Best airtight food storage containers

Storage

Store dry and wet ingredients and leftovers in an airtight food storage container to prevent early spoilage and keep the food fresh for later use.

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Which airtight food storage containers are best?

Whether you’re working with raw ingredients or leftovers, it’s important to store food correctly to avoid potential spoilage, leaks and messes. Food that’s stored in an airtight container will last longer and stay fresher than food that’s left uncovered or exposed to the air.

If you’re looking for a high-quality starter kit of airtight containers that can hold all sorts of individual ingredients, soups and prepared meals, this 24-Piece Superior Glass Food Storage Container Set is a great choice for at-home cooks and chefs alike.

What to know before you buy airtight food storage containers

Material

Most airtight food storage containers are made from glass, plastic, stainless steel, silicone or ceramic.

  • Glass: Glass is non-porous and toxin-free. It’s also one of the easiest materials to clean and rarely stains. However, glass containers are usually heavier and more breakable than other materials.
  • Plastic: Plastic containers are lightweight and often stackable, which saves on storage space. They are also durable, but may warp when exposed to extremely high temperatures. That’s why many plastic containers are not dishwasher or microwave safe. Plastic lids are especially prone to warping in the dishwasher. Unlike other materials, plastic is more likely to stain or retain odors from things like tomato-based foods.
  • Stainless steel: Another durable option, stainless steel containers are usually easy to clean and resistant to scratching or stains. They may also have antibacterial properties that other materials, like plastic, don’t have. This material is relatively lightweight and tends to hold heat longer. Most stainless steel containers use plastic or silicone lids.
  • Silicone: Food-grade silicone containers are safe, sturdy and resistant to heat and scratches. However, they may stain more easily than metal or glass containers. Silicone is a great alternative to plastic containers because it doesn’t contain BPA, which is an industrial, toxic chemical found in certain plastic products. That said, many plastic containers are also BPA-free.
  • Ceramic: Most ceramic containers are resistant to heat and have great insulation. The material itself is usually lightweight as well. However, ceramic is prone to breaking and not usually as airtight as other materials.

Locking mechanism

Most airtight food storage containers come with lids that are made from flexible material like silicone or plastic. These lids easily snap over the container itself to help preserve food.

Some lids have locks that clip into place. These locks help prevent leaks, even if the container is accidentally flipped upside down or jostled during transport. Locking lids tend to cost slightly more than snap on lids, but both types offer a degree of airtight protection.

Microwave and dishwasher safe

Most glass, silicone and hard plastic containers are microwave or dishwasher safe. Less durable plastic could warp and become unusable at high temperatures. Stainless steel and other metals should never be put in the microwave.

Consider the type of material and check if there’s a label that indicates if the container is microwave or dishwasher safe. Be careful when placing containers, particularly plastic ones, in the dishwasher. Even if they say they’re dishwasher safe, it’s usually better to put them on the top rack to prevent them from melting in the dishwasher. Lids are especially prone to melting or warping when placed on the bottom rack.

For additional information about food storage containers, check out the Best Reviews buying guide. 

What to look for in quality airtight food storage containers

Shape

Food storage containers come in many different shapes, including rectangular, circular and cylindrical. When choosing the best shape, consider how you plan to organize your containers and what you want to put in them.

For example, tall, cylindrical containers may be better for dried foods like cereal, pasta or grains. These upright containers fit easily into most pantries with more vertical space. A simple rectangular or circular container may be better for storing wet food or leftovers, especially if shelf space is tight.

Size

It’s always a good idea to have multiple sizes of containers to store different quantities of food. If you only have one or two large containers, it’ll be difficult to optimize space well in the refrigerator. If you only have smaller containers, you may need to use multiple containers to store everything.

Space efficiency is important, especially in smaller kitchens or in cupboards or pantries with less room. Consider this when choosing airtight food storage containers. Some sets do come with multiple sizes of stackable containers for convenient use and organization.

Stacking

Some storage containers are stackable, which can also help when it comes to saving on space. Many stackable containers come with special ridges around the lid to allow the base of another container to line up neatly on top of it without toppling over.

Other sets have storage containers that fit inside one another when not in use. If you want stackable containers, choose ones from the same brand or in a set so they’re compatible.

Safety concerns

There are a few things to consider when it comes to health and food safety.

  • Plastic containers usually have symbols to indicate what type of plastic resin was used. There may be a triangle of arrows pointing to each other surrounding a number ranging from one to seven. Generally, containers with the numbers two, four and five are safe to use.
  • BPA and other chemicals may be harmful or toxic, especially when it comes to food storage.
  • Silicone and BPA-free plastic containers are generally considered safe to use in the microwave, but there’s a small possibility of chemicals making their way into food when exposed to high temperatures.
  • Containers with a lot of tiny crevices or hard-to-reach areas can be difficult to thoroughly clean or dry. This could lead to bacteria buildup or even mold.

With proper use and care, airtight food storage containers should last 5 years. If the containers are starting to warp, smell or stain, it may be time to replace them.

How much you can expect to spend on airtight food storage containers

While cheap storage containers may only cost a dollar or so each, higher-quality options are usually around $4-$8 each. These containers are typically more reliable, sturdier and BPA-free. Larger sets with plenty of options could cost around $30.

Airtight food storage containers FAQ

How can I keep food from spoiling in the container?

A. There are several tricks you can do to keep food from going bad and stay fresh longer. When you pack food into a container, make sure the container has a locking mechanism to keep out extra air. Whenever possible, choose a container that’s the right size to pack food tightly within. If you use a container that’s too large, you may end up trapping oxygen inside which can spoil the food.

Which type of container is the safest to use?

A. Nonporous materials like glass don’t absorb food, smells or germs. Additionally, these materials are usually resistant to heat, so you can wash them at high temperatures to kill any bacteria. Any material can be safe to use with proper cleaning and care.

What are the best airtight food containers to buy?

Top airtight food container

24-Piece Superior Glass Food Storage Container Set

24-Piece Superior Glass Food Storage Container Set

What you need to know: High-quality glass containers that are leak proof with hinged locking lids, BPA-free material and an airtight rubber gasket.

What you’ll love: Great for those who want to steer clear of plastic, these containers come in nine different sizes for a variety of food storage needs. They are also airtight, easy to clean and resistant to odors, stains and bacteria.

What you should consider: The lids are a little fragile, so it’s better to hand wash them.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top airtight food storage container for the money

Rubbermaid Brilliance Storage 14-Piece Plastic Set

Rubbermaid Brilliance Storage 14-Piece Plastic Set

What you need to know: Containers made with BPA-free plastic that’s like glass but less breakable, making them perfect for those who need something sturdy.

What you’ll love: Not only are they durable, but these containers are stackable. This allows for easy food storage and organization. With different sizes to choose from, this set is great for bulk food storage. Plus, they have a leak proof, airtight seal.

What you should consider: The lids may warp when microwaved on high.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Home Basics Ceramic Storage Containers

Home Basics Ceramic Storage Containers

What you need to know: Made for storing dry ingredients, this four-piece set of airtight ceramic containers is a unique alternative to other materials.

What you’ll love: These cylindrical containers come with matching wooden spoons to easily scoop out dry ingredients. They are ideal for storing sugar, coffee, candy, trail mix and other dry ingredients.

What you should consider: Their seals can be difficult to close. The containers are also on the small side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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