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Simplifying certain aspects of life often leads to a flurry of organization, and with television shows like "The Home Edit" gaining popularity, there has never been a better time to tackle the pantry. Whether you're looking for uniformity or something decorative, transferring dry goods from grocery packaging to airtight containers helps ward off unwanted pests while maintaining the freshness of the product.
Finding the right containers, whether glass or plastic, is key to storing dry goods properly. The modular plastic models offer a slim, space-saving design, while glass and ceramic containers provide an eco-friendly attractive option that can be used as counter decor. The best dry storage containers make it easy to know the quantity on hand and provide assurance that edibles aren't going stale—all while maximizing space and keeping your pantry clutter-free.
"Although it is OK to store some dry products in their original packaging when unopened, I highly suggest investing in some clear, good quality, reusable food storage containers with airtight seals," says Todd Ferensak, the culinary director at Citizen Chicken & Donuts.
Here are the best dry storage containers.
Best Overall: Click Clack Cubes with Stainless Lids
Easy to open
Simple to stack
Fragile and may crack if dropped
Lids must be hand washed
Space and a good seal are concerns when it comes to kitchen storage, whether you live in a small apartment or sprawling ranch. Click Clack Cubes are designed with an airtight seal to ensure the freshness of your pantry products. Not only do the stainless steel lids lend a sophisticated appearance, but they also easily stack, providing maximum counter and shelf space.
These containers (sold separately) are made from BPA-free plastic for safe food storage. The lids are easy to open and reseal, protecting your dry goods and extending their shelf life. Hand washing is recommended to maintain the integrity of the seal. Cubes are not meant for use in the dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, or freezer.
Material: BPA-free plastic and stainless steel lids | What's Included: Choice of 1-quart, 2-quart, 3.5-quart, and 4.5-quart containers with lids
Best Design: Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Organization & Food Storage Containers with Airtight Lids
Easy to scoop and pour from
May need to order additional pieces beyond set
Lid may be difficult to clean
When organizing your pantry is the end goal, a variety of sizes and compatibility are vital. The design of Rubbermaid Brilliance containers—available individually or as a set—offers a stackable line with airtight lids that latch in place, and each has a slight rim that keeps the containers secure when stacked.
Our tester particularly appreciated the line's sturdy plastic construction, which is also odor- and stain-resistant, meaning storing something more potent won't come back to haunt you weeks later. Whether you use them for flour, snacks, or cereal, scooping and pouring are made easy by the design. They're even safe to store in the freezer.
This dishwasher-safe line comes in nine sizes with three interchangeable lids, but sets often need to be augmented with additional specialized containers to complete a pantry.
Material: BPA-free plastic | What's Included: 19.9-cup, 16-cup, 12-cup, 8.1-cup, 7.8-cup, 6.6-cup, 3.2-cup, and 1.3-cup containers, two 0.5 cup mini containers, plus lids
"The lid’s airtight seal is part of what makes these storage containers so useful. You can actually hear the air escaping when you open them." — Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Best for Flour: Progressive ProKeeper 4-Quart Flour Container
Individually designed for flour leveling and measuring
Attached label may be difficult to remove
If you are looking for containers designed specifically for the product it will store, look no further. ProKeeper incorporates practical accessories, like the detachable leveler on this model, which keeps measurements exact and mess-free. Adding to its functionality are the cup measure marks on the side of the container, so you always know whether you have enough for a recipe or need to head to the grocery store.
There's much to love about the ProKeeper container, including its capacity. It comfortably stores up to 5 pounds of flour, and the lid is airtight but opens easily and is dishwasher safe. As a baker with four different types of flour in her pantry, I appreciate the stackable design from a space-saving perspective.
Material: BPA-free plastic, silicone seal, stainless steel hinges | What's Included: One 4-quart container with lid
“For baked goods, [storage] all depends on the item,” says Chef Martin Diez, Director of Americas Chef Services at Barry Callebaut. “For cookies, fill up your container to the brim for storage. Occupying more space helps to avoid air pockets and can increase shelf life,” he adds.
Best for Cereal: PrepWorks by Progressive Large Cereal Keeper, 4.5 Quart
Slim design for easy storage
Pour spout for mess-free dispensing
Lid does not detach
Product-specific design wins again with Progressive’s 4.5-quart cereal dispenser. It has a spout for easy pouring and holds a family-sized box of cereal. The container is made of food-safe, BPA-free plastic and boasts an airtight silicone seal to ensure freshness.
Like other Progressive products, this one is designed for vertical storage to optimize space in your pantry and is dishwasher safe. If you have varying palates at home, these containers are slim enough to stock a couple of different types of cereal comfortably, and the design makes one-handed pouring a cinch.
Material: Plastic, silicone seal | What's Included: One 4.5-quart container with lid
Best Set: OXO Good Grips 8-Piece POP Container Baking Set
Gasket on lid may be difficult to clean
In the realm of kitchen utensils, OXO has a reputation for quality, affordable products. It's a go-to brand for peelers, can openers, turkey basters, and so much more. Ever-evolving, the brand recently redesigned its beloved POP Containers to improve upon the seal and stackability.
