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Apr 6, 2013 12:44 PM

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: 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*

                    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 :)

                        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