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Top freezer or bottom freezer? Smart capabilities or French doors? Choosing a refrigerator isn't just a matter of picking the nicest one within your budget. It's all about defining your needs and making sure your appliance meets them so your life is easier and more efficient. If you're someone who buys a lot of frozen food at the store, then a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer model may be the best fit for you. If your kitchen is small and space is limited, then compact fridges may be more in your wheelhouse.
Luckily, there are tons of options on the market, so you never have to settle for a refrigerator that only meets some of your needs. From reversible doors to water and ice dispensers, and low-level shelves that make it easy for kids to grab their own snack, the modern design of these appliances has thought of it all.
Here, the best refrigerators on the market, across every style and budget.
Best Overall: GE GSS25GSHSS 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Ice and Water Dispenser
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Single | Total Capacity: 25.3 cubic feet | Height to Top: 69 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 32.75 inches
Ice and water dispenser
Freezer could use more storage options
Can be noisy
When it comes to function, appearance, and cost, you won’t find a better model than the GE GSS25GSHSS. This model has a spacious 25.3-cubic-foot interior, with the fresh food side being designated 15.7 cubic feet of this space, and the freezer 9.7 cubic feet. Overall, it measures 69 x 35.75 x 32.75 inches and can be installed in your home at a standard depth.
This appliance combines its functional build with a timeless appearance that'll go well with any kitchen. The stainless steel finish is combined with adjustable spill-proof glass shelves, humidity-controlled crispers, and door bins inside. You'll love that the interior is lit by incandescent lighting, and enjoy a built-in ice and water dispenser on the freezer door that includes an advanced water filtration system.
Ultimately, this GE refrigerator is spacious, well-made, and features a thoughtful design. With an ice maker that can hold up to 10 pounds of ice, you really can’t beat this appliance and it's affordable price tag.
Best Budget: Maytag MRT118FFFH 18 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
Ice/Water Dispenser: No dispenser | Ice Maker Type: No ice maker | Total Capacity: 18.15 cubic feet | Height to Top: 65.83 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 31.38 inches
Has a deli drawer
Comes in three finishes
No ice maker
No ice or water dispenser
Modern refrigerators can get quite pricey. However, there are some high-quality models that cost less than $1,000, including the Maytag MRT118FFFH. It has a top freezer, and 18 cubic feet of space to store your fresh and frozen goods. It's not equipped with an ice maker or water dispenser, but does provide a functional design and user experience.
This fridge has three glass shelves inside, along with a gallon's worth of storage on its door. There's a pull-out drawer specifically designed for deli, and you can control the temperature using precise, internal, digital controls. On top of these little, luxe details, you'll enjoy this model's LED lighting in both sections—which makes it easy to find ingredients for lunch or dinner. All in all, this fridge delivers the basics plus a little more at a decent price, and won't operate too loud either.
Best Splurge: Cafe CYE22TP4MW2 22.2 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator with Hot Water Dispenser
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Single | Total Capacity: 22.2 cubic feet | Height to Top: 69 inches | Installation Depth: Counter-depth | Depth: 30.25 inches
Hot water dispenser
Interior LED lighting
Not as spacious as other models
Ice maker is small
Splurging on a new refrigerator may be in the cards for you, and if that's the case then you should check out the Cafe CYE22TP4MW2. This French door model is loaded with amenities, including a dispenser that can dispense hot water. Unlike a typical dispenser that just dispenses cold water and ice for a refreshing drink, this dispenser allows you to prepare tea, pots of pasta water, and more, quickly and efficiently. This fridge also features LED lighting, a counter-depth design, and a customizable exterior.
You can choose between a white matte finish paired with gold hardware, a black matte finish paired with stainless steel hardware, or an entirely stainless steel model, depending on the look of your kitchen. And, when it comes to the interior, you can enjoy an in-door, drop-down tray, as well as five shelves.
Now, this model may not be as spacious as others on the market, but it'll certainly exceed expectations in other aspects of its design, making it worth the splurge.
Best French Door: Whirlpool WRF555SDFZ 24.7 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator with Ice and Water Dispenser
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Single | Total Capacity: 25.0 cubic feet | Height to Top: 68.63 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 32.88 inches
Factory-installed ice maker
Has a stylish build
Ice and water dispenser
Can be noisy
Modern amenities meet an upscale design in this French door refrigerator. With a stainless steel exterior, two swinging doors, and a bottom freezer, it's no stranger to functionality or style. Although it doesn't come with the technology features of other models—such as WiFi capability—it does provide thoughtful storage in the refrigerator and freezer portions. The refrigerator is 18 cubic feet in size, which is plenty of space for a large family or a couple week's worth of groceries.
