Buying the best kettle? A staple in homes around the world, the humble electric kettle was invented in the US in the 1890s by the Carpenter Electric Company. Of course, that model wouldn’t stand the rigors of today’s modern kitchen. It couldn’t switch itself off for a start – that didn’t arrive until 1955 courtesy of Russell Hobbs – and it took a full 12 minutes to boil.
Now, though there are literally hundreds to choose from and they’re an invaluable piece of kitchen kit, not just for hot drinks but for boiling water for cooking, too. Designs vary in size, shape, hue and material – take your pick from steel, plastic and even glass models – at a huge variety of price points.
While features will vary depending on the ticket price, we think at the very least they should include an easy opening wide lid, comfortable and sturdy handle and non-drip spout. Tea aficionados might want to opt for a kettle with variable temperatures, homes with hard water should consider one with a washable filter and for big families, the most important feature will probably be capacity.
See our top seven kettle recommendations below, or, if you are more of a coffee drinker, then check out our best pod coffee machines guide.
The best kettles
Well known for their small appliances, UK brank Dualit recently added to its collection with the Domus – Latin for home – range. While it currently only comes in two colours, a soft charcoal grey or fresh white, it’s a great choice for both modern and classic kitchen styles.
A large, easy-to-read viewing window means you can see how much water is in the kettle at a glance – both in cups and litres, so great for making a brew or boiling just the right amount of water to use for cooking. As we’ve said above, though, it’s not a great idea to leave your kettle with water standing in it for any length of time.
The soft-grip silicone handle, wide opening hinged lid and large pouring spout make it easy to hold, fill and pour and it also has a washable filter to keep the insides clean and working efficiently.
It’s a bestseller on a number of online sites, including Amazon and Harts of Stur, although some users feel it could be a little noisy when boiling, overall buyers were more than happy with their purchase, citing a solid, well designed look as one of its most pleasing features. For completists, there’s also a matching two- or four-slot toaster.
Those who know the Smeg brand well know that its Retro Italian design creates a stand-out feature in the kitchen. But the KLF04 isn’t just about good looks, it has some interesting features, too.
In particular, the seven variable temperature settings are a big draw for those who are particular about their tea and want exactly the right temperature in order not to scald the leaves when the tea is brewing.
Reviews online focus on its features, quality and ease of use. On the John Lewis website, it garners a solid 4.2 out of five star average with only one person mentioning it could be a little heavy for those with hand-strength issues when it’s full.
The anti-slip, swivel base makes it a good choice for those households with both left and right-handed members and it comes in a variety of bold and candy colours, from classic black to mint green, bright red to cool cream.
You may recognise the iconic KitchenAid stand mixer, star of The Great British Bake-Off and many other cookery shows, but you might not realise that this respected American brand also produces a number of other small appliances, including the Artisan kettle.
Featuring the stand-out design you’d expect from KitchenAid – in fact that’s one thing online reviewers rave about – it’s another pricey model but the compensation is it’s packed with features. The curvaceous dual-core construction ensures it feels cool to the touch on the outside but inside will keep the water hotter for longer.
Choosing the temperature of your water, from 50ºC to 100ºC, is controlled via a chunky, sliding control in the base. In fact, the whole kettle feels substantial, although its large footprint won’t make it a must-have if you’ve got limited work space.
It also features a back-lit water dial that clearly shows how much water is inside even when the kettle is taken off the base. It comes in a variety of colours and as a see through glass option, too.
A perfect accompaniment to a modern kitchen, this contemporary glass-bodied kettle may be small but it is perfectly formed. From the neat 360 degree base with integral cord store for a tidy worktop to its clean lined and attractive design it is incredibly chic.
We were concerned that the clear glass might be a problem in hard-water areas where unsightly limescale residue can build up but it does come with a free sachet of descaler and we think it’s worth the extra time to keep it looking good and working efficiently.
The easy-grip handle is solid to hold and the spout pours evenly without splashing and it’s pretty light too, making it overall a good choice for those with mobility issues. While its 1 liter capacity means it’s not a great buy if you’re brewing for large numbers, it’s a great choice if there’s just a couple of you.
Online, most who buy it are really please with both how it looks and how it functions and it gets a very respectable 4.6 out of 5 star rating on John Lewis where it’s a bestseller.
