The 7 Best Food Storage Containers, According to Our Tests

We love the Rubbermaid Brilliance 10-Piece Pantry Food Storage Container Set for its versatility and durability.

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Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Food storage containers are a lifeline for home cooks. Not only are they able to securely store leftovers, but they can also keep both wet and dry ingredients fresh. The best food storage containers are durable, spill-resistant, and sealed tightly enough to keep out pantry pests and survive a fall without breaking or causing a mess.

We put 21 food storage containers to the test in our Lab, including plastic and glass options, and evaluated their design, capacity, ease of cleaning, and performance, including whether or not they stained and held on to smells after cleaning. We also tested for leakage and if they broke on impact. Our top pick is the Rubbermaid Brilliance 10-Piece Food Storage Container Set, which stands out for its versatility and resistance to leaks, stains, and smells. The set also includes plenty of containers big and small and is safe to put in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher.

Read on to learn more about our top picks, as well as advice on which types of food storage containers will work best in your kitchen.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Food Storage Containers: Rubbermaid Brilliance 10-Piece Pantry Food Storage Container Set

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People who have large and small amounts of food to store in their fridge and pantry.

Who it isn't for: People looking for containers for leftovers.

This super popular Rubbermaid food storage set passed our tests with flying colors. Not only did it have no stains or smell after our pre-wash, which wasn't the case with most of the plastic food storage containers we tested, but it was also "intensely sealed," resulting in "zero leaks," according to our tester. The Rubbermaid Brilliance 10-Piece Pantry Food Storage Container Set is able to achieve this lack of leakage due to the design of its lid, which features a rubber gasket to keep things airtight and two snap-on latches for extra protection from spills. This feature is particularly great for someone who commutes and likes to bring their lunch or snacks with them to work.

Our tester was also pleased with the size variety available in this set. The extra tall options are great for storing spaghetti, while the tall container is good for cereal or dry beans. The mid-short container is ideal for leftovers, while the short options work well for dry snacks and homemade salad dressings. The set is microwave-safe, including the lids, which have holes in the gaskets to allow airflow while cooking. It is also shatter-proof, stackable, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe.

Product Details:

  • Included Sizes: 19.9, 16, 12, 8.1, 7.8, 6.6, 3.2, 1.3, and 0.5 cups
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe For: Freezer, microwave, dishwasher
Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Budget Food Storage Containers: Seseno 7-Pack Airtight Food Storage Container Set

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People who want a budget-friendly container set that comes with labels.

Who it isn't for: People who want food storage containers they can take with them on the go.

Those who don't want to fork over more than $50 for a big food storage set (a common price point) will appreciate this affordable option. Our tester said that they would "absolutely recommend these" for their convenient closing mechanisms and the various sizes available. This set comes with one tall container, two medium containers, two small containers, and two mini containers. You can store all kinds of dry goods, including flour, rice, pasta, nuts, cookies, and even pet food. The Seseno 7-Pack Airtight Food Storage Container Set is stackable and safe to use in the dishwasher, freezer, and microwave (although the lids are not). What's more, it comes with its own labels.

Although the price is certainly attractive for what you get, this set didn't perform as well as we had hoped during our testing. The containers did decently in our pre-wash test, as they came out with no stains and had just a slight onion smell. However, they did leak so much that our tester would not recommend them for liquids, and during our fall test, they cracked completely. As such, this set is great for dry goods that are stored in drawers or shelves, and not food that you want to transport.

Product Details:

  • Included Sizes: 8, 6, 3.6, and 1.4 cups
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe For: Dishwasher, freezer, microwave (without the lids)
Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Small Food Storage Containers: Better Homes & Gardens 4-Pack Canister Set

Food Storage Container
walmart.com

Who it's for: People looking for air-tight containers.

Who it isn't for: People who want food storage containers to store leftovers in.

Our tester said that these were their "favorite storage containers," so much so that they planned to buy the set for themselves after testing. The four-canister set excelled at a number of our tests, rating highly in terms of performance, capacity, and ease of cleaning. The containers have a tight seal that resulted in no leaks, and survived our pre-wash test quite well with no staining, though there was a slight onion smell.

The lids here are a real standout. Unlike other food storage container lids, the Better Homes & Gardens canister lids each feature a small handle that allows you to carry it around with your fingers (Better Homes & Gardens is owned by Real Simple’s parent company, Dotdash Meredith). This is especially helpful if you store your dry goods in drawers instead of cabinets. The lids also boast an airtight seal so powerful that during our fall test, the lid stayed completely still, resulting in no cracks or breakage to the body of the canisters. Two things to keep in mind is that these are designed for dry goods only, and as such, aren't microwave-safe or freezer-safe, which may be a dealbreaker for some buyers.

Product Details:

  • Included Sizes: 19.4, 16, 10.1, and 6.5 cups
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe for: Dishwasher

RELATED: The 19 Best Kitchen Cabinet Organizers for Every Storage Need

Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Large Food Storage Containers: Vtopmart 4-Pack Large Food Storage Container Set

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People who have a large amount of dry staple ingredients and food at home.

