Matching spice jars: pretty & awesome or stupidest idea evar?

The array Β© by L. Marie, used under Creative Commons license.
Can we talk about matching spice jars?

Half of me says "You should totally do that! It's chic, pretty, and awesome." The other half says "THAT IS THE STUPIDEST IDEA AND MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. WHY WOULD YOU MAKE MORE WORK FOR YOURSELF BEYOND THE JARS THEY COME IN?!" My brain literally yells that at me.

What does everyone else think? Does anyone in the real world have all their spices in matching jars? -Sarah

  1. Growing up, my mom had a cute little spice rack with matched jars on it. She NEVER used the spices–it was pretty much just there for decoration. The spices she used were in their original containers in the cupboard. πŸ™‚

    16 agree
    • I recently bought two such spice racks (thrifted, matching, with jars) and keep my spices quite neatly in them. I buy all of my spices in bulk from the Co-op. It's MUCH cheaper than buying pre-jarred spices and I can get as much or as little as I need. Because all of my jars are the same I know how much weight to tell the cashier to manually take off (tare weight) when he or she places my bottles on the scale. I just write the names of the spices on the jars with permanent marker but I'm sure a craftier person would make cute labels.

      20 agree
      • I have matching spice jars. It was a gift given to me which is why use them. I actually find it cheaper to refill them using the small loose spice bags available from the supermarket.

        7 agree
      • Exactly! I get cheap bulk spices at the farmer's market and store it in the basement. I have mason jars of various sizes in my kitchen that I refill from my basement stock. And ditto on using permanent marker.

        2 agree
      • The spices I buy come in little baggies, and those are a pain in the butt to get spices out of! Jars are way easier.

      • I would like to say about 90% of my spice jars match, but I also have always had smallish cabinets, so the Spice Hunter square bottles are the shit. When I use up a spice, I just go buy bulk at our local natural foods store and refill it. I also used about 90% of my spices regularly, so they are always fresh. The weird extra stuff, or items I use quite a bit of sit in larger Ikea jars in front of my cabinet spice riser. I started buying Spice Hunter on sale or off clearance shelves, so most of them were $1 – $2 versus the usual $4 – $7 each.

    • i think it's a bit like that army rule: any company who is ready for inspection is not ready for combat. any company ready for combat is not ready for inspection. the only people with pretty spice racks are people who never cook or, like your mom, have a second *real* spice rack. people who cook have things in little bags and random bottles and it's all jumbled together and takes you 5 min to find the rare ones. in the same way that i'm far to busy reading my books to keep them organized

      13 agree
      • Ah, I beg to differ! The man-friend is a professional chef, and all of our spices live in neatly labelled, magnetized tins on the side of the refrigerator beside the stove. It keeps everything in easy reach, declutters the cupboards and it's super-obvious when we're low on anything. We either buy in bulk, from the farmer's market, or dry them ourselves, so it makes sense for us.

        6 agree
      • Not at all! I cook dinner every single night, from fancy and humble ingredients, and I have matching spice jars.

        Because I buy from a specialty store that sells in bulk (your Whole Foods would work too). It goes like this:

        1. Shake empty jar and make sad face.
        2. Bring empty jar to store and ask to have it tared.
        3. Fill with spices.
        4. Pay.
        5. Run home and cook something tasty.

        Happiness! And matchingness:)

        5 agree
    • We have recently moved house and I have always wanted a set of matching spice jars. In my defence, we do use a lot of spice in our cooking to flavour low-fat diet friendly, otherwise inedible food. And so the spice draw was created!Small jars with sharpie hand written labels. I love it! Its chic and cheap to maintain. Now how do I add a photo….

      1 agrees
  2. I have matching spice jars. It's pretty easy to keep up with since I buy my spices from the bulk aisle at the supermarket (you just scoop the amount you want into a small plastic or paper bag and then empty it into the jar when you get home). Easy peasy. I like it because it's not just a lot cheaper (even for organic spices) but less wasteful than having to throw out a plastic spice jar when I empty it.

