Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
Restaurants have food storage down pat; they have walk-in refrigerators (I want one!), walk-in pantries, and giant, rolling tubs to hold huge amounts of flour, rice, and other dry goods.
That said, we owners of tiny home kitchens do have dry food storage options, even if they don’t hold gallons or roll on wheels. I cleared out my pantry and de-cluttered my countertops (it was an effort, trust me) to test dry food storage containers, so you too can have easy peasy access to rice, flour, sugar, and—most importantly—snacks. After testing 10 sets (48 pieces in total), I found that most performed well and that your storage space and needs should dictate which you buy.
The Winners, at a Glance
These are basically larger versions of our favorite food storage containers and sport the same super-sealed, secure lids. Even the bigger containers fit nicely in my narrow pantry.
These containers (which sport pop-on lids) were surprisingly good at storing rice, even when I shook them up and down. The set comes with pieces of various sizes, though I had trouble fitting the tallest containers (likely meant for spaghetti or…Twizzlers?) on my pantry shelf.
This 14-piece set is great for someone with a loaded pantry—there were containers of all shapes and sizes, perfect for a handful of nuts or a big bag of dried beans. Some of the smaller pieces can double as food storage containers, too.
While the lids were a little tricky to get off, these glass containers kept rice and crackers sealed and secure. They’re also quite pretty and have a small footprint, making them a great countertop option.
While these weren’t airtight, they are beautiful, and I like using them to hold flour and sugar. Plus, they can double as a utensil crock in a pinch. I found that snacks stored in them got less of a stale flavor than ones stored in plastic containers, too.
If you want to store food like a chef, then a Cambro is the container for you. This pair is compact, sturdy, and can also be used to store liquids, like overnight yeasted waffle batter or quiche filling (that said, they’re not leakproof!).
If you’re looking for bulk storage, this is the set to get. These large containers are great for storing large bags of rice, flour, or even dry pet food. (If your cat is like mine, he can chew through the bag, but he can’t chew through this durable plastic! Take that feline foe!).
Serious Eats / Grace KellyRice Test: I poured rice into a container from each set, closed the lid, and shook it 10 times to see how securely the lids were attached. I also noted if they were easy to fill, empty, and clean. Leak Test: While these are dry food storage containers, I wanted to see how airtight the lids were, so I filled one container from each set with water and shook it to see if any leaked.Stack and Store Test: I stacked the containers to see how they slotted together (if this was possible). I also placed each set in my pantry and on my counter to see how they fit. Snack Storage Test (Winners-Only): I filled the winning containers with crackers, closed them, and tasted them one and two weeks later, noting if they were stale or had any off-flavors.Durability Test (Winners-Only): I opened and closed the lids of our winning containers 20 times to see how they held up.
What We Learned
Know Your Pantry and Storage Space
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
Before you get excited about food storage, pause, take a deep breath, and face the reality that is your pantry and/or countertop. For example, I have two narrow pantry cabinets with built-in shelves and a countertop overridden with gadgets, cutting boards, knife blocks, etc, etc,—so space is limited.
Then, think about what your food storage needs are. Do you want sugar and flour containers within arm’s reach during cooking? Or are you looking for bulkier storage bins for holding that 10-pound bag of sushi rice? There are different containers for various needs, and throughout testing, I found that some containers simply didn’t fit in my somewhat restrictive pantry space. I liked the pretty Le Creuset and Guzzini containers as countertop picks for holding sugar and flour, while the taller, plastic tubs—like the Rubbermaid, OXO, and Chef’s Path—were better for pantry storage (think foods like spaghetti or cereal). Bigger tubs, like the Tellfresh and Cambros, were great for holding larger bags of flour or rice (or pet food), though, if you have a small kitchen, finding a place to store them could be challenging.
