How to Set Up a Spice Drawer So It Stays Organized

If you have enough drawers in your kitchen, using one to store spices can be a good idea. Using a spice drawer clears space in your cabinets and keeps your countertops clutter-free.

Also, storing spices in a drawer and away from heat and light can prolong their freshness and protect flavor.

kitchen cabinet makeover and cabinet hardware

As someone who has started to cook more and experiments with new ways to season plant-based foods, I have acquired lots of spices that have been becoming a disorganized mess over time.

It was time to improve the organization of my spice storage drawer in my small kitchen in a way that I could keep the drawer and spice jars organized for good.

Spice Drawer Before Getting Reorganized

I would like it if my kitchen had the cabinet space to create a spice cabinet, but it is a small kitchen so I have to come up with storage solutions that will work.

A messy jumble of spice jars in a drawer before it gets an organization makeover.

Does this look familiar? When my spice drawer was disorganized like this – I couldn’t easily find the spices I needed quickly, even though I set the drawer up for easy access.

There are two problems with this set up. The first was that the spice jars and spice blends are not all uniform in size and didn’t fit together. This allowed them to roll around and get disheveled.

The second problem was that at a glance, if I didn’t see the spice I needed, I would think I needed to buy more, only to find once I bought the new jar home – I realized I had it and wound up with duplicates.

Hopefully my new and improved kitchen drawer spice organization will stop these scenarios from happening ever again.

How to Organize Spices in a Drawer

How to store spices in a drawer so that once I had it organized it would stay that way?

I bought a set of 36 new square glass spice jars that came with labels for the sides and top.

I like the clear labels as they don’t block the contents as paper labels do.

White printed clear spice jar labels to buy.

It seems most spice jars sold online come with labels. I liked the labels that came with the set of spice jars I bought, but ended up buying a separate set of labels sold without jars that I liked better.

I bought them for a style reason – I just liked the font better – I know silly, but I liked these better as the font is larger and easier to read.


I also like these bottles since the lids give you the option to pour or shake.

How to Decide What Kind of Spice Drawer Organizer You Need

I was going to make a DIY spice drawer organizer, but after doing research on spice drawer organizers, I figured the best type of in drawer spice rack set would be a spice organizer drawer liner.

This type would work since the size drawer I have is not high enough to fit an expandable tiered rack where the spice jars are angled to easily see and grab.

Empty drawer ready to be organized with new spice jars and labels.
I painted the inside of the drawer white to make it look nicer.

Measure Your Drawer

How deep should spice drawers be? First measure your drawer to determine the depth to see what type of spice organizer will fit. I wanted to use an angled expandable rack, but my drawer was not deep enough to use this type. So measuring your drawer height is important.

Measure the width, depth and height of your drawer. This will help you determine whether to use a liner, expandable, or vertically arranged organizers. 

I figured the liner would work best for my drawer and bought one.

spice drawer after getting a set of glass spice jars that fit in the drawer perfectly.

But, as I was putting the jars in the drawer to see how many of the new jars would fit, it just so happened that my exact drawer dimensions fit eight 4-ounce glass spice jars across perfectly – with little movement so they would stay in place.

For the length – four jars fill the length of the drawer with about an inch left over that allows to easily move the bottles in a line to remove one. So I didn’t even use the liner I bought and returned it.

No more jars rolling around and getting out of place.

How to Organize a Spice Drawer So It Will Stay Organized

empty spice jars in a drawer

1. Use Square Glass Spice Bottles

When deciding what type of glass spice jars with labels to buy to organize the spice drawer in your kitchen, go for the square bottles over round ones.

The reason for this is that when round bottles are in a spice storage drawer, they tend to roll, even when on a drawer liner or spice drawer rack.

When this happens you can’t see the front label of the bottle, hence at a glance when cooking you can’t see what the bottle that rolled contains. When you use square bottles this doesn’t happen. The labels will always stay face up.

When you have matching spice jars – you can save money by buying bulk spices in just the amount you need. Many whole food grocery stores sell spices this way where you can measure out just what you need.

expanding angled spice rack for a drawer

2. Use a Drawer Insert or Tiered Racks

There are a few different types of spice drawer racks or inserts that include three-tier or more rack options. These expand to fit the width of a drawer.

square glass spice jars with labels in a kitchen drawer.

3. Alphabetize the Spice Jars

The best spice drawers are organized in a way that makes sense to you. This could be alphabetically or by your frequently used favorite spices.

Should Spices Be Stored in Plastic or Glass Jars?

Spices don’t last forever, but if properly stored and sealed, glass will extend the shelf life significantly. Plastic jars can be porous where small amounts of air can get into them and degrade the spices.

Using clear jars also allows you to easily see when you are getting low on a herb, seasoning or spice.

What is Better to Use – A Drawer, Wall or Countertop Spice Rack Organizer?

Having organized spices in a drawer not only frees up valuable cabinet or pantry space but also makes them super easy to access. My drawer is next to my stove and food prep kitchen island.

Using a cabinet or drawer to store your spices will keep them in the dark which is a good thing as it will keep your spices dry and away from stovetop heat. When spices are stored on a wall or on a counter they may get too much light and degrade faster.

The Best Spice Drawer Organizers and Inserts To Buy

If you are thinking about reorganizing your spice drawer or rack, below are a few popular options to consider to organize them in the drawer space available in your kitchen.

Expand-to-Fit Organizers

Expand-to-fit tiered organizers are a simple solution. They simply expand to fit your drawer and usually feature different compartments and tiers to keep bottles separate and visible.

They come in wood, metal as well as clear and black plastic.

