The Best Electric Kettle of 2020
The Bonavita is an elegant gooseneck kettle that adds a touch of sophistication to any countertop. It provides a controlled, balanced pouring experience supplied by a well-designed spout and handle. With temperature selection and holding options, this kettle is great for tea or coffee aficionados, along with any hot drink enthusiasts. Plus, as one tester noted, it can also work as a watering can for house plants.
Although we are impressed with the Bonavita, we have a few gripes. First, it does not alert when the desired water temperature is reached. Moreover, its narrow spout pours very slowly. This works fine for pour-over coffee but can be frustrating for high-volume applications. Despite these caveats, however, this machine's merits far outweigh its demerits.
Read review: Bonavita BV382518V
The Fellow Stagg EKG is a fantastic kettle for pour-over coffee. Its narrow gooseneck spout and efficient handle design restrict water flow to a slow, steady pour. Those two features will take you far down the path toward a perfect cup of drip coffee. Also, this model adds adjustable temperature, temperature holding, and automatic shutoff.
On the downside, EKG has a small capacity (0.9L) and a relatively long boil time at 6 min 38 sec. Besides that, this machine is a pleasure to use.
Read review: Fellow Stagg EKG
This economical, do-it-all kettle is an excellent addition to high-volume kitchens or break rooms. The COSORI CO108-NK has push-button, beverage-specific presets that make water heating a no-brainer. The gooseneck spout and articulated handle provide low flow rates suitable for pour-over extraction, but unlike pour-over specific kettles, this model can also accommodate high flow rates when needed. The large capacity (1.7L) and temperature holding option can keep the water flowing demand is high.
On the downside, this kettle has a relatively slow boil speed, especially at the upper end of temperature settings. Also, the gooseneck leaves something to be desired because it requires a steady hand to deliver the ideal stream of water. Still, the CO108-NK is a capable kettle that can satisfy most hot water needs without putting on airs.
Read review: COSORI CO108-NK
If you're not a hot drink aficionado, but want a sleek-looking kettle that won't break the bank, this is the kettle for you. The AmazonBasics 1.7L has a large reservoir that can boil water at a decent rate. It pours reasonably smoothly, given the disadvantages of pitcher-style handles and spouts. However, for any needs beyond hot drinks, this model can discharge water with enthusiasm.
This model's primary downside is that it lacks all control features except an ON switch. You can't set water temperature and there's no temperature holding function. This kettle just boils water and then turns itself off with an audible click when a boil has been achieved. However, if boiling water is all you require and you favor simplicity and countertop appeal, the affordable AmazonBasics Stainless Steel 1.7L kettle is worth considering.
Read review: AmazonBasics Stainless Steel 1.7L
The COSORI is a standout with its all-glass reservoir that's illuminated by blue LED lights circling the base. Depending on your view, the addition of these lights is either over the top or an aesthetic effect that makes watching water boil appealing. On a more practical note, the rolled lip pours quite smoothly despite the pitcher-style design.
While the COSORI has ample flair, it is a one-setting machine. There is no temperature selection — just turn it on to boil. It also lacks temperature holding. Although the vessel is big enough to get a hand inside for cleaning, the glass construction boosts the risk of breaking, something not shared with other models. Despite these concerns, this is a reliable unit that looks good on the countertop and is available for a competitive price.
Read review: COSORI Electric Kettle
Like all gooseneck kettles, the OXO Brew Adjustable is great for pour-over coffee. Its articulated handle and narrow spout facilitate a balanced, even pour. Unlike other gooseneck models, this kettle pours at a relatively high rate. The OXO also boasts temperature holding and continuous temperature control settings. Unique to this model is a digital display and an elegant temperature dial on the base.
We would have ranked this model higher if he had not observed such pronounced temperature inaccuracies. Another downside is the lack of an automatic shut-off feature. Despite these issues, this is a quality machine that is priced competitively.
Read review: OXO BREW Adjustable
Breville's The IQ Kettle was a contender for the Editor's Choice award. It offers preset temperature options, automatic shutoff, and temperature holding. The pitcher-style spout makes for fast pouring, which is nice considering its considerable 1.8-liter capacity.
