We've tested out the best electric kettles available, including temperature-control and quiet models
While you can’t move for coffee shops on the High Street these days, we are (and probably always will be) a nation of tea-drinkers at heart. And helping us to brew that tea (ok, and coffee if you must) is the trusty kettle.
An electric kettle is a staple in the kitchens of houses all over the world – even those that have taken the plunge and had a boiling water tap installed will usually have a kettle tucked away in the cupboard for emergencies.
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Why do I need a kettle?
Let’s face it, who doesn’t need a kettle? In fact, do you know anyone without a kettle? They’re invaluable, and not just for your daily brew. A kettle will make short work of blanching tomatoes ready for peeling, preparing gravy for Sunday lunch or getting the pasta on, pronto.
How much should I spend on a kettle?
How much you spend depends on what features you’re after. Prices tend to rise the more stylish and feature-led the kettle is. If you just want a bog-standard model that boils fairly quickly and quietly, there are kettles available from £15 and above.
Designer looks come at a price, though, and many with more thoughtful, elegant designs can cost upwards of £50.
1. Breville VKJ972 Brita Filter Maxtra jug kettle – best kettle for hard water and best value
If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water then this is the kettle for you. It comes with a Brita filter cartridge, which is quick and easy to fit into the reservoir that sits at the top of the kettle. As with all filters, it needs flushing, though but once that’s done, we simply filled up the top sections and the water flowed through the filter into the second chamber.
Pressing an electronic indicator at the top of the lid will activate a count down to show when the filter needs replacing. Although the kettle’s capacity is smaller than the other full-size models we tried, it boiled our 1 litre (that’s four cups) of test water pretty quickly and quietly. The water indicator sits on the side so it was really clear to see. The feature we liked best, though, was that the kettle body and handle is illuminated a vivid blue colour when boiled.
Its plastic casing means it is relatively light, even with the filter in place and filled with water, and the chunky handle means it’s easy to pour. The 360˚ base with cord holder is stable, too, so there’s no chance of it tipping – this also means it’s easy to use whether you’re left or right-handed. A good tip is to refill the kettle as soon as you’ve boiled it. This will ensure that you’re not waiting for the water to filter through every time you fancy a quick cuppa.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
2. Sage by Heston Blumenthal BKE395UK Compact glass kettle – best small kettle
It may be small but this kettle is perfectly formed. Part of a range of small appliances to which chef Heston Blumenthal has given his illustrious name, it sits neatly on the 360˚ base. With its integral cord store, it’s clean-lined and attractive. The shock-resistant clear glass exterior is a real talking point but could become an issue in hard water areas. However, it does come with a free sachet of descaler, and we think this one’s worth taking a little more care of to keep it in tip-top condition.
A concealed element in the base and a soft-release lid add to the sleek feel, and its chunky soft-grip handle felt comfortable in the hand. It took the longest to boil of all the kettles on test but, as there wasn’t much in it from machine to machine, we didn’t feel that impacted on our tea drinking a great deal. The spout pours quickly and evenly with no splashing. As a whole, it’s pretty light despite its glass and steel construction.
Being compact, it’s top capacity is just a 1ltr compared to 1.7ltrs for most of the others we tested, but this wasn’t an issue as we didn’t often need to boil more than that in one go.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
3. Russell Hobbs Luna kettle in Midnight Grey – best quiet kettle
Featuring a quiet boil – it apparently makes 75% less noise when boiling than other Russell Hobbs models – this is kettle is a great fit for open-plan spaces where a loud kettle can be a real distraction.
It also has a rapid boil function for one, two or three cups that’s indicted by clear red markers on the inside of the kettle. Not only will that save energy – the makers claim up to 66 per cent – it meant our water was boiled and ready to pour onto the waiting teabag in around 50 seconds. The kettle’s main boil function isn’t too shabby either and was one of the quickest on test, bringing a litre of tap water to 100˚ in a little over two minutes. That gave us plenty of time to make a hot drink during the ad breaks of our favourite shows.
In addition this kettle has an auto-shutoff to prevent it boiling dry, although since the water window on the side is clear and lights up, you can clearly see how much water there is when it starts to boil anyway. An integral limescale filter in front of the spout is easy to remove and wash and will help stop scum forming on your tea or coffee.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
4. Dualit Architect Kettle – best for mixing and matching with your home décor
If you’re the kind of person that likes to switch up your home décor with the seasons, then this model with interchangeable panels is for you. The (already beautiful) steel exterior can be further enhanced with easy-to-fit panels that encase the bottom and lid. The panel kits can be bought separately, and range in price from £12.50 for plain colours and metallics to £24.95 for specially commissioned designs from the likes of Bluebellgrey, Charlene Mullen and Kit Miles, whose floral Biophilia design is our current must-have.
