Our Guide to the Best Dinnerware

June 20th, 2017

When it comes to wedding registries, dinnerware is a staple item.

Of course, it’s something that everyone owns before getting married — a jumbled collection of plates your mother gave you years ago, plastic cereal bowls that saw you through the college years, and maybe a few grown up dishes you couldn’t resist snagging from Anthropologie.

The opportunity to register for new dinnerware is a chance to reset your dish situation, whatever it is. It’s a step towards your color-coordinated dream kitchen and a new backdrop for your most Instagram-worthy meals. And if you do your research, a new set of dinnerware means less chipping and shattering with daily use.

And one thing is for certain: there is no shortage of options when it comes to finding the right dinnerware for your home. Maybe you’re unsure of where to start your search — if so, you’re in the right place.

We spent several days researching materials, retailers, return policies, and much more in order to find several dinnerware sets that we think are solid choices. In doing so, we’re sharing a lot of what we learned on different dinnerware materials so that you can make your most informed decision.


What You Need To Know To Buy Dinnerware

Open Stock vs. Sets

It’s hard to know how many dishes you’ll need, and how many will inevitably break — no matter which material you choose. Which is why we’re big fans of open stock sets. It allows you to expand or replace pieces as you need to, and also doesn’t lock you into purchasing pieces that you know you won’t use.

Pattern vs. Plain

In today’s modern registries, simple, white dinnerware wins out. Its timeless aesthetic will adapt to any kitchen or occasion. White makes a beautiful backdrop for food, and looks great with vintage, mismatched, colorful serveware that you may pick up over the years.

If white’s just not your style, many of the sets we’ve selected come in a range of colors that make Pantone proud. If you do go bold, consider buying a few extra — finding a chip is a drag, but finding out then that your color is discontinued is even worse.

Also, despite their popularity, it’s important to note that most gold- and metallic-trimmed plates can’t go in the microwave, or be washed with citrus scented soap.

Size and Shape

We based our decisions heavily on material and quality, but when narrowing your own list, size and shape could be given heavy consideration. Ask yourself these questions to get started:

  • Will they fit in your cupboards and dishwasher comfortably?
  • Are the soup and cereal bowls deep or shallow, and which do you prefer?
  • Think of your favorite meals — are there adequate dishes for them?
  • If you’re constantly battling portion control, then large, rimless dishes aren’t a good move.

Everyday vs. Formal

Even the most frequent entertainers seem to agree – an informal and formal set of dishes is frivolous. Instead, find a dish that’s a comfortable fit for everyday use, but also fancy enough for guests (and the occasional Instagram!).

That being said, you’ll want to have more than just your standard set of four or six so that you’re never short for a dinner party. Besides, it just means you have longer before you run out in everyday use.

How we chose our favorites:

There are a lot of options out there for dinnerware, and so our process for finding the best dinnerware meant we had to choose a few parameters to narrow our search by.

  • We opted to look at white sets, which as mentioned above, are by far the most common on wedding registries (and practical, but that’s our opinion).
  • We read customer reviews across manufacturer and third-party websites, making comprehensive lists of both the pros and cons that real users found when purchasing and using certain sets of dishes.
  • We feel confident that our list represents well-made dinnerware in every price range. We also factored in price by making sure that higher prices actually did indicate better materials and craftsmanship.

Dinnerware Types

China / Bone China

If you take regular china and add animal bones (yes, really), and fire it at a lower temperature, you get bone china — which is the most durable (and expensive) of all, despite its dainty appearance.

Fiestaware made quite a name for itself when it came onto the scene in the late 1940’s. Ever since, households everywhere have praised the dishes sturdiness and dependability. The design has barely changed, but the colors they offer are endless.

Inspired by the ornate detailing of the Victorian era, these dainty-but-delightful plates feature a variety of edgework in varying patterns, set against bright white glaze. Despite the daintiness, reviewers say these dishes does withstand wear.

Porcelain

Fired at ultra-high temperatures, porcelain dishes can withstand a lot of use and temperature change, and look good doing it. This makes it great for everyday, but also delicate enough to use at a dinner party. Also, like bone china, it comes at a cost — porcelain is one of the more expensive dinnerware materials to produce.

Gentle grooves along the edge of the plates and bowls add texture that still looks fluid and natural. The steep-sided bowls are unique, so you’ll likely love them or want nothing to do with them — but most reviewers say they’ll never buy a different bowl.

A subtle curve and slight lip are all the details that this set gets, leaving it as minimalist as a dishes can be without losing function. The edges are, however, gently stretched, so no two plates are exactly the same.

This classic dinnerware set gets praise for its size and simplicity. It’s available open stock, so you can customize how many of each piece you need — including even a full serveware set of the same style.

Stoneware

Stoneware is a type of fired ceramic dinnerware. It’s one of the thickest materials, and has vitreous glass mixed into the clay for added strength. When it’s of good quality, stoneware is very durable and resistant to chipping. Generally, it can withstand all temperatures, so long as they aren’t rapidly changing.

While this limited collection doesn’t come cheap, it’s timeless design will remain a staple on your table for years to come. We love the perfect roundness of the plates, and the shallow, wide bowls that are perfect for soups or salads alike.

Designer Aaron Probyn crafted this set with the sentiment of enjoying meals with friends and family. Reviewers say that this set the sturdy and reliable for everyday use, and love the uniqueness of the speckled pattern against light grey glaze.

This popular dinnerware set boasts ‘freeform rims’, accentuating the artisan style and soft look of the collection. If you’re a fan of simplicity and steep, deep bowls — this set is for you.


Other Materials

Enamel

Made from steel coated in glass, enamelware has been a favorite material choice for generations of Brit’s and camping enthusiasts alike. While it isn’t microwave safe, it’s ability to take the heat makes it great bakeware.

Enamelware is shatterproof and dishwasher safe, and makes for great bake and serveware, in addition to everyday dinner plates.

Earthenware

While it’s less durable than stoneware, earthenware is a favorite of many due to it’s affordability and ability to be placed in the dishwasher or microwave. For those who love thick, heavy dishes, earthenware is the way to go.

The organic look and feel of these earthenware plates makes them feel like a family heirloom that gets better with age. In fact, the look comes from dipping black clay into a glossy white glaze. After making several trips to the kiln, edges of the black peek through for a rustic look.

Vitrelle Glass

An opaque, thin style of glass that has been fired at a super high temperature, making it stain resistant and virtually unbreakable — seriously, you can’t break this stuff. And the price is hard to beat, too.

Corelle is by far the biggest name in vitrelle glass dinnerware. For generations, it’s proven reliability and affordability make it a staple in households where if something can break, it will break.


Choosing the right dinnerware set for your wedding registry should be a combination of functionality and personal taste. Armed with the knowledge of the difference between porcelain and enamelware and sets vs. open stock, you have everything you need to find the best dinnerware set for you.

Whether you’re entertaining friends for dinner or elevating a piece of toast, nice dinnerware will make the food you eat at home feel that much more special for years to come.