Wide Mouths Were Best
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
I liked dry food containers with wide mouths (like the Le Creuset) which made it super easy to grab a measuring cup, reach in, and scoop what you need. Containers with smaller openings, like the Ikea, were harder to scoop from—even pouring rice from the flip top scattered grains all over.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
I really liked containers that sat sturdy and flat while we filled them. The Ikea containers were narrow at the base, making them prone to tipping and falling over, while the Progressive ProKeeper containers had attached lids that made them top-heavy when empty. Look for containers that sit flat and solid, like the wide Cambros or the sturdy ceramic Le Creuset.
Lids Were Important
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
You want lids that are easy to put on and take off. Some lids were tricky to put on all the way, like the Tupperware, which made things risky if they tipped over. Others, like the Guzzini, were difficult to remove, which can lead to spills. In the end, I liked lids that popped on and off securely and easily, and that kept everything inside the container, even when we gave them a good shake as part of our testing. The Rubbermaid, OXO, and Chef’s Path lids were all easy to pop on and off and were watertight during the leak test.
Plastic Imparted a Weird Taste
As part of my testing, I filled our winning dry food storage containers with crackers, then taste-tested them one and two weeks later. All of the crackers were still mostly crunchy, though the ones stored in plastic containers often had an odd off-flavor. I’m not sure if this was a result of the oily crackers going a little bit rancid, or if it was the plastic containers themselves, though I did notice the crackers stored in the ceramic Le Creuset tasted fresher.
The Criteria: What to Look for in Dry Food Storage Containers
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
Before you commit to a set of dry food storage containers, consider your pantry and countertop space; some of the sets I tested were quite tall (like the OXO), while others were short and wide (like the Cambro set).
In general, though, I liked sturdy containers with wide mouths that made them easy to fill and scoop from, and that kept foods relatively fresh over a longer period. While some containers, like the Le Creuset, weren’t airtight, I found they were useful for keeping sugar or flour within arms’ reach on my kitchen counter.
The Best Dry Food Storage Containers
What we liked: These storage containers had a water and airtight seal that kept food protected. Clumsy? No matter, the lids seal on so securely that even when I shook a container filled with rice up and down, the lid didn’t budge. The set I tested, which included four pieces, fit nicely into my pantry with no Tetris moves needed.
What we didn’t like: There wasn’t much I didn’t like about these, other than they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing (but if they’re in your pantry, it doesn’t really matter). The crackers had a slightly plasticky flavor after one and two weeks, and the set was also a bit pricey.
Sets available: 3, 4, 8, 10, 14, or 20-piece optionsMaterials: PlasticLid style: Snap-on lidsCleaning and care: Dishwasher-safe; freezer-safeSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: This is a massive set with 14 containers of all shapes and sizes, so if you’re looking to store a lot of dry goods, this is the hostess with the mostest, so to speak. I liked the easy-on, easy-off snap-on lids, the variety of sizes, and that I could use the smaller containers for more short-term food storage (hello leftovers!). This set was also airtight and quite sturdy.
What we didn’t like: Like many of the other plastic containers, these did impart a faint off-flavor when I stored snacks in them for two weeks.
Comes with: 14 piecesMaterials: PlasticLid style: Snap-onCleaning and care: Dishwasher-safe, microwave-safeSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: I was skeptical about how well the lids on this set would stay put since they’re shallow and feature a pop-up button that you push down to secure them. However, they were quite sturdy and stayed on splendidly even when I shook the containers filled with rice. I also liked the variety of sizes in the set.
What we didn’t like: The tallest container in this set didn’t fit in my pantry, the manufacturer recommends hand washing (boo), and they aren’t the prettiest containers to look at. They’re also kinda pricey, shaking out to $11 per container.
Comes with: 5 piecesMaterials: Plastic, siliconeLid style: Silicone gasket with “pop” feature to sealCleaning and care: Hand washing recommended Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: These glass containers with acrylic lids are pretty and functional, a rare find in the world of dry food storage containers; I didn’t mind keeping them on my countertop. I liked that they had wide openings, which made it easy to scoop out ingredients or reach in for a snack, and the lids were very (if a little too) secure.
