Update, November 2021
After some of our readers raised concerns over the off-flavors in the water boiled by our Best Buy, the Capresso H2O Plus, we decided to retest it. We also surveyed the market to see if better options had emerged. We didn’t experience problems with the Capresso and still recommend it. But the Cosori Original Electric Glass Kettle impressed us with its user-friendly features and large capacity. We like it better than the Capresso, and it is our new Best Buy. —Valerie Li Stack
We also tested the AmazonBasics Electric Kettle against our favorite electric kettles.
Record the average time required to boil 1 quart of room-temperature water
Compare water boiled in each machine in a blind tasting
Make pour-over coffee with water boiled in each kettle to evaluate precision and spouts
Wash interiors by hand
Boil 25 additional batches in all kettles
Boil a total of 365 batches in the top models, simulating daily use for a year
Electric kettles are handy for making tea or coffee and for any cooking task that requires a few cups of boiling water, from rehydrating dried mushrooms and tomatoes to softening lasagna noodles or reconstituting concentrated stocks. The Capresso H20 Plus won our last testing in 2008; we wondered if it was still the best kettle on the market. We gathered several kettles made from stainless steel and glass (we’ve found that plastic kettles can create funky flavors) to test against our old favorite. We started by timing how long each took to boil water. We then evaluated the precision of their spouts and comfort of their handles and boiled the maximum allowed volume in each one to see if they splashed or spilled. We even held a blind tasting of the boiled water to see if any imparted off-flavors. Finally, we subjected each kettle to a durability test of 25 additional boiling cycles, putting the top-ranked models through a full 365 rounds to simulate daily use for a year.
Electric kettles have improved since our last testing, as our new lineup boasted key features that weren’t standard in previous years. The kettles themselves are cordless, so you can lift them away from the heating element to pour, and 360-degree compatibility with their bases means that they don’t need to be oriented in a certain direction. Each kettle also automatically shuts off when the water boils and has a safeguard that prevents it from turning on when the kettle is empty.
That said, there were certainly differences among them. To begin with, materials mattered. We wanted to see the water level as we filled them. With glass kettles, a glance was enough. But when we filled the stainless-steel models, we relied on windows or external water-level gauges—the majority of which were hard to read at a glance. With both metal and glass kettles, we preferred those that had large light-up power indicators to signal that kettles were on or had finished their boiling cycle.
Boiling speed and capacity were critical factors. When we timed how long each kettle took to boil 1 quart of room-temperature water, averages ranged from about 4½ to about 5½ minutes. (This takes roughly 9 minutes in a covered saucepan at high heat.) We were pleased to discover that the fastest kettle was also one of the largest. It holds 60 ounces—more than double the capacity of the smallest kettle in our lineup. Although you won’t need that much for a cup of tea, it’s ideal for reconstituting a large amount of stock base or preparing a water bath for delicate cheesecakes or custards.
Finally, since boiling water can cause serious burns, a good kettle should feel comfortable and secure. One kettle, which had a slightly rounded bottom, wobbled and rocked on its base instead of connecting tightly. We also disliked models with lids that flipped back quickly or had pinch-buttons set into their lids; the former flicked hot water back at our hands, and the latter put our fingers uncomfortably close to hot water and steam. Our favorites had hinged lids that lifted slowly at the push of a button as well as comfortable handles that made them easy to hold steady, even when pouring from a full boiling kettle. Because even kettles will occasionally need cleaning, we also preferred models with wide openings and minimal small parts inside.
In the end, we had two new favorites. Both have glass pitchers that allow us to see the water level at a glance, and their light-up indicators are bright and visible. They feel good in your hand, pour neatly, and sit securely on their bases. They’re also speedy; both are able to boil a quart of water in fewer than 6 minutes. The OXO Brew Cordless Glass Electric Kettle ($79.95) holds a generous 60 ounces of water and is ideal for cooks who want to boil large quantities of water quickly. We also recommend the Cosori Original Electric Glass Kettle as our Best Buy. Like the OXO, the Cosori can hold up to 56 ounces of water. It also boiled batches of water without odors or issues and costs half the price of the winner. The only downside is that the Cosori is a bit slower than our winner at bringing water to a boil.