    15 agree
    • I agree! I buy my spices in bulk, so they mostly come in plastic bags. Then I buy my spice jars cheaply and in bulk as well. The jarred spices are so pricey!

      1 agrees
  3. The enemy of spices is light. Those awesome-looking test tube spice racks might look good, but in reality they are no good for spices. What you really want are dark amber or blue apothecary-style jars, preferably kept in a dark cupboard or pantry too.

    26 agree
  4. Eep. I rely on the different shapes of various containers to help me find the spices I want quickly. I keep 'em all in the cupboard.

    11 agree
  5. Also remember to put a date as well as a name on your spice jars – spices kept in the light will last 3-6 months, spices kept in the dark will last up to a year. Whole spices keep their flavour longer than ground spices.

    4 agree
    • According to my grandmother spices kept in a drawer will still be good for up to ten years…….. (My grandmas are not good cooks)

      4 agree
      • I dunno, I inherited my grandmother's pantry when she died. (weird I know but no one ever thinks of what to do with the food!) and her spices lasted a long time! They probably weren't anywhere near the quality fresh would be, but they did the job.

        5 agree
        • I know my mom is still working through a huge thing of cinnamon from at least ten years ago. For some reason my dad thought it would be a good idea to buy her spices and dried herbs by the pound one year for Christmas.

          Spices don't really "go bad," they just get weaker. There'd only be a problem if something actually became rancid, moldy, or otherwise unhealthy. For most of us, it's not that big of a deal if the spices lose a bit of flavor–just use more. So you use more cinnamon/oregano/red pepper than the recipe calls for? I do that anyway.

          13 agree
          • Oh yeah, absolutely. There wasn't any mold or ickiness in the spices. They weren't "bad" like produce goes bad. There certainly wasn't any *harm* in using them. But it's not a good thing for cooking when you can't taste the difference between three tablespoons of cumin and three tablespoons of cinnamon. lol

            1 agrees
  6. I love the look of the magnetic spice jars, but in reality I end up refilling old jars with bulk spices. Mainly I'm too cheap to go out and buy something that I already have.

    4 agree
    • I got a nice wooden revolving spice rack with 16 bottles for $3 at a thrift store, one of the lids was cracked but I use the shaker lids off my old plastic bottles anyway. I plan to glass paint the bottles blue and do the magnet thing then use the rack to store craft paints in my art room as I pull a set of colors out fir a project to keep them on one place

  7. I actually really like the idea of matching spice jars. It looks so much better then my current cupboard of ziplock bags full of bulk spices. Hmmm, I may have to start the thrift store look out for jars.

    2 agree
  8. I do have matching ones, only because we got Penzys spices as a wedding gift, so they all came in the same jar.

    3 agree
    • I have a bazillion spices, all kept in penzeys jars. I use them all the time. Their jars are awesome because they designed them such that if you drop them the plastic lid cracks instead of the glass jar (and they'll give you more lids for free if you ask). I buy the jars empty and then fill them with spices that I buy in larger bags or in bulk. It's definitely cheaper. I also store my dry goods and teas in mason jars, so my pantry looks orderly and I am more likely to use things. I use things pretty quickly and the pantry isn't in the light, so I haven't had a problem with the clear jars.

      3 agree
      • I love that you can just buy the jars, and then get the spices in bulk. We like to make our own mixes for rubs, etc and it's nice to make it and store it for use later…

        Also their taco seasoning is to die for.

      • I had NO IDEA they would give you more lids. And this is after breaking several πŸ™‚ Big thank you for that! I live near PGH, so Penzey's is a Saturday morning trek at least once a month for me!

        Still, I keep a cupboard full of mismatched jars (some McCormick, some Spice Island, some Penzey's, some random weird ones) and then buy in bulk to refill. Since they're not out on display, I see no reason to get matching jars. Even when the Pinterest side of my brain screams that they're not 'pretty' enough. Le Sigh. Spices are for cooking, not for displaying, that's what I tell Pinterest-me.

