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Electric kettles can be an essential appliance if you’re looking to boil water quickly, whether you’re brewing tea or heating up water to pour over coffee or instant oatmeal. While stovetop kettles can still get the job done well, electric kettles are typically faster and more convenient, with features like preset temperatures and glass exteriors that let you see exactly how much water you’re heating up. They’re also fairly inexpensive, starting at around $30 to $50 for a quality model — as they’ve become more popular, they’ve also gotten more accessible and affordable, according to Jane Pettigrew, a tea specialist and founder of the UK Tea Academy.
To help you sort through the various options available now, we talked to experts about how to shop for an electric kettle and who can benefit from using one. We also highlight their recommendations for the best electric kettles to buy.
6 best electric kettles to shop
Since we don't test electric kettles ourselves, we rely on expert guidance and our previous reporting about how to shop for them. The experts we talked to recommended the following highly rated electric kettles that also align with their guidance. We also included a highly rated electric kettle recommended by one of our Select writers.
Roy Lamberty, founder of the New York Tea Society, recommended this electric kettle from Fellow, thanks to its convenient gooseneck spout and its sleek and modern look. He noted that it also features a large handle with “enough room for you to grip it properly … even when it is full.”
The kettle features a temperature control dial that lets you choose your desired temperature from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The fixed base lets you move around the kettle wherever you need, and a toggle on the back of the base can be switched to hold mode to maintain your desired temperature for 60 minutes, according to the brand — when the toggle isn’t on hold mode, the kettle will turn off after reaching the set temperature.
Pettigrew recommended this 1.7-liter Cuisinart PerfecTemp electric kettle, which she noted is on the larger side of electric kettles, has a flat bottom and is “much more like an old-fashioned kettle that you might put on the gas.” It has six preset heat settings, including 175 degrees Fahrenheit for green tea and 200 degrees Fahrenheit for a French press (although Pettigrew emphasized that these temperatures aren’t always accurate). This kettle also includes a 30-minute keep warm function and a 360-degree swivel base for cordless portability.
Pettigrew said she’s worked with Zojirushi kettles at various tea competitions and noted they’re “completely different from typical kettles” she sees at home in England. She said a lot of tea experts choose this Zojirushi Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer for “its durability and ease of accessing the water via a pumping action rather than pouring.” It has four water warming settings ranging from 160 degrees Fahrenheit up to 208 degrees Fahrenheit and a water dispensing function, which can be a good option for those who want to avoid lifting a heavy kettle. The device features a clear-coated stainless steel body and nonstick interior, and the beep signal can be turned off to reduce the noise level.
Several experts we spoke to recommended OXO kettles for their functionality and durability. This model features an adjustable temperature control dial so you can choose the exact temperature you need, which “enables tea lovers to quickly heat up and maintain the water at a fixed temperature,” according to Anna Ye, a tea educator and consultant. She added that the temperature dial “is intuitive and gives the kettle a clean and sleek feel.” The kettle can boil up to 1.75 liters of water, and you can set the temperature anywhere between 170 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re willing to sacrifice temperature control for affordability, this electric kettle from Hamilton Beach is a “great option for folks who don't need the gooseneck or adjustable features,” Ye said. The kettle is cord-free for portability, has an auto shut-off feature that keeps it from evaporating the water and has a drip-free spout, according to the brand. It also features a water level window that lets you measure exactly how much water you’re putting inside. Hamilton Beach also offers an affordable glass version.
This 27-ounce Bodum Electric Kettle has a slim gooseneck spout for pour overs. Though this kettle doesn’t feature temperature control, it can be a more affordable option for those looking to only boil water. The body of the kettle is made of durable stainless steel, and the handle and lid are covered with cork to improve the grip and protect your hands from the heat. Select writer Zoe Malin uses this kettle to boil water for her pour overs and said the gooseneck is great for controlling where the water goes. She also appreciates the auto shut-off feature since she can do other things around the house while her water boils.
How to shop for a quality electric kettle
The experts we spoke to agreed that electric kettles are typically a better — and even safer — alternative to a stovetop kettles. Lamberty said some of the major benefits of an electric kettle are a faster boiling time, energy efficiency and greater safety due to lack of exposed flames and auto shut-off features. He added that one of the biggest advantages of an electric kettle is “the capability of being able to boil water in any location where you can find an outlet.”
