The best kettle 2020: top electric kettles for the perfect cuppa
Much more than just a jug for making tea - we put the best kettles to the test
A kettle is an essential for any modern kitchen. If you’re in the market for a new one, you want to make sure it’s up to the task, time and time again. Given our obsession for a brew, the best kettle will be used at least three times a day - add that up over the lifetime of a kettle and it's obvious that this is one gadget that has to be rather durable.
This is why we’ve spent weeks and weeks putting the best electric kettles on the market through their paces, timing how long they take to boil, negotiating special features and testing their durability, to find the best value options and the kettles that really perform.
Below you can read what we liked and disliked with all the kettles we tested but, for clarity, the best kettle for value was the fast-boiling Russell Hobbs Inspire Kettle. The best kettle overall was the expensive but excellent Dualit Classic.
There are some more great choices in our list but whatever you want from your boiler, you’ll find it here.
Best kettle: for value and overall
- Beyond the kettle: these are the best coffee machines around right now
Best kettle: the ShortList
Upvote of downvote to have your say on our shortlist, or scroll down for the expert's view.
1. Delonghi 1.7 litre Argento Flora kettle in Jasmine Beige
This retro-look stainless steel kettle is available in a selection of pastel shades inspired by flowers – pink, green and blue – and comes with a removable limescale filter. A matching coffee filter machine and toaster are available. The level markings are in litres rather than cups, which makes it good for cooking.
2. Dualit 1.7 litre Classic Kettle in Polished Finish
This stainless steel kettle comes with Whisper Boil technology, making it one of the quietest kettles out there. Its fast-boil and has two water gauges – one in litres, one in cups – a non-spill spout and the repairable and replaceable element means it’ll last for years. Matching toaster and other colours available.
3. Russell Hobbs 1.7 litre Inspire Kettle in Red
This fast-boil kettle has some great touches for the price point, including hidden cup measurements inside so you can fill to one cup only, an easily removable limescale filter and stainless steel accents. It also comes in black and white.
4. Breville Flow 1.7 litre Jug Kettle in Black
A lightweight, fast-boil kettle with big easy-to-use buttons and lid handle. Easily removable, washable limescale filter and a nice wide-pour spout. Also comes in slate grey and mushroom cream. Of the kettles tested this was the coolest to the touch after boiling.
5. Morphy Richards 1.5 litre Brita Filter kettle in white
A fast-boil plastic jug kettle that filters water as it heats. The LCD memo screen shows you when the filter needs replacing, which is around every four weeks.
6. Russell Hobbs 1.7 litre Illuminating Glass Kettle in Copper
The UK’s number one best-selling glass kettle, this fast-boil option glows blue as the water heats creating a cool lava lamp effect. Also available in black and white, it has a one-cup marker so you don’t overfill and waste energy and water.
7. Dualit Domus 1.5 litre Kettle in Black
Fast boil with two water gauges – litres and cups – one on each side, and the sure-pour spout means you can pour without spilling even at a low angle. Available with black or porcelain accents, it has a circular plug to match the retro design and a removable, washable limescale filter.
8. Smeg 1.7 litre Variable Temperature Kettle
Available in a whopping eight different colours, this retro kettle has that signature Smeg 1950s' diner look. Temperature settings offer seven different options from 50-100°C. It has a stay-warm button, which keeps water heated for 20 minutes. You can get a host of matching appliances including toasters, coffee machines, blenders and juicers.
9. Swan 1.7 Litre Nordic Kettle in Slate Grey, £49.99
One of the quickest boilers we tested, this minimalist design steel kettle has a rubberised coating that also comes in cotton white. The wood effect handle is made from rubberised coating so won’t bloat or warp if it comes into contact with water.
The Expert's View
Best kettle: How we selected
You might think your kettle-buying choices are pretty basic. Is the colour going to fit with your kitchen theme? How much does it cost? And how long does it take to boil? If only it were that simple. Kettles these days come packed with features, meaning there’s much more to consider than just the ability to heat water. Particularly if you’re serious about your cuppa.
Manufacturers have cottoned onto Britain’s growing obsession with swanky coffees and teas that stretch beyond builders’. As such, many kettles now offer variable temperature settings designed to help you get that Sencha green tea at the perfect degree without damaging its delicate flavour (that’s 85°C since you ask).
At the mid-to-top-end of the kettle kingdom you’ll find quiet boil features – ideal if that bubbling rocking sound is too much first thing in the morning – stay warm options that keep your water ready to go for an extra 20 minutes (hello meeting room), patented spill-free spouts and hidden one-cup measures. It’s a crazy world of electrical appliances out there.