  9. we have matching spice tins with magnetic backs and clear lids with labels. since adopting them, spices have all been bought in bulk. the spices themselves, in their magnet-y little tins, live (alphabetized, because that's how we roll) on the non-sunny side of the fridge — easy access, keeps them cool and out of direct light, and everyone who sees them comments on how awesome they are. =)

    3 agree
    • Wow, that sounds EXACTLY like what we just did. Magnetic tins (although we use a magnetic board instead of the fridge) and will from now on be buying non-pre-jarred spices. They look really cool, like free art for your kitchen, and they freed up SO much shelf space. Plus, we alphabetized them too, and it makes it much faster to find the spice you need. I do worry about air-tightness, and light, but oh well. πŸ™‚ It's worth it to have practical art.

      1 agrees
  10. I have some, and I use them. It was a great space saver from sams way back when. When they run out I replace them.

    The rest of my spices come from various companies (I use them enough to have favorites depending on the spice in question.) They are on a separate spice rack I got later. I always thought it looked cute in a shabby chic kind of way. πŸ™‚

  11. I find with all different size jars it's harder to store them. uniform containers are much easier, especially if you have a spice rack that takes them. That said, I haven't bothered to invest in standard jars since the majority of mine fit in the spice cabinet organizer shelf thing in our pantry. It's just oversize jars or oddly sized ones that don't and those are easy enough to stack next to it and/or put in magnetic containers if they're things I use a lot.

  12. I buy a few favorite spices in big bulk containers, then refill into a counter rack with matching bottles. The counter rack holds all the most favorite spices. We have a cupboard full of the extras (plus about 50% additional stashed elsewhere) which has quite an awful lot of repeat items and wasted space due to mismatching, unstackable jars and combining two kitchens. Actually, rehabilitating the spice cupboard is on my list of projects to do sooner rather than later. I just haven't fully figured out my plan and whether I want to buy extra shelving or a rack or something for inside the cupboard. But I am definitely a fan of the IDEA of having them all matching! I'd definitely help someone do that if they were setting up a kitchen for the first time, and I could point them to an easy place for buying bulk spices.

    1 agrees
  13. Seriously, I cook a lot, almost every meal from scratch, and I feel this is not my style. I have an alphabetized spice rack. It is functional. I reuse jars. They don't match. I will always want something different and new. Sometimes I do use 2 ounce mason jars for things that come in bulk, or I just reuse an old jar. But whatever you do- toss stale spices. Don't be having five year old jars of cardomom lying around.

    4 agree
  14. I had a lot of spices in ugly bags that where hard to keep organized so I moved them all into the short fat 250ml mason jars with labels. The look better, stack, and it's easier to see what's in them. I keep them in the pantry out of the light

    2 agree
  15. It is a great idea if you buy spices in bulk or have them out on display. I just reuse empty spice jars for bulk spices or custom blends (sometimes I mix my own blends). My spices just go in the cupboard so I don't mind having them in mismatched containers.

  16. In all reality, I really use about a third of my spices. The others are just… there. The trouble of putting them all in little matching jars–then having to refill the jars, then having to search through the jars–wouldn't be worthwhile for me.
    We bought my aunt this snazzy stainless steel and black spice rack for Christmas probably 10 years ago. And guess what? 3/4 of the jars still hold the same spices. The ones they actually used ever are empty, and all on the same side of the rack. XD

  17. While the idea of buying spices in bulk & refilling pretty matching spice containers is nice, I don't have time, & more importantly I don't always use the same spices. There are maybe 5 spices I use frequently & a ton of spices I use for 1 or 3 recipes every other month or so. Ineffective to buy in bulk for most of them. I just can't see the point of matching spice jars.

    • From what I have seen, most matching spice jars are as small or smaller than the jars you typically buy at your grocery store. And when they say buy in "bulk", it means the spices are priced per ounce, not necessarily that you need to buy a whole lot at once. Honestly, my small spice tins are helping me NOT buy too much, first because I'm finally organized (and won't be buying yet ANOTHER jar of cinnamon) and second because they're smaller, and I realize that I really won't use more than that before it goes bad.