Who it isn't for: People who want a food storage container set with varying sizes.

If you only need food storage containers to store your bulk dry goods, this set from Vtopmart is a solid option. All of the four food storage containers in this set measure the same size (7.5 x 7.5 x 9.1 inches), with the ability to hold close to 22 cups of food. This is a great choice for families who cook a lot and need a large amount of staple ingredients and foods on hand, such as flour, sugar, pasta, oats, or rice.

Although this set is intended for dry goods, our testing revealed that it can handle liquids quite well too. The airtight lids yielded no leaks, nor did any liquid creep into the seal. However, when we dropped these food storage containers, they did leak a little bit since one side came open. Still, not bad for dry food containers. Our tester also liked that this set came with labels, markers for the labels, and a scoop set, the latter of which isn't a common accessory with food storage containers. Keep in mind that while containers are dishwasher-safe, the brand recommends you clean the lids by hand.

Product Details:

  • Size: 22 cups
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe For: Dishwasher (only containers)
  • Food Storage Container
    Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Food Storage Container for Cereal: PrepWorks Large Cereal Keeper

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People who only need one large food storage container.

Who it isn't for: People who don't want to spend a lot on a single food storage container.

Cereal lovers and those with kids know how important it is to keep cereal in bulk around the house. Instead of having multiple boxes take up space in your cabinets or pantry, pour it all into the PrepWorks Large Cereal Keeper. This cereal keeper can store 4.5 quarts, or 18 cups, of cereal. Our tester really liked the lid, which contains two openings: one to add cereal and another smaller opening located on the top of the lid that allows you to easily pour directly into a bowl. Another unique feature is that the container keeps measurement markings, so you know the exact amount you have left.

In addition to cereal, you can also store other dry foods including oats, beans, and pasta such as macaroni. This cereal keeper is dishwasher-safe, and after we washed it during our testing, it showed no stains, streaks, and "sealed quite nicely," according to our tester.

Product Details:

  • Size: 18 cups
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe For: Dishwasher
Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Food Storage Containers for Baking: Oxo Good Grips 8-Piece Baking Essentials POP Container Set

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People trying to keep pantry pests away from their baking ingredients.

Who it isn't for: People who want food storage containers for wet baking ingredients.

Oxo has a reputation for making useful and clever kitchen gadgets, and this container set is no different. The Oxo Good Grips 8-Piece Baking Essentials POP Container Set is specifically designed with bakers in mind, and is made to store a variety of essentials like flour, sugar, baking soda, and toppings. These are all kept fresh thanks to the airtight lids, which, instead of having to use force to pull them off, you can easily pop off thanks to the button located on top of the lid. The convenience doesn't stop there—that button, when raised, also acts as a handle for the lid. Plus, underneath the lid there is a storage area that keeps the included half cup scoopers and brown sugar saver in place.

Although highly-rated, we found that the performance of this Oxo set could use some improvement. During testing, the containers did leak and, when put through the fall test, the lid popped off, causing all of the contents to spill out and cause a big mess. Despite these drawbacks, our tester still found these to be a quality set of containers, and would recommend people buy them. Just don't store any liquids in them.

Product Details:

  • Included Sizes: 4.4, 1.1, and 0.4 quarts
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Safe For: Dishwasher
Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Best Glass Food Storage Containers: Le'raze 5-Pack Glass Kitchen Canister Set with Bamboo Lids

Food Storage Container
amazon.com

Who it's for: People looking for stylish food storage containers to display on their kitchen countertops.

Who it isn't for: People who want food storage containers that they can store and reheat leftovers in.

If you're trying to reduce the use of plastic in your life, opt for glass food storage containers instead. Glass food storage containers are able to keep food fresh just as well as plastic, and are known to stain less and keep smells at bay. The Le'raze Kitchen Canisters lived up to the hype—after our pre-wash test, our tester said that the canister smelled "fresh as a daisy" and exhibited no staining.

This set is made of borosilicate glass, which is highly resistant to thermal shock. Despite this, and the fact that the canisters barely leaked during our tests, our tester would not recommend using them for storing or reheating leftovers. You should use this set to hold frequently used dry goods, including pasta, lentils, rice, and, thanks to the airtight seal, even coffee. And unlike other food storage containers, which tend to be lacking in the style department, these canisters are pretty enough to double as kitchen countertop decor.

Product Details:

  • Included Sizes: 6.75, 5, 3.7, 2.8, and 2 cups
  • Material: Borosilicate glass, silicone, and bamboo
  • Safe For: Dishwasher and microwave

RELATED: The 9 Best Glass Food Storage Containers for Keeping Your Food Fresh

Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Greg DuPree

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the Rubbermaid Brilliance 10-Piece Pantry Food Storage Container Set for the lack of leakage, smells, and staining during our testing. We also liked the variety of sizes available in this set and that it is safe to use in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher.

Our Testing Process

We tested 21 different food storage containers and sets, including 15 made of plastic and six made of glass. We assessed their quality based on a number of factors, including performance, ease of cleaning, overall design, and capacity. We did three tests to measure the above categories. First, we filled each container with a cup of tomato sauce and chopped yellow onion. We let that sit in the refrigerator for three nights, emptied the contents, ran it through the dishwasher, and then noted if any stains developed or if there were any lingering smells after.

