Originally published August 15, 2012 and updated March 12, 2021.
When I first wrote this post about organizing and storing spices back in 2012 as one of my first posts, I shared how I store spices in my kitchen (and in most of my 20+ homes) along with a personal story about spice organizing. You can find that original story and information at the bottom of this post.
What is the best way to store spices?
- Dried spices should be stored away from heat, light and humidity.
- Spices should be stored in air-tight containers.
- Spices should be located in an easy to reach location near where you prepare your meals.
- Spices should be organized in a way that makes sense for how you use them.
- Examine the spice storage ideas and tips below to choose what works best for you and your space.
- Spice storage products should be chosen based on the amount of spices you have and the layout of your kitchen.
- There are pros and cons to storing spices in a drawer, a cabinet or on a shelf. Choose what works best for your space and your use patterns.
- Whether you choose to decant spices into different bottles is a personal choice.
- Spices should have an expiration date or an have an opened date written on the bottle.
Spice Storage Ideas
There are many great ways to organize your kitchen and your spices. Whether you have lots of spices, lots of space, a small kitchen or just a couple of spice bottles, you’ll find the perfect solution here.
Whether you want to store your spices in the glass bottle or plastic one they came in or if you buy full-sized spice bottles and prefer to decant them into smaller bottles, there’s no right answer. Take a look through all these 60 spice storage ideas and find the ones that are right for you.
How to Organize Spices
There are several common ways to organize your spices into categories.
I know from working with clients (and my husband) that everyone has a different way of thinking about and categoriesing items.
Consider how you use your spices in day-to-day cooking and food preparation and then choose the spice organizing system that will work best for you.
- Alphabetically – I personally organize my spices alphabetically by the spice name. It’s just how my brain works when I go to look for an item.
- By Size – Place all the large bottles of spices together, all the medium jars together and all the small ones together. This may be your best option if your space to store spices is constrained.
- By Category – Some people store spices by sweet, savory, spicy, blends, rubs and spice mixes. The specific categories depend on how you think of categorize your spices.
- By Cuisine – Some prefer to organize their spices by the cuisine the spice is used for. For example, all Cajun cooking spices would be kept together, all Mediterranean together and all Asian spices together. You would most likely choose to have a general category for things like salt, pepper, garlic and spices used for several cuisine categories. You could also choose to duplicate those commonly used spices and store a jar with each cuisine category. The caution there is that unless you use a whole lot of that spice, it might go to waste.
You may find the best solution for your needs is a combination of two of the common categorizations. For example, separate your spices by cuisine and then alphabetically.
How to Store Spices
It’s best to store spices in air tight containers to maintain their freshness.
To prolong the flavor, it is recommend to store spices in a cool, dark, dry location.
Translation – don’t store them in a humid area (in a cabinet over the stove where you boil water or other liquids). Don’t store them in direct sunlight. Don’t store spices near a heat source (in a cabinet or drawer right next to a heat vent or the stove if that area gets warm).
While most spices don’t really go bad, their flavor does diminish over time. It’s best to note the expiration date on the bottle and replace spices soon after that date. For spices that don’t have a stamped expiration date, write the date you open the bottle on the label so you clearly know how long you’ve had the jar and when it needs to be replace.
You should always check the recommended storage time for each spice, but in general, dried herbs maintain their flavor for 2-3 years, whole spices last 3-4 years, ground spices last 2-3 years and spice blends begin to lose their potency around the 2 year point.
Best Spice Storage
The best spice storage solution for you depends on several factors:
- Your kitchen space and layout
- The amount and types of spices you have
- The way you prepare food and cook
- Your personal preference
I recommend you consider how you use your kitchen for food preparation. You should store your spices as close as possible to your food prep area. It will take less effort and make food preparation more efficient to have the spices near by. You can learn more about how to best set up kitchen organization with all my best tips.
Consider the space you have in your kitchen. That will most likely be the main determining factor for deciding the best spice storage solution for your space. If you have a small kitchen, you can sill find great spice storage ideas by using wall spice racks, magnetic spice storage and over-the-door storage products.
