Spice Organization Options: Pros and Cons

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Unless you cook regularly, I don’t know that most people think all that often about organizing their spices. What I think happens to most people is something that happened to me, which is that I started cooking, realized I needed to buy cumin or oregano for one recipe, paprika and chili powder for another, and so on for various recipes until I found myself with at least 15-20 spices without even breaking a sweat (unless the spices were used for chili, in which case I make that shit hot and it will make you sweat). Then you realize you need to put all these spices somewhere, usually in a cabinet where it is hard to see everything that you have at once.

In the spirit of long-term planning and perhaps a simple organizing task for the new year, I thought it would be helpful to weigh out the pros and cons of different types of spice organizing options, and see which one might work for you. While there are always variations, your five main options are below.

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Option 1: Tiered Shelf

What is likely the most common of all spice organizing solutions in some form or another, and you may have something like this in your house right now.

  • Pros – In theory, allows you to see everything you have on a small-ish shelf; can keep spices in the container they come in; low cost
  • Cons – You will have to organize everything strategically so as not to knock something over when you reach for something on the back shelf; if you don’t want it to sit on your counter, can take up the majority of the cabinet shelf; holds limited number of spices
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A variation on the tiered shelf, the revolving rack looks like this but has some slightly different pros and cons.

  • Pros – Most are aesthetically pleasing so you can put it on the counter if you choose; allows you to easily take the spice(s) you need without moving another spice
  • Cons – Holds a limited number of spices, can’t easily add to the rack; size may prevent storage in a cabinet or on a shelf; may have to transfer spices to different container to fit in the rack; can be more mid-range in cost
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Option 3: Wall Mounted

The wall-mounted spice racks can be a combination of a magnetic strip and metal containers or they can be smaller shelves mounted to a wall (or potentially inside of the cabinet) like this.

  • Pros – Can serve as a visual/focal point in the kitchen; will not occupy cabinet space
  • Cons – More permanent because you have to adhere to the wall; depending on the number of spices you have, may have to buy a few racks to hold everything; may have to transfer spices to different container than the one they come in; may be higher cost depending on number of spices
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Option 4: Pull Out Cabinet

This is the type of thing that can take spices to the next level.

  • Pros – Easily stores all containers (in original or different packaging) in one cabinet; can pull out the entire rack and see all spices at once; can hold many containers
  • Cons – Requires space commitment in the cabinet; have to bend down to look at various rows of spices; can be high cost
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Option 5: Drawer

Something like this is my favorite of all the organization options, let me tell you why.

  • Pros – Can easily see the spices available in one view; do not have to reach, bend or move yourself or spices to get at the one spice you may need; does not require any mounting or special hardware; relatively low cost
  • Cons – Requires space commitment of a drawer; depending on the number of spices can take up a significant amount of drawer space; may need to change the containers based on drawer depth