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Some of life's greatest moments can be marked with a mini fridge. This small-but-mighty appliance is a staple when you're hosting a party, moving into your college dorm, traveling the country in an RV, or designing the kitchen, nursery, or outdoor bar of your dreams. While you won't necessarily think about a mini fridge when you first recall those periods of time, you will remember the great snacks and tasty drinks you stored in its 0.3 to 6.0-cubic-foot interior. You may recall reaching for a yogurt, small bottle of water, or pint of ice cream—if the mini fridge also features a freezer—to fuel up before life's next big adventure.
The flexibility of a mini fridge is definitely its catch. Depending on how and where you plan on using it, you can pick out a model that's freestanding or built-in, meaning you can install it under a countertop. Some models can be propped up on your countertop, and others are made for storing beverages such as wine, beer, and soda. If you're hoping to freeze small bags of fruit, cookies, or popsicles, some picks let you do so with an in-fridge or top-door freezer, too.
Like full-sized fridges, there are mini fridges on the market with a reversible door, weatherproof build, or door alarm to help you maintain the internal temperature you desire. Any limitations mainly revolve around capacity, or how much the fridge can hold at one time. A compact refrigerator is best when its serving a couple people or dedicated to a single task, and is installed properly.
Here, the best mini fridges for every season of life.
Best Overall: GE GDE03GGKBB 3.1 cu. ft. Freestanding Double-Door Mini Fridge
Total Capacity: 3.1 cubic feet | Dimensions: 33.38 x 18.75 x 20.12 inches | Freezer Type: Top door | Installation Type: Freestanding | Defrost Type: Manual | Garage Friendly: No
Doesn't hold tall bottles well
The GE GDE03GGKBB will check off a majority of your boxes. This 3.1-cubic-foot fridge is on the smaller side, but has a long list of useful features. To kick things off, the unit has a separate freezer compartment, which gives it the look and feel of a larger appliance. This type of freezer lets you store more frozen goods at one time, as well as bulkier items like pints of ice cream. You can put sticks of butter or bags of frozen fruit in the second door, before organizing your fresh food in the refrigerator compartment.
In the refrigerator compartment, you'll find two glass shelves and a crisper drawer. Cans can be stored in the dispenser built into the door, while smaller pockets can hold tall and small items like containers of vegetable broth or yogurt. An interior light helps you find a snack with total ease, while a reversible door makes the entire, freestanding unit flexible when it comes time to set it up in a college dorm room, finished basement, or office. (You can't install this model in a garage or outside, unfortunately, as it's not built to withstand very hot or cold temperatures.)
Now, it's important to note that this appliance does manually defrost, meaning you need to chip away at ice build-up once it's become 1/4-inch thick. The instructions are all laid out in the user manual, and note that the process will take a few hours. While this can be annoying over time, you'll likely find that the fridge is suitable in a variety of settings and situations otherwise. For that reason, it's our top pick.
Best Budget: Black + Decker BCRK43W 4.3 cu. ft. Freestanding Mini Fridge with Freezer
Total Capacity: 4.3 cubic feet | Dimensions: 32.72 x 20.63 x 20.94 inches | Freezer Type: In-fridge | Installation Type: Freestanding | Defrost Type: Manual | Garage Friendly: Yes
Thoughtful door storage
Shelves aren't adjustable
At a slightly cheaper price point, you can opt for the Black + Decker BCRK43W. This pick is no stranger to amenities like a reversible door and crisper drawer, and offers a total of 4.3 cubic feet of interior space. This is plenty of space for one person's weekly groceries, despite the full-width, internal freezer which takes over the top portion of the interior. In itself, the freezer is roomy enough for a bag of frozen vegetables and a couple popsicles, and shouldn't be underestimated when it comes to amenities.
In addition to space, the interior has thoughtful storage options. There are three shelves, made of glass for an elevated look and feel, and three pockets on the door. A dispenser is also present, but doesn't take up the entire door, which is ideal for those who are using a mini fridge for more than storing drinks. Most notably, this pick is also energy-efficient. It uses an estimated 226 kWh of electricity per year, which is significantly less compared to other models on the market. If you have it plugged in year-round, it may cost you around $27 to operate.
The drawbacks to this Black + Decker fridge is that it manually defrosts and the shelving isn't adjustable. The space in between shelves isn't very "tall," so this may be an issue for storing bulkier items like salads, containers of berries, or leftovers. However, the pick will save you money upfront and during its lifetime, which might help you overlook these few limitations. Not to mention, it has a freestanding and garage-ready design that'll make it very flexible and easy to install.
