The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor Kitchen - Backyard Boss
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The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor Kitchen

With the temperatures rising and summer just around the corner, many homeowners are looking forward to soaking up the sun. Whether your backyard includes a small bar setup or a full kitchen, choosing the best outdoor refrigerator can take that outdoor space to the next level.

Your deck or backyard can be a great place to kick back and relax. However, what fun is relaxing without your favorite snacks or drinks close at hand? No one wants to go inside every time you need a refill. The following reviews will help you find the best fridge for any outdoor space.

The BackYard Boss Top 5 Outdoor Refrigerators for 2021

Danby Stainless Steel Outdoor Mini Fridge - The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor KitchenDanby Stainless Steel Outdoor Mini Fridge
  • Capacity: 4.4 cubic foot
  • No freezer
  • Freestanding
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Thor Indoor/Outdoor Double Drawer Refrigerator - The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor KitchenThor Indoor/Outdoor Double Drawer Refrigerator
  • Capacity: 5.3 cubic foot
  • No freezer
  • Built-in
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RCA Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer - The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor KitchenRCA Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer
  • Capacity: 3.2 cubic foot
  • Includes freezer
  • Freestanding
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Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator - The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor KitchenAlpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator
  • Capacity: 0.7 to 1.75 cubic foot
  • Fridge or freezer (not both)
  • Freestanding
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Blaze Outdoor-Rated Stainless Steel Refrigerator - The Best Outdoor Refrigerator for Your Patio or Outdoor KitchenBlaze Outdoor-Rated Stainless Steel Refrigerator
  • Capacity: 5.2 cubic foot
  • No freezer
  • Built-in
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Why You Can Trust Us

Shortly after moving to my current house, I decided that my backyard was going to be a “backyard oasis.” We wanted to create a space where we could “escape” from our daily commitments and any stress that we may have encountered. As part of this, we installed a fully functional bar on our deck with plumbing, electrics, and, of course, an outdoor refrigerator.

The process of choosing the best outdoor refrigerator for our own backyard renovations wasn’t easy. It did however give me the opportunity to do a lot of research and discover the pros and cons of the different options on the market.

Our bar has been a hit among family and friends, and I have since had the opportunity to help multiple friends in planning out their own backyard projects. This has included hands-on experience with a variety of different fridge options from the one that we chose for our own hangout space.

Best for High-Temperature Locations

Danby Stainless Steel Outdoor Mini Fridge
    This classic outdoor-rated compact mini fridge can stand up to whatever the weather throws its way while offering plenty of fridge space.



Why We Like It: The Danby Stainless Steel Outdoor Mini Fridge has been designed with the hazards of extreme weather in mind. Not only has this compact fridge been tested in temperatures of up to 109 degrees Fahrenheit, which is great for those of you living down south. It has also been rated IPX-4, which means that it can handle water splashing at it from any angle.

The sturdy glass shelving can be adjusted depending on the room that you need. It also has shelving in the door for taller bottles and a CanStor Beverage Dispensing System built into the door to keep your cans organized and close at hand.

Who Should Buy It: If you live in an area that is known for its high temperatures, this outdoor refrigerator might be the best option for you.

Best Built-In Outdoor Refrigerator

Thor Indoor/Outdoor Double Drawer Refrigerator
    The double drawer design of this built-in refrigerator allows you to maximize space under your bar or counter.



Why We Like It: The Thor Indoor/Outdoor Double Drawer Refrigerator offers plenty of fridge space for your backyard bar or outdoor kitchen. It can be used either as a built-in or standalone refrigerator, which means it can fit with nearly any space or layout. The lower drawer also makes it easy for younger children to grab their own snacks.

While the fridge doesn’t offer shelf space to organize your snacks and drinks, there are dividers that can be used in the main fridge section to help separate your foods.

It can be a little noisier than other options when working, however, it isn’t overly noticeable when being used outdoors. The stainless steel design will fit with most outdoor kitchen appliances and is easy to clean.

Who Should Buy It: This may be the best outdoor refrigerator for you if you are searching for a model to fit into your larger outdoor kitchen plans.

Best Budget Refrigerator

RCA Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer
    This stainless-steel mini fridge from RCA offers both refrigerator and freezer space while the compressor cooling allows it to work in warmer weather.



