Refrigerators are an essential appliance that every kitchen needs. If you have a smaller kitchen, live in an apartment, or simply don’t want to spend a lot of money on extra bells and whistles, it’s best to consider a top-freezer refrigerator.
While most top-freezer refrigerators are pretty basic in terms of features, they're generally way more affordable when compared to other types. They also tend to have a smaller footprint, so you won't lose track of what's in there. It definitely doesn’t mean you can’t find a top-freezer refrigerator that will fit enough food to feed your family and meet the rest of your needs.
Nowadays, these can come with ice makers, adjustable bins, and ample LED lighting so you don't have to frequently hunt down tiny bulbs. There's even a very stylish counter-depth model that will make your kitchen look like it belongs on Instagram. To help you find the right one for your kitchen, here are the best top-freezer refrigerators.
Samsung RT18M6215SR 17.6 Cu. Ft. 29-Inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator
What We Love: Automatic ice maker, full-width deli drawer, convertible freezer, energy-efficient
What We Don’t Love: On the small side
If you’re looking for a great standard depth top freezer refrigerator, the Samsung RT18M6215SR 17.6 Cu. Ft. 29-Inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator is a smart choice. One of its best features is that this has an ice maker, which isn’t standard on most top-freezer refrigerators. It can produce up to 3.7 pounds of ice per day, which is certainly more than enough for the average family.
This fridge also has other useful features including a full-width deli drawer that slides out for easy access. It's incredibly useful for marinating meat or when you need to protect a chilling sheet cake. The freezer is actually a FlexZone compartment that can be switched to refrigerate for additional storage. It also has a cooling system that regulates the humidity in the fridge to keep your produce fresh, and drier conditions in the freezer to prevent freezer burn.
There are three finishes available (white, fingerprint resistant stainless steel, and black fingerprint resistant stainless steel) and it’s important to note this model lacks handles and is a little on the smaller side. While that makes it great for an apartment, a starter home, or in the garage, if you need something larger, Samsung sells a similar fridge with 21 cubic feet of space.
Price at time of publish: $1,049
Type: Standard | Dimensions (DxWxH): 31.9 x 28.8 x 66.8 inches | Refrigerator Capacity: 12.7 cubic feet | Freezer Capacity: 4.9 cubic feet
Whirlpool WRT518SZFM 18 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator
What We Love: Affordable, flexible deli bin, door bins can hold gallon jugs, optional ice maker
What We Don’t Love: Preset internal temperatures
The Whirlpool WRT518SZFM 18 Cu. Ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator is an excellent choice for anyone in need of a good amount of fridge space while still staying within a budget. In the fridge compartment, you'll find two humidity-controlled crisper drawers with adjustable shelves and door bins, and importantly, those door bins can handle gallon jugs of milk and 2-liter soda bottles. In addition to all of this, the deli bin slides back and forth along its shelf, which is great for storing taller condiments bottles, or when your jarring your summer veggie garden's bounty.
At the back of the freezer is a connector if you want to install ice maker, but it must be purchased separately. Depending on how much ice you use, it may be worth the extra money. There's also an airflow dial in the freezer to help control the temperature in both compartments. The refrigerator's electronic temperature control has four presets, but if you want more air to flow to the fridge, you'd do it from here. Available in stainless steel, white, and black stainless steel finishes, the door features a reversible hinge, making this appliance a good option for most kitchens.
Price at time of publish: $999
Type: Standard | Dimensions (DxWxH): 31.6 x 28 x 67.4 inches | Refrigerator Capacity: 13.7 cubic feet | Freezer Capacity: 4 cubic feet
Best Large Capacity
GE Garage Ready 21.9 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator
What We Love: More the 15 cubic feet in fridge, energy-efficient, spill-proof shelves, works in garages
What We Don't Love: Large external handles
This energy-efficient GE fridge may look the most traditional, but it more than covers your basic needs when it comes to capacity, with a few extra features to make life easier.
Inside the massive fridge, there are two full-width glass shelves with spill-proof edges, full-sized crisper drawers, a dairy compartment to keep your butter safe, and adjustable gallon door bins that can hold all your favorite drinks. The 6.7-square-foot freezer comes with its own adjustable glass shelf so you won't lose track of your frozen goods. An ice maker can be installed separately.
Available in stainless steel, black, white, fingerprint-resistant slate, and fingerprint-resistant black slate, this can handle ambient temperatures from 38 to 110 degrees, which means it will work great in the garage.
Price at time of publish: $1,080
Type: Standard | Dimensions (DxWxH): 34.5 x 32.75 x 66.4 inches | Refrigerator Capacity: 15.25 cubic feet | Freezer Capacity: 6.7 cubic feet
Related: The Best Refrigerators
Best with Ice Maker
GE GIE18GSNRSS 17.5 Cu. Ft. 28-Inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator
What We Love: Standard ice maker, flexible deli bin, spill-proof shelves, gallon door bins
What We Don’t Love: On the smaller side
The problem with most top-freezer refrigerators is that they lack an ice maker, a feature many of us have come to expect. So if that is essential for you, the GE GIE18GSNRSS 17.5 Cu. Ft. 28-Inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator is the best choice since an ice maker with a bucket comes preinstalled. Plus, it's easy to remove when you need extra freezer space.
