Not too long ago, an electric kettle seemed like nothing more than a novelty – or perhaps something you’d buy a couple as a gift when every other item on their wedding registry list had already been taken.
Today, these appliances have gained greatly in popularity as people realize that electric kettles are actually a more convenient way than the old-fashioned method of boiling water for coffee, tea, cocoa or hot chocolate. They work much faster than a traditional kettle or saucepan and pot heated on a stove. (An instant-hot water faucet installed next to the hot and cold water taps on a sink is the only faster method, but as the late comedian Mitch Hedberg might say, “Why do we have to bring plumbers and tools into this?”)
Additionally, most electric kettles shut off on their own. There’s no worry that the water will boil away leaving a burned kettle bottom, or even that a fire could inadvertently be started, as might happen with a stove-top kettle left boiling too long. And electrics won’t summon every dog in a two-mile radius (or drive you crazy) with their shrill and insistent whistling, since they simply beep instead of whistling.
If you thought that’s just about summed up the benefits of an electric kettle, as Vizzini from the Princess Bride might say, “Not remotely!” (We promise, that’s the last obscure reference for now.)
Traditional kettles have just two water temperatures: boiling and “not done yet.” Most high-quality electric models allow you to precisely set the proper temperature, important when preparing different types of tea for optimal taste. (It also lets you heat water to a temperature that you’ll know isn’t hot enough to burn your mouth). And on a related subject, electric kettles are insulated so you can pour your water without burning your fingers on the kettle itself.
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Choose a high-end model and you can find all sorts of convenience features like keeping your water warm at a set temperature if you can’t use it immediately, and maintaining temperature settings in memory so you can remove the kettle from its base and then return it to continue heating.
And many electric kettles look beautiful on a countertop, too.
The number of electric kettles on the market has soared in recent years; here’s Groom+Style’s review of the best electric kettles currently available.
Best Electric Kettles
1. Breville BKE820XL Variable Temperature 1.8-Liter Kettle
Breville makes exceptional appliances, including top-of-the-line home espresso machines, so it’s not surprising that they also make a terrific electric kettle.
The BKE820XL isn’t just a pot with a heating element; it is specifically designed to heat water to the proper temperature for five different types of tea or coffee, with five temperature presets available on its user control panel. You can select 212 degrees for black tea (or simply for boiling water), 200 degrees for French press coffee, 195 degrees for Oolong tea, 185 degrees for white tea, or 175 degrees for green tea. The design is perfect for “tea nerds.”
The BKE820XL has several other cool bells and whistles: a button which will keep the water at your chosen temperature for 20 minutes, an easy-open lid which opens with the push of another button, and of course an auto-shutoff feature.
This electric kettle has a very large capacity, almost a full two quarts, which will easily provide enough water for seven to eight cups of tea. The downside to the large pot is that the Breville does take longer to heat water than smaller models, five minutes or even more. Of course, a comparable amount of water would much longer to boil on the stove.
There are easy-to-read see-through water levels windows on either side of the kettle; unfortunately, they’re marked in millimeters and not in cups, but that’s a fairly simple learning curve to master. As for appearance, the Breville BKE820XL is all stainless steel (except for the windows, lid and handle insulation) and has a stunning, modern look.
This variable temperature kettle may be overkill for many people who just want to boil some water. For those who are looking for more than that, it’s the best electric kettle on the market.
Facts and figures for the Breville BKE820XL Variable Temperature Kettle:
2. Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfectTemp 1.7 Liter Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
The review team had a hard time choosing between the Breville model reviewed above and this Cuisinart offering – for the most part, they provide almost the same functions and user experience and we’d be completely satisfied with either on our countertop.
The Cuisinart PerfecTemp does have several advantages over the Breville: it has one additional heating pre-set (160 degrees for “delicate”), the keep warm button works for 30 minutes instead of 20, it can operate in cordless mode, and it has a nice memory feature which maintains all settings if the pot is removed from the base for a minute or two.