Why We Like It: While many of the outdoor refrigerators on this list come with a higher price tag, this mini fridge/freeze combination from RCA shows that you can find good products without spending too much. The RCA Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer comes in a variety of different colors including black, red, purple, blue, green, white, and, of course, stainless steel.

The freezer isn’t very big (0.2 cubic foot), but it can hold a few popsicles or ice cube trays for your next outdoor hangout. Meanwhile, the adjustable shelving and shelf space built into the door will hold a variety of different foods and drinks of all sizes.

Compressor cooling is used to keep both the fridge and freezer closed. While RCA states that it can perform in hot weather, it should be noted that this is NOT outdoor-rated and therefore not guaranteed to stand up to extreme weather or temperatures.

Who Should Buy It: For those that need a simple, low-cost refrigerator/freezer option for their back porch hangouts, the RCA Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer is a great option.

Best Portable Refrigerator

Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator
    Available in sizes ranging from 20L to 50L, this portable refrigerator will keep your drinks cold on your deck, by the pool and anywhere else you may go.



Why We Like It: If you’re looking for an outdoor refrigerator option that can easily be moved regardless of where you are at the time, the Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator may be your ideal choice. This cooler-style refrigerator unit comes in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from the super portable 20L (0.7 cubic foot) fridge to a 50L (1.77 cubic foot) fridge for a larger group.

This is a great option for those who may have multiple areas in their backyard where they choose to hang out, such as around the firepit, the deck, or next to the pool. It can also be used when heading to a backyard hangout with friends or family at a different property.

With easy-to-adjust temperatures that range from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use this either as a refrigerator or a freezer. However, it does collect moisture in the bottom when in use, which can lead to a build-up of frost.

Who Should Buy It: The Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator is a great option for those who are looking for a flexible option that can be used in different locations and situations.

Best Premium Outdoor Refrigerator

Blaze Outdoor-Rated Stainless Steel Refrigerator
    With over 5 cubic foot of storage space, this outdoor refrigerator comes with all the bells and whistles for those that are interested in a premium product.



Why We Like It: If you are looking for all the latest features and options, the Blaze Outdoor-Rated Stainless Steel Refrigerator may be what you’ve been searching for. This premium fridge uses a digital thermostat and an internal fan to makes sure you can manage the temperature accurately to keep your foods or drinks at just the right temperature.

The automatic defrost option makes it easy to remove any frost and moisture. If you plan on using your outdoor fridge throughout the season, this will help to prevent freezer burn on your foods. At night, the “cool blue” lighting will make it easy to find your favorite drink without blinding everyone in the area.

Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for a higher-end unit to finish off your outdoor kitchen, this is an option you should explore.

The 6 Most Common Types of Outdoor Refrigerator

If you are currently on the search for an outdoor refrigerator, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. A search of the phrase “outdoor fridge” will return a wide variety of different options ranging anywhere from $100 to $4,000 and beyond. If you’re feeling a little confused, you’re not alone.

After investing my time into researching the best outdoor refrigerator option for our own backyard bar, I’ve discovered that there are several common types of refrigerators on the market. I should also point out that a single fridge could potentially fit into several of these categories.

Outdoor-Rated Refrigerator

The biggest difference between a refrigerator that is designed to work indoors and one that is outdoor-rated is its ability to stand up to the elements. This includes not only the potential damage caused by rain and water but also the challenges faced by being outdoors during extreme temperatures.

If you live in an area where it is common to see temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, an outdoor refrigerator is going to have to work extra hard to maintain its cool temperatures. A refrigerator that is considered outdoor-rated has been designed to stand up to extreme temperatures and other weather-related elements like rain while continuing to maintain the cold temperatures for your food and drinks.

What does the outdoor-rated label not include? Stainless steel on a fridge can still rust if left outdoors in wet conditions. These fridges should also not be left outside unprotected in the worst storms or expected to work properly in the cold of winter.

Standalone Outdoor Patio/Deck Refrigerators (Freestanding)

An empty open stainless-steel compact refrigerator.
Image credits: RCA via Amazon

Freestanding refrigerators are just like full-size fridges and are the most common (and often the lowest cost) models available. They come in two different styles. Full-depth models will stick out slightly from your cabinetry but offer more space inside. Meanwhile, 24-inch depth models are a little narrower in design and will sit flush with standard cabinets.