The freezer portion offers a little under 7 cubic feet of storage for your meats, ice cream, or tubs of homemade tomato sauce. It has a two-layer design, so you can organize your goods by how much you use them. Fill the two sliding bins with the items you need to access most, and then tuck the others below. The interior LED lighting in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments ensures you're able to see your food, and grab it quickly.
Now, despite its high price tag, this Whirlpool model isn't perfect. It can be noisy, especially if its factory-installed ice maker is making ice. If you're willing to deal with a bit of noise though, you'll find this appliance to be convenient, stylish, and an upgrade.
Best Side-by-Side: Whirlpool WRS321SDHZ 21 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Single | Total Capacity: 21.4 cubic feet | Height to Top: 65.63 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 31.63 inches
Ice and water dispenser
In-door can caddy
Drawers don't slide easily
Side-by-side refrigerators, which have the fresh food section on one side and the freezer on the other, are a solid pick for any household. They make items easy to reach and organize. The Whirlpool WRS321SDHZ takes this to the next level.
This appliance measures in at 65.63 x 33 x 31.63 inches and has a 21.4 cubic feet of space to store fresh goods. The freezer uses 6.8 cubic feet of this space. With this model, you'll enjoy amenities like an in-door can caddy, specialty deli drawer, adjustable gallon door bins, and exterior ice and water dispenser, complete with filtration. The doors open to bright, LED lights, and frameless glass shelves that let you store more items. When it comes to the exterior, the stainless steel finish is fingerprint-resistant, so it’s easy to maintain a spotless appearance.
Best Door-in-Door: GE Profile PVD28BYNFS 27.9 cu. ft. Smart 4-Door French Door Refrigerator with Door-in-Door
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Single | Total Capacity: 27.9 cubic feet | Height to Top: 68.62 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 34.25 inches
Swiveling door bin
Very spacious interior
Smart home compatible
Ice cubes are smaller than normal
A door-in-door refrigerator lets you access items in the door bins without opening the entire fridge. This GE Profile model takes the accessibility feature to the next level with its swiveling door bin, which can help you reach even more items than usual. It works to make your life easier in other ways, too, including the AutoFill water dispenser which senses the size of the glass you want to fill, and lets you walk away to complete other tasks while it reliably does its job. Although the ice maker does create smaller cubes than normal and dispenses them in a spraying matter at times, this model prioritizes organization by building the ice maker into the door which is game-changing.
This leaves the top refrigerator compartment with 15.7 cubic feet of space. The small, chilled drawer below is perfect for storing ready-to-go snacks for kids, or commonly reached-for items. The bottom freezer isn't the largest on the market, and the model as a whole is quite wide at nearly 36 inches. However, soft-close drawers, built-in WiFi, and the fingerprint-free finish do make this item worth its price tag. The LED light wall, which illuminates the interior of the fridge from the back, is also a feature you probably wouldn't look for but makes your experience better.
Best Compact: Frigidaire FFET1022UV 10.1 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
Ice/Water Dispenser: No dispenser | Ice Maker Type: No ice maker | Total Capacity: 10.1 cubic feet | Height to Top: 59.87 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 26.25 inches
Plenty of storage options
No deli drawer or butter keeper
No ice maker
Don't have enough room for a full-size refrigerator? No problem! The Frigidaire FFET1022UV is a compact option. This fridge is more spacious than a traditional mini fridge, with 7.4 cubic feet of fresh food space and 2.7 cubic feet of frozen food space.
This model has most of the same features as a full-size fridge, as well, including two clear produce crispers, two adjustable shelves, and door storage. It has the space to accommodate tall items like bottles of orange juice, and a reversible door allows the piece to swing open to the left or right. There may be no deli drawer, butter keeper, or ice maker, but this appliance is Energy Star-certified, so it will help you save electricity and bring down your bills. Overall, this compact fridge is a good choice for small kitchens, break rooms, offices, or even basements.
