After diligent testing, the top spot was awarded to the Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Airtight Food Storage Container Set, which aced all of our Lab tests and has a nice variety of sizes. The Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set was our Lab testers' second favorite because of its airtight locks, versatility, and durable design.
Whether you’re preparing meals ahead of time, saving leftovers for later, or organizing your pantry, every kitchen needs a solid set of food storage containers. Not all containers are created equal, though. It’s important to find a set that is durable enough to withstand stacking and accidental drops—after all, the last thing you want is last night’s meal all over your kitchen floor.
You also want something that’s designed well, for both aesthetics and efficiency. There are so many food storage containers to choose from, so where does one start? We rounded up some of the best-selling and most popular sets to meticulously test in our Lab, and we also sent some of the sets home to our testers so they could try them out in real-world settings. They rated each set on performance, durability, and ease of cleaning.
Here is our list of the best food storage container sets on the market now.
Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Airtight Food Storage Containers, 8-Piece Set
Microwave-safe and freezer-safe
Stain-proof, leakproof, and smell-proof
These containers got perfect scores across all categories from our Lab and at-home testers; they kept brown sugar from drying out and aced the tomato sauce stain test, the blue dye leak test, and the onion smell test, in addition to being very easy to clean. All of our testers were so impressed with how airtight the containers were, and loved that they could be frozen without cracking. These containers are made from super-clear material, so you don't have to fumble around your freezer or pantry looking for mystery items.
This set is both dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe. You can even microwave them with the cover on if you open the vent first, so you can have spatter-proof thawing or reheating. Our tester found she was able to zap a wide range of foods in these containers, including items straight from the freezer—from cooked rice to chicken to leftover quiche. Ninety seconds was the average amount of time she needed to fully cook each item.
Price at time of publish: $50
Material: Plastic | Number in Set: 4 | Items: (1) 16-cup, (1) 12-cup, (1) 7.8-cup (1) 3.2 cup plus all lids
“Zero leaks! These stayed tightly sealed, and the liquid was visibly trapped by the seal during our splash test.”
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set
Safe for the oven, microwave, and dishwasher
Made with durable glass
Lids are tricky to close
This container set from Glasslock stands out because of its quality build and design. The 18-piece set (the count includes the lids) has four rectangular containers in varying sizes, two square containers in a small and large size, and three different-sized round containers. The containers themselves are recyclable glass made from silica, soda ash, limestone, and other natural components. They're also oven-safe. Each of the BPA-free plastic lids has a rubber gasket and four latches, making them completely airtight and as leak-proof as it gets.
Our at-home tester praised the airtight lock and the fact that these containers are easily stackable, allowing for compact, convenient storage. This set also doesn’t stain and keeps leftovers very fresh. Our home tester did mention, though, that the lids are a little hard to close at first, but that's the price you pay for an airtight seal.
Price at time of publish: $57
Material: Glass | Number in Set: 9 | Items: (1) 6.3-cup rectangle, (2) 3.5-cup rectangle, (1) 1.6-cup rectangle, (1) 3.3-cup square, (1) 1.5-cup square, (1) 3.1-cup round, (1) 1.6-cup round, and (1) 0.7-cup round containers, plus 9 lids
"I stored garlicky sauces and pungent left-over Thai food and found no residual scents after a quick wash." — Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Le'raze Glass Kitchen Canisters with Airtight Bamboo Lid
Stain-resistant and smell-proof
Not great for storing liquids
Lids are hand-wash only
This set is perfect for storing dry goods: the containers look gorgeous out on the counter or shelf, they don't take on any stains or smells from ingredients stored inside, and they're airtight enough that our Lab testers raved about how well they kept brown sugar from drying out. The one issue our testers noted was that there was some leakage with liquid ingredients, though they said that thick liquids would probably not be a problem.
This is a great option for anyone who is avoiding plastic, but the downside is that the glass could shatter if dropped, so the containers should be kept out of reach of small children. The glass containers are dishwasher-safe, but the wooden lids are designated as hand-wash only, though our Lab testers ran them through the dishwasher without any issues.
