The result: fair, thorough, and unbiased reviews that will see you through even the toughest of purchasing decisions. Then, when you're ready to buy, you'll find our top five favorite flatware sets in the product list, above.
This guide focuses on stainless steel flatware, since it's by far the most popular contemporary choice. While much less common today, mostly because of its price, silver flatware (or “silverware”) is an elegant choice for formal dining.
Pewter was a common choice for flatware in colonial America, due to its strength and durability. Some people love a heavy, sturdy construction to their flatware, whereas others favor lightweight pieces.
A one- or two-person household might be happy with four place settings, while a family of six would need at least eight, unless they want to eat dinner in two sittings! Some flatware is forged, which means it's made from a single piece of metal, heated, then hammered into shape (usually by a machine, though traditionally this would have been done by hand).
Finally, you can find flatware with hollowed handles, made using a three-piece design. Some flatware has a high-shine, mirrored finish, some are completely matte, and the rest fall somewhere in between the two.
Some flatware has decorative banding or other types of engraved patterns on the handles, whereas other pieces are more plain. At the top of this price range you find options from designer homeward brands, so the cost is more to do with the manufacturer than a marked increase in quality.
Don't leave your flatware soaking in water for long periods of time, as this can cause corrosion over the years. This doesn't mean you should avoid vinegar and tomatoes, just try not to leave dirty flatware sitting for days, covered in food.
If you like weighty flatware, forged pieces tend to be the heaviest, followed by stamped, and finally those with hollowed handles. Once you've got a decent set of flatware, display it by positioning the utensils correctly on the dinner table, particularly if you're having guests.
Yes, stainless steel flatware is dishwasher safe, though it's recommended that you don't use citrus-based detergents. Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
On top of choosing between the variety of flatware designs and types of steel on the market, you're also tasked with figuring out aesthetics, budget, and the number of place settings you will need. The “18” refers to the fact that it is made of 18 percent chromium, while the second number is the percentage of nickel.
More nickel means added shine and sturdiness, which is why sterling silver sets typically have a heavier price tag and require extra care. Our product reviewer appreciates the flatware's high-quality feel and minimalist but beautiful detailing.
She also awarded the set points for being dishwasher safe and tarnish-resistant, but notes the importance of keeping the utensils dry to prevent rust. Whether you’re just starting out or want extra flatware for an upcoming dinner, you can’t go wrong with this affordable set.
The set comes in five different colors, in case you're looking for something with a little more personality than basic stainless steel. While reviewers do note that the stainless steel utensils are lightweight, many also mention that the pieces are durable and hold up well after multiple rounds in the dishwasher.
Knock flatware's lauded design was the invention of the brand’s founder Michael D. Miller who, while struggling to eat a slice of pizza with a fork, was inspired to create a fork that’s more like a pizza slicer. Our product tester likes that each utensil is ergonomically designed with noticeably balanced weight.
Plus, the utensils feature a wide, flat finger platform for comfort and are designed to fit the contours of your hand. It's 18/0, which means it has 18 percent chrome to prevent rusting and wear and tear over time.
Reviewers note that the flatware feels sturdy, so you won't have to worry about it warping with continued use. One thing to note: Oneida no longer sells this pattern on their website, so if you fall in love with it, you may want to buy two sets just in case.
“If you’re simply looking for an affordable starter collection, the Oneida Moon crest 45-Piece Flatware Set has much to offer. This timeless and elegant flatware is perfect for anyone who prefers a minimalist approach to their tables cape.
The 18/10 stainless steel has a heat-treated black satin PVD finish that won’t flake or tarnish. A note on washing this dramatic flatware : While you can toss these utensils in the dishwasher, you’ll need to avoid citrus-scented detergents, and when hand-washing, don't use a scouring pad or metal polish.
When she's not covering kitchen gadgets and home accessories for us, she loves cooking up new recipes for her family, so she knows the value of finding the right flatware set to dine in comfort and style. While many kitchen items, like drink ware or knives, are collections that grow slowly over time, flatware tends to be a one-and-done purchase.
You can certainly get cheap flatware that will let you down after a few years, but it’s possible to make even an inexpensive but well-made set last a lifetime. The rich showed off their wealth with elaborate table settings (hence the oyster fork) while the poorer classes made do with pewter or even wood cutlery.
These days, you can find stainless steel in the finest restaurants and homes, but sterling silver flatware is still very much around. That means a full table setting of sterling silver flatware can easily be thousands of dollars.
While stainless steel made bright, shiny cutlery more affordable, it is also far easier to care for than silver. Long gone are the days of endless polishing; stainless steel flatware can just be thrown in the dishwasher, dried off, and put away, over and over again.
Good stainless steel will show a grade on the packaging or product page that looks like a fraction, usually 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0. 18/10 flatware is the highest quality: It will feel a bit more weighted in the hand, and the 10 percent nickel gives it more shine and more protection from corrosion.
In general, it’s easy to find a wide variety of styles and designs in 18/10 stainless steel, but lower grades are still a good option if you need to save money. The Spruce Eats / Sage McHugh Typically, higher-quality stainless steel with an 18/10 grade is going to be shiner because of the higher quantity of nickel.
Some larger sets will also include steak knives and serving utensils for those who like everything to match. How big a set you buy is totally personal and can be informed by your kitchen size, number of housemates or family members, and how often you run the dishwasher.
More modern sets typically pare down details with a more streamlined appearance: a straight, thin handle with no major elements. Many contemporary options also straddle these two worlds: Subtle shaping at the end of the handle, for example, will give it a traditional feel without other elements.
Your choice comes down purely to taste: Both traditional and modern styles are made from stainless steel. Black and gold flatware has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely because it’s such a striking contrast to the bright silver cutlery we use almost everywhere and every day.
The Spruce Eats / Elizabeth Ago Sometimes you’ll see handles made from another material, like wood or plastic. This is reminiscent of a tradition even older than silverware: handles for knives made from materials like bone.
While the look can be impressive, it offers some drawbacks: A separate handle can loosen over time, especially if you’re tossing it in the dishwasher. Less expensive flatware is going to show wear and tear along the handle the quickest, and grime and food can settle into cracks.
Design and stainless steel grades will have the biggest effects on price, with 18/10 being the highest quality and most expensive. Pricier silverware is rarely sold in open stock: You’ll have to purchase additional full settings if you realize you need more spoons or forks.
The typical takeout set isn’t great at piercing, cutting, or ladling food. Portable sets can be made of lightweight stainless steel, bamboo, or reusable plastic.
If you want to get a travel set, look for one that comes with a carrying case: You’re more likely to actually take it with you if it’s easy and convenient to do so. Leno is perhaps best known for its china, and for good reason: The brand has made dinnerware for the White House and the Met Gala.
Like Leno, Oneida has well over a century of experience, but its backstory is fairly unique. There are a few simple rules to taking care of stainless steel, and most are pretty intuitive.
If food dries on your silverware and can’t be gently scrubbed away, let it soak for a bit or try the more abrasive side of a soft sponge. If you have a color-plated flatware set, like matte black or gold, you’ll want to be extra careful about abrasive cleaners or sponges, as it could strip the finish.
Even when we don’t cook, we’re likely to use a knife, fork, or spoon at some point during the meal. When you’re just grabbing a spoon to make a bowl of cereal, it can be easy to forget this relatively humble little piece of cutlery derives much of its look from traditional silverware.