Although The IQ's wide spout makes for speedy pouring, it also makes a slow, even pour much more difficult. Exacerbating this issue is the unit's relatively large dimensions and capacity. In other words, it's not the best for pour-over coffee. It's also quite expensive, which makes its array of features a little less impressive. Despite the shortcomings, the Breville is a reliable device that combines high capacity and multifunctionality in a kettle.
Read review: Breville the IQ Kettle
The Cuisinart PerfecTemp is a 1.7-liter pitcher-style kettle with preset temperature controls, temperature holding, and an ultra-fast boiling time. This model also has conveniently placed controls on the top of the handle that can be easily toggled with your thumb. These features are great for accomodating multiple uses.
On the other hand, this model comes with all the shortcomings of the other large capacity pitcher-style kettles. It is poorly weighted and heavy which makes it clumsy for controlled pours. It also carries a hefty price tag.
Read review: Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp
For any tea drinker that wants to upgrade their old stovetop teapot but doesn't want to lose the classic look, this is the kettle for you. The KitchenAid is a no-frills, single setting machine that has nearly everything your old teapot does except the steam whistle. Replacing the whistle is an automatic shutoff that resets the on switch to off with an audible click.
Like some of the gooseneck kettles reviewed here, this kettle offers — to a certain degree — a single function design. This machine is essentially a teapot. The spout is suited to quick, gurgling pours, which is fine for tea, but less ideal for pour-over coffee. Moreover, the placement of the handle makes steady pours all the more difficult. That said, this throwback kettle looks good and can boil water with the best of 'em.
Read review: KitchenAid KEK1222SX
The Secura is a large capacity plastic kettle with a stainless steel interior. It has no temperature settings nor temperature holding. It does shut off automatically, however, when a boil is reached.
This pitcher-style model is not great for pour-over coffee because it's heavy, poorly balanced, and the spout is wide. On the other hand, the same features promote fast pouring. This unit is simplistic and straightforward to use.
Read review: Secura SWK-1701DB
The BLACK+DECKER KE1500B is an unassuming pitcher-style kettle with no pretenses about style, features, or flair. This machine is inexpensive and straightforward to use. It has one setting, a relatively large capacity, and an automatic shutoff.
While we have a few gripes about the KE1500B's design, our main issue is that its reservoir is plastic. Although there isn't much information on the nature of this plastic, a BLACK+DECKER customer service agent stated that "we have insufficient information to support a BPA-free claim at this time." Health concerns aside, plastic can add an odd flavor to water. If saving money is your goal, please see the other Best Buy Award-winners.
Read review: BLACK+DECKER KE1500B
Why You Should Trust Us
In our relentless pursuit of detailed, data-driven evaluations of consumer electronics, we perform extensive and continual research on the most compelling products on the market. In the case of electric kettles, we scoured the web for the most popular units. We read manufacturer specifications, customer reviews, and consulted experts in the tea and coffee business. After much deliberation, we purchased the best kettles we could find for comparative testing in our lab.
Senior research analyst Austin Palmer, research analyst Michelle Powell and senior review editor Nick Miley have extensive experience testing and reviewing consumer products. Austin has tested everything from bread machines to VR headsets. He has a special knack for isolating the features that are often overlooked, but nonetheless have a major impact on customer experience. Michelle has over a decade of professional culinary experience that is centered in the gourmet coffee business. Her experience in coffee bars and cafes make her uniquely suited for an analysis of electric kettles. Nick has been writing consumer reviews for over six years. During that time he was also engaged in research in a university laboratory. He is adept at posing questions, testing hypotheses, and writing about the results.
How to Choose an Electric Kettle
One of life's most consistent pleasures is enjoying a freshly brewed hot drink in the morning. If it's possible to improve on this experience, we think many readers would be willing to spend a few dollars to do so. Case in point, many people today are ditching their bulky countertop coffee machines and the old grease-speckled teapot that lives on the range. And they're replacing them with sharp-looking electric kettles.
If you're looking to make the same change, then the first question to ask is whether you need a high-end kettle with lots of controls or just a model that boils water quickly. For many hot drink consumers, a convenient boil-only device will suffice. However, if you're also spending time and money picking out loose leaf teas or specialty coffees, then the ability to control temperature and pour should be paramount.
