Kitchen Find | Kenmore Elite 31 cu.ft. French Door Refrigerator Review

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Please note  – The refrigerator I’m reviewing was purchased by myself and this review is in no way connected with Sears, Kenmore or any representing PR agency.

When my husband and I first bought our house it came with brand new appliances. I was excited to see an updated side-by-side refrigerator with an ice maker! After apartment hopping for many years, it’s the little things that get you excited, especially when all the previous refrigerators were tiny with a top-bottom design. Little did I know that I would miss those old fridges. The side-by-side fridge quickly became my enemy, one I struggled with constantly just to even fit a frozen pizza. The freezer space was pathetic. Then we started dealing with the ice maker breaking, then water leaking all over the place. It got to the point where I just couldn’t take anymore and started researching the new french-door style refrigerators with a bottom freezer. My search led me to Sears and originally I wanted to buy the LG 31 cu.ft french door refrigerator but as luck would have it, Sears didn’t stock that model. So I reluctantly let the salesman introduce me to the Kenmore Elite 31 cu.ft French Door Refrigerator.

kenmore elite 31 cuft french door refrigerator

Right away I was impressed with the size, features and even the Grab-n-Go feature on one particular model. While I could see how it would be wonderful, I also wasn’t willing to pay an extra $500 for a plastic covering inside the door. Instead I bought the model without that particular feature. I have to say, I think it was the best decision I made because I could see my kids breaking it easily.

Refrigerator French Door Storage

Inside the refrigerator the first feature I fell in love with was the door storage space. Although it’s not fully stocked today, we can fit 2 gallon milk jugs or 5 half gallon milk jugs. This allows us to buy milk just once a week without running out.

*UPDATE* – To provide a more accurate view of the milk storage I updated the photo below. As you can see we can easily fit 6 half gallon milk jugs, not 5 like I had mentioned above.

kenmore elite french door gallon milk storage

 

While it’s not a feature that was a deciding factor in my purchasing decision, I do appreciate the interior lighting. There are several strips of LED lights that give you a bright and clear view of everything in the refrigerator.

kenmore french door interior lighting

Again, not a big deciding factor but the in-door ice maker allows full use of the left door for more storage. Three bins allow you to store small bottles, soda cans and condiments.

kenmore french door led lighting

Refrigerator Interior Features

Moving to the center of the refrigerator, I quickly realized just how big this giant 31 cu. ft. refrigerator is when I started stocking it and saw I have more space than I know what to do with … for now. Starting at the top there are are two Slide-Away trays that can be used as a full shelf or slide them back to make room for tall bottles of organic apple juice. At first I was worried the shelves wouldn’t support the weight of heavy bottles but they are surprisingly sturdy.

kenmore elite french door slide away trays

Just below the shelving units you get two very large storage bins that are climate controlled for fruits or vegetables with an air-tight crisper.  The full-width pantry drawer is temperature controlled with the touch of a button for meat, deli or produce. For now we use the pantry drawer for fresh meat and small items but it could easily be used for full deli trays of meats and cheeses .. or in my case, a full sheet cake.

kenmore elite climate controled vegetable bins

Freezer Storage and Features

Finally, a freezer I can love and actually use to store frozen food. It includes 2 slide out trays at the top that includes an extra ice bin and plenty of space to stack frozen boxes, large pizzas. The very top drawer is actually one I forget is even there most of the time. Well you pull the freezer open that tray stays in place and hidden so unless you pull it out yourself it just kinda stays out of sight. Below the two pull-out trays are two large storage bins that are great for bagged foods and anything with odd-shaped packaging. The curve on the back of this bin prevents you from stacking rectangular packages. On the door itself you’ll notice it tilts at an angle (called Tilt-n-Take) to make it easier to reach into the bins and also reveals a small bin where I like to store my bags of frozen fruit and smoothies. You get quick access to the contents of your freezer without having to pull the drawer all the way out.

