The best refrigerator does a lot more than keep foods cold and ice cream frozen, but is also tailored to your family's needs and budget. In a modern refrigerator you’ll find dedicated sections for produce, meats and beverages, making sure lettuce stays crisp and perky, holding meats and poultry at lower temps, and accommodating large gallon jugs of milk and OJ. In addition, it will have lots of extras to make it easy to organize items and dispense ice and cold water. And the latest smart features let you do everything from display your kids artwork to tracking what you'll need on the next shopping trip.
If you want a great refrigerator, start by considering whether you eat more fresh or frozen foods and what types of foods in particular. Do you buy a bundle of fresh fruits and vegetables or are you more likely to stock up on frozen pizzas? Are there small children or elderly people in the house who need good access to both compartments? Is a constant supply of ice a priority? Will you ever realistically use an app on your phone to make your refrigerator colder? Your answers to these questions can help you decide what the best refrigerator is for you.
What are the best refrigerators?
Based on our research and experience, the GE Profile PFE28KYNFS French door refrigerator is the best overall. It offers a good combination of excellent temperature management, style, and features that are truly useful. If you want the look and convenience of a French door refrigerator but don’t have a big budget, we recommend the Whirlpool WRF535SMHZ which will also do a good job of protecting your foods but doesn’t offer the convenience of an ice and water dispenser in the door.
If you prefer a model with both compartments side-by-side so you have good access to both the milk and the ice cream, our top pick is the LG LSXS26366S which has a special door in the fridge that makes it easy to grab snacks.
On the other hand if you’re not looking to spend a bundle and like the traditional style that has a refrigerator compartment above the freezer, you’ll love the inexpensive LG LTCS24223S which will give you plenty of storage room. Where kitchen space is at a premium, your best bet is the top freezer model the GE GIE18GSNRSS.
Anyone who is looking for the latest and greatest will want the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator (RF28R7551SR). It has a large touchscreen on the door that can double as a calendar, memo board, or TV. When you’re shopping, you can see the inside of this fridge on your phone so you can check to see if you’re running low on eggs.
You may prefer a unit with a fresh food compartment above the freezer with single wide doors on each. We think the Kenmore Elite 79023 is best in class in this category.
Another option is a counter-depth model like the excellent Bosch Counter-Depth Refrigerator B36CT80SNS that fits flush with your countertops, giving you an upscale custom look without the huge expense of a unit that’s actually built into your kitchen.
The best refrigerators you can buy today
The best refrigerator overall, the GE Profile PFE28KYNFS French door refrigerator is beautifully designed and has a smudge-proof stainless steel finish to keep it looking spiffy. In it you’ll find lots of features for organizing and protecting food. It has a full width shelf with temperature control; at the coldest setting it will keep meat fresh longer and on the warmer one it’s ideal for stashing party trays or a cake when you’re entertaining. One of the shelves slides under itself to make room for a tall item like a pineapple or a giant soda bottle. In the freezer there’s two baskets with dividers to keep food from getting lost in a giant bin.
When you place a glass in the water dispenser, it fills it automatically, so you don’t have to stand and press a button as it dispenses. This is one of the only refrigerators with an advanced water filter that removes pharmaceuticals such as ibuprofen, as well as chlorine and lead. The GE Profile also is available with a slate or black stainless-steel finish.
There's nothing overly flashy about Whirlpool WRF535SMHZ, but what you get is solid performance at a great price. While there’s no ice and water dispenser in the door, if you don’t use a lot of ice or drink a lot of water, this might be a good thing as you won’t have to worry about drips, kids fooling with it, or it breaking down. There is an ice-maker in the freezer compartment.
Inside, this refrigerator is spacious and has a wide pantry drawer with several settings. Unlike most refrigerators today the digital temperature settings for the fridge go from 0 to 7 rather than in precise degrees. In addition to kid friendly fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, the Whirlpool comes in black and white, which might be convenient if you’re replacing a fridge in an older kitchen without updated stainless steel appliances.
On the LG LSXS26366S side-by-side refrigerator you’ll find a unique feature. In the refrigerator door, there’s a smaller door that opens to a special compartment. It’s a great place to stash things you grab often like fruit and drinks so you don’t expose the entire refrigerator to warm air. Inside, the LG has bright LED lights, and reviewers report that on lab tests, it maintained very even temperatures, a big plus for keeping food fresh.