Price at time of publish: $50
Material: Glass, silicone seals, bamboo lids | Number in Set: 5 | Items: (1) 6.75-cup, (1) 5-cup, (1) 3.7-cup, (1) 2.8-cup, (1) 2-cup plus all lids
“These are beautiful and will be very attractive on the countertop.”
Seseno 7-Pack Airtight Food Storage Container Set
Stain-resistant and smell-proof
Closes easily and securely
Not great for storing liquids
This affordable plastic set closes with an easy but secure click; it also stacks nicely and comes in a nice array of sizes. Our Lab tester said she would personally buy and recommend these, which definitely wasn't the case for all the lower-budget options we tested. These containers passed our Lab's stain tests beautifully both before and after washing, and they came out of the dishwasher with no lingering odors after storing an onion.
There was a little bit of leaking from the tops, so we don't recommend them for liquid storage, and we found them to be prone to cracking if dropped. However, we loved that they are dishwasher-safe, nice-looking, and lightweight.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: BPA-free plastic | Number in Set: 7 | Items: (1) 8-cup, (2) 6-cup, (2) 3.6-cup, (2) 1.4-cup plus all lids
“I loved the closing mechanism on these containers and the sizes. I would absolutely recommend these.”
Better Homes & Gardens Flip-Tite Canisters
Cute, stackable design
Slight smell transfer before washing
Our Lab testers loved how completely leakproof these containers are; there was a visibly trapped-in seal, and the brown sugar stored in them didn't dry out. The containers didn't shatter when dropped, and aside from a little bit of lingering onion smell before going through the dishwasher, they passed our stain and smell tests beautifully.
Other features of this set that our Lab testers loved were the easy-stacking, nice-looking aesthetics, and large capacity. One of our Lab testers bought these for herself, and the other plans to do so.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: BPA-free plastic | Number in Set: 4 | Items: (1) 6.5-cup, (1) 10-cup, (1) 16-cup, (1) 19-cup plus all lids
“They stack really nicely and are really cute. I love them.”
Best for Cereal
PrepWorks by Progressive Large Cereal Keeper, 4.5 Quart
Airtight enough to prevent staleness
Doesn't come in a set
We loved this option for cereal because of how well it keeps contents from drying out and getting stale—it kept brown sugar from drying out even a tiny bit. It's dishwasher-safe and came out of the wash cycle without any hints of smell or stain. (There was a slight smell from the onion we had stored in it before washing.)
Our Lab tester loved the design, saying, “I liked that there was a ergonomic spot for your hands and two different openings: one to fill the container and one to fill your bowl of cereal.” Our main complaint was that it doesn't come with more containers in more sizes to do more jobs.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: BPA-free plastic | Number in Set: 1 | Items: (1) 4.5-quart storage container with lid
“I liked that there was an ergonomic spot for your hands and two different openings.”
Best Small Set
OXO Good Grips 8-Piece POP Container Set
Easy to clean
Curved edges for easy pouring
We love the large capacity of this five-container set and the different sizes that accommodate an array of uses. They kept brown sugar from drying out in our tests, and they impressed our testers with their ease of cleaning. The previous version of this set was not fully dishwasher-safe, but this current version features both containers and lids that can be popped in the dishwasher or washed by hand.
When our Lab testers purposefully dropped the containers to see if they'd open or shatter, the top popped open, and the contents went everywhere, so you may want to be cautious. There was also a bit of leakage when storing more liquid ingredients. However, our Lab tester remarked, “I like them and would recommend them."
Price at time of publish: $68
Material: BPA-free plastic | Number in Set: 5 containers, 3 accessories | Items: (2) 0.4-quart, (1) 1.1-quart, (2) 4.4-quart, plus lids; (2) 0.5-cup scoops, (1) brown sugar saver terracotta disc
“I love the set for all the sizes and uses, and they look clean and neat, so if you have some on the countertop they are not an eyesore.”