Also worth taking into account when you’re looking for a new kettle is the material. Plastic kettles are usually cheaper than steel or glass but might not fit with your design aesthetic. Some people also say they find metal and glass kettles give a cleaner water taste, although that may be applicable to those with a more refined palate than ours.
One advantage of plastic kettles, though, is that they’re usually cooler to the touch after boiling. If you have small people in the house or pets who like to slink along the kitchen surface (we’re not judging) this may be a better option.
Whether you can get a matching toaster and other appliances could also be a consideration – collar and cuffs and all that.
If the waiting time for your water to boil is important, you’ll want to look for a kettle marked as rapid or fast boil, this means it’ll have a 3KW element for speedier heating.
You might also want to consider ease of use – kettles with 360-degree rotational bases are just as easy to lift and pour for left and right handers. Markings showing how much water you have inside can be handy if you want to avoid wasting energy by boiling more than you need. And then there’s that pesky blighter: limescale. If the water in your town is hard enough to have Chris Eubank Jr in a fight, a kettle with a removable, washable limescale filter will save you the rather stinky hassle of boiling vinegar to get rid of those hard deposits.
When choosing kettles to test we took into account all of the above as well as the boiling habits of different types of kettle users – the coffee and tea aficionados, the design connoisseurs and those who just want something that heats water and doesn’t go bang within a year.
And we aimed to provide a range of price points, from value options to the more expensive all-singing all-dancing multi-temperature über kettles. We looked at popular offerings from major manufacturers such as Breville, Russell Hobbs, Cusinart, Smeg and DeLonghi and chosen kettles from basic to whizz-bang.
We’ve included steel, glass and plastic models to cover every taste. All come with a minimum one-year warranty and have a 360-degree rotational base so they can be used by left and right handers.
Best kettle: How we tested
We did away with the labs and trialed the kettles where they’re most likely be used – in a home kitchen with a bit of Jeremy Kyle on in the background. There was a lot of boiling, a lot of timing, many hot beverages consumed and a low-hanging cloud of steam blanketing the room for a few days.
In amongst the coffee breaks (and accompanying biscuits) we looked for a number of features from our kettles. We tested each appliance by boiling a litre of water from cold – enough for around four cups – to see how long it took to reach the desired temperature and whether or not it matched the manufacturer’s claims, if they’d made any.
We did the same test when the kettle was at full capacity because, when you’re about to knock up some pasta, it’s useful to know if you can fit enough water into your kettle for the pan and if you’ve got time to chop your onions before it boils.
Alongside boiling time we were also looking for ease of use. Were the kettles simple to set up straight from the box? Where there were special features, such as variable temperatures, were these intuitive? And, more importantly, were those special features actually useful?
Were they easy to fill? Some kettles have removable lids while others have buttons to press to lift the lid – and could you pour without dribbling, spilling or contorting your wrist? No one wants a sloppy saucer after all.
We were also testing for quality, robustness, durability and noise. While no kettle is going to be completely silent, you probably don’t want one that drowns out Loose Women. (Did we mention we watched a lot of telly with our tea?)
Best kettle: the test results
Nine of our kettles were ready to plug in straight from the box, although it’s advisable to boil a full kettle of water to remove any dirt or dust from the packaging before you first use it.
The only one that required a bit of thought was the Morphy Richards Brita Filter kettle. It’s hardly flat-pack furniture territory, but the Brita filter needs to be soaked in water before being inserted into a holder in the kettle. It’s straightforward enough, but the instruction manual took some deciphering.
As the Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle is the only one without a speedy 3KW element we were expecting a close race in the great Shortlist boil off, and we weren’t disappointed. Each of these is going to boil enough water for four cups in under three minutes.
The fastest boiler was the Dualit Classic Kettle, heating our cuppas in just two minutes and 17 seconds (although the manufacturer states it should take two minutes 14 with room temperature water).
Only one second behind was the Delonghi ArgentoFlora at two minutes 18 seconds and third fastest was the Swan Nordic kettle at two minutes 23 seconds. You’re not going to have to wait too long for your caffeine hit with any of these kettles, though – the remainder of the fast-boil options all took between two minutes 26 and two minutes 36 to reach boiling point. Even the slowest in our trial, the Smeg, which isn’t advertised as fast-boil, heated the water in less than three minutes, taking two minutes 50 seconds to boil.
Two of our kettles, the Cuisinart Signature Collection Multi-Temp Kettle and the Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle, allow you to choose different temperatures for your beverage. The Cusinart is simple to use, with two buttons marked 85 and 100 degrees and a plus sign allowing you to add 5°C increments all located on the handle.