Of course, there are more uses for an electric kettle than just tea and coffee. With the multiplicity of kettle uses in mind, we also considered the wide variety of functions that could be important for alternative purposes. Namely, these are temperature selection, temperature holding, automatic shutoff, internal material, spout type, capacity, and water level indicator. These will be discussed later. First, we will boil down our analysis to the features common to all kettles, and thus of interest to all potential kettle owners.
You may have heard the axiom a watched pot never boils. That might have been true in the past, but no longer! Electric kettles seemingly attack the water and force it to change states right before your eyes. To quantify this action we ran a simple boil time analysis. We take four cups of 57° F water and pour it into the unit, turn it on and record the time it takes for the water to reach a rolling boil. Most of these kettles will boil water in around 4 minutes. However, the Fellow Stagg EKG takes quite a bit longer than the others at 6 min 38 sec. On the other end of the spectrum is the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp, which achieves the same outcome in a mere 3 min, 46 sec. That's a pretty big difference if you hit the snooze one too many times.
Water's boiling point varies based on atmospheric pressure and — all things being equal — atmospheric pressure decreases with elevation. Our lab is near Lake Tahoe at about 6,200 ft above sea level, an elevation that yields a relatively low average boiling point of 201° F. At sea level this value rises to ~212° F. The take-home message here is that you shouldn't be surprised if you purchase one of these products and you can't match our reported boil times. However, the observed differences between the kettles should remain the same.
These machines can alert the user that a boil (or predefined temperature) has been achieved in several different ways. Some, like the Fellow Stagg EKG and the Bonavita BV322518V simply turn off unless they're set to hold the predefined temperature. Others, such as the OXO BREW Adjustable and the Breville IQ, issue beeps. The remainder announce an audible click when the on/off switch returns to the off position. The BLACK+DECKER KE1500B and KitchenAid KEK1222SX fall into this latter category.
Balance, Weight and Ergonomics
It might seem silly to be delving this deep into how kettles feel in the hand when most people only hold them for a few seconds a day. Although it is true that most people use these products lightly, we found that some kettles are a bit unwieldy. If, for approximately the same price, you can either have a well-balanced, comfortable machine or a heavy, awkward one, wouldn't you want to know which one is which? We'll assume the answer is yes.
The Secura and the KitchenAid are both examples of the larger, heavier models with pitcher-style spouts that pose problems for pouring. The demands that their weight and size pose for the user are compounded by the placement of the handle. Although these two models have different designs, the problem is the same across both units: the handle and the spout are both high on the body of the machine. The result is that a full kettle has to be muscled into the pouring position. Conversely, the OXO, the Fellow Stagg, and the Bonavita feature gooseneck spouts (which pour from the bottom of the kettle) and handle designs that, once gripped, naturally angle the unit into the pouring position. These models are quite nice to hold and, at the same time, facilitate smoother pours. We will go into the importance of controlled pouring below.
Coffee drinkers vary considerably in palate and attention to detail in the brewing process. In our tests, we brewed coffee in accordance with the industry's highest standards for extraction. If you're looking to up your coffee game, we suggest engaging a local coffee bean roaster (or coffee shop that has a relationship with one) and following their recommended extraction parameters. This will also likely require you to invest in the tools of the trade if you haven't already. Namely, a quality grinder, a dripper, a kitchen scale, and a gooseneck kettle with adjustable temperature settings.
On Proper Pouring
This review is not a guide to proper coffee brewing practices. However, we will touch on this subject because it provides the background for the importance we place on certain kettle features.
Coffee experts have long experimented with grind coarseness, water temperature, and brew time to extract the unique flavor profile that each bean variety can offer. To isolate the factors contributing to desirable flavor outcomes, the variables in the extraction process have been limited. The result is a procedure that — as a general rule — sets the coffee to water ratio at 1:17 and the brew time to three minutes per 360 grams of water. Like many culinary tasks, merely following the directions is not enough. A certain degree of craft is required to achieve the best results.
The craft we are referring to here is how the hot water is poured. The aim is to deliver the water to the dripper in a slow, circular pour with pauses between full saturation and drainage. This method yields more even extraction and full flavor.
To evaluate each kettle's pouring accuracy, we placed a carafe and dripper holding 21 grams of ground coffee on a scale and zeroed it out. We then attempted to pour water over the grounds in an even, circular pattern until full saturation was achieved. We then continued to wet the grounds every 10 - 15 seconds until our scale registered 360 grams of coffee in the carafe. For consistency and accuracy, this test was conducted on each kettle by our expert barista and in-house tester Michelle Powell.
This coffee to water ratio combined with proper pouring technique is known to produce a pour of approximately three minutes, so it wasn't a surprise that the practiced hand of our tester managed to get all the kettles to cluster around this time. However, what the data cannot show, is the quality of the pour itself. The Secura SWK-1701DB and the Breville, with their chunky proportions and pitcher-style spouts, sloshed their way to 360 grams in just 2 min 13 sec, and 2 min 30 sec respectively. The remaining majority of the kettles were much closer to the mark, but we experienced mixed results with pouring ease and accuracy. Only the gooseneck models — such as the Fellow Stagg and the Bonavita — supplied even pours that saturated the grounds rather than plunging through and pooling underneath.
Time to Pour a Hot Glass of Water
This analysis is primarily for tea drinkers, but hot cocoa lovers may be interested too. In this simple test, we ditched the coffee drip and timed how long it took to make a controlled pour of 360 grams of hot water from a kettle directly into a glass, just as one would do when pouring for tea. Surprisingly, the range of pour times is fairly wide with the Breville and the Fellow bookending the class at 4 seconds and 27 seconds, respectively. The models with goosenecks pour much slower than those with a pitcher-style nozzle, but as discussed in the previous section, they pour more smoothly and evenly.
Several kettles offer additional features that are not common to all the products in this review. The following is a rundown of these features and why they may or may not be important for your needs.
Some models can heat water to a specific sub-boiling temperature — what we will be referring to as temperature control. Kettles like the Bonavita have continuous settings within a range — in this case, 140° - 212° F. Others, like the Cuisinart offer preset options at various increments below boiling. And still others, like the COSORI, have boil as their only option. Specific water temperatures are primarily the province of connoisseur coffee and tea drinkers, as each leaf or bean may have a preferred temperature that promotes its ideal flavor array. There are several other cooking applications, however, that this feature could also help facilitate.
Temperature holding is simply the ability to set a specific water temperature and have the machine hold the water at that value. This feature is particularly nice if you're doing production pouring in a professional setting or for a big get-together. Think hot toddies at a party or continuous coffee on Christmas morning with the whole family. About half of the models in the class offer this feature, including three award winners. Interestingly, the OXO BREW Adjustable does not have an automatic shut-off switch, which means that it functions as a temperature holding kettle by default.
Except for the OXO, all models in this review turn themselves off automatically when they reach the selected temperature — or a boil — unless they are set to hold a particular temperature.
All the kettles in this review have stainless steel interiors, except the glass COSORI, and the plastic BLACK+DECKER (note: Black+Decker states that their product may contain bisphenol A or BPA). The COSORI's glass looks pretty cool and is illuminated by LED lights ringing the base that make for a nice visual display when the water begins to boil.
There are two spout types: goosenecks and pitcher-style. The gooseneck spouts draw from the bottom of the kettle, whereas the pitcher-style flows from the top. In terms of pouring performance, the main difference between these spouts is the amount of tilt required to make a pour and the corresponding control over the rate of flow. Goosenecks models like the Fellow Stagg and the Bonavita require little tilting to initiate a pour, and the flow rate is easy to control. The opposite is true for most of the pitcher-style kettles.
The maximum capacity of the models here reviewed ranges from 0.9 - 1.8 liters. Whether you want a gooseneck or a traditional spout, there is a range of volumes available in each category. Most kettles, however, lean towards the larger capacities. Presumably, this is because you can always heat small batches of water with a large unit, but you can't add more water to a unit with limited capacity.
Water Level Indicator
Some kettles include a water level window on the side of the container, others have minimum and maximum or just a maximum line on the inside of the container. Still, others have no indicators at all. This is a convenient feature, but not essential because you can simply look into the vessel on any model to check the water level.
Electric kettles are a fantastic addition to any kitchen because they simplify and accelerate hot water preparation and use. These nifty little machines offer an array of useful features that range from boiling water rapidly to holding a predefined water temperature indefinitely. Whatever your hot water needs happen to be, there is a kettle with the right features for you.
— Nick Miley, Michelle Powell and Austin Palmer