The best way to organize cans in a deep pantry or any pantry is using the right pantry organizers. Specially-designed organizers come in the shape of racks, shelves, shelf lifters, and bins.

After living with a deep pantry for six years, I splurged and bought pantry organizers. I was determined to find the best one for my pantry shelves. Turns out, there isn't an overall winner because it depends on the situation. However, I do have my favorites. This page highlights which I feel are the best can organizers.

Let's first introduce you  to our guests:  a jumbo-sized can of peaches, a can of green beans, a can of soup, cream of chicken soup, and a can of tomato paste.  These cover the most very basic of can sizes in my pantry.

Common food can sizes.

Common food can sizes.

In the article "Winning Organizers for Deep Pantry Shelves" I actually did the math on how all of these compared and fit into can organizers. The narrow, acrylic bins held 5 green bean-size cans, so six bins would hold 30 green-bean size cans. This is a little less than the can rack. When fully loaded, the rack will hold 36 green-bean size cans (more if the size of cream soup).

In the comparative space, the quantity is about the same. It's the user experience and need that factors into the best can organizer to buy.

Can Organizer Rack

can rack organizer holds 36 green bean cans

Many pantry owners turn to a can rack organizer to pack a high quantity of cans on a pantry shelf.

BUY ON AMAZON

can organizer rack measurerments

GREAT FOR...

  • multiple items of the same kind
  • stackable
  • can function as back "layer" on deep pantry shelf

NOT SO GREAT...

  • cannot backload cans, so "first in first out" doesn't work
  • top-loaded can adds additional height
  • can lables not always easily visible
  • cannot move rack when fully loaded
  • be careful of shelf load weight

Shelf, Cabinet Organizer

Cabinet organizer shelf for pantry, assorted sizes

Shelf organizers for cabinets and shelves offer flexibility for pantry storage

BUY CABINET SHELF ORGANIZER ON AMAZON

cabinet shelf organizer great for deep pantry shelves storing jumbo large cans and jars

GREAT FOR...

  • stackable versions available
  • comes in different height and widths
  • larger sizes good for "layering" in deep pantry shelf and cabinets (picture
  • great solution for jumbo-size cans and jars
jumbo wire cabinet shelf rack

NOT SO GREAT...

  • more ideal for dish storage, but in right food storage situation, the right choice

Shelf, Expandable

expandable stair stepped shelf fills shelf up perfectly

Expandable shelves adapt readily to maximize most horizontal pantry shelf space, in addition to easily viewing contents, from jumob-sized peach cans to standard green bean cans.

BUY JUMBO EXPANDABLE SHELF ON AMAZON

expandable stepped pantry shelf tiered

GREAT FOR...

  • deep shelf, back layer
  • stairs hold cans up to 4" deep
  • easily see all items and mixed cans
  • expands up to 24" to fill horizontal space
Expandable shelf layered behind food bins.

Expandable shelf layered behind food bins.

NOT SO GREAT...

  • cannot move when fully loaded
  • not the most high-quantity solution use of space, but more effective for retrieving and viewing items

Bin, Open Front

Expandable shelf layered behind food bins.

Meet the popular Farm Basket Bin, tapered and attractive! Shown "layered" in front of expandable shelf in back.

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open front pantry front allows easier access to cans

GREAT FOR...

  • easy access
  • group "zones" of foods together
  • moveable, works for front layer in deep pantry or alone on standard shelf 
  • stackable
  • items visible
  • works for both cans and fresh food like potatoes and onions
open front wire bins are stackable for more vertical pantry storage

NOT SO GREAT...

  • Requires 11" deep shelf
  • need to remove top basket to reach most items in bottom basket

Pantry Shelves

Shoe rack uses as food pantry storage.

Shoe rack uses as food pantry storage.

In the pantry world, there is storage, and there is storage. This ingenious solution was shared with Queenofthehivemomof5, owner of hotcouponworld.com, who stores her canned food item stockpile on wire shelving units in her garage.

PHOTO CREDIT: Julie & Heidi, Flickr

This can rack solution utilizes FIFO - "first in, first out." A pantry owner can easily restock from the back, always assured that the food that needs to be used first is in the front. I like the idea that I can mix food size and types. For picture purposes, it's sure pretty to have lots of identical cans, but in the real world it is not so normal.

I would be nervous about how much weight is put on racks intended for shoe storage. An experienced installer would most certainly reinforce shelf supports.

There are homemade versions of FIFO can storage racks, if that is of interest to you.

Honorable Mention


  • Plastic totes and basket and even cardboard boxes can organize food cans. Weight can be an issue when moving large containers. Take size of container into consideration due to this concern.
  • Narrow shelves that are 4"-7" deep are outstanding storage for cans. Narrow shelves allow the user to visually identify the can, and cans don't get lost as they do on deep shelves.  A shelf depth of 3 cans is ideal.
  • Jumbo size cans can hold their own without a container.  Because they take up a large footprint, consider putting them in the back of a deep pantry, and then put removable storage in the front. Retrieving cans off of deep pantry shelves is explored more in "Tame Your Deep Roll Out Pantry Shelves."

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. She uses her technical background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.


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