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How do you store your spices?

I am planning our new kitchen, and as a confessed Penzey's junkie, I need to plan where and how I will store all my jars of spices so that I can see them and access all that I have readily (because this means I will be more likely to use all of them regularly!). Pictures would be great, but so would just hearing about your systems and what has or hasn't worked for you.

Right now, I'm leaning toward a drawer--and maybe re-jarring my spices and using a consistent labeling system so that I can fit more in a small area and see the names on the tops of the jars. But that means re-packaging every spice, and I just don't know if I'm going to be that diligent.

Thanks in advance!


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  1. I don't have a particularly efficient or visibility enhanced system, but since you mentioned kitchen design, I'll mention that you should find the coolest corner of our kitchen to keep them in. Far from the heat of a stove or fridge. I'm appalled to see how many folks let a kitchen designer place spice and oil storage in a pullout against the range.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcf

      My spice pullout (see my photo in my post below) is right next to the upper part of the fridge, which is well insulated. The pull-out section is also separated from the fridge by a cabinet wall. It's no warmer there than it is in the pantry, where I formerly stored my spices.

    2. Plastic box that lives in the cupboard. And a palstic bag that gets shoved on top of the box. Totally disorganised like most of my cooking but I've yet to find a more effective method. Twice a year, I throw out jars that have passed their "best before" date and that helps to keep them under some control - but not much.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        mine is similar to yours.
        i have a clear plastic wastepaper basket that i bought new for this purpose.
        i decant all the penzy's spices into clean peanut butter jars that have the good rubber gasket and label the jars using avery labels and a sharpy marker.
        i put all the labeled, glass, jars into the clear wastepaper basket.
        more often than not, i can spot the spice i need at first glance.

        1. re: Harters

          Hi, Harters:

          I'm a plastic tubber, too. I use 8 clear, shallow, open plastic tubs, and label them alphabetically, e.g., A-D, E-L, etc. I like that this method does not require a big $ outlay or uniformity of size/shape, and accommodates all manners of brands in original containers. All in a cool, dark cabinet, out of sight.

          I keep several more of these tubs, one each for oils, vinegars, salts, peppers, coffee and its accoutrements, and teas.

          When something is needed, the whole tub comes out. When done, it goes back in its place.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            I used to be a 'tubber', which was a heck of a lot better than riffling through the jars and tins on the shelves, but for the last several years I've been loving the ability to see them at a glance when I open the pantry doors.

            They're tins that stick to strips of magnetic tape glued to the door. Ground spices are on the left door, whole on the right. Labels are produced with masking tape and a sharpie (but in theory could be replaced by lovely printed labels).

            1. re: ellabee

              Hi, ellabee:

              How many tins does it take to do the job, and what's the going rate/tin? Do you buy more when some new thing/blend strikes your fancy, or did you buy extra to start? Do you have a bulk "warehouse" in the basement, or do you only buy one tinful at a time? What do you do with your various salts?

              What took me to tubbing was that I like Bolst's and Tony Cachere and Old Bay and others in their original tins. I use a lot more of some things than I do others, so I use resto containers for the high-use stuff. Add in that I had, over the years, gotten all manner of racks, lazy susan towers, slant drawer inserts, magnetic tins, shaker cans, etc. One little thing goes wrong, or you run out of jars that fit your system(s), and you're forced to start another system--or subsystem in my former case. At this point, putting everything in matching bottles/rackery makes my head hurt...

              What I have had some sense about are oils and vinegars. Since I'm a winemaker, I had several extra cases of Bordeau splits and 1/2 splits in dark green glass, so oils and vinegars go in those, with bartenders' pour spouts and labels; the splits just stand in the "oil" tub.

              I really envy you and Jeremy for having organized your herbs and spices so well, and beautifully. I just keep plowing $ into planting herbs, which i should probably just buy...