The best part of this freezer for me is the fact that I can now crumb coat just about any sized cake and I can actually put it in the freezer!

kenmore elite 31cuft french door slide out freezer

Ice/Water Maker Features

One thing I absolutely love about the ice maker and water dispenser is that both features are combined into one spout, unlike our previous refrigerator which had separate spouts for ice and water. The one touch panel gives you quick access to control the light, freezer and fridge temp (shown in actual degrees), air filter, water filter, cubed or crushed ice and water. We particularly like the door alarm that goes off after 30 seconds of the doors being opened. This lets us know when a child is sneaking in there or has left the door open by accident. My only wish is they would come up with a locking system for the refrigerator doors. Twice this week my youngest daughter got sneaky, pulled out the chocolate milk and dumped it on her head.

kenmore elite 31cuft french door water and ice maker

When researching french door refrigerators with the Slim In-Door Ice Maker I saw a lot of complaints that it didn’t provide enough ice and people were forced to use the extra ice bin in the freezer. I actually found this to be the opposite. For our family of five, we use ice all day long and have never run out of ice from the in-door ice maker.

The ice storage caddie itself is easy to pull out, dump ice and replace without too much fuss.

kenmore elite 31cuft french door refrigerator slim ice maker

Problems

The only problem we have encountered so far is with the french doors. On the left door there is a vertical lip I suppose you’d call it that folds when the door is closed to create a seal between the doors to keep the air inside the refrigerator. When you pull the door out the lip folds back against the door. The problem? Sometimes it gets stuck and the doors won’t close properly. I’ll have to manually fold the lip to get them to shut.

kenmore elite 31 cuft french door refrigerator door problem

Also, as much as I love the look of stainless steel, I probably wouldn’t buy it again. It’s a daily chore to clean and fingerprints are obnoxiously visible at all times.

Overall

The Kenmore Elite French Door Refrigerator with Bottom Freezer exceeded my expectations. I love having the freedom to store as much food as I need with a freezer that fits just about anything. Only time will tell how it will hold up to our daily use but at this point, I think it was well worth the hefty price tag. Should this hold up as well as it has thus far, I can definitely see myself looking at Kenmore appliances again in the future, especially since I’ll be shopping for a new stove/oven very soon.

 Got questions? Just leave a comment and let me know, I’ll answer what I can.

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  1. I am so jealous. I have a nice fridge, but I want one that has the drawer on the bottom. Stainless steel is a plus too!

  2. Hello beautiful! I long for a french door fridge some day, but it would require a kitchen renovation because the stupid island is directly in front of our fridge now.

    Anyway, lol, I absolutely love how the freezer drawer pulls out and the baskets are like steps. Makes it so easy to get to everything.

    • LOL That’s exactly what I said when it was delivered .. . hello beautiful, where have you been all my life?

      And yes, it is a space sucker but they do make smaller versions of the same fridge, I imagine they are just a bit shorter and less deep. This one stuck out several inches further than our old one. :/

  3. So jealous! I want new appliances for our house, but we just can’t afford them right now. I like the stainless steel, but I think I would get black…maybe. This looks like a really nice fridge though!

    • Sigh … I know that feeling, which is why it will probably be another year before I can replace our stove/oven. Darn things are just so costly.

      We almost went with white because that’s what our other appliances are but that gets just as dirty. Someday these manufacturers will come up with a scratch-fingerprint-dirt resistant material. I hope!

  4. Thank you SO MUCH for this thorough review Cat! That is the best photo of the slide out freezer trays I have seen yet. And the LCD lighting? Amazing. I have a 1970s fridge and I cannot see the stuff in the back. So you know what happens? It gets forgotten and nasty. .

    That is one intelligent ice maker. WOW! Love the settings.

    I don’t have any stainless steel appliances, I’d probably get white to match my other appliances :)

    Again, I cannot thank you enough for how thorough you were. I am bookmarking this post so I can give it to people considering purchasing a fridge.

    • No, thank you Annie! :)

      Ugh, I have found some things in the back of the fridge before that weren’t even recognizable … not even a wild guess on what it use to be. LOL

  5. Its a beautiful refrigerator and I had the pleasure of getting an up close look at it when I attended the Kenmore summit. ALthough I don’t think it would fit in the corner we have our ancient refrigerator in right now I’d gladly redo my whole kitchen to eventually own one. It’s beautiful

    • Oh wow, I bet you had fun checking them all out. One of these days I’ll get my butt up there and meet you at an event.

