool 4-door refrigerator at Best Buy and The Home Depot.
The Bosch 21.6-cubic-foot built-in refrigerator, a countertop-depth fridge, is only 31.125 inches deep to fit flush with the front edge of the cabinets. With a French-door configuration, this Bosch fridge comes with an ice maker and water dispenser in the door. The fridge contains adjustable tempered glass shelving, while the freezer has a two-tiered bin system.
The fridge also has crisper bins and door bins, and it’s Energy Star qualified. This built-in fridge features a smudge-proof stainless steel finish and bright interior LED lighting. This unit requires professional installation.
- Type: French door
- Dimensions: 70 inches H by 31.125 inches D by 35.625 inches W
- Storage capacity: 21.6 cubic feet
- Ice maker and water dispenser
- Easy-clean stainless steel interior
- VitaFreshPlus humidity control
- Stainless steel finish
Get the Bosch built-in refrigerator at The Home Depot.
After reviewing this guide, you now know more about shopping for a refrigerator for your kitchen. We recommend the Samsung refrigerator as our top pick because it offers a range of desirable features at a mid-range price. Those on a budget may appreciate the LG refrigerator, which performs well at a lower price point.
How We Chose the Best Refrigerators
Years of experience covering home care and appliances as well as extensive product research went into creating this guide. We explored more than 40 options for the best refrigerators on the market and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.
We included models with multiple fridge door configurations in varying sizes and capacities to provide options for a variety of shoppers. We prioritized fridges with desirable added features like built-in water and ice dispensers.
Tips for Using and Maintaining Your Refrigerator
Although refrigerators are one of the most frequently used appliances, many people don’t know how to properly use and maintain them. Use these tips to ensure your fridge operates at peak performance for as long as possible.
- Monitor the temperature: The interior of a refrigerator should maintain a temperature between 37 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit to keep food fresh, while the freezer should stay at a consistent 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ensure the doors seal properly: Check the seals regularly and clean them twice a year to remove any dirt and residue.
- Keep coils clean: If the coils at the back of a refrigerator are covered in dirt or dust, they can’t help it get rid of warm air.
A refrigerator is often the priciest appliance in the kitchen, so shopping for one requires consideration. Some questions appear below for those new to refrigerator shopping.
Q: What’s the most energy-efficient refrigerator?
All refrigerators bearing an Energy Star qualification are guaranteed to exceed the energy consumption standards set by the federal government. The Samsung refrigerator is Energy Star rated.
Q: What is the best refrigerator style for small spaces?
Standard refrigerators are between 30 and 36 inches wide, but apartment-size refrigerators are closer to 24 inches in width.
Q: Which refrigerator is best for a large household?
With its large capacity and fingerprint-resistant finish, the Samsung refrigerator is our best overall choice.
Q: Must a built-in refrigerator be installed by a professional?
Professional installation is recommended because a carpenter or contractor typically must install trim around the refrigerator.
Q: How long do refrigerators usually last?
Different models of refrigerators from the same brand can vary in reliability, but in general, the most reliable brands also are the most popular brands. They generally last approximately 12 years.