The 11 Best Refrigerators for Every Style and Budget

Keep food and beverages perfectly chilled or frozen with these top-rated brands and buys.

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October 26, 2020

Of all the appliances to suddenly break, the worst surprise is the fridge. Not only is it one of the most expensive home appliances to replace, but it houses another big expense: your food! A telltale sign of a refrigerator on its last leg is the consistency of ice cream. Dairy products take an extra couple of degrees to completely freeze as opposed to frozen meals or even the ice maker. If your pint of ice cream is runny, it’s time to replace it. But you don’t have to wait for the fridge to break to upgrade. A new fridge can add value to your home if you’re about to put it on the market, or if you’ve just moved into a new house, a new fridge is a great place to start chipping away at upgrading appliances. Maybe you’re not moving at all, but you’ve been saving up for that stainless steel French door refrigerator of your dreams. No matter the reason for buying a refrigerator, shopping for one can be overwhelming. There are so many features and sizes and materials and specs. And beyond appearance, it needs to work well and continue to do so for a long time. We’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up the ultimate buyer’s guide for the best refrigerators, from side-by-side models to bottom freezers to smart refrigerators with WiFi. This list hits every price point, from the ultra-expensive third (and fourth!) drawer fridge to a fan-favorite budget pick under $640 with free delivery. Take a look at our top picks below and see which fridge is right for your kitchen.

Kitchen With Wine Storage

Open Plan Kitchen With Wine Storage

In a fun and practical touch of whimsy, a slim stack of cubes holds wine bottles next to the refrigerator. Cabinets: IKEA; Light fixtures: Etsy; Barstools: Wayfair.

Photo by: Collete Wright, the lipstick lens

Collete Wright, the lipstick lens

FRIDGE SIZES

The first thing to consider when buying a fridge is size. Refrigerators come in two depths: standard and counter. Standard depth is the most common design, but counter depth is more aesthetically pleasing as these refrigerators fit flush with cabinets. Counter-depth models are typically more expensive — sometimes by $100+. But counter-depth is certainly cheaper than a built-in refrigerator, so if you’ve always dreamed of a built-in, this might be a good compromise to save money. Another thing to look for is measurements — and not just height and width. Like other appliances, such as dishwashers, refrigerators are measured in cubic feet to indicate the amount of storage inside. Exterior water and ice dispensers on the door are convenient--and save a lot of energy — but they take up space and eat into the cubic feet for food storage. (Speaking of water dispensers, make sure you have a water hookup in the area you want the fridge to go before you buy a model with one!)


FRIDGE STYLES

There are three types of refrigerators: top-mounted freezer, side-by-side and bottom-mounted freezer which also includes the French door. A refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer, or the freezer section on top, is the most classic design and the most budget-friendly. These units are typically the smallest and best for small kitchens. Side-by-side refrigerators feature two long doors, one for the freezer and one for the fridge. This style is the most popular as it offers convenient access to both chilled and frozen items, but the slender design does become problematic with wider items such as a frozen pizza box or a casserole dish. (I own a side-by-side fridge and I love it, except around the holidays when it feels like Tetris.) The third category, a refrigerator with a bottom-mounted freezer is exactly what it sounds like: the freezer drawer sits on the bottom. These models offer the most freezer space and are amazing for meal planning with leftovers or buying food in bulk. But sometimes accessing specific items can feel like you’re digging through a $5 DVD bin. And then there’s the French door variation of the bottom-mounted freezer fridge. It’s as coveted as marble countertops, and it combines the best of multiple designs in one appliance, from easy fridge access to bulk freezer storage. These don’t come cheap, though, with basic finishes still starting at over $1,000.

Best Stainless Steel Refrigerator

A decade ago stainless steel was a top-tier luxury, but these days it’s more affordable and better designed with finger-print resistant or smudge-free features. Since so many people love stainless steel and search for stainless steel refrigerators, our top pick could also be considered the best refrigerator overall for 2020 or the best value refrigerator. This Frigidaire model has it all. It’s roomy, and the glass shelves inside can be configured in more than 100 different ways so you can customize your storage. The exterior features Lowe’s exclusive EasyCare stainless steel which owners have praised for totally finger-print and smudge-proof free doors.

Best French Door Refrigerator

Ah, the French door fridge. Everyone wants one, and they really are pretty. Looks aside, this design is all about convenience. The double fridge doors allow you to see more and easily grab what you need while cooking or entertaining. And these are great for big families because they’re typically the super-sized styles. At a whopping 25 cubic feet, this stainless steel model from Whirlpool has room for half the grocery store. We chose this French door fridge because, unlike other top-rated stainless steel models, it’s under $2,000 with free delivery.