There are a few key electric kettle features that experts told us are important to consider, including temperature control, material and size.
The experts we spoke to emphasized that being able to control the temperature of the water can be crucial to brewing a traditional cup of tea or coffee. “For example, black tea should be made with boiling water (212 degrees Fahrenheit), and green teas should be made using water at around 185 degrees Fahrenheit — this flexibility is not available with traditional stovetop kettles,” said Peter Goggi, president of Tea Association of the U.S.A.
Most higher-end electric kettles will provide temperature ranges from around 100 degrees Fahrenheit up to boiling temperature — some will display preset temperatures that you can choose from, and others will show the specific temperature of the water going up in increments of 1, 5 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Pettigrew said she prefers kettles that increase incrementally since those “can show finer differences for teas like oolongs and black tea.”
Some preset temperatures may only show the name of the tea or coffee instead of the temperature it’s heating up to — Pettigrew noted those may not always be accurate and give less control to the user. However, the preset temperatures can be good for beginners: “I suspect that might help people who aren't used to doing different temperatures for different teas,” Pettigrew said.
As for kettles with low, medium and high options, Pettigrew said she’s not a fan. “You really have no idea what those temperatures are,” she said. Some kettles may also have a keep warm function that can serve as a way to keep the water hot after it boils — this can be an effective feature, but keep in mind some of the contents of the water could evaporate, according to Pettigrew.
While experts told us temperature control is preferred, this feature is contingent on how you intend to use the kettle. “Most tea kettles will automatically shut off at a boil — if you intend to always use boiling water, a temperature control is unnecessary,” said Lamberty. “However, if you’re like me and enjoy drinking many different teas, knowing the temperature of the water is important.”
There are three main material types that you’ll find in most electric kettles: stainless steel, glass and plastic.
- Stainless steel kettles are durable, lightweight and make the deposit buildup at the bottom less noticeable, according to Pettigrew.
- Glass kettles can be a great option if you want to see the water inside, especially if you’re looking for bubbles to indicate a boil. “They’re naturally free of BPA and other similar chemicals — make sure it's made of borosilicate glass [that’s] scratch-resistant and does not crack or break while boiling,” Ye said.
- Plastic kettles are typically the cheapest of the three options, but the experts we spoke to recommended generally avoiding these types. “I'm a little bit wary of [plastic kettles] because we don't know how much of the kettle is maybe being dissolved into the water,” Pettigrew said. Diana Zheng, co-founder of Three Gems Tea, said she prefers a nonplastic body “so there's no plastic flavor imparted to your water.”
Lamberty said one of the most important features he looks for is that the spout originates toward the bottom of the kettle rather than the top. “If the spout originates from the top of the kettle, then as the water level gets lower, it becomes necessary to tilt the kettle further to be able to pour the water and can cause leaking from the lid or maybe even cause the lid to fall off,” he said.
A gooseneck spout, which originates from the bottom of the kettle, is a favorite among the experts we spoke to. According to Ye, a gooseneck spout “[gives you] precise and easy pours” and could be an aesthetically pleasing part of your tea or coffee routine.
Since an electric kettle doesn’t need to sit on top of an open flame, there is less of a fire hazard, even when you set it and forget it. “I love being able to just turn the kettle on and walk away, not having to monitor when it reaches a specific temperature,” Zheng said.
But there are still several safety features available that can keep accidental fires and burns from happening. All of the experts we consulted agreed that an auto shut-off feature, which turns the device off when the water reaches a boil, is a priority — fortunately, most electric kettles already have that feature.
Goggi also said his favorite type of kettles are those with fixed bases. “The base plugs in but the heating element is not activated unless the kettle is positioned on the base,” he said, adding this is “both a safety feature and an energy saver,” since you don’t have to keep the kettle connected to the heating source.
Choosing a kettle with a large handle that gives you enough room to grip comfortably can also be a key safety feature, according to Lamberty. “Make sure that it has a tight-fitting lid [that] doesn’t allow water to leak out,” he added.
Both Pettigrew and Lamberty said that noise level can be an important consideration when shopping for an electric kettle, especially for avid tea drinkers. “A noisy kettle can take away from the serene atmosphere which is desired during a tea drinking moment, especially if tea has become a part of your meditation practice,” Lamberty said. If noise is an easy distraction for you, they recommend testing the noise level before committing to a kettle purchase.