Reviews you can trust.

Stovetop Kettles

Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and kettle bubble.

What We Learned

Stovetop kettles are simple vessels for heating water. But anyone who’s had a bad one knows how irritating they can be. Poor kettles are apt to whistle too faintly or painfully loudly, rattle and clank on the burner, and be too cumbersome to hoist—or, conversely, too tiny to make a full-size pot of tea. Their handles can get too hot, they can make a splashy mess when pouring, and they can send steam up to scorch your hand. They rust or dent and get grungy living on the stove, where they’re on display for all to see. Still, we had faith that there were good, functional, durable kettles out there—we just had to find them.

To do so, we bought six kettles, priced from roughly $10.00 to roughly $75.00 and in a variety of materials from stainless steel to enamel-coated steel to borosilicate glass, with capacities ranging from 0.84 to 3 quarts. We put every model through a gamut of tests, evaluating how easy it was to fill and lift, as well as how long it took to reach a boil. We boiled water in each kettle multiple times, at both its maximum and minimum capacities, and had a variety of testers pour out hot water into a single mug, trays of teacups, a 1.5-quart teapot, and a filter cone to make pour-over coffee, evaluating how difficult or easy it was to control the pouring. We also got each kettle dirty and banged it around before rating it on ease of cleaning and durability.

Our first discovery was that the practical capacity of some of the kettles was much smaller than advertised: When we filled them to their stated capacities, the water went right up to the brim, causing overflow at the boil. The worst offender held almost a quart less than advertised. Rule of thumb: Most kettles should be filled to just under the interior spout opening.

While the majority of the kettles were easy to fill, with wide openings and good interior visibility, a few were cramped and dark, making it difficult to judge when they were full. The worst had a black enamel interior; we had to pull out a flashlight, or even stick a finger in, just to be sure the water was below the spout. What’s more, this kettle’s opening had a low, fixed handle curving over it that made it hard to access.

Once boiling, the whistling kettles were a boon, but only if we could hear the whistle from the next room. One was so quiet that you had to guess if it was making noise from barely 3 feet away. We found two styles: whistles that you can disable and ones that you can’t. We preferred the two kettles that let you turn off the whistle if you want it to boil silently.

Most of our lineup boiled a full kettle of water in a reasonable time, roughly 8 to 11...