  6. We may need a new one soon, but I refuse to buy one until ours dies :)

    • Ha yeah, we usually wait until something dies too but I was so sick of our old one leaking and being a general PITA.

  7. Okay, that freezer….THE coolest freezer ever!! :)
    It really looks like you can fit a lot in there and it also looks really user friendly with all the special compartments and things.

    • It’s also so big you could probably lose things in there. LOL A week after we got it I had forgotten about the little compartment in the door and bought extra chicken not knowing I had some hiding in there.

  8. I would love to have a refrigerator like this one in my new house but I don’t think there is room for it in the kitchen. I like the sleek look of it and all that freezer space. And I know what you are talking about with the side by side. I used to have one and it was useless for large things.

    • They do make several models with smaller ones. Even if you don’t go the french door route, a top-bottom style is a must-have. I don’t think I could ever use a side-by-side again.

  9. I love Kenmore appliances – they really do hold up well! This fridge should last you 5 or 10 years without any problems! I have all of my kitchen appliances in white, I prefer the look of it, and you are right, you have to clean stainless steel constantly!

    • That’s so good to know. This is our first Kenmore product and I was really nervous because I wanted the LG really badly. Crossing my fingers it holds up!

      • Darryl says:

        We just ordered one of these Kenmore Elite 31 cf french door yesterday. Just to let you know… LG makes this model for Kenmore! We did research it.

    • Richard Bagley says:

      We have had ours a little over a year now and have had problems twice now. Customer service from LG is bad. They won’t cover the fix after the first year even though what they did to fix the problem while it was covered didn’t fix the problem.

  10. I love my fridge (it’s fairly new) but I LOVE that freezer!!

  11. I absolutely love the features of the fridge, but like you I would not want to clean stainless everyday. I’ve grown to like Black Appliances :)

    • Oh gosh, it’s driving me batty. I seriously cleaned it before bed last night and when I woke up (before everyone else) there was a hand print already.

      • On the other hand it kind of makes you wonder how much stuff is on the non stainless appliances. ;-)

      • Gabby says:

        Hello ladies. I have a love hate relationship w/ my kenmore elite 31. cu. ft double freezer fridge. i love everything about it except for the darn fingerprints. so, I wanted to share a product I just stumbled upon for stainless steel. I absolutely LOVE it. It’s called Steel Meister. I bought it at Home Depot. I was amazes at the results. I have 2 boys ages 5 &10 & every time I turned around there was a new print :/ all I can say is try it! this stuff works.

  12. Zelda says:

    I could fit a whole deer carcass in there!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hello Cat – Thanks so much for your detailed review of the Kenmore Elite 31 cu. ft. I have been looking, doing research, reading reviews, etc. as I am replacing an old refrigerator. I ordered this one, then cancelled and ordered the smaller 27.6 cu ft Elite, however, it does not have the same features at all. They are worlds apart. So … I cancelled the order for the 27.6 cu ft and am now re-ordering the 31 cu. ft. Since the time you wrote the review, do you still have a positive feeling about the fridge? I know that it is made by either LG or Samsung (Kenmore does not “make” their own appliances) and I’ve looked at both of the other brands, but I was able to find the Kenmore on sale and that was the deal closer for me. If you have any additional tips, please let me know. Thanks again! ~ Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks so much for reading the review. I’m actually a little MORE in love with the fridge than I was at the time of the review. We’ve been using it for two months now and it’s been fantastic. My only complaint now is that I might have bought “too big”. We don’t always use up the space this sized fridge offers but there are times that we do.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Thanks very much for the update. I know it’s going to be a little large for me too, but it will allow me to keep a few extra things in the freezer (without having to buy a separate appliance) and the refrigerator room will allow me to store bread and other things so they will keep longer. My new kitchen is on the small side and I know this fridge will stick out a little bit, but I’m willing to overlook that for the extra space. Thanks again!

  14. Brenda says:

    Hi Cat – Looked at this Refrigerator yesterday. How are you enjoying/liking it 3 months later? I have read a few negative reviews and then saw yours. Please let me know. Thanks!

    • Brenda says:

      Just read the review you wrote on 6/18 unless you have anything add no need to reply. This is helping me a lot with decision. Thanks!

