The fridge plays an all-important role in your kitchen. These are the best refrigerator models from top brands such as Whirlpool, Samsung and LG.
Updated Dec. 5, 2023 8:00 a.m. PT
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Pamela is a freelance food and travel writer based in Astoria, Queens. While she writes about most things edible and potable (and accessories dedicated to those topics,) her real areas of expertise are cheese, chocolate, cooking and wine. She's a culinary school grad, certified sommelier, former bartender and fine dining captain with 10 years in the industry. When not sitting at the keys, she leads in-home cheese classes, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations.
No other household appliance can compare to the refrigerator. Need to keep something cool? Put it in the fridge. Need some water? Get it from the fridge. It's such an essential kitchen appliance that it's so important that you buy the best refrigerator possible. As a food and technology writer and culinary school grad, I know this to be true. After hours of deep digging and careful evaluation, I landed on LG's reliable 25 cubic-foot French door model as the best refrigerator for most kitchens in 2023. But there are other models that could be a better fit for your space, habits and budget.
While choosing the best refrigerator for your kitchen may seem a daunting task, with literally thousands of options to consider, the good news is that the size and layout of your fridge are ultimately what matters most. Unless you're working with a completely open floor plan where the fridge will be free-standing, you probably have a fixed amount of space to accommodate it, and that measurement will help narrow the choices considerably.
Considering matters of layout, features, cost and design, these are the six best refrigerators for 2023.
In terms of popularity, user satisfaction, available features and size selection, LG takes top honors, with numerous models achieving high or highest marks in their size and layout categories, at prices that are on the low side of average for what you would expect to pay for similar models across the board.
A basic, low-frills, stainless steel French door model providing about 25 cubic feet of storage space such as this LG model retails for as low as $1,500. A similar LG fridge, with all the bells and whistles -- LG InstaView Door-in-Door, dual ice maker, Smart Home and Wi-Fi capabilities -- retails for around $3,500.
If price is ultimately your determining factor, I compared models that retail for less than $600. Best Buy's proprietary brand Insignia offers the most for your money, while still maintaining above-average user ratings. Insignia is the only brand where you can get a nearly full-size refrigerator for this price, with its basic, white, top-freezer model getting you a relatively large 18.1 cubic feet of space for $580. If you don't need that kind of capacity, other nice options for below $500 include Galanz for its retro-look refrigerators and Heier for its high user rating on retailer websites.
Short of having a custom-built kitchen with coordinated cabinets, countertops and appliances, Samsung offers a design-friendly refrigerator series with high user satisfaction -- and without a five-figure price tag -- that allows for more aesthetic finishes than simply stainless steel or black.
Samsung's Bespoke line is available in French door, its proprietary four-door, column or bottom-freezer models, with both standard and counter-depth options, a variety of additional features, and up to 11 customizable, mix-and-match panel colors depending on the model. Prices begin at $1,099 for a narrow, column refrigerator with three color options, and at $2,699 for a French door refrigerator with all the color options. Paying $3,799 gets you a counter depth, custom color, four-door refrigerator with beverage center and Family Hub smart display technology.
Samsung's Family Hub smart feature calls it like it is: the refrigerator is often the switchboard operator for multi-member households, relaying messages and maintaining to-do and shopping lists. The 21.5-inch screen occupies nearly an entire panel of a French door or four-door model, making it easy to utilize the many built-in apps such as those for shopping lists, calendar management, whiteboard doodling, and photo displays. Family Hub also includes an app to let you see inside the fridge from your phone, (preventing many an argument about who finished off the milk,) and now also comes Alexa-equipped.
Samsung Family Hub refrigerators come in several layouts, as well as with its Bespoke design option. A basic side-by-side model with Family Hub currently retails for $1,699a French door model with external water and ice dispenser for $3,149 and a fully loaded, four-door Bespoke fridge for $3,199.
There can be a surprising difference in capacity among refrigerators that are 24 inches in width, the most common smaller size fridge for tight spaces. Whirlpool offers a well-reviewed, favorably priced top-freezer model that still has 11.6 cubic feet of storage space, and includes an optional ice maker. Many 24-inch models with the same capacity tend to be higher in price, or else you lose up to 2 cubic feet of space -- almost 20% of the overall capacity -- for a lower price that isn't respectively cheaper for how much space you sacrifice in the bargain.
Your refrigerator should last you about a decade without needing to be serviced if installed and used appropriately. It is worth noting here that the ice maker/beverage center is the feature most likely to malfunction on your refrigerator across brands, so keep that in mind when prioritizing which features are most important to you. (Also consider that at the rate that modern technology changes, it's possible that smart features may be obsolete before the actual refrigeration life of your fridge calls it quits.)
That all being equal, if you're hoping to extend the life of your refrigerator and prefer the peace of mind of knowing that you can have it easily serviced, Whirlpool models were second to LG in terms of overall customer satisfaction for their price, and tend to be much easier to get serviced should something go wrong. (According to one reviewer who aggregated feedback from local repair service professionals, brands such as LG and Samsung can be difficult to get new parts for at all by local appliance repair companies.) Popular Whirlpool refrigerators include a 36-inch French door model with ice maker and interior water dispenser for $2,399, and a similar model with exterior, dual ice and water dispensers and an exterior drawer for $2,789.
