7 Best Refrigerators, According to Food Network Kitchen
Refrigerators are essential, and these are the best for every kitchen!
Our Top Refrigerator Picks:
- Best Overall: GE Smart Appliances 36-Inch French Door Refrigerator
- Best Budget French Door Refrigerator: Frigidaire 26.8-Cubic Feet French Door Refrigerator
- Best Side-by-Side Refrigerator: LG 36-Inch Freestanding Side by Side Refrigerator
- Best Budget Side-by-Side Refrigerator: Samsung 27.4 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator
- Best Refrigerator for Small Kitchens: Whirlpool 20.5 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
- Best Bottom Freezer Refrigerator: LG 25.5-cu ft Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator
- Best Smart Refrigerator: Samsung 27.7 cu. ft. Family Hub 4-Door French Door Smart Refrigerator
By Sharon Franke for Food Network Kitchen
Nothing is more essential than a refrigerator, and while just about all fridges will do their job of keeping your food cold, they all also vary in design and features. The refrigerator is pretty much command central in every household. Whether you’re carrying a load of groceries, need a quick snack or want to get dinner started right away, it’s probably the first place you head to when you walk in the door. Fridges come in a myriad of sizes and configurations and have lots of special features designed to help you organize your food. Which one is best for you depends on the size of your kitchen and family and your cooking and eating habits. Regardless of whether you live on frozen dinners or feed a hungry horde several times a day, there’s a perfect one for you.
Things to Consider When Buying a Refrigerator
What Style Do You Need?
Freezer on the top models have a small freezer above the fresh food compartment. Smallest in size and overall capacity, these are the least expensive and have the fewest special features. Although they don’t have ice and water dispensers in the door, many have icemakers in the freezer and a few have internal water dispensers. Since the freezer is on top, it’s easy to grab ice cubes and frozen items. However, it means the crisper bins are on the very bottom, so you have to bend to access fresh fruits and vegetables. Refrigerators with freezers on the top are best for apartments, small families and people who depend heavily on frozen foods.
Side by side fridges have full length refrigerator and freezer compartments right next to each other, each with its own long door. Many have ice and water dispensers in the door. On both sides, there is a lot of shelving which makes it easy to organize food. In other styles, it can be especially challenging to keep frozen foods orderly. Sides by sides also offer great access to both sections, which makes them a good choice if there’s a person in the household in a wheelchair or you want your kids to be able to help themselves to all kinds of snacks. However, the produce compartments are on the bottom, so you have to bend to gather up salad ingredients or grab an apple. Also, unless it is a very large model, the shelves can be narrow, making it difficult to stash a large sheet cake, party tray or pizza box. As neither door is very wide, side by sides are a good choice in tight spaces where there isn’t room for a full-size door to swing open.
French door models have a refrigerator compartment with two French doors on top and a freezer drawer that pulls out on the bottom. It’s easy to find one that dispenses ice and water through the door. They have wide shelving but narrow doors, so you have plenty of room for platters but don’t need a lot of space for the doors to open. In these models, it’s easy to reach fresh fruits and vegetables as the crispers are in the middle. The biggest problem with this style is that you have to bend to reach the freezer, and it can be hard to keep it organized; while they usually have at least one shelf on top of the freezer, the bottom is big and deep and it can be hard to find things.
Freezer on the bottom refrigerators are similar to French door models in that the freezer is below the fresh-food compartment. However, they have only one wide refrigerator door, so you need room for it to open fully. Rather than a drawer that pulls out, some bottom freezers have a door that swings open, which can make it difficult to see and reach what’s in there. People love these models because the crispers are at waist level where they’re easy to get to.
Will Your Refrigerator Fit?
Before buying a refrigerator, measure the space in which you plan to install it. Make sure the fridge will fit and that there’s plenty of room for the doors to fully open. Also, check that it will be able to fit through every door and entranceway that it will have to go through when it’s delivered.
Standard or Counter Depth?
Refrigerators are available in standard- and counter-depth sizes. As they are aligned with countertop and kitchen cabinets, counter depth models give a kitchen a stylish custom or built-in look. However, because they’re not as deep, you don’t get as much shelf space. Counter depth models are also more expensive.
What’s the Energy Efficiency?
Refrigerators are one of the biggest energy hogs in a home. All refrigerators have an Energy Guide label which you can find on the unit itself as well as on the manufacturer’s website. They give you an idea of the average annual operating cost and how it compares to similar models. Fridges with the EnergyStar label are the most efficient and least expensive to run. Keep in mind that by choosing an EnergyStar model, you’re not only saving on your electric bill but helping to save energy on a national level.
Useful Refrigerator Features to Look For
Humidity-controlled bins are designed to store fruits and vegetable. These drawers will significantly extend the life of produce. On most, you can adjust the humidity level so that you can keep leafy greens in a moister environment than your apples.
Some temperature-controlled drawers are simple bins with slides to adjust the temperature, while others are full-width drawers that you can set to a range of specific temperatures. If you keep meat, poultry or fish in these compartments at the coldest setting, it’ll stay fresh a lot longer than on a shelf.
In-the-door water and ice dispensers make it easy to fill a glass or a pitcher without opening the door; some even dispense water to a precise amount. Ice dispensers can produce cubed, crushed or shaved ice. Virtually all have water filters.
