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Published Sep. 27, 2021

Preparing 3 squares a day—whether for yourself or for a family—not only takes a lot of creativity, but it creates a lot of dishes. Maybe they’ve become scratched or chipped, or you’re just sick to death of looking at them. Or maybe you’re just starting out or looking to replace the leftover mix-and-match dishes that someone passed on to you. Either way, it’s time for a refresh!

At its most basic, dinnerware should be practical. While some people follow the lifestyle advice of “use the good china everyday,” we’re opting for everyday dinner sets, not the china you haul out on high holidays. You want something that’s sturdy enough for breakfast but stylish enough to offer company, whether that’s your book club or your in-laws. You want it to be durable enough to tolerate cutlery and handle a spin in the dishwasher, and you want it to be stylish for years. The sets we found are both versatile and classic; take a look.

How We Picked the Best Dinnerware

Methodology

It’s not hard to imagine that there are a lot of dinnerware sets out there, especially if you look beyond a basic white. After researching what makes good dinnerware, I reviewed dozens of top brands—and dozens of lesser-known collections—visiting product web pages as well as housewares stores to check things out. 

In making my final selections, I considered how I’ve used dishes in both my home kitchen as well as in commercial kitchens over the years. I have to be able to take them from the microwave without using a potholder, and they have to be able to come out of the dishwasher without chips. They need to be light enough to take out of the cupboard as a stack, and they need to look nice on the table without flaws and utensil marks. Everyone’s price point is relative, as is the number of settings you’ll need, so I’ve included a variety here. Lastly, I found replaceable pieces, good customer service, and the ability to choose different colors to be bonuses.

The Best Dinnerware: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Mikasa Delray 40-piece Bone China Dinnerware Set, Service for 8

Refined Yet Practical

Mikasa is a higher-end brand, and this generous set will serve you for years to come. Mikasa

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Why It Made The Cut: This set was made to grow with your family—or with your guest list—with a complete service for eight that’s made of chip-resistant bone china and has a minimalist design.

Specs:

  • White bone china
  • 40 pieces (8 each of 11-inch dinner plate, 9-inch salad plate, 24-ounce cereal bowl, 8-ounce fruit bowl, 14-ounce mug)
  • Rimmed plates

Pros:

  • Can go from the freezer to the oven (+ the microwave and dishwasher)
  • Open stock for replacement & extra pieces 
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Doesn’t show utensil marks
  • Excellent return and replacement policy 

Cons:

  • 40 piece set requires more space
  • Initial cost
  • Small mug handles and not enough depth to the plates

These classy pieces from Mikasa are easy to dress up but not so stuffy to hold a tuna salad sandwich at lunch. Bone china makes the pieces thinner, but they’re in no way less durable than heavier stoneware. The dishes can be heated in the microwave without getting too hot to handle, and the surfaces don’t scratch easily with the telltale scrapings of forks and knives. These well-made pieces also stack well, which minimizes chips and breaks.

Because it’s open stock, Mikasa sells individual dinner and salad plates, cereal, fruit, and pasta bowls, and an oval platter for this set. But really the set begs to be mixed and matched with others in the Mikasa line, which might offer additional pieces like pitchers and creamers, teacups and saucers, gravy boats and serving bowls, even casserole dishes.

Some reviewers felt the size and shape of the mug was not large enough for easy handling. Others felt that the rim of the dinner plates didn’t sit high enough from the center of the plate, so certain foods and sauces sloshed around, but users did note they fit well in the dishwasher.

Best Value: Pfaltzgraff Cassandra 16-piece Porcelain Dinnerware Set, Service for 4

Bang for the Buck

“Value” does not have to mean “cheap,” and this well-made set has just enough pieces for one terrific price. Pfaltzgraff

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Why It Made The Cut: Pfaltzgraff is a well-known brand with many styles and additional pieces to choose from. This set has added flair to make any dinner special. 

Specs: 

  • White porcelain
  • 16 pieces (4 each of 10.5-inch dinner plate, 7.5-inch salad plate, 24-ounce soup/cereal bowl, 12-ounce mug)
  • Rimmed plates with geometric design

Pros:

  • Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
  • Doesn’t get too hot to handle in the microwave
  • Well-shaped mug handles and generous-size bowls
  • Price
  • Hassle-free exchange policy

Cons:

  • Pieces don’t stack evenly
  • Many reports of flawed glaze and unfinished feet
  • Small salad plates

This Pfaltzgraff porcelain dining set is superb for starting out, downsizing, or updating your current dish situation. Users love the look of these plates. The embossed edges make them casual enough for breakfast and easy to dress up for holidays and get-togethers—and at this affordable price, you can stock up for service for 8 or 12. 