The fridge vents out the back of the unit, meaning that it needs to be placed with space behind to allow for the necessary airflow. With proper care and cleaning, they can last for years. However, they do typically have a shorter lifespan than the built-in options.

Undercounter Refrigerator for Outdoor Kitchens (Built-in)

Built-in refrigerators are designed to fit seamlessly with your cabinets or counters with ventilation in the front. This means that they can be fully surrounded without the need for airflow. Built-in refrigerators are often preferred for outdoor kitchens due to how well they fit into any kitchen layout. They come at a higher price point than the freestanding options. However, they also offer a longer lifespan.

Mini/Compact Refrigerator

Refrigerators come in a variety of different sizes, ranging from the smallest portable mini-fridges for travel right up to the full-size refrigerator found in most homes. While you can find a variety of options for indoor/outdoor use, most outdoor refrigerators fall into two categories – mini and compact.

The smaller of the two, a mini-refrigerator, has a capacity that ranges from 1.5 to three cubic feet. They are generally lighter weight due to their small size. They are a great option for smaller spaces and may even include a small freezer section.

A step up from the mini-fridge, compact refrigerators have a capacity of three to seven or more cubic feet. These fridges may offer additional features including adjustable thermostats or automatic defrosting. They can be freestanding or built-in, giving more flexibility to fit into your outdoor kitchen or bar space.

Why Shouldn’t You Use a Full-Size Refrigerator Outdoors?

While you can choose to use a standard full-size refrigerator, it is not going to be the most effective option for outdoor use. An outdoor refrigerator generally has to keep working in warmer temperatures during the summer months than it would indoors.

A full-size refrigerator has to work harder than a smaller option in order to maintain a constant cold temperature. It may offer more space for food and drinks, but that’s also a lot more space to cool. During the heat of summer, it has to work extra hard to try to maintain the temperature which is where many full-size options fall short.

Most outdoor or indoor/outdoor refrigerators will be the compact or mini size as this reduces the amount of air that has to be kept cold. This allows it to function properly, keeping your cold drinks and snacks close at hand (and at the right temperature).

A black and stainless steel outdoor refrigerator sitting on a stone patio space with a tray holding glasses and a juice pitcher sitting on top.
Image credits: Danby via Amazon

Portable Outdoor Refrigerators

Portable refrigerators are similar to mini or compact freestanding fridges. Unlike these units, however, they are designed to be able to move easily with you. This includes moving to different areas of your deck lounge space or backyard hangout, and even continue to work in the vehicle as you’re traveling on the road. In order to be portable, they are smaller in size and offer the smallest capacity.

Beverage Coolers

Outdoor beverage coolers are specifically designed to keep your drinks cool. They don’t run quite as cold as a standard refrigerator as they don’t have to maintain cold enough temperatures to protect food against bacteria. Without having to run as cold, they don’t draw as much power meaning they are cheaper to operate. These are a great option for drinks by the pool or a bar area. However, if you are creating a BBQ area or outdoor kitchen where food will be stored, you will need to look at a refrigerator that can maintain the colder temperatures needed for food safety.

How We Picked

With so many different types and sizes of refrigerators to choose from, we needed to look closely at the different features that each unit offered, their ability to withstand the elements outdoors as well as reviews left by other buyers. Finally, the Backyard Boss team looked at our own experiences with our outdoor kitchens and bar areas. We factored in which units worked well for us and which didn’t “make the cut.”

The outdoor refrigerators that were included in this final list stood out for their convenience, their overall value, and their ability to keep your food and drinks cold and close at hand. After all, at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all looking for!

Which Outdoor Refrigerator Is the Best Choice This Summer?

Choosing the best outdoor refrigerator starts by looking at your backyard space and lifestyle. You want to factor in how much space you have available, how much storage capacity you need for the number of people using it, and which features are needed to meet your needs.

Looking at the options presented, our choice for the best overall outdoor refrigerator is the Danby Stainless Steel Outdoor Mini Fridge. This classic outdoor-rated fridge offers plenty of space for your food and snacks and can stand up to the elements with ease. Additionally, the freestanding design on wheels means you can easily move it to where it’s needed the most.

Featured image credits: Danby via Amazon