              1. re: kaleokahu

                Fresh herbs are so worth the $ and minimal effort to grow -- you can harvest just the amount you need, they're at peak freshness, and they really don't cost much (certainly not compared with buying them). Keep on growing!

                There are fifty tins on the doors. Most are 2oz squares, some are 4oz, and some are my ill-advised foray into 2oz squares with clear windows. [Windowed lids don't seal as tightly, which means not only increased risk of horrific spills, but also that they let some air in to the contents. If used at all should be only with whole spices, because the plastic window doesn't stand up to the powerful oils of ground spices like ginger and cayenne. Among whole spices, the larger ones like cardamom and nutmeg are best suited. Secure the lid with bits of masking tape. Just saying.]

                Somewhere I have notes on how much they cost, but right now I don't know; I only know they cost significantly less per tin when bought in little cartons of 24 from an online container supplier than they did re-sold by the place that sells the magnetic tape. I got two cartons of the 2oz and one of the 4oz size, so I have more tins for any new spice I get. For most of the pantry spices, there's a backup supply in the freezer (in the plastic bags they came in from Penzey's and Spice House, sort of alphabetically 'filed' in a big shallow plastic container).

                Using the doors really freed up a lot of pantry shelf space that had been occupied by my tubs of spices. There are still a lot of spices on that shelf, that are too big or otherwise don't fit the tin system -- different dried chiles, a big jar of peppercorns that's the reserve for the prep and table mills, a jar with sticks of cinnamon (with backup in the freezer), a tin of Coleman mustard -- but now they're easy to survey. No riffling! That shelf also has other dried flavorings (mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.)

                My salts aren't very various. Sea salt (fine) is what I cook with and have at the table; the backup is in the pantry but not on the seasonings shelf. I have some kosher salt in a crock near the stove, for cleaning cast iron. My box of Maldon fleur de sel is unopened beside the bulk sea salt. What kinds of things should I start using it for?

                1. re: ellabee

                  Hi, ellabee:

                  I feel better that you're apparently at least a partial tubber.

                  I only use fleur de sel and most of the colored exotics for sprinkled garnishes--for visual and textural appeal. But I do use Kaua'iian salt whenever I want to be part of that island.


                2. re: kaleokahu

                  I've tried various methods of organizing my spices and have finally found a happy solution.

                  I saw Alton Brown using velcro to stick spice tins inside a cabinet door. Sorry Alton, that did not suit me. (Home Depot let me return both pkgs, even the opened one. America ... What a country!)

                  Right now at Costco they have a sale on "magnetic storage rack" instead of $20 it's $16 and you get 12 tins and a metal stand that you can place on the counter or fasten to wall. I don't care for the stand but this is the cheapest way to get these tins. Bed Bath & Beyond is selling exact same thing for $40 and individual tins sell for $2 each.

                  My son in law got thin metal sheets and screwed them inside cabinet doors. I alphabetized everything but used some red tins for hot stuff like Aleppo. At Home Depot I bought magnetic tape that you can cut and put 2 strips on the backs of tins like paprika that I think look pretty that way.

                  Here are photos:

                  1. re: walker

                    Note: I use a Brother label maker with clear tape.

          2. I, too, am a Penzey's junkie. Currently I have one cabinet devoted to spices. The ones I use most frequently are on a lazy susan on the bottom shelf. The ones I use often, but not every week are on the middle shelf. And the others are on the top. The less frequently used ones are in small jars, so I have a 3-tiered shelf on that top shelf. (Did I mention I was a Penzey's junkie?)

            However, when I have my kitchen redone in (hopefully) the not-too-distant future, I crave the drawer my sister had installed in her new kitchen. Of course, I'll probably need at least two or three of them ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: gaffk

              I found a plastic insert that you can cut to the size of your drawers (at Lowes) that you can use on any drawer that puts your spices at an angle like that. One drawer in my kitchen is dedicated to spices with the oversize ones that I buy at Costco in another location.

              My sister alphabetized my drawer many years ago. She was disgusted while cooking at my house, but it was funny. "Why would you have a spice drawer that you don't put in order!?!

            2. I always thought a cabinet or two like this would be nice, with the pull outs: http://www.riegseckercabinet.com/acce... It's the 3rd picture from the left in the top row, with the refrigerator in it.

              15 Replies
              1. re: juliejulez

                Wow, I'm saving that link. I could do some serious damage with that system.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  I think those are great storage units, but still think it's crazy to put oils and spices next to a heat generating appliance!

                  1. re: mcf

                    Oh I agree, I wouldn't do it next to a fridge or right next to the stove, I would do it off in a corner somewhere... maybe close to the stove but with a larger cabinet and counter in between. I just love the idea of pulling out a narrow cabinet like that and seeing all my spices in front of me. Right now mine are all crammed into a cabinet with some step shelves in it, which works ok but I'm pretty much out of room and the back ones are harder to get to.

                    Here's another version of it.. *drool* http://i893.photobucket.com/albums/ac...

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      Lordy, I'm not tall enough for that master wall! I'd need a ladder for the spice rack! ha!

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Heh me neither. You could always do one of these pull down shelves for the top part :) http://r3.cygnuspub.com/files/cygnus/...

                        1. re: juliejulez

                          A lot of wasted space with that one I think. I keep what I need at hip level and leave the high cabinets for the old man and the kids. I'm the shorty of the bunch.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Oh yes, it was just a joke :) Those pull down things are for folks in wheelchairs.

                            1. re: juliejulez

                              No, they're for people like me with 40" cabinets, when I re-do my kitchen, too. For top shelves so I can stop using my cooking tongs!

                              1. re: juliejulez

                                oh silly me, I thought folks would like it even if I can't use it.
                                okay, over my head!

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Hmm well maybe they would! I wouldn't mind having a small one just for the top two shelves of my 42" cabinets. I'm only 5'3" and SO is only 5'7" so he's not much help. I have a stepstool but I'm usually too lazy to get it out so I just climb up on the counter. If I have kids I probably shouldn't do that though, bad example and all.

                                2. re: juliejulez

                                  HA! I say thee HA! Those pull-down things are great when you have cab-on-cab uppers. For me, a small 2-step stool would let me reach them in the 18" cabs above the 42"'s. Without them, I'd need a small 4-step ladder. I don't have them now, they were in my last rental, but I'm just saying.

                            2. re: HillJ

                              I have a 4-step ladder folded up in the corner of my kitchen. Otherwise, the top shelves of my cabinets and the cabinets over the fridge and microwave would be unusable.

                              1. re: gaffk

                                step ladder be thy middle name...but not in the kitchen! I'll break my neck!

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  It's a good, sturdy and "sticky" ladder. My 4'10" mom's rickety step stool strikes fear in the hearts of my sisters' and me (and don't get me started on her "jumping" onto the counter.)

                        2. I store some spices in glass jars in cabinet.
                          Others are placed in refrigerator small drawer

                          1. If you're designing your kitchen, why not have a deep drawer or two that will accommodate your spice jars and canisters on their sides with the labels face up? My spices are from all over the place (ranging from cheap supermarket to saffron) and I keep them all label up in two drawers, with the spillovers on a shelf in the pantry. They used to be alphabetical, but now the frequently used ones like cumin and cardamom have migrated to a prominent position in the drawer.

                            My old kitchen had this skinny, deep, pull out shelf that required me to place the bottles and jars standing up, which meant I couldn't see the labels very well. I solved the problem by writing the names in a sharpie on the caps, but this situation was annoying.

                            1. I break my spices, herbs and flavorings up. The bar has a small spice drawer. The baking cupboard houses all the baking related spices. The pantry holds the seeds and cooking spices. The chill box holds spices that need a chill and fresh herbs. Spice mixes I keep in the top of the freezer in portions.

                              I tend to organize my prep methods together.

