The 7 Best Compost Bins of 2023, According to Experts

Our favorite is the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin.

In This Article

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Best Compost Bins of 2023

Food & Wine / Marcus Millan

It's estimated that the United States wastes 30 to 40% of its food supply, and much of that happens at home. To prevent your scraps from piling up at landfills, consider adding an indoor or outdoor compost bin to your home. Not only will it benefit the planet, but it will also create nutrient-rich soil for both in-the-ground and potted plants. Don’t have greenery of your own? You can donate your food waste to a community compost bin or take advantage of city pickup, depending on where you live.  

To help you find a quality compost bin, we consulted with industry experts and conducted market research. After considering capacity, design, and ease of use, we landed on the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin as our winner. We love its 1.3-gallon size, suitable for kitchen countertops, odor-controlling charcoal filter, and sleek stainless steel design. Keep scrolling to see what other models made our list of the best compost bins along with expert insights on how to compost.

Best Overall

Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin

4.8
epica-stainless-steel-compost-bin

Amazon

Pros: Its stainless steel design looks sleek on kitchen countertops, and the charcoal filter keeps odors at bay.

Cons: Small bins can fill up quickly in higher-volume kitchens, and charcoal filters occasionally need to be replaced.

As our best overall pick, this compost bin is sleek enough to display on your kitchen countertop and features an airtight lid with a charcoal filter system to keep fruit flies and odors out. This bin includes one filter, which should last at least six months with proper care, and you can easily set up automatic deliveries for biannual replacements. Its durable stainless steel construction is leak- and rust-resistant and easy to wipe clean if spills occur.  

It’s important to note that as a countertop composter, this bin is meant to collect scraps until they're ready to go into an outdoor bin or municipal compost pickup where the mixture turns into soil. The handle makes it easy to transport and empty the organic waste into larger systems. Overall, it's an easy, mess-free solution for your composting needs, and its small size and affordable price tag fit most kitchens and budgets.  

Price at time of publish: $35

  • Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Dimensions: 7.16 x 7.16 x 11 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel

Best Value

OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Compost Bin

OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Compost Bin

Amazon

Pros: This bin is easy to clean, durable, and affordable.

Cons: The lid is lacking ventilation holes, but since it fills up quickly, it shouldn’t create unpleasant odors.

This affordable, easy-to-clean countertop bucket gives you a place to put your food scraps without breaking the bank. This model is highly rated by consumers who note that it's easy to open with one hand and fits comfortably in small kitchens. 

We love how the flip-top lid can stay open until you’re done filling the bin, and when it’s closed, odors are trapped inside. Unlike our favorite model above, this one’s lid doesn’t have ventilation holes. Although we prefer ventilated lids for odor and pest control, you’ll most likely need to empty the 0.75-gallon bin more often larger models, meaning the waste won’t sit in there too long. The manufacturer encourages you to use compostable liners, but it’s not required. If you do use it with liners, make sure your compost pickup service accepts them. If you choose not to use them, you’ll want to rinse the bin with soap and water; luckily, it’s small enough to clean in kitchen sinks. 

Price at time of publish: $23

  • Capacity: 0.75 gallons
  • Dimensions: 6.6 x 6.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Material: Plastic

Best Splurge

Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

4.4
Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

Amazon

Pros: This electric indoor compost bin turns scraps into fertilizer with the press of a button. 

Cons: It’s heavier and more expensive than most indoor options. 

You’re probably familiar with (or own) Vitamix blenders, but did you know that the leading blender brand also offers a state-of-the-art compost bin? The Vitamix FoodCycler stands out from the other indoor models because it doesn’t require the extra step of transferring scraps to an outdoor bin. At the press of a button, this machine turns food waste into fertilizer. Although the process takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, it won’t disrupt your day, as it’s extremely quiet. 

The compact machine fits on countertops and under sinks, and it features an easy-to-follow interface with a power button and LED lights that let you know what stage of the composting process it’s in and when you need to change the filter. And speaking of filters, the lid of the removable bucket has a carbon filter to keep odors at bay until you’re ready to process your waste. Overall, this electric indoor compost bin is worth the investment. 

