Smeg may make beautiful ovens and sexy coffee machines, but that doesn't mean you should go crazy and deck your kitchen out with everything Smeg. Our rigorous testing shows not all of their products perform as well as you'd expect for the price you pay.
As much as a matchy-matchy kitchen might sound appealing, what you'll gain in aesthetics you may lose in performance. But if you choose carefully, you can have both beauty and function.
"There's more to a kitchen accessory than just good looks – our independent, comparative tests show that Smeg products aren't always recommended performers, despite their retro appeal," says Kim Gilmour, team leader of CHOICE's household testing.
We look at which Smeg products rate best and which leave something to be desired.
We recommend two of Smeg's retro-styled toasters. Not only will they up your kitchen cred with their stylish design, but they also performed well in our toaster reviews, scoring solidly for toasting consistency (producing the same toast colour cycle after cycle) and being easy to use.
The models we tested were at the upper end of the price range, but easily outperformed the KitchenAid toaster. This was so bad at doing its only job (toasting bread) that we gave it a Shonky Award in 2019.
Not convinced about paying upwards of $200 for a toaster? We've found several cheaper models that outperform more expensive toasters.
Smeg's ECF01PBEU espresso machine gets the CHOICE tick of approval: this model did well in our coffee machine test, scoring 100% on coffee temperature consistency and 80% for milk frothing. It also scored well on the taste test. At $499 it's a good price, too, and held its own against products that cost several times more.
Ranging in price from $1349 to $4990, Smeg's wall ovens certainly aren't the cheapest offerings on the market, but fortunately they perform well for the price. The four models we tested in our wall oven reviews all got high scores for performance, baking and roasting.
Another retro-styled appliance that performed quite well, the BLF01CRAU blender makes a pretty darn good green smoothie and absolutely blitzes kale (it scored 95% on the kale test). It's no Vitamix, but at $299 it's a fraction of the price. It's not the highest scoring blender in our blender reviews, but if you absolutely must have a pretty blender in your kitchen, this is a decent option.
Best to buy with caution
Smeg's freestanding ovens certainly aren't cheap: the models we've tested range in price from $2390 to $3995. Although we don't recommend any of them, they scored reasonably well for baking, roasting and grilling, but not so well for ease of use.
Our suggestion? Before you drop $2,500 on a Smeg oven, check our freestanding oven reviews to make sure you're spending your money wisely.
The Smeg FAB32 failed its energy check and scored just 15% for temperature stability.
Best to avoid
Smeg has a reputation as a luxury brand, but it doesn't always deliver bang for your buck. Its fridges are priced at the very upper end of the market, but they're made by the same company that produces Beko fridges, which fall at the lower end of the price scale and often don't perform well in our tests.
"The problem with buying a poor-performing fridge is that your food will go off faster, so you'll end up spending more money in the long run," says Ashley Iredale, CHOICE's whitegoods expert.
"Retro appliances may look cool, but our advice is to defer to function over form, and preference products which perform well instead. And there are plenty of other ways you can make your kitchen feel funky without a fridge full of funky, rotting fruit and vegetables, like hanging a painting, getting a lava lamp or hosting a fondue party."
The Smeg Retro Style FAB28 range needs to be manually defrosted.
At $2990, the Smeg FAB32RRDNA1 retro-styled bottom-mount fridge is all style and no substance: it failed its energy check, scored a dismal 44% for keeping food fresher for longer, and a shocking 15% for temperature stability.
"The FAB32 may look cool, but its beauty is only skin deep," says Ashley. "Its style may be from the 1950s, but so too is its performance.
"It does a bad job of keeping your food fresh, it uses way more energy than claimed on its star rating label, and despite its imposing presence, doesn't have a lot of space inside. There are much better options out there for a lot less money."
And Smeg has really turned back the clock with its retro-styled FAB28 range of fridges: buying one of these will set you back at least $2000 (or $4000-plus for the two-door model).
But Smeg has ensured you'll have a truly authentic 1950s experience, as the fridge doesn't have auto-defrost – so you'll have to manually defrost the freezer yourself whenever the ice gets to 2cm thick. We think some 'features' (such as manual defrost) should stay in the past.
They sure do look the business, but Smeg's 50s-style variable-temperature kettles are more fashion than function. They scored between 68% and 72% in our kettle reviews, cost a steep $259 and $199, and boil at a noisy 60dB. If you're after a kettle that does the job and won't burn a hole in your pocket, check out our kettle reviews.
It may have the looks to rival KitchenAid, but this mixer's beauty is only skin deep: it came dead last in our kitchen mixer review and scored poorly on a number of tests, including ease of use, whisking and beating. The dough hook test was the only component that performed well, scoring 100%. And for $799, you can do better. If you want a mixer that's functional, not just decorative, see our mixer reviews.