How? The button design ensures an airtight closure when pushed, and the set comes with convenient accessories, like scoops that attach to the underside of the lid. Say goodbye to digging through your canister for a measuring cup.
These containers are dishwasher safe, have handy fill lines for measurement, and are made from sturdy BPA-free plastic. The set includes five containers in varying sizes, five matching lids, two scoops, and a brown sugar saver.
Material: BPA-free plastic | What's Included: Two 0.4-quart, one 1.1-quart, and two 4.4-quart containers, two 1/2-cup scoops, and one brown sugar saver
"Especially during hot and humid summer months, we have to be extra sensitive to our food storage methods, particularly with dry goods," says Todd Ferensak, the culinary director at Citizen Chicken & Donuts. "Although it is OK to store some dry products in their original packaging when unopened, I highly suggest investing in some clear, good quality, reusable food storage containers with airtight seals," he says. This will keep your products safe from getting damp, clumping from the humidity, or picking up any unwanted odors or pantry bugs.
Best for Spices: Libbey Vibe Mini Glass Jars with Lids
Does not come with labels
Spice drawers are notoriously disorganized. A well-stocked supply contains a myriad of seasonings readily available for making curry or hearty stew, and uniformity, a good seal, and versatility are important when selecting containers to house them.
That's where these mini Libbey jars come in. Each features a wide mouth to accommodate various measuring spoons. They’re food-safe and the lids are BPA-free, designed with optimal freshness in mind. As spices lose their potency when exposed to air, a good seal is doubly important. Whether you grind your own spices, buy in bulk, or purchase from the grocery store, these containers provide a chic, uniform, and airtight option for spice organization.
Material: Glass | What's Included: 12 4.5-ounce jars with lids
Keeping spices and dry goods straight can be difficult without labels. One solution is Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers (view at Amazon), which are completely removable from glass. Use them to make a clean, handwritten designation on glass containers, and then wash the markings off and rewrite if you switch out what you store.
Best for Brown Sugar: Progressive Prep Solutions Brown Sugar Keeper
Easily cleaned lids
Generous storage capacity
Terracotta disk must be soaked weekly to stay effective
Brown sugar offers unique challenges when storing. It has more liquid than white sugar, is slightly less sweet, and has more minerals because of the addition of molasses. The dark syrup causes it to harden faster than white sugar as the liquid evaporates. There are tricks to soften it, but finding the right container is proactive.
This canister has an airtight seal, holds up to 2 pounds of brown sugar, is BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and has an added accessory to help keep sugar-hardening at bay: a terracotta disk. A quick soak in water locks moisture in the disk, and once affixed to the lid, keeps brown sugar soft.
Material: Plastic, silicone seal, stainless steel hinges | What's Included: One 1.5-quart container with hinged lid
Best Glass: Le'raze Glass Kitchen Canisters with Airtight Bamboo Lid
Set with varying sizes
Pieces sold as individually and as a set
Lids must be washed by hand
For an eco-friendly option, these glass containers are made of lead-free borosilicate glass with a tight-fitting bamboo lid. The set includes five containers of varying sizes, with capacities ranging from 16 ounces to 54 ounces, and each features a wide mouth for measuring spoons and cups to comfortably slide in and out. The bodies are dishwasher safe, but the lids must be washed by hand.
If you don't need a whole set, don't worry. These are sold individually, too. They also have the advantage of being heat- and cold-resistant, and add an attractive element to your kitchen counter if you're looking for display pieces.
Material: Lead-free borosilicate glass, bamboo wood lid | What's Included: 6.75-cup, 5-cup, 3.7-cup, 2.8-cup, and 2-cup containers with lids
“Always make sure you label your containers clearly with the product name and date stored while storing in a cool dry place.” —Todd Ferensak, Culinary Director at Citizen Chicken & Donuts
Best Ceramic: Kaloh Stoneware Kitchen Canisters w/ Wood Tops
Holds full bags of pantry staples
Sold individually or as a set
I searched two decades for well-sealed canisters attractive enough to reside on the counter and hold a full bag of flour or sugar, and the Kaloh Stoneware Kitchen Canisters from West Elm check those boxes. They feature glazed stoneware and ethically sourced maple lids. The designer, Aaron Probyn, is passionate about sustainability and creating products with longevity to aid in combating reliance on disposable items.
These canisters come in four colors and can be purchased individually or as a set. Minimalist lines combined with a neutral palette add elegance and utility to any kitchen. More importantly, the seal gives that satisfying whoosh when you remove the lid, so you know it's tight. These containers are hand wash only.