Best for Bulk Storage
Vtopmart Large Food Storage Containers
Leakproof and airtight
Only one size
These large containers are all the same size, so they're great for storing large quantities of bulk pantry items. They even do well for storing liquids, as our testers found that they're completely leakproof and very airtight. These containers are also pretty durable when dropped, which makes them more kid-friendly. They were also very stain- and odor-resistant in our Lab testing.
We like that this set is dishwasher-safe and comes with labels, markers, and a scoop set. If you like the versatility of having different-sized containers, this set may not be for you, but it's a sturdy and reliable option that can help to organize your pantry.
Price at time of publish: $31
Material: BPA-free plastic | Number in Set: 4 | Items: (4) 4.7-quart containers, plus lids; (4) measuring cups, (24) chalkboard labels
“There were no leaks at all! No liquid creeping into the seal.”
Best for Countertop
Crate & Barrel Aspen White Ceramic Canisters With Scoop
Easy to clean
Resists stains, smells, and streaks
These gorgeous ceramic containers are beautiful for storing dry items, like coffee, flour, and sugar, on the countertop. They each come with a scoop that nests in a handle on the side of the container, and their bigger-than-average capacities can accommodate large quantities without taking up too much counter space.
If you do want to store items with liquid components (like fermenting vegetables), this set got a perfect score on our leak and splash tests. Our Lab testers also noted that the containers were completely stain-, streak-, and smell-proof, and that the nice seal of the lids prevented brown sugar from drying out. The containers themselves are dishwasher-safe, while the wooden lids are recommended to be wiped down by hand
Price at time of publish: $50
Material: Glazed stoneware (ceramic), hardwood lids | Number in Set: 3 | Items: (1) 4-cup, (1) 6.6-cup, (1) 11-cup containers, plus all lids; (3) stainless steel tablespoon scoops
“These are cute! If you are using these for coffee beans or the like, they are perfect.”
The Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Airtight Food Storage Container Set is our top choice after diligent Lab testing due to its durable design and complete lack of leakage, staining, or smell accumulation. Another big hit among our Lab testers was the Better Homes & Gardens Flip-Tite Set, which has similarly great performance and is stackable and dishwasher-safe.
How We Tested
We tested 21 food storage container sets side by side in our Lab: 15 plastic sets and six glass or ceramic sets. Our testers evaluated their performance, capacity, ease of cleaning, and design through several tests. They tested how well each set kept one cup of brown sugar from drying out over a set period of time, how well each set resisted picking up stains from tomato sauce and odors from chopped raw onion over time (before and after cleaning), how well each set protected against potential leaks and spills, and in the case of plastic container sets, how durable they were when dropped.
We also sent several container sets to our editors to test at home.
Other Options We Tested
- Popit! Plastic Food Storage Containers (reviewed by our home tester): This was previously our pick for Best Plastic set, but after Lab testing, the OXO Pop edged it out by a hair. Although we loved that the Popit! containers are airtight, leakproof, lightweight, and easy to close, the OXO containers had those qualities as well while being easier to clean and better-looking on the countertop.
- Chef's Path Airtight Food Storage Container Set: Our Lab testers thought this set was not bad at all, but not uniquely impressive either. The containers did well in our performance tests but were tricky to close, and the design was simple but nothing to write home about. Overall, this is an affordable set that we wouldn't dissuade anyone from buying, despite it not making our list.
- Freyian Canister Sets for Kitchen Counter: This set performed very well in terms of being smell-proof, stain-proof, stackable, and easy to clean. However, it had considerable leakage issues and offered much less storage capacity than other sets. We loved the silicone lids, but we would have loved the ability to add on more jars or purchase larger sizes for more storage.
What to Look for When Buying Food Storage Containers
Food storage containers tend to be made from three types of materials: glass, hard plastic, or flexible plastic—each has its pros and cons. Glass containers are durable but heavy. Hard plastic containers are great for canister-type storage for flour, sugar, and other pantry ingredients. Flexible plastic containers are the least expensive. Lids also come in a variety of materials that might be different from the container material. While plastic lids are common, certain sets have silicone gaskets for a tighter seal.
