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Given how food plays an integral role in our lives, it makes sense to invest in a dinnerware set that is not only beautiful but will stand the test of time. The decision process can be overwhelming with so many choices out there. It may be stylish, but is it dishwasher- and microwave-safe, too? Is it heavy or light? And what about replacements—are they easy to find?
To simplify the process for you, we not only looked at customer reviews online but also sent some of our top picks to our editors to put the products through their paces at home. Our staff used the dinnerware sets as they normally would—does curry sauce spill easily from the dinner plates? How do the bowls fare when transporting vegetable soup from the microwave to the table? We tested for factors such as durability, flaws in design, shallowness, and ease of cleaning. Our top pick, Richmond Speckled Stoneware Dinnerware, even scored extra points from our tester for not overheating in the microwave.
Here are the best dinnerware sets, including testing insights from our editors: sets ranging from dinner plates, side plates, bowls for pasta or cereals, and some that come with mugs for tea, coffee, or cocoa.
Best Overall: Richmond Speckled Stoneware Dinnerware
If you want a dinnerware set you can customize, this beauty from West Elm is a truly desirable option. Created by London-based designer Aaron Probyn, its subtly speckled design gives it a classic and elegant look "without being ostentatious," according to senior editor Summer Miller. This, combined with a smooth and flat glaze, make this a set that she loves and would buy again.
You can purchase it as a set of 20, which includes four of each of the following: dinner plates, salad plates, mug, and two bowl sizes: a shallow bowl that's great for pasta and soups; and a deeper, smaller bowl that's better for cereal, snacks, and ice cream. It's a great set for everyday dining and casual dinner parties, Summer says.
Though it may appear delicate with its free-form edges and handmade look, the pieces are sturdy and impervious to daily wear and tear. Both dishwasher- and microwave-safe, this set is a triple delight: beautiful, durable, and affordable.
"The best part is the dishes don't overheat in the microwave. I can heat up water for tea in a hurry and still hold the mug." — Summer Miller, Senior Editor
Best Porcelain: Toben 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
This glazed, non-porous porcelain dinnerware set, made in Thailand, reminds you how beautiful the milky white material is. This comes in a set of 16 with four of each: dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, and mugs.
With its modern and rounded coupe shape, this set is easily stackable and can be coordinated with other pieces from the same line. Added bonus: The plates have a raised lip along the rim, perfect to keep a little extra sauce contained on your plate. This feature, combined with the large size and wide edge of the plates, makes this set a winner for Brooke Schuldt, our senior social media editor.
"I could put sauce or curry in it and not worry about spilling. The bowls were a great size, too," she explains. She does wish, however, that the set came in more colors. But, "the white is nice and classic," she adds.
This slick set is safe for the dishwasher and microwave, and oven-safe up to 300 degrees.
"They look expensive and easily stack together in the cabinet. I've been eating off of them for weeks and see no scratches." — Brooke Schuldt, Senior Social Media Editor
Best Stoneware: Kaloh Stoneware Dinnerware Set
Stoneware is revered for its rustic and speckled appearance. Fired from clay, it is slightly heavier than other tableware, but one look at the range of beautiful colors offered for this glazed stoneware set from West Elm, and you’ll want it in every color!
"Stoneware quality is important when choosing a dinnerware set, so I highly recommend [this] Kaloh Stoneware," says Julia Chebotar, a chef in New York City. "The pieces are not only beautiful but also long-lasting. The quality is heavy-duty while still being super attractive on your table."
With a matte finish on the outside and a translucent finish on the inside, the color choices range from grey and black oak to a dusty blush and stark white—after all, why stick to neutrals? The pieces are sold separately too, should you want to add more settings or have a more playful, colorful mix-and-match. A set of 20 includes four of each: dinner plate, salad plate, pasta bowl, cereal bowl, and mug. The dinnerware is safe in the dishwasher and microwave, making it a great option for daily use.
Related: The Best Dish-Drying Racks
Best Budget: Corelle Livingware 16-Piece Set, Ocean Blues
Corelle has a nostalgic air to it since it has been around for decades, and with its chip-resistant, thin, and lightweight qualities, it is a winner for an affordable dinnerware set. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice style for functionality with this set. Its dots of ombre blue along the border make it a chic addition to your tableware. Plus, they're sturdy despite their weight—even though they were a little lacking in capacity, says associate editor Fran Sales.
"The cereal bowls are very small—I was only able to use them for chips or a small serving of fruit, but not for cereal or soup. The appetizer plates are probably only good for only one piece of toast," she explains. But, the glaze did its job, she adds: "They didn't get any scratches from my stainless steel silverware."
The set serves four, which includes dinner plates, bread and butter plates, soup/cereal bowls, and stoneware mugs. Corelle is known for being safe to use in the microwave, dishwasher, and oven. And even if you don't have a dishwasher, like our editor, she says they're very easy to hand-wash.
