43 Kitchen Pantry Ideas For Smarter Storage

A well-organized kitchen pantry is every home cook’s dream. With a smart storage system, you can easily find ingredients and equipment when you need them, while keeping your kitchen tidy and clutter-free. From built-in cabinetry to freestanding units, there are many creative ways to maximize your pantry space. Read on for 43 kitchen pantry ideas to inspire your own smarter storage solutions.

Utilize Dead Space Above the Fridge

That awkward gap above your refrigerator is prime real estate for extra pantry storage. Add a set of shelves or cabinets to hold rarely used appliances, baking pans, or extra paper towels and cleaning supplies. Just be sure to leave enough space for ventilation.

Install Pull-Out Shelving

Maximize every inch of your existing pantry with pull-out shelving. Mounted on tracks, these shelves glide smoothly to bring items in the back to your fingertips. Sturdy rack mount systems work especially well for heavy canned goods.

Take Advantage of Cabinet End Panels

End panels on kitchen cabinets are often overlooked as wasted space. But with the addition of brackets or tracks, you can easily mount spice racks, paper towel holders, and other organizational units on the inside of end panels.

Repurpose Drawers

Under-sink bathroom drawers make excellent pull-out trays for corner pantries. Measure the space, remove the drawer fronts, and slide them right into place on drawer glides. Keep snacks, oils, and baking ingredients readily accessible.

Install a Retractable Spice Rack

Free up room in your spice cabinet by installing a retractable rack on the inside of a door or on a pantry wall. With all your herbs and spices neatly arranged, you can quickly view and access exactly what you need.

Employ Wall Racks for Lids and Pans

Keep saucepan lids tidy and prevent them from getting damaged or scratched by storing vertically in wall-mounted racks. Similarly, vertical pan racks conserve space while allowing you to easily grab the right size pan.

Take Advantage of Wall Space

In a narrow pantry, make use of vertical storage space from floor to ceiling. Shelving racks with adjustable tiers fit around obstructions and maximize every inch. Prioritize frequently used items on middle shelves for convenience.

Add a Slide-Out Trash/Recycling Bin

An out-of-sight garbage and recycling system helps keep your kitchen looking clean. Mount bins on slides or casters underneath a lower shelf or remnant cabinet space for easy access when preparing meals.

Store Bulk Items in Sealed Containers

Transfer flour, sugar, rice, and other bulk pantry items to clear, airtight storage canisters to keep them fresh and prevent spills. Square or rectangular containers make efficient use of shelf space. Label each container for easy identification.

Utilize Tension Rod Storage

Install tension rods horizontally at varying heights in your pantry to create extra vertical storage space between shelves. Hang seasonal dishes or utensils from S-hooks, or use spring-loaded clips to hold cutting boards, trays, or baking sheets.

Opt for Open Metal Shelving

For a more industrial look, try open metal shelves in your pantry. The airy, open design allows you to easily see all your items. For a more refined look, add wood accents and closed cabinetry just for the lower shelves.

Incorporate Baskets for Grouping

Bring order to a packed pantry by corralling like items in baskets or bins. Group together snacks, oils, canned goods, etc. Baskets are easy to move and reorganize as needed. Labeled fronts help identify contents.

Use Vertically Stacked Small Shelves

Take advantage of awkward narrow spaces with vertically stacked small shelves. Perfect for squeezing between studs or uppercase cabinets, these units have a small footprint but maximize storage potential. Great for spice bottles, drink mixes, and other petite items.

Install Tiered Hanging Baskets

Make use of prime vertical real estate by hanging tiered wire baskets on pantry walls. Use them to store fruits and vegetables so they get plenty of air circulation. Baskets can be layered based on height of stored items.

Add a Microwave Shelf

Gain back some counter space by installing an extra shelf above your freestanding microwave strictly for appliance storage. This gets your microwave off the counter while keeping it easily accessible. Just make sure to measure for proper ventilation.