    • Hi Brenda – I’m still very much enjoying this refrigerator. We haven’t had any issues yet. My only complaint at this point is I wouldn’t buy stainless steel again just because of the fact that it shows smudges and has to be constantly cleaned.

  15. Connie Crawford says:

    We have had the Elite 31 Grab and Go Armoire for a few months. I absolutely love this well designed appliance. The grab and go door, the 31 cu. ft. capacity, the LED lighting, the extra shallow drawer in the freezer, the retractable shelves, the wonderful easy to use icemaker are all wonderful features. The stainless surface is gorgeous and the handles are attractive. I use Weiman stainless steel wipes and a microfiber cloth to stay ahead of smudges. Weiman also has a spray. I have read the negative comments but I had a Kenmore armoire before this and we never had an ounce of trouble. We are doing a kitchen remodel and needed to go to stainless. As soon as I saw this fridge I was sold.

  16. I actually just bought one of these tonight! I wanted the LG too but we got such an awesome deal on this one tonight ($1000 less than the LG I wanted).

  17. Roberta says:

    Hi Cat–thanks so much for the review. I looked at this refrigerator, but was afraid to buy after I read all of the issues with the French-door fridges and the ice maker horror stories. So many have been complaining about ice melting on the door (since icemaker is in the refrigerator portion of the door unlike side by side refrigerators). I understand that Samsung has a class action suit against them for this very reason. I have a 10-yr old side by side and would love to replace with this unit. Have you had any trouble with the icemaker at all?

    • Oh gosh, that sounds awful. We haven’t had any issues at all with the ice maker. I know a few other people with this fridge that complain about the ice maker not being big enough for their family, but nothing about ice melting on the door.

  18. Hi Cat, thanks for your review. We’re deciding between the LG and Kenmore version – after discounts etc the price is basically the same. The Kenmore has a couple extra features that the LG doesn’t, such as flip freezer drawer and crisper drawer. But we noticed that the LG version has a drip pan that seems easier to clean (by drip pan I mean what catches the spillage when you’re dispensing ice / water). It doesn’t even seem that you can take this drip pan off easily on the Kenmore.

    Have you had an issues with it?

    Thanks!

  19. marilyn says:

    I have the very same fridge and *mostly* really like it except I think the top two shelves are largely wasted. Luv luv the freezer, though. I share your feelings about the stainless finish. Recently discovered that Swiffer spray, applied to a microfiber cleaning cloth (NOT sprayed directly on fridge) does a wonderful job of getting all the marks off. Won’t cut down how often it needs cleaning but at least it leaves the fridge gleaming with no spots.

    I need to change the air filter but can’t get the cover off. Have you replaced yours yet? Any advice?

    • Eileen says:

      I have this same frig. I absolutely adore it! I have the white and it doesn’t seem to get dirty; if it does I simply wipe it with a damp cloth. I have had no problem with the ice maker.
      I have one question: When the installers were installing my frig, they commented that it was good now that you “didn’t have to replace the air filter, you just rinse the air filter off and put it back in.” I can’t find anything that backs that up in the manual. I am going to Sears soon to get a water filter and will ask about the air filter story. Has anyone heard the same thing?

  20. Meggie says:

    Hi Cat,
    I have had the Grab and Go for 6 months and was drawn to it’s unique design features after doing much footwork going from store to store seaching for a new fridge for my family. Sadly, I have found issues with the right door not opening wide enough to allow full access to the right side of the fridge. As a result the left door must be opened as well and cold air is lost and energy costs go up. The right crsiper drawer can not be removed for cleaning either inside or underneath the drawer since the right French door hinge does not open wide enough. This prblem is caused by the design of the right hinge. The left cripser can easily be removed since the left door hings allows the door tot to open wide enough. There is iceing in the freezer and was told by Sears repair to turn off the “energy saver” to help with that problem. When I purchased the fridge I was wanting to save energy and use that feature not turn it off due to poor design. I also have the same flap problem that you experienced preventing the left door from closing.
    After having Sears here more than once they claim there is no fix for the right door hinge issue but that LG has redesigned a board to address the iceing issue in the freezer. They are at this time on back order so I am waiting. I love the look and the concept of the Grab and Go door within the door but find after owing it for 6 months there are many design issues which makes me less than a fan.
    I’d be interested in knowing how you feel about your Grab and Go now that several months have passed?