But if you decide you don’t like them, Pfaltzgraff offers a 90-day, no-questions-asked return policy (30-days for sale items). This is useful, as some reviewers reported flaws in the finishing glaze. Others commented that the feet (the small circle underneath that keeps the dish from sitting flush on a surface) is unglazed and rough, which could scratch a wooden table.

These dishes are easy to clean by popping them in the dishwasher; they’re durable and don’t overheat in the microwave. Many users noted that the dishes don’t stack evenly, suggesting warped shapes, which could eventually lead to breakage.

Many users like the generous size of the bowls, which are ample enough to hold cereal, soup, and pasta. Though the salad/dessert plate is of a standard size, many reviewers felt they’re a bit small (compared to the other standard, 8”–9” size). The mug handles, however, are a good shape for gripping, rather than dainty tea-drinking, but some users wanted larger mugs for their morning joe.

Best for Starting Out (or Starting Over): Amazon Basics 18-piece Dinnerware Set, White Porcelain Coupe, Service for 6    

Style and Good Value

This set is a great starter set that comes in a range of patterns for a reasonable price. Amazon Basics

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Why It Made The Cut: With service for six, this basic line has enough pieces for small gatherings—or to keep your dishwashing at bay for a few days. Sturdy enough for every day while elegant enough for dressing up any table.

Specs:

  • White porcelain
  • 18 pieces (6 each of 10.5-inch dinner plate, 7.5-inch salad/dessert plate, 16-ounce bowl)
  • Rimless plates

Pros:

  • Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
  • Doesn’t get too hot to handle in the microwave
  • Doesn’t show utensil marks
  • Comes in 12 pretty patterns
  • Price

Cons: 

  • No mugs
  • Pieces don’t stack evenly
  • Cannot order individual pieces 

If you don’t have the luxury of someone cooking your meals and cleaning up after them, then this microwavable and dishwasher-safe set from Amazon Basics is the stuff of dreams. These sturdy yet lightweight dishes also freezer-safe and can withstand oven temps of over 500℉. Reviewers reported that you don’t need a potholder to take them out of the microwave. 

The plain white porcelain is stylish enough to spruce up any table setting and won’t clash with decor, but if a more stylish setting is in your sights, this line comes in a white embossed porcelain plus 11 cute designs, from poppies to polka dots. The pieces remain in tip-top shape, as users reported that they don’t show silverware scratch marks.

If you have your heart set on a setting with mugs, this isn’t it—but Amazon Basics does have a 16-piece set that includes the same-size plates (but rimmed), bowls, and four mugs. 

Because they don’t stack evenly—which means the edges have a wobble or they could be of uneven thickness—the dishes may be more prone to chipping or breaking. Some users reported that the material tapers to a thin rim, which might also contribute to chipping. Some also felt the bowls are too small for things like pasta (but okay for cereal).

Best Stoneware: Gibson Elite Soho Lounge 16-piece Reactive Glaze Stoneware, Service for 4   

Bold and Trendy

Set your table with a modern touch and an elegant twist. Gibson Elite

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Why It Made The Cut: Set a chic table with this best-selling line of sturdy stoneware.

Specs:

  • Stoneware
  • 16 pieces (4 each of 11-inch dinner plate, 8.25-inch dessert plate, 31-ounce cereal bowl, 12-ounce mug) 
  • Square plates

Pros:

  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Nice slope to the plate edges 
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Comes in 22 stunning shades
  • Price

Cons: 

  • Might not be truly microwave safe
  • Cannot order individual pieces
  • Prone to chipping

Gibson is a family-owned company based in California. The modern square design of this set by Gibson, coupled with the saturated hues, will bring a contemporary feel to any table. The variety of colors makes these an attractive addition to any kitchen. The design also comes in white porcelain, but in stoneware, the closest neutral shade is Speckled Taupe. Though the plates are rimless, they do have an attractive sloped edge which keeps sauces from running off. The mugs have a decent-size handle, as well.

In addition to being dishwasher safe, the company does consider this collection to be microwave safe. Numerous reviewers, however, begged to differ, claiming the plates become superheated in the microwave or break altogether. Many users report that the pieces chip easily, and Gibson doesn’t offer the ability to purchase individual replacement items. 

