Keep food fresh for longer with our expert guide to buying the best fridge
If you just want a plain, simple fridge, then you’re in luck. There are lots of great standalone fridges to choose from – whether you want a huge freestanding fridge for the kitchen as you have a chest freezer in the garage, need a small undercounter fridge for a flat, or just don’t have room for a big fridge freezer, we can help you find the ones that always keep their cool.
Larder fridges are perfect for those who mostly buy fresh ingredients – as there’s no freezer section, not even a teeny tiny one, the entire cavity is dedicated to fresh food storage. Some models have really generous capacities, ideal for stocking up with a big shop, while smaller models are a better option for those who shop little and often. There are also undercounter models that slot neatly underneath the worksurface: these are perfect for compact kitchens or in an open-plan studio apartment – or just when you want a little extra cool storage in the utility room.
The first thing to do is decide on a budget – the more you spend, the more advanced the tech. Fridges now offer an array of food-preserving features that help retain fruit and vegetables’ vitamins and nutrients for longer, as well as special humidity-controlled drawers for meat and fish. Think about the type of produce you tend to buy most often and select the best fridge to suit those needs. Design also comes into play with stainless steel, black stainless steel and white finishes the most popular.
To help you determine which one is best for you, we’ve selected a shortlist of the best fridges that combine freshness and energy efficiency with smart looks for designer style.
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How to choose the best fridge for you
How can I keep food fresh for longer?
Look for things like humidity-controlled drawers for fruit and vegetables, zero degree compartments for meat and fish, dynamic cooling for even air circulation throughout the fridge and intelligent sensors that automatically adjust the temperature (these are especially useful when adding new food after the weekly shop). The more you spend, the more fresh food features your fridge will have.
Bear in mind that every brand markets these features under different names, such as hyperFresh Plus (Siemens), SuperCooling (Bosch) and 6th Sense technology (Whirlpool), so it pays to do a little reading on each model.
How much capacity do I need?
This all depends on the sort of things you tend to buy often and how often you shop. If you like to stock up with a big weekly visit to the supermarket, then a large capacity is probably best. If you prefer to top up with trips to the market or independent shops then a smaller size will suffice. Most larder fridges have around the same capacity, but each one will vary slightly so check before you buy. Also keep in mind that salad bins and bottle racks may be handy but they will decrease the usable space for jars, packs of meat or fish and other bulkier items.
What makes a fridge more energy-efficient?
The first thing to look at is the fridge’s energy rating. These labels changed in 2021 so where previously they were rated A to D with up to three plus signs (+++), now there are no plus signs and it’s simply A to G, with A being the most efficient. Look at the estimated annual running costs and keep an eye out for things like LED lighting, which is more energy-efficient than non LED.
What other features should I look for?
As well as food-preserving features that will keep ingredients fresh for longer, look for any features that will make your life easier. Frost-free operation is essential these days, but other features could also come in handy. A water dispenser can be useful so that children can help themselves to cool water without constantly opening and closing the fridge door. Speaking of which, a door alarm is great if you have teenagers that are forever leaving the door open. A reversible hinge ensures that you can install the appliance in any kitchen layout, too.
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The best fridges you can buy in 2023
1. Whirlpool SW8 1Q XR UK.2: Best affordable big-capacity fridge
Price when reviewed: £489 | Check price at AOWhirlpool is known for its 6th Sense technology, which can be found across many of its appliances. Integrated sensors automatically adjust temperature and humidity to maintain food’s freshness for up to four times longer than Whirlpool’s standard models. There’s also a Food Care Zone drawer that keeps meat and fish fresh for up to a week.
There are plenty of other bonuses, too, including an alarm that warns you if there’s an increase in temperature inside the fridge, which could potentially spoil the contents. Fast cooling is also included: add a new shop to the fridge and the temperature drops instantly to restore the correct temperature, while built-in sensors automatically adjust to conserve energy and prolong freshness.
There’s no need to lift a finger as it has auto defrost as well as an electronic control system to maintain optimum performance. It looks stylish with its stainless steel finish so would make a great focal point in a contemporary kitchen, and it’s flexible too thanks to a bottle separator and toughened glass shelves that can be positioned where you need them. A reversible door also allows you to install the fridge in any layout.