Use Removable Wallpaper for a Custom Look

Refresh plain pantry walls with removable wallpaper. Choose patterns or colors that complement your kitchen decor. Removable vinyl paper adds visual interest and conceals flaws, while allowing easy removal later. Add storage hooks over the paper.

Incorporate Deep Drawers for Large Items

Custom drawers built to maximize depth are great for storing bulky items like stand mixers, bread machines, and food processors. Shallow drawers are perfect for organizing spices, packets, and other small goods within easy reach.

Add Wheels for a Movable Pantry

A rolling pantry tucked into unused space, like next to the refrigerator, provides accessible storage without major built-ins. Mount it on wheels for easy mobility. Just be sure to anchor it to the wall so it doesn’t roll away when opened.

Use Tension Shelving for Adjustability

Tension pole shelving is ideal for pantries with obstructions like pipes or ductwork. The adjustable poles and shelves let you customize to fit your space. Easily rearrange and reconfigure as needed to accommodate changing storage requirements.

Opt for Slide-Out Bins

Slide-out bins mounted under existing shelves or in unused base cabinet spaces allow you to neatly tuck away lesser-used items while keeping them accessible. Try using for large platters, baking pans, or small appliances. Close the door to conceal the clutter.

Add a Hanging Drying Rack

Make room for a retractable drying rack that tucks up and away when not in use. Install on the back of a pantry door or under an upper cabinet. Pull it down after washing to dry dishes, fruits, and vegetables without taking up counter space.

Use Magnetic Strips for Knives and Tools

Keep sharp utensils secure but within easy reach by mounting magnetic strips inside pantry doors. Sturdy magnetic strips hold knives, food prep tools, and frequently used kitchen gadgets so they’re ready whenever you need them.

Employ Over-the-Door Clear Storage

Over-the-door clear plastic bins are fantastic for adding bonus storage in tight pantries. Use them to neatly corral packaged foods, baking supplies, or cooking utensils. The clear bins allow you to easily view and identify contents.

Hang Pots and Pans from the Ceiling

Short on shelf space? Make use of overhead air space by hanging pots, pans, and lids from the ceiling with S-hooks. Group items by type and size for easy access. Use sturdy chain, wire, or pegboard and hooks to provide secure support.

Add a Stationary Center Island

A stationary kitchen island fitted with shelves, drawers, and cabinets creates a space-efficient pantry area right in the kitchen. Include counters on one side for meal prep. Opt for large pull-out drawers and rollout shelves for ergonomic access.

Design Shelves Around Plumbing

Don’t let hanging pipes and protruding vents stop you from building shelving. Measure carefully and install adjustable shelves and racks to fit neatly around obstructions. A little planning can still give you lots of functional storage.

Illuminate Inside Cabinetry

Install battery-operated lights or puck lights inside pantry cabinets and drawers. This helps you easily see contents that might otherwise get lost in dark corners and ensure you don’t miss ingredients that need to be used up.

Add Tiered Shelving Against the Wall

Deep wall shelving with staggered tiers is great for optimizing vertical storage in a narrow pantry. Place the deepest shelves at the bottom for large pots and appliances. Use smaller, upper shelves for canned goods within easy reach.

Use Interlocking Bins for Modularity

Interlocking plastic bins are endlessly reconfigurable to suit your changing needs. Stack and connect them to form custom shelving units or remove and rearrange them as you like. Labels help identify bin contents at a glance.

Hang Shallow Racks for Baking Sheets

Take advantage of vertical space to store baking sheets vertically. Shallow wall-mounted racks allow sheets to slide in easily. Stagger racks at different heights to accommodate different sizes. Store lids and racks on bottom shelf.

Opt for Freestanding Shelves

Freestanding shelving units offer versatile, modular storage that can be moved and rearranged as needed. Sturdy steel units with adjustable shelves are available in myriad sizes and finishes to mix and match. Add wheels for mobility.

Add a Hutch for Display

A glass-front hutch provides both storage and display space in one. Use the lower cabinets fitted with drawers and doors for closed storage. Show off pretty dishes, cookbooks, or decorative items in the lighted hutch display.

