We Tested 10 Food Storage Containers—These Are Our Favorites

Our top picks for both glass and plastic models are from Rubbermaid.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

several food storage containers on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Eric King

Straight to the Point

Our top picks for both glass and plastic food storage containers are from Rubbermaid. We also liked the Glasslock container set, which is a few bucks cheaper (at the time of publish) than the Rubbermaid glass containers.

Has your container drawer reached the point of no return: way too many bases, way too few lids, and of course none of them match? Having a full set of durable, stackable, leak-proof food storage containers is helpful for leftovers, lunches, meal prep, etc. And we scoured the market to find the best of them: containers you wouldn’t want to part with even to send your loved ones home with leftovers. (Because you know you’ll never see them again!)

We tested 10 models, focusing on dishwasher-safe, plastic or glass containers. The majority of the ones we tested were available in singles, as well as sets (helpful if you just want to add a container to your collection, or want more of a starter pack). For the purposes of this review, we focused on the containers that were three to four cups in maximum capacity (large enough for leftovers or a to-go lunch). We ran these containers through a series of tests, determining which ones resisted leakage, warded off stains and lingering smells, and more.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Glass Food Storage Container: Rubbermaid Brilliance Glass Food Storage Container

rubbermaid glass 3-pack

Also available at Target and Walmart.

This good-looking model aced all of our tests. It never leaked or held onto lingering smells, it resisted staining, and it was a breeze to use, store, and clean. It's available both as a single and a larger set.

The Best Plastic Food Storage Container: Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Container

Best Meal Prep Containers

Also available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Part of the same line as our winner above, this model conveniently shares the exact same plastic lid design. With just a few drawbacks due to its base material, it mainly performed as well as its glass counterpart—and is notably cheaper. It's also available as a single and larger set.

The Best Budget-Friendly Glass Food Storage Container: Glasslock 4-Piece Rectangle Oven Safe Container Set

Glasslock 4-Piece Rectangle Oven Safe Container Set

Also available at Walmart.

This model succeeds in almost every area the glass Rubbermaid container does, but receives demerits for some features: it’s only available to purchase in a set of two or more—and its seal design is more prone to trapping dirt and debris.

The Tests

brushing the containers with a turmeric mixture to test staining.
Our favorite containers had to be leak-proof, easy to use, and resist staining. We designed tests (like the one shown here) to evaluate this criteria.

Serious Eats / Eric King

  • Leakage Test: We filled each container with 1-cup of blue-dyed water and lined half sheet trays with paper towels. Then, we shook each container with the long side pointing down at the paper towels 10 times, rotated them 45 degrees and shook 10 more times, and repeated this rotating and shaking twice more. Then, each container was left on its side sitting on fresh paper towels (if it leaked) for 15 minutes. We noted any leakage along the way. 
  • Stain and Smell Test: We smeared the insides of each container and lid with a mixture of vegetable oil and turmeric. After four hours, we washed them thoroughly with hot, soapy water and a sponge, allowed them to dry, and then noted any visible staining or lingering odors.  
  • Durability Test: We dropped each container on a marble stone surface five times, noting any damage. 
  • Design Test: With each of our favorite containers, we removed the lid and opened and closed the latches (if applicable) 25 times. We saw how well the containers stacked on the countertop, and then did the same in the refrigerator. 
  • Microwave Test: We microwaved 1-cup of frozen peas in each of our favorite containers, lids ajar, documenting warping (if any). 
  • Cleanup Tests: Over the course of testing, we evaluated how easy each container was to hand-wash with warm, soapy water and a sponge.

What We Learned

What Made Our Favorite Containers Leak-Proof?

Let’s start with what made containers leak like crazy. Models with flexible slip-on lids like Anchor, Frego, and Pyrex all failed majorly at keeping the dyed water inside in our shake tests. That being said, one model with latches on all four sides, Snapware, leaked even more than Pyrex because the latches weren’t really all that tight. So, it’s not enough to just have latches; they have to be actively pulling down onto the lip of the base, applying pressure, otherwise they won’t function. If clicking down the latches into place required a little oomph, that was a good sign the container was leak-proof.