Best Splurge: Cafe CDE06RP4NW2 5.7 cu. ft. Built-in Undercounter Dual Drawer Refrigerator
Total Capacity: 5.7 cubic feet | Dimensions: 33.88 x 23.88 x 26 inches | Freezer Type: No freezer | Installation Type: Built-in | Defrost Type: Automatic | Garage Friendly: No
Can hold upright bottles
Stainless steel interior
Can be noisy at times
Bottom drawer doesn't self-close all the way
You'll definitely spend more money on the Cafe CDE06RP4NW2. However, if you're in the market for a mini fridge that expands your fresh food storage and looks stylish, then this pick is your greatest and safest bet. It's outfitted with 5.7 cubic feet of space between its two, soft-close drawers, which is about 1.0 cubic foot more than the average mini fridge. An adjustable divider makes it easy to organize your food and drinks within, and both the drawers are tall enough to hold upright bottles, making this an ideal pick for entertainers and wine lovers alike. (Although, there is no freezer compartment.)
When you pull out one of the drawers, you'll notice the interior also features LED lighting and a stainless steel finish. These features, along with the built-in design, make this pick an easy addition to any household. You can install the fridge under a countertop, and it'll look like it's always been a part of your home, thanks to the multiple hardware and finish options. If you're worried about children reaching for drinks and leaving the drawer wide open, a door alarm will also ease your nerves and remind every resident to clean up after themselves.
Other amenities you can make use of include a Sabbath mode and automatic defrosting. Just know: You can't install this drawer-style mini refrigerator in an outdoor kitchen or a garage. At times, the bottom drawer also needs a little nudge to close and the fridge can be noisy. According to the manual, cracking, clicking, humming, and buzzing sounds are all normal, and a result of the compressor or automatic defroster putting in work.
"Replacing cookie-cutter hardware with decorative knobs or pulls is an easy and cost effective way to update any kitchen—and the same hack works just as well for appliances. This simple yet impactful change makes a kitchen feel more sophisticated and cohesive, and is also a fun way for shoppers to show off their personal style." — Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert
Best Countertop: COOLULI I10L2W Infinity 0.35 cu. ft. Retro Mini Fridge
Total Capacity: 0.35 cubic feet | Dimensions: 13.4 x 9.4 x 11.4 inches | Freezer Type: No freezer | Installation Type: Freestanding | Defrost Type: Frost free | Garage Friendly: Yes
Has a warming mode
Can be used in a variety of settings
Can be leaky at times
Takes 2 to 3 hours to chill room temperature drinks
Despite its extremely compact build, the COOLULI I10L2W packs a big punch. This fridge is meant to be placed on a countertop, either in an indoor or outdoor setting, and be the place for your tiny water bottles, yogurt cups, skincare products, or even breast milk. It's outfitted with adjustable shelving that really expands its 0.35-cubic-foot interior, as well as a warming mode that'll preserve hot food at the flip of a switch.
The manual does recommend giving room-temperature drinks about two to three hours to completely chill after you've added them in. (To speed up this process, you can always pre-chill your items before popping them into the interior.) However, this detail shouldn't be worrisome. It is no indication that the fridge is not functional. In fact, the fridge keeps your items chilled without creating a ton of noise or using a ton of energy. It has a frost-free design that also makes it ideal for installing in an office, boat, nursery, dorm room, or basement bar.
You may want to put a folded paper towel along the bottom of the interior to catch drips from the automatic defroster, and you'll need to store frozen goods elsewhere. When all is said and done, though, this retro-inspired fridge will get the job done and help ensure you have fresh, ready-to-eat food wherever you are.
Best with No Freezer: Danby DAR026A1WDD-6 Designer 2.6 cu. ft. Freestanding Mini Fridge
Total Capacity: 2.6 cubic feet | Dimensions: 27.37 x 17.68 x 20.06 inches | Freezer Type: No freezer | Installation Type: Freestanding | Defrost Type: Manual | Garage Friendly: No
Angled can dispenser
Energy Star rated
Controls at back of the unit
If you only need fresh food storage, a mini fridge with no freezer feature is the best pick for you. There's no compartment internally or externally that takes up precious space, so you're able to store more produce, yogurt cups, and drinks at one time. When it comes to freezer-less mini fridges, the Danby DAR026A1WDD-6 tops other picks, because it's both reliable and thoughtful. The interior is 2.6 cubic feet large, which is smaller than average, but features three adjustable shelves. You can set them up however you need, and store a small bottle of orange juice in the door as well.
The fridge's door also features a can dispenser. However, the dispenser doesn't take over the entire door and is designed with angled slots for easily grabbing a soda or seltzer. It's also reversible, meaning you can install the hinges to open the door to the left or right. If you're installing this mini fridge in a dorm room or tight space, where you don't know the layout yet, this feature is very handy. An integrated door handle also makes this piece of the fridge more space-conscious, while a freestanding design gives it flexibility, too.