                              1. I had to build my own spice "rack" for my current apartment. Fortunately they wasted some wall space when they designed the place so I took advantage of it. The bonus is that it's across the kitchen from the stove and away from any other heat source.

                                I bought shallow, lipped shelves at the Container Store and installed them on the empty wall, stocked up on a ton of metal spice tins with *screw-on* lids (the pop-off ones make a mess every time you open them), and printed up sets of color-coded labels using a standard Avery label template.

                                And no, the shelves aren't lopsided, I just had to lean over the counter to take the photo :)

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Will you come to my house and organize my kitchen for me? We have a Container Store near us.

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    Don't tempt me. I'm an organizational freak :)

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    That is *very* cool looking and just as orderly as I'd expect you to have it! ;-)

                                    Gave me a thought about making a spice storage niche between studs just for spices, but with a door over it. Using what would otherwise just be sheetrock.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Speaking of doors, I want someone to make this cabinet for my spice tins...

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Looks like an inexpensive bathroom cabinet with some added shelves might do? Right depth, I think, too.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I thought about that, but if you look closely you can see that there are wood "arms" that stick out to keep the individual jars separate. I love the bamboo/glass combo.

                                          After I saw this I spent way too much time & energy Googling like crazy to find just the box or something similar, or even the manufacturer for this particular box. No luck.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I didn't notice the little arms! Cute. :-) One of us is running a MUCH tighter ship than the other!

                                            So, if you were in a place where you could cut between studs and fit this into the niche, you could deepen it enough to hold your deeper cans. But that's quite a project, and if you're a renter, might mean leaving it there, too.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              Yeah, I'm not going to all that trouble in a place I'll be leaving sooner rather than later. I'll probably leave behind these shelves anyway so the next tenant can enjoy them. My landlord is pretty awesome about reimbursing me for any improvements so it's worth it for me to just take a few bucks for them instead of having to remove them and re-install somewhere else.

                                              I swear, someday I'll own a place with a kitchen I designed myself...

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                "I swear, someday I'll own a place with a kitchen I designed myself..."

                                                Yeah, me too.

                                                Tomorrow's another day at Tara, Scarlett!

                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      now that's discipline! holy spice rack batgirl!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I love that, great idea think I will steal that from you !

                                        1. re: catface1

                                          Steal away!

                                          Let me know if you need information on the tins - it wasn't easy to track down good ones with a decent capacity that would fit the dimensions of the shelves.

                                      2. I am the Luddite and the klutz here :-)

                                        I have an old, huge, six row rotating spice rack the belonged to my mom. All the jars have plain black lids, fortunately, so I can label as I please. One of my rows, for ex., is all peppers. I only keep spices that I use. I remember that we had a jar of dill seed for...ever....when I was a kid. But we'd run out of ground mustard every two weeks, it seemed.

                                        I love all your ideas.

                                        1. If you're really going to be serious about spices and storage, take this one opportunity to go through everything and discard what you haven't used within the past 2-3 years. Label - with a date and year - all NEW spices that you bring in.

                                          1. I use 8 ounce mason jars laid on their sides in a drawer. It works really well, and I can access about 50 spices without shuffling or digging. Once you have all your jars labeled and in order, it's really simple. When you stock up on a spice, you just dump it into the correct jar. It takes seconds.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jljohn


                                              THIS forum member thinks you're a genius!

                                              My wife has been after me to organize the bags of Penzey's spices for YEARS. We had them all thrown into a tote in the pantry. A bad mess.

                                              We had gone back and forth about organizing tactics and then I say your photos.

                                              The large drawer in OUR kitchen was for rarely used small/long gadgets.

                                              Now the GADGETS are in the tote and we have (30) pint jars of spices in the re-purposed drawer.

                                              Depending on the product, you can get two four-ounce bags of Penzey's spices into one pint jar.

                                              Many thanks,

                                              1. re: jljohn

                                                My "system" is similar, but not nearly so uniform. I use old plastic supplement jars and other small glass jars that I would have otherwise recycled. Not vitamin jars or anything that has child proofing, since those are not airtight.

