When it comes to refrigerators, French doors and top freezers hog all the glory, but you shouldn’t overlook the humble side-by-side. Each fridge type has its virtues. Side-by-sides save space by placing the freezer next to the fridge compartment while keeping everything at eye level. While side-by-sides aren’t as grand as French doors, they can offer high-end features like water and through-the-door ice dispensers.
Like any fridge, when we get a side-by-side in, we test it in our labs for temperature consistency, storage flexibility, and humidity retention. These three metrics determine how long your fridge can keep your groceries fresh and it's what we base our rankings on. Our favorite side-by-side on the market is the LG LSX26366S(available at Best Buy for $1,799.99). It's a super unique three-door fridge that excels at temperature consistency and organization. However, if you're looking for a more standard design, there are plenty of those on this list as well.
Due to supply chain challenges and soaring demand, there is widespread unavailability of home appliances and long wait times for delivery of backordered product. If you're a consumer in need of a refrigerator, here are the best places to buy in-stock appliances right now.
Here are our favorite side-by-sides in ranked order:
If you want a fridge that is capable of both high-quality food preservation and of being a conversation starter, look no further than the LG LSXS26366S three-door, side-by-side refrigerator. Yes, you read that correctly—it has three doors.
With a press of a button, you can access the door-in-door storage on the upper right side of the fridge, which allows you to easily grab the items you need frequently without disrupting the cooling of the rest of the fridge. If you don't press the button, the fridge opens normally. Between this very useful storage feature and food preservation that just won't quit, we'd highly recommend the LG LSXS26366S to anyone, especially if you're looking for a compromise between a side-by-side fridge and a French-door fridge.
If you aren't necessarily looking for smart features, but you are interested in a clean-looking stainless steel fridge, the GE GRSC2352AF is a solid option.
In our testing we found its temperatures were steady and none of its test results fell below average. Its crispers are especially noteworthy, as they perform quite well and have additional technology to help filter out ethylene gas. It also has a through-the-door dispenser, excellent storage options (especially for a side-by-side), and none of its other test results rank below average.
The only downside we saw was the fridge runs warm on default settings—nothing that can't be corrected by a quick calibration.
Overall, this is a nice-looking fridge that will keep your veggies fresh for a long time. While you can find better performance on fridges with a higher price point, we believe the GE GRSC2352AF carries an appropriate price for what it offers.
Samsung’s smart home platform, Family Hub, has established itself as one of the most feature-rich on the market. But that comes at a price. Luckily, the Samsung RS27T5561SR is one of the most affordable Family Hub fridge models available, granting access to the smart platform via a built-in 21.5" touch screen.
The RS27T5561SR isn't just offering smart features—it’s a solid performer as well. It has remarkably stable temperatures in its refrigerator compartment, significantly more storage space than the average side-by-side, and a through-the-door dispenser for ice and water.
The downsides? Its freezer can be inconsistent and its crispers might lead to leafy greens wilting a bit before their time. Otherwise, this is a solid fridge with some excellent smart features.
The GE GSS25IMNES has some attractive features for consumers with small children. Not only does its matte finish help prevent fingerprint smudges from showing up, it has child-height drawers—perfect for letting your kids grab their own snacks.
In other areas, the GE GSS25IMNES certainly holds its own as well, with nice, even cooling and four LEDs to help make sure the interior is well-lit.
When it comes to aesthetically pleasing refrigerators, appliance manufacturers tend to focus their efforts on french-door fridges, so it’s refreshing to see a side-by-side fridge like the Whirlpool WRS325SDHZ that can keep up in the looks department. This Whirlpool fridge has a stainless steel fingerprint resistant finish, three crisper drawers, and some flexible storage options that will make it easier for you to fit as much food in the fridge and freezer compartments as possible.
While we found that this fridge runs a little hot temperature-wise, it’s very easy to make the temperature in the fridge colder by tapping on the control panel located on the through-door water and ice dispenser. If you’re a fan of Whirlpool fridges, and prefer the more straightforward organization style of a side-by-side refrigerator, check out the Whirlpool WRS325SDHZ fridge.