The ability to connect your fridge to your smart phone lets you control the temperature of your refrigerator remotely. It allows you to receive an alert if the door is left open and when it’s time to change the water filter. Some manufacturers can connect to your appliances remotely and trouble shoot a problem. If money’s no object, look for connected fridges with interactive screens in the door and cameras inside so you can see if you need milk while you’re in the supermarket.
This refrigerator checks all the boxes, making it worth the premium price. It’s a French-door style, which gives you the convenience of wide shelving, doors that don’t need a lot of room to open fully and easy access to the humidity-controlled produce bins. A full-width drawer that’s large enough for party trays has precise temperature settings for meat, deli foods or beverages. If you use it for meat, you’ll find it stays fresher longer. On the door, there’s a dispenser for water and cubed or crushed ice. Press "Autofill", and it senses the size of a glass or pitcher and fills it automatically. This refrigerator uses one of the best water filters you can buy — it even removes pharmaceuticals lurking in your tap water.
There’s LED lighting throughout the unit. One shelf in the fridge folds under to give you room for an oversized item like a pineapple or a wine bottle. The freezer has one shelf above a large bin; both freezer sections are divided to help you keep your frozen items organized. The GE’s stainless-steel finish resists smudges and smears, making it easy to keep clean without polishing it with a special cleaner. You can also choose a slate or black stainless-steel exterior. As this model is Energy Star qualified, it’s among the most efficient for its size.
Although still not inexpensive, this Frigidaire is reasonably priced for a large French-door model with lots of deluxe features including a dispenser in the door that delivers filtered water and cubed or crushed ice, LED lighting and humidity-controlled crispers. It has a wide drawer for stashing a large pan of lasagna or an oversized sheet cake, but you can’t adjust the temperature. The produce bins can be arranged either side by side or on top of each other to give you flexibility in configuring your fridge.
In the freezer, there’s a shelf above a bin and dividers in both to help you arrange food in an orderly fashion. You can choose this model with either a stainless steel or a black stainless-steel finish. Thanks to Energy Star certification, this model can help you save on your electricity bill.
You can’t beat a side-by-side for organizing your food. You have lots of shelves and bins in the refrigerated food and freezer compartments as well as on the doors. On this model, you also have a section with its own door that you can access without opening the main door and exposing the whole fridge to warm air. It’s perfect for snacks or commonly used items like peanut butter and jelly. On the door, there’s a dark glass panel. Knock on it twice and it lights up to show you what’s inside, so you don’t have to wonder if you have any yogurt left.
As you would expect, the LG has a dispenser in the door for water and ice, crisper bins and a deli drawer. If you download the LG ThinQ app to your mobile phone, you’ll get an alert if you leave the door open or the water filter needs changing. The stainless-steel finish is fingerprint resistant. As it bears The EnergyStar label. This model is very efficient, which is good for your budget and the environment.
This fridge proves you don’t have to spend a bundle to get a stylish fridge complete with LED lights and a dispenser in the door for filtered ice and water. However, it does have fewer bells and whistles than pricier models. There are two bins for produce, but they’re not humidity controlled and there’s no drawer for meat or cold cuts.
The finish comes in fingerprint-resistant stainless steel and black stainless steel as well as white, so it’s easy to keep this fridge looking spiffy.
If you live in an apartment or have a small kitchen, your best bet is a refrigerator with a freezer on the top like this affordable Whirlpool. In addition to stainless steel and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, it comes in black, white and biscuit, so it can match up with existing appliances in just about every kitchen. For an additional cost (less than $100) you can add an icemaker, so you don’t have to fuss with ice cube trays.
This fridge is equipped with two produce bins that have sliding humidity controls. It also has a drawer for keeping meat or cold cuts, which you can slide from side to side to place it where it’s most convenient for you. In the fresh food compartment, there’s LED lighting. In the freezer, you’ll find a wire shelf to keep things orderly and shelves on the door for the ice cream.
If you like the convenience of fruits and vegetables at waist length and the clean look of just one door on the fridge compartment, you’ll love this LG with the freezer on the bottom. Unlike some bottom freezer models, the freezer pulls out like a drawer, which makes it convenient to find things without getting down on your hands and knees and rummaging around. Plus the freezer as well as the fresh food section features bright LED lighting. In the refrigerator section, you’ll find two crisper bins and a wide drawer to store fresh fruit platters, appetizer trays and other oversized items.
If you want the latest and greatest, this Samsung is your fridge. It has a large touchscreen on one of the doors. When the unit’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can use the screen to keep a family calendar, leave messages, display digital photos, stream music and control other smart appliances in your home. You can give it voice commands via Alexa. Inside the fridge, there’s a camera that you can access on your phone so when you’re out shopping you can check to see if you need more butter or you’re out of orange juice.
The refrigerator has humidity-controlled crispers, a water and ice dispenser in a door, and very flexible shelving. Below the fresh food compartment and above the freezer, there’s a pull-out compartment with its own door that can be set to four different temperatures for meat, beverages, snack, and wine.
The Family Hub comes in your choice of fingerprint resistant stainless steel, back stainless steel, or Tuscan stainless steel, which has an earthy brownish cast. The Energy Star label tells you it won’t tax your electric bill.