5 Best Mini Fridges, According to Food Network Kitchen

Whether it's in a pantry, den or dorm room, a small fridge can come in handy!

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July 26, 2021
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By Sharon Franke for Food Network Kitchen

Our Top Mini Fridge Picks:

Mini fridges are great for keeping beverages and snacks in a family or rec room or stashing brought-from-home lunches in an office. If space and the school allow, they’re super useful in dorm rooms for dinner fixin’s and midnight munchies. However they vary in size, features and how well they keep foods cool. We’ve rounded up a selection of models that maintain safe temperatures for food safety in a variety of sizes so there’s one to select regardless of your needs.

Things to Consider About Mini Fridges:

  • Avoid any models that use thermoelectric technology. They don’t keep foods at a set temperature but rather change in relationship to the room condition. When it’s very warm, they don’t cool to an acceptable level for food safety. And, when the temperature changes, the temp in the fridge goes up or down. Foods stay best when they’re stored at a steady temp.
  • The freezer in a mini fridge isn’t intended for long-term storage. It should only be used for storing meats for a few days, making a tray of ice cubes or keeping ice cream at a scoopable consistency.
  • It’s a good idea to buy a refrigerator thermometer and check the temperatures periodically. Don’t rely on one reading but take several over a few hours. To keep foods safe, the fresh food compartment should be no higher than 40 degrees F and 37 degrees F is optimal. Ideally, the freezer should stay at 0 degrees F or lower. If it’s above 5 degrees F, the freezer’s not reliable for long term food storage.
  • Check the yellow Energy Guide Label to get an estimate of how much it will cost to run the refrigerator and how that cost compares to similar models. If possible, choose a model with the Energy Star label. In addition to helping to keep your electricity bill down, it’s better for the environment.
  • When you load the fridge compartment with food, leave space for cold air to fully circulate around items.
  • You may have to defrost the freezer, an "ancient" procedure that may not be familiar to you. It involves turning the fridge off and allowing all the ice that builds up on the walls of the freezer to melt off.
  • Don’t keep a compact refrigerator in an unheated garage or basement. They’re not designed to work in temperatures below those in a home.

This 3.1-cubic-foot model is our top choice because it has two doors, one for the fridge and one for the freezer. Because the freezer is a separate compartment it’ll be able to keep foods frozen solid, so you can safely use it to store meats and poultry or a supply of frozen dinners. There’s even a shelf on the freezer door to stock with ice cream or bags of frozen peas.

In the fridge, you’ll find two glass shelves as well as a crisper drawer for fruits and veggies. However, the crisper doesn’t have humidity controls so don’t expect it to keep greens sprightly for more than a week. On the door of the fridge, there’s a can dispenser as well as two shelves, including one for tall soda bottles and a smaller one for condiments.

This model is Energy Star rated, which means it will be easy on your electric bill. It’s available in black, white and a finish that looks like stainless-steel look but doesn’t show fingerprints or smudges.

Buy It

With a contoured shape and chrome latch handles, this model resembles a 1950’s fridge. However, it has the kind of temperature management you expect from a twenty-first century unit. On top, there’s a separate freezer compartment with a shelf on the door. In the refrigerator, two glass shelves and a large bin for produce will help you keep foods organized. The door has a large and small shelf and a system for dispensing soda pop cans.

This Magic Chef is EnergyStar rated. In addition to black and white, you can have it in either red or aqua to make even more of a design statement in a game room or college dorm.

Buy It

If you’re primarily looking for a fridge to keep fruit, drinks and maybe cheese in the den and don’t want to spend a bundle, this square little fridge is your best bet. It will keep things that need refrigeration like yogurt, cut-up melon and a lunch salad safe as well as merely chilled. It has one wire shelf in the main compartment and shelves on the door. There’s a small freezer compartment to use for a bag of ice or to keep ice cream at a scoopable consistency, but we don’t suggest keeping meat or poultry there for more than a day.

This model bears the EnergyStar label and should only cost about $25 a year to run. It’s available with a black or white finish.

Buy It

In addition to fitting easily in a dorm room, this little fridge provides a dry erase board on the outer door for notes and reminders. It also has a bottle opener conveniently located on the side of the fridge. In the main compartment, there’s one wire shelf. On the door, there’s shelving for a 2-liter bottle as well as for soda cans or peanut butter and jelly jars. On top, there’s a small freezer compartment for making a tray of ice cubes or keeping a frozen dinner icy for a day or two.

The fridge is an EnergyStar model, which means it’s among the best for the environment, a fact that should make your student happy. It comes in black and white.

Buy It

If you entertain a lot or just keep a large supply of beverages at the ready, you may want a bit more room than you’ll typically find in a mini fridge. Bigger than most, the Galanz has three glass shelves for refrigerated items. On the door, there are two small shelves and one for tall soda bottles as well as a dispenser for eight cans. The freezer doesn’t have its own door, but it’s wider than the ones found in most minis. It will come in handy if you need a lot of ice or frozen treats for a party, but it’s not a good idea to keep meat or other highly perishable items for more than a day.

You have a choice of black or a finish that mimics stainless steel or black stainless steel.

Buy It

How We Picked

To select our best mini fridges, we relied on our years of experience testing refrigerators and in-depth knowledge of the category. We also checked to see what other reviewers recommend as well as what home users have to say. Our most important criteria was the ability to maintain safe temperatures for food storage, but we also took into consideration size and features. On this list you’ll find a variety of models for different needs and situations.

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