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Best Refrigerator With Third Drawer

Another category has recently emerged in the French door genre: the third drawer. This little luxury is great for so many uses. It’s a great snack drawer for kiddos. It’s a mega deli drawer if you love cheese. And it’s also perfect for entertaining and quickly grabbing garnishes or pre-made dishes. Whatever you use it for, it’s a nifty addition. This Whirlpool model is backed by more than 4,000 five-star reviews on The Home Depot’s website and nearly 1,000 on Best Buy's site as well. Unlike other third-drawer models, is available in a handful of finishes. You can save $100 if you choose black or white.

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Best Side-by-Side Refrigerator

Side-by-side refrigerators are great for organization because you can see items in the freezer just as well as the refrigerator. If you need to stay under $1,000, the Frigidaire unit we listed above is a solid option. But if you can go above $1,000, this stainless steel GE fridge is a great buy. Storage is completely customizable in this fridge. You can adjust the shelves but also the door pockets which is super handy for wine bottles.

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Best Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

While top-mounted freezers are more energy-efficient, bottom-mounted freezers hold a lot more, and that space can be handy with large frozen items such as an ice cream cake or a frozen turkey. A fridge with a bottom freezer is not the best choice for people with limited mobility or arthritis since you have to bend over a lot to reach items at the very bottom or back of the freezer, but if large freezer space is your top priority and you also want to stay under $2,000, this Whirlpool 22 cubic-foot model is your buy.

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Best Fridge With Top-Mounted Freezer

There’s nothing wrong with a classic. Top-mounted freezer refrigerators are great for smaller kitchens, guest houses and rental homes because they don’t take up as much space and they don’t cost as much. This GE fridge is a great way to get a stainless steel refrigerator without creeping past $900. Plus, The Home Depot offers free delivery and installation, so, with taxes, this unit is still under $1,000. That’s a stainless steal.

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Best Smart Refrigerator

If you love having a smart device such as Google Assistant in the kitchen, a smart fridge is for you. What makes a refrigerator smart? For starters, these connect with your phone so you can manage temperature controls from an app. Most will also send you a notification on your phone if the fridge door is left open! And the super high-end smart fridges can even tell you when you’re running low on something. And order it for you. It’s next-level, but it also comes at a next-level price. For a smart fridge that’s not over $3,000, this LG is a great buy. It even features an ice maker that you can start from your phone, and it’s praised by owners for being whisper quiet compared to other smart fridges.

Best Black Refrigerator

Not everyone loves stainless steel. Some homeowners — either wanting to save money or to match other appliances in the kitchen — opt for black refrigerators. Choosing a black standard-depth fridge is a savvy way to save on more expensive fridge styles such as side-by-side or French door styles since the same fridge can sometimes be a lot cheaper in white or black. Many brands such as GE are coming out with black matte finishes and even black stainless steel. This GE side-by-side has a black slate finish that would look gorgeous in a maximalist kitchen with dramatic floral wallpaper.

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Best Budget Refrigerator

If you’re on a strict budget and you’re not looking for bells or whistles, this GE top freezer refrigerator is your best buy. It’s not stainless steel or even black matte. It’s plain white, but it gets the job done and it’s backed by nearly 1,500 five-star reviews on The Home Depot’s website. And if you have stainless steel taste on a plastic budget, you could always cover the front door panels with a fun contact paper such as white marble or another fun pattern.

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Best Fridge Freezer

Most households have more refrigerated items than frozen, but if you love to buy meat in bulk at Costco or freeze leftovers, you know that freezer space is precious. If the freezer is the most important feature of the fridge to you, splurge on this four-door refrigerator from Samsung. Unlike other French door models, this bottom-mounted freezer features two mini French doors. It’s a double French door fridge! And those tiny freezer doors make such a difference when you need to grab something quickly. It also just helps you see what all you have so nothing gets forgotten in the back.

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Best Retro Refrigerator

If you live for color and find stainless steel boring, you might like a retro-inspired fridge. These units look just like the pastel refrigerators from the 50s and 60s but come with the energy-saving design of modern times. You can’t go wrong with SMEG because, unlike other brands producing vintage-style appliances, this brand has actually been around since 1948. This fridge is the Cadillac of designer appliances with tons of fun colors, from Vespa green to powder blue, and you can even choose between a door with a left or right handle.

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