Best Smart: LG Electronics LFXS26973S 26.2 cu. ft. French Door Smart Refrigerator with Wi-Fi Enabled
Ice/Water Dispenser: Both | Ice Maker Type: Dual | Total Capacity: 26.2 cubic feet | Height to Top: 68.38 inches | Installation Depth: Standard-depth | Depth: 32.38 inches
French door design
Can be controlled via a smartphone
Ice maker can be noisy
Dispenser isn't lit well
Smart appliances are a common addition to modern homes. If you're in looking to add one to yours, so you can control the temperature of your fridge with your phone, you should check out the LG Electronics LFXS26973S. With WiFi and a French door design, it's certainly high-end and will make your kitchen feel like a luxe space. To make use of the smart design, adjust the temperature with voice commands, receive notifications if the door is open, and diagnose issues from a remote location with your smartphone.
This fridge is 68.38 x 35.75 x 32.38 inches, with a fridge capacity of 17.4 cubic feet and a freezer space that’s 8.8 cubic feet. It’s Energy Star-certified and features dual ice makers both in the door and freezer compartment. If you typically host friends and family, you'll enjoy how the water and ice dispenser is tall enough to accommodate large containers. In addition, any home can benefit from various organizational features within the fridge, that give you tons of space to store all your food.
When it comes to refrigerators, there's no shortage of options. But, the GE GSS25GSHSS (view at Home Depot) is our top pick because it’s spacious, well-made, and has a variety of useful features. The built-in ice and water dispenser, quality lighting, and adjustable shelves make this piece a good fit for any household. If you’re looking for something that costs a bit less, the Maytag MRT118FFFH (view at Lowe's) is a great pick as well. Although it doesn't have an ice or water dispenser or smart features, it's spacious and features a deli drawer.
What to Look for in a Refrigerator
A refrigerator's "type" is defined by its door design, freezer orientation, and depth. The type that's best for you and your household depends on the layout of your home, budget, and preferences. Typically, a top-freezer refrigerator is the most basic and budget-friendly option, and is most suitable for anyone living in an apartment, RV, or smaller living space. On the other end of the spectrum, a model with two French doors or many compartments can be the most expensive on the market, and provide the most features including a factory-installed ice maker, filtered dispenser, customizable exterior, and a smart screen.
When it comes to fridge types, knowing the difference between a counter-depth model and standard-depth one is key, too. A counter-depth model sits flush with your cabinets and prioritizes style, while a standard-depth one has a more spacious interior and prioritizes functionality.
The capacity of a refrigerator is measured in cubic feet, and can range from 10 cubic feet to 28 cubic feet. This measurement encompasses all compartments, and ultimately determines how much fresh and frozen food you can store. Depending on how many people live in your household, and how often you cook at home, you may want a fridge that's smaller or larger. In general, it's recommended that a fridge have at least 4 to 6 cubic feet of space per adult in the household—the average capacity for a fridge hovering around 20 cubic feet. A household of three or four is generally comfortable with 16 to 20 cubic feet of space, while larger households and frequent entertainers enjoy about 20 to 25 cubic feet of space.
Ice and water dispenser
An ice and water dispenser is a common amenity in refrigerators. Now, if you don't want this feature, since it can add to the price of your new appliance and require occasional repairs, there are certainly options on the market. However, if you do opt for a dispenser, it's key to consider the location of it, its setting options, and whether or not it has a filter. These factors can impact the capacity of your fridge, the amount of maintenance you do, and how you use the dispenser.
For example, filters needs to be switched out every six months, adding to the operational costs of the fridge and the time you spend making sure its running properly. In addition, some dispensers' settings include crushed ice, cubed ice, and hot water.
What is the Best Type of Refrigerator for Me?
A top-freezer refrigerator has a very common, familiar design. It has two doors—one that opens to the fridge portion, and another above that opens to the freezer—and plenty of shelving, produce crispers, and door bins for storing your fresh and frozen food. This kind of refrigerator is most suitable for small living spaces, households, and budgets, as it's not known for capacity, amenities, or smart technology. It's easy to install and use, though, making it a reliable pick.
Refrigerators with a bottom freezer make it easy to access and see your stored food. That's because the fridge is at eye-level, and the freezer typically works like a pull-out drawer. This type of fridge can be a bit more expensive, since it's usually paired with French doors, smart features, or a dispenser. It's also not the best for storing bulky items like a box of chicken nuggets, as the freezer commonly has a set of layered drawers. However, this pick will look stylish in your kitchen and be easy to organize.
A side-by-side fridge features two, vertical doors. The left door opens to the freezer, while the right door opens to the slightly larger fridge. If you're considering this type of model, you'll want to double-check your kitchen's layout, and make sure it can accommodate the swinging doors. These doors can make the unit's frame much wider when opened. The perk of this style? All of your food is at eye-level, from the leftovers from last night's dinner, to pints of ice cream.