Plastic vs. Glass—and a Note on Silicone

Our top winners, Rubbermaid’s plastic and glass offerings, were pretty well matched throughout testing, so it’s hard to say that one material is always going to be better over the other. Plastic is lighter, glass is heavier. Plastic is cheaper, glass is more expensive. Glass can shatter, and plastic is (for the most part) more shock proof. Most glass models can into a hot oven without their lids, but of course plastic containers can't. Some plastic lids (even the ones with glass bases) held onto odors from the turmeric-oil mixture, but others, like Rubbermaid and Glasslock, did not.

We can say that silicone was the worst perpetrator when it came to clinging to stains and odors. By far, models that were constructed with a lot of silicone (like Frego, Ello, and Anchor) stained and smelled the most.

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Good Food Storage Container

rubbermaid plastic storage container on marble counter: clear sides, leakproof, tight fitting latched lid

Serious Eats / Eric King / Grace Kelly

The most important feature of a food storage container is, of course, containing, which is why our leakage test was first. This began to separate the winners from the losers right away, with some models absolutely gushing water and others leaving their paper towel-lined tray without even a drop. As noted above, our winners all had two or four tight-fitting latches, and not a flexible slip-on lid. This made them leak-proof and air-tight. 

If you prefer lighter, less expensive containers, opt for plastic. We recommend clear so you can see what’s in them. If you don’t mind spending slightly more money, and the weight of the containers isn’t a consideration for you, glass is great because it doesn’t stain or hold onto odors, and most models can go from the freezer to a hot oven. 

a hand using a pastry brush to paint a mixture of oil and turmeric onto a food storage container's lid
A border of silicone around the lid was an indicator of the container being leak-proof.

Serious Eats / Eric King

We recommend avoiding any containers with silicone anywhere besides the seal. (On all of our winners, a strip of silicone where the lid met the lip of the base was responsible for the air-tight seal.) Containers with silicone cages or with lids made from mostly silicone stained and held onto more odors.

The Best Glass Food Storage Container: Rubbermaid Brilliance Glass Food Storage Container

rubbermaid glass 3-pack

Also available at Target and Walmart.

What we liked: This model from storage stalwart Rubbermaid didn’t leak one drop when shaken 40 times or laid on its side for 15 minutes. But it also stood out from the three others that didn’t leak. After being smeared with a mixture of turmeric and vegetable oil, left for four hours, then washed, we couldn’t detect any lingering odors. And unlike the light blue silicone lids, cages, and seals on other competitors, its seal is dark gray, which disguises most staining. 

These containers are interlocking, so we could stack one on top of another with the base fitting perfectly in the shallow divot of the lid below it. This makes it harder for the top container to slide off. And if you want to buy both the plastic and glass versions from this line, they use the same plastic lids, so you can interchange them without having to keep track of which is which. 

Some of the lids with silicone seals were difficult to clean because of the tiny gaps between the silicone and the plastic, but that wasn’t a problem for this one. There’s room for a sponge to get into all the crevices with minimal effort. 

Of our winners, this one handled heating up frozen peas in the microwave best. After heating up the peas for two minutes on standard power, every part of the container stayed just warm, not too hot to handle, while the peas inside were cooked perfectly. 

What we didn’t like: It isn’t totally obvious when the lid has actually latched down. There seems to be two separate “clicks” and you have to wait for the second click to know that it’s locked in place. When opening the container, there was a bit of annoying friction when trying to get our fingers under the latch. And because of its strong seal, with the silicone pressing up against the inside of the container, lifting the lid up takes a little bit more effort than you think it will. Overall, though, we don't think any of this really detracts from this model.

Price at time of publish: $35 (for a pack of four medium containers).