Price at time of publish: $400

  • Capacity: 0.53 gallons
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 11 x 14.2 inches
  • Material: Aluminum and plastic

Best for Freezer

Full Circle Scrap Happy Food Scrap Collector

full-circle-scrap-happy-food-scrap-collector

Amazon

Pros: This silicone bin is ideal for people who won’t fill up their compost bin often but want to start composting.  

Cons: It’s doesn’t come with a lid, so it’s not the best option for countertops. 

The ultimate solution to odor-free composting is a freezer-safe bin, and this one by Full Circle is our favorite option. While most countertop and under-the-sink bins have filters and airtight lids to eliminate bad smells, they are best for people who accumulate and empty full buckets of scraps regularly. If you don’t cook with a lot of produce or tend to travel often, opt for this freezer compost bin, so you won’t have to worry about fruit flies or the stench of old waste as days go by. 

It’s made of silicone, which means it can withstand temperatures and is flexible for fuss-free emptying and cleaning — you can even rinse it in the dishwasher. Thanks to its wire rim on one side, you can attach it securely to freezer shelves. One thing to note is that it doesn’t come with a lid, so we don’t recommend storing it on your countertop. 

Price at time of publish: $32

  • Capacity: 0.6 gallons 
  • Dimensions: 8.27 x 5.24 x 5.51 inches
  • Material: Silicone

Best for Beginners

SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter Starter Kit

scd-probiotics-all-seasons-indoor-composter-starter-kit

Amazon

Pros: It’s compact in size and quickly and easily ferments scraps into compost.

Cons: The inoculated bran is a necessary component, so you have to make your own or buy it.

For those looking for a complete indoor composting system rather than a countertop compost bin, we recommend Bokashi systems, like this beginner-friendly kit. While they are not as attractive as countertop models, they can be hidden under the sink and save you the cost associated with a compost pickup service. They are also an excellent choice for those who want to compost but do not have space for an outdoor bin. 

Unlike most compost systems that need air to break scraps down, Bokashi systems are anaerobic, meaning they don't require oxygen; instead, they rely on microbes to ferment your scraps into usable compost.

"One of the benefits of this system is you can compost material not recommended for aerobic systems, like fish, meat, and cheese,” says Edna Lora, founder of Pasture Builders, Inc. in Atlanta. 

This Bokashi composter made our list because it's compact enough to fit in most kitchens, breaks down compost easily, and includes a strainer and spigot to control moisture as well as prevent odors and flies. It comes in tan (made from BPA-free plastic) and black (made from 75% recycled plastic). The starter kit comes with a batch of inoculated bran, so you can start fermenting right away.

Price at time of publish: $70

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 18 inches
  • Material: Plastic

Best Tumbling Composter

FCMP Outdoor Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter

FCMP Outdoor Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter

Amazon

Pros: It's durable, easy to turn, and has multiple chambers that allow one side to break down while you add scraps to the other.

Cons: Unlike other models on our list, this composter requires assembly.

If you have the outdoor space for a compost bin and want to keep adding to it continuously, a compost tumbler is a great option. Compared to a standing bin, compost tumblers are more convenient because you can quickly turn the compost without the mess. Since compost tumblers are enclosed, they also reduce the risk of attracting rodents. 

We love FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter because it holds a whopping 37 gallons of waste and features two chambers, so when one side is full, it can break down into fertilizer while you continue to add scraps to the other. Plus, adjustable air vents give it the oxygen it needs to decompose. To turn the tumbler, ensure the door is closed and rotate the bin five to six times every few days. 

Price at time of publish: $100

  • Capacity: 37 gallons
  • Dimensions: 30 x 28 x 36 inches
  • Material: Plastic

Best Outdoor

GEOBIN Compost Bin

geobin-compost-bin

Amazon

Pros: This outdoor option is affordable with an adjustable diameter and good ventilation.

Cons: Open-topped models may attract rodents, and it’s less durable than tumblers.

