Published on June 10, 2021

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Food52

There comes a moment in every person’s life when the hodgepodge of mismatched utensils that you’ve pieced together from college, IKEA, and that roommate who moved out and left hers behind has got to go. True, if your forks can poke and your spoons can scoop, they are technically getting the job done. But whether you’re eating a four-course feast or a morning egg, there’s so much more to the dining experience than just the mechanics: The way a great set of flatware looks on your table and feels in your hand might just be the secret ingredient your meals have been missing. Yet with seemingly endless options and no way to see or feel the pieces beforehand, shopping for flatware online is no easy task. That’s why we’ve scoured the market, chatted with experts, and narrowed our list down to the 10 best flatware sets for all aesthetics and price points. Now all you have to do is pick a set, find a recipe, and set the table in style.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Material: Stainless steel was discovered in 1913 and has been the go-to for everyday dining ever since, thanks to its durability, stain resistance, and dishwasher-safe unfussiness. Made from sterling silver, the same material used to fashion jewelry, traditional silverware is a much pricier investment than silver-plated flatware, which typically consists of a copper core coated in sterling silver. Both are known to tarnish and require polishing but actually can be dishwasher safe. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly and avoid washing with other metals and detergents that contain citrus.

Quantity: Flatware is usually sold by place setting—that is, all the utensils one person needs for their spot at the table. A single five-piece setting typically includes a salad fork, dinner fork, knife, tablespoon, and teaspoon. A box set, which bundles multiple place settings, can be a more affordable option; the most common is 20 pieces, which covers a table for four.

Design: While there is such a thing as classic etiquette, there’s something to be said for personal style. “There are no rules when it comes to setting a table,” say Silvana Cure and Valerie Ortega, cofounders of modern tablescape rental service Pleit. “Use your creativity and play with what you have at home.” But if you’re looking for a few guidelines, they recommend asking yourself what mood you want your table to convey. Do you prefer elegant affairs? Go with a classic stainless steel design. Are you a frequent pizza partyer? Feel free to get more casual by adding color or acrylic handles. Then match the color and materials of your flatware to the serveware (bowls, dishes, trays) it will be keeping company with. This visual consistency will leave room for you to mix things up with accessories like tablecloