The best airtight food storage container

Even if an airtight food storage container is considered dishwasher safe, excessive heat can still warp the lid and affect the seal. Handwashing is preferable whenever possible.
Even if an airtight food storage container is considered dishwasher safe, excessive heat can still warp the lid and affect the seal. Handwashing is preferable whenever possible. (BestReviews)

Every home cook and party host understands there are two parts to any meal: Presentation and leftover storage. Each item on the menu needs to be packed into a container that will protect it from the damaging effects of air and temperature. This is why many people turn to relatively inexpensive but effective airtight food storage containers.

The lid of an airtight food storage container forms a seal that moisture and air cannot penetrate, and the transparent base allows refrigerator visitors to identify the contents at a glance. These containers are also designed to stack neatly in tight spaces and nest comfortably when empty. Using an airtight food storage container is indeed preferable to creating mystery packages wrapped in aluminum foil or leaky packages made with plastic wrap.


One of the best airtight food storage container sets on the market today is the Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Airtight Food Storage Container, a multisize collection with side-locking lids produced by a well-respected name in the food-storage industry.

What to know before you buy an airtight food storage container

What makes a food storage container airtight?

As many home cooks unfortunately discover, not all food storage containers are designed to be airtight. They still do a decent job of sealing out moisture and preventing leaks, but they do not seal air in or out completely. The difference is in the lid construction. A truly airtight food storage container incorporates a rubber or silicone gasket that forms an airtight seal between the lid and the base.


Construction material

There are generally two options when it comes to food storage containers — plastic or glass. Plastic containers tend to be less expensive and more forgiving if they fall off a counter. Food-grade plastic containers can be completely transparent, allowing users to identify the contents quickly, or they can have a frosted or solid appearance. Some users may prefer a less transparent bowl if light protection is a consideration.

A glass airtight food storage container may be more expensive, but it does offer more durability and is less likely to stain or retain food odors. Special plastic lids help form the critical airtight seal on a glass container, and the transparency of the glass helps with identification.

Capacity and design

Many airtight food storage containers are sold in sets, with a wide range of sizes and functions. Smaller containers may store dry seasonings or spices, while a slightly larger container could hold leftovers or portion-controlled meals. Larger tubs can hold kitchen staples such as flour and sugar, while the largest sizes are designed for bulk items such as breakfast cereals and dry pasta.

When choosing an airtight food storage container set, it helps to consider the average needs of the household. Some may benefit from a generous supply of smaller containers for leftovers and lunches, while others may benefit from bulk storage of cereals, staples and pasta.

Airtight food storage container features

Interchangeable lids

One common issue with food storage containers is the inevitable loss of lids. Some manufacturers address this issue by offering replacement lids for separate purchases. Others design their sets to include a universal lid size, meaning the same lids will fit any container in the set, regardless of capacity.


When storing foods, especially those with limited shelf lives, labeling the contents and the date they were stored can convey vital information. Even if the containers are transparent, a distinction may have to be made between sweetened and unsweetened items, or different flavors or ownership of the contents. This is why many manufacturers include a method for labeling each container, either with an adhesive sticker or reusable chalk label.

Stackability and storability

The challenge when buying individual airtight food storage containers is compatibility. Some containers simply won’t nest or stack with other brands. Buying food storage containers as a set usually guarantees that each base will stack securely on each lid, and the empty containers will nest compactly in a storage drawer.

Airtight food storage container cost 

Disposable plastic food storage containers designed for short-term use can cost as little as 25 cents each when purchased in bulk. More durable plastic food containers tend to cost between $1 and $4 when purchased individually or in multipacks. The most expensive airtight food storage containers are made from glass or sturdy plastic and can retail for $4 to $8 each.

Airtight food storage container FAQ

Is it safe for me to put an airtight food storage container in the microwave?

A. Many brands of plastic or glass food storage containers are considered microwave safe and should be marked as such. However, heating and reheating a plastic food container can cause it to wear out faster over time. Cold storage and room temperature storage is fine, but you may want to consider transferring the contents to another microwavable plate or bowl before reheating them.

Are there foods I shouldn’t store in an airtight food storage container?

A. Yes, there are some foods that do not benefit from airtight storage. Many citrus fruits require good airflow to remain fresh during cold storage. Other fruits and vegetables may also start to spoil faster in airtight containers. Hard cheeses should also be stored in non-airtight containers or special deli item drawers in the refrigerator.

Which airtight food storage container should I get?

Best of the best airtight food storage container

Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Airtight Food Storage Container: available at Amazon

Our take: This set of four airtight food storage containers would make a great housewarming gift, especially for starter homes with limited storage space.

What we like: The containers are top-shelf dishwasher safe and freezable. The thicker walls protect foods from outside odors in the refrigerator. All containers are stackable and compact for efficient storage. Bases are transparent, making it easy to identify the contents. The airtight lids lock securely in place.

What we dislike: Some containers do not match standard package sizes. There are consumer concerns about odor retention.

Best bang for your buck airtight food storage container

Oursson Food Storage Containers with Lids: available at Amazon

Our take: This affordable set of five food containers offers the durability of higher-end airtight models at the price point of disposable sets.

What we like: The entry-level price point is very appealing for bulk buyers. The containers are microwave and dishwasher safe and can be stored in the freezer. The stackable containers have the same capacity, making them ideal for portion control. The transparent bases allow for quick identification of the contents.

What we dislike: There are reports of damaged containers on arrival. The lids can be challenging to seal.

Honorable mention airtight food storage container

Vtopmart Airtight Food Storage Containers Set with Lids: available at Amazon


Our take: This versatile food storage container set is ideal for home cooks who prefer to store all of their dry goods near preparation and cooking sites and keep them protected and dry.


What we like: The set contains 15 pieces in 4 different sizes. Silicone gaskets provide an airtight seal with side-locking lids. The 24 reusable labels help identify contents of each container. All of the lids are the same size, making them interchangeable and replaceable.

What we dislike: The containers are smaller than some consumers expected.

Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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