The ice drawer is on the door, not on a freezer shelf so it leaves you more room for food but doesn’t hold as much ice as some. And while there are two produce bins, they don’t excel at keeping moisture in, which means don’t stock it with more lettuce than you can reasonably eat in a few days. This fridge comes in stainless steel and black stainless steel.
This LG LTCS24223S refrigerator has a combined 24 cubic feet of storage space, which gives you tons of room to store all your foodstuffs. However, there's no through- the-door ice and water dispenser, which is a reasonable trade-off at this price. There is an icemaker in the freezer. In the fridge there are two crispers with humidity controls as well as a large deli drawer that spans the width of the refrigerator; it’s great for organizing foods but it’s not temperature controlled. LEDs keep everything well lit in both compartments.
It's the best refrigerator to get if you want a top-freezer design. It's a nice-looking fridge for the price, too: It has recessed grooves instead of protruding handles and an attractive stainless-steel finish. If you’re worried about your electric bill, it’s one of the most efficient models that you can buy. If you prefer you can have it in white or black stainless steel.
If you need a small refrigerator, perhaps for an apartment, the no-frills GE GTE18GMHES is a nice-looking option. It has glass shelving and comes with an ice maker. For stashing cold cuts and cheeses, there’s a deli drawer that can be moved from one side to another to accommodate a tall item like a pitcher of lemonade. However, this GE lacks humidity controls for the crisper drawers and doesn't have independent controls for the fridge and freezer, so you'll have to pick between "colder" and coldest" for both.
It's the best refrigerator for smaller kitchens. While it's not huge by typical refrigerator standards, this model will give you more than enough room for a big grocery load. Unlike bigger, showier models it will barely make a dent in your electric bill. Three finishes are available: stainless steel, silver, and white.
Now in its third generation, Samsung's Family Hub smart refrigerator is instantly recognizable by its large 21-inch touch screen, which you can use to order groceries, play music, look up your calendar, watch TV, see who's at your front door and much more. Cameras inside the fridge let you see from your smartphone if you're running low on milk. While we're not high on Bixby, Samsung's voice assistant, it is built into the fridge, so you can ask it to control your smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, robot vacuums and more.
The Family Hub is available in more than a dozen styles, including both counter and full-depth sizes; and three-door and four-door models (the FlexZone Drawer is a handy feature that helps you get to snacks and other frequently used items). In addition to a full-size freezer, the Family Hub is available in a "4 Door Flex" configuration, which lets you switch one compartment from freezer to fridge, depending on your needs.
Bottom-freezer Kenmore Elite 79023 refrigerators make it easier to access items in the main compartment: no more bending over to reach the apples in the crispers. However, like most models of this type, there’s no ice and water dispenser though there is an ice-maker in the freezer.
If you want the best refrigerator with a bottom-freezer design, this is it. The Kenmore excels at keeping uniform temperatures so you don’t have to worry that something will be warmer on the top shelf or get icy on a bottom one. It’s also extremely energy efficient. You’ll find a large pantry drawer for stashing deli items or large catering trays when you’re having company. However, it’s not temperature controlled so can’t be set to a low temp to keep meat fresh longer. There are also two crispers that do a good job of keeping greens crisp.
The stainless-steel model tends to pick up fingerprints.
If you’re looking for a counter-depth refrigerator, style is probably super important to you and the Bosch 800 Series B36CT80SNS French door model delivers in spades. It’s handsomely designed in a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel and is packed with special features. There’s no ice and water dispenser in the exterior to detract from its sleek appearance, but it has a dispenser inside the fridge door and an ice bin that you can pull out. The ice cubes are uniquely shaped in small pyramids so even they seem special.
Inside there’s a pantry drawer that’s both humidity and temperature controlled so if the two crispers don’t give you enough room for fresh produce, you have another compartment to keep fruits and vegetables crisp. The freezer has 3 bins to keep foods organized and minimize scrounging around to find that bag of peas you know is in there somewhere. By downloading the associated Bosh Home Connect app, you can control the Bosch remotely.
