The refrigerator is arguably the MVP of your. While the stove and are responsible for turning mere ingredients into cuisine, it is primarily the fridge that acts as the mystery basket where meals begin. Not only does your refrigerator function to keep food cold, but it also acts as a message board and art gallery, making it an invaluable member of the household.
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.
The other reassuring news is that most refrigerators work well for the simple function of keeping food and drink cold or frozen. 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 freezer, side-by-side, and French door models available from nearly every major brand in myriad sizes. Ice and water dispensers have become commonplace, and now there are even more bells and whistles available such as Wi-Fi connectivity, smart features and technology that makes it possible to see inside the fridge without even opening the door.
Considering matters of layout, features, cost and design, these are the five best refrigerators for 2022.
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 the LG LRFCS25D3S retails for as low as $1,498. A similar model, the LG LFXS26596X, with all the bells and whistles -- LG InstaView Door-in-Door, dual ice maker, Smart Home and Wi-Fi capabilities -- retails for $3,098.
LG LRFCS25D3S specs:
- External dimensions (inches): 32.75 W x 70 H x 33 D
- Capacity (cubic feet): 25.1
- Features: Ice maker, French door
- Finishes: Stainless steel
If price is ultimately your determining factor, I compared models that retail for less than $500. 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 (NS-RTM18WH8Q) getting you a relatively large 18.1 cubic feet of space for $480. 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.
Insignia NS-RTM18WH8Q specs:
- External dimensions (inches): 29.5 inches W x 66.5 H x 31 D
- Capacity (cubic feet): 18.1
- Features: Reversible door hinges, LED lighting
- Finishes: White
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, (RB12A300641/AA) and at $2,699 for a French door refrigerator with all the color options (RF29BB820012/AA). Paying $3,799 gets you a counter depth, custom color, four-door refrigerator with beverage center and Family Hub smart display technology. (RF23BB89008MA)
Samsung RF29BB820012 specs:
- External dimensions (inches):
- Capacity (cubic feet):
- Features: Dual ice maker, AutoFill water pitcher, Wi-Fi and smartphone connectivity
- Finishes: Glossy glass, matte glass, steel with custom color combinations available.
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 $1,800, (RS28A5F61SR/AA) a French-door model with external water and ice dispenser for $2,800, (RF27T5501SG/AA) and a fully loaded, four-door Bespoke fridge for $3,200. (RF29BB89008MAA)
Samsung RF28T5F01SR/AA specs:
- Exterior dimensions (inches): 35.75 W x 70 H x 33 D
- Capacity (cubic feet): 27.7
- Features: Large ice maker, water filtration, Wi-Fi-enabled
- Finishes: Stainless steel, black stainless steel
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 (WRT112CZJW). 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.
Whirlpool WRT112CZJW specs:
- Exterior dimensions (inches): 24 W x 60.75 x 28.2 D
- Capacity (cubic feet): 11.6
- Features: Optional ice maker
- Finishes: White
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-in French door model with ice maker and interior water dispenser for $2,399 (WRF535SWHZ), and a similar model with exterior, dual ice and water dispensers and an exterior drawer for $2,999 (WRX735SDHZ).
How we evaluated models to find the best refrigerators for 2022
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 EPA. 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.
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.
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.
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
- Side-by-side refrigerator
- Bottom-freezer refrigerator
- Top-freezer refrigerator
- Counter-depth refrigerator
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. If you're one of the few people opening the freezer more than the fridge, you might consider this layout; you have several options to choose from.
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 since you'll need a few inches for the doors to open. That's compared to a standard fridge, which generally measures more like 36 inches deep.
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.