Free shipping on all orders over $49. See terms

Free shipping on all orders over $49. See terms

well stored spices

How to Store and Organize Your Spices for Maximum Freshness and Flavor

Tired of a messy spice rack? We’ve got easy tips for keeping your spices and herbs fresh, organized and ready to use.

6 min read

Every kitchen needs an array of spices and herbs to bring both flavor and color to your favorite dishes. Not sure which ones you should have on hand or how to organize your spices and dried herbs? These guidelines will help.

Create a Spice and Dried Herb Collection

You don’t need much to get started. Usually, a small selection of savory and sweet options will do. Start with these basics, and then add others once you get a feel for your preferences and whether you use more of some than others.


well organized spice cabinet
well organized spice cabinet


How to Organize Your Spices

One way to organize your spices is to group similar items together. Another is to consider how frequently you use each spice. Either way, these suggestions will help:

Take stock of what you have

What’s actually in your collection? How long has it been there? Get a handle on what you’ve got and what you might need.

Figure out if they’re fresh

Generally, ground spices will last about six months while whole spices can retain their flavor for up to five years. Before you throw anything out, try sprinkling a little on your hand and smelling it. Fresh spices should be very fragrant; old ones won't have much scent at all. Generally, the older a spice is, the less flavor it's going to add—so if your spices have a sell-by date on them, that will give you a quick idea too.

*Pro tip: If you’re planning to use a spice that’s sitting around a little too long, try reviving the flavor by heating it up a little. Just warm up a non-stick skillet over medium heat and toss in your desired amount of spice. Toast the spice in the skillet for one to three minutes, shaking the pan until the spice gives off its signature aroma. This technique works particularly well with ground spices like cumin, cinnamon and cloves, just make sure not to burn them which would result in a bitter taste.

Identify your organizational style

In your bathroom, do you like to keep all your shampoo together, or do you prefer to stash those you use less frequently in deep storage until needed? In your refrigerator, do you keep high-rotation condiments on the door, with condiments used only occasionally toward the back of a shelf? Thinking through how you like to arrange things will help you sort your spices, too. One strategy: Alphabetize them. Another possibility is to group them into savory and sweet categories.

spices in containers
spices in containers

How to Store Spices

Now that you have what you want and know where everything is, here’s how to keep it all fresh and fragrant!

Choose your storage containers with care

You can keep spices in their original, store-bought jars, or you can transfer them to a new, stackable, transparent container. Just make sure that no matter what you choose, the containers are air-tight, since exposure to air is what robs the spices of their flavor. If you prefer to keep your spices in bags, place those in a container with a tightly fitted lid.

Keep your spices away from direct light

Dried spices and herbs don’t necessarily “spoil,” but they do lose their flavor over time. To preserve their aroma and taste, store dried spices and herbs in a cool, dry place out of direct light—not over the stove since the heat will make them turn bland more quickly. Also, keep the containers closed when not in use. Finally, if you don’t have ample room on your surfaces or in a cabinet, consider using a space-saving spice rack in a kitchen drawer, which protects spices from sunlight while minimizing countertop clutter.

How to Store Fresh Herbs

Craving more intense flavors and colors in your food? Then check out our guide to cooking with fresh herbs, which is packed with suggestions for cooking with everything from mint to dill. Store any extras in containers that allow for sufficient air circulation to prevent spoilage, and use them in salads and even herb-infused cocktails.

Want more ideas for how to use your spices? Check out these easy recipes for healthy, flavorful baked veggie chips.

Additional reporting by Audrey D. Brashich.


Commit every single day with @OXO