The Whirlpool WRS555SIHZ is a handsome-looking side-by-side. Its exterior features clear, intuitive controls and it sports a brightly-lit LED interior that feels a lot more luxe than the traditional low-watt bulb. The shelves inside are all glass, which both looks elegant and allows you to easily scope out where things are stored by looking up from underneath a shelf.
One of the difficulties of the average side-by-side is the ability to store frozen pizza boxes: Due to their design, the freezer compartment is often too narrow for them to lay down flat. How the Whirlpool WRS555SIHZ gets around this is by including a "pizza pocket" shelf that folds down, allowing pizzas stored underneath it enough space to stand up vertically.
The Whirlpool WRS331SDHM is a sister model to the WRS555SIHZ above, and it similar in many respects.
The WRS331SDHM has a built-in look that the WRS555SIHZ lacks, but aside from aesthetics it scales down a lot of the WRS555SIHZ's strong suits—fortunately it's still pretty good. Its temperatures were steady (if warm before calibration), and it provides decent storage space. One place we definitely noticed the difference, however, was in the freezer: where the WRS555SIHZ has glass shelving in its freezer, the WRS331SDHM has slightly cheap-feeling wire racks. Definitely a downgrade, but not a huge one.
Overall, we think the Whirlpool WRS331SDHM has some decent performance, a nice aesthetic, and is a more budget-friendly version of the WRS555SIHZ.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them as normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features.
We test each fridge from two perspectives—first, from a data-driven, objective point of view, and second, as a regular person trying to get at the leftover Chinese food. The combination of these two types of experiences allows us to recommend the best fridge for you at any price point.
Refrigerators pull in air and cool it down to temperatures cold enough (usually around 37°F) to preserve food and limit bacterial growth. This cooling method means that fridges are very sensitive to air conditions. In hot weather, the condenser and cooling coils have to work harder to cool the warmer air. In cold weather, it may get so cold that the fridge condenser doesn’t turn on. This is why, if you happen to have a second fridge in your sweltering hot or freezing cold garage, you may have noticed that the air inside that fridge is not as cold as the air inside your kitchen fridge.
To avoid these temperature effects, we test each refrigerator in a lab that conditions the air temperature to 72°F +/- 5°F (basically, room temperature), and relative humidity to 50% RH +/- 15% RH. This way, each fridge can perform at its best, and doesn’t get penalized by dealing with warmer or colder air than its competitors.
Temperature — Our ideal temperature settings for the fridge and the freezer are 37°F and 0°F, respectively. With fridge temperatures higher than 37°F, you may have to start worrying about bacteria growth, as 40°F is the start of the bacteria “danger zone”. Food isn’t properly frozen at freezer temperatures above 0°F. Once we set each fridge to those temperatures, we collect temperature data throughout the week’s testing that tells us not only how close the temperature in the fridge and freezer are to 37°F and 0°F, respectively, but how close the air temperature stayed to those ideal values.
Humidity Loss — For this test, we focus on the refrigerator’s veggie crisper. We add water to a floral foam ball, and measure how quickly it dries. Humidity matters because if the crisper is too dry, your leafy greens will quickly dry out. If the crisper is too humid, your fruits will rot. Fridges that strike a balance between the extremes will preserve your fruits and veggies for longer.
Freezing Time — Once the fridge is plugged in, we measure the time it takes for the freezer to cool down from room temperature to 32°F (the freezing temperature of water). This is a good measure of how quickly your fridge and freezer can cool down food or beverages that have just been placed inside the refrigerator.
Usable Space — One of the most common refrigerator specs is the total capacity, or the volume inside the fridge, in cubic feet. You’d think that a higher capacity means more storage, but that’s not always the case as shelves, drawers, and ice makers can eat into that capacity. We measure the usable space, which is how much empty space is actually available in the fridge’s interior to store your food and drinks.
Energy Use — Using an electric meter, we measure the fridge’s energy usage (in Watt-hours) over the week of testing. The less energy used, the more efficient that fridge is, and the more money it’ll save you on utility bills in the future.
