Modern and Functional: The Best Refrigerators of 2021
Refrigerators are irreplaceable in the modern household, allowing for food to be kept fresh for substantially longer periods of time. Fridges for home use were invented in 1913, but these convenient appliances have come a long way since their introduction. Modern refrigerators require minimal maintenance and offer numerous conveniences such as automatic defrosting, chilled water and ice dispensers, and more. “Smart” refrigerators that include WiFi, large screens, and even the ability to play music are also becoming more common - although they remain pricey for the time being.
Modern refrigerators also tend to be extremely efficient and quiet, although some of the more budget-friendly models may still be best-suited for garage or basement use due to their noise levels. Fridges range in size, from small units just for holding a few cans of soda or beer, to oversized ones that are suited for large families. Style also varies, with the traditional freezer on top layout having been around since the 1940s. This style continues to be available, but has lost popularity as new styles such as French Door refrigerators become less expensive. Most midrange-and-up fridges can be had in a variety of colors, including the ever-popular stainless steel.
Our lists cover the best refrigerators in 2021 and a variety of price points to help you choose the best option for your household. For a more detailed guide to help you find the best refrigerator for your needs, check out our buying guide down below.
Kitchenaid Stainless Steel Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Whirlpool Top Freezer Refrigerator
Maytag Stainless Steel Top-Freezer Refrigerator
Maytag Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator
Whirlpool French Door Refrigerator
Gallery Top Freezer Refrigerator
The Best Refrigerators Models of 2021 in Detail
Kitchenaid Stainless Steel Side-by-Side Refrigerator - Best Refrigerator Overall
The KitchenAid KRSC703HPS offers 22.6 cubic feet of interior capacity and a side-by-side design, which allows for a more equal distribution of space between the fridge and the freezer compartments. This refrigerator offers a pro-style design with an attractive stainless steel finish which will ensure it will look great in almost any kitchen. The refrigerator uses full-width adjustable, spill-proof shelves in both the fridge and the freezer as well as clear door bins with decorative metallic accents. You get a dairy door bin, two adjustable gallon bins, and two adjustable two-liter door bins. Two full-width humidity controlled crispers are also included.
LED lighting is used to ensure the interior is fully illuminated, while also being more energy efficient. The KRSC503ESS includes a built-in ice and water dispenser with measured water fill, so you don’t have to worry about spills. This refrigerator also uses independent cooling systems for the fridge and the freezer, helping to keep your food items preserved for a long as possible. The KitchenAid KRSC503ESS offers excellent performance, with consistent temperature and quiet operation.
Whirlpool Top Freezer Refrigerator - Runner Up
The Whirlpool WRT318FZDM is a simple, no-frills refrigerator that is an excellent choice if you’re just looking for basic storage. This garage-friendly fridge is 30-inches in size while offering 18.2 cubic feet of interior capacity. The freezer is located at the top and an optional ice maker can also be purchased. Fridge space is organized with one full-width glass shelf and two adjustable shelves, two crisper drawers, one Flexi-Slide bin that can be moved side to side, and a total of six door bins.
Maytag Stainless Steel Top-Freezer Refrigerator - Honorable Mention
The Maytag model MRT118FFFH has more features than one might expect for an affordable and garage-friendly model. This 30-inch top freezer refrigerator has an 18.15 cubic feet capacity and is a good option for individuals wanting a little more than just a basic refrigerator for their garage. The MRT118FFFH offers Maytag’s PowerCold feature, which can cool the fridge down quickly with the touch of a button, the EvenAir air circulation system to ensure cool air is evenly distributed, and energy efficient LED interior lighting. Space is organized with the help of humidity controlled crispers, a clear full-width deli drawer, gallon door bins, and more. The upfront electronic temperature controls are easy to use, and there’s also the option to get this unit with an optional air filter and built-in ice maker.
Maytag Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator - Consider
The Maytag MFF2258FEZ offers excellent all-around performance on a budget. This French door refrigerator has an interior capacity of 22 cubic feet and its 33-inch size will allow it to fit in most standard kitchens. When it comes to organizing contents, this refrigerator makes good use of its space: four adjustable and spill proof glass shelves, a deli drawer for meats and cheeses, clear gallon door bins, and humidity controlled crispers are included.
The glass shelves are frameless, allowing for placing items right up to the edges and wasting less space. The MFF2258FEZ uses energy efficient LED interior lighting which better illumination efficiency as well as creating less heat. This Energy Star qualified fridge offers plenty of interior space, good build quality, and consistent temperature management; oh, and let's not forget the built-in ice maker!
Whirlpool French Door Refrigerator - Consider
The Whirlpool WRF535SWHV isn’t quite as basic of a refrigerator as you might expect at this price range, despite not having many of the fancier features typically found on higher end models. This refrigerator offers good basic performance and a French door design at an affordable price. At 36 inches in size, the WRF535SWHV offers 25 cubic feet of total interior capacity which can be organized with the help of glass shelving, a temperature-controlled full-width pantry, humidity controlled crispers, and adjustable gallon door bins.
The freezer uses a drawer to keep contents organized and accessible while LED lighting is used to illuminate contents, providing brighter light and better energy efficiency than traditional incandescent bulbs. The WRF535SWHV offers adaptive defrost, is Energy Star certified, and although this French door refrigerator can sometimes run a bit loud, it makes good use of space.