The reasons the review team chose the Breville as slightly preferable are minor ones, and certainly don’t detract from the performance of this machine. The CPK-17 gets a bit hotter to the touch and the single water-level indicator is harder to read because it is located behind the kettle’s handle (which also contains all of the push buttons for operation). Finally, we preferred the slightly more “futuristic” look of the Breville to that of the Cuisinart, which looks like – well – a kettle.
This PerfecTemp electric kettle is priced a little lower than the Breville, which may also factor into your decision; overall, this machine is full-featured, performs well and a great choice for those who want to heat a lot of water to a lot of different temperatures for a lot of tea.
Key specs for the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfectTemp 1.7 Liter Stainless Steel Electric Kettle:
3. OXO 8716900 Brew Clarity Adjustable Temperature Electric Kettle
OXO is another well-respected name in the kitchen appliance world, known as much for design as for performance. And this glass electric kettle’s design is definitely stunning – not to mention the fact that you can always tell exactly how much water is inside without having to squint to read small indicator windows.
The feature that definitely stands out on the Brew Clarity is the variable temperature knob, which allows you to dial in the exact setting between 170° and 212° that you prefer for your tea or coffee. The knob’s only downside is that it protrudes noticeably from the base of the kettle, meaning the OXO will take up a good deal more counter space than it should.
The carafe is (naturally) heat-safe and made from BPA-free borosilicate glass, and the rest of the unit’s interior is made from steel, including the stainless steel filter inside the top assembly which strains the water during pouring. It’s not one of those filters that removes impurities from the water, but you can’t have anything. This kettle has a 30-minute keep warm feature and a memory that retains the last temperature you used to boil water, but does not have an auto-shutoff function (which the G+S team found a bit strange).
If you like OXO appliances but would prefer a gooseneck kettle for a bit more pouring precision, Groom+Style suggests the similar OXO Brew 8717100V1 Electric Kettle.
The OXO 8716900 is priced midway between the Breville and Cuisinart and holds a little more water than either one. We prefer stainless over glass, which is why the OXO is only ranked at #3, but we consider it right in the same ballpark as our first two choices.
More info on the OXO 8716900 Brew Clarity Adjustable Temperature Electric Kettle:
4. Secura SWK-1701DB Stainless Steel Double Wall Electric KettleNo products found.
Here’s the first less-expensive choice in the G+S rankings, as our first three reviewed models all approach the $100 price mark while the Secura costs about two-thirds less. The price is only one attractive feature of the SWK-1701, though; what the team liked most about this electric kettle is its double-wall construction, with BPA-free plastic on the outside and a complete stainless-steel build on the inside. That keeps the unit quite cool to the touch, while the water never touches any of the plastic elements and stays hot for longer than in any competitive kettle.
The one big negative we found with this Secura is that you can’t select water temperatures, since the kettle only has an on/off switch. That’s the main reason that this model’s price is so low. If you would prefer similar construction but with full control of the temperature, Groom+Style recommends the Secura Cool Touch Electric Kettle with Full Temperature Control, which sells for a good deal more but has a full seven presets extending all the way down to 100° (warm water) and 140° (suitable for kids’ hot drinks).
The SWK-1701DB heats a full (1.8 quart) pot of water to a boil in only about five minutes, and comes with a safety auto-shutoff function but no keep warm or higher-level memory features.
This Secura electric kettle only boils water, and won’t heat it to a specific temperature for your favorite blend of tea. But we love its double-wall construction, and its very reasonable price makes it ideal for those who favor black tea or instant coffee.
Details for the Secura SWK-1701DB Stainless Steel Double Wall Electric Kettle:
5. Hamilton Beach 1.7 Liter Variable Temperature Glass Electric Kettle
Those who like the idea of a glass electric kettle, but hesitate to spend the money required to buy the higher-end OXO we’ve already reviewed, will find this Hamilton Beach kettle a very nice alternative at about half the price. It doesn’t have a dial that lets you set water temperatures to the exact degree, but it does come with six programmable heat settings for different varieties of tea, as well as French press coffee (200°) and hot cocoa (160°).