A downside of this Danby fridge is that the controls are located on the back of the unit. It may take some maneuvering to set the internal temperature, and adjust it once it's been installed. In addition, the fridge manually defrosts, and wire shelves make it easy for tiny items to slip through. You'll want to purchase storage bins for sauce packets and easily-bruised fruit, but will likely save money during operation thanks to an Energy Star rating.
Best Outdoor: Summit Appliance SPR489OSCSS 3.1 cu. ft. Outdoor Convertible Mini Fridge
Total Capacity: 3.1 cubic feet | Dimensions: 33 x 19 x 18.57 inches | Freezer Type: No freezer | Installation Type: Built-in and freestanding | Defrost Type: Automatic | Garage Friendly: Yes
Can be locked
Hard to switch door
No freezer compartment
Designing the outdoor kitchen of your dreams? Look no further than Summit Appliance's SPR489OSCSS. This mini fridge is approved for outdoor use (Though, you can also install it indoors if you'd like.), and can be set up as a freestanding model or built-in one. A see-through door lets you quickly see what's stored inside, without opening it up and letting all the cold air out, while a safety lock keeps the contents safe. Unfortunately, there's no freezer compartment, but there is 3.1 cubic feet of fresh food and drink storage that you can make use of.
When you open the door, you'll get a better glimpse at the adjustable shelves. The three shelves are made of glass, meaning any spills will be contained and small items will stay put. An interior light also illuminates the interior, which is convenient if you're hosting a party or get-together at night. Plus, you don't need to roll up your sleeves and manually defrost the fridge whenever there's frost build-up, because the unit automatically does this task.
You'll just want to be aware of the reversible door, which can be hard to adjust. The unit also has mechanical controls which can be less precise than electronic ones. Otherwise, you can find this mini fridge by Summit Appliance in a stainless steel or black finish, and happily complete your home project.
"To help cut costs, you can look for appliances with minor scratches or dents and negotiate a discounted rate. This is an easy way to still get the product you want but with some minor cosmetic imperfections on the outside." — Brittney Castro, Mint CFP
Best for Beverages: Titan SS-FRBW6420DZ Signature 24 in. French Door Beverage and Wine Cooler
Bottle Capacity: 20 | Can Capacity: 64 | Dimensions: 33.86 x 23.82 x 23.35 inches | Freezer Type: No freezer | Installation Type: Built-in and freestanding | Defrost Type: Frost free | Garage Friendly: No
Two cooling zones
Adjustable and sliding shelves
Not suitable for storing food
It's quite possible you're purchasing a mini fridge to primarily expand your drink storage. If that's the case, opt for a fridge that's designed for beverages, very functional, and full of helpful features: the Titan SS-FRBW6420DZ. It has adjustable, sliding shelves, as well as two cooling zones for storing red wine, beer, and soda at its ideal temperature. A door alarm will notify you when one of the French doors has been left open, so the 20-bottle, 64-can interior remains stable.
Now, this pick doesn't feature a freezer compartment. It's also not ideal for storing food. However, it does have a flexible design and can be installed in a freestanding or built-in setting. The Titan mini fridge is also frost-free, so you won't need to unload your bottles and cans regularly to maintain the appliance. There's an interior light for easily showing off your favorite sips, LED controls, and a Sabbath mode. Most notably, this fridge has a wide internal temperature range, too. While it can't be installed in a garage, you can set the internal temperature anywhere between 38 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
All in all, the Titan fridge won't leave your drinks hanging. It'll treat them to the very best environment, opposed to a general one that's also suitable for food. Just be prepared to dip into your savings account for this pick, as it's on the expensive side.
For a mini fridge that's suitable in most situations and very functional, opt for the GE GDE03GGKBB (view at Home Depot). This pick features a crisper drawer and top-door freezer compartment, and ultimately looks and feels like a larger appliance. If you're sticking to a budget, the Black + Decker BCRK43W (view at Wayfair) doesn't have adjustable shelving, but does have a garage-ready design and reversible door that make it flexible and versatile.
What to Look for in a Mini Fridge
When it comes to mini fridges, there are a few types you can choose from. There's a freestanding mini fridge, which can be installed in any spot in your home with the correct outlet. There's also a built-in—otherwise known as an "under-counter"—mini fridge, which should seamlessly fit in with your kitchen cabinets. Countertop models are more portable, and suitable for those storing a couple of items. You can use them in an office, nursery, or bathroom setting since they're very compact. Lastly, there are units dedicated to a single purpose: beverage mini fridges. These are made for storing wine, beer, and other drinks, and often have specialty racks and temperature ranges.
