If you're looking to turn your kitchen scraps into soil nutrients, the best countertop composting bins make the process infinitely easier. Cheap or poor-quality units can make composting an unwanted mess, as food decomposition can produce odors and other unwanted issues like fruit flies. Since it'll be happening directly in your kitchen, make sure you've got the right tools to keep the process sanitary and fresh.
First, narrow down your preferred material. The most popular are stainless steel, plastic, and ceramic. Each has its pros and cons, but ultimately, stainless steel is the easiest to clean and the most durable, plastic is the most lightweight and affordable (though might not last as long), and ceramic is resistant to rust with a traditional, elegant appearance (yet tends to be heavier).
Independent of material, composting requires oxygen to break down biodegradable substances, so you'll need a lid with ventilation holes as well as a filter (likely made from activated charcoal) to keep odors under control.
Next, consider capacity. The larger the bin, the more scraps it can hold, which also means the less often you'll need to empty it. Pails with a few-cup capacity need to be emptied every few days, while containers that hold a gallon or more may last you weeks. Of course, the right capacity will depend on food-waste output and family-size — but remember higher volume means less counter space. For tiny kitchens with limited countertops, smaller is usually better.
With that in mind, here are the six best countertop compost bins on the market.
1. The overall best stainless steel compost pail
Most find stainless steel compost bins are the best for odor-control and ease of cleaning — and this Epica stainless steel compost bin is widely considered the best of the best. It has over 6,500 reviews and an impressive 4.8-star rating because it's sleek, durable, sanitary, and effective.
Unlike other bins, which are welded from several pieces, this pick is molded into a single, seamless pail to prevent rust and leaks. With two included activated charcoal filters, its airtight lid prevents odors and fruit flies. Last but not least, it's big enough to hold several days' worth of scraps, and, once full, the sturdy handle makes for transferring to the compost pile simple.
Capacity: 1.3 gallons
Material: Stainless steel
Reviewers say: "I am a veteran composter, and it has long been a seriously stinky and messy dilemma. [...] This [bin] won out, and I got it. [...] It doesn't smell, and the fruit flies are not able to access the scraps — hooray! The top is quite secure. It's super easy to clean, and it looks quite nice on the kitchen counter, next to the cutting board."
2. The most bang for your buck
Most composting pails come with a single charcoal filter; and, reality is, replacements are pricey. Most options make you independently purchase liner bags (if you intend on using them, though they're only compostable through industrial methods). This set from Gardenatomy, on the other hand, has everything you need to keep composting for a whole year; including a year's worth of filters and a roll of biodegradable liner bags to keep your bin clean, all for $40.
The solid, seamless stainless steel container is designed to prevent leaks and odors and its exterior is coated with copper for a modern look.
Capacity: 1 gallon
Material: Stainless steel and copper
Reviewers say: "This kitchen compost pail bin was such a great value! [...] a year of filters and 50 compost [trash bags]? Yes please! Also the copper color is beautiful and adds elegance to my kitchen. Such a great purchase!"
3. The smallest countertop compost bin
For kitchens with minimal counter space, there's the OXO Good Grips Easy Clean compost bin. As the name suggests, the smooth interior walls, contoured bottom, and removable lid all make for convenient cleaning by preventing food and liquid build-up — but thanks to the squared edges and the 12-cup capacity, this one can tuck into a corner or behind the sink. Extremely lightweight, its sturdy, rotating handle makes transportation hassle-free. While this pick's lid is vented, the lid closes without sealing, so odors can't escape, but oxygen flow prevents unwanted bacteria and mold growth.
Capacity: .75 gallons
Reviewers say: "We have been using this kitchen scraps collector for several months and love it. It's the perfect size for keeping on the countertop without taking [up] too much space. It has a handle to make carrying out to the compost pile easy. Also the lid removes easily so it doesn't get in the way when dumping out the scraps. And best of all, it is super easy to clean."
4. The best ceramic compost bin
Stainless steel and plastic may be easy to clean, but often look like miniature garbage pails. Cue the Norpro compost bin, which, thanks to its ceramic construction and floral detailing, looks like an elegant food jar. That said, it also has a ventilated lid, an activated charcoal filter (that the manufacturer says can last up to six months), and a stainless steel handle. Though not the most lightweight, it is non-porous, which prevents leaking, and some reviewers even clean it in the dishwasher.
Capacity: .75 gallons
Reviewers say: "The Norpro Compost Keeper was everything that it claimed to be and we are pleased with it [...] I would highly recommend this compost container to anyone looking for something that is more attractive in the kitchen than some ordinary bucket. It also has a filter on the top cover to keep the odor down."
5. The best under-counter compost bin
You may want to mostly keep your compost bin on the counter, but when company's coming or you need extra counter space, it could be nice to stash it in a cabinet. Joseph Joseph's Compo bin has a wide opening for effortless food-scraping and an adjustable air vent so moisture can escape — but the real selling point is the easy-store design. When you want to make room on your counter, this bin includes mounting brackets to attach it easily to a cabinet door so it's entirely out of sight.
Capacity: 1 gallon
Reviewers say: "I hung [this bin] inside the sink cabinet door and it fit perfectly. It was so easy to install. I put all kinds of food in it including cat food and even after a couple of days between bag changes there is no smell."
6. The best indoor electric composter
Looking to speed up the composting process? An electric unit is likely the best option. With the press of a button, the Food Cycler Platinum uses agitators to quietly break down food waste, so you can add the contents to your garden within hours. It'll even break down uncooked meat, egg shells, and bones, without the need for additives, venting, or draining.
The carbon-filter system controls odors throughout the process and the unit also has a built-in filter monitoring system so you know when to change it. Last but not least, the machine automatically shuts off when finished, and the removable, dishwasher-safe bucket is easy to transfer from the counter to the compost pile.
Capacity: .4 gallons
Material: Plastic and cast-iron
Reviewers say: "Follow instructions; pay attention to guidelines and you will appreciate it like we do [...] We cycle kitchen scraps and leftovers through it a couple of times a week. It does what it is promoted to do. We have 2 gallons of recycled material to date. Noise free, odor free."
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