And, of course, your personal preference in how to store spices is an important factor. For example, I prefer to use that awkward upper corner cabinet when I have one to store my spices. I’ve never found a better use for that cabinet and I use Lazy Susan turntables to make it functional for my uses.
But there are so many different spice storage ideas that you are sure to find the best solution for your preferences and your unique space.
Spice racks are one of the most common ways to store spices. There are a wide variety of different spice racks and there are DIY versions and hacks listed below.
Many people use spice racks that sit on the counter. The advantage to this type of storage is that you can move it from area to another easy.
Spice racks come in a variety of colors, materials and styles. You can find one that will look beautiful with your kitchen decor.
You can choose a counter spice storage rack that allows you to use your own spice jars or one that comes with uniform spice bottles. Choose what works best for your kitchen your personal preference.
A countertop revolving spice rack is a clever way to make it easy to find the exact spice you’re looking for while also looking stylish. If you like the look of uniform spice jars, then this may be the best spice storage choice for you since they usually come with coordinating jars. The option on the left below even comes with free spice refills for 5 years!
Countertop revolving spice rack come with different sizes of spice jars so you can select one that works best for the amount of spices you store.
Some spice racks are designed to be used on a cabinet shelf or in the pantry. The benefit of these shelf risers is that it makes it easy to see and reach all the spices in the cabinet. The jars in the back are raised up so you can clearly see them even though their behind the jars in the front.
Wall spice racks are designed to be hung on a wall or side of a cabinet (if you’re willing to attach it to the cabinet). The smaller individual racks can be placed on the wall between the counter and upper cabinet if that works best for you. The taller spice racks can be places in a pantry or on any open wall space.
Clever Spice Storage Ideas
There are some really amazing spice rack products available these days.
There are U-shaped spice storage shelves that fit into your cabinet and make it easy to see and grab the exact spice jar you want.
There are also spice jar grippers that attach to your cabinet door or wall and hold each spice bottle separately
Spice Drawer Storage
Spice drawers have become popular more recently with the availablility of brilliant spice drawer storage shelves. There are a variety of materials and designs available to fit every size drawer.
Lazy Susan Turntable for Spice Storage
A Lazy Susan Turntable is a great spice storage option. It allows you to keep spices on higher shelves and still be able to reach them all. It also allows you to see all the spices without having to move the ones in front.
Lazy Susan’s come in a wide range of sizes, so you’re sure to find one that will fit your shelf and the number of spices you have.
Magnetic Spice Storage Racks
Spice racks that are magnetic and can be attached to the side or front of the refrigerator are a perfect solution for a small kitchens with limited storage.
Magnetic Spice racks come both in a shelf style and in individual spice containers that are magnetic. You choose which will work best for you and your kitchen.
Pull-out spice racks can give any kitchen high-end functionality. There are pull-out options that attach to your cabinet and also ones that sit on the shelf or counter.
There’s even a pull-out wheeled cart option if you rent or just don’t have the cabinet or counter space to store your spices.
Over-the-Door Spice Storage Racks
Another great solution for small spaces is an over-the-door spice rack. There are options for over a cabinet door or over a pantry to kitchen door.
DIY Spice Storage & Hacks
You can find many DIY spice storage tutorials on Pinterest. There are some DIY spice storage hacks that don’t require woodworking skills.
You can build your own shelf risers for spice organization from foam core and packing tape. Just measure your shelf or cabinet carefully and measure the size of the spice jars to make the riser the correct size.
You can attach the lid of the spice jar to the bottom side of the upper cabinet with a screw or magnet and then screw the jar to the attached lid. You may have seen this done with repurposed baby food jars or small Mason jars.
Use test tubes and a test tube holder as your DIY spice rack. You often see this style of test tube spice rack in the high-end kitchen stores.
Label the top of the jars of spices with the spice name and store them in a deep drawer.
Use a tray with a lip to contain spices and make it easy to pull all the spices out of the cabinet or off the shelf.
Use a soda crate or other box with compartments hung on the wall to hold spices horizontally.
More Spice Storage Ideas
More Kitchen Organizing Ideas
Be sure to pin for later so you can always find these spice storage ideas and tips for organizing whenever you need them.
