Those that have little ones (or who are accident-prone themselves) may opt for durable melamine dishes, while those looking for a more elevated style may choose porcelain or bone china. Stoneware, earthenware, glass and acacia wood are all great materials for dinner plates and bowls as well.
In addition to the dinnerware material you choose, you can also find plates in a full range of colors and designs. For a fun gathering or a casual get-together with friends, try plate ware in contemporary square shapes or bright, bold colors.
Classic round white plates fit right in for a formal dinner party. Many are part of top-rated dinnerware sets including dinner plates, appetizer plates, soup bowls and dessert plates.
Or, for holiday entertaining, opt for pieces that fit a golden harvest Thanksgiving table or festive Christmas spread. A good set of dinnerware will bring a touch of class to any dinner table and remain in style for years while withstanding the rigors of daily use.
The Wedgwood White 5-Piece Place Setting is thin, light, and practically flawless, so it looks and feels like fine china but is tough enough for daily use. This set has a bright creamy hue similar to that of the Gdansk Ingram dinnerware, and a simple yet sophisticated design.
We found some minor imperfections, but the overall quality of this set far exceeds its low price, and we like its clean lines and simple design. The Aspen collection even allows you to choose mugs or teacups and soup or cereal bowls, which is unusual for most dinnerware in this price range.
Material: porcelain Buying options: fully open stock or in open-stock sets of eight (in stores and online) Serving pieces: none After 130 hours of research, we’ve created a buying guide to help you find a set of dinnerware you’ll love.
Those experts included Eddie Ross, the co-founder and chief content creator of Maximalist Studios and the former design, decorating, and food editor for Better Homes & Gardens, Food Network, Martha Stewart Living, and House Beautiful; Marion Hover, former tabletop decorative gifts buyer for Macy’s; and chef Candy Argondizza, vice president of culinary and pastry arts at the International Culinary Center at the time of our interview. To determine the durability and availability of dinnerware collections, I relied heavily on customer reviews from Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, and Williams Sonoma.
Prior to joining Wire cutter, I was an editor at the International Culinary Center in New York City, and I worked in various facets of the food and restaurant industry for over a decade. Whether you’re looking for a full set of everyday dinnerware or choosing a few plates for a holiday gathering, white ware is the best choice.
Photo: Sarah KobosWith thousands of patterns to choose from, shopping for a set of dinnerware can be a daunting task. Dinnerware can be made from a variety of materials, but we’ve limited our selection to all-white porcelain or bone china due to its aesthetic appeal, resilience, and practicality.
Good dinnerware should be a neutral canvas for any meal: As chef Candy Argondizza noted, “A simple white plate allows the food to make a statement so that the diner’s eye is drawn to the food with no distractions.” Decorated sets can be exciting, but they’re also more likely to become dated with time, so we avoided those with any designs. And although we think stoneware is another great option for everyday dinnerware, it typically isn’t white and varies a lot in style, so it was beyond the parameters we set for this guide.
We also searched for dinnerware collections that you can purchase open stock, which allows you to customize the set to suit your needs and to replace the dish or two that will inevitably break. Finally, we tried to find dinnerware sets that have been around for a while, which increases the likelihood they’ll remain in stock down the road.
That said, we also tested a handful of newer sets in order to include some options with more modern styling, and we checked with the manufacturer to confirm that they would remain in production for the foreseeable future. We’ll continue to monitor the availability of our picks, but we’ve confirmed with each manufacturer that if stock is low or unavailable, it’s only temporary.
The dinner and salad plates from each of our recommended sets (clockwise from top left): Gdansk Ingram, Crate and Barrel Aspen, Williams Sonoma Brasserie, and Wedgwood White. Photo: Sarah KobosAfter considering hundreds of dinnerware collections in stores and online, we settled on 30 place settings to test for our 2019 update (roughly 140 pieces of dinnerware in all), and invited 15 Wire cutter staff members to evaluate them in our New York City test kitchen.
Our testers examined each dinnerware set for any visible flaws, such as the drippy glaze on the Macy’s Cellar White ware Rim Collection (now discontinued). Photo: Sarah KobosAfter our test panel helped narrow down the list, we took a plate from each of our top-rated sets and scratched it with a fork and knife 50 times to see if the utensils damaged the glaze or left metalmarks.
Finally, we refrigerated a mug or teacup from each of our picks and filled each with boiling water to see if the extreme change in temperature caused them to break. Why it’s great: The Gdansk Ingram Bone China Dinnerware Collection was a favorite among our testers because it’s casual yet elegant, and versatile enough for both everyday use and entertaining.
It has a bright, creamy color and a slight translucency, both of which help it look more refined than many of the blue-gray porcelain sets we tested. We also appreciated the slight dimple around the perimeter of the dinner plates, which helps keep sauces from running aimlessly to the edge of the rim.
The salad/dessert plate is big enough for a small salad or two slices of pie, and the bowl is wide and deep enough to hold a substantial amount of cereal or soup. The curved shape of the mug sits comfortably in the hand, and its 13-fluid-ounce capacity is plenty big for a morning cup of Joe.
Leno, founded in 1889, is a trusted American dinnerware company that has manufactured the White House china for six presidents. Leno sells many patterns that have been around for years, and we confirmed with a representative that the company has no plans to discontinue the Gdansk Ingram collection in the foreseeable future (though we’ll keep an eye on it).