As we’ve come to expect from Dualit products, the kettle is also beautifully built and ergonomic to use. The lid had a nice soft-open action, meaning it’s easy to refill without the risk of steaming your hand. The water indicator under the handle lit up when we started boiling, and has easy-to-read levels from two cups cup to a maximum of 1.5L. We particularly liked the unique circular pouring spout, which ensured free-flowing water with no splashes.
It’s not the lightest kettle we tested but feels stable and secure on its base. There’s an integrated cord store and it boils quietly, if not overly speedily, for such an impressive looking machine. An internal filter meant boiled water was crystal clear and scum-free, even though the water from our tap tends to be harder than action hero Jason Statham on a tough day at the office.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
5. KitchenAid Artisan Dual Wall kettle – best temperature-control kettle
Like the rest of the Artisan range, this kettle is a real statement piece. Surprisingly light, it has the biggest footprint of all of the kettles we tested, so you’ll need a fair amount of spare worktop to give it the room it deserves. We think the curvaceous design best suits the Candy Apple red colourway we tried, but it’s also available in a number of Artisan colours including white, cream silver and black.
The looks aren’t the only standout feature on this kettle though. And while the retro Americana design might divide opinion, the variable temperature control is a great addition for real tea aficionados. A panel illuminated via a chunky sliding control in the base allowed us to select a water temperature from 50˚ to 100˚ degrees, depending on what kind of drink we were having.
We tried green tea with water at the usual 100˚ and at the recommended 80˚ and noticed that it was markedly less bitter at the lower temperature. The dual-wall build also meant that this was the coolest-to-the-touch once boiled of the kettle we tested. It was also the quickest to boil of all the models in just over two minutes.
The dial that clearly indicates the temperature of the water inside (even when the kettle is removed from the base) was a nice touch.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
6. Smeg KLF04 Variable Temperature Kettle – best retro-style kettle
Don’t let the fun candy colours and retro design of this kettle deceive you – it’s deadly serious about boiling. The sturdy 360˚ swivel base makes it easy to use whether you’re left or right-handed, while anti-slip feet means it stays firmly put on the worktop. An audible beep can be heard when you first switch it on and similarly when the water has reached the chosen temperature.
As it’s another variable temp kettle, we decided to take it through its paces with three different teas. We tried black, white and green to see if we could taste the difference. While we’re not real connoisseurs, we did definitely feel that the lower temps suited both the white and green teas we tested. It gave them what we can only describe as a softer, more rounded taste than they had when made with fully boiled water.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
7. Bosch TWK7203GB Sky kettle – best hi-tech kettle
We love a bit of hi-tech style, so it’s no surprise we were impressed by the unique touch-control panel on this kettle. At just 1kg, it’s light, easy to fill and holds an impressive 1.7L when full. The base features a simple power-on graphic that, when gently pressed, allowed us to switch the kettle on and off in the same way as we would our smartphone or tablet. Nice.
There’s also a funky, futuristic blue-light slider that illuminates to indicate a chosen temperature, from 70˚C to 100˚C. While it wasn’t quite the quickest to boil, it was pretty speedy at just over two-and-a-half minutes. And if you get distracted, like we often do, there’s an ingenious keep-warm function. This maintains the desired water temperature for 30 minutes after the kettle has boiled.
It also has the obligatory 360˚ base, meaning it’s comfortable to pick up from any angle. There’s a lovely large flip lid and a removable limescale filter, too. Sure, it’s got a slightly bigger footprint that most of the models we tested. But we think its elegant lines and steely good looks mean it’s an absolute keeper, however much worktop space you might have.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
How to buy the best kettles for you
What are the main features to look for in a kettle?
Top of our must-have list is that it’s easy is it to hold, fill and pour. If you often refill a kettle as soon as it has boiled, choose one with a flip-top lid you don’t have to take off manually. This is really important to avoid the risk of scalding yourself on steam when you open it.
We’d definitely suggest a cordless model on 360˚ swivel base, for ease of use. A cord store will keep things tidy on a worktop, and an easy-to-view water indicator is handy.
While kettles don’t come packed with tech, some have variable boil temperatures. This is great if you’re a tea aficionado who knows their oolong boiling temp from the one that’s right for standard black tea. That’s 80-85˚C and 100˚C, respectively, if you’re curious.
I live in a hard water area. What’s the best kettle for me?
Filters that reduce limescale are invaluable if you live in a hard-water area and don’t want to be descaling your kettle on a regular basis.
Just be aware that models that feature a Brita filter, for instance, generally have a smaller capacity. That’s because of the room taken up by the filter and its holder. The cost for replacing the filters once a month can add up, too. However, it will mean you don’t need an extra water filter jug on the worktop.