The temperature of the water is displayed at all times on an LCD screen, so if you want a lower temperature you can hit the off switch when it reaches the appropriate number – although who wants to stand and watch a kettle boil?
The Smeg offers a greater number of temperature options – seven in total from 50°C through to boiling. To choose the temperature required you nudge a small lever on the base and lights corresponding to each option will be illuminated.
The Smeg also has a stay-warm feature, keeping your water heated for an extra 20 minutes – useful if you’re a serial coffee drinker. The only issue here is that the thermometer button to turn on the stay-warm feature needs to be pressed before or during heating – this means if you’ve just boiled your kettle and the phone rings you can’t hit stay-warm and have that hot water waiting when you’ve finished.
All of our kettles were easy to fill and pour, no spillage anywhere. If you have weaker wrists then the plastic kettles – the Breville Flow, Russell Hobbs Inspire and Morphy Richards Brita Filter – are the lightest among our selection, while the Delonghi Argento Flora is the lightest stainless steel kettle. Nothing weighed in at over 2kg though, so all are lighter than your average two-litre bottle of water.
If you’re making tea for one person and want to save energy we liked the fact that the Russell Hobbs and Dualit kettles had markings for one cup. In fact, if being able to see water measurements in general is important to you then the Russell Hobbs Illuminating, Dualit Domus and Dualit Classic all have markings on the front, making them easier to see than those under the handle.
All kettles, with the exception of the Morphy Richards Brita Filter, had removable limescale filters which can be washed under the tap. However, the filter in the Swan Nordic was quite hard to remove and made from fabric, so it probably won’t last as long as some of the others.
All of them seemed durable enough to stand the test of time, with the exception of the Swan Nordic Kettle. Ours was slightly wobbly on its base, meaning it took two or three presses of the on/off switch to turn on at first. While this settled down after a few uses it may mean a couple of knocks could throw this kettle off kilter.
When it came to noise, there were no real screamers, so our ears weren’t overly offended. If you want a quiet kettle, though, the Dualit Classic is the winner – its Whisper technology means it does, actually, sound like a whisper when it boils.
We were also impressed with how quiet the Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle was, although it beeps when it’s turned on and when it’s boiled – a useful notifier if you’re busy doing other things while you wait for it to boil, not so good if you want something as quiet as possible.
Best kettle: overall winner
Dualit 1.7 litre Classic Kettle review, £145.99
Let’s get the obvious out of the way straight off – this is not a cheap kettle. But if you’re able to fork out the extra coin then what you get is attention to detail, quality design and finish, and a fast-boil kettle that’s built to last.
The retro stainless steel styling is, as the name suggests, a design classic. It’s going to look good for years to come. If you want to add a hint of colour, there are five different options for a coloured band around the bottom and on the handle, all in tasteful hues with names like powder, feather and shadow. There are four different varieties of toaster to match, too, including one made specially for buns and teacakes.
The stainless steel limescale filter is much sturdier than most we tested so won’t fray or bend (as cheaper options can) and is easily removed for washing. The hinges on the lid are sturdy beasts made from stainless steel so they won’t break or snap.
This was the fastest boiling kettle we tested and the covered spout makes it pretty much impossible to spill hot liquid even if you try. And it means no dribbly limescale marks either.
It’s quiet, too. So quiet, in fact, it has a Quiet Mark award from the Noise Abatement Society for its patented Whisper Boil technology. While it's not completely silent it never reaches the crescendo most kettles do as they near boiling point.
It has dual water gauges, one in litres (handy for cooks) and one in cups. These are easily able to view on each side of the body, rather than hidden under the handle as many are. And it really will last for years. Whereas cheaper kettles often end up in landfill when the element wears out, the Classic Kettle has a replaceable, repairable heating element.
On the downside, the lack of variable temperature and stay-warm functions may be an issue if you like speciality teas heated to a certain degree. That sturdiness does come with a bit of extra weight, too – this was the second heaviest kettle we tested (although it was still less than 2kg, the average weight of a two-litre bottle of water). The main con really is the price, which makes it an unlikely option for most budgets.
Best kettle: for value
Russell Hobbs 1.7 litre Inspire Kettle review, £39.99
If you’re looking for a quality kettle without splashing too much cash then the Russell Hobbs Inspire is a solid option. Robust and durable, this plastic kettle comes in three different colours – white, black and red – so it’ll fit in with most kitchen colour schemes. Stainless steel accents make it look classier than many other kettles in this price range and you can get a two- or four-slice toaster to match if you fancy.
