Need to find a cup of milk? No problem.
How about a teaspoon of ground clove… um… where was that again?!
The kitchen is a happy place. Digging out a recipe and tasting new, wonderful things is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But when a recipe calls for something you can’t find in your spice drawer, that happiness can dissolve into frustration. Imagine sifting through little bottles and finding three canisters of cinnamon and not a single one of ground clove. Or, maybe you don’t have to imagine that hard. Maybe it’s happened to you this week!
I have a spice drawer system that works wonders for me, so I want to talk about what my process is and how you can spice up your organization! If you want to see my spice drawer in action, find all my secrets in the video below:
WHY USE A SPICE DRAWER OVER A SPICE CABINET
I've seen many a spice rack in my day. I’ve tried cabinets and racks and rotating organizers but none of them ever seemed to stick. If one of those systems is working for you, then keep on going! But if they are a struggle and you need a new way to organize, my favorite way to store my spices is in a spice drawer.
My spice drawer cuts out all the frustrations that a spice cabinet brings. I stand my spices up with a label on the lid. The drawer layout lets me see exactly what I have at a glance. In cabinets, it’s so hard to see everything that’s in there. The only way to get to what you need is through shuffling canisters around to get to the back or lose valuable cabinet space if they’re lined up across the front. In a drawer, it’s effortless to see everything without losing space.
Like I said, I stand my little containers up and label the lids. You could also lay them down with labels on the side – it doesn’t matter how you end up fitting your jars as long as it works for you! Standing the jars up and labeling the tops simply works for me.
One downside to a spice drawer is that the opening and the closing of the drawer will slightly move the jars. I use grip mats and containers from the Container Store to help minimize this slip, however they will still move a little bit. That doesn’t really bother me and I think it’s a worthwhile trade off for an easier spice organization system.
WHAT'S IN MY SPICE DRAWER
The real star of my spice drawer are the wide mouth jars I use to store my spices in. These are simple jars I got from the Container Store and there’s a similar product you can get from Amazon. The jars I use have a wide mouth. I prefer to dip my measuring spoon straight into the spice. Many spices you purchase come with a sprinkle lid top, but I like to control how much spice I’m adding to my dishes.
The next secret with the spice jars is that I have more jars than I have spices. My drawer is completely full with the jars. The reason for this is so that I allow myself room to grow. If I get a new spice, I don’t need to order another container – it’s already prepared and waiting for me! As an added bonus, filling the drawer all the way up with jars helps with keeping everything in place. Since it is a drawer, things like to shift when it opens and closes, but a full drawer helps to keep things in place.
When arranging my jars, I prefer to put them in alphabetical order. This is a sure way of organization, but it’s not the only way. I know people who organize their spices based on most frequently used or by flavor, but alphabetical just makes sense to me. It required less guess work and assures they’ll go back in the same order every time. My four year old daughter likes to help me “organize” the spice drawer, but for the most part we keep on top of it! 😉
As you can see in the photo above, my entire spice drawer isn’t made up of tiny spice jars. I have some spices that are in bulk and some that are in their original containers. I like to have a spot in my drawer dedicated to those specific miscellaneous spices. For example, my husband loves to grill and he loves the way the spices sprinkle out of their original containers. I keep those spices all in the same place so they’re easy to find and don’t get lost among the spice jars.
Toward the back of my spice drawer, I have spices we use most often in bulk. For my family, that’s cinnamon sticks and taco seasoning. Even when I make my own taco seasoning, I like to reuse the bulk taco seasoning container. I don’t like to transfer spices into containers if it’s going to take up more than one jar, so I like to keep those larger seasonings separate. I’m blessed to have a drawer that allows me to stand up the bulk spice containers so I can have a bulk area hassle-free. These could also be laid flat if you don’t have enough drawer height.
Last, and certainly not least, I have a couple of trays from the Container Store. These little trays are in varying sizes that allow me to keep like spices together. All the grill spices I mentioned above are nestled into one tray. It’s so easy to tell where the grill spices start and stop!
TO DECANT OR NOT TO DECANT
That is the question! You wouldn’t ever have to take the spices out of the containers you bought them in, and that would be perfectly fine. Again, spice drawer organization is about what is going to help you the most. But I will almost always choose to transfer my spices into one of my uniform spice jars.
The reason I like to transfer the spices into jars is because my spice jars are all the same. Spices come in a variety of brands and sizes and container shapes. When I pour spices into my jars I’m doing a couple things. First, I’m eliminating any odd container sizes.
Second, I’m putting spices into equal sized jars. One store bought spice may come in a 2-oz jar while another comes in a 1-oz jar. When I pour the spices into my own jar, I can get a better idea how much of each spice I have without having to hunt down the size on the label.
Third, transferring spices into my own jars majorly cuts down on the risk of having multiple of the same spice. When I use my own jars, there’s no rifling around to find the four cinnamon canisters in the back. If I need cinnamon, there’s only one place it could be.
Lastly, I think it just looks better. Insead of a bunch of mix-matched spices, I have a drawer that looks good and makes me happy! When something looks nice to start with, it motivates me to keep up with it!
Quick tip! You don’t have to only keep spices in your spice drawer. I love using my spice jars for fun things like sprinkles!
How to Label Your Spice Drawer
My spice drawer jars are standing upright so I label the tops of the lids to better help me navigate my spice drawer. I get asked about my labels all the time! I use a free font to make them and a cutting machine. It doesn’t matter which cutting machine you use, any will do the trick! Personally, I have a Cricut and Silhouette that I absolutely love! Simply cut the labels out of vinyl and use transfer tape to apply them. I prefer these labels because the vinyl itself is inexpensive and it doesn’t take much to make them.
One downside to making labels this way is that it requires a little extra time and effort. It is tempting to put off labeling your spices because you don’t have the time or your cutting machine out. However, you never want to go without labeling a spice! Can you imagine getting two spices mixed up! Talk about a quick way to ruin a meal!
Instead of waiting or trying to rely on your memory, label your spice jar immediately. Freezer tape and a marker will do. And, if you don’t have a cutting machine, you can label your entire spice drawer using freezer tape and a marker! That is a perfectly valid option.
I hope these spice drawer tips help keep your spices organized and ready to use! There are many different tips and tricks, these are just the ones that work for me. Try out different ideas until you find what works for you. And don’t forget to let me in on any spice drawer secrets you discover!