Install Pull-Down Shelving

Long fixed shelves can make items in the back hard to reach. With pull-down shelving, entire shelves pivot down when you need access. Simply lift them back into place against the wall to save space after.

Utilize Cabinet Dead Space

Take advantage of the void behind false drawer fronts and doors. Fit wire pull-out baskets into the empty space to neatly tuck away packets, spices, canned goods and other small items while keeping cabinets looking tidy.

Maximize Corner Space

Make use of hard-to-reach corner space with a specialized Lazy Susan or tiered shelving unit. Spinning corner cabinets and pull-out shelves bring even the very back of the corner within easy access.

Add Drawers for Divided Storage

Drawers are great for organizing similar items into compartments. Use small drawers to neatly divide packages, cans, or bottles. Larger drawers are ideal for storing taller items like mixer attachments, hand appliances, and cookware.

Use Wall Hooks creatively

Take advantage of all vertical space by getting creative with wall hooks. Use corkscrew hooks for hanging utensils or pots from the ceiling. Mount spice racks, paper towel holders, foil and plastic wrap dispensers and more.

Install Narrow Pullman Shelves

Make use of awkward narrow spaces between studs or existing cabinets. Pullman-style shelves mount completely inside the frame so you can take advantage of even just a couple extra inches of width. Great for spice storage.

Make Use of Toekicks for Seasonal Storage

Take advantage of base cabinet toekicks to neatly store seldom-used appliances like waffle irons and panini presses. Bin organizers or slide-out trays keep items contained but accessible seasonally or for special occasions.

Add an Apothecary-Style Spice Drawer

An apothecary-style shallow drawer outfitted with tiny spice bottles is ideal for organizing a collection of spices and extracts. Keeping them in a drawer prevents light damage and contains any powdery messes.

Utilize Wall Dead Space with Clever Storage

Take advantage of the often underutilized space between counters and upper cabinets. Mount shallow utility shelves, knife strips, foil and towel dispensers, and small racks in this out-of-the-way zone.

Install Multi-Tiered Shelving

Freestanding shelving units with many tiers are ideal for maximizing storage in narrow floor spaces. Angle units across corners to take advantage of all available space. Use for pantry items as well as small appliances and cookware.

Add Glass-Front Cabinetry

Glass-front cabinetry allows you to neatly store and clearly see pantry contents. Integrate glass doors into larger pantry cabinetry or add a standalone glass cabinet. Use for frequently accessed items or decorative canisters.

Incorporate a Mix of Open and Closed Storage

A combination of open shelving and closed cabinets provides both visibility and concealed storage. Keep cleaning supplies, pet food, and surplus paper products behind doors while displaying pretty jars and baskets.

Consider Track Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for a functional pantry space. Track lighting provides brilliant task lighting and the flexibility to move and aim fixtures. Go for LED or xenon bulbs to illuminate all shelves evenly.

Store Appliances on Pull-Out Shelves

Dedicate pull-out shelves or extra-deep drawers for bulky appliances to keep them accessible but out of the way. Pull out a shelf to use your stand mixer or food processor, then neatly tuck it away afterward.

Add a Movable Serving Cart

A rolling cart like a butler’s pantry provides easily accessible storage that can be moved wherever needed. Load it up with staple ingredients when cooking or snacks when entertaining, then roll it back out of the way.

Utilize Dish Organizers

Dish organizers, typically used inside cabinets, are also fantastic freestanding in pantries. Their divided compartments neatly corral packets, jars, cans, and other variously shaped items to prevent tipping. Great for top shelves.

Include Bins for Efficient Stacking

Square or rectangular plastic bins are optimal for stable stacking to make the most of vertical space. Labels on the front of clear bins allow easy identification of contents. Use bins of the same dimensions for secure stacking.

Add Accessories for Custom Spaces

Take your pantry from basic storage to a custom dream space by including special accessories. Incorporate hooks for keys and aprons, message boards for notes, engraved bins, pull-out cutting boards, and other functional flair.