Key specs – Type: Freestanding larder; Dimensions (HWD): 187.5 x 59.5 x 63cm; Finish: Stainless steel; Rated efficiency: F; Gross fridge capacity: 368l; Frost-free: Yes; Water dispenser: No
2. Hoover HLS 1862 WDKM/N: A big fridge with a handy water dispenser
Price when reviewed: £599 | Check price at AOHectic households will appreciate the fact that this standalone larder fridge comes with a non-plumbed water dispenser, so everyone can help themselves to a glass of cool water on the go. As it’s not plumbed in, you can position the fridge anywhere – but bear in mind that the door isn’t reversible.
Tech-wise there’s a handy digital display on the door front so you can see what’s going on inside in terms of temperature and adjust it easily if needs be. The LED lighting inside gives good visibility while using up less energy, too.
The storage components are pretty basic – six shelves, a large salad crisper and four inner door balconies – but there’s plenty of room in its 345-litre interior so it will easily take the biggest weekly shop. You can also buy a matching tall freezer for a coordinated kitchen look.
Key specs – Type: Freestanding larder; Dimensions (HWD): 185.5 x 59.5 x 63.5cm; Finish: Inox; Rated efficiency: F; Gross fridge capacity: 345l; Frost-free: Yes; Water dispenser: Yes
3. Bosch Serie 6 KSV36AWEPG: Best larder fridge under £850
Price when reviewed: £849 | Check price at AOWith plenty of high-tech features at an affordable price, this model is a great buy when you want food-preserving features without spending a fortune. There’s a VitaFresh Plus drawer with humidity control to help fruit and veg retain their vitamins for longer, as well as Bosch’s SuperCooling feature.
SuperCooling works by cooling down new food placed inside faster than standard fridges. This not only benefits newly added items but also helps prevent already chilled food from heating up, so it’s a win-win.
LED lighting is energy-efficient and allows you to quickly spot that elusive jar of pickles at the back, while a retractable glass shelf makes life even easier, and an Easylift glass shelf provides easy height adjustment for flexible storage when you need it.
The crisp white design is also on-trend – this once-bland finish has been coming back into fashion. All in all, a great affordable option for those who want food-preserving features wrapped up in a smart design.
Key specs – Type: Freestanding larder; Dimensions (HWD): 186 x 60 x 65cm; Finish: White; Rated efficiency: E; Gross fridge capacity: 346l; Frost-free: Yes; Water dispenser: No
4. Hotpoint RLA36P1 undercounter fridge: Best cheap undercounter fridge
Price when reviewed: £219 | Check price at AO When you’re short on space or you just need an extra fridge to store fresh ingredients, an undercounter model tucks in neatly beneath the work surface. Make sure you check the dimensions before you buy though, as even a few millimetres can make all the difference – you want to ensure it slots easily underneath. This Hotpoint model does come with adjustable feet though, which should help.
This fridge is pretty nifty considering its size, as it has a decent capacity, seven shelves and a large salad drawer. It also comes with Hygiene+ Protection to keep food fresh for longer while the anti-bacterial coating on the inner walls kills any bacteria and mould, so it offers peace of mind for families with young children as well as those who may not be into cleaning their fridge as often as they should.
You won’t get any high-tech features or energy-efficient LED lights with undercounters generally, as they tend to be fairly basic. Most people buy them as an additional fridge in the utility room with a main fridge and freezer in the kitchen or when they don’t have the space for a larder model.
Key specs – Type: Freestanding undercounter; Dimensions (HWD): 85 x 59.8 x 62cm; Finish: White; Rated efficiency: F; Gross fridge capacity: 146l; Frost-free: Yes; Water dispenser: No
5. Indesit SI6 1 W 1: Best cheap larder fridge
Price when reviewed: £419 | Check price at AOAnother good basic buy, Indesit’s white larder fridge may be shorter than other models at only 167cm but it still offers 323 litres of cooling space. Three glass shelves and a salad bin provide room for all the essentials, though you’re not going to fit a mega weekly shop in. Instead, this one’s perfect for those who tend to shop little and often rather than stocking up.
Indesit also has what it calls MySpace, which is their version of customised storage that lets you choose the best layout for your needs. In reality, this means drawers that can be moved around to fit in bulky items as and when you need to. It also has a reversible door so it can be installed in any kitchen design, which allows you to create the perfect working triangle with easy access to fresh ingredients any time of the day.
If you don’t mind forgoing some of the fancier features on pricier models, this is a great affordable option for those who want big capacity but aren’t too fussed about the tech.
Key specs – Type: Freestanding larder; Dimensions (HWD): 167 x 59.5 x 64.5cm; Finish: White; Rated efficiency: F; Gross fridge capacity: 323l; Frost-free: Yes; Water dispenser: No