While all food storage containers have lids that seal, some are more secure than others. A lid that seals simply with pressure is perfectly safe for holding your food, but it’s more likely to pop open if it’s bumped or dropped. Other lids have flaps that snap onto the side of the containers, which are more secure but take longer to open and close, and the hinged section could break with excessive use. Other lids have buttons or levers on top that seal with a press or pull. Some round food storage containers have screw-on lids, much like the ones you’d find on glass jars.
Freezer-Safe: Freezer-safe containers are a must if you make food ahead of time to store in the freezer. While many plastic containers and most glass containers are freezer-safe, some plastics can become brittle at cold temperatures and can crack or break if they’re bumped or dropped. While most glass containers are freezer-safe, they can break if they slide out of the freezer and drop to the floor. If you plan on preparing and storing food in the freezer on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to buy containers that are specifically made for freezer use.
Microwave-Safe: While you may never have a reason to put a canister in the microwave, smaller containers holding leftovers are even handier if you can heat them in the microwave. While most food storage containers are microwave-safe, you should always check with the manufacturer, lest you come back to a melted container and spilled soup. Some flexible plastic containers are prone to staining if you heat tomato-based or other dark-colored food products in them. While that won’t harm the containers, it can make them look less attractive.
Oven-Safe: Some glass storage containers may be oven-safe, which is great for preparing food ahead of time and baking it before serving, or for reheating leftovers in the oven. Smaller containers are also good for heating individual portions. Not all glass is oven-safe, so if that is an important feature to you, check the manufacturer’s information before you buy. Even when glass is oven-safe, it’s best to make sure you don’t subject it to thermal shock by moving it rapidly from one extreme temperature to another.
Dishwasher-Safe: While most food containers are dishwasher-safe, some canister-style containers have lids that require hand-washing, and some very inexpensive containers are designed for single-use purposes and might warp in the dishwasher. While hand-washing a container once in a while isn’t a terrible chore, if you often use storage containers for lunch, leftovers, and food-prep storage, then you might find that the time saved from using the dishwasher is worth the higher price for a sturdier container that's dishwasher-safe.
Cost is always an important consideration, but with food storage containers, it’s wise to first consider whether your set will actually stay at home. On one end of the spectrum, there are single-use containers that are sold in bulk for less than a dollar each, while more durable canister sets often cost around $25. You might find that you need several sets for several purposes, with one dedicated to long-term storage, one for refrigerator and freezer use, and one for giving leftovers to guests.
Types of Food Storage Containers
The least-expensive flexible plastic containers are sold in bulk and are meant as single-use containers, although they can be used multiple times if you're careful. They’re also great for sending food home with guests. Higher-end flexible plastic containers are meant for long-term use and are likely to be microwave- and dishwasher-safe. These are usually sold in small sets, and they’re inexpensive enough that if one doesn’t return home, you won’t miss it terribly. You’ll get a lot of use out of them, but they're more prone to cracking or discoloration. While some are freezer-safe, others can get very brittle at cold temperatures and may crack or break.
More durable plastic containers can be just as sturdy as the bowl of your food processor. These models are slightly more expensive than flexible plastic containers and are almost always dishwasher-safe (though the harsh detergents used in dishwashers can dull their finish). While that doesn’t harm the effectiveness of the containers, if they're left on display, you might want to wash them by hand to maintain their appearance.
Sturdy but heavy, glass containers are stain-proof and won’t retain odors. You’ll find these in a variety of shapes and sizes, including shallow casserole-shaped containers that are great for marinating, storing flat foods, and using in your oven. While glass food storage containers are likely to be safe in the dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, and freezer, it’s always best to check with the manufacturer to make sure. Even if the containers themselves are safe for those uses, the lids might need special care. Because glass storage containers are heavy, you might not want to nest as many of them as you would if they were lightweight plastic.
Canister-style food storage containers are meant for holding flour, sugar, pasta, and other pantry staples for long-term storage, with large openings that make it easy to measure ingredients for recipes. Their lids are designed to be secure to keep pests out, and they should also be easy to open and close, since you may be using them during cooking. Since they're meant for long-term storage of single ingredients that you would simply refill as needed, they likely wouldn't need to be washed as often as other containers, but you'd wipe down the outside as needed.