Key Specs

  • Materials: Glass base, plastic lid, silicone seal
  • Capacity: 3.2 cups (757 ml)
  • Weight: 1 lb, 8.9 oz
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe (top rack)
  • Microwave-safe: Yes (vented lids, reheat only)
  • Oven-safe: Up to 450°F
a glass food storage container sitting on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Eric King

The Best Plastic Food Storage Container: Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Storage Container

Best Meal Prep Containers


Also available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

What we liked: With the same lid as the Rubbermaid glass containers, this model shares many of its counterpart’s positive qualities. It has a leak-proof seal, resists staining and lingering odors, stacks easily with interlocking lids and bases, and is easy to clean up. 

With this plastic model, it was much more intuitive to tell when the latches were locked and the lid fully secured, clicking into place in a satisfying way. Plus, unlike the glass model, there was more room to get your fingers under the latches for an effortless opening. 

It’s much lighter than the glass version, so if you pack your lunch often, this may appeal to you.

What we didn’t like: When microwaving frozen peas for two minutes on standard power, the bottom became too hot to touch, while the sides stayed just slightly cold. Also, even though the lid is the same, when sliding up the plastic sides, the silicone seal experiences a lot of resistance. And while that makes for a good seal, it does at times take two hands and a little oomph to open it.

Price at time of publish: $21 (for a 6-piece set).

Key Specs

  • Materials: Plastic base, plastic lid, silicone seal
  • Capacity: 3.2 cups (757 ml)
  • Weight: 7.6 ounces
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe (top rack)
  • Microwave-safe: Yes (vented lids, reheat only)
  • Oven-safe: No
a plastic storage container sitting on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Eric King

The Best Budget-Friendly Glass Food Storage Container: Glasslock 4-Piece Rectangle Oven Safe Container Set

Glasslock 4-Piece Rectangle Oven Safe Container Set

Also available at Walmart.

What we liked: Despite having four latches instead of two, opening and closing this model was seamless compared to the Rubbermaid models. It was easy to get our fingers under the latches, a cinch to click them into place, and the lid lifted right off with one hand after being unlatched. And that didn’t hurt its ability to retain water: it didn’t leak one drop onto the paper towels. Its glass body and plastic lid resisted staining (for the most part) and lingering odors after being smeared with the turmeric-oil mixture.

What we didn’t like: The grooved silicone seal is placed in a track of plastic that runs around the lid, and dirt and debris tended to get trapped in the grooves as well as in between the silicone and the plastic. We found that this made it slightly difficult to clean thoroughly — although the way that the lid is designed, the seal is actually protected by a plastic guard that shields it from food. Plus, since the silicone seal is light blue, it did stain fairly obviously when smeared with the turmeric-oil mixture. 

Unlike the glass Rubbermaid, the bottom became too hot to handle after two minutes heating up frozen peas in the microwave.

While the Rubbermaid models both feature an interlocking base-lid stacking system, these do not. They stack just fine, but there’s nothing stopping them from sliding off each other. Lastly, at the time of writing, this model is only sold in sets and can’t be purchased alone.

Price at time of publish: $19 for a 4-piece set.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Glass base, plastic lid, silicone seal
  • Capacity: 3.5 cups
  • Weight: 1 lb, 6 oz
  • Cleaning: Glass container is dishwasher-safe, lid is only top rack safe
  • Microwave-safe: Yes 
  • Oven-safe: Up to 450°F
A glass storage container on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Eric King

The Competition

FAQs

Should you put hot food into a glass storage container?

It’s best to avoid putting hot food into glass containers, as they can shatter if they are suddenly shocked with a very hot substance. Wait for food to cool down slightly, then transfer it to a storage container and refrigerate if necessary.

Are glass or plastic food storage containers better?

We found that glass containers have the edge here, but in some ways it comes down to personal preference. Glass is able to go into a hot oven, sometimes up to 450°F depending on the brand, whereas plastic can only be used to heat or reheat contents in the microwave. In our tests, we found that glass didn’t stain or hold onto stubborn odors, whereas plastic and silicone were more susceptible to those. 

All that being said, plastic containers are usually more affordable and lighter than glass options. And, especially if they’re empty, they’re less likely to break from a fall.