Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best sugar bowls

No kitchen is complete without a sugar bowl. Whether you're serving tea and cake to guests, sitting down to cereal at the breakfast table, or simply enjoying a cup of joe in the afternoon, a sugar bowl makes it that much easier to add just the right amount of sweetness to your beverage or bowl.

A sugar bowl makes an attractive addition to any countertop and, more importantly, is easy to carry from room to room for serving. Depending on the style, the right sugar bowl can also help add a touch of class to your next get-together.

When it comes to finding the best sugar bowl for your needs, the size, style, lid design, and materials all require careful consideration.

sugar bowl
If you're concerned about clumping, it's a good idea to pour any leftover sugar into an airtight storage container rather than leave it in your sugar bowl.

Key considerations

Size

Sugar bowls come in a wide variety of sizes. Although most aren't designed for long-term storage, some are significantly larger than others. Large sugar bowls can be convenient in that they require less frequent refilling, but keep in mind that they can also be cumbersome to carry and often lack the ornate style typically seen in more compact models.

To determine the best sugar bowl size for your home, consider the size of your household (or the average number of visitors you receive) and the number of cups or dishes you need your sugar bowl to sweeten. A sugar bowl should hold enough sugar to sweeten at least one round of warm beverages, if not two.

Don't forget to give your countertop space or general serving area some thought as well. Sugar bowls are usually designed to be left out in plain sight.

Expert TIp
Granulated white sugar is the most common style in the U.S. Although superfine or ultrafine sugar is finer and dissolves faster in mixes and drinks, it tends to clump more around steam or moisture. Keep yours safe in an airtight container.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Materials

The materials not only affect durability but often have a significant impact on style as well. When it comes to sugar bowls, stainless steel, glass, ceramic, and porcelain tend to be the most popular. Let's take a quick look to find out how they stack up.

Stainless steel: If durability is a concern, you can't go wrong with a tough and sturdy stainless steel sugar bowl. In addition to being hard-wearing and durable, stainless steel sugar bowls also tend to be quite attractive, with designs that range from sleek and modern to elegant and ornate.

Glass: Glass sugar bowls typically have transparent sides, making it easy to keep an eye on the sugar level. Most glass sugar bowls also have sleek, simple designs that blend well with a variety of décor styles. On the downside, glass can be fragile and prone to chipping or shattering.

Ceramic: Ceramic generally refers to clay that is molded into shapes before being fired at high temperatures to harden. Although ceramic sugar bowls aren't immune to cracking, they are reasonably sturdy and tend to be easy on the pocketbook too. Ceramic sugar bowls exude a homey feel, making them a fantastic choice for rustic or cafe-style décor.

Porcelain: Porcelain, of course, also falls under the broad umbrella of "ceramic." However, unlike porous ceramics, porcelain is made using extra-fine kaolin clay and is fired at extremely high temperatures. This not only creates a denser, tougher product but also results in a distinctly white finish and, in many cases, thinner walls. Porcelain sugar bowls often have a dainty, classic appeal that's ideal for more formal get-togethers.

Lid

The vast majority of sugar bowls come with a separate lid that lifts right off the bowl. However, some models have a hinged lid that flips up or down to open and close. While hinged lids can be convenient, it's worth noting that these sugar bowls can be a bit more difficult to clean.

Expert Tip
When considering a sugar bowl, avoid those with less surface area touching the tabletop. For example, a ball-shaped sugar bowl might sit on a tiny foot, and scooping out of it can push it over and spill the sugar.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Features

Sets

It's easy to find sugar bowl sets that include handy extras, such as a cream pitcher, a sweetener box for sachets, and even a serving tray. Some larger sets offer storage for sugar, coffee, and tea, though these are generally designed to remain on the countertop. If you regularly have guests over for tea or coffee or simply like the idea of matching accessories, a sugar bowl set with a cream pitcher, sweetener box, and/or tray is a solid investment.

Spoon slot

Most sugar bowls have a spoon slot for a teaspoon to rest in, and many also come with a matching teaspoon. While a spoon slot probably isn't a make-or-break feature, having one can be convenient. Not only does a spoon slot allow your teaspoon to rest in the sugar bowl even when the lid is closed, but it also brings some versatility to the table. For instance, an empty sugar bowl with a spoon slot can easily be put to work as a pickle, condiment, or spice dish as well.

