How we picked and tested
Because different types of coffee and tea are meant to be brewed at different temperatures, a great electric kettle should have a wide variety of temperature settings that it can reach with reasonable accuracy. However, we realize that not everyone is a coffee or tea aficionado, so we also looked at kettles that do not have variable temperature settings and simply boil water.
Speed is critical—you don't want to wait forever for your water to come to temperature. An electric kettle should also be easy to use, have a handle that doesn't get too hot, and feature automatic shutoff so you don't have to worry about forgetting to turn it off. A large mouth for easy cleaning is another plus.
All of the kettles we tested for our 2017 update were metal or glass. Some people, including our experts, complain about plastic kettles imparting a funny taste or smell to the water. We excluded any kettles made entirely of plastic, but all of the models we did test contained some minor plastic elements, such as parts of the lid, a filter, or the water-level window.
We tested each variable-temperature kettle by measuring how long it took to bring a liter of water to a boil and by measuring how accurate the internal thermometer was for non-boiling temperatures compared with measurements taken from a Thermapen thermometer. For the simple electric kettles we tested, we just measured the time to boil.
Some models in the test group had a warming feature that could hold set temperatures, so we checked their accuracy after letting them rest for an extended period of time. We also tested automatic-shutoff features and took note of any excessive or annoying beeps. Additionally, we tasted the water from each model after boiling to see if it had any off flavors caused by plastic components.
Our pick: Cuisinart CPK-17
Our top pick for the fourth year in a row is the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle, thanks to its ease of use, speed, and accuracy. It has an intuitive interface with a keep-warm option that conveniently holds water at a set temperature. The wide handle is comfortable to hold, and the spout doesn't cause water to dribble when pouring. Unlike many of the kettles we tested, it has a simple streamlined design, so it won't be an eyesore if you store it on your kitchen counter.
Compared with all the other variable-temperature models we tested, the Cuisinart CPK-17 was the simplest to operate. It offers six preset temperature settings as buttons on the handle, along with a Start button and a Keep Warm button.
Although the Cuisinart CPK-17 had better accuracy than most of the other kettles we tested, we found it wasn't as accurate at hitting lower temperatures, measuring 8 degrees over when we set it to 160 °F. On temperatures of 175 °F and up, it measured only 3 to 4 degrees off, which is pretty accurate. Because this model has a slew of other noteworthy features and has been consistently reliable over three years of testing, we're willing to forgive its minor temperature variances at the lowest setting.
Runner-up: Bonavita BV382510V
We think the stainless steel Bonavita BV382510V 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle represents an excellent compromise between a traditional tea kettle and one better suited for making pour-over coffee (see our guide to the best pour-over coffee gear for more). Although this model wasn't the fastest kettle to bring water to a boil, the Bonavita had the most accurate temperature controls among all the models we tested. The long, gooseneck spout provides superior pouring technique, and the interface is easy to use. We also like the looks of this kettle; it's handsome enough for you to keep on your kitchen counter.
Of all the models we tested, the Bonavita BV382510V had the most precise temperature control, impressively measuring just 1 degree off regardless of the temperature setting. It gives you the freedom to set it in 1-degree increments from 140 °F to 212 °F on an easy-to-read digital display. This model also tracks the water's temperature accurately as it rises or lowers, so you always know how hot it is.
It has some minor drawbacks, however. This model took about two and a half minutes longer to boil than our top pick, and it doesn't provide a water-level window for you to see when it's getting low. Unlike our top pick, it lacks a boil setting, so you have to manually enter 212 °F using the plus button. Also, the lid doesn't have a push button and needs to be removed, as on a traditional stovetop kettle. But despite those minor flaws, after over two years of using the Bonavita BV382510V daily, we haven't experienced any issues, and we think it's the best for anyone who will use it for both tea and pour-over coffee.
Budget pick: Hamilton Beach 40880
We recommend the Hamilton Beach 40880 Stainless Steel 1.7 Liter Electric Kettle for anyone who wants an affordably priced basic model that quickly brings water to a boil. This kettle doesn't have preset temperature controls or a keep-warm setting, but it does have all the other features we look for in a decent kettle.
Our testers were impressed with the speed of this kettle, which was on a par with our main pick in boiling time (about four minutes). This Hamilton Beach model is very simple to operate: You flick the tab up on the base of the handle, and the kettle begins heating the water. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, the kettle automatically shuts off, so you don't have to worry about turning it off manually.
The plastic hinges on the Hamilton Beach 40880's lid are its only significant drawback. Other models, such as our top pick, have metal hinges that seem more durable.
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