Woman pouring water on oatmeal with an electric kettle

HOW TO USE A KETTLE

Whether crafting a cup of pour over coffee in the morning or unwinding with herbal tea at the end of a long day, learning how to use a kettle can help you create your favorite beverages and more. Explore the different types of kettles along with how to use and care for them to find the right one for your kitchen.

WHAT IS A KETTLE?

A kettle is a container used to heat water that features a lid, handle and spout. Kettles are mostly used to heat water for tea, coffee, hot cocoa or other warm drinks. However, they can also be used to heat water for soup, oatmeal and more. New parents find kettles helpful for cleaning baby bottles or preparing formula.

Woman pouring water on oatmeal with an electric kettle

TYPES OF KETTLES

There are two main types of kettles: Stovetop and Electric. Stovetop kettles are similar to a pot in that they must be heated using an external heat source such as stovetop burners. Electric kettles are designed with an integrated heating element and generate their own heat using electricity. 

Another type of kettle is a gooseneck kettle that can be found in both electric and stovetop varieties. Gooseneck kettles feature a long, slim spout that helps you achieve a precise pour for beverages like pour over coffee. KitchenAid brand offers two different electric gooseneck kettles including a streamlined version with a simple on/off switch or a digital electric gooseneck kettle that allows you to select your desired brewing temperature customizable in 1 degree increments.

Which type of kettle is best for you depends on what you want to make and your kitchen setup. Learn how to use different types of kettles and which is best for your recipes. Or jump straight to our Kettle Buying Guide to start crafting your own kettle creations.

Woman picking up an electric gooseneck kettle

HOW TO USE AN ELECTRIC KETTLE

With such a wide variety of electric kettles available, they all have their own unique set of operating instructions. Once you’ve purchased one, be sure to check your owner’s manual for how to use your electric kettle model. Here are some general instructions for how to use most electric kettles:

  • STEP 1: Set up the kettle: Place your electric kettle base on an even surface.

  • STEP 2: Fill the kettle: Add water up to the max fill line or below. 

  • STEP 3: Secure lid: Make sure the lid is securely in place.

  • STEP 4: Set kettle on base: Lower your kettle onto the base and plug it in.

  • STEP 5: Turn on the kettle: Flip a switch to boil or select your desired temperature depending on your type of kettle.
Close up of person turning on different types of electric kettles.

Your kettle may feature indicator lights, icons or audible tones to let you know your water is ready. Some electric kettles will turn off automatically once the water has reached a boil or your desired temperature. Others may feature a hold option, such as the KitchenAid® Precision Digital Electric Kettle which can hold your selected temperature for up to 30 minutes.

SHOP ELECTRIC KETTLES FROM KITCHENAID

KitchenAid offers a variety of electric kettles perfect for everything from quickly boiling water for tea to reaching your just-right temperature for pour-over coffee. Explore KitchenAid® electric kettles with a range of features, colors and finishes to suit your taste and your style.

hot water pouring into a tea glass

HOW TO USE A STOVETOP KETTLE

Stovetop kettles can also come in a variety of styles such as gooseneck or traditional, but most will have roughly the same instructions for use. As always, be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to use your stovetop kettle. Here are some basic instructions on how to use most stovetop kettles:

  • STEP 1: Fill your stovetop kettle: Add water up to the max fill line or below.

  • STEP 2: Add the lid: Make sure the lid is securely in place.

  • STEP 3: Place kettle on stove: Set the kettle on your stove, cooktop or other heating source.

  • STEP 4: Turn on stove: Set your heating device to high.

  • STEP 5: Remove kettle from heat: Turn off your heating source or remove the kettle when finished heating.

Some kettles will let you know the water has begun to boil by whistling. Others will have to be monitored. You can look for a stovetop kettle with a built-in thermometer to help you reach your desired temperature. However, it can be difficult to reach and hold a precise temperature because stovetop kettles rely on an external heating source. The kettle will continue to heat until you turn down or turn off your heating device and remove the kettle.

WHY DO TEA KETTLES WHISTLE? 

Whistling kettles have a device built into the spout that forces steam through a small opening. The whistling sound is generated by a condensed jet of steam as it escapes. This occurs once the water in the tea kettle has reached its boiling point of 212º F and has begun to evaporate. The whistle is a loud and clear signal that your water is ready for use.

Red electric tea kettle on countertop with tea and food

HOW TO MAKE TEA WITH A KETTLE

The basic process of making tea starts with heating water in a kettle, then passing it over tea leaves or letting the tea sit (or steep) in the water. However, the exact methods, temperatures and brewing times are as varied as the many different types of teas.

