Spice Up Your Life
Updated: Mar 9
Try these three simple steps for organized spices.
Spice organization is truly the easiest and most satisfying organization project for beginners and a perfect place to start in any organizing journey. It is affordable, doesn’t take much time, and provides instant gratification.
Have you ever looked for a spice and not been able to find it? And after going to the store and buying a replacement, discovered that it was in your cupboard all along? I once found six opened jars of nutmeg…SIX… in a client’s spice cupboard. That is money, space, and time (time spent looking and time spent shopping) that was wasted. Having a system for how to organize spices saves money, space, and time, and it looks amazing, so win win.
Step 1: Start Shopping for Your Spice Organization Project
The items required for organizing spices are quite simple. You will need spice jars, labels, and whatever organizing product you want to use to organize the jars.
My go-to spice organization jars are these 4oz glass jars from Amazon. They are super affordable and the standard size of most spice jars. These spice jars with gold lids are also beautiful but are at a slightly higher price point. I also love these spice jars with a bamboo lid, but keep in mind that they don’t really work laying down (the top comes off even though they have a rubber seal). Plus, they are circular so they roll around. They work best on lazy susans, upright in a drawer, or on a tiered shelf.
Most spice jar sets come with labels, but I think the label is what truly makes this project go from a 10 to a 10+++. There are so many fun label options out there. Here are a few of my favorites:
Deciding where you want your spices to go can be tricky. The most ideal place for spices is in a drawer, but many kitchens are limited on drawer space. If the only place that makes sense for your spices is in a kitchen cabinet, that is totally fine. For more tips on how to organize a small kitchen, click here.
Now, I will give you a few options for how to maximize space while organizing spices and make it so a spice is never lost again.
Expandable spice drawer organizers. I love these. There are a lot of different products out there for spice drawer organization, but this is the one I always come back to. If you have a drawer that is wider than this one when fully extended, buy two sets. You can use three pieces (or all 4 from the two sets combined) to make it come together. Also, if your drawer is deeper than the expandable spice organizer, you can either add a row of spices laying flat (if you need more room for spice storage), or you can add a small drawer organizer to hold toothpicks, candles, or food coloring. The drawer organizer will also help to hold the spice drawer organizer in place.
Tiered shelves. This 3 tiered expandable spice shelf is a great option if you are putting your spices in a kitchen cabinet. It can sometimes be challenging to see the labels when they are on a tiered shelf, so be mindful of this when selecting your labels. Having had this spice organization system myself for years, I found that I actually grew accustomed to where certain spices were, so not being able to see every label was not an inconvenience. Just make sure your shelves are adjusted so you can get the spices that are on the top shelf out easily without knocking any others over. I also love this 3 tiered bamboo expandable shelf if you like the bamboo look and this acrylic 3-tiered shelf for small cabinets.
Lazy susans. Lazy susans are a great idea if you don’t have the height to accommodate a 3-tiered shelf, or if you don’t have a large number of spices. You can see everything with a simple spin. I also like using lazy susans for specialty spices like rubs and grilling spices. I love this acrylic lazy susan and this white lazy susan for upper kitchen cabinets.
Bins. I also like to use clear bins for storing less-used spices (if they don’t all fit in the drawer), or spices that all fall into the same category like rubs, grilling spices, and specialty salts.
My favorite acrylic bins for storing spices are:
10” x 4” x 3” (6 pack)
10” x 6” x 3” (8 pack)
10” x 6” x 5” (2 pack)
I also like using White Bins with Handles when storing spices in upper kitchen cabinets.
If you don’t have cabinet or drawer space, there also are options you can find for hanging spice racks or back-of-the-door racks.
Step 2: Take Spices Out, Check Expiration Dates, and Decant
Are you ready for the next step of spice organization? It's time to pull out all your spices… yes, all of them. As you pull out your spices, you can alphabetize them if you want. This makes it easier to see if you have duplicates. Check expiration dates if you want, and do an edit. If you have a spice that was for "that one recipe you tried five years ago and haven’t used since," maybe it needs to be tossed. Write a list of any spices you want to replace if your current ones are expired.
Start decanting (gradually pouring) the spices into your new jars. My favorite trick is to stand over the sink and line up the rims of both spice jars and simply dump the old spice jar into the new one. If the rim sizes are not the same, you can use a funnel. If you want to record expiration dates on the new glass jars, write the date with a wet-erase marker, chalk marker, or dry-erase marker on dry-erase tape on the bottom of your jars.
Once you have the spice safely in the jar, put the new label on. I like to use my first spice jar as my guide for all the other jars. I get down to eye level with the jar and place the label with both hands. Then I set every other jar next to the first one to make sure they line up in exactly the same way (centered both horizontally and vertically).
Step 3: Put Your Organized Spices Back
Now, all there is left to do is to put your spices back. Wipe down your drawer or cabinet, place the organizational product you purchased where it goes, and then put your spice jars in alphabetical order. It might seem like overkill, but I promise, alphabetizing them is what makes this spice organization project easy to maintain and will save you so much time while cooking in the future. I typically arrange alphabetized spices like I am reading a book, left to right (top left corner to bottom right).
If your spices are going into a drawer and are going to be pulled out standing upright, you don’t need any organization product. Just make sure your labels are on top of the jars as well as the jars themselves. (You don’t want to confuse cayenne and paprika if both lids are off at the same time!)
If you buy (and use) some spices in the big containers, consider decanting them into an oxo container or a glass canister with an airtight seal lid. Or just keep all your big spices together in the same place (ie. taco seasoning, ranch mix, and gravy mix).
The best thing about decanting spices is you can buy spices in bags or large containers at places like Costco and still have them come together to look uniform and be easily found. I always designate a bin for ‘spices backstock’. When you run out of spices in your decanted glass jars, check your 'spices backstock' bin before adding the spice to your shopping list. This usually saves me from ever getting halfway through a recipe and realizing I don’t have the necessary spices to make what I want.
Pro-Tip: These measuring spoons are awesome. They are narrow enough that the tablespoon can fit inside the glass spice jars for easy scooping.
I hope you've enjoyed these three simple steps for how to organize spices. I can’t wait to hear how you feel about the life-changing experience of having spices decanted, alphabetized, and organized.
Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Utah (Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Logan, Utah County, and St. George), California (Bay Area, Los Gatos, Hillsborough, Atherton, San Jose), Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.