                                              2. You could consider what I slapped together for my own pantry cabinet. Works great. Amazingly, it still doesn't hold all my spices. But I love that it keeps them handy but also out of light and away from heat.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                  I like what you did, Bada. I plan to do this in a pull-out shelf version and put it into a closet in my kitchen (not near the fridge as depicted): http://learning-to-b-me.blogspot.com/...

                                                2. I put them in small glass jars. Some small and some large:


                                                  And I put the ones I used the most on the counter. :)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    I leave the Penzy's Spices in their glass jars
                                                    or place other spices which don't come in them in different sizes of their glass jars.

                                                    1. re: jpr54_1

                                                      Nice. Most of the spices I bought are whole spices from Indian stores. They came in huge quantity size in plastic bags which frankly I will never finish.

                                                      I took a portion out from each bags and ground them using a coffee grinder, then transfered each to a glass jar.

                                                  2. Consider something to reduce moisture where spices are kept (even if 'hidden'). I use rice. Is inexpensive to replace once a year or so. After doing this no more 'clumps' here.

                                                    1. Here's what I did. The shelves are from Pottery Barn and the jars are from IKEA. I'm actually adding one more shelf because I needed a little more room - I should have planned this better and installed the shelves a little closer together, but otherwise I absolutely love this solution. I can see everything easily and it used wall space that was otherwise wasted.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                        This is just beautiful, but my concern woiuld be the rapid aging effect of light passing through clear jars. Outside an enclosed space, tins or very dark jars might function better, but this wins a spot in the beauty competition. :-)

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          I know it's not optimal but I go through my spices fairly quickly, and I really had no where else to put so many spice bottles. It's not in direct sunlight which helps a lot. I considered tins but I have to admit that I picked the clear jars because I love the way the colors of the spices look all lined up like that. And so far, I haven't noticed any significant deterioration in the quality of my herbs and spices, again, in large part, probably due to the fact that I use them up fairly quickly.

                                                        2. re: flourgirl

                                                          Beautiful. Those are the shelves I *really* wanted for mine, but I couldn't justify the price for a temporary living space so I settled for the cheaper white ones from the Container Store.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Thanks! :) I know, the price of them was a little crazy. I looked everywhere for cheaper ones but couldn't find any I liked. These are really nice - very easy to install and very sturdy. I love them.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              I hope you didn't take offense to my comment about the price. Believe me, if I was planning to stay in this apartment long-term I would have gladly splurged on them!

                                                          2. re: flourgirl

                                                            Nice display. I have this many, but it's in a pull out cupboard.

                                                          3. I've gone low-brow. I bought 2 Youcopia SpiceStore racks for small bottles, which are in my pantry. I keep large size containers (Costco size) on the top shelf in the pantry. They're 3 deep there, but with the large size it's easy to find what I want.

                                                            I thought it would bother me, not having them in a drawer in my island, but it's only a few steps and so no big deal.

                                                            1. If any of you have read my other post regarding my pantry pains, you know how little space I have. I really love flourgirl and goodhealthgourmet's spice arrangements, but don't have the space.

                                                              Instead, I've placed all of my spices into upside down small hexagonal bottles that all fit into an 8 x 10.75 plastic bin stored into a cabinet. The bottles are labelled and I can immediately see which ones need refilling based on the level of the bottle. I can place two layers of 24 bottles each, with a total of 48 bottles. While the system isn't perfect, it works relatively well for storing a large amount of spices in a small space. I buy spices frequently and fill up as needed. For larger bulk purchases, I place all the larger bags into one large plastic container in my pantry and refill from that as needed.

                                                              When I finally get my own kitchen with plenty of pantry, cabinet, and counter space, I'll be using a larger spice system for sure.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: daeira

                                                                daeira, I am soooo happy my response to the pantry thread got wiped out before posting as I would have looked a total idiot based on the above photos. At best preaching to the choir.

