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Dinnerware is so much more than just vessels for holding and serving food. Yes, they should be functional, but that function depends on what the occasion is: For example, are you having oatmeal for breakfast, or are you plating the turkey and sides for a big holiday meal? Furthermore, dinnerware sets are also an extension of your style and help create the ambiance for any occasion, from casual solo meals to fancy dinner dates.
We know it can be daunting having to navigate through all the different options, which is why we've created a list of the best dinnerware sets to help you get started.
Best Overall: Our Place Set the Table Dinnerware Set
Designed for everything but ultra-formal dining
Dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe
Easy to coordinate with flatware and drinkware
Replacement plates not sold individually
It’s rare that a newcomer to the dinnerware market makes such a splash on the home cooking scene, but the collection from Our Place has done just that. Featured in both food and fashion publications, as well as showcased by food bloggers and food stylists everywhere, Our place has created a minimal, and contemporary dinnerware set that maintains its warmth and hominess with a slightly rustic appeal. This dinnerware set includes four dinner plates, four salad plates, and four bowls that can be used for soup or side salads. Additionally, the collection offers coordinating drinking glasses and one pan that cooks it all.
The porcelain plates and bowls are handpainted and come in three neutral tone options. Both the dinnerware and additional glassware are made for easy stacking. The entire dinnerware set is dishwasher-, microwave-, and oven-safe to seamlessly handle whatever you’re cooking up. Additionally, the Los Angeles-based company claims to use both recycled and sustainably sourced virgin porcelain for their products, for those curious about the environmental footprint.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 side bowls. Additional options are available.
Best Budget: AmazonBasics Dinnerware 18-Piece Set
Lightweight but not flimsy
Microwave- and dishwasher- safe
Mugs are too small
Wobbly when stacked
This classic set has a contemporary and timeless appeal. Plus, the dishes are safe to put in the microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher, making them a practical choice. The plates do not retain heat when used in the microwave or oven—so you can grab them without fear of scorched fingers. Our testers noted that the finish of the plates also stood up to silverware without leaving scratches or marks.
This budget-friendly porcelain set comes with dinner plates, bowls, dessert plates, and mugs. Minimalists will love these straightforward dishes, which are perfect for people moving into a first apartment who don’t want a hand-me-down set. When we ordered this dinnerware set, all of the dishes arrived well wrapped and without any breakage or shipping damage, all while coming in a reasonably sized box.
Perfectionists, take note: Reviewers comment that stacking these dishes reveals that the plates are not all of the same thickness (and may even be uneven from one side of the plate to another).
What's Included: 6 dinner plates, 6 side plates, 6 bowls
"The dishes are a blank, inexpensive slate that you won’t have to think too hard about buying, and won’t have to think too hard about leaving when you’re ready to upgrade or move." — Joy Merrifield, Product Tester
Best Textured: West Elm Textured Stoneware Dinnerware
Attractive textured design
Microwave- and dishwasher-safe
Part of a larger coordinating kitchenware collection
Slightly pricier option
These dishes may be white, but there’s nothing boring about them—each item in the set has textured patterns lining the edge of the dish. Adding personality to the set is the fact that there’s a slightly different pattern on the outside of the different types of dishware. The different textures coordinate into a cohesive set, but each piece also stands out on its own.
This dinnerware set will provide a charming appeal to your tabletop—the dishes have a pre-worn, vintage style that will look beautiful on any tablescape. This stoneware set is safe for both microwave and dishwasher use.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs. Additional pieces are available.
Best Color Selection: Fiesta 4-Piece Dinnerware Place Setting
Color choices to please anyone
Mug has small finger hole
Mugs don't nest
No one does bright, bold color like Fiesta. This four-piece place setting is available in a variety of beautiful colors, all in that classic Fiesta style. People often collect Fiesta dinnerware, which has been manufactured in the United States for decades—many more dishes and accessories are available for people who want to expand their collection. And, since the company keeps the pattern consistent, all your pieces will match even if years pass before you buy more. Have a hard time picking just one color? "It’s fun to mix and match colors," raves our product tester.
Our tester also noted that the dinner plates are great for large or small meals, and the lip of the plates keep chaotic food from slipping off the side while eating. These dishes can be used in the microwave and dishwasher and even the oven. The dishes are incredibly durable, but they also have a five-year chip resistance warranty, just in case they do get damaged.