  18. I would love to have matching spice jars, as a matter of fact I've been researching options for that lately. My spice jars are all different sizes, in inconvenient sized glass or plastic jars. I think it would look amazing to have uniform jars that stack better and look nicer. If you only have the spice jars and not a back-up stash as well, you'll start using them b/c there's no alternative.

  19. I have my spices in matching jars – the commonly used ones are in the matching jars, on a rack on the bench, right beside the stove (ie: where they're used!). They're accessible in the rack, as it spins, and I love it. I have two rotating racks, each holds 16 jars, so I have 32 regular-use spices on the go.

    I buy refills in cheap disposable cardboard boxes. They're biodegradable, so I don't feel guilty. Extras – like the saffron I rarely use, the curry powder my husband doesn't like, the bulk peppercorns or rock salt etc – live in a drawer under the hob. They're right there if I need them while cooking, they're in the dark so they don't degrade in quality, and I get my matching jars looking lovely on the bench.

  20. I got a cool looking stainless steel/black spice rack with matchy matchy prefilled bottles as a showergift for my wedding,
    It looks great on my worksurface. HOWEVER, half the spices that it came pre-filled with I don't even use and I have to have a spot in the cupboard for other spices that I use WAY more often but that don't have a space on my spice rack
    – i see a major reorganisation project in the near future

    • I had that problem so I dumped those spices I don't like in snack ziplocs and filled the now empty bottles with the spice blends I like

  21. Yes!! We made a custom spice rack from some cheap MDF board (no purchased spice rack could hold all our spices) and then we put them in the two smallest sizes of mason jars. They look awesome! I know they're not supposed to be exposed to light, but I don't follow any of the other rules about spices, why should I start with that one? It took a little time to move them over, but it was great to go through the spices and get rid of stuff that was crazy old or that we'll never actually use. Love, love, love my spices and spice rack.

  22. our spice cabinet is a little too far away from the stove, so I put my guy's favorite spices in tin cans from ( They're square with clear tops, which makes them easy to stack-I put them upside down and write the spice on the bottom so they're completely protected from light. We also tend to buy spices whenever we travel, so those don't come with their own jars.

  23. I have lots of different jars of spices, non matchy and all that. I would like to have them all match, but I don't know where I'd put a matching spice rack, and I know the sizes and shapes of the spices I use most often. I guess it's a combo of laziness and not wanting to rock the boat. Matching spice jars do look hella nice though.

  24. I prefer non-matching because I know for some spices (coriander) that I will use obscene amounts in my cooking. So I have some crocks that are large and burdensome yet never-ending. For the once in a while spices (parsley!) I prefer small containers that are out of my way.

    Now if I could find matching containers that ranged in sizes… yeah, I'd use 'em.

    • I'd go with either Penzeys or smaller mason jars for matching jars in different sizes, if it's something you want to do.

  25. Since I moved out on my own, I've basically purchased a new jar of the same brand each time I need a spice I don't already have on my rack – if I just ran out of something that's there, I buy the bulk.

    It's matching spice jars for the 'too indecisive to decide what sort of matching jars to buy'! (I have a goal that one day once I've got a kitchen that I'm actually decorating, I'll buy 'real' matching jars and make 'em purdy.

    1 agrees
    • Exactly this! None of my spice containers match, and I can't commit yet to a specific vintage jar set because I don't know what my house will eventually be. My husband and I were house sitting for six months, now we're living in a camper, and this winter we'll be living in a one bedroom apartment in someone's horse barn. After that, HOPEfully we'll build or buy a house, at which time I'll find some matching jars to fit the house that we have.

  26. I keep all of my spices in matching jars in a drawer in my kitchen. The tops have labels with big text and are color-coded. My cabinets don't have doors, so I needed to figure out somewhere dark to put the spices,and the only usable option was a drawer. They keep for quite a while in the drawer! I buy most of my spices in bulk, now, which is much cheaper.

    1 agrees
  27. I think matching spice jars only make sense for people who use the spices frequently and can buy in bulk and refill the jars. So for all you Homies who only use a few spices frequently, how about a small spice rack of matching jars only for the spices you use a lot? Even just three jars can look cute together. And then store the infrequently used spices in their original containers in the cupboard. Basically, skip the store bought spice rack with all the spices you'll never use, and make yourself a smaller version that makes sense for you.