We then tested the containers that claimed to have a tight seal, or boasted that they were "spill-resistant," to see if any leakage occurred. We filled the containers up with water mixed with food coloring, wrapped them in a towel, and shook vigorously to see if any of the dyed liquid appeared on our towel. For the plastic containers, we tested durability by dropping them onto the floor, filled with liquid, to see if they broke or if the lid popped off. We took all these insights and used them to come up with the best food storage containers.

Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Meredith Food Studios

How to Shop for Food Storage Containers

Material

Most food storage containers are either made of glass or plastic, both of which come with pros and cons. The material that works best for you is all dependent on your lifestyle. Glass is durable, less likely to stain from stored food, and is able to keep smells at bay. Glass containers are also more likely to be oven-safe than plastic containers. The downside is that if it's not made with a strong type of glass, it can break easily on impact. Some glass containers also don't have as tight-fitting lids as plastic, making them susceptible to leakage.

Plastic, on the other hand, is durable and often has more tight-fitting lids than glass containers. They're less likely to break on impact and are much lighter to carry around than glass. However, plastic containers are more likely to stain, scratch, and aren't as good as glass at hiding odor.

Size

Food storage containers come in all kinds of sizes. There are large bins that are good for storing large amounts of dry food, such as cereal, pasta, cereal and flour. These are particularly great because partially open boxes or bags that contain these kinds of foods leave them susceptible to invasion by pantry bugs. Not only that, but these kinds of bins will also make your kitchen cabinets look a lot more organized. You can also store dry foods in canisters, which are great for dry foods you use so often that they're best stored on your kitchen countertop for easy access. Plus, since many canisters come in stylish designs, they can also double as kitchen decor.

If you have leftovers often, sets are a great option for you. Sets feature many of the same size food storage containers or multiple sizes to accommodate different sizes of leftovers. If your leftovers tend to be of the same size, get a set that has multiples of the same-sized food storage container. If you make large batches of food, such as stews, or your own salad dressings alongside portioned meals, get a set that has big, medium, and small-sized food storage containers.

Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Meredith Food Studios

Durability

When it comes to food storage containers, durability is the ability to handle all kinds of different environments, including those found in the microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher. When buying food storage containers, make sure that they fit your storage lifestyle. If you frequently freeze your food and don't want to wait for them to thaw before eating, make sure you buy containers that are freezer-safe and microwave-friendly. That distinction will usually be made by the manufacturer.

If you prefer reheating leftovers in the oven, go with a glass food storage container. Glass and plastic food storage containers are usually dishwasher-safe (make sure to double check from the manufacturer though). When putting them in the dishwasher, make sure to remove the gasket around the lid, if there is one. The area between the gasket and the part of the lid where the gasket slides into is difficult to get completely dry due to the lack of airflow. Not adequately drying that area makes it ripe for the production of mold.

More Food Storage Containers to Consider

Crate & Barrel Aspen White Ceramic Canisters with Scoop: This chic canister set from is great for people who want food storage containers that also look pretty enough to display on their kitchen countertop. During our testing, not only were there no stains or smell after washing, but they also didn't leak a single bit.

Chef's Path 14-Pack Airtight Food Storage Container Set: We love how affordable this 14-pack is, as it provides a handful of big and small food containers to use, whether you're storing leftovers or dry ingredients. During our testing, it performed well, as it barely leaked and had a faint smell of tomato and onion after we put it through the dishwasher.

Food Storage Container
Real Simple / Meredith Food Studios

Questions You Might Have

How long do leftovers last in a food storage container in the fridge and freezer?

Leftovers stored in food storage containers can last for three to four days in the fridge, while frozen food generally lasts up to three to four months, according to the USDA. However, the longer you store certain foods in the freezer, the less likely they will retain their original flavor and texture overtime. Before you store your plastic or glass food storage container in the freezer, check your instruction manual to see that the material is able to survive in the freezer (not all can).

How long do food storage containers last?

Food storage containers can last a long time. The manufacturer may have the lifespan of your food storage containers in the instruction manual. If not, the best way to determine if they need to be replaced is to look for signs of wear, including scratches or warping. If you have trouble securing the lid onto your food storage container, or if you notice that stored food doesn't taste as fresh as it once did, then it's time to replace them.

Is it safe to put a food storage container directly from the freezer to the microwave?

Yes, so long as the food storage container is marked as freezer- and microwave-safe. People often get worried about this due to thermal shock, which is the phenomenon that occurs when a piece of cookware is exposed to two radically different temperatures in a very short amount of time, thus causing damage, including warping. This is why you always have to let your pans cool down before washing them. Plastic isn't as susceptible to thermal shock as much as glass is. Still, check to see if your food storage container can handle the harsh temperatures in the freezer and microwave.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a longtime home cook and product reviews home writer for Real Simple. To compile this list, we tested 21 food storage containers in our Lab and evaluated each on design, capacity, ease of cleaning, and performance.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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