What's Included: 1 dinner plate, 1 side plate, 1 bowl, 1 mug. Additional options are available.
"Not only is this dinnerware safe for the table, dishwasher, and microwave, but it’s also safe for oven use up to 350 degrees." - Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Formal: Lenox French Perle 4-Piece Place Setting
Ornamental, but practical
Part of a larger product collection
Microwave and dishwasher safe
Shows fork and knife marks easily
It’s a cliche you’ll hear all the time if you watch cooking shows: We eat with our eyes first. So if you’re having company over or setting the table for a formal occasion, you’ll want to use dinnerware that looks particularly lovely. This Lenox set—which is available in several colors—is made of stoneware and has sweet, textured designs rimming the sides as well as a hand-applied finish around the rims.
Since the dishes are stoneware, take heed that these dishes may show marks from cutting and fork scrapes. With that said, our testers noted that the plates were very easy to clean, and silverware scratch marks can be removed with a non-abrasive cleanser. This set is durable though and in fact, Lenox offers a lifetime replacement program for broken dishes. These pretty plate settings are a great match for country, farmhouse, or shabby chic decor.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs
"If you’re looking for dinnerware that can be fun, fancy, casual, functional, or some combination of all the above depending on your table setting, then we definitely recommend the French Perle line." — Joy Merrifield, Product Tester
Best China: Red Vanilla Extreme Bone China Dinnerware Set
Bright white china
Dishwasher- and microwave- safe
Thin, high-quality china
Shallow design lets food slide around
Sharp angular edges seem to chip easier
White dinnerware can sound dull, but not these. Delicate edges and sleek swoops make this white set—which serves four—quite beautiful. This everyday china set is refined and elegant in appearance, but it's also durable. It can be cleaned in the dishwasher and is microwave safe. Our testers noted that while these porcelain plates are plenty durable, you'll still want to take care not to chip the delicate corners when stacking and storing.
The 16-piece set comes with dinner plates, salad plates, mugs, and big, triangular soup bowls, but you can also buy four- and five-piece sets. With these white, modern-looking dishes as the background, your meals will pop. So if you enjoy sharing what you’ve made in the kitchen on Instagram, these dishes are a good fit.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs. Additional options and single pieces are available.
"Each dish has an ultra-glossy finish, and despite investigating closely with our phone flashlight out, we didn’t find any significant surface flaws." — Joy Merrifield, Product Tester
Best Pattern: Crate & Barrel Lina Stripe Dinnerware
Artisan, handmade look
Safe for dishwasher, microwave, and warm oven
May be difficult to replace in future
Irregular shapes can wobble when stacked
Delicate blue stripes ring the outer edges of plates and the exterior of bowls and mugs in this set. Available in a single four-piece setting or a 16-piece set (enough for four people), this dinnerware is full of rustic charm. Each dish is hand-painted, and the set is truly beautiful. The speckled background and blue stripes are eye-catching, but flexible enough to match a wide variety of tablecloths and placemats.
These dishes are ideal for entertaining, but also practical enough to be used on an everyday basis—they are also microwave- and dishwasher-safe and can be placed in the oven to warm. Reviewers note that the irregularly curved edges of the dishes—while attractive—make chipping easy, so wash with care. Serving bowls and platters are also available in this pattern if you'd like your whole kitchen to match.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs
"This set has a casual, rustic look that works for casual dining, but I can also see it being used for more upscale settings because of the artisan, handmade vibe." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Outside: Zak Designs Confetti Melamine 12-Piece Dinnerware Set
Attractive playful colors
Not microwave safe
Setting for three people
You may already be familiar with the Zak Designs brand from their colorful and iconic mixing bowl sets. Using the same “confetti” style, Zak Designs has created a playful set of durable melamine dinnerware that is simple enough to haul out to the back patio for dinner, and lightweight enough for a picnic in the park or your next camping trip. The set is available in seven different confetti colors and includes settings for three people each.
Each setting includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, and cup — which could also double as a small soup bowl or dessert cup if needed. While the whole set is dishwasher safe, it should not be used in the microwave or the oven. Unlike most other dinnerware sets that come ready to serve four people, this set is only made to serve three, so you might want to pick up two sets to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls
Best Eco-Friendly: Fable New York Colorful Bamboo Dinnerware
Beautiful color options
Made of eco-friendly renewable bamboo
Not microwave safe
Made from a palette of beautiful summery hues, you’d hardly guess that this dinnerware set is eco-friendly and incredibly durable. Made from organic bamboo fiber, which is highly renewable, and bound together with cornstarch and a touch of melamine. These plates can go from the dinner table to a backyard barbecue effortlessly.