Style and design

Sugar bowls come in a wide array of styles and designs ranging from sleek and simple to warm and homey. While some stand out from the crowd with decorative designs or cute patterns, others simply blend into the background. To find the best match for your space, take a moment to consider your décor as well as your existing crockery.

sugar bowl
Expert Tip
Ants love sugar as much as we do. Keep your sugar container in a clean, safe place, and store your bulk sugar in airtight top-lock plastic bags to keep the critters out.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Accessories

Cream pitcher: OXO Good Grips Glass Creamer
If your chosen sugar bowl doesn't come in a set, consider getting a cream pitcher separately for a more comprehensive breakfast table setup. This one from OXO holds 12 ounces and has a drip-free spout.

Serving trayWith a serving tray, you can carry your sugar bowl, cream pitcher, cups, and more to the breakfast table all at once.

Sugar bowl prices

Inexpensive

Glass and ceramic sugar bowls typically start at around $4 to $7. Small to medium ceramic models tend to be the most affordable, with midsize glass sugar bowls coming a close second. 

Mid-range

You can find a host of sugar bowls in various sizes priced between $7 and $15. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and porcelain models are all available in this price range.

Expensive

Larger sugar bowls, sets, and elegant handcrafted pieces are by far the most expensive, with prices ranging from $15 to $70.

Expert Tip
Moisture is the enemy of sugar, which is hygroscopic. This means it absorbs liquid. In fact, in recipes, sugar is considered a liquid, rather than a dry ingredient due to its easy-dissolving nature.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Tips

  • Choose the appropriate size. While it's okay to leave leftover sugar in your sugar bowl for a day or two, having to refill it several times in one sitting can be frustrating. Be sure to choose a sugar bowl that's large enough for your needs.
  • Use a proper storage vessel. When it comes to long-term storage, it's best to keep sugar in an airtight vessel to prevent clumping. Most sugar bowls aren't designed for storage and have gaps around the lid or spoon slot where air and moisture can enter.
  • Consider using a brown sugar saver. If you favor brown sugar and have your eye on a larger sugar bowl, a brown sugar saver can help keep your sugar soft. Brown sugar savers are made of porous materials, such as terracotta or ceramic, and work by absorbing moisture and distributing it to the surrounding sugar. Simply soak your brown sugar saver in water and place it in an airtight container along with your brown sugar to keep it soft or soften up sugar that's hardened.
  • Have a dedicated teaspoon for your sugar bowl. Even if your sugar bowl doesn't come with an included teaspoon or teaspoon slot, it's still a good idea to use a dedicated sugar teaspoon to prevent moisture from getting into the bowl. Place a clean, dry teaspoon in your sugar bowl and provide an appropriate number of additional spoons for stirring and eating.
sugar bowl
Always dry your sugar bowl thoroughly before filling it with sugar. Even a little bit of moisture can cause clumps, especially in white sugar.

FAQ

Q. Are porcelain sugar bowls dishwasher safe?

A. For the most part, yes. Porcelain is typically dense and hard, making it exceptionally durable (provided you don't drop it, of course). While most porcelain sugar bowls hold up just fine in the dishwasher, it's wise to check the care instructions first, especially if your porcelain sugar bowl is handcrafted or hand-painted.

Q. What's the difference between a sugar bowl and a sugar dispenser?

A. Sugar bowls and sugar dispensers are both designed to make sweetening beverages, cereals, and desserts that much easier. However, while sugar dispensers simply pour out the sweet stuff, sugar bowls are meant to be used with a teaspoon. This allows you to precisely measure out your desired amount of sugar, giving you more control over how much sugar ends up in your cup or bowl.

Q. How can I repurpose an old sugar bowl?

A. If you're replacing or upgrading your current sugar bowl, don't throw it out. Old sugar bowls can be reused in a variety of different ways. Small to medium sugar bowls with spoon slots make fantastic spice, pickle, or condiment bowls. Have a simple sugar bowl without a spoon slot? Don't fret. Medium to large sugar bowls (with or without spoon slots) can easily be put to use as a toothpick, mint, or candy dish.

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