One very underrated kitchen workhorse is the electric kettle. I use mine regularly for tea, to brew French press coffee and to add boiling water to a simmering stockpot. While many basic kettles have minimal options, there are also many models that have specialty features such as hold temperature buttons and dedicated tea-steeping baskets. They all have the same goal, which is to boil water fast, but what is the best electric kettle for your particular needs?
Megan Wollerton/CNET The Cuisinart CPK-17 is our favorite electric kettle. It's sturdily built, it boiled water pretty quickly during my testing -- and it has the largest capacity of all eight models. It also has a lot of buttons, including an open button that releases the lid and several temperature buttons to customize the water temperature. They range from a 160-degree/delicate button to a 190-degree/oolong button and even a "keep warm" button, as well as your standard boil button.
This model automatically switches to "keep warm" after it reaches boiling and turns off after 30 minutes.
At $100, the CPK-17 is a definite splurge, but it does much more than your standard kettle and feels like it will last a long time.
Megan Wollerton/CNET The $38 Miroco MI-EK003 isn't exactly cheap, but it's the best electric kettle we tested under $50. It has a large 51-ounce capacity, a simple on/off lever and It boiled water quickly. I also like the look of its glossy black finish and stainless steel interior.
A button on the top of the handle makes it easy to open the lid safely so you won't get hit with any steam. This model shuts off when it starts to boil.
Megan Wollerton/CNET The $280 51-ounce capacity Breville BTM800XL is technically a kettle -- but it's also a tea brewer and is by far the most decked-out model we tested.
It features hot water and tea buttons, with options to specify if you want to brew green, black, white, herbal, oolong or a custom tea. You can also select if you want the tea to be strong, medium, mild or custom. A digital display gives you a readout of what the brewer is doing and it has a keep warm button that helps your water stay hot for up to 60 minutes.
In addition to that, the BTM800XL comes with a basket for your loose leaf tea that automatically lowers when you select your options, as well as a teaspoon measuring spoon. As a tea-lover, I really liked these options, but it's a luxury appliance that's only worth it if you're a daily/regular drinker of loose leaf tea.
Megan Wollerton/CNET The $100 Oxo 8717100 is a great kettle in general, but its gooseneck design is particularly appealing for pour over -- or other manual coffee making that requires a steady, controlled pour.
I also like that the Oxo 8717100 has a temperature hold function, making it possible to specify that you want your water to hold at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature begins to drop, the 8717100 turns itself back on, reheating your water.
It has a smaller 34-ounce capacity, perfect for just over 4 cups of water. This kettle shuts off automatically after 30 minutes.
Here's a list of the eight models I tested to find the best electric kettle:
- AmazonBasics MK-M110A1A
- Bodum Melior
- Breville BTM800XL
- Cuisinart CPK-17
- KitchenAid KEK1222SX
- Miroco MI-EK003
- Ovente KG83B
- Oxo 8717100
And here's a more detailed overview of each model's key specs for comparison:
The AmazonBasics MK-M110A1A kettle is the most affordable and shares a smaller footprint and water capacity with the $100 temperature-customizable Oxo 8717100, although the $35 Bodum Melior has the smallest overall capacity of the group at just 27 ounces.
The $80 KitchenAid KEK1222SX looks the most like a classic stovetop kettle, but its on/off-only functionality seems limited for its high price. It's also difficult to remove its lid without getting hit with steam, so I'd suggest waiting for the water to cool down completely before attempting to open the KitchenAid kettle's top lid.
The $100 Cuisinart model has the largest capacity at 58 ounces, or 7.25 cups and nearly as many options as the very pricey $280 Breville BTM800XL tea maker. Both of these kettles have custom heat options for the perfect cup of tea, whether it's green, black, herbal — or another variety. The Breville is the only of the eight models with a dedicated basket for brewing loose leaf tea in the kettle, making it the most specialized kettle of the bunch.
While the $38 Miroco MI-EK003 isn't the least expensive model we tested, it's my favorite reasonably priced kettle. It has a large capacity, a pretty fast boil time (more on that below) and a simple on/off toggle. The Ovente KG83B has a great price and it's easy to use, but it didn't particularly stand out during my testing.
How we test: Electric kettles
To test our batch of eight electric kettles, I used a RisePro thermocouple thermometer. The thermocouple measured two things: how quickly each kettle boiled 3 cups of water — and how well each model with a "hold temperature" function held the water temperature over a 10-minute period.
For the boil test, I watched the thermocouple display until the sensor tracking the temperature inside each kettle reached 209 degrees Fahrenheit. While 212 degrees is the boiling point of water, elevation and barometric pressure put the boiling point in Louisville, KY — where the smart home team is based — at 209 degrees.
For the hold temperature test, I used the thermocouple thermometer to measure the minimum, maximum and average temperatures held during the 10-minute period. The table below displays both the average time it took each kettle to reach 209 degrees and the minimum, maximum and average temperatures each kettle with a hold temperature function held over and 10 minutes.
Keep in mind that the thermocouple readings aren't exact and that there will be slight variation based on placement during testing. That said, I did my best to place the thermocouples midway down in the water, in the center of each kettle. I also ran each test two times to confirm my readings were as consistent as possible.
The KitchenAid KEK1222SX boiled the water the fastest, at 3 minutes and 21 seconds, but the AmazonBasics MK-M110A1A, the Breville BTM800XL and the Oxo 8717100 were nearly as fast. The Bodum Melior and the Ovente KG83B were the slowest by far, at nearly 5 minutes to boil three cups of water. The Cuisinart CPK-17 and the Miroco MI-EK003 landed somewhere in the middle at 3 minutes and 53 seconds and 3 minutes and 32 seconds, respectively.
The Breville BTM800XL, Cuisinart CPK-17 and the Oxo 8717100 each offered keep warm or hold temperature functions, so I did extra testing with these models. The Oxo kettle was the only model of the three that allowed you to select a set temperature for it to hold. The other two simply had "keep warm" options that prevent the water from cooling down as quickly as it might otherwise, but don't let you customize the temperature the kettle maintains. Because of this, the Oxo 8717100 is the absolute best of the pack if you want to hold your water at — or at least close to — a specific temperature. I set the Oxo at 209 degrees (our boiling temperature for these tests) and it managed to stay within about 10 degrees. As soon as the temperature began to drop, the kettle would turn back on and heat the water up to around 205 degrees.
The Breville and Cruisinart models, in contrast, had steeper temperature drops overall. The Breville BTM800XL ranged from roughly 175 to 207 degrees and the Cuisinart CPK-17 ranged from about 188 to 210.
Regardless of the specific model you buy, start by thinking about how you plan to use your kettle — are you a pour over coffee fiend? Maybe the Oxo model is the best pick. Just need something simple with a large capacity? Consider the Miroco MI-EK003. Do you like to make large pots of loose leaf tea? The Breville is your best bet. But the best model overall that combines solid design, performance and usability is the Cuisinart CPK-17. It's pricey at $100, but deals are there if you look around.
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