If you want to try outdoor composting without breaking the bank, consider Geobin’s compost bin. The lightweight bin is much simpler to move than its heavier counterparts, and assembly takes minutes rather than hours.  

"This bin is easy to put together and take apart to move,” Lora says. “It creates sufficient volume to compost effectively, and it is inexpensive." 

Its wide, open top makes it easy to pour a bag or bucket of waste into the bin, though if you are primarily composting kitchen scraps, that design may also attract rodents. You can lessen the likelihood of this by properly managing your compost with the right proportion of “greens” (nitrogen- or protein-rich scraps) and “browns” (carbon- or carbohydrate-rich materials), and with regular turning using a shovel or pitchfork. You can also place your bin on a slab or another sturdy surface that critters can't burrow underneath.

Two great features we love are its good ventilation, the key for helping compost to break down, and the ability to expand the bin to multiple sizes. Overall, it’s a great choice for smaller and larger households and can help you get a sense of the capacity for your own needs if you eventually purchase a tumbler. 

Price at time of publish: $38

  • Capacity: 256 gallons
  • Dimensions: 36 x 48 x 48 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Our Favorite

We chose the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin as our best overall pick because it’s equal parts functional and attractive. The sleek stainless steel construction is pretty enough to display in your kitchen, and the activated-charcoal filter ensures your space won’t smell.

Factors to Consider

Purpose

What you need from your compost bin ultimately determines which bin is right for you. "Before you shop for a compost bin, you have to figure out what you want to accomplish,” Lora explains. “The amount of time you want to spend, the amount of space you have, and your inclination will determine the most appropriate system for your situation. Apartment dwellers may do best with a compost pickup service, or donating scraps to a local community garden or another organization that practices composting." 

If you use a compost pickup program, like Compost Now in Atlanta, all you might need is a countertop pail to collect scraps until you take them down to your collection bin. 

Type

Do you want an indoor or outdoor compost bin, or both? Indoor options include countertop, under-the-sink, and freezer-safe models ideal for people who want a small bin to gather food scraps to take to their larger outdoor bin or community pile. For outdoor composting, you can choose either a stationary bin or a tumbler. The former is a good choice for those wanting ample space to collect both food and yard waste but requires manual mixing with a pitchfork or rake. The latter tend to be smaller but are easier to use because you simply rotate the bin every couple of days for fuss-free composting. Tip: When picking a tumbler, be sure to look at the distance of the assembled tumbler from the ground. You want it to have enough clearance to easily fit a wheelbarrow underneath when it's time to empty your tumbler. 

Material  

Compost bins are most commonly made of plastic, metal, or wood. The best material for your compost bin depends on its location. For indoor composting, metal models look nice, are easy to clean, and withstand wear and tear. Plastic is suitable for indoor and outdoor bins because it’s lightweight, making it easy to carry small bins outdoors, and dark plastic absorbs heat from the sun. Wood is a popular choice for DIY outdoor compost bins, but it requires more upkeep and can take longer to process waste.  

Capacity

Make sure to select a bin with enough capacity to hold the scraps you produce. If you're composting yard waste along with food scraps in an outdoor bin, you'll need more space. If you're just sending food scraps to a compost pickup service, a small bin might be all you need. 

Make sure your countertop pail is large enough to hold scraps without frequent trips outside, and that outdoor compost bins and Bokashi systems are large enough to accommodate all your scraps and yard waste. A good rule of thumb is to get a bin that's twice the size of your compost pile, but I always encourage people to go larger if they can, so they don't have to worry about overfilled compost later. 

Ease of Use

Compost systems don't have to be complicated to be effective: A simple system helps you reduce waste almost effortlessly. In addition to thinking about what type of bin you need, think about how easy that bin will be to use long-term. 

If you're using an outdoor compost bin or an indoor composting system like Bokashi, think about where it will be and how you plan to use it. If it's right outside the door, you might not need to collect scraps in a countertop bin before bringing them outside to compost. But if it's across the yard, a countertop bin might make things more convenient.