French door refrigerators are one of the most stylish picks on the market. They feature two, swinging doors, in addition to a bottom freezer. Some models also come with a middle drawer, for storing extra snacks and drinks. There are several benefits to French door refrigerators. For one, you're treated to a wider fridge space, which is handy for storing platters of food. Further, many have more spacious bins in their doors, smart features, and customizable exteriors.
A small space requires a small fridge, which is also known as "compact." This type of fridge usually has around 10 cubic feet of space, opposed to the average 20 cubic feet in full-sized models. It features a top freezer and plenty of shelving, and is made to slip into a tiny corner of an apartment, condo, dorm, or even RV. This type of fridge is different than a mini fridge, which typically has one door, and can be slipped under a countertop or withstand garage temperatures.
Specialty fridges on the market include wine fridges and beverage coolers. They have environments and settings specifically tailored to the drinks you'd store inside them, and are usually an additional appliance you purchase for your home. Like regular fridges, they come in high-capacity and narrow builds. The right one for you will depend on how much you want to store at once and what you want to store. Some wine fridges have multiple zones, for example, for properly chilling white and red wine.
Factory-installed ice maker
A factory-installed ice maker is better than one you install on your own, because it doesn't often need repairs or create leaks in your kitchen. Since it's installed by the brand, the parts work seamlessly with the fridge and other features like an ice and water dispenser. Factory-installed ice makers are found in bottom freezer and side-by-side refrigerators commonly, and are a helpful feature for those who have children, work from home, or are athletes.
Swiveling door bin
A swiveling door bin is found in refrigerators with a door-in-door design. It allows you to open up an outer door, and access items in your refrigerator door by turning a rotating bin. It’s easy to use, and a very convenient feature for larger households who want to minimize activity but frequently need to access condiments, drinks, and snacks throughout the day.
If a refrigerator has a third or fourth compartment, it's quite likely that that compartment can be used as extra fresh or frozen food storage. You can set the temperature to 0 degrees Fahrenheit when you want to store ice cream and frozen chicken nuggets, and 32 degrees Fahrenheit when you need extra room for trays and side dishes around the holidays. Flexible compartments might have quick-freezing technology that helps them reach a cooler temperature faster. This feature is most suitable for homes that want a customized kitchen or entertain regularly.
Built-in water pitcher
A built-in water pitcher can ultimately replace a standalone water pitcher, jug, or 12-pack of bottles you keep in your refrigerator. It fits into the interior of the refrigerator door, and is easily refilled thanks to a water connection that also works with a built-in ice or water dispenser. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to buy a separate mini refrigerator for drinks, or could use more interior space because you live in a large household, you should look for this feature in your new appliance.
What temperature should a refrigerator be?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, in order to keep your food chilled enough to store and later eat. You typically do not want to set it lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as this may chill your food too much. You should also keep the "warm spots" of your fridge in mind, when organizing your fresh food. Put any juices or condiments in the door, and milk and meat on the bottom shelf where the interior is typically coldest. When it comes to your freezer, set the temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
In both compartments, make sure the air flow is not disrupted by large and bulky items. This will allow your fridge to work properly and prevent it from not cooling. For more, see our guides on refrigerator repairs and how to organize the fridge.
How long does a refrigerator last?
On average, a refrigerator can last 12 years. If you purchase a model with less features and a standard design, such as a top-freezer refrigerator, this number can be stretched to as much as 20 years. You'll want to make sure you're caring for your appliance properly, if you want to extend its lifespan. Be sure to clean the condenser coils, check its leveling, and change any water filters regularly. For more, check out our guide on how to maintain your refrigerator.
When is the best time to buy a refrigerator?
The best time to buy a refrigerator is in May. This is because new models roll out in the summer, so you can purchase an "old" appliance at a better price tag. You can also find a quality refrigerator at a better price during the holidays, when retailers have big sales going on. For more, check out our guide on the best time to buy a refrigerator.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and updated by Marisa Casciano, who is the large appliance expert for The Spruce. Throughout her career, she's researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, and more in the home and lifestyle space. She's lived with both French door and top-freezer refrigerators, and is very well-versed in the latest advancements in refrigerator design and technology. To choose the best options for this article, she consulted dozens of customer and third-party reviews, considering each refrigerator's functionality, price point, and design.