Woman chopping fruit in front of a French door refrigerator

French Door vs. Side by Side: Which Refrigerator is Best?

French door and side by side refrigerators both offer plenty of fresh food storage innovations along with sleek, modern exteriors. Learn more about side by side vs French door pros and cons including price, size, layout and features with this guide.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIDE BY SIDE AND FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATORS? 

Side by side refrigerators, like these refrigerators from KitchenAid, are a classic style with top-to-bottom freezer and refrigerator compartments next to each other. French door refrigerators have one continuous refrigerator space on top accessed by two doors, with a freezer drawer below. This newer configuration offers a pantry-style layout, including KitchenAid® French door refrigerators.

Other differences include the amount of refrigerator and freezer space offered by each configuration, as well as the shape of each compartment. Side by side fridges give you two tall but narrow compartments while French door fridges provide shorter but wider spaces. Both models tend to come with a wide range of features such as exterior ice and water dispensers, adjustable shelves and door bins, along with higher-end finish options.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATORS?

This contemporary refrigerator design is popular for its spacious, pantry-style layout that provides easy access to fresh ingredients. The wide refrigerator compartment on top helps keep fresh items at eye level, with frozen food stored below in a pull-out drawer. French door models tend to offer some of the largest refrigerator capacities in the industry, allowing you to keep more fresh ingredients on hand for your next masterpiece.

If you’re not sure if a side by side vs French door is better for the way you make, consider these French door refrigerator pros and cons:

FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATOR PROS

  • Wide shelves and compartments: Easily store items like large paella dishes and long platters with wide refrigerator and freezer compartments.

  • Larger refrigerator capacity: French door vs side by side refrigerators dedicate more storage space to the refrigerator instead of the freezer so you can store more fresh foods.

  • Easy access to fresh ingredients: Keep fresh items at eye level so you can quickly find what you need whenever inspiration strikes.

  • Customizable interiors: This style frequently offers adjustable shelves and compartments to accommodate the items you store most. Select KitchenAid® models feature slide-away shelves to accommodate taller items or pull-out trays for large platters.

  • Exterior ice and water dispensers: You’ll often find this feature on both French door and side by side styles. Select models may even feature a second icemaker in the freezer.

  • Narrower refrigerator doors: If you have an island in your kitchen, the narrow doors on a French door fridge gives you more space to move around the island when the fridge door is open.

FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATOR CONS

  • Smaller freezers: If you store a high volume of frozen items, you might want to opt for a side by side fridge that will give you larger freezer capacity.

  • Less freezer organization: Most freezer drawers lack shelves which can make it more difficult to organize items vs a side by side freezer. Select KitchenAid® models feature freezer organization solutions such as 3- or 2-tier freezer drawers with storage dividers that allow you to organize frozen items on multiple levels.

  • Price point: More advanced features can come with a higher price tag, though more streamlined options are available to accommodate a range of budgets.

DISCOVER FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATORS FROM KITCHENAID BRAND

Experience an intuitive layout, premium touchpoints and innovative features with French door refrigerators from KitchenAid. Select models feature the ExtendFresh Temperature Management System that separately monitors the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer. Browse select models featuring FreshChill Temperature-Controlled Full-Width Pantry that lets you manually set the temperature for whatever you’re storing. Or experience an industry-first 5-door refrigerator designed to deliver optimized storage with two additional soft-close refrigerator drawers you can access without opening the main refrigerator compartment.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF SIDE BY SIDE REFRIGERATORS?

This classic refrigerator style offers vertical storage with plenty of shelves for both refrigerator and freezer compartments. Freezers also tend to be larger in a side by side vs French door layout. This configuration provides flexibility to organize the most important fresh and frozen items at eye level, while keeping less frequently accessed items on the lower shelves. You’ll often find in-door or external ice and water dispensers, as well as other desirable features such as adjustable shelves and door bins to help you keep everything organized.

Here are some side by side refrigerator pros and cons to keep in mind:

SIDE BY SIDE REFRIGERATOR PROS

  • Larger freezer capacity: If you store lots of frozen items, you’ll find more space in a side by side vs a French door fridge.

  • Vertical storage: Keep both fresh and frozen items at eye level with flexible storage options.

  • Adjustable interiors: Just like French door models, you’ll usually find adjustable shelves, door bins and more for customizable storage.

  • Exterior ice and water dispensers: This is a common feature on both types of refrigerators. Select KitchenAid® models feature the In-Door-Ice® System that adds interior room in the refrigerator with an ice bin that mounts on the inside left door to allow for extra space on the shelves.

  • Reduced door swing clearance: As with French door styles, side by side refrigerators also feature narrow double doors that are a good fit for tight spaces.

  • Lower-entry level price points: You may be able to find similar features and capacity for less vs a French door design.

SIDE BY SIDE REFRIGERATOR CONS

  • Bending down for fresh items: Since some fresh items will be stored on lower shelves, you may need to do more bending than with a French door model.

  • Narrower shelves: Though you’ll gain vertical storage, you’ll lose a bit in width, making it more difficult to store wide or oversized items.

EXPLORE SIDE BY SIDE REFRIGERATORS FROM KITCHENAID

KitchenAid offers a full lineup of side by side refrigerators with features designed to keep your food organized and fresh. Select models feature the Preserva® Food Care System. Its two independent cooling systems help keep food fresh while the FreshFlow Air Filter minimizes odors, and the Produce Preserver delays over-ripening based on commonly purchased produce.

WHICH STYLE IS BEST FOR MY KITCHEN—FRENCH DOOR OR SIDE BY SIDE REFRIGERATOR?

A French door refrigerator may be best if you like to keep lots of fresh ingredients on hand, or if you often store wide or oversized dishes. A side by side refrigerator features more freezer capacity and lets you store both fresh and frozen items at eye level. 

Both types of refrigerators are available in standard- or counter-depths, as well as freestanding or built-in installation styles. They both tend to offer the most overall capacity vs other configurations along with  premium features and finishes. Whether a side by side or French door refrigerator is better for you mostly comes down to which layout best enables your making process.

 

CHOOSE A FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATOR VS A SIDE BY SIDE IF YOU:

  • Store more fresh ingredients than frozen

  • Store large or wide items

  • Want a contemporary look

 

CHOOSE A SIDE BY SIDE VS A FRENCH DOOR IF YOU:

  • Store almost as much frozen food as fresh

  • Want to store both fresh and frozen items at eye level

  • Prefer a streamlined exterior with only 2 doors

Your refrigerator options are nearly endless. Explore all refrigerator configurations and styles with this Refrigerator Buying Guide. Take a closer look at the latest features available on refrigerators in 2021 to help find one that matches both your kitchen and your making style.

SHOP ALL KITCHENAID® REFRIGERATORS

KitchenAid offers a full lineup of refrigerators in all configurations with a range of innovative features to help keep your favorite ingredients fresh. Shop French door refrigerators with spacious interiors or shop built-in models with panel-ready options. Fit what you need inside and keep it looking beautiful with adjustable spill resistant glass shelves or shop models with the Preserva® Food Care System. Its two independent cooling systems help keep food fresh while the FreshFlow Air Filter minimizes odors, and the Produce Preserver delays over-ripening.

 

 

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