The 10 Best Dinnerware Sets
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in March of 2015. No, it is not appropriate to still be eating off paper plates five years after graduation. Pick up one of these dinnerware sets and start living in a more civilized fashion. We've included affordable options that are suitable for everyday use, as well as elegant collections that can provide place settings for up to eight people, so you can show off your newfound style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 22, 2020:
We took out the Corelle Impressions Watercolors due to availability concerns and replaced it with the Stone Lain Coupe. We thought the Stone Lain Coupe would be a good fit because it is simultaneously simple and stylish. While there is no pattern, its intrigue stems from the material. The textured stoneware adds a slightly different element to the dinner table. We also replaced the Corelle Square Splendor with a set from the same brand, the Corelle Classic Café. Corelle dinnerware is very durable, so we wanted to keep the brand in our selection, but we felt the Classic Café set had a more timeless and versatile design.
We want to make sure we include sets that suit many styles. That's why we're keeping the AmazonBasics 18-Piece and the Homer Laughlin Fiesta. They are both solid, basic sets that could fit in with any kitchen. However, some want a little more flair out of their dinnerware, so we have some more visually interesting options, such as the Lorren Home Trends La Luna and the Euro Ceramica Zanzibar.
April 26, 2019:
To ensure that this list kept pace with evolving tastes and new collections, we removed the Melange Nantucket Weave, opting instead for the lively and long lasting Homer Laughlin Fiesta, which is easy to mix and match with other sets, thanks to their bold singular color schemes and the company's vast inventory of supplementary pieces. We also added and elevated the Euro Ceramica Zanzibar Collection because of its elaborate, vibrant design and generously-sized components, as well as its thoughtful manufacturing process, which includes hand artistry. It's also backed by a replacement guarantee in the event that they arrive broken or damaged, which is a must in this category.
The Gibson Bella Soho is an updated version of the well-loved Gibson Soho Lounge, now made with a Sherwood forest green color variety that pairs exceptionally well with the red for the holidays. We kept the Corelle brand because it is known for its quality thanks to its patented Vitrelle glass, and its charming, yet understated, designs. The Noritake Crestwood Platinum and Lorren Home Trends La Luna are both excellent choices for formal occasions, while the AmazonBasics 18-Piece is perfect for tight budgets and minimalist homes. We favored sets with attractive artwork, hardwearing construction, warranties, ease of cleaning, and versatility.
Food52 Five Two Stoneware The Five Two Stoneware set is a high-end collection of neutral pieces, all with a fluted texture around the perimeter for some added flair. The glaze is chip- and scratch-resistant, and each of the components are crafted in handmade molds which give them irregular, but stylish, touches. food52.com
Dinnerware: Where Form Meets Function At The Table
Keep in mind that one style of plate is never inherently better than any other; the circumstances dictate the suitability of a dinnerware set.
The dinnerware in your home is hugely influenced by your sense of style, your culinary preferences, and by the ways you and your family prepare and share a meal. However it's important to be aware that the the dinnerware in a home also influences decor and style, food choices, and the very process of dining.
Whether you choose dinnerware that is elegant and decorative or simple and utilitarian, or you seek a blending of form and function, the plates, bowls, cups, and saucers set upon your table or up there on display in the China cabinet are going to play a major part in your life, so choose them carefully.
Before we discuss the two major categories of dinnerware, which can be divided into that which is informed by aesthetics and that which is informed by use, let's talk briefly about dinnerware in a more general sense.
In order to be considered a complete table setting, a dinnerware set must have at least three pieces: a main plate, a side dish for bread or salad, and a bowl. Most dinnerware sets also have accompanying mugs and saucers, many have additional plates for deserts or specialty items, and comprehensive dinnerware sets also have serving dishes and platters, large serving bowls, salt and pepper shakers, and so forth.
There are dinnerware sets that call to mind a lavish Victorian table and there are those styled to evoke the elegant simplicity of a Southwestern ranch. Careful inspection will reveal that the distinctions of each set have as much to do with shape as they do with color and pattern, though these are the elements you'll most often first identify when admiring dinnerware.
Keep in mind that one style of plate is never inherently better than any other; the circumstances dictate the suitability of a dinnerware set. A thin plate with scalloped edges might look right at home on a table set for a holiday feast, yet that same plate might look painfully out of place on a picnic table at a summer barbecue, for example. And a given dinnerware set may look great in an advertisement, but if it won't look great in your home due to its size, colors, or any other factor, then it's simply the wrong choice.
Dinnerware As Decoration
Decorative dinnerware can serve in two capacities: first, it can be arranged on shelves or in a China cabinet to serve a purely aesthetic function. Elegant dinnerware looks great on display and can help anchor a dining room, a space that is traditionally difficult to decorate.
Likewise dinnerware can serve as a practical decoration when laid out on the table, enhancing the visual appeal of a meal while also simply serving to help people dine. Decorative dinnerware sets have their drawbacks, though, and it's worth considering several of them prior to making a potentially expensive purchase.
The more specific the style of a dinnerware set, the less latitude you will have with the rest of the decor of a room or table.
The more specific the style of a dinnerware set, the less latitude you will have with the rest of the decor of a room or table. You can't well pair a bunch of dinnerware with a delicate floral motif with a platter of hamburgers or hotdogs any more than you can serve foie gras on a thick, solid colored plate without raising the eyebrows of your discerning guests.
That said, there are many dinnerware sets that manage to look great as decoration without assuming such a specific aesthetic as to be limited in the type of cuisine served upon them or by the decor of the room or house in which they are displayed. In general, the fewer colors included in a dinnerware set, the more versatile it is. Thus you will find many high quality dinnerware sets that are predominately white with simple patterns around the trim in demure colors like pale blue, silver, or black.
A decorative element or two is likewise often acceptable, such as an emblem or pattern at the center of the plate, but when in doubt, avoid dinnerware sets that are fully covered with colors and/or patterns. Or rather avoid them if you are unwilling to buy two complete sets, as that's always the easiest solution to the conundrum of choosing the "right" dinnerware.
Dinnerware For Everyday Use
If you want a set of dinnerware that looks good enough to use for most occasions, including the fancier holiday meal or dinner party event, yet which you won't mind (or fear) using every single day, then simpler is always better. Simpler and stronger, of course.
Then simply think about it practically: do you eat a salad every night?
Most decent dinnerware sets today feature plates, cups, and bowls that are both dishwasher safe and microwave safe. This is because manufacturers know that the average person doesn't want to hand wash their plates, and because microwaving is one of most common ways of heating food. Unless you see a set without these attributes that you just can't live without, don't even consider any dinnerware not rated as such.
Then simply think about it practically: do you eat a salad every night? Then by all means get a set with a dedicated salad plate. But also consider a simpler set without a salad plate but with a bowl, which works just fine for holding salad; after all, it's rather unlikely you'll often need a bowl at the same time as you're using your plates, unless you and your family love soup.
Do you have kids? Then choose a set where all similar items, e.g. the main plates or the mugs, look identical. Some sets have a few different patterns, and are much harder to make do with once a piece or two are broken.
And if you're still having trouble, just stick with plain white dinnerware, which is easy to dress up or down and is always in style.