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Refrigerator features such as no-spill shelves and LED lights.

Best Refrigerator Features for Entertaining at Home

Large capacities and flexible features make these fridges worth a look

If you do a lot of entertaining—hosting for the holidays, throwing backyard barbecues—you want a refrigerator with plenty of storage capacity. Thanks to thinner insulation, slimmed-down icemakers, and other space-saving innovations, most refrigerators these days are pretty roomy inside.

Still other refrigerator features can make your gatherings at home run smoothly.

"Today's refrigerators offer many new compelling features," says CR test engineer Joseph Pacella. "From door-in-door compartments to dispensers for sparkling water or coffee, there are plenty of unusual features to please every kind of consumer."

The roundup below, drawn from our comprehensive refrigerator ratings, lists the best refrigerator features for entertaining and some well-performing models that offer them.

How We Test Refrigerators
After a refrigerator gets wired up with temperature sensors, we monitor it for more than a month in a temperature-controlled chamber to evaluate thermostat control and temperature uniformity. CR’s test engineers collect more than 5.4 million temperature readings for each model to detect warm and cold spots and to determine which refrigerators will keep your food fresh longer.

To help you maximize refrigerator storage, we measure usable storage capacity, which doesn’t always match what manufacturers claim. We also measure energy efficiency, noise, and how long food will stay frozen during a power outage.

All of this data appears in our refrigerator ratings charts, which as of early December have more than 400 models from brands including GE, Frigidaire, Kenmore, LG, Samsung, and Whirlpool.

Visit Consumer Reports' 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. And be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide.

1
Convertible Compartments
Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4

Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4

More new refrigerators let you control the ratio between refrigerator and freezer space. That can be helpful before a party, when you might need extra fresh-food storage for trays of food. This Samsung Chef Collection model is a great example. The true four-door refrigerator features two side-by-side bottom freezer compartments, one of which can convert to an additional refrigerator chamber. Check our guide to "flexi-fridge" models.

 

Other four-door refrigerators feature an adjustable middle drawer with different temperature settings, although they can't be turned into extra freezer space. For example, the Whirlpool WRX988SIBM, $2,200, has a "FreshStor" drawer whose temperature can be turned down when you're chilling drinks and up when you're temporarily storing party platters.

    2
    Dual Icemakers
    GE Profile PFE28KSKSS

    GE Profile PFE28KSKSS

    If your kitchen is party central, the icemaker probably gets a workout. Some newer refrigerators, including this GE Profile French-door, have one icemaker hooked up to the in-door water dispenser and a second one in the freezer. The ice output for these refrigerators was much better in our tests than that of a typical single-icemaker model. Other models with the add-on include the Whirlpool WRF995FIFZ, $3,420, and the Frigidaire Professional FPBS2777RF, $2,699.

      3
      Advanced Dispensers
      GE Cafe CYE22USHSS

      GE Cafe CYE22USHSS

      The latest through-the-door ice and water dispensers make it easier to fill oversized containers, such as water pitchers, to put out with a big holiday meal. This GE Cafe French-door model goes one better by incorporating a built-in single-cup coffee brewer from Keurig. It also delivers superb temperature control throughout its interior. Not to be outdone, the Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4 (listed above) has a dispenser with a built-in sparkling water maker, perfect for wine spritzers or carbonated cocktails. 

        4
        Split Shelves
        LG LFXS30766S

        LG LFXS30766S

        Split shelves come in handy when you need to store a lot of tall bottles in the refrigerator, perhaps a case of wine or champagne before your big New Year's Eve bash. The shelves might fold under their back half or slide to the side. They're common on French-door models like this LG LFXS30766S.

          5
          Door-in-Door Compartments
          Kenmore Elite 74033

          Kenmore Elite 74033

          This feature is cropping up on more French-door bottom-freezers, including this Kenmore Elite and a handful of side-by-sides. It's basically a shallow compartment in the door of the refrigerator that opens with the press of a button. It provides quick access to beverages, condiments, and other frequently used items. During a party, it's a great place to stash beer, soda, and the like so that your guests can grab them without making a mess of the main refrigerator compartment.

            6
            WiFi Tablets
            Samsung Family Hub RF22K9581SR

            Samsung Family Hub RF22K9581SR

            Now in its second generation, Samsung Family Hub refrigerators like this four-door model feature a 21-inch touchscreen tablet packed with apps for shopping lists, recipes, notes, family calendars, and even music and TV. It can be very helpful as you prepare to have guests over, allowing you to schedule a grocery delivery right from your kitchen. And because the kitchen is often where guests tend to hang out, you can entertain them by streaming music or the big game right on the fridge.  

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