Trim-To-Fit Drawer Liners

It’s easy to create a custom solution with this type of spice drawer organizer to fit drawers. Simply trim with a pair of scissors to fit your drawer size. The ridges keep spice bottles in place.

This type of soft cushy liner comes in grey or off-white.

This is the type I thought I was going to use, but didn’t since my bottles fit nicely in my drawer without it.

For Deep Drawers

Choose your organizers based on the depth of your drawer. In-drawer organizers that hold the jars vertically work well in deep drawers.  

More Helpful Spice Drawer Organizer Tips

  • Most of the spice jar/label sets sold online come with a collapsible funnel so that when you bring a new jar of herbs or spices home you can easily fill the square glass bottles.
  • If you have extra spice in one jar after filling a new one, I keep a shoebox in an upper kitchen cabinet where I store these jars. When one of my spices gets empty, before I put it on my shopping list to buy more, I look in the shoebox to see if I have any in there first.

How do you arrange your spice collection? Do you have any tips to add that help you keep your spices organized?

Spice Drawer Jars, Labels & Organizers

glass spice jars with labels in a drawer

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  1. Hi My spece drawer in 8inches across – and 20 inches from back to front and 2 1/2 inches high so cannot fit spice bottles upright – what are your suggestions – my spice drawer is always messy and I am unable to even know what is in there

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  3. Hi! I’ve been storing my spices in a drawer next to my stove for many moons. I had some mini Mason jars, and just tested them for fit first – delighted they worked! Before that my spices were in tins with magnets on the bottom and stuck them to my fridge, but someone was always knocking them off and they rolled everywhere. Love the drawer system, and wish I’d done it sooner! As far as having more spice than fits in the jars, I keep the overflow in the original container. They sit on the back of my stove and get used first. Thanks for sharing! Always look forward to reading your emails/blogs!

  4. Ooops just reading the responses! Got it! Thanks again!

  5. You have truly inspired me on this one! I just cleaned out 95% of my spices as most were expired. I can’t believe I didn’t poison my family they were SO old. Love this system but I’m curious how to you keep up with the expiration dates once you transfer to the glass containers? I need all the tips!! Thank you!!

  6. I am so glad you shared this with us, this is something I want to do, and the font is perfect large enough to see but also see how much spices are left. I have put so many different labels and jars in my cart and never could decide. Thank you

  7. In my wildest dreams, I am as organized as you. LOL Your drawer looks so neat and organized. Hope you have a wonderful new year.

  8. wonderful! going to measure a drawer tomorrow and give this a try. I currently have two shelves in a wall cabinet, alphabetized. But the different sizes of jars drive me nuts. Square jars, in a drawer! Excellent tip. Thanks!!

  9. Lorraine Tanes says:

    Love this post! I’ve used two spice drawer organizers in the past with moderate success (and some mess). Eureka……I need square bottles. This is the most informative post of it’s kind I’ve read. Thank you!

  10. All great ideas! Can I ask how you are marking them so you know when each needs replacing? Seems like they may each have different replacement times for freshness or best use….Or did I miss that part?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan – You didn’t miss anything. :-). I do not have a system in place to replace for freshness. If they no longer have a scent or look old – I buy new. One reader mentioned place a small dot sticker on the back so that you know when you bought it. I think this is a great idea and will be adding them to my spices as I buy them from now on.

      1. That would work! And 😅 seems easy enough. Thanks, Diane! You’ve got great posts — thank you!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Thank you Susan :-)

  11. Great article as usual!
    Wish I had a drawer to spare.
    I buy spices at Trader Joe’s, so I have a lot of empties, which are perfect to use when I buy in bulk elsewhere!
    Win-win- because I can’t bring myself to toss them- even into the recycling bin. They are such nice square sturdy little things😂

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – I wish I had a Trader Joe’s close by – they have the best stuff. When I was replacing my old jars with the new square glass jars, I saved the square glass ones. I soaked them in hot sudsy water and used Lemon essential oil to remove the sticky residue. Now I have a few more to add to my collection.

      1. I have accumulated quite a number of their jars. I’m trying to think of other uses.
        I have a Trader Joe’s up the road. I’m there usually twice a week.

  12. Love this post! Now if I could only convince my husband to convert his over-stuffed “junk drawer” to a spice drawer, life would be good! He is the cook and never wants to walk to the pantry to get the spices, so he leaves them all out on the counter. I’m a neat freak and he is not! I am going to save this post and see if I can sweet talk him into doing this! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Holly Avesian says:

    Your organizational tips are always great! During Covid I redid my space system and love the Vertical Spice System I installed in a cabinet. It holds large bottles and small stacked and yes I have always alphabetized.
    I do keep blends in a separate space. We use a lot of spices in our cooking and I’m picky about them being fresh

  14. I moved my spices down into a (middle) deep drawer from an upper cabinet at the start of the pandemic while on an organizing kick and it has been the best move ever. It is next to my stove and to the drawer with my measuring spoons. I buy primarily Penzey’s spices in bags so I bought clear storage boxes to hold the bags up-right and alphabetically. I filled out the drawer with additional clear boxes to hold containers I buy from the store. I put little stickers on top of the containers to write the contents since I can’t see the contents (they are standing up). For spices I use infrequently, I buy the smallest bag or container so it doesn’t go bad before I use it all. Great post!

    1. I too primarily use the Penzey spices and they send out great coupon codes

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Holly – One of my good friends uses all Penzey spices. Her spice rack is very impressive and she always tells me I need to use them.

      2. I also use Penzyes! I once made cookies using a different co’s vanilla and everyone noticed the lack of flavor.

  15. I have a dot sticker on the top of all jars that I have more of. Extra amounts are stored in a box on top shelf, like you do. With the dot, I instantly know if I need to buy more, as I just look at the top of the jar.