We recommend getting the Crate and Barrel Caesar Flatware, by Robert Welch Designs, if you want heavier utensils that are still well-balanced. The fork’s long, narrowly set tines give it an elegant look and make holding food on the back of the utensil easier for those who dine European style.
The spoons are shallower and have a pointier tip, which means they don’t hold as much liquid, but they put less metal in your mouth, a more delicate sensation that some people prefer. We’re not huge fans of the curvy handles, which are so dramatically arched at the neck that they look almost bent out of shape.
We think our picks will appeal to a wide range of people, but we also realize that choosing flatware is a very personal decision. If none of our other picks are to your liking, we’ve created a buying guide to help you confidently shop for a great set of utensils.
To understand the difference between various grades of stainless steel, I interviewed Scott Mixture, PhD, a professor at the Enamor School of Engineering at Alfred University, who has a background in metallurgy. I also went to stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma to look at sets in person.
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. I can often be found hunting for vintage flatware and other treasures at thrift stores and estate sales in my free time.
Photo: Sarah KobosWith myriad patterns to choose from, shopping for a set of utensils can be an overwhelming undertaking. We avoided colored utensils and those with resin, wood, or riveted handles, opting instead for classic, timeless patterns with clean, simple lines.
Teaspoons from each of our flatware picks (from left to right): Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin, Liberty Tabletop Betsy Ross, Crate and Barrel Caesar, and Gourmet Settings Winder mere. Salad forks from each of our flatware picks (from left to right): Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin, Liberty Tabletop Betsy Ross, Crate and Barrel Caesar, and Gourmet Settings Winder mere.
Dinner knives from each of our flatware picks (from left to right): Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin, Liberty Tabletop Betsy Ross, Crate and Barrel Caesar, and Gourmet Settings Winder mere. Teaspoons from each of our flatware picks (from left to right): Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin, Liberty Tabletop Betsy Ross, Crate and Barrel Caesar, and Gourmet Settings Winder mere.
Finally, we tried to find flatware patterns that have been around for a while, which increases the likelihood they’ll remain in stock down the road. Eventually, we settled on 40 five-piece place settings (if you’re counting, that’s 200 separate utensils in all) and invited 13 Wire cutter staff members to evaluate them in our New York City test kitchen.
To assess quality and durability, we took a close look at each piece of flatware to check for any unfinished or rough areas. We also washed all the flatware several times and let it sit in a moist and humid dishwasher for two days to see if any of the utensils discolored or developed rust spots, which was a surprisingly revealing test.
Photo: Sarah Hobos Why it’s great: The Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin Flatware was a unanimous favorite in our tests. One of our staffers summed it up perfectly: “This set is a nice compromise between modern and classic.” Even the finish offers the best of both worlds, with the satin handles gradually giving way to a mirror polish on the utensil heads.
Our testers were surprised to find how much they liked that contrast: “The satin and mirror mix looks so cool,” said one. Photo: Sarah Loose love the medium weight of this flatware, which feels balanced and sturdy enough that it won’t bend under pressure.
One tester praised the utensils for their “excellent neck thickness,” meaning they were a nice medium width. The sloped angle of the handle on the soup spoon also makes it easier to eat from deep, narrow bowls.
The branding on the underside of the utensils is more noticeable on this set than on some of our other picks, but since it’s not laser engraved, it will fade over time. Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: The branding on the back of the forks and spoons is larger and more noticeable on this Cambridge Silversmiths set compared with the others we recommend.
According to a customer service representative we spoke to at Bed Bath & Beyond, the Julie flatware has been sold in stores since March 2016. Cambridge Silversmiths is a trusted flatware brand that began in the ’90s, and it sells many patterns that have been around for years, so we don’t think this set will suddenly disappear (though we’ll keep an eye on it).
Photo: Sarah Hobos Why it’s great: Crate and Barrel’s Caesar Flatware is an elegant set that’s heavier than our main pick and available in both satin and mirror finishes. We like its smooth, round edges and its slight flare at the base of the handle, which one of our testers said “feels nice in the hand.” Another staffer said this set “has a good substantial feel and pleasing heft.” The fork tines are long, thin, and spaced narrowly apart, a design that many people find more elegant than wide-set tines.
The forged knife is a pleasure to hold, and the fine serrations on the blade cut cleanly through food. Like our main pick, the Caesar set has deep soup spoons that hold a generous amount of liquid.