The 16-piece set includes a dinner plate, salad plate, low bowl, and cereal bowl. Tumblers are also available, as well as a four-piece set, and mix-and-match pieces for you to build your own collection. While these pieces are top-rack dishwasher friendly, they aren’t approved for microwave or oven use. You’ll also notice that while this collection is built for everyday use, the price tag rivals some of the higher-end sets on our list.
What's Included: 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, 4 pasta bowls, 4 cereal bowls. Additional options are available.
If you're looking for a great starter set or are on a budget, we recommend the minimalist AmazonBasics Dinnerware 18-Piece Set (view at Amazon). Each piece is lightweight, but sturdy, and doesn't take up too much space. For something clean, but chic, consider the West Elm Textured Stoneware Dinnerware (view at West Elm), which has a charming, pre-worn vintage design.
What to Look for When Buying Dinnerware
Most everyday dinnerware is ceramic, but the types of ceramic (and its quality) can range dramatically. Unlike “silverware,” which has become a generic term for all flatware regardless of material, plenty of dinnerware sets today are considered “china,” which is the same thing as porcelain. Porcelain was invented in China, hence the term. Porcelain is something made from clay that has been fired at high temperatures, and is typically white and shiny. While we often think of fine china as the special-occasion plates that brides might register for in a chosen pattern, you can get porcelain dinnerware at big-box stores for low prices. “Bone china” is a term for porcelain that has—you guessed it—bone mixed in, a process invented in England in the early 1800s. It has a slightly translucent look and is lighter-weight. It was traditionally seen as more durable, but as porcelain manufacturing has changed, the differences in durability have become more and more negligible. Choosing one or the other is now more a matter of preference.
Earthenware, made from clay and with a more porous surface than stoneware, is traditionally seen as an even less expensive option. But because it’s less durable, earthenware sets can be just as expensive; they have a rugged, handmade feel to them—and some may even be handmade. As modern production techniques evolve, many of our assumptions about what is better and what is worse have been upended.
Other materials, like enamel and glass, are also available but are less common because they’re higher-maintenance and more likely to chip. For some people, however, the payoff of making a statement is worth it. Plastic dinnerware may seem like a good budget option, but cheap plastic plates can warp or stain. Melamine, a lightweight, non-porous plastic that won’t easily scratch or break, is a good option for outdoor dining or families with young children. Many melamine options are now so good that guests will assume it’s china—until they pick it up.
The other common ceramic dinnerware is stoneware. Made from fired clay-like porcelain, stoneware is usually heavier and more opaque than regular porcelain. While it doesn’t have the lustrous shine, stoneware can be finished with matte or shiny glazes. It can be slightly porous, unlike porcelain, which is non-porous. But just because it’s traditionally seen as a more everyday alternative to porcelain doesn’t mean it's cheap. But you can get inexpensive stoneware sets as well as long-lasting, durable ones.
Most dinnerware sets come in a four-piece place setting: two plates, a bowl, and a mug. Larger settings with even more plates exist, but are rare, typically found in high-end sets; they also include things like teacups, bread plates, and chargers. For most of us, though, four-piece settings work just fine. You can typically purchase dinnerware sets in individual place settings, as well as in sets of 16, or four-place settings. Often, you can purchase individual parts of the set in sets of their own (like six bowls) or individually, which is referred to as “open stock.” Open stock can be a great option, especially if you want insurance against dropped plates or may simply want a larger set as your family expands or you move.
Ultimately, design may be your deciding factor; while materials offer you some clue as to what the dinnerware will likely look like, there's often some variation. You can find porcelain these days that has a more organic, handmade feel, and stoneware with delicate detailing. White is common in all dinnerware, regardless of the materials, and this color can give you a lot of flexibility and make food look good (some things just aren’t going to look appetizing on certain colors). You can also find dinnerware with simple designs, either in the shape of the dinnerware or added later with paints or glazes. Even if you want to play it safe with color, you can find many subtle embellishments that still make your set unique.
Traditionally, most fine china has some kind of rim. Rimless plates, with just a slight lip on the edge, tend to have a more modern feel. Some designers will also play with shapes to update dinnerware, making plates square instead of round, for example.