    1 agrees
  28. The benefit is of course, for stacking, but as some commenters have mentioned, it's important to keep them out of the light (which degrades the flavor of the spices). Matching tins might be a better plan. The other thing to watch out for is seal – a lot of spice tins and bottles don't seal well. Without a good seal, your spices will go bad pretty quickly.

    1 agrees
  29. A lot of mine do match, because they come from the same brand or but them in Tupperware to keep them fresh. All my spices are stored in the back of the pantry so it wouldn't be worth the effort but I do like when it happens by chance.

  30. I have mine in magnetic containers ($3 a piece at Bed Bath & Beyond). They're cute and stick to the fridge, so they're kinda out of the way. I used to alphabetize them but they don't ever stay the way. Still way easier than rifling through the spice cabinet, which is taller than me.

    • FYI, if you ever need more, Meijer sells them in packs of 3, for $7 (for all three). They are the exact same ones; I know, because we got half of ours from BB&B where we first found them, and the other half from Meijer, and we can't tell the difference. But BB&B was very nice and let me return the ones that had the price stickers on the clear portion, meaning they left residue. πŸ™‚

  31. I plan on getting a vintage spice jar set when we finally settle into a house. The only problem is that I don't want ones already labeled, since I'll only keep frequently used spices in the jars. Too many vintage sets are labeled for spices that I rarely or never use. Same goes for canister sets…the vintage ones all say Flour, Sugar, Coffee, and Tea. I don't make coffee, so I'd rather get blank ones to label myself (Flour, Bread Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Corn Meal, Rice, Oatmeal, etc).

  32. Ours are just the pre-packaged bottles (or bag in case of my Turmeric), but I'd actually like to get uniform ones so I can do bulk and also because my pantry is so crazy that it'd be nice to have at least one thing that looks orderly.

  33. Dudes! Clean baby food jars. If you're crafty, chalkboard paint the tops. If you're not, permanent markers work fine. I have a box full of cleaned out jars waiting to be filled with spices in my kitchen right now.

    We got a matchy matchy spice rack for our wedding (5 years ago). Last year before moving I threw out any that were still sealed, because obviously I don't use those, and I gave the spice rack away. But now I want matchy matchy spices again, hence the baby food jar plan.

    1 agrees
    • Awesomeness is a world with baby food jars! Don't have anymore myself but when I did I used them to store tons n tons of stuff. Just washed 'em n set them in the sunny window to get rid of odors and there they were. Just awesome, elegant jars. Too bad my kid grew up n took them for crafts n such. I loved them. But, not enough to have another baby!

  34. My mom has one of those wooden racks that spins and has matching jars. She's used it for years. It's cute, but it takes up valuable counter space I don't have to spare in my house so I've never bought one of my own. I keep spices that I buy in bulk in whatever kind of jar I happen to have free, and pre packaged spices and cooking condiments that don't need refrigeration on a little shelf by the stove because I like the way they look all jumbled and brightly colored.

  35. I have a severe lack of cabinet and drawer space in my kitchen, so everything is on display. I try to keep it uncluttered and minimalistic looking so I have matching spice jars, which I really enjoy. But on a similar note, does anyone have any ideas for a ridiculously easy DIY spice rack?

  36. I have matching jars – and they are a treasure.

    I refill them from the buy by the oz jars at Whole Foods. They are fresher and since you can refill by whatever amount you want – you don't end up with years old stale spices.

    When my niece was just learning how to write – she got them for me and bought all the spices. She carefully wrote the name of each spice on the tag for the bags. We cut those into strips, that we taped to the front of the jars. So I have a sweet reminder of her gift from 6 years ago.