The Corelle dinnerware set is also a wonderful option for families who are looking for durable dishes that their children can easily handle. It even comes with a three-year warranty.
"I love the design: It's cool-toned and not too loud, which is exactly my taste. ... But the bowls could use more depth and a bit more width to accommodate the size of a typical serving of soup or cereal." — Fran Sales, Associate Editor
Related: The Best Dishwashers
Best Splurge: Casafina Modern Classic Ceramic Dinnerware & Serveware
This beautiful set is handcrafted in Portugal where each piece is made from robust stoneware and finished off with a silky glaze. It comes in muted pastels, and deeper tones, too, ranging from cream and slate green to a rosy blush and a cobalt blue.
You can buy it as a 24-piece set for eight, comprising of pasta bowls, dinner plates, and salad plates, plus a bonus oval serving platter. If you want to build the collection, you can also acquire other pieces, such as a cereal or ramen bowl, or add a set of four mugs for your tea or coffee. This way, you can create your own mixed palette by choosing different colors to add to your base set. This raw and beautiful set brings a touch of class to any dinner table and will remain in style for years.
Related: The Best Food Storage Containers
Best China: Wedgwood Nantucket Basket 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
Bone china is made with expensive material; bone ash is added to porcelain, which imbues it with a beautiful glow. If you are looking to invest in a piece that is timeless and can be used for both formal dinners and your morning breakfast, then this all-white china is the set for you.
This particular line by Wedgwood is sleek with its even glaze, and the design along the rim mirrors elegant 19th-century Nantucket handwoven baskets. Conveniently, it is dishwasher and microwave-safe. The Nantucket includes service for four, consisting of dinner and salad plates, along with mugs and bowls perfect for cereal, soup, or salad. This lightweight Wedgwood set can be stacked comfortably and it will look stylish on your dining table over the years.
Aaron Probyn's 20-piece set with a minimalist vibe while still being very classic makes the Richmond Speckled Stoneware Dinnerware (view at West Elm) a wonderful addition to your dining ware. If you need a durable set with a classic design, while still being affordable, look no further than Corelle Livingware's 16-Piece Set in Ocean Blues (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Dinnerware Set
Your dinnerware set should be beautiful and practical. The materials used to make dinnerware sets contribute to the overall look and durability. Common materials include stoneware, porcelain, and bone china.
Stoneware is an affordable and aesthetically pleasing option with its speckled appearance. It’s an extremely dense and durable material made of clay.
Porcelain is a more premium option that has a beautiful silky sheen, and it’s more durable than you’d think. Bone china is a type of porcelain. It’s considered to be the highest quality, which is reflected in the price tag. While bone china is typically reserved for special occasions, it’s durable enough for daily use.
"When buying dinnerware, think about who will be using it and for what purpose. Will you be having big meals? Will children be using the dinnerware? You may not want fine china if children will be using them," says Chebotar, "Also, consider replaceability. If you break one or two, can they be easily replaced?"
Variety of Pieces
Dinnerware sets typically come with 16, 20, or 24 pieces to serve between four and eight people. At the very least, a set should include four of each: dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, and mugs. Sets with more pieces may also include pasta bowls, bread and butter plates, and serving trays. Depending on the size of your family or how many people you plan on serving, you may need to invest in more than one dinnerware set to accommodate everyone at the table.
After preparing and eating a delicious meal on your beautiful dinnerware, who wants to spend time scrubbing dishes? Many dinnerware sets, including those made of stoneware, porcelain, and bone china, are dishwasher-safe so cleanup is a breeze. Ensure that your set is dishwasher-safe before running them through the dishwasher.
Dinnerware that is stackable is not only functional but also looks beautiful in your cabinets. With more than a dozen pieces to a set, you’ll need proper storage space for your dinnerware set. Opt for a set that is stackable to save space and will look stylish in your kitchen.
How many dinnerware sets should you have?
Depending on the size of your family and guests you may entertain, you may need multiple dinnerware sets. Between two and three dinnerware sets are recommended for general use and entertaining on special occasions. These will provide eight to 12 place settings at the table.
Can you get scratches out of stoneware?
Stoneware is durable enough to resist scratches, but should they appear, you may be able to remove them. Use a commercial stoneware cleaner or a paste made of baking soda and water to gently rub the stoneware. Let the cleaner or paste sit on the scratches for a few minutes before washing as usual.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
As a professional food and prop stylist, Shayma Owaise Saadat has collected a range of dinnerware sets over the years, which she uses for her professional food photography shoots. Some of the sets are antique bone china and porcelain she inherited from her mother’s trousseau, while others are finds from around the world. Shayma believes that there is no ‘special occasion’ set—she uses all of her dinnerware mindfully, and on all occasions, to celebrate the everyday.
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