These containers are much like canister storage sets, but with a twist. Many have their own vacuum system or may require a separate vacuum device to remove the air from the container to create a secure vacuum closure. These are particularly great for storing foods that might go stale, like nuts or whole grains. Smaller vacuum-storage containers can be used for cheese kept in the refrigerator, rapidly marinating meats, or making quick-pickled vegetables. While these can be used to store almost anything, they’re more expensive than standard containers and are best used for foods that benefit from a vacuum seal.
You’ll find two basic types of freshness-preserving containers. The first type is made entirely from a plastic that's designed to help preserve perishable foods. While these might not offer any benefits for your dinner leftovers, you could certainly use them for that purpose, if you prefer to have just one type of storage container. The others have a strainer at the bottom to allow moisture to drain away from foods. That keeps fruits, vegetables, and herbs from sitting in moisture. They can also be used as standard storage containers by removing the bottom strainers.
“For items like sponge cake, madeleines, muffins, and cupcakes, I usually wrap them with plastic wrap or put them in a jar to store them in a moist environment. This category of sweet needs to stay soft and humid,” says Chef Martin Diez, director of Americas chef services at Barry Callebaut. “I want to stay conscious about disposable plastic wrap usage, so a sealable box container or a jar can work perfectly,” he adds.
Known for sturdy home products and giant storage bins, Rubbermaid makes small containers for food storage. Its containers are made from a thicker material than those from Ziploc or Glad and are designed to last longer.Rubbermaid also makes hard plastic containers, which are slightly more expensive than similar-sized Ziploc or Glad containers. They nest well for storage when not in use.
From hard plastic to glass to larger canister-style containers, you’ll find almost everything except the least expensive, one-off containers. While other brands make containers that look similar, the quality of OXO products makes them worth considering, even though you’ll pay more for the name brand.
The least-expensive plastic containers might require hand-washing, since dishwashing temperatures could warp them or cause the lids to fit improperly after washing. Most other plastic food storage containers are dishwasher-safe, although the manufacturers often suggest top-rack washing to avoid the excessive heat at the bottom of the dishwasher. While some flexible plastic containers can stain when used to store tomato-based products or similar foods, their usefulness is not affected. Glass storage containers should be dishwasher-safe on either the top or bottom rack, and they won’t stain or retain odors after washing. While most food storage containers are likely to be dishwasher-safe, some lids should be washed by hand, so check the manufacturer’s instructions.
How do you organize food storage containers?
Some food storage container sets are designed to be stackable, nesting together so you can organize and store them more easily—and save space for other items. Otherwise, there are plenty of tricks you can use to store your containers more efficiently. These include basic organization, such as storing lids and containers together by size, color, and/or type, using print labels, and using tension rods to create compartments, as well as more creative hacks, such as repurposing book bins, plastic trays, wall-mounted file holders, and even small decorative wall shelving into storage compartments for your drawers and cabinets.
How many food storage containers do I need?
How many food storage containers you need depends on how many people are in your household, whether you meal-prep, how much you save leftovers or let them go to waste, how often you cook meals at home versus ordering out, and many other factors. What you may want to look for is an assortment of food containers that come in different sizes, ideally as part of a set. Small containers can hold things like leftovers, small meals, or your work lunch. Larger containers could prove more useful for soups, grains, prepped meals, storing food to take to a potluck, and more. You want enough containers that you can rotate through them without constantly having to wash them, but not too many that they pile up in the sink.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Though multiple editors contributed to this piece, it was most recently updated by associate editor Taylor Rock. Not only are we experts in our field, but we're also consumers, so we left no stone unturned when we scoured the food storage market to bring you our list of the best container sets for your needs.
Freelance food writer Carrie Honaker contributed reporting and text. In addition to her work with various food media brands, Carrie has cooked in restaurant kitchens and even owned a cafe, so her experience with food storage spans her professional and personal life.
This article was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef. Katya is a leftover queen, a maker of big batches, and a hater of food waste, so learning how to best store leftovers and pantry items has been a priority in her kitchen.
Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.