And here is the original post I wrote in 2012 after just three months of blogging. Enjoy.
I had alphabetized the spices, of course, doesn’t everybody? My husband did almost all the cooking at that point in our marriage due to work schedules (I don’t miss the crazy work schedules, but I do miss his cooking!). My husband had not been returning the spices to their correct alphabetized location. I was upset that he was haphazardly putting the spices away and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t put them wherever he wanted to since he was doing the cooking.
Luckily, that first fight wasn’t a very big one and we’re still happily married 24 years later (attributed to my organizing, of course), but the story makes us both laugh and yes, my spices are alphabetized.
Every time the military moves us, I get to set up a new kitchen. Setting up my spices is one of the first things I consider. Soon after the “great spice debate” I bought a two-tier Lazy Susan that has organized our spices for 20+ years. So the first thing to consider is where the Lazy Susan will fit (since it is two-tiered, it’s not always easy to place). In addition to the simple, “Where will it fit and where makes sense in the kitchen layout,” I consider where I can I keep the spices that is away from direct sunlight, heat and excessive humidity. In my current kitchen that place is a corner cabinet near the cooktop, but not right next to it.
It’s one of those awkward corner cabinets that nothing quite fits in well. Fortunately, the lazy Susan fits the space. When I first set this cabinet up, the 2-tiered Lazy Susan was in the center of the shelf. Wasting lots of space. I added the clear box on the left to hold spices that wouldn’t fit on the lazy Susan. Recently, I added the 1-level Lazy Susan that’s in the center back of the shelf.
I’m happy with the current set-up of the cabinet. Everything is easily visible and reachable. I can find any spice you might ask for in under 3 seconds. Really. Try me.
The 2-tier Lazy Susan holds most of my spices. The bottom rack holds as many of the spices as I can fit on it starting with “a” (I start filling up the lower level first because I’m 5’3″, don’t need to explain further). Less frequently used spices go on the inside of the circle with the spices used most frequently on the outer part of the circle (you can see that Accent is behind Allspice because I rarely use Accent, even less often than Allspice). The top tier holds taller bottles that won’t fit on the lower tier and the rest of the alphabet.
The 1-level lazy Susan in the Center holds “special” spices and spice blends plus bottle that wouldn’t fit on either level of the 2-tier Lazy Susan. These spices are easily accessed and the Lazy Susan makes efficient use of all that awkward space in the back of a not-square cabinet. It also keeps spices from getting lost in the hard-to-reach deep recesses of the cabinet.
The clear box is a container that lost its lid during the last move. It was no longer useful in storing food, but has now found a use corralling more spices. I put those over-sized Costco spice bottles(see one way in the back), any loose packets and boxes or anything that would fall over on the Lazy Susans. The clear box can be pulled out to grab whatever I need. I can also easily lift the box down and place it on the counter to restock or organize the contents.
If this was my permanent home, I’d install some type of bins or baskets on the back left wall near the top (where the wasted space is). I would then put the loose packets in those bins. But since this is only my home until the military moves us again, I’m very happy with the current set-up.
My very organized Mom reminded me to point out the dates marked on the sides of my spice bottles. About 8 years ago as I was organizing the spices in a new kitchen after yet another move, I realized that I had spices from when I first got married (they had witnessed the “great spice debate”!). I started looking at all my spices and realized that I had no idea how old any of them were except the original ones that were 15 years old (much too old to be very tasty).
That’s when I started marking the month and year on the right side of the label when I open a new spice bottle. (I do the same with condiments in the pantry and refrigerator.) As I sit here in my office looking at this picture of my spices, I see dates from 2008 and 2009. …….. I just had to stop and google the recommended shelf life for coriander seeds and sage leaves. According to stilltasty.com, it’s 1-3 years for the sage and 3-4 years for the coriander. Guess I need to take 5 minutes and go through all my spices and then head off to the grocery store. Good thing I marked those dates on the bottles!
(And, yes, I have been smiling each time I’ve typed Lazy Susan. My children think that’s a hysterically funny name for an organizing tool that I, Susan, love.)
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.