The Hamilton Beach glass kettle has auto-shutoff and keep-warm features, looks good on the counter, heats water quickly, and provides a soft blue LED glow inside the kettle while it’s working. Why? We have no idea, but we’re some people will think it looks cool and futuristic. This kettle isn’t quite as well-built as the units higher in our rankings, but it should last you at least a few years for a reasonable price.
Those who prefer their hot water to touch only glass, but don’t want to break the bank, will find Hamilton Beach’s variable temperature kettle delivers the goods and is a good value.
Digging deeper on the Hamilton Beach 1.7 Liter Variable Temperature Electric Kettle:
6. Bonavita BV382510V 1L Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
Two groups of tea drinkers might find the Bonavita the best electric kettle in the Groom+Style rankings, even though it’s down here at #6. The first group prefers an old-style gooseneck spout, to provide the ultimate control when pouring water (or to pretend they’re back in Elizabethan-era England). The second group isn’t necessarily a group, but may just be individuals who want to boil only a small amount of water at a time. This kettle has an elegant-looking gooseneck spout for the first group, and a capacity of about one quart for the second group.
There are other notable features on the Bonavita as well. Like the OXO, it has a variable temperature knob which allows you to adjust the target heating temperature one degree at a time, from 140° to 212°. There’s also a digital temperature display, the stay warm feature lets you keep water at your desired temperature for a full hour and the full-featured controls are small, giving this electric kettle a small footprint on the counter.
On the negative side (other than the kettle’s size), the 1000 watts of power mean it takes longer for water to heat to boiling (about eight minutes), there’s no auto-shutoff, and the power cord is pretty small. The Bonavita is made from brushed steel and BPA-free plastic. If you’d like a larger version of this electric unit, virtually the same kettle is also available in a 1.7 liter size.
The Bonavita gives you great temperature and pouring control, in a smaller kettle that may be just the right size for a romantic tea-for-two.
A closer look at the Bonavita BV382510V 1L Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle:
7. Adagio Teas 30 Ounce utiliTEA Variable Temperature Electric Kettle
This smaller electric kettle is another model which lets you select the optimal water temperature for your tea but without fancy programmable functions or push-buttons. It’s simply a stainless steel kettle with a plastic handle, a plastic lid, and one plastic knob which controls the temperature.
Unlike most models, the Adagio requires some trial and error to find the perfect setting for heating your water because the knob indicators are colored lines and not numbers, so they are just general guidelines for “hotter” and “cooler” instead of actual temperatures. Once you’ve used the machine a few times, though, you should be ready to go – and, after all, since there are no premium electronics in the utiliTEA, you’re not paying a premium price.
There are pros and cons to the size of this machine. It only holds about three cups’ worth of water so it’s more of a “personal” kettle than one for large families or gatherings. But that also means your water will heat up much more quickly than with a huge tank, particularly since the Adagio has the same 1500 watts of power found on machines with twice the capacity.
Other pros are that it’s convenient, has a small footprint, and is relatively inexpensive; negatives are that it does get pretty warm on the outside, doesn’t have an on/off switch, and doesn’t signal when the water has reached proper temperature.
The Adagio is not a perfect electric kettle. But it’s sturdy, reaches temperature quickly, has a variable-temperature function, and works well – particularly if you just want to make a couple of cups of tea.
Highlights of the Adagio Teas 30 Ounce utiliTEA Variable Temperature Electric Kettle:
8. Chef’s Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle
When you’d rather see how much water is in your kettle instead of trying to squint through a small window, you want glass. This Chef’s Choice glass model has a cool look to it, with a brushed stainless steel housing and black handle/lid/accents, in addition to the relatively large (1.6 quart) glass tank. There’s also no chance the water will be touching any metal or plastic which would add unwanted taste since it only touches the glass.