Gallery Top Freezer Refrigerator - Consider
This top freezer refrigerator offers quite a bit more than most, with plentiful features and options for customization. The Frigidaire FGTR1837TF offers a modest 18.3 cubic feet of interior capacity, but makes up for the lack of space with excellent organization options. This 30-inch fridge includes multiple adjustable and spill proof shelves, adjustable door bins, and even a dedicated snack drawer for easy access to commonly-used small items. The freezer compartment is also well-organized, with a full-width glass shelf and sliding basket. This fridge is garage-ready, meaning it can handle exterior temperature fluctuations, a built-in ice maker is included, and the energy efficient LED interior lighting is brighter and lasts longer than traditional incandescent lighting. Besides being stylish, and loaded with customization options, this refrigerator is also both Energy Star qualified and ADA compliant.
With kitchen needs and appliances, a refrigerator easily ranks top three. How else would you store your delicious leftovers? Or hang your planner to keep track of you and the kid’s daily activities?
That’s why buying a refrigerator is so much more than picking the latest trends or choosing the first boxy one you see. The right refrigerator will set the tone for family meals and give your kitchen a wholesome or elegant look. But the wrong refrigerator will have you groaning in frustration.
So, thinking of buying a new fridge? Here’s a guide to help you make the best choice.
What are the Things to Consider When Buying a Refrigerator?
What are the Different Refrigerator Styles?
There’s something for every household. Some refrigerator styles are basic and designed for convenience, others are preferred for their aesthetics.
These are the most popular refrigerator styles:
As far as practicality and convenience go, French-door refrigerators hit the mark. They feature two narrow doors and one freezer at the bottom. The advantage to French-door refrigerators is they have extra space. They come with more shelves and their narrow doors are convenient and allow for easy stashing or retrieval of items.
These also offer plenty of space. The door offers a wide swing so if you’d rather have one door and don’t mind crouching down to get items, then this refrigerator is great for you. Top-freezer refrigerators are also often cheaper because they offer a lower operating cost. Also, some high-end top-freezers come with in-built ice makers.
Most households prefer bottom-freezer refrigerators because fresh food are placed at eye-level, allowing for easy scan and access to commonly used food items. This is also very convenient because the freezer section is used less frequently than the fridge section. Also, bottom-freezer refrigerators have more space. The freezer is usually bigger and deeper. The disadvantage to bottom-freezer refrigerator is it uses more power than top-freezer refrigerator.
Side-by-Side Door Refrigerator:
This comes with two doors split in half, keeping both the fridge and the freezer content at eye level. Depending on the model, the split doors could be equal, or one could be a few inches longer than the other. Side-by-side door refrigerators come with plenty of space and adjustable shelves. They are also great for small kitchens because they don’t take up too much space and come with features that save space. However, the disadvantage is they don’t open as wide for large boxes or items.
These come in all styles, but they are quite pricey. Built-in refrigerators are best for spacious kitchens and are built into the kitchen cabinets to complement its décor. They offer more space and have a longer life span than stand-in refrigerators. They also offer more customization, from see-through doors, custom panels, to any door style you prefer, all depending on your budget. The disadvantage of a built-in refrigerator is it offers a much smaller freezer compartment. It also doesn’t have flexibility. It is built to fit into a specific space and cannot be easily moved.
Smart fridges are well, smart. Some models can help you order groceries, play music, recognize your groceries, and let you adjust the temperature with your phone. Some even come with different apps. Smart fridges offer more features than the standard fridge which makes them pricier.
What’s the Size of Your Kitchen Space?
Naturally, before buying a refrigerator, you must consider how large or small your kitchen space is. This is important because regardless of the door size, the refrigerator will need enough room for the door to open wide.
Also, the refrigerator should not be so big that its unable to pass through your door. If you are unsure what size to buy or how to measure the correct space for your kitchen, get someone to do it for you. You can also take a picture of the space you want to place the refrigerator and show it to the salesperson.
Another thing is the size of your family. If it’s just you in a small apartment a mini-fridge is your best bet. A large family means you’d need to shop for more groceries and do it often. With a small refrigerator, storing your groceries will become an issue.
What’s the Warranty Policy?
It is always advisable to go for a brand that offers a warranty, and not just any warranty, a long one. This is even more advisable if you buy an expensive refrigerator. Some brands come with a limited warranty and that may become an issue in the long run.
Other Things to ConsiderThe Energy Efficiency
This is a big selling point and most brands go out of their way to make sure their refrigerator is as energy-efficient as possible. Before buying the refrigerator, look for its energy efficiency star rating. This is the part that tells you how much electricity the refrigerator will consume per unit. The higher the star, the less electricity consumes.
This star rating will naturally affect price and warranty, which means a 5-star refrigerator rating will cause more than a 1-star. Also, sometimes, the model of the fridge determines its energy efficiency.
This is not something most consumers look out for until the refrigerator is in their home but it’s important. At the end of the day, the features you should look out for are the features that matter most to you.
Q How do I choose a good refrigerator?
Choosing a good refrigerator depends on your needs. So, when choosing, consider your family size and match that with the capacity of your fridge. Also, consider the energy efficiency, so you don’t spend more on electricity.
Q Why are built-in refrigerators expensive?
Built-in refrigerators are considered luxurious because they are built into cabinets surrounding them. They also offer customization and features that standard refrigerators don’t.
Q Are bottom freezers better than top freezers?
Bottom-freezers often offer more space and features and are generally more convenient, but top-freezers are more energy efficient.