What’s really unique about the LG LRFV3006S is that it can make beautiful clear balls of ice for high balls or craft cocktails. But of course you get a lot more than that in a fridge that sells for big bucks. This is a French door model with a door in one of the doors that opens on a compartment that’s useful for stashing things your family grabs often like drinks, yogurt, or snacks. When you knock on the door twice, the window in the door lights up so you can see what’s in there before opening it, preventing cold air from escaping while you scrounge around. On the other door, there’s an ice and water dispenser that can accommodate your tallest water bottle or a pitcher and will fill it to a precise amount so you don’t have to stand and press the lever until your glass is full.
Inside there’s a drawer with temperature control for keeping meat icy cold or fruit at a pleasant eating temp as well as two crispers designed to keep produce longer. This is an EnergyStar certified refrigerator which means it will be relatively easy on your electric bill. Connect the LG to Wi-Fi and you can change the temperature from an app on your phone or troubleshoot problems before calling for a service technician.
How to choose the right refrigerator for you
There are four main types of refrigerators:
- French Door: This is the most popular model, with two doors that open the refrigerator compartment. This feature makes it easier to access the fridge, such as when a kitchen island might prevent you from fully opening a full-size door. These refrigerators also have the freezer section on the bottom.
- Side-by-side: These two-door refrigerators have the freezer compartment on the left side and the refrigerator compartment on the right. This style makes it easier to reach items in the freezer — you don't have to bend down — but makes it harder to fit in wider items, such as pizza boxes and sheet cakes.
- Top freezer: As the name suggests, the freezer is on the top, with a single door below for the refrigerator. These models make it easier to get to the freezer, at the expense of having to bend down to reach the lower drawers of the refrigerator.
- Bottom freezer: With the freezer on the bottom, this style of refrigerator makes everything in the main compartment at waist level or higher. It's better for those who don't use their freezer as often.
Standard vs. Counter Depth
Many refrigerators come in two sizes: standard and counter depth. Counter-depth refrigerators are not as deep, so their front edge will be aligned with your countertop and kitchen cabinets. While more stylish, this makes them both smaller and more expensive than standard-size refrigerators.
Stainless steel is currently the most popular finish for all kitchen appliances — black stainless steel is even trendier — but you can also get refrigerators in more traditional white or black. Keep in mind that many stainless steel models are not magnetic, so you'll have a harder time posting your kids' artwork and report cards, not to mention those takeout menus.
Will it fit?
There's nothing worse than ordering a fridge, only to find out it won't fit through your front door. Before buying a refrigerator, be sure to measure every opening it will have to go through. Since you can remove the doors from a refrigerator, you have a little more leeway. But, be sure that once it's installed, you'll be able to fully open its doors.
If you're replacing a refrigerator, measure your current model; you'll know that a fridge that size will fit.
When to replace a refrigerator
Most manufacturers offer a one year warranty on refrigerators but the National Association of Home Builders says they typically last 13 years. So we don’t recommend buying an extended warranty, since repairs within the refrigerator’s lifetime will typically cost less than the warranty itself. If the repair cost is fifty percent or greater than the price of a new refrigerator, you’re better off buying a new model.
The most common problem is the refrigerator doesn’t keep food cold enough, but the fix could be as easy as cleaning the gasket and coils. So before you call for a service visit, see if that makes any difference. But if your refrigerator is running too cold, you will need a pro. The problem is likely the water and ice dispenser, which is generally worth repairing. If the condenser is the issue, and your unit is approaching its life expectancy, it’s time to invest in a new model.
Refrigerators use more energy than other appliances, and they are getting increasingly more efficient. You’d be surprised how much your electric bill dips when you install a new one. Energy Star certified fridges are approximately 9 percent more energy efficient, and can save you about $200 over their lifetime.
New Refrigerators also have lots of features to keep food fresh longer and help keep everything organized. Most now have produce bins with humidity controls and drawers that can be set to colder temperatures. You’ll be surprised at how much longer lettuce stays crisp and meat fresh in bins in specially designed bins. Many models also have drawers below the doors or a door compartment where you can keep fruit, veggie sticks, yogurt, and other snacks you or the kids can grab quickly. Some sections are even able to switch between fridge and freezer mode as your needs require.
Water dispensers can fill glasses or pitchers automatically, and icemakers can dispense crushed and shaved ice, plus cubes and spheres. You’re also able to pick up models in bright colors, rather than boring stainless steel, while some are fingerprint resistant. Smart fridges are becoming increasingly common too, offering smartphone controls and alerts that tell you when something is wrong. Sometimes they can even diagnose problems so the serviceperson arrives with the right parts.