We Tested Dozens of Pretty Pantry Items to See If They Taste as Good as They Look
These 33 made the cut.
Updated Nov 16, 2022 1:19 AM
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You’ve probably heard (from Domino—guilty!) that an easy way to organize your pantry is to pour rice, pasta, and oils into clear containers. And yet I am consistently seduced by pretty packaging, from cleaning supplies to canned cocktails. As a prop/interiors stylist, these goods have an exceptional grasp on me—I’m always on the lookout for the most attractive olive oil or coffee to grace the open shelves in a kitchen shoot, and my brain is basically a Rolodex of aesthetically pleasing everyday products.
However, even I can admit that real life is more than a perfectly curated Instagram moment, and I want the items I bring into my home to be genuinely useful and necessary and make my cooking more delicious (bonus points if they make it easier, too!). Here are the products that check all the boxes—pretty enough to keep on display, but tasty enough to warrant buying them on repeat.
Oils & Vinegars
Having the just-right oils and vinegars—from a black truffle version that instantly elevates anything you put it on to a chic ACV that’s so fruit-forward it’s practically sippable—can make all the difference in your cooking. And because these staples are best placed within easy reach (i.e., usually on display next to your stove), a good-looking bottle is extra-important.
I never want to imagine a world (or a dish!) without salt. A flaky kosher or medium-grind Peruvian Andes pink can make even the simplest dish sing. (Case in point: Dropping one of Jacobsen Salt Co.’s Disco di Sale tablets in boiling water before adding pasta makes sauce stick like no other.) And if the goods come in a reusable vessel that’s equally welcome on a countertop or dining table, even better.
Coffee & Tea
There’s no need to hide these beauties away in a cabinet. When they’re this pretty, nearly all of your morning bevvies—from tea made from “coins” to adaptogen-and-probiotic–packed lattes—can live out on the counter.
Eggs, avocado toast, popcorn—the range of dishes that can benefit from a little spice (whether we’re talking the mouth-numbing flavor of Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp or the sweet heat of Red Clay’s Hot Pepper Conserve) are wide-ranging and seemingly endless. Keep these fiery condiments out in plain sight to easily upgrade your simplest concoctions.
I’m blown away by how easily these sauces can elevate the superbasic—and make me feel like a much better cook than I actually am. A dollop of Rhea’s Liquid Sunshine will transform store-bought tortellini into a special dish, and Bachan’s Japanese Barbecue Sauce can turn leftover rice and green beans into a worthy meal. In my book, $11 pasta sauce is a totally acceptable splurge when it brings as much joy (and culinary prowess) as this one does—and looks stately taking up space in my pantry.
Real talk here: All of these items are so delicious, I would (and actually have) consumed them straight from their containers. They’re also great on toast (here’s looking at you, Rustic Cafe Jam and Big Spoon Roasters Chocolate Sea Salt Almond Butter), crumbled over vanilla ice cream (hi there, Seed + Mill Halva), or eaten alongside any other number of conventional pairings. But no judgment here if you just dive right in.
Grains (and Grain Alternatives)
This roundup of dry pantry goods had many questions popping into my head, such as: Why aren’t all crackers made from green banana flour? And: Is it acceptable to eat cereal for dinner if it has 13 grams of protein per serving? Then I got distracted by all the super-yummy snacking and made myself a vow that I’d only buy Sfoglini pasta from here on out. For the packaging but also the fun shapes.