This App controlled kettle feels like a more modern – and frankly much more stylish – version of the retro Teasmade some of us can remember from the '80s. Although it doesn’t go so far as to actually make the brew for you, you can remote boil your iKettle from anywhere using the Smarter App. This means you can have it boiled and ready for you to make a cuppa when you get up or when you get home after work.
Customisable alarms and prompts include ‘Wake Up’, ‘Home’ or ‘Formula’ and you can also adjust the water temperature between 20ºC and 100ºC to ensure it’s just right for your chosen drink. The iKettle can also connect with other smart home devices using IFTTT and Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
It has a very good 70% 5 star rating on Amazon but looking a little deeper, those with issues seem to mainly suggest that it can be tricky to set up with Wi-Fi initially, so be prepared.
A good buy for traditionalist who want to marry a classic shape with a splash of pastel colour, this kettle comes in three metallic-look finishes, Vintage Rose, Frosted Pearl and Light Pistachio.
It has a pretty big 1.7 liter capacity, meaning it boils more than enough for five or six cups in one go. As well as a 360 degree base it has dual sided fill-level so you can view how much water there’s in it whether you’re left or right-handed.
It features 3kW of power, so is quick to boil, too and the large spout and well balanced handle ensure it’s easy to pour and doesn’t drip.
Reviewers do mention the rather short power cord and loud boil but are mostly more than happy (66% five stars on Amazon) with the kettle’s look and performance. Those in hard-water areas also note the useful easy-to-clean limescale filter, which keeps the inner part of the kettle freer of scale for longer.
If you live in a hard water area and are forever de-scaling your kettle then this model from Russell Hobbs could be a good investment. It features a built-in Brita water filter system that reduces limescale and chlorine content and will also trap copper and lead if it’s present in the water.
It will reduce the appearance of that nasty film that can sometimes appear on the top of your brew and will also save space on the worktop or in the fridge as you won’t need to have a separate filter jug in order to have purer, fresher tasting water for your tea and coffee.
The 360 degree base means it’s perfect for both right- and left-handed users, too. To keep things even neater, it has a cord storage system so you can make it as long or as short as you desire depending on how close to a plug point you site it. The kettle comes with one Brita Maxtra filter, which should last around a month depending on usage.
It scores highly with users on AO.com, where they note, in particular, the difference in the taste of their drinks, the rapid boil time and what good value it is for money.
How do I choose the best kettle for me?
Size should be an important factor for you when choosing. There’s no point opting for a dinky 1 liter model if you’re likely to be brewing for a lot of people at a time. Likewise, if it’s just a couple of you then it’s a waste of energy to buy one with a big capacity. If energy saving is important, then go for one with measurements that indicate just how much you need to fill for one, two or three cups or more.
Should I buy a kettle with multiple temperature settings?
If you’re a tea connoisseur, then the addition of several settings will ensure you boil the kettle to the perfect temperature depending on what kind of leaves you’re brewing. For white and green teas it’s around 70-80ºC, for black and oolong tea 85-90ºC depending on the blend, herbal teas are best at 100ºC and for coffee lovers, it’s just off the boil – anywhere from 90-96ºC.
Which is better, a stainless steel, glass or plastic kettle?
Plastic kettles are lightweight and less costly to buy initially but may not be that durable and sometimes are not that stylish. Concern about using too much plastic in the home and the possibility harmful BPA chemicals in some may not mean they are the most environmental choice, either.
Glass kettles, by their very nature are hygienic and many of the latest models also look very sleek and stylish on a countertop. They’re great if you want to easily check how much water is in the kettle but that ease of viewing can also mean a limescaled interior is easy to spot. They will generally be heavier, too, so not great for someone with poor hand strength, particularly when filled with water.
A kettle with a stainless-steel outer will be very durable, so even if they’re a little more expensive and a little heavier than a plastic model, they will probably last longer. They come in a range of modern, stylish designs and often also come with removable and easily cleanable limescale filters.
Is it OK to leave water in a kettle?
You should always try to only boil what you need to save energy but also because the water can sometimes take on a strange metallic taste if it’s left in the kettle and re-boiled. Leaving water to sit in a kettle can also contribute to limescale build-up on the element, preventing it from working properly.