Photo: Sarah Kiboshes collection was created by Robert Welch Designs exclusively for Crate and Barrel, and it has an excellent rating on the store’s website, with reviews dating back three years. A sales associate we spoke with at Crate and Barrel told us the Caesar flatware was one of the store’s most popular patterns.
The maker’s marking is laser engraved on the handles of the forks and spoons and printed on the back of the knife blades. Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: If you like lightweight utensils, most of the pieces in the Caesar set may be too heavy for you.
Why it’s great: If you prefer balanced, lightweight hollow-handle knives, we recommend getting the Liberty Tabletop Betsy Ross flatware. This collection is appropriately named since it’s made by Sherrill Manufacturing, the last remaining domestic maker of flatware in the United States (which also makes utensils for Cuzco, Farmhouse Pottery, and Heath Ceramics).
One of our testers gushed over the Betsy Ross knife, saying it was “perfectly balanced and lovely to hold.” The thin necks and gently curved handles create an elegant silhouette. We also like the shape of the forged knife blade and bolster, which is reminiscent of the knives found in finer, more traditional sterling silver flatware sets.
The fork tines are long, thin, and spaced slightly farther apart than on our main pick, an aesthetic that some people may prefer. The soup spoon bowls aren’t exceptionally deep but still hold a good amount of liquid.
However, many hollow-handle knives have this seam because they’re made from three separate pieces of metal (the blade, and two half shells that are soldered together to make a hollow handle), which is the same construction technique used for expensive sterling silver flatware. This flatware is sold open stock, which means it’s also great for college students who need only a few utensils and not complete five-piece place settings.
The tines are also appropriately tapered, unlike the blunt tips on the forks of some other cheap flatware sets we tested. We also like that the Winder mere collection has such a large selection of additional serving pieces (which are sold separately depending on the utensil).
Photo: Sarah Hobos Flaws but not deal breakers: The biggest drawback to the Winder mere set is the dramatic, somewhat awkward curve of the handles, which led one of our testers to dub it “the pin-up collection.” The forks and teaspoon are thinner than those of our other picks and lightweight, which means they’ll bend with some force. One of our testers said the shape of the knife blade reminded them of a mezzanine, and found that its extreme curve made cutting awkward.
Properly cared for, 18/10 stainless steel flatware should last for decades (whereas 18/0 may corrode), but it will develop some patina over time. However, you can reduce the amount of surface scratching by not cramming the flatware into a dishwasher cutlery basket or tossing it carelessly into a utensil drawer.
Dishwashers equipped with a flat utensil rack are best for preventing flatware from banging around during the wash cycle, which helps reduce surface damage. Hand washing is really the best method for keeping your flatware looking pristine, but we realize that's not realistic for most people.
You can remove minor discoloration from flatware by using distilled white vinegar or a slurry of baking soda and water applied with a soft cloth or a nonabrasive sponge. Several of our testers liked the rounded handles of the Artiste Rain II flatware, but some found the curve of the knife to be awkward to hold.
We also used to recommend Fuji Cutlery pieces as a budget choice, but to be on the safe side, we decided not to include any steel labeled 18/8 for our 2018 update. We really liked the size, shape, and weight of the MEPA Lucca flatware, but the pewter finish was polarizing for our testers.
We liked the hollow-handle knife in the Towel Boston Antique flatware set, but we weren’t fans of the seam on the underside of the handles. Although the Liberty Tabletop Chandra flatware was beloved by some of our testers, the vast majority thought the shape of this collection was too old-fashioned.
Our testers found the bulbous handle tips on the Gibson Home Classic Manchester set dated and unappealing. We used to recommend the gold version of the Amoco Flatware, but we’ve excluded colored utensils from our 2018 update.
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.
The larger setting sizes also include steak knives and serving pieces so that everything on your table matches. The slender, minimalist pieces feel modern, and the matte metallic will add a pop of glamour to any tables cape.
In fact, several reviewers rave about how many compliments they get on the set's elegant, unique design. 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. Plated: Silver-plated flatware is another option, but it can feel like a “worst of both worlds” scenarios.
Plated flatware can chip and wear over time and requires greater care than stainless steel. 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.
Do you prefer utensils with skinny stems, or perhaps longer fork tines for more European-style dining ? 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. But don’t be fooled by its storied past: These days, Leno also sells unfussy, modern flatware and dinnerware.
The Spruce Eats / Elizabeth Ago Oneida is another American flatware company. 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. But these stainless steel implements aren’t just about affordability: They’re durable and easy to clean, too.