The capacity of a mini fridge is often measured in cubic feet. If the mini fridge is dedicated to storing beverages, then it may also be measured in the number of Bordeaux-style wine bottles and cans you can fit inside. The larger the capacity of your mini fridge, the more you can store at one time, with the average hovering between 3.0 and 4.5 cubic feet. Some countertop models will feature just 0.5 cubic feet of space, while high-capacity models can reach 6.0 cubic feet and store the weekly groceries of two people.
Review Board Member Johnathan Brewer says that, if you're selecting a mini fridge to fit inside a specific compartment (such as within a cabinet space), verify the actual true dimension of the fridge. This includes the open door and will help you make sure that the appliance fits in the desired space before purchasing or installing.
There's much to consider when it comes to the freezer feature of a mini fridge. First, you must decide what type of freezer you want. There are models with no freezer, a top-door freezer (which has a very similar look and feel of a full-size, top-freezer refrigerator), and an internal freezer. The most spacious of these options is the top-door freezer. Typically, they can hold a pint of ice cream comfortably. You'll want to make your decision based on what you want to store.
In addition, it's key to look at how the mini fridge defrosts. Some mini fridges automatically defrost or are frost-free, so they don't require any maintenance on your part. Others manually defrost. If you opt for this type of model, you'll need to unload your food, unplug the machine, and chip away at the frost from time to time. For more on this process, check out our guide on how to defrost a freezer.
A specialty door can make your mini fridge more accessible and flexible to install and come in one of two forms. First, the door can be reversible, meaning you can access your wine fridge by opening the door to the left or right. This type of door usually requires you to switch the hinges by attaching them with screws, which already have designated holes, and is most suitable for those installing a fridge in a tight location. Second, your fridge can have a second door at the top. This door gives you access to a separate freezer compartment and is most suitable for those who want to store lots of frozen food.
An interior light allows you to see what's in your mini fridge, by illuminating the shelving and bins. It's not a total necessity, but is certainly handy if you're reaching for a snack or drink at night. An interior light can be positioned at the top of a unit near the temperature controls or the back. It can include a LED strip or a single bulb, and is most effective when items are not blocking it.
If you're hoping to install your mini fridge in a garage, instead of a finished basement, kitchen, or dorm room, you should opt for one with a garage-ready design. A garage-ready refrigerator can be installed in a setting with flexible external temperatures, and will still operate properly. You won't have to worry about the compressor or cooling device giving out, and your food spoiling. However, not all fridges are garage-ready, so it's important to look for this type of design when shopping.
How long do mini fridges last?
Mini fridges typically last around 10 years. This is about the same as a regular, full-sized refrigerator, and can be extended if you properly maintain and install your appliance. For example, you shouldn't install an indoor mini fridge in an outdoor setting, which includes a garage. You can diagnose noises that sound unusual with the help of your user manual right away, and plan to defrost your appliance when the frost becomes 1/4-inch thick. This will ensure the compressor or cooling elements are not working too hard, and experiencing wear and tear earlier than they should.
How long does it take for mini fridges to get cold?
It can take your mini fridge anywhere from three to 24 hours to get completely cold. For that reason, it's necessary to plug in the machine well before you want to actually use it. After plugging it in, use your user manual to decide what temperature setting it should be set at. The manual may inform you of how long your specific model will take to cool. However, you can put a fridge thermometer or small bottle of water inside to test the temperature, before you start loading in your perishable food.
What can you store in a mini fridge?
You can store everything from your weekly groceries to skincare products in a mini fridge. If you're a college student, you may want to keep snacks like fruit, cheese sticks, and drinks inside, so you don't need to trek to the dining hall every time you're hungry. If you're installing a mini fridge in your home or garage, you may want to use it for items that don't comfortably fit in your full-sized fridge, or that are taking up much-needed room. These items can include drinks, condiments, or extra ingredients, or side dishes if you like to entertain around the holidays.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Having tested and researched dozens of appliances, we looked at functionality, practicality, and value when recommending the best mini fridges on the market. We considered the space in which each unit would be used, their capacity, their installation type, and their freezer feature–or lack thereof. Plus, we considered each unit's door design, shelving options, and outdoor compatibility. For additional insight, we spoke with Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert, and Brittney Castro, Mint CFP.
Marisa Casciano is the large appliance expert for The Spruce, and has researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, and more in the home space. She loved her GE mini fridge, which lasted for 10 years and was installed in multiple spaces throughout college and her post-graduate life. However, she understands the extra maintenance that comes with manually defrosting your appliance. For this piece, she read through dozens of product listings, verified customer reviews, and user manuals. She compared the specifications and features for each model, and watched informational videos for more insight on the actual look, feel, and functionality of the mini fridges.