What we didn’t like: The lids could be tricky to get off at times. These are sold as separate containers (not as a set), and each container is a bit pricey.
Comes with: 1 container (there are four sizes available to purchase separately)Materials: Glass, acrylicLid style: Silicone gasket-lined lidCleaning and care: Top rack dishwasher-safeSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: If you’re looking for containers that’ll sit on your countertop and look pretty doing it, these are an excellent choice. They’re also easy to open, close, and clean, and are great for keeping sugar or flour within arm’s reach (they could also double nicely as a utensil crock). I didn’t notice any off-flavors imparted during my two-week snack taste test.
What we didn’t like: The silicone-lined wooden lids gently rest in the container, so they’re not exactly meant to be jostled (to be honest, I didn’t even try our rice shake test with them), and each canister costs a pretty penny.
Comes with: 1 container (there are three sizes available to purchase separately)Materials: Stoneware, wood, siliconeLid style: Wooden lids with silicone gasketCleaning and care: Container is dishwasher-safe; lid should be hand-washedSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: These sturdy containers with snap-on lids are beloved by chefs and cooks everywhere. While they aren’t leakproof, the lids sat tight when I shook the containers filled with rice. This set of two is also relatively inexpensive. Plus, they can also double as a sous vide container.
What we didn’t like: While I have used these containers to refrigerate things like waffle batter, they are not leakproof. Also, this set only comes with two containers, though you can buy other various Cambro sizes separately.
Comes with: 2 containersMaterials: PlasticLid style: Snap-onCleaning and care: Freezer and dishwasher-safe (can withstand temperatures from -40°F to 160°F)Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: With handles and easy snap-on lids, these large containers are great if you buy in bulk and don’t want an open bag of rice (or pet food) sitting in your pantry. Since they’re so big, they’re also easy to scoop out of and pour into.
What we didn’t like: I’m curious about the longevity of the handles, since they seem somewhat flimsily attached. The containers are also quite big, so you’ll want to make sure you have space to store them. The lids are prone to popping off when jostled, too.
Comes with: 1 container (there are two sizes, sold separately) Materials: Polypropylene plasticLid style: Snap-onCleaning and care: NASerious Eats / Grace Kelly
IKEA 365+ Dry Food Jar with Lid: I liked the flip-top lid on these containers (it made pouring out rice or a portion of snacks easy, if a bit messy). However, the containers themselves were very narrow at the bottom, threatening to tip over when I filled them. Progressive ProKeeper+ Baker’s Storage Set of 17: Some of the containers in this set had their lids attached, making them top-heavy and tipping them to the side slightly when filled. The small metal label on the front of the lids fell off right out of the box, which made these feel cheaply constructed. Tupperware Stacking Square Storage Set: While there was nothing majorly bad about this set, the lids were difficult to put on, and when I gave them a good shake whilst filled with rice, well, let’s just say I’m still finding grains on my kitchen floor.
Is it safe to store dry food goods in plastic containers?
According to the USDA, it is safe to store things like rice, cereal, or pasta in plastic containers, provided they are tightly sealed and dry.
What is the best dry food storage container?
It depends on what you are storing and where you are storing it! If you’re looking for a countertop vessel to hold flour and sugar, you might want to consider something like the containers from Guzzini or Le Creuset, which look nicer than plastic containers. That said, plastic containers with snap-on lids are more airtight. If you have space in your pantry for storing dry goods in containers, any of the plastic offerings we recommended above will do just fine.
Why We’re the Experts
Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor for Serious Eats, where she’s been testing gear for almost two years. She has a background in journalism and has also done stints as a bartender and cook. She has written dozens and dozens of reviews, with a couple of standouts being casserole dishes and Deba knives. For this review, Grace tested 10 dry food storage container sets, evaluating their lid design, how easy they were to fill, if they were leakproof, and more.