                                                                If your turnover is slow, invest in containers that seal tightly. The plastic lids that have covers for bulk or sprinkling do not seal tightly and hasten the degeneration of the herbs.

                                                                Round jars are the most space efficient. Hexagonals are second, with square jars a distant third. I know this is counter intuitive, but trust me. It is a geometry thing.

                                                                Once you get started on rejarring your spices, it will flow quickly. Just make sure you toss any spice more than 1 month old so you will have a common base line for replacing your stock.

                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                  Thanks for the great tips Indianriverfl. I have found that the only way I can keep my spices fresh is to buy in very small amounts, very frequently from the bulk store. The spices that I purchased in larger bags go stale too quickly, despite placing in an airtight plastic container. The only thing that I like about my current spice system is that turnaround in the small jars is quite quick. Though, the constant trips to the bulk store are probably less than enjoyable.

                                                                  If I can find enough small, round jars that are the same size (eating lots of jam), I think I'll rejar them from the hexagons to the rounds. That would allow me to pack more into the space.


                                                                  1. re: daeira

                                                                    I am standing while typing this as the choir is singing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus".

                                                                    Here in Florida, Badia celophane bags do wonderful.

                                                                    1. re: daeira

                                                                      Penzy's sells individual bottles different sizes so does Fresh Market and Container Store.
                                                                      They r made from glass and can be reused.

                                                                2. Another Penzey's junkie chiming in! My basement door is in the kitchen so the back side of the door holds an over-the-door old-fashioned white wire shelf meant to hold VCR tapes. It's not pretty, but it's close, it's cool and it's dark.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: mrssamiam

                                                                    I have something similar.

                                                                    Those drawers seem to frequently be to one side or the other of the cooktop - just about the warmest place in the kitchen. And if we're talking dozens of spices, one drawer isn't going to be enough.

                                                                  2. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg etc. together in alphabetical order. Herbs ditto. Spices for Indian and Middle Eastern foods in a separate container

                                                                    1. You know those decorative panels that act as fillers in between cabinets? Why not use that space for a filler pullout?

                                                                      Thats what I have in my kitchen.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: iamreptar

                                                                        In a similar vein, I had a bit of filler space in a kitchen, so added a set of spice drawers, installed vertically, instead of the usual horizontal arrangement. They're the apothecary-type drawers. I think they only needed 4-5". Worked really well vertically, I arranged spices by function (commonly used together) rather than name and put labels on the drawers, and top of the jars and cans.

                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                          I adore apothecary style spice cabinets. Hopefully one day I'll have the space to have an entire cabinet with apothecary spice drawers.

                                                                      2. I bought a YouCopia SpiceStack a couple of years ago and keep the original spice and herb bottles in it. They make various sizes; I got the 30-bottle (or 60 half-bottle) model. Works fine for me. Have a look!


                                                                        1. I have a dedicated spice drawer. I made some dividers that run from the front to the back of the drawer. There is one row that is fairly wide to accomodate big jars and a few miscellaneous cans. The other rows fit the two smallest sizes of Penzey's spice jars (the narrowest ones). I use a little labeling machine to make labels for the tops. The labels have the name and the month/year of purchase. The jars are kept in alphabetical order in the drawer. In some cases to make the best use of space I have stacked two small jars on top of each other. Finding something is quick and easy even though my selection is very large.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                            The SpiceStack has three drawers - it's designed to go into a fairly deep cupboard or on a countertop - and I sort the herbs and spices into the drawers according to the uses I make of them. The bottom drawer is for everyday; the top drawer, for specialist cuisines (Cajun/Creole, Indian); the middle, for everything else.

                                                                          2. I use Mason jars in various sizes to store bulk spices. I prefer the plastic lids (sold separately) to the 2-piece lids that come with the jars.

                                                                            My recent kitchen renovation gave me a great place to stash and manage spices, oils, etc.