Additionally, will your indoor bin require filter replacements or regular cleaning? Will you be moving your outdoor bin around the garden and, if so, how easy will it be to do that? Is your bin easy to empty? Thinking now about how you might use your bin in the future will help you make the right choice.

Local Laws

Make sure to take a look at the current composting regulations (like these in California) before you get started. If you're composting at home, a compost pail alongside a convenient outdoor or all-in-one system can make composting a breeze.  

If you're using a compost pickup service, make sure the bin you choose helps you follow your municipality's guidelines. Some countertop bins also use biodegradable liners for storage and disposal, so if you are using a pickup service, check that they accept these liners before buying your bin.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you start composting?

    It's simple to make compost if you follow a few easy steps. "To create compost, layer green material (nitrogen) and brown material (carbon) and add water," Lora says. "Some examples of carbon are shredded paper and cardboard, kitchen and toilet paper roll tubes, wheat or oat straw, dead garden waste, sawdust, wood shavings, and dry leaves. Some examples of green material are fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filter paper, teabags, feathers, eggshells, plant and grass clippings, chickweed, and other non-noxious weeds. Avoid adding weeds that have gone to seed unless you actively manage a pile and turn by temperature."


    Teddy Tedesco, Project Manager for the NYC Compost Project, urges beginners to start with a small amount of yard waste to get familiar with composting before diving in fully.

  • What can and can't go in a compost bin?

    "Always avoid meat, dairy, grains, and greasy foods, as they are the most attractive to pests and take a lot longer to fully break down," Tedesco says. "Start small and conservatively—roughly cut up an equal mix of fresh and dried garden waste, keep it moistened to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge, and stir it up a few times a week, and you will find that it will start becoming beautiful compost. Once you have a decent feel for the process, start adding some food waste. Food waste tends to be a lot wetter than garden waste, so always make sure to mix it with at least an equal volume of dried material like fallen leaves or wood chips."

  • How can you keep a compost bin from smelling?

    "If a compost pile smells bad, it indicates too much green material in the bin," Lora explains. "Just add more carbon material or browns and mix well."

    Tedesco encourages people to keep compost piles on the drier side: "Yes, the process may slow down a bit, but you can always add a little water if needed to get it to that 'wrung-out sponge' consistency. Because food waste contains a lot of water, you tend to wind up with a compost pile that is too wet and starts to smell like a landfill. Aside from a strong whiff or two when you're stirring things up, a well-maintained compost pile should not have a strong foul odor."

  • How do you prevent your compost from attracting pests?

    A secure, critter-proof outdoor bin is your best bet for warding off rodents. While you need air holes for oxygen, Tedesco warns that these need to be 1 inch wide or smaller to keep rodents out. Also check if your bin has a closed bottom: "If not, you may need to set [it] on a foundation to prevent burrowing of critters underneath."


    While a well-maintained compost pile shouldn't attract rodents, Tedesco notes that bins, like any garden equipment, can become an attractive shelter. To prevent this, keep your bin at least a foot away from walls and fences, and make sure it's on a hard foundation (concrete or gravel work great).


    Inside the house, fruit flies love to congregate in countertop bins: The best way to avoid them is to choose a bin with a tightly fitting lid, and to keep the lid securely in place when you aren't actively filling or emptying your bin. This also helps prevent lingering odors from infiltrating your kitchen, as does regularly cleaning your countertop bin.

Our Expertise

Julia Skinner, PhD, is a writer and an avid gardener, who educates the public on food waste reduction and fermentation through her business, Root. She is passionate about native plants and about enhancing soil health using organic methods. She interviewed two experts for this piece. Bridget Degnan, an associate editor for Food & Wine, updated this article with fresh insights and product recommendations based on her own expertise and research.

Edna Lora is a long-time organic grower, homesteader, and amateur soil scientist in the Atlanta area. She founded Pasture Builders, a Georgia-based organic gardening and farming company. Teddy Tedesco is the Project Manager for the NYC Compost Project, hosted by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and holds a Certificate of Horticulture from Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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