Install a Kitchen Desk Area

Tuck a small fold-down work desk into an unused portion of your pantry. Pull it down when you need extra kitchen prep area for recipes, mail, or laptop work, then fold it back up to reveal concealed storage.

Employ Tension Pole Drying Racks

Make temporary extra drying space with adjustable-height tension pole racks. Set aside part of the pantry when you need to dry dishes or laundry. Raise or lower shelves to fit large items. Collapse racks to store when not in use.

Add Custom Pull-Out Shelves

Maximize awkward spaces with DIY custom pull-out shelving sized to fit exactly. Use scrap wood to build basic shelves atop ready-made drawer glides. Stain to match existing cabinets for a polished built-in look.

Use AirSpace Organizers

AirSpace organizers fully utilize often unused vertical space between shelves. Rotating bins pivot down to easily access items, then lift back flat against the wall. Great for corner storage or keeping top shelves accessible.

Employ Tiered Wall Mounts

Staggered wall mounts that pop out provide a second tier of storage against the wall. Use for small appliances, canned goods, or kitchen tools. Folds flat when not in use. Great for maximizing space in narrow pantries.

Add Built-In Drawers

For a custom look, integrate drawers right into existing or newly built pantry cabinetry. Drawers provide accessible storage and keep items neatly divided and organized. Construct drawers to make the most of available dimensions.

Incorporate Pull-Out Trash and Recycling

Keep trash and recycling bins out of sight but easily accessible with pull-out cabinet insert holders. Mount them under a bottom shelf or in a standalone base cabinet. Close the door to keep the bins hidden from view.

Consider Pantry Door Storage

Take advantage of the backs of pantry doors by installing storage racks, spice racks, paper towel holders, and small shelving units. Door storage is highly accessible and takes advantage of often underutilized space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Pantry Storage Ideas

Q: How do I make the most of a small pantry?

A: Opt for narrow pull-out shelves, stacking bins, tension rods, wall-mounted storage, and drawer organizers to maximize every bit of space. Also focus on keeping only essentials inside the pantry and storing lesser-used items elsewhere.

Q: What types of shelves work best in pantries?

A: Adjustable shelves, pull-out shelves, and tiered shelves are all great options that allow you to fully customize the space. Opt for solid shelving materials like wood, metal, or plastic over wire, which can bend under the weight of heavy items.

Q: How should I organize a large walk-in pantry?

A: Take a cue from the grocery store. Group like items together on shelves, dedicate an area for appliances, and consider incorporating a piece of furniture like an island or hutch. Aim for visible organization using containers and labels.

Q: What are some ideas for small kitchens without a pantry?

A: Look for unused spaces like over the fridge, next to appliances, or between studs. Install pull-out cabinets, mount shelving on walls, use freestanding units, or add a utility cart for movable storage.

Q: How do I add lighting inside my pantry?

A: Battery-powered LED puck lights, strip lighting, and motion-sensing lights all provide brilliant illumination inside enclosed spaces. Consider wiring in fixtures if possible. Door-activated lights automatically turn on when opened.

Q: What kind of storage containers are best for pantries?

A: Airtight glass, plastic, or stainless steel containers in square shapes make efficient use of shelf space while keeping foods fresh. Labels allow easy identification of contents. Opt for clear canisters to easily see inside.


With a bit of creativity and strategic organization, you can transform an awkward or cramped pantry into a highly functional storage space tailored to your needs. Built-ins, pull-outs, racks, and containers all help maximize every inch while keeping your most-used items readily accessible. Don’t be afraid to mix materials, colors, and styles to achieve your ideal aesthetic. With the right combination of open and closed storage, displayed items and concealed clutter zones, your pantry can be both beautiful and efficient. Consider incorporating smart touches like motion lighting, specialty hardware, or tech-enabled features. A organized pantry not only saves time and frustration in cooking, but also keeps your kitchen tidy and clutter-free for more enjoyable meal preparation.