Affordable, durable, microwave safe. Comes in more colors and patterns if you want to spend a few extra dollars.
On the more expensive side if you get the larger set.
Durable, affordable set that is great for everyday use and for entertaining at casual events.
Plates are square and some people will hate that.
Real bone china that will impress your guests. Great for formal occasions.
It is china and that means it costs a fair amount per place setting. Still, the price isn't reasonable for what you are getting.
Great price for an everyday set of china. A bit too whimsical for formal use, but great for all other occasions.
Not for those looking for formal china.
Dinnerware is one of those home essentials you don't think too much about until you need a new set. Then, when you do, it can be overwhelming to decide between materials, patterns, size, shape, and number of place settings. If you want a quality dinnerware set that will last you years to come, you'll need to do more than simply pick the first one you lay your eyes on.
When you're ready to purchase your dinnerware set, you can choose confidently from our five favorites. But if you want to go through important factors when making a decision, read our full shopping guide for dinnerware sets.
First thing's first: What, exactly, can you expect to find in a dinnerware set? This varies depending on the set, but we'll cover some of the most common combinations.
A basic dinnerware set usually contains dinner plates, salad plates, soup bowls, and mugs.
A formal dinnerware set usually contains dinner plates, salad plates, side plates, soup bowls, cups, and saucers.
Other extras that some people may find useful include serveware, pasta plates, noodle bowls, and cereal bowls.
Dinnerware sets can be found in a range of materials, but the three most common are stoneware, porcelain, and bone china.
Stoneware is a type of ceramic made from unrefined clay fired at a very high temperature. It's thicker and sturdier than porcelain and bone china.
Pros: Fairly strong and chip-resistant, can be finished with a with a wide range of glazes in various colors and textures, generally dishwasher safe and microwavable, more affordable than fine china.
Cons: Thicker and less refined-looking than porcelain or bone china.
Price: Anywhere between $20 and $300.
Porcelain is a fine ceramic made out of refined kaolin clay. It has a bright white appearance and is much finer than stoneware.
Pros: Very strong despite its fine appearance, can have shaped detail added, most is dishwasher and microwave safe.
Cons: More expensive than stoneware, usually found in a smaller range of colors.
Price: $30 to $350.
Bone china is a form of porcelain that's strengthened using bone ash to give thin, yet durable, dinnerware.
Pros: Very fine translucent appearance which some people love. While it's the finest type of dinnerware it's also the strongest. Modern bone china should be dishwasher safe.
Cons: Contains animal bones, which may bother vegetarians, vegans, or people who avoid using certain animal products. It’s the most expensive type of dinnerware.
Price: $60 to $500.
While most dinnerware sets contain round plates, this certainly isn't the only option. Square plates are also fairly popular, but you can also find some quite unusual octagonal plates and three-sides plates with curved edges.
Dinnerware shape can actually be quite a divisive topic — some people love square or other non-standard dinnerware, but for others it's round or nothing. Only you can decide!
Dinnerware sets can be found in a huge variety of colors and patterns. What you pick is really down to your personal taste, as there's no right and wrong.
Stoneware dinnerware tends to be found in a wider range of colors, usually with bolder options and various glazes, both shiny and matte. Porcelain and bone china are often wide in the center, with colored or patterned accents around the edges. This may be to show off the naturally bright white finish of fine china.
If in doubt, you can't go wrong with a plain white dinnerware set — it never goes out of style, and won't clash with any tablecloths or other tableware.
Size matters when choosing a dinnerware set. After all, you don't want to get your new dinnerware home only to find the plates don't fit in your cupboard, leaving you with nowhere to store them.
We recommend measuring the depth and width of the cupboard in which you intend to keep your dinnerware, and compare the measurements to the size of the largest piece in your dinnerware set (which is usually the dinner plate) to ensure it'll fit.
The exact size of each piece in a dinnerware set should be listed in the product specifications.
Consider the number of place settings you require. Take into account the number of people in your household, and whether you regularly have guests over for dinner.
Your dinnerware set will be one of your most-used household items — since you'll be eating off it for up to three meals a day — so it's worth going to the high end of your budget to get quality dishes.
Many people like plates to have some kind of rim or lip, as it helps stop sauces and juices from running off the edge.
Dinnerware sets with dishes that are glazed on the top and the bottom — rather than just the top — are less likely to scratch other pieces in the set when you stack them.
Since you're likely to use the mugs in your dinnerware set regularly — perhaps more often than you use the plates and bowls if you're a big tea- or coffee-drinker — make sure they're of a good size and shape to fit your needs, rather than just an afterthought.
Q. What is serveware and do all dinnerware sets include it?
A. Serveware is the generic name given to a range of items used for serving food, including serving platters, vegetable bowls, gravy boats, and sugar bowls. Some formal dinnerware sets come with a range of matching serveware, but it's now quite uncommon for serveware to be included. Some manufacturers sell matching serveware separately, but there's no guarantee that they do, so — if it's important to you — always check it's available before buying your dinnerware set.
Q. Do dinnerware sets have any particular care requirements?
A. Most modern dinnerware sets are microwave and dishwasher safe, can be warmed in the oven, and placed in the freezer. However, this isn't always the case, so it's best to check the manufacturer's instructions first to make sure you don't damage them. If your dinnerware set contains pieces with a metal accent, avoid microwaving them, and try not to clean them with citrus-based detergent, as this can damage the finish.
Q. Where should I store my dinnerware set?
A. Most people store their dinnerware set either stacked in a cupboard or arranged on a hutch. There's no problem with stacking your plates, as long as you're relatively gentle, so you don't crack or chip them. If you have a formal dinnerware set you only use occasionally, consider keeping it in china storage containers to keep the pieces clean and damage-free.
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