  37. So, here's why I (the food scientist) don't do bulk spices (unless I go through them VERY quickly) or repackaging of spices in matching jars – There's a lot that goes into the packaging of spices to improve shelf life AND food safety. By repackaging spices you run the risk of introducing different types of mold or other pathogens (aka they won't last as long and in unusual rare cases you could totally give yourself food poisoning – especially if you live in humid climates). To avoid the whole mold/pathogen problem you should probably go through typical canning procedures before you place them in the new jars. If there isn't a metal foil seal on the cap of the jar, air will also be able to more easily migrate in and out (and thus reducing the shelf life). So long story short – yes they're cute, but I just buy all the same brand typically or if I go through something quickly (say cinnamon when I'm running large batches of something or doing test recipes at home) I'll buy in bulk and go through it in about a week or two.

    • Wouldn't the same issues you're referring to crop up regardless of whether you buy the bottled spices or the 'bulk' (though I suppose you could be talking about while they're in the bins). As soon as you open the jar you buy, the air is in so won't they suffer the same exposure and degredation?

      • Buying in the original bottles isn't as much of an issue (because you open and close them and they are not continuously exposed) and when you buy in bulk bins in general you do have this issue.

  38. Matching doesn't work for me, because I have some I keep in larger jars and use all the time (basil, tumeric, 3 different kinds of peppercorns) and some I use in small quantities (saffron, nutmeg), not to mention the many I can only buy in fairly large bags (rosebuds). I'm pretty sure there I have over 100 containers, and it's a mess. My spices take up more space than baking supplies or canned goods. AAAARGHHHHH!

    My next project, though, is to try something like this – attaching super strong magnets to lids of a few different sizes of jars, then alphabetizing them on a metal sheet:

  39. I used to buy my spices in little plastic baggies and kept them in a drawer in alphabetical order.

    Then came the infested dill. THOUSANDS of tiny bugs hatched within the bag of dill ATE their way out of the plastic baggie and infected over $100 of spices in the drawer.

    Now I have tiny glass jars with labels on top which I pour the spices into (I've also switched the location that I purchase my spices from…)

    1 agrees
    • …ew. That is terrifying. I've only seen food bugs so far twice, and I'm not eager to repeat the experience.

  40. I have two sets of spices. The ones in my cabinet are in their own containers and one of those spinning things. However, I keep the frequently used spices on the counter in matching test tubes with a test tube holder. A little nerdy but very effective and a great conversation starter….

  41. Buying matching spice jars is definitely the best kitchen thing I've ever done. I could never find anything when they were all mismatched, and cooking was frustrating.

    I got jars like the ones above, but square so they fit together nicely. (These guys! I labelled the top and sides for easy identifying, and keep them roughly alphabetical. In my old apartment, I had a drawer deep enough that I could keep them all tucked away and organized and that was amazing. In this apartment, they take up a block on a pantry shelf, and that works too.

    It's amazing, and after the initial hour or so of filling jars, refilling hardly takes any time at all. It makes me happy every time I use them, and I'm not even terribly OCD.

  42. I'm with everyone else on the "spices in bags are cheaper" front, so I'm converting to magnetic spice jars cause I can just stick them on the hood of my stove where I can reach them, but they're otherwise out of the way.

  43. Several years ago I invested in some clear glass spice jar at BBB and three clear open boxes with a lip on one side (kind of like a crisper drawer). I filled each jar with spices from all my odd-shaped, space-hogging original containers, made my own labels (smaller than the jar lid) and then used fat cellophane tape to label the tops of the jars. I labeled each "drawer" Allspice to Cumin, Dill to Onion Powder, and Onion Salt to Turmeric. Everything fits well in my weird-shaped corner cupboard and I never grab the wrong container. I keep the leftovers in my pantry and only go there when I run out of something in my kitchen cupboard. It has saved me so much time in the long run and I can easily change the name or add a new spice if I want.

  44. I love my mismatched spice jars! I have a habit of buying those pretty little tea tins from thrift stores, and I use those. If they're light enough, I attach magnetic strips to them and then stick em on the fridge. Yaay for pretty/handy fridge magnets! I also have a worse habit of hoarding neat looking bottles, so I paint them with chalkboard paint and store homemade spice mixes and hot sauce in them. I'm kind of spice obsessed.

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