On a more practical note, small changes in design, like the depth of a bowl or the size of a mug handle, can have a real impact on your day. If you like big cups of coffee (or just the occasional chamomile tea), your ideal mug is going to reflect that. Bowls can vary from very deep to traditionally shallow-looking soup bowls. A deeper, cereal-style bowl, or an option between the two, is likely going to be the most versatile.
Another thing to consider is if the dinnerware set also offers coordinating pieces like platters, serving bowls, or even gravy boats. Whether this is important is a matter of preference, but if you want a clean, unified look on your table, it’s good to know what your options are.
The price you pay for dinnerware varies wildly. You can pick up porcelain at Target for under $5, or you can register for a set that can cost thousands of dollars. But you can get a very good budget set for around $50. Upping your price point just a little, to the $75 to $100 range, can get you a set that will last a lifetime. However, investing in handmade pieces, or fine china, is going to quickly escalate the price.
There’s one word to describe Fiestaware: color. The line of bright dinnerware was first sold in the 1930s and has managed to feel timelessly retro every since. It also has a cult following: Fans will devotedly track down a rare color or scour the internet for vintage pieces. While certain colors can be hard to find, in general, Fiestaware is as affordable as it is eye-catching.
Lenox is the Cadillac of dinnerware. This American company has been making fine china for over a hundred years and has supplied dinnerware to the White House on more than one occasion. But though this is a high-end brand, it's kept up with the times. In addition to more traditional patterns, Lenox has modern and even whimsical (polka dots!) sets available these days.
A Japanese brand with a storied history, Noritake was founded in Japan in 1876 by two brothers who wanted to sell porcelain in the American market. The brand's designs have changed with the times, and collectors will pay top dollar for some of its handpainted vintage and antique sets. These days, Noritake also sells affordable, modern options.
An everyday dinnerware set should be easy to care for and easy to use. And while most materials, including porcelain and stoneware, can be microwave- and dishwasher-safe, it’s not a blanket rule. Be sure to check the care instructions before you buy: Handmade items may not stand up to a dishwasher, for example, or gold detailing on a fine china plate would mean that you're unable to put it in the microwave.
If you can avoid chipping, porcelain is probably the easiest to care for: It's non-porous, so you can let it soak or let coffee linger in your mug without worrying about staining. Most stoneware isn’t going to stain easily, but it can happen. In general, stoneware shouldn’t be soaked, and tough stains or scuffs can be removed with baking soda.
Regardless of the material, if you’re skipping the dishwasher, make sure you’re using a soft sponge (not a scouring sponge) to clean it. A wire sponge can scratch glossy surfaces or ding up plastic or enamel.
What comes in a typical dinnerware set?
Basic dinnerware sets include a dinner plate and bowl and at least one or two other pieces. The additional pieces are either a salad plate and/or a coffee mug. Occasionally two bowls are included in a set, both pasta-style, and cereal bowls. Most dinnerware sets serve at least three people, although four or more sets are standard.
What is the most durable dinnerware?
While you might not expect it, bone china is the most durable dinnerware. Its high-heat firing makes bone china chip-resistant, and microwave, dishwasher, and oven-safe. If you’re concerned about plates breaking more than overall functionality, melamine-based plates are mostly indestructible when dropped but often cannot be used in the microwave.
What is open stock dinnerware?
Open stock dinnerware is generally made up of pieces that can be purchased individually. Open stock dinnerware is helpful when you want to assemble a collection of pieces that differs from the pre-selected set or if you need to fill in your set when individual pieces are lost. Occasionally, other coordinating dinnerware and serveware pieces that aren’t included in a set are sold as open stock if you’re interested in growing your dining collection.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This collection was originally compiled by Madeleine Burry. Madeleine is a health and wellness writer and has contributed to The Spruce, The Spruce Eats, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, and other major publications.
The buying guide for this collection was written by Marshall Bright, a freelance food and cooking writer based in East Nashville. She has been writing for The Spruce Eats since 2020, and has appeared in several other publications, including Refinery29, Bustle, and America’s Test Kitchen.
Most recently, this article was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a professional pastry chef and food writer based in Queens, NYC. She appreciates the versatility and clean look of the Our Place dinnerware collection but secretly wants to serve all of her fancy meals on the Zak Designs Confetti dinnerware — especially if it’s going on Instagram later.