HOW TO STEEP TEA & HOW LONG DO YOU STEEP TEA FOR?

Steeping tea is the process of soaking tea leaves in hot water. This is when the brewing, or extraction, happens. For most types of teas, use 1 tsp. of dried leaves per 6–8 oz. of water. The water temperature and length of time you should steep depends on the tea type and your desired strength. Use this table as a basic guide to steeping different teas:

Tea Type

Green

White

Oolong

Black

Herbal

 
suggested temperature setting (C°/F°) 80° 85° 90° 95° 100°
176° 185° 194° 203° 212°
suggested steep time (minutes) 1-3 3-5 3-5 4-5 5-7
Black electric tea kettle on tabe with glasses of tea.

HOW TO MAKE TEA WITH AN ELECTRIC KETTLE

Spoon pouring loose leaf tea into diffuser

STEP 1: Add tea

Add your desired amount of tea leaves to a tea pot, tea infuser (shown) or single serving brewer. If using a tea infuser, place it inside a cup or other container for steeping. If using tea bags, simply place them in your tea cups.

stainless steel electric kettle with steam

STEP 2: Heat water

Use an electric kettle to boil water or bring water up to your desired temperature.

Black electric kettle pouring water over tea bag in glass

STEP 3: Pour water over tea

Pour the appropriate amount of water over your tea as it sits inside a tea pot or infuser.

Two glasses of tea on counter with mint and lemons

STEP 4: Steep the tea

Allow the water and tea to brew for the recommended amount of time. Then remove the tea from the water either with a tea strainer, or by lifting the infuser out.

Cup of tea on counter with containers of loose leaf tea

STEP 5: Serve and Enjoy!

Woman placing a diffuser into a kettle

Water temperature and steep time are two key elements for optimal tea flavor. An electric kettle with a temperature selector can help you precisely brew your perfect cup. The electric KitchenAid® 1.5 L Glass Tea Kettle makes it even easier with 5 specialty tea settings designed to preserve each tea’s unique flavors and aromas. An integrated steeper allows you to heat water, steep and serve brewed tea all in the same appliance.
 

HOW TO MAKE TEA WITH A STOVETOP KETTLE

  • STEP 1: Add tea
    Add your desired amount of tea leaves to a tea pot, tea infuser or single serving brewer. If using a tea infuser, place it inside a cup or other container for steeping.

  • STEP 2: Heat water
    Use a stovetop kettle to boil water.

  • STEP 3: Pour water over tea
    Pour the appropriate amount of water over your tea as it sits inside a tea pot or infuser.

  • STEP 4: Steep the tea
    Allow the water and tea to brew for the recommended amount of time. Then remove the tea from the water either with a tea strainer, or by lifting the infuser out.

  • STEP 5: Serve and enjoy!
     

To help achieve the optimal temperature for your type of tea, look for a stovetop kettle with a built-in thermometer. This method may be more art than science, but by keeping an eye on the rising temperature, you can get closer to the precision offered by certain electric kettles.

Glass of iced tea next to sandwiches

HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA

There are two main ways to make iced tea, one which follows the hot tea brewing method and then cools the tea, and another that uses cold water and time to extract a full-bodied iced tea.

MAKING HOT-BREWED ICED TEA

For this method, follow the steps for making regular, hot tea. Boil about 8 cups of water, then pour over 3 Tbsp. of loose tea in an infuser or add 6 tea bags to your serving container. Steep the tea for around 4 minutes, then remove the tea leaves or bags and let the brew come to room temperature before refrigerating. Add ice and serve.

MAKING COLD-BREWED ICED TEA

This method can help create a rich and smooth result without the bitterness that can come from hot brewing tea. Add about 6 tablespoons of loose tea using an infuser or just add 10 tea bags to 8 cups of cold water in your serving container. Cover the container and put in the refrigerator for 15 to 36 hours, or until your desired strength is reached. Remove the tea leaves or bags. Add ice and serve.

You can also make cold-brewed iced tea using the KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Just swap out loose leaf tea for coffee grounds.

Gooseneck electric kettle on counter with pour over coffee setup

HOW TO MAKE COFFEE WITH A KETTLE

You can make coffee with an electric kettle or a stovetop kettle using a variety of methods including French press, pour-over and even cowboy coffee. Simply heat your water using the kettle and combine with coffee grounds following the brewing process of your choice. Here are some additional tips on choosing a kettle to make coffee:

Temperature control: The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCA) recommends a water temperature between 195 and 205° F for most brewing methods. Look for a kettle with a built-in thermometer or a temperature-controlled electric kettle to make coffee.