  21. Here’s a hint to clean the stainless – wipe it down with WD40 – it will keep future fingerprints from happening!

    • Deborah says:

      I have this same beautiful refrigerator.Having trouble with the ice maker.Getting Err 1 F on front display. You can turn the ice maker off with a button located above ice tray. Also, it can help to unplug frig from wall for ten minutes before plugging it back in. This usually resets it. Make sure your freezer temperature setting located on front of frig is set on zero. While you’re at it- turn off the energy saver.If this doesn’t help- you may need to unload entire frig, unplug and “defrost” over night. I don’t know …place what food you can in separate freezer, make soup,feed the kids, the pets.the neighbors and pray that the crazy thing starts up again tomorrow! Good luck to you and ,hopefully this helps so you won’y have to call Sears!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Merriem:

        That’s the same error message we’ve gotten on our unit. We’ve had this Kenmore frig for 11 months and it keeps breaking. There’s a fan / motor assembly that begins making a grinding noise, graduating up to the sound of a B1 Bomber before it finally quits. We get error code ER 1F and Ice melts down the door. We have the extended warranty, but because THREE of the incidents haven’t occurred within 60 days of each other, Sears won’t honor the lemon clause.

  22. Merriem says:

    I have had this beautiful fridge for 30 days. Yesterday I woke and found my freezer full of frost. I contacted Sears and no one could come out until Monday. There are about 20% negative reviews about this issue and an electronic boards that goes out. I am very disappointed as I think this is a lemon. I even called the merchant store where I purchased all my kitchen appliance from, along with this refer and no return call.

    • We just had our 19 yr old GE Profile finally die. Started reviews and found LG came out very bad, had
      Christmas lunch with my daughter yesterday, I asked about the LG she bought approx 18 months ago, and before she could answer, my 17 year old grandson said “stay away from LG” and was seconded by the whole family. Problem, the day before we bought the Kenmore 31 elite, and found out it is made for Sears by LG. I’m thinking about cancelling, just don’t know what is better. Daughter has had problems with leaks, ice maker, poor service. She bought from Lowes, we bought from Sears. So much for outsourcing.

  23. Barbara says:

    I read your review and it has certainly enlightened me on my decision in purchasing a new Refrigerator
    I have however read on a couple of sites that sell these that they are seeing signs of Rust showing up on the stainless steel refrigerator can you enlighten me on this situation

  24. Edwin Aviles says:

    I bought this refrigerator since many wrote it was a great Refrigerator. However, One and a half months after being in my home, it brought down. I called Sears and they came the next day to repair it. The repair man was in my home two minutes and immediately diagnosed the problem. I asked how he knew the problem so fast after only taking a temperature reading. He indicated that this was an on going problem and he would have to change the fan board and fan control board. I was livid, since I believed that if this was already a problem then Sears or LG (they make this Sears Elite Frig), should have immediately taken action and notified the consumers for a fix. No that did not occur, but my frig defrosted everything and I lost approx. $500/600 in meats and groceries. No i did not purchase an extended plan. I don’t believe that is something necessary at purchase since it is new. Well Sears says it bis my lost and are now willing to give me 1 (one Year L .O.L.) extended warranty. This doesn’t even begin to pay for my lost and efforts. I believe that since they knew and took no action, this should have been corrected before waiting to see if it will break down. I also believe they should be responsible for my lost. I hope Sears makes better, and at least offers a better proposal. To there credit, they will allow me an exchange, but that still leaves me with a lost.

  25. Yvonne says:

    Hi – I’m actually in the middle of appliance shopping and love this frig with the grab and go feature. Anyway, for cleaning use Wiemann’s stainless steel cleaner 1x a week. Works like a charm and eliminates fingerprints. Also, tell the kids to use the handles and stand up straight as the frig is not a leaning post for their little hands. That’s what I tell mine…Thanks for the thumbs up!!

