Equipment Review: The Best Plastic and The Best Glass Food Storage Containers & Our Testing Winners

Buy Our Winning Plastic Container:
Buy Our Winning Glass Container:
Behind the plastic container testing:
Full testing details and ranking chart (plastic):
Behind the glass container testing:
Full testing details and ranking chart (glass):

We don’t think home cooks should have to choose between plastic and glass food storage containers, since both have advantages: While glass is heavier and more fragile than plastic, it also resists staining and warping, can go in the microwave without worry, and can even be used in the oven for cooking or reheating, offering great versatility. We tested five glass storage containers alongside six plastic containers, all with capacities as close as possible to 8 cups, a good size for storing leftovers or a make-ahead meal. Some containers can be purchased a la carte, while others are sold only in sets. For those who purchase glass containers to avoid plastic, we did notice this: Most have plastic lids. Only one model we tested had a glass lid, with a silicone trim to seal it in place.

Plastic: We tested six plastic containers (all BPA-free, according to manufacturers), choosing those as close as possible to an 8-cup capacity (the capacities of the models in our lineup ranged from 6 to 10 cups). All containers were purchased online, and they appear in order of preference.

Glass: We tested five glass food storage containers as close as possible to an 8-cup capacity. Information about the maximum ovensafe temperature and general oven use was obtained from manufacturers. (Note: Ovens should always be preheated before putting glass containers inside. None of the lids are ovensafe. Every product listed special cautions for heating the containers on their labels and websites; we recommend reading these before oven use.) Capacity is reported in cups for comparison. All models were purchased online. They appear in order of preference.

Leaks: We filled the containers with water tinted with blue food coloring and shook them vigorously for 15 seconds. We also filled them with moisture-detecting color-changing crystals and submerged them in water for 2 minutes. Containers that didn’t leak when shaken and that kept their contents dry when submerged received high marks.

Odors: We refrigerated oil-packed tuna and anchovies in each container overnight and ran the containers through a home dishwasher and checked for odors. Containers that resisted odors and cleaned up more easily were preferred.

Design: We considered features that made the containers easier to use, including simple, intuitive seals and shapes that stack well and make cooling and heating more efficient.

Storage and Microwave Heating: We filled containers with chili, refrigerated them over a weekend, and microwaved them, checking for warping, staining, and other damage. Containers that didn’t leak or spill, held plenty of chili, and resisted warping, staining, and other damage rated highest.

Durability: We opened and closed each container 100 times, washed the containers 50 times in a home dishwasher, and repeated all the previous tests (leaking, odors, opening and closing, microwaving). Then we filled containers with water and knocked them off a kitchen counter and froze water in them and dropped them from 3 feet above the floor. Finally, we checked for stains, warping, breakage, and general wear and tear, giving high marks to those still in good condition.

ABOUT US: Located in Boston’s Seaport District in the historic Innovation and Design Building, America’s Test Kitchen features 15,000 square feet of kitchen space including multiple photography and video studios. It is the home of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and Cook’s Country magazine and is the workday destination for more than 60 test cooks, editors, and cookware specialists. Our mission is to test recipes over and over again until we understand how and why they work and until we arrive at the best version.

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