If you want our KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722 review in a hurry – not that the full review is exactly War And Peace – here it is: I've tried umpteen premium kettles with variable temperature settings, and this is the one I actually use.
About a decade ago, small appliance brands had a burning problem. They wanted to be able to sell kettles for over £100/$100 but how could they justify the price? Then someone – quite possibly at KitchenAid – had a masterstroke. If they made the kettles more elegantly designed, from better external materials, you could naturally charge more even though internally they were much the same as a kettle costing £20/$20. If they then added variable temperature controls, and the option to keep the water you had just boiled hot, then truly premium pricing became a possibility. Hoorah!
Just to get this out of the way early: nobody 'needs' to spend large sums on a kettle but then nobody 'needs' a Land Rover for the school run. It's like, the Dualit Newgen toaster at the top of our best toasters list – yes it's an indulgence, but it's still a very pleasing thing to have. Particularly if you drink exotic teas or make a lot on coffee in a cafetière, the variable temperature is a very useful feature. Admittedly if you don't, it isn't, but you are still left with a very nice looking kettle that boils water rapidly. The KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722 is a classic premium kitchen product, the best kettle you can buy, and will look very nice next to your KitchenAid Artisan Stand mixer.
KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722: price and availability
This attractive small appliance can be yours for just £120 in the UK. In the USA, it costs $120 and goes under the slightly different name, KEK1722ER (opens in new tab). In Australia, it's $239 and code-named KEK1722 – the good news here is it's currently reduced to just AU$120 (opens in new tab) though!
KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722: design and features
In a choice of Empire Red – KitchenAid's signature colour – or Velvet Blue, the Variable Temperature Kettle is the epitome of timeless, modern design. There's nothing fancy or avant garde about it; it's just a very elegant, stylish kettle, finished with a suitably premium feel.
Possibly my favourite feature of the Variable Temperature Kettle – and admittedly, even on this most advanced of kettles, there is not exactly a wealth of features – is that the temperature controls are on the handle. Most variable temp kettles put them on the base, which naturally makes the base bigger. The controls are two large buttons to increase and decrease the temperature in 10ºC increments from 50ºC to 100ºC. There's also a button to hold the temperature there after heating is finished. This seems like an incredible waste of electricity to me, and I can't say I've ever used it.
The temperature display, located between the temp + and - buttons, is very bright and easy to read. The spout gives a nice smooth pour. The body of the kettle does heat up – it's not double walled – but the handle stays cool. So my recommendation is to always pick it up by the handle – pro tip for you, there. The only obvious flaw of the design is the lid. This springs up when you press a button on top, but the spring mechanism feels decidedly flimsy. Mine has lasted a couple of years now, but I'm not sure I trust it to have really long-term staying power. You can open it manually easily enough, but if you're paying £120/$120 for a kettle, and one of its features is a pop-up lid, you do ideally want the lid to sproing up on command.
As with most modern kettles, there is a removable limescale guard which filters out debris. I use a water filter jug to minimise limescale in the first place. This means cleaning is needed less frequently, if at all, and the water also tastes nicer.
KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722: performance
Ignoring the potentially irksome lid, this KitchenAid kettle does everything you could wish for from a kettle, ie: it boils water. It does this quickly – it's rated at 3000W, which is pretty standard – and reasonably quietly.
If you want to delve deeper into the features list, the variable temperature is invaluable if you enjoy exotic teas. Oolong is supposed to be brewed at around 90ºC, for instance. Okay, not many people drink oolong tea in the West, but lots of people like green tea and that is positively disgusting if made with boiling water. Use the 80ºC setting on the KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722 and you'll have something much more palatable.
Similarly, if you make coffee using a cafetière or similar process, boiling water is a bit of a no-no. Use 90ºC and again, the flavour should be improved. Quite what you;re supposed to do with the 50º-70º settings I have no idea, but it's reassuring to know they're there just in case I one day find a use for them.
If you really must keep the water at your desired temperature after the heating process has finished, the button you can see above, with a thermometer on it, will do just that.
When you boil it down – ho ho – you put water in this premium kettle, it heats up the water, and then you pour it out. It's a kettle. It just happens to be a kettle with more panache than the norm.
KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722: verdict
If you're in the market for a premium kettle, and particularly if you will actually make use of the multiple available temperatures, I highly recommend the KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722. It's attractive, it heats up water efficiently, pours smoothly and… look, it's a kettle. It just happens to be currently the best kettle, for my money.
KitchenAid Variable Temperature Kettle 5KEK1722: also consider
The closest rival to the KitchenAid that I can think of is the Sage Smart Kettle (opens in new tab). This fine fellow also boasts multiple temperature controls, modernist good looks and heats up water most effectively. It's also similarly priced. If you would like a more affordable kettle, with or without variable temperature control, why not peruse our guide to the best kettles?