  26. Samantha says:

    Hi Cat, We had just purchased the same refrigerator last month. After 3 weeks I still love the overall of it but there’s a humming is driving me up the wall. Does yours hum? I’m not sure if being on a wood floor, over a basement, is making it sound louder. Plus, I can feel the vibration 15+ft. away. We had not looked at any of the reviews but now looking at it I see that there have been complaints about the humming. My last refrigerator was an 11 year old side-by-side Kenmore and never had a problem until this past February.

    • Corey says:

      We’ve had ours about a week now. Constant humming, stops when a door is opened, then starts back up when door is closed. Did u ever have this looked into? It’s very aggravating.

    • Corey says:

      We’ve had ours about a week now. Constant humming, stops when a door is opened, then starts back up when door is closed.

    • Corey says:

      Same issue here. Ever had this looked in to?

  27. kathy says:

    Hi
    I just received a similar model..the Kenmore lg 72183 31cf. also and after trying to exchange it 3x now…due to slight waves/bulges on side panels, I am unsure to try to get one without these waves. Does yours have any slight waves on the sides? I understand that these newer huge 31cf refrigerators have very slim insulating panels on the side to give us those extra few cubic feet and I’m worried that if I keep this one that the insulating panels may be compromised. Not sure what to do…after 3x and they have been worse than the first one I received. The delivery guys from Sears says that they are all like that. Lg/Kenmore never heard of such issues.

  28. kathy says:

    Hi
    I just had a 3rd delivery of a similar 31cf Kenmore Elite French Door refrigerator;made by LG and they all have slight waves on the side panels…in different locations, not symmetrical in any way…You can feel the bumps as you glide your hand across the side panels. These larger capacity refrigerators have very thin insulation panels on the sides to give customers that extra capacity….but I’m nervous that the cooling will be compromised? Does yours have any waves? They are slight and hard to see but on certain angles…but you can feel it. Just curious if you noticed that on yours? The delivery guys said they’re all like that…but they were all in 3 completely different places.

  29. Rosemary says:

    How is this refrigerator performing for you over a year since you’ve posted this review? I’m curious, as I am considering this model, but I have been reading reviews about the ice maker breaking and other problems. Thanks.

  30. Barbie says:

    Hello ladies, I just got my new 33 inc Kenmore Elite, over 30 days ago, it is beautiful, I love the space on the top, the refrigerator part, but I had to call for service already. The drawer freezer has tilted inward with the weight, the door was not closing properly and the drawer specially the middle tray was getting stuck. The reason I got this fridge was for the space, but if I have to be choosing what I buy because, it will be to heavy for my freezer, then why spend so much money. I am going to buy a freezer to put in my garage, and thinking of returning this one and getting a smaller version, less expensive. By the way the repair men told me that my was not that bad, I guess these freezers tend to have this problem, the drawers are to flimsy, they don’t have good support :(…

  31. Vickiie says:

    We have the sears elite we noticed today that the right hand door doesn’t seem to be. Sealing as tight as it was. We got the fridge May 2013. We love it, but it seems to be getting moisture on the edge of the door, not fitting as tight as it did . Please help!! Thanks

  32. I enjoyed reading your review that is very complete and detailed. It can provide very useful information for anyone who wants to get the best refrigerator. Many refrigerator with a variety of models and brands sold in the market often make the consumers confused. A complete and honest review is very helpful. Thank you.

  33. Linda Sutherland says:

    Hi Cat,

    I’ve been refrigerator shopping for about a year now and am on the fence between the Kenmore and LG 31 cu ft. Was there a deciding factor beyond Sears not stocking the model you wanted? Our Sears store has both, and I’m ready now. Still don’t know which way to jump.

  34. Thomas says:

    We have the exact same refrigerator and we have the waves issue on the left side (as you face the fridge). We also have another problem. Whenever we close the freezer door, it starts making a sound like something running and it runs for several minutes. Has anyone experienced this issue? Thanks.

  35. Gloria says:

    Sears just delivered my frig yesterday. It’s beautiful and lots of storage. Reading the complaints frightens me. I did purchase 3 year extended warranty. I had a side-by-side Kenmore, good frig only problem was the handle kept falling off. That one is in our garage. Don’t regret purchasing it … I love the look and storage.

  36. BoroBil says:

    How do you reset the ‘change filter’ message?