In the world of glassware, drinking glasses are not given much attention even though they are the quintessential necessity in every household. Not everybody drinks wine, but water is an everyday beverage all human beings need. And, in the realm of drinking glasses, there are so many options from chic, vintage barware to sturdy plastic tumblers.
When considering the drinking glasses for your home, glass versus plastic is an important debate. Are there children in the house that may benefit from an acrylic tumbler, is there a budding mixologist looking to add a versatile glass set for their experimental libations? There are also maintenance and storage concerns. Should it be dishwasher safe for ultimate convenience, or do you have a small apartment where storage space is premium, and you need something that stacks?
To see if the plastic really isn't shatterproof and if the glass really won't break from temperature fluctuations, we sent our top picks home to our tester, Taylor Tobin. She added cold water to hot-from-the-dishwasher glasses, dropped plastic versions from shoulder height, and stacked glass ones to see if they'd chipped. And, of course, she used them for drinks to test how they felt in her hand, and whether they'd fall on a wobbly table.
Based on her testing, the Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set is the clear winner, thanks to its versatility and durability.
From classic tempered bodega glasses to shatterproof acrylic tumblers, these are the best drinking glasses.
Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set
What We Love: Affordable, comfortably heavy bottom, durable, no thermal shock
What We Don't Love: The rounded bottom might be easy to tip over
Libbey has long been known for its durable, American-made drinking glasses. In fact, many restaurants carry a version of Libbey glasses as their drinkware of choice because of the affordable, dishwasher-safe, classic design.
This 16-piece set goes beyond functionality with its elegant style. The set includes eight 16.25-ounce tumbler glasses and eight 12.25-ounce rocks glasses, which provide versatility along with a consistently sophisticated and sturdy aesthetic. The weighted bottom provides an extra layer of stability, and the heft of the glass feels comfortable in your hand.
The construction of these glasses enables swift temperature changes. There wasn't a hint of a crack during the hot-to-cold test and I was quickly able to hold a previously very warm glass. The construction also reduces the risk of scratches and nicks caused by regular wear and tear, making them ideal candidates for everyday use. The rounded lips feel comfortable against the mouth during all the sipping tests, and the shape of the weighted bases fits easily into the palm. While the cup bottoms have a rounded look, they also feature a flat base, so there's no need to worry about instability and tipping.
For those who want some contrast in their glassware, the set is also offered with a black/grey tint. If you are looking for a set to cover a wide variety of beverage needs that offer more visual interest than just your simple drinking glass, Libbey Polaris is a solid choice.
Price at time of publish: $50
Pieces in Set: 16 | Sizes: 12.25 ounces, 16.25 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Bormioli Rocco Bodega Collection 12-Piece Glassware Set
What We Love: High-end appearance, stackable, versatile, durable
What We Don't Love: On the short side with thin glass
Even if you have never been to Spain where bodega glasses are ubiquitous, you have probably heard of them. These simple, clean-lined darlings of the bar industry have become a popular everyday drinking glass in many homes. They are crafted from tempered glass so even though they look delicate, they are virtually unbreakable. The Bormioli family has been making glassware since the early 1800s and is now Italy’s largest manufacturer so you can be assured you are getting a dependable product.
This minimalistic-looking set is versatile, as well as chic. The 12-piece collection has a 12.5-ounce capacity so it is amply sized for chocolate mousse or a sugar-rimmed mojito. The tough tempered glass makes them resistant to changes in temperature that cause thermal shock, chips, and breakage. Since it has relatively thin material, our tester worried that the glass would still be too hot to handle after the cold water was poured in, or that the heat of the glass would affect the temperature of the cold water. She's happy to report that neither came to pass; she could pick up the glass within seconds of the cold water being poured in, and the water tasted fresh-out-of-the-fridge cold. Even if you've just removed a glass from the dishwasher (and it's still a bit hot), you can easily fill the glass with cold water and won't have any trouble handling the cup (and your cold water will, in fact, remain cold). And trust us, these will hold up through many cycles in the dishwasher.
The clear glass goes with anything, and the tempered finish keeps the glass from clouding regardless of temperature variation. They're lightweight, effortlessly stylish, stack easily for compact storage, and feature a rounded lip for smooth drinking. For a budget-friendly drinking glass, this Rocco Bodega set packs a lot of punch.