We also use each fridge in a more casual sense so that we can answer usability questions about the fridge’s specs and features, like the doors, shelves, controls, water/ice dispenser, and extras like smart connectivity, door-in-door or flexible storage options, etc. If a refrigerator keeps the temperature at a perfect 37°F, but it’s very difficult to open the doors and the control panel makes no sense, we’re going to penalize that fridge with respect to its ease of use.
What You Should Know Before Buying A Side-by-side Refrigerator
If your refrigerator just died, chances are that you're in a hurry to replace it. When looking for a new or replacement refrigerator, consider the following topics carefully before buying.
What Temperature Should a Refrigerator Be?
Ideally, your fridge should be exactly 37°F and your freezer should be 0°F.
These temperatures are important because food needs to be kept within a very narrow band of temperatures to maximize its shelf life. If your fridge, for example, were to drop to 32°F—just 5°F below the ideal temperature—some food in your refrigerator will start to freeze. On the other end of the spectrum, temperatures of 40°F and higher are dangerous, because that's the temperature at which bacteria really start to proliferate quickly.
If your freezer gets warmer than 0°F, it means your food isn't being truly frozen. Furthermore, if temperatures in your freezer bounce around, that will greatly exacerbate the build-up of freezer burn.
How Long Do Refrigerators Last?
While the lifespan of any appliance can vary wildly due to several factors, you should expect your fridge to last for about 10 years.
Most manufacturers will at least cover the first year in their warranty, but some companies will offer more robust programs that will cover specific parts up to five years, 10 years, or for the lifetime of the product.
How Do You Measure a Refrigerator?
This is a somewhat ambiguous question that we get asked a lot.
If you’re looking to fit your new fridge into an existing enclosure, then getting the right measurements is crucial, and not particularly difficult. The only area people generally get tripped up by is the door: If the front of your fridge is flush with your cabinetry, you won’t be able to open the door properly. Fortunately, this is an easy fix: just make sure enough of your fridge is sticking out past your cabinetry that the door can swing freely.
Measuring the interior of your fridge is a much more complicated issue. Most manufacturers measure the interior of a fridge by essentially flooding it with water and accounting for every empty inch inside the fridge. While it makes a kind of sense, we don’t use these measurements, because they don’t cleanly translate into a usable datapoint. Nobody is storing food in the crevices around their ice maker or hovering in the gap between the shelves and door (if you are, please let us know your technique).
The way we measure the interior of a fridge is to get the measurements of each shelf, bin, or other storage location—the places you can actually put food—and add those together. That way we’re only accounting for the usable storage inside the fridge, and different models’ capacities are more cross-comparable.
How Do You Organize a Refrigerator?
We do have a guide that breaks down the process of cleaning and organizing your fridge, but there’s really only a few points to remember.
First, it’s a good idea to empty everything out and give the fridge a once-over with a soapy sponge. Even though you’re probably not spilling stuff constantly, your fridge will get gross over time, and organizing it is a great time to also knock out a quick cleaning.
Once that’s done, you next need to figure out which items make sense to be on the door. You don’t want particularly perishable items kept on the door, because repeatedly opening the door during normal use will mean those items are slightly warmer than the average temperature elsewhere in the fridge. Keep items like milk and eggs towards the back of the fridge, where the coolest, more even temperatures will be.
It’s also important to keep fruits and vegetables separate. Many fruits give off ethylene gas, which can exacerbate the ripening process for other fruits and vegetables. This is why fridges come with two crispers: To keep your fruits and veggies happier and healthier for longer. Use both.
Finally, keep in mind that cold air needs to circulate around your fridge for it to work properly. Stacking shelves to the ceiling will cut off airflow and lead to hot spots around your fridge where food will spoil much faster. On top of that, overstocked fridges often result in lower visibility, which means food will get hidden and forgotten, only to be uncovered later, teeming with new life. Keeping clutter controlled will keep this kind of food waste to a minimum.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.