What is the difference between larder and pantry? Is it size? Or content?

I found very similar definitions for both terms, something like

a room/place in which food is stored.

Which of the words is better for a separate room next to the kitchen, and which is better for a food-dedicated cupboard? Or even for a separate house for food storage, like they used to have in castles?

  • 3
    Etymologically, and when the terms were used in mediaeval France, you kept lard (bacon) in a larder and pain (bread) in a pantry. So larders were more likely to be underground, because meat keeps better in a cooler place. May 13, 2014 at 10:37
  • Today - very little difference. However I'm hoping someone can really explain the difference in, say, a medieval castle.
    – user24964
    May 13, 2014 at 10:52
  • If you are seeking clarity in writing, the phrase "walk-in larder|pantry" may do the best job to indicate size and the fact that you are referring to a larger space. While many pantries may be built under stairs (especially in UK properties) so you can only walk in so far, I think people will understand the point.
    – AdamV
    May 13, 2014 at 10:57
  • @TheMathemagician Here's English Heritage's fine exploded diagram of Warkworth Castle. There are a 'buttery/pantry', lots of beer/wine cellars, and a 'food/fuel store' – but no 'larder'. May 13, 2014 at 11:25
  • 1
    In current English, a larder is where you keep your lard, while a pantry is where you keep your pants. (Not.) Dec 26, 2014 at 13:26

5 Answers 5


I think that today there is no big difference. A long time ago meat was stored in vats of lard in cooler rooms (hence: larder), while regular foods were kept in pantries. Today, pantry is used far more often than larder, especially in a residential context.Ngram

  • 3
    Vats of lard? Do you have a reference for this? Why would anybody do that? May 13, 2014 at 10:34
  • That's something from my past readings, let me look for it.
    – user66974
    May 13, 2014 at 10:38
  • 2
    You can see this from the etymology; larder and pantry are both from mediaeval French; lard (bacon) was kept in larders, while pain (bread) was kept in pantries. You need to keep meat cool, while bread stores fine at room temperature. Dec 26, 2014 at 13:51
  • Larder conjures up an old-fashioned house to me. It's probably due to my reading of a lot of Enid Blyton stories where 'raiding the larder' was exceedingly common.
    – JDF
    May 14, 2016 at 11:44

I would say it's specifically a matter of usage.

"Pantry" is the preferred term in the US for a separate room next to the kitchen or a closet/cupboard where food is stored, whereas "larder" and "pantry" are more or less equally used in the UK to refer to that place.

pantry: a room or closet in which food, groceries, and other provisions, or silverware, dishes, etc., are kept.

larder: a room or place where food is stored; pantry.


I think both can be either a cupboard or a separate room. These are the differences in my understanding.

pantry: a place for foodstuffs that last, such as flour, preserves, etc.

larder: a place where foodstuffs that don't last are kept, such as onions, eggs, milk, etc.

  • 2
    I always thought something along those lines, but with "larder" being a more specific term. Larders have to be cool, pantries can be too but don't have to. That would explain the near-interchangeability (these days, in the UK). Most food stores are kept cool, but lots of people (correctly but less precisely) call their larder a "pantry".
    – Rupe
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:39

It depends how you want to define the answer either then or now. Then back in mediaeval times it would be as previously described. In modern times it would be how it has followed down family usage. In my family we had a larder which was a room/cupboard backing onto the exterior wall where there was an air brick which kept the room cool and we stored cans,vegetables etc. and dripping.


Surely Larder is for. The Anglo-Saxons, as much of their meat and perishable food was preserved and stored in fat, or lard. The Pantry is Jorman French and comes from the word for bread (pain) so either word is acceptable for food storage, and are interchanged regularly in the UK still.

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