Price at time of publish: $50
Pieces in Set: 12 | Size: 12.5 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Everyday Use
Duralex Picardie 18-Piece Drinking Glasses & Tumbler Set
What We Love: Comfortable in the hand, classic design, various sizes in set
What We Don't Love: Potential for thermal shock
A tempered glass option with plenty of retro appeal, the Duralex Picardie set may remind shoppers of the sturdy, smash-proof water glasses found at roadside diners. These glasses are proudly utilitarian, but their simplicity and lack of trendiness make them endlessly useful (and adaptable, as they go with everything). This set features 3 sizes for maximum versatility and durability. The rounded and faceted design fits comfortably in our tester's hand while still offering a classic aesthetic. Whether you are filling up with water or cold brew, there is a glass for your beverage in this set.
During testing, all three sizes felt comfortable in the hand, if a bit heavier and sturdier than delicate glassware, and were very comfortable to drink from. There was a slight con with the thermal shock test, though. The smallest glass passed the test with flying colors; it easily acclimated to the cold water. The larger two sizes held on to their warm temperatures, ultimately warming up the water a few degrees. When the tester went to hold the glass, it still felt warm to the touch. This may pose a potential issue, so you'd be safe to let these cool down for a few minutes out of the dishwasher.
If space is a consideration, the Duralex Picardie glasses are easily stacked without the risk of chipping, and the glasses are nonporous, so they do not absorb odors or stains. The extra-thick tempered glass withstands temperatures from minus 4 degrees up to 212 degrees, making it safe for the refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. The variety of sizes, durable tempered glass, and classic design make this a great choice for any occasion, and safe for any age to grab a thirst-quenching beverage.
Price at time of publish: $80
Pieces in Set: 18 | Size: (6) 8.75 ounces, (6) 12.6 ounces, (6) 16.9 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Reusable Water Bottles
Best for Cocktails
Fortessa Jupiter Iced Beverage Glasses
What We Love: Durable, variety of colors available, can handle being on a wobbly surface, attractive
What We Don't Love: Visible seam on side
For all those cocktail enthusiasts out there, the Fortessa Jupiter line is the glass for your next home-brewed Negroni. The beaded exterior brings visions of vintage Parisian flea markets and dark European cafes. The 10-ounce glasses easily accommodate everything from Old Fashioneds to more tropical libations, and they come in a variety of colors to match any decor.
I bought the smoke color, and it matches my great-grandmother’s Depression-era dinnerware as well as my modern West Elm pieces. This is a phenomenal aesthetic choice when you’re using these glasses for water. However, if you’re a cocktail drinker who prefers to have a clear visual of said libation, the darker textured glass will make it challenging to see the drink. The tempered glass is extremely durable, and its thickness keeps the temperature of your beverage consistent.
The Fortessa glasses are on the heavier side, especially when they're filled with water. Our tester considered this a positive attribute; the substance of the glasses provided good balance and reduced her concern about spillage when the glass was placed on a wobbly table. Also, they are dishwasher-safe, which makes easy cleanup after a dinner party. The set includes 6 glasses, and imbibers will appreciate the rounded lip that makes sipping a breeze.
Price at time of publish: $60
Pieces in Set: 6 | Size: 10 ounces, 13 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Kids
US Acrylic 6-Piece Classic Glass Set
What We Love: Versatile, stackable, thick base aids stability, glass-like appearance
What We Don't Love: Pricey for plastic
If you have children at home, plastic is often the go-to choice for drinking glasses. The US Acrylic Classic is a stylish option that offers all of the advantages of plastic but has the look of real glass. In fact, at first glance, these cups could be easily mistaken for pricier drinkware made from actual glass. The sides are thin but durable and have no visible seams. The tall, narrow shape makes them easily stackable, and the thick base adds sturdiness to the construction. The rounded lips of the glasses are thinner than some might prefer, but when tested, they didn't catch on the mouth and still made for a comfortable drinking experience.
Beyond the attractive design, this 6-piece set of 16-ounce tumblers is BPA-free, shatterproof, and top-rack dishwasher-safe. When testing these glasses, they were dropped onto a tile floor from a height of about 4 feet, and they bounced without chipping or cracking. They are a great choice for families with adventurous children or people looking for an option to take their iced chai to the pool without fear of breakage. Also, and maybe most importantly, they were very comfortable to drink out of.
Price at time of publish: $24
Pieces in Set: 6 | Size: 16 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Dish-Drying Racks
Tervis 4-Piece Double Walled Tumbler Set
What We Love: Will not break, can handle hot drinks, large capacity
What We Don't Love: Pricey
Tervis Tumblers are classics among shoppers looking for customizable options (for graduations, parties, and other events). The standard option is clear, but you can also choose to personalize your Tervis with colors, school logos, personalized messages, and more, making them an affordable gift, as well as a great plastic drinkware selection.