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How we evaluate fridges
I researched the refrigerators in this list by analyzing specs and user reviews from major retailer sites such as Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy, and also considered their bestselling and top-rated models. Nearly every refrigerator available achieves a user rating of at least 4 stars on these sites, but as a means of narrowing the list for "best of" purposes, I focused on those that had a rating of at least 4.5 stars with at least 200 ratings, or at least the highest rating for the feature or size I evaluated, and that were Energy Star Certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. I dove deep into user comments and ratings to uncover any problems, issues or complaints that persisted within a particular brand or model.
As a measure of value, I considered the storage capacity and additional features available compared to price. I also gleaned additional insight with regard to refrigerator features or serviceability from third-party review sites, and are linked to as relevant.
Factors to consider when buying a fridge
Choosing a refrigerator, then, is really a matter of how well it fits your space, your budget and your aesthetic, as well as how it functions in your life. There are top or bottom freezers, side-by-side doors and French door models available from nearly every major brand in various sizes. Ice and water dispensers have become commonplace, and now there are more bells and whistles such as Wi-Fi connectivity, smart features and technology that make it possible to see inside the fridge without ever opening the door.
Size: Nailing the right size fridge is the most important decision you'll make. There's nothing worse than consistently running out of cold storage for perishables and frozen food, but sometimes you only have so much space to work with. The capacity of your refrigerator is going to be necessarily limited by the boundaries of your space. You can always get less fridge for the space that you have, but don't learn the hard way that a sturdy, boxy appliance like a refrigerator isn't going to magically squeeze into less space than it requires, even if it's only a matter of a quarter-inch. Refrigerator widths range from 24 inches to 36 inches and up, with 30-inch and 36-inch models being the most popular and most numerous.
Once you know your maximum measurements, considerations such as layout and standard- versus counter-depth will affect the overall capacity of your refrigerator. You will typically pay more for a counter-depth appliance, which creates a streamlined aesthetic in your kitchen, even though it will get you less storage space.
Style: The style and layout of your fridge are also big considerations to make.
French door models are currently the most popular kind of refrigerator, which have a clean look and also tend to maintain temperature better, as you're not necessarily opening the full width of the fridge every time you want to grab something.
Bottom freezers tend to offer you a little more freezer storage than top freezers, which may be a consideration if your lifestyle leans toward frozen convenience meals. If you reach for the fridge more than the freezer, some also like that bottom freezers allow for more interaction at eye level with the items you grab most often. Top-freezer models still exist but have mostly gone out of fashion.
Side-by-side refrigerators offer a sleek choice for a narrower space and give you more freezer space than top/bottom models. That also means they tend to have less room for non-frozen foods, and can also be less temperature-consistent and energy-efficient due to the length required to maintain two different temperature zones.
Counter-depth refrigerators are less deep than a standard refrigerator, so they won't jut out as much and can give your kitchen a more custom feel. Because of that, they're often a bit wider or taller to make up for the lost capacity in depth. A standard countertop is about 24 inches, and counter-depth refrigerators measure 31 to 33 inches deep.
Special features: All those little extras like an automatic ice maker and water filter and touch-view door are nice but they cost, well, extra. If you are an ice fiend you might want to spring for fridge that makes custom ice, for instance. If not, apt for a more basic fridge with less special features and spend your kitchen money elsewhere.
Price: Full-sized refrigerators start around $600 and go up from there. Way up. There are smart fridges with lighting schemes, transparent doors and built-in cameras but these will cost you many thousands of dollars. Most quality refrigerators land somewhere between $800 and $2,500 so be prepared to to shell out something in that range for a reliable model with good design and sufficient capacity.
How big of a fridge should I buy?
As they say in construction, measure twice, cut once. With a refrigerator purchase, you might want to measure three times, making sure to account for measurements beyond width, depth and height, such as the depth of your nearby cabinets, evenness of the floor level, and whether you have enough room for your refrigerator door to swing open. Also factor in a little extra space at the back of the refrigerator for ventilation purposes, where the coil heats for the cooling function to happen.
What are the different types of refrigerators and which is right for me?
What type of refrigerator you choose in terms of layout is largely an aesthetic and functional choice, unless your selection is limited by your space.
These are the main types of refrigerators to consider:
French door refrigerator
What does Energy Star Certified mean for refrigerators?
Energy Star is a program run by the US Environmental Protection Agency that certifies different types of products as energy-efficient according to different metrics specific to each type of product. For refrigerators, Energy Star certified models are on average 9% more efficient than the minimum requirement for efficiency set by the Department of Energy. According to the Energy Star website, "certified refrigerators offer high performance features such as high-efficiency compressors that create less heat and use less energy, improved insulation that helps food stay cold, and temperature and defrost mechanisms that help the refrigerator operate more efficiently." Energy Star appliances can also save you money over time.
How important is your refrigerator warranty?
LIke anything else, a warranty is nice to have when something goes wrong. Most refrigerators last as long as nine years, according to a report by the Interational Assocation of Certified Home Inspectors. That's a lot longer than most warranties, and even the most robust warranties are typically only 10 years. The fact is, your warranty is likely only going to save you in the event that you got a lemon with serious malfunctions that would likely emerge soon after you plug it in.