Best Splurge: Wedgwood Wild Strawberry White 4-piece Place Setting

Treat Yo’self

From one of the most well-known dinnerware brands in the world comes an elegant set that’s as timeless as it is beautiful. Wedgwood

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Why It Made The Cut: As the dinnerware of royalty, Wedgwood is an outstanding choice, whether you’re registering for your wedding or sprucing up your dinner collection. 

Specs:

  • White bone china
  • 4 pieces (11-inch dinner plate, 8-inch salad plate, 6-inch cereal bowl, 15-ounce mug)
  • Rimless plates

Pros:

  • Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
  • Open stock for replacement & extra pieces 
  • Classic pieces won’t go out of style (or stock)
  • 30-day return policy plus replacement if broken during shipping

Cons: 

  • Price
  • Need to build a complete set

This lovely embossed set for Wedgwood is an everyday spin on the classic Wedgwood Wild Strawberry pattern (with pieces hand decorated and rimmed in 22-carat gold). You can add to this white collection with whimsical colored additions of creamers, tea pots, and cake plates, or keep the crisp, cool, summer cottage feel of the Wild Strawberry White design. As an open stock collection, you can add anything in the 4-piece place setting, plus pasta and soup bowls, teacups, and saucers. But part of the beauty of Wedgwood is the ability to mix and match with other collections, and your table will still be gorgeous.

Because it’s a classic design, you’ll be able to add on to this set for years. Bone china’s durability will make this setting a keeper, even if you use them in the dishwasher or microwave daily. 

As with most things that are fit for royalty, these dishes come with a price that might not suit everyone. They’re ideal for a wedding registry, or you can treat yourself, adding setting by setting, comfortable in the knowledge that these classy dishes will never go out of style.

Things to Consider Before Buying Dinnerware

For this list I stuck with understated, classic white, or near white dishes, to avoid having to consider personal tastes and bias, but also because white allows food to pop. These dishes blend in with any kitchen or “tablescape,” and allow you to buy colorful (perhaps more expensive) serving pieces to liven things up. Busy designs can become dated, so try to choose a pattern that you’re going to love for years. Here are some other things to consider:

Place Settings

How many do you need now, and how many do you see needing in the future? Settings for 4 to 6 are ideal for households of 2 or 3 people, while settings of 8 to 12 are suitable for households of 4 to 6. Larger sets are great for entertaining. Standard settings are 3-, 4-, and 5-pieces, so think about how you eat: Do you need mugs, or do you want teacups and saucers? Do you prefer larger pasta bowls, or are smaller bowls enough? Most buyers prefer a dinner plate, smaller plate for salads/desserts, and a bowl large enough to hold cereal. Measure your cupboard (and your microwave!) to make sure the plates and stacked bowls will fit.

Material

Bone china, porcelain, ceramic, stoneware—there are so many choices. Since we’re outfitting a home dining table, I skipped the more trendy designs on lighter-weight materials such as melamine and enamelware; you can’t microwave them, and enamelware shouldn’t go in the dishwasher. And because we wanted a more classic look, we skipped glass, bamboo, and vitrelle (Corelle). Bone china, porcelain, and stoneware are all made of the same material, just in different ratios, and bone china has the addition of calcified bone or bone ash; it’s a bit translucent if you hold it to the light, but that thinness doesn’t make it more brittle—it does make it more pricey, however. Stoneware can have a handmade look to it and is a great choice for everyday use as it’s quite sturdy (but also heavy).

Budget

The cardinal rule “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to dinnerware, but because these are meant to be used everyday, I didn’t want to break the bank across the board. Cost is often lower when buying a complete place setting (versus individual pieces) or an all-in-one box set (e.g., 16 pieces versus buying 4 individual 4-piece settings). Designs with “open stock” enable you to buy a few extra pieces if one chips or breaks, to have on hand for company, or to add extra items that might not come in a standard 4-piece place setting. These sets are typically more expensive. Conversely, box sets without the open stock option means either saying goodbye to a broken plate or buying a whole new box set to replace it.

FAQs

Q: What is the most durable dinnerware?

Bone china, despite being so thin you can see the shadow of your hand through the plate when you hold it to the light, is remarkably strong, thanks to the addition of bone ash or calcified bone. It can withstand the dishwasher, various oven temps, and the microwave (if it doesn’t have a metal design, of course). Granted, it might not stand up to little hands, but the same could be said for any ceramic; families with little ones might opt for vitrelle instead.

Final Thoughts

A good dinnerware set doesn’t just make a statement about the owner. It sets a mood—whether that’s a welcoming, festive ambience with friends and family gathered around the dinner table, or a fast feel for a weeknight supper.

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