This appliance is exceptionally easy to organize and clean, with edge-to-edge spill-proof glass shelves, gallon door bins, LED lighting, and an adjustable wire freezer shelf. Cheese and charcuterie lovers will particularly like the sliding deli bin, which has enough space to hold all the accouterments. In addition to this, there’s also a dairy compartment and a clear crisper drawer to hold all your favorite fruits and veggies.
Price at time of publish: $1,119
Type: Standard | Dimensions (DxWxH): 32.6 x 28 x 67.4 inches | Refrigerator Capacity: 13.5 cubic feet | Freezer Capacity: 4 cubic feet
Related: The Best Places to Buy Appliances
Smeg FAB28URBL3 9.92 Cu. Ft. 24-Inch Retro-Style Top-Freezer Refrigerator
What We Love: Adjustable glass shelves, energy-efficient, instant style points for your kitchen
What We Don’t Love: Small capacity, expensive
Almost all top-freezer fridges kind of look like modern takes on the fridge you might've grown up with. They're stylish enough but aren't exactly making a design statement. But they might not fit your personal aesthetic, or fit in with a kitchen in an older house. The Smeg FAB28 24-Inch Retro-Style Refrigerator looks like the iceboxes of olden times, but it has all the modern features you need.
To start with, unlike those old-school ice boxes, this is Energy Star-certified so it won't increase your electric bill. Inside, you'll find modern conveniences like adjustable glass shelves, LED lighting, and a multi-flow air system. Open up the small icebox and you'll find just enough space for a few frozen meals and a couple of pints of ice cream, plus an ice-cube tray. While this is a pricey investment, the timeless looks with contemporary features make this a one-of-a-kind appliance.
Price at time of publish: $2,499
Type: Counter | Dimensions (DxWxH): 30.25 x 23.6 x 60.25 inches | Refrigerator Capacity: 9 cubic feet | Freezer Capacity: 0.92 cubic feet
Related: The Best Counter-Depth Fridges
Our best overall pick, the Samsung RT18M6215SR 17.6 Cu. Ft. 29-Inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator (view at ABT), has everything you need in a fridge while also being energy-efficient and easy to organize. If you're on a budget, the Whirlpool WRT518SZFM 18 Cu. Ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator (view at Home Depot) will not disappoint.
What To Look for When Buying Top-Freezer Fridges
Standard Depth vs. Counter Depth
Standard-depth refrigerators generally measure 30 to 36 inches deep. They will likely jut out a bit from your countertop but will fit a larger amount of food. If you have an average-sized kitchen, you should be fine with a standard-depth refrigerator. However, if you have a smaller or narrow kitchen, it’s best to go with a counter-depth refrigerator, which generally measures 23 to 27 inches deep, and is supposed to sit flush with your countertops and cabinets.
Top-freezer fridges are some of the smallest models available. The size of a refrigerator should fit within your kitchen's cutout. Always be sure to also measure any doorways a fridge needs to fit through so that you don't have to send a new fridge back and start the process all over again.
The measurements are relative to a fridge's capacity with every fridge having its internal capacity measured in square feet. The full capacity may slightly differ from adding the refrigerator and freezer numbers together since any dividers will be included. A family of four will need about 15 to 25 square feet of space, with the rule of thumb being 4 to 6 feet of space per person.
There aren’t any particular features you need to look for when buying a top freezer refrigerator unless you must have an ice maker. The most important factor is that it fits, Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company tells me.
However, if you are storing your fridge in the garage, he recommends finding the best Energy Star-rated appliance within your budget. "Since this unit will be running longer and more often you want it to cost as little as possible to work," he says. "Top-freezer refrigerators are normally more efficient and since you will not be going into this refrigerator multiple times a day the configuration does not matter as much from a convenience standpoint."
Are there top freezer refrigerators with ice makers and water dispensers?
Even though they are the most basic of appliances, yes, there are top freezer refrigerators that have ice makers and water dispensers. However, these are not standard features so you will need to seek them out.
Can any fridge go in the garage?
According to Shimek, you can use any refrigerator in your garage. "The issue is how efficient it will be and how much electricity it will use," he says. "A refrigerator works by removing heat from the inside and dispelling it on the outside through the coils underneath or behind it. The warmer your garage is, the less heat the unit will be able to give off and so it will have to cycle more often and longer to keep things as cold as the refrigerator in your house that is in the air conditioning."
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article is written by Amanda Lauren, an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes, Forbes, The Balance, Investopedia, Reader’s Digest, and A Sweat Life. Amanda has written hundreds of articles about interior design and lifestyle. While she loves to cook, she prefers to grill because it’s easier to clean up. One day, Amanda hopes to have a kitchen large enough for an island, but would easily settle for a peninsula.
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