This model does not have any temperature adjustments controls; you just fill it with water and flip the “on” switch, and wait until the water boils. No mess, no fuss, and a price tag that matches. Unfortunately, there’s no signal to let you know the water has hit maximum temperature, but since you can clearly see when it’s boiling that’s not a major disadvantage. There is an automatic shut-off feature, too.
The Chef’s Choice is a powerful unit and brings water to temperature quickly. It doesn’t have some of the advanced features you can find in other glass kettle models, but many people just want an electric kettle that works and works well. This one does.
Specifications for the Chef’s Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle:
9. Black+Decker KE2900B 1.7 Liter Stainless Steel Electric Cordless Kettle
This is a nicely-priced, no-frills unit that is the perfect choice for those who know that having an electric kettle in the kitchen will make them nostalgic for their old-fashioned one. That’s because the KE2900B looks very much like a stylish stovetop kettle, from its short stainless steel spout to its oversized but cool-looking black handle.
Don’t let the outside fool you. Inside this Black+Decker you’ll find many of the features you expect from a modern electric kettle including 1500 watts of power, automatic shutoff and boil dry protection, and a feature that the review team loves, a removable anti-scale filter that stops mineral buildup at the spout.
This model has one other unique feature that can come in handy: a “small batch boil” switch that lets you boil 1-3 cups of water much faster than if you’d used the kettle’s full power. On the negative side, there’s no temperature selectability; either you boil the water or you don’t. But the price is right – and if you were using that old-school stovetop kettle the KE2900B reminds you of, you wouldn’t be able to choose a lower temperature, either.
We can’t describe this Black+Decker electric kettle as “no frills,” because it has some very modern features despite the lack of temperature control. And it has a great, vintage look at a good price.
Going in depth on the Black+Decker KE2900B 1.7 Liter Stainless Steel Electric Cordless Kettle:
10. Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Electric Hot Water Kettle
We’ve put the Amazon Basics Kettle at #10 because it’s G+S’s budget pick, but as is usually the case with Amazon’s own products, it’s certainly not bottom-of-the-barrel in terms of quality. The purportedly stainless steel construction (except for the handle and control switch) is solid, it heats water (maximum capacity is one liter) quickly, and it has all of the necessary features like auto shutoff, boil dry protection and an easy-to-read water plastic level window (we should have mentioned that in the “not stainless steel” sentence). It has a removable water filter as well.
As with most lower-priced electric kettles, there’s no way to adjust the heating temperature; the Amazon Basics kettle heats water until it boils, and then shuts off. And we should clarify our early comment about “purportedly stainless steel” – some longtime users of this kettle report rust developing at its base after a while. That wouldn’t stop us from buying this kettle for its very low price, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
With this Amazon Basics electric kettle you don’t just get what you pay for, you get more. Just be aware that the price is so low because the unit isn’t as full-featured as the name-brand models higher in our rankings.
Checking the numbers for the Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Electric Hot Water Kettle:
Best Electric Kettles Buying Guide
Reasons to Switch to an Electric Kettle
We’ve briefly touched on the advantages of electric kettles over traditional ones, but here’s some detailed information to help you decide on the features you might want.
Electric Kettles Boil Water Faster
It can take eight to ten minutes for a nearly-full stovetop kettle to bring water to a boil, while a good electric model will do it in four minutes, three minutes or even less. Most of the best electric kettles will also keep your water at the right temperature for when you’re ready for a refill. As we all know, you’ll have to turn a stovetop kettle back on if you want a second cup after 15-20 minutes.
There Is an Optimal Temperature for the Hot Water in Your Tea and Coffee
Even though some people aren’t particular about the temperature of the hot water they use to make coffee or tea, they should be. Water that’s been heated to the sweet spot around 200° will provide optimal results for most types of coffee, while you’ll get the best cup at lower temperatures for some roasts.