Capacity: Brewing several servings at once? Opt for a larger capacity kettle such as the 1.5 L Pro Line® Series Electric Kettle with variable temperature control.

Pouring precision: If you are making pour-over coffee or using an AeroPress or other device with a small brew chamber, opt for a gooseneck kettle. If you’re using a French press or similar method, you can use a more traditional kettle.

Hand pouring gooseneck electric kettle over a pour over cone filled with coffee

HOW TO MAKE COFFEE WITH A GOOSENECK KETTLE

Gooseneck kettles are ideal for pour-over coffee or other brew methods that require a precise pour. The slim spout is important to help ensure even water distribution over your coffee grounds. It also provides a lower flow rate that helps avoid creating too much turbulence which can result in a gritty cup of coffee. Here’s how to make coffee with a gooseneck kettle:

  • STEP 1: Heat water: Fill your gooseneck kettle with a little more water than you need for your final brew. Heat the water to between 195 and 202° F (Note: Some brewers recommend using a higher temperature for this method, closer to 208.)

  • STEP 2: Rinse/pre-heat: Place a filter-lined pour-over cone over a coffee cup or carafe. Pour just enough water to wet the filter and warm your container, then discard the water.

  • STEP 3: Add grounds: Add your medium-fine coffee grounds to the pour-over cone. For extra precision, place the entire setup on a scale to keep track of how much water you will add in the next steps to maintain the proper ratio.
Hand pouring water from gooseneck electric kettle to make pour over coffee
  • STEP 4: Let the grounds bloom: Slowly pour about twice as much water as your grounds, starting in the center of the cone and spiraling towards the edges. Make sure the grounds are evenly saturated, then wait 30 seconds for the grounds to release gasses (or bloom). 

  • STEP 5: Pour again: Slowly pour about ⅓ of your remaining water over the grounds using a spiral pattern from the center to the edges and back again. Let sit for another 45–60 seconds.

  • STEP 6: Pour two more times: Pour another ⅓ of the water over the grounds in a spiral pattern, and let sit until the water nearly drains from the filter. Pour the remaining water over your grounds and let drain completely. 

  • STEP 7: Discard filter and serve: Discard the filter with used grounds and enjoy the resulting brew! Make sure to turn off and unplug your electric kettle when you’ve finished making coffee.
     

TIP: While your ideal ratio of water to coffee will vary based on your preference, a good place to start is 1:16. For example: if you’re brewing with around 350 grams of water, divide that by 16 to get roughly 22 grams of coffee grounds. Decrease the ratio for stronger coffee or vice versa for a weaker brew.

Learn more about making coffee with a gooseneck kettle, and how it stacks up to auto-drip coffee with our comparison guide.

HOW TO PROPERLY CLEAN A KETTLE

For everyday cleaning, you can use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior of your kettle. Abrasives and scouring agents of any kind are not usually recommended. Over time, calcium deposits (scale) from water can build up inside kettles. To get the best performance from your kettle, you’ll want to descale periodically. The frequency will depend on the hardness of your water.

HOW TO DESCALE A KETTLE:

  • STEP 1: Fill ⅓ with white vinegar and then add water up to the max fill line.

  • STEP 2: Boil and allow to stand overnight.

  • STEP 3: Empty the solution from the kettle.

  • STEP 4: Fill your kettle with water, bring to a boil and then drain. Repeat this step twice.

KETTLE SAFETY TIPS

When using any appliance, you should always make sure to read all instructions in your owner’s manual and basic safety precautions should always be followed, including:

  • Do not touch hot surfaces and use your kettle’s handle.

  • Do not overfill your kettle. Pay attention to max fill indicators.

  • For electric kettles, do not immerse the base, cord, plug, or the kettle body in water or other liquids.

  • Unplug electric kettles from outlets when not in use and before cleaning.

  • Check your owner’s manual for additional safety information.

Kettle on countertop with three cups of tea

DISCOVER THE KITCHENAID® KETTLE BEST FOR YOUR KITCHEN 

Brew your favorite artisan beverages or enjoy creating your own specialty drinks. From variable temperature settings to precision pouring, KitchenAid offers an electric kettle perfect for your recipes. Shop the entire collection of KitchenAid® electric kettles and bring the cafe to your kitchen.