The little touches are what makes it stand out for the price. There’s a washable limescale filter that’s really easy to remove, which is particularly handy if you’re in a hard water area. Hidden inside the kettle you’ll also find little plastic markers showing one, two and three cups. This means it’s very easy to get exactly the right amount of water without craning your neck to see the external measurements, which are hidden under the handle. Saves you wasting water and energy as well, innit.
While it doesn’t offer variable temperatures or a stay-warm feature, and we wouldn’t expect them at this price, it does the basics well. It’s fast-boil – the manufacturer claims it can boil a cup in 45 seconds, we found it to be slightly quicker – and it was among the five fastest boilers in our selection.
Easy to fill with a wide removable lid, it was one of the lighter kettles we tested so there’s less chance of breaking your wrist when lifting it if that’s a concern. And it feels as though it could take a bit of a knocking about.
The only thing we weren’t too keen on was the ridged plastic. While the ridges help to camouflage any greasy finger marks they can mean you’ll spend a little bit longer wiping it clean.
Comparing the rest on test
If our test winner and best value options don’t take your fancy, here’s everything you need to know to find your perfect kettle from the rest we tested.
Best for hard water areas
If you have a real issue with limescale or find water that the in your area has a taste you’re not keen on, the Morphy Richards Brita Filter kettle filters water as it boils, ridding it of any impurities and leaving cleaner tasting water. It’s not the best looking kettle out there (it’s very plasticky), but it is fast-boil at a budget price. It’s worth bearing in mind that you will have to replace filters every four weeks, though they’re not too expensive at around £12.50 for three on Amazon, but this is an added cost.
Best for minimalist kitchens
The Swan Nordic Kettle is a great-looking option for less than £50. We really like the clean lines, slate grey rubberised coating and wood effect handle – it’s not actually wood but rubberised coating instead, so it won’t warp and bloat when it comes into contact with water. It was also one of the fastest boilers we tested. It’s basic on the function front, however – the water gauge starts at four cups, the limescale filter is hard to remove and doesn’t seem too durable and it also took a couple of gos to turn it on at first.
We were really impressed by the Breville Flow for the price. It was only just beaten to our best value choice by a very slim whisker. It’s basic but does what it does very well. The plastic body is solid and durable and it was the coolest of our kettles to the touch after boiling, good if you have small children around. The lid is easy to remove and there’s a large space for quick and easy filling, as well as a nice wide easy-pour spout. The limescale filter is super easy to remove and it’s fast-boil to boot. A good choice for a family kitchen.
Best for looks
The fast-boil Russell Hobbs Illuminating Kettle stands out for its reassuring glow. Turn the kettle on and the body lights up blue as it boils and you can see the water bubbling and boiling like a lava lamp. There isn’t really any point to this but it’s mesmerising to watch. Nice one-cup marking on the body, too. The downside to glass kettles is that you can see any marks or limescale build up immediately so you might have to descale your kettle more often. Condensation is also visible after boiling, but if that’s a bother you can just ping the lid open for a couple of minutes.
Best for multiple temperatures
If you want to choose your water temperature, theCuisinart Signature Collection Multi-Temp Kettle is a good choice at a not too hefty price – £80, and often available for less. Water temperature is displayed on an LCD screen at all times so you can watch it change as it boils. You select the temperature by pressing an 85 or 100 degree button on the handle, while a plus button allows you to add on to the 85 in 5°C increments. For anything lower than 85 degrees, though, you’ll have to watch the temperature and turn it off manually.
Best for retro kitchens
The Delonghi Argento Flora is a nice retro-look steel kettle that was the second fastest to boil out of those we tested. This is a decent, durable boiler that doesn’t go in for fancy features. What it do go in for, though, are looks. It comes in a number of ice-cream shades including pink, green and blue.
Best for smaller work spaces
If kitchen counter space is tight a slightly smaller kettle like the Dualit Domus is a good choice. You’re still going to get 1.5 litres – around six cups – out of it but it’s just that bit more compact. It’s also a lovely looking, quality, fast-boil kettle. We really like the dual water gauges in litres and cups, the one-cup mark and the attention to detail – the plug is round to complement the kettle’s design.
Best for Instagram
Yes, it can offer you seven different temperature options and keep your water warm for 20 minutes after boiling, but the real beauty of a Smeg appliance is the design. This kettle looks like it’s been plucked from a 1950s’ Airstream trailer. Get the matching fridge, blender, toaster etc and show off to all your mates. The kettle pings when you turn it on and when it’s boiled – some people might find this irritating but we found it a useful reminder to make our tea.