White, green, oolong and even delicate black teas are meant to be brewed at specific temperatures. That’s why being able to choose the right water temperature with an electric kettle is such a pleasure – all a stovetop kettle will do is whistle at you when the water hits 212°F. There are many electric kettles with multiple settings for particular types of tea, such as 175° or 180° for green or white tea, and 190° or 195° for Oolong; some machines also have the 200° setting we’ve mentioned, which is perfect for French press coffee. A few kettles have even more flexibility, letting you adjust the temperature in increments of one or two degrees.
Convenience and Comfort
Automatic shutoff, keep warm settings, memory functions and visible water gauges are some of the features on modern electric kettles that make them a much more convenient way to boil water than just filling up a kettle (or even worse, an open pot).
The majority of these kettles are much more comfortable to use as well. The grips are designed to be cool to the touch and easy to hold, and you’d really have to try hard to burn yourself on an electric kettle. They’re made from materials that won’t rust (but try to avoid a plastic kettle which can make the water taste funky), and they’re small enough to tuck into a corner of your kitchen counter. It’s easy to see the arguments in favor of ditching grandma’s old tea kettle and going electric.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for an Electric Kettle
Check the Kettle’s Size
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the electric kettle is the right size for your intended use, and that involves both water capacity and physical size.
The most common kettles are in the one-to-two quart range, but a one-quart kettle isn’t going to be big enough to supply an office that isn’t located near a Starbucks. Two quarts is a more desirable capacity for those who aren’t buying them strictly for personal use, since that’s enough water for about eight cups of tea or coffee.
Very few electric kettles are as large as their coffee-brewing counterparts, so the required counter space shouldn’t be a problem for most people. Some models are smaller than others, however, so do your measurements before pulling out the credit card.
Construction and Power Available
Sturdy construction, either one-piece or with solid welds, is important unless you don’t mind owning a leaky kettle after you’ve used it for a little while. Look at the kettle’s power specs as well, since a model under 1500 watts will take a while to heat your water.
Important and Extra Features
As we mentioned earlier, the best electric kettles will allow you to select the target temperature for your water; the more settings there are, the more flexibility you’ll have. They’ll also either have a timer or automatic shutoff feature both for convenience and safety, plus an option to keep your water warm. Their handles will be wide enough to grab yet cool to the touch. A kettle made primarily from glass (or ceramic one) will stay cooler than a metal one, naturally; less-expensive plastic ones will also stay cool but they may change the taste of the water (as can some metal ones), and should be BPA-free.
You’ll also find a few models with features that aren’t standard in the industry, but are thoughtful additions. The review team’s favorite “extra” feature is a built-in water filter which removes unwelcome impurities and contaminants (like limescale) as the kettle heats. Another is a memory function which can remember and maintain your desired temperature while you’re pouring water (or doing other things), and a see-through water gauge is always helpful.
The one feature that Groom+Style still hasn’t found on an electric kettle, but would really love, is a timer with automatic start that can have your hot water ready for you when you wake up. It seems like an obvious add-on since this programmability is standard on most good coffeemakers, but maybe that’s the idea that will make us millionaires.
Non-Spill Spout and Removable Power Cord
There are a few more features that are less obvious but should be considered. A non-spill spout will keep you from pouring near-boiling water over the counter or onto your hands, and a kettle that has a removable power cord or sits in a heated base will let you pour without having to worry about the cord getting in the way. Some bases now swivel 360° so you can turn the kettle to the angle that works best for you; that’s extremely handy for lefties.
Exposed or Concealed Heating Element?
Finally, the location of the heating element can make a huge difference in how easy it is to clean an electric kettle. An immersed element will cause limescale to quickly build up inside the unit and require that the unit be cleaned often. A hidden or concealed heating element avoids that problem.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Kettles
Q: Are electric kettles noisy?
Q: How long will an electric kettle last?
Q: What does it mean when an electric kettle is leaking?
Q: Is an electric kettle more energy-efficient than a traditional one?
In other words, there’s no simple answer, and the amount of energy we’re talking about is relatively small.
Q: What’s the “safest” material for the boiler of an electric kettle?