Why it’s great: In our tests, the Wedgwood White 5-Piece Place Setting stood out on a crowded table of dinnerware for its bright creamy hue, attractive translucency, and simple but sophisticated look. If you often entertain, the saucers are handy for resting a demitasse spoon, holding a small cookie, and keeping coffee rings off your tablecloth.
The saucer is nice for resting a demitasse spoon, holding a piece of candy, and keeping your tablecloth free of coffee or tea rings. Photo: Sarah KobosAccording to the Wedgwood representative we spoke to, the original design for the White dinnerware was introduced in 1920, though newer pieces have been added to the collection over the years.
Since the set has stood the test of time, replacing any broken items or growing your collection in the years to come shouldn’t be an issue. Wedgwood, which dates back to the mid 1700s, has a long history of making high-quality ceramics for various heads of state and royal families, including custom dinnerware for the White House during President Theodore Roosevelt’s term in 1903.
Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: The five-piece setting comes with bread-and-butter plates instead of bowls, which probably isn’t as practical for most people. Plus, as mentioned earlier, Wedgwood sells a four-piece place setting that includes a bowl and mug instead of a bread-and-butter-plate and a teacup and saucer.
Some testers who were accustomed to thicker dinnerware mistook the thinness of bone china as an indication of poor quality. Why it’s great: The Williams Sonoma Brasserie All-White Dinnerware collection feels similar to durable restaurant dishes, but it’s still refined and not at all clunky like the plates you’d use at a diner.
The porcelain has a slightly gray hue compared with the creamy white of bone china, but in our tests we were impressed with the overall quality of this set, which had almost no visible pitting and an even glaze. Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: At just under 2 pounds, the Brasserie dinner plate is about 10 ounces heavier than the Gdansk Ingram dinner plate, and our testers who preferred lighter bone china found the set too heavy overall, though most still liked its classic styling.
Photo: Sarah Hobos Get this if: You want an inexpensive but stylish set of porcelain dinnerware and won’t find some minor imperfections bothersome. Why it’s great: Our testers liked the Crate and Barrel Aspen Dinnerware for its clean lines and simple design.
Remarkably, the collection isn’t plagued by the pitfalls of most dinnerware in this price range, such as wonky plate rims, drippy glaze, and pitting. Their slightly angled rims, like those in the Brasserie set, make these plates easy to hold and help keep food from spilling.
The Aspen dinnerware has been sold at Crate and Barrel for more than 20 years and has excellent owner reviews that attest to its quality and longevity. Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: As we mentioned earlier, the Aspen set has some minor inconsistencies on the surface of the glaze, but you can detect these only when you hold the pieces up to the light.
Although the Aspen set is slightly bluer than our other picks, we don’t think this is a problem unless you plan to use it next to creamier bone china serving pieces. Photo: Sarah KobosAlthough most dinnerware is designed to be dishwasher and microwave safe, professor of ceramic engineering and materials science William Party told us that neither ATM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) nor the American National Standards Institute has a standard test.
That said, we don’t think you should worry too much about your dishes being damaged in the dishwasher or microwave (unless the manufacturer explicitly advises against putting them in either appliance). If for some reason metalmarks develop after prolonged use, Heritage recommends using Bar Keepers Friend to remove them.
Photo: Sarah KobosAlways retrieve plates from the top of a stack rather than sliding them out from the middle, to avoid unnecessary pressure that could scratch or break them. Also, avoid subjecting your dinnerware to extreme temperature changes, such as pouring boiling water into a cold teacup, as this can cause breakage due to thermal shock.
The Villeroy & Boch Royal 30-Piece Bone Porcelain Set was our former upgrade pick, but it is now available only by special order. The Neva eh White by Fitz and Floyd Rim Dinnerware Collection was our previous top pick.
Several customer reviews on the Bed Bath & Beyond site say the mugs and teacups crack when filled with hot water. We ran a series of thermal-shock tests and had no problems, and the Fitz and Floyd customer service representative we spoke to was not aware of the issue.
IKEA’s 365+ Dinnerware did well in our tests and is very inexpensive, but it doesn’t offer as many pieces as the affordable Crate and Barrel Aspen set. The Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Dinnerware Collection was our former budget pick, but in our new round of testing, we noticed that the quality had diminished.
This set looked notably gray next to our picks and had uneven plate rims plus a drippy, inconsistent glaze. Crate and Barrel ’s Token Dinnerware was unavailable at the time of our testing this round, so we were unable to include it in our review.
The coupe plates in Fortress’s Caldera 16 Piece Place Setting have a sloped shape that was popular among our testers. In our tests, the Fiesta 3pc Bistro Place Setting was polarizing due to its thickness and the ridges around the perimeter of each piece.
The Aaron Robyn Bone China Dinnerware set, which is sold at both West Elm and Pottery Barn, has a coupe shape similar to that of our main pick from Gdansk. We also ruled out a number of dinnerware collections from Bloomingdale’s, CB2, Gdansk, Emerson Creek Pottery, Fish's Eddy, Food52, The Home Depot, Jay Import Co., Julissa, Leno, Michael C. FINA, Heritage, Rosenthal, Royal Moulton, Spoke, Target, Villeroy & Boch, Walmart, Wedgwood, and Year & Day for a variety of reasons, including polarizing designs, unappealing color, insufficient or unfavorable reviews, limited stock, replacement problems, high prices, or quality issues.
William M. Party and Dayan Separate, Porcelain-Raw Materials, Processing, Phase Evolution, and Mechanical Behavior, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 1998 After 130 hours of research, we’ve created a buying guide to help you find a set of dinnerware you’ll love.