The 16-ounce shatterproof tumblers are the smart choice for picnics, patio dining, or beach trips. The double-walled construction eliminates condensation, and their insulation also allows these glasses to keep drink temperatures steady, whether you’re sipping a hot coffee or a frozen margarita. Our tester found these glasses to be sturdy and fairly heavy for plastic, but that gave them a pleasant and substantial feel in the hand.
These tumblers come in a 4-piece set that is BPA-free and melamine-free. The tapered base fits comfortably in most car cup holders, and the comfortably thick lips and the distinct clear lines on the glasses (great for portion measurements) give them a very kid-friendly vibe. Cleanup is a cinch as these drinking glasses are top-rack dishwasher safe, and the thick plastic can withstand both the freezer and the microwave. If you're entertaining outdoors or are looking for unbreakable cups to bring on a camping trip, you can't do better than these.
Price at time of publish: $35
Pieces in Set: 4 | Size: 16 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Dinnerware Sets
If you are looking for a versatile, durable drinking glass set, we recommend the Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set (view at Amazon) because of the variety of sizes, their virtually unbreakable tempered glass construction, and stable weighted base. If a plastic option is what you are looking for, try the US Acrylic Classic Clear Glasses (view at Amazon) set for maximum safety and a stylish, glass-like appearance.
What to Look for When Buying Drinking Glasses
When purchasing drinking glasses, there are two choices of material: plastic or glass. Each has its own maintenance needs, and customers should check all manufacturer labels for care instructions. Most plastic drinking glasses are dishwasher-safe, but glass is dependent on the type of glass.
Tempered glass is highly durable and can often withstand hot and cold temperatures. Most tempered glass is dishwasher safe and not susceptible to thermal shock. Always examine your glasses periodically to ensure there are no cracks that will weaken the surface—which can lead to spontaneous shattering. The good news is if tempered glass breaks, it breaks into small cubes rather than sharp shards.
Soda-lime glass is more delicate than tempered glass. It is susceptible to thermal shock, and hand-washing is recommended. If soda-lime glass breaks, use caution as it shatters into those classic, sharp shards.
The material comes into consideration again when choosing a style of drinking glass.
Plastic offers ultimate versatility as you can safely take it out to the pool, pour children a glass of orange juice without fear of breakage, or pack it for your beach picnic. It often stacks easily and is lightweight. Most plastic options are casual, so they may not be the choice for dinner parties or formal table decor.
Glass drinkware has many more options in the style realm but is breakable, so it's not suited for outdoor use where a slip might result in a dangerous mess to clean up. You can opt for the more sturdy tempered glass, also called safety glass for its ability to hold cold and hot beverages and tendency to be unbreakable, or if broken results in manageable small cubes. Soda-lime glass, on the other hand, is much more delicate, and can only hold cold beverages.
The shape is another consideration. Tumblers are a great multipurpose choice that can be used for everything from water to a pint of beer but are not a great choice for cocktails or wine. Bodega glasses are useful beyond just beverages. I use mine for desserts, charcuterie accompaniments, and dips. They also make gorgeous vessels for that summertime Mai Tai.
Are drinking glasses microwave safe?
It depends on what you buy. Always check the manufacturer label for the designation “microwave-safe.” Beyond that, most tempered glass can withstand freezing and microwaving, but soda-glass is for cold beverages only. Glass with metal trim or colored sections need to be treated with care. Metal can spark in the microwave and cause the glass to shatter. Dyes used to color glass can also be adversely affected by heating.
The easiest way to know is if you check the label, but in the absence of warnings, you can perform a simple test for microwave readiness. Add some water to your glass, and put it in the microwave for a minute. Remove from the microwave carefully and check the water temperature versus the vessel temperature. The water should be hotter. If the glass is hot, it is safe to say microwaving should be avoided.
Also, be sure to check for cracks or imperfections on microwave-safe glasses. Any mark can lead to a glass breaking when exposed to extreme temperatures.
How do you clean cloudy drinking glasses?
Hard water is usually the culprit when cloudy spots show up on drinking glasses. The high mineral content calcifies on glasses causing that cloudy finish. Luckily, there is an easy and affordable solution. A 30-minute soak in a solution of white vinegar and water, or even straight white vinegar if spots are tough, should dissolve the mineral deposits. If cloudiness remains, you could also gently scrub glasses with baking soda to remove any clinging mineral residue. Be sure to hand wash, rinse and dry when finished.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Carrie Honaker is a food and beverage writer who has more glassware than one human should own. As a restaurateur and avid entertainer, she knows the importance of finding the right glassware for your needs and lifestyle. She loves her Jupiter Hobnail glasses for all manner of cocktail creations but thinks her Bodega glasses might be the MVP of multipurpose drinkware. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
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Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.