Until you have a mini fridge, you may think it's not a necessary item to have in the house. But once you invest in one, it fast becomes a useful addition for those extra groceries that won't fit in your main fridge, a convenient place to store drinks, and of course, a handy item for keeping food for parties and at Christmas.
These fridges are not just useful as a supplement in the house, but also work well in an office or garage, plus they're great for students in halls or teens' bedrooms.
In this round-up of the best mini fridges, we've looked at those made for storing food and drinks, as drink-only fridges aren't able to safely store perishable foods.
Several of these refrigerators have small iceboxes for making ice only – using them for freezing foods or storing frozen food is not recommended with this type of fridge.
Read on to discover our best buys.
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The best mini fridges to buy in 2021
iceQ tabletop lockable fridge
Best lockable mini fridge
With its generous capacity and overall quality, this is a reliable buy for student halls. The added bonus? It comes with a lock to keep precious food and drink protected in communal spaces.
VonShef mini fridge
Best budget mini fridge
With its sleek finish, this fridge looks impressive given its reasonable price tag. It offers excellent value for money and ticks a lot of boxes: large capacity, adjustable door functions to store large bottles, and an adjustable, easy-to-read thermostat. The only niggle is a slight humming noise, but this can be avoided by turning the temperature down.
Ikea Tillreda mini fridge
Best basic mini fridge
This no-frills fridge does the job well and has a lot going for it, including a secure door closing, good temperature retention and easy-to-clean surfaces. It performs as well as some of the more expensive fridges on the list, but with the low price comes limitations, such as fixed shelves and no interior light.
Available from: Ikea (£90)
Husky Coca-Cola mini fridge
Best novelty mini fridge
The bold aesthetic of this branded mini fridge might not be to everyone's taste, but it certainly catches the eye. Beyond the fun design, this is a fridge that functions well and has plenty of storage space. The door closes securely and keeps food fresh for a week. But, the unorthodox black interior might be off-putting to some, as it doesn't show messes as clearly.
Russell Hobbs stainless steel-effect mini fridge
Best stylish, budget-friendly mini fridge
The clean lines and matte finish of this pocket-friendly mini fridge stood out from the crowd. Fingerprints are barely visible on its surface, even with constant use, making it a practical buy. It's also reliable thanks to a secure door that closes firmly, creating a tight seal for keeping food at maximum freshness. The build is sturdy and its classic good looks mean it would suit the aesthetic of most homes.
Dometic DS600 freestanding mini fridge
Quietest mini fridge
This professional-standard mini fridge comes from a manufacturer that supplies to hotels. It's sturdy, quiet, and it also came out top in our salad test – after seven days, a salad stored inside hadn't diminished in quality. We did mark it down for the plastic coating it came wrapped in, though, as even after extensive efforts, we couldn't completely remove it from the hinges.
Hotel Buyer (from £456.48)
Kuhla mini fridge
Best mini fridge for beer
This eye-catching design might not be for everyone, but it would certainly work in university halls. Beyond the unique bottle-top motif, this is a solid fridge with reliable functions. Food stored inside passed our freshness tests, and the interior is spacious. It's worth noting that the sound emitted is louder than some of the other mini fridges featured.
Which mini fridge to buy?
Having decided a mini fridge could be useful for you, which type to buy will depend on what you want to do with it, where you'll keep it, space and budget restrictions.
There are predominantly three styles of mini fridge: tabletop, which will fit well on all regular-sized worktops; under-counter (or under a desk in the office) and freestanding. We also tested a portable plug-in-style mini fridge that would be handy for the home as well as useful for taking out and about.
Where you use your fridge will make a big impact on your choice.
What to consider when buying a mini fridge
Noise: Some fridges claim to be silent – usually those using new technologies, such as thermoelectric or air absorption rather than a traditional compressor – but you should always check the official decibel rating (dB) on the energy sheet, especially if your fridge is going to be used in a bedroom or other quiet space.
The door: Which way the door opens will impact on where you put your fridge – look for those with reversible doors if this is an issue.
Ambient temperatures: No mini fridge should be kept near a radiator, direct heat source or sunny window. This will cause the refrigerator to work a lot harder to maintain a safe internal temperature.
Adjustable feet: Uneven surfaces can cause the fridge to work inefficiently, which may cause excessive noise, so look out for adjustable feet if you can.
How we tested mini fridges
We reviewed a representative sample of mini fridges and scored them against the following criteria.
Capacity, litreage and dimensions:
How much room does it take up, and how much does it hold?
Is the fridge well-lit and easy to see on the inside?
The feel and quality of the handle:
Is it easy to use, and will it stand the test of time?
How well does it open and close; does it have swing action or soft close; what's the quality of the seal and door alarm, if any?
Is there any and if so, how loud is it?
How easy is it to clean, and do the doors show fingerprints?
Is defrosting automatic or manual, and are any tools such as scrapers or drip trays included?
How easy to use are the controls, and how accurate is it when tested with an external thermometer?
Is there excessive use of plastics and polystyrene?
We tested all the fridges in the same environment for around 10 days. They had external thermometers to check how well the temperature dial responded to the highest (coldest) and mid-range settings for regular use. Each fridge was stocked with a selection of food and drinks, including milk, grapes, salad, a can of beer or soft drink, and butter.
This review was last updated in May 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com.