Material: Stoneware with maple wood lids | What's Included: Sold individually or as a set of 3, 4, or 5 (44-ounce, 65-ounce, 114-ounce, and 194-ounce canisters with lids)
Best for Snacks: iDesign + The Spruce 14 x 6-Inch Plastic Multi-Use Insert Drawer Organizer
Dividers for keeping snacks separated
Integrated handles for easy transport
Not suitable for loose foods
While this isn't an appropriate receptacle for loose foods, like unpackaged cereal, pretzels, or pasta, it is a fantastic option for organizing individually packaged goods, like protein bars and snack-sized chip pouches, or resealable bags of everything from granola to trail mix and more.
The compact 14 x 6 x 8-inch durable plastic bin (which also comes in a smaller, 12 x 8 x 8-inch model) is ideal for cabinets, drawers, pantries, and even fridges and freezers. Move it from place to place with ease via the integrated handles. Two built-in, removable dividers help keep munchies separated and upright, and see-through sides allow a front-row seat to what's inside. To clean, wash with mild soap and water.
Material: Durable plastic | What's Included: One 14 x 6 x 8-inch bin with two removable dividers
If you want dry storage containers and the flexibility to pick and choose only what you need, check out Click Clack Cubes (view at The Container Store). To compartmentalize your dry goods into a uniform, organized pantry, we recommend the Rubbermaid Brilliance Set because it has rims that make stacking secure and a slim design for the economy of space.
What to Look for in Dry Food Storage Containers
Transferring sacks of flour and sugar is not just about organization. It also adds to the longevity of the product and keeps pests like pantry moths out. The less contact dry goods have with air, the fresher they'll be, which is why it's important to score containers featuring an airtight seal. Sugar won't harden, cereal won't go stale, and all pantry products will maintain their peak level of potency.
Usability should be at the forefront of your mind when shopping for containers. Everyone has likely experienced the over-pour that happens when a cereal keeper doesn’t have a functional spout or the consternation of a canister you can't fit your measuring cup in comfortably. A wide mouth is essential as you try to measure out ingredients while making dinner, baking cookies, or what have you. The delivery method for the container should certainly be a consideration.
Useful Shapes and Sizes
One of the biggest obstacles when purchasing canisters is capacity. Think about the products you want to store and choose containers that will replace the original packaging and get every last morsel, so nothing gets left behind to go stale.
Another consideration is space. If you have a small counter or pantry area, you need modularity. Square or rectangle containers stack easier, and slim, vertical-style vessels save space by stretching up instead of out. What you need all depends on the space you're working with, whether that's a countertop, kitchen cabinet, or pantry.
Frequent washing is not a consideration for most dry storage containers, but you do need to clean them before use, and occasionally throughout their lifespan to maintain a clean, debris-free interior. The container you choose should be easy to wash, without intricate crevices or gaskets that complicate the process. This doesn't eliminate hand wash-only containers since the cleaning happens so infrequently.
Why should dry food be kept in airtight containers?
There are two main reasons to store dry foods in airtight containers: unwanted pests and freshness. Transferring uncooked pasta, flour, sugar, cereal, and more to an airtight container extends the life of those products. A good seal also aids in impeding bacterial or mold growth. You can expect fresh, non-musty, dry goods when you take measures to protect against air damage.
Pantry moths, flour mites, grain weevils, and ants can also pose a problem if you do not store products in an airtight container. Most of these pests can get in through cracks in paper sacks or even burrow through mesh, paper, and cardboard containers. A hard material, like plastic or glass, keeps them away from dry goods.
Is it safe to store dry food in plastic containers?
The numbers on the bottom of the container indicate whether it's safe for food storage. A triangle with numbers 2, 4, or 5 indicates that it's food-safe, but only number 2 plastics are fully recyclable. See this guide from PBS for more information demystifying what the numbers mean.
Is glass or plastic better for dry food storage?
The answer to this question depends on your intended use. If you have a large number of pantry items to organize, plastic is more modular and less expensive. You can purchase slimline, stackable containers made of heavy-duty plastic, which is lighter than glass options.
But, if you are looking to make an environmentally conscious decision, glass or ceramic are your best bet. They last an indefinite amount of time and can be recycled if broken or marred. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all plastics. Glass is also non-porous and does not absorb food smells, but is heavier and takes up more real estate on counters or in pantries.
For those looking to save space or invest in something a little more budget-friendly, look for a safe, recyclable plastic option. If you want something sustainable that adds style to your kitchen while storing goods, consider glass or ceramic.
Can dry food containers store liquid?
Dry food containers are not manufactured to hold liquid for extended periods, especially hot liquid. Airtight seals on dry food containers are made for pantry goods, and though they may keep liquid in place, they are not meant for that. Do wash glass, plastic, or ceramic containers before use, and allow them to fully dry before filling.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who has been on the hunt for the perfect dry storage container solution for over a decade. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she knows the importance of finding the right container. She loves her Kaloh canisters for their beauty and functionality. She also swears by the Libbey Vibe jars for the spice blends she creates. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Basically, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.