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What Is the Ideal Height For Pantry Shelves?

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We are always looking for ways to make use of organizers, bins, and labels in order to keep a pantry organized.

Grocery and kitchenware on the wooden shelves in modern bright pantry kitchen

While there are a number of accessories that will help you tidy your pantry, you need to consider your pantry shelves, especially at the placement and depth of these shelves.

What is the ideal height for pantry shelves?

The ideal height for pantry shelves can vary depending on your space and storage needs. However, there are industry best practices and considerations that can come in handy if you are remodeling or newly building a pantry.

Here we give you a few tips that will help you in determining the ideal height of your pantry shelves.

Shelves Should Not Be Too Deep

The standard depth of pantry shelves is 16 to 20 inches, but the experts suggest that they should not be more than 12 inches deep. With deep shelves, it can be hard to see items that are stacked in front of one another.

Floor Clearance Requirement

The bottom shelf in a pantry should typically be 20-24 inches from the ground.

This extra space will give you the room for storing bulky items like paper towels and pet food while also keeping your own food items away from the floor space.

Food storage, wooden shelves in the pantry, kitchen utensils

Extra Attention For Key Shelves

The shelves that are at the eye and waist level are the most commonly accessed because of their ease of reach. Therefore, it is best to keep the most frequently used items on this shelf.

These are the shelves on which you should put your bins and organizers and where people will (hopefully) put things back after using them. 

Tricks to Determine Shelf Height

The ideal shelf height partly depends on the type of goods that you are going to store in the shelf.

You should leave at least 2 inches space above the height of the tallest item. This will allow easy access of items and you will not have wasted space.

Some general rules are as follows:

  • Canned Goods: 6.5 to 7 inches
  • Cereal Boxes: 14 to 16 inches
  • Large Items: 18 to 20 inches
Wooden wine shelves with bottles on the table in modern kitchen

Average Height of Common Pantry Goods

Canned Goods

The general height of cans is about 4 inches. You will want to make sure these shelves have a height of 6 inches.

Mason Jars

Mason jars are typically 6.6 inches tall, so you will need a shelf with a height of 9 inches to have plenty of room.

When organizing items, mason jar contents often go along with canned goods. If you plan to store these together, be sure that your shelf height can accommodate the tallest items.


In order to store your spices, you need to have a pantry shelf approximately 6 inches in height. Most as most of the spice jars are around 4 inches tall, and this size will give you comfortable access.


Baskets are really helpful when it comes to storing things in a pantry. The best sized baskets for a pantry are 8 inches in height.

Wine Bottles

A pantry can be a great place to store wine bottles since they can remain in a cool dark place that is easily accessible.

Wine bottles are usually 12 inches in height, so if you plan to store these upright, you will need a shelf with at least 14 inches of clearance.

Keep in mind that it is often recommended to store traditional wine bottles on their sides to retain the integrity of the cork. In that case, you may want to focus on a proper depth for your shelf, rather than height, for wine bottle storage in your pantry.

Cereal Boxes

Cereal boxes are generally a little more than 12 inches in height. These taller items also tend to be lighter in weight and frequently accessed.

You might want to consider placing a taller shelf where you (or your kids) can easily reach on a daily basis. If your shelves are deep, you can also place the boxes on their sides for easier storage.

Large Goods

Large goods can vary in size and shape with items such as sparkling water, potatoes, or paper products.

These are generally placed at extremes, either the top of the bottom of the pantry. Heavier items should be placed toward the bottom to make them easier to access as needed.

Tips for Getting Your Pantry Just Right

Do Not Go Too Deep

Experts recommend that the depth of pantry shelves should not be more than 12 inches.

When shelves are extra deep, items can become buried inside or difficult to access. You might even forget what you have stored toward the back! 

Get Adjustable Shelves

Closeup of man instaling storage wire basket in adjustable shelf

Adjustable shelves will give you flexibility to create your pantry exactly how you need it. Over time, you can adjust the height of the shelves to accommodate different sized items.

Store Like Items Together

Classifying your pantry in one way or the other is a great way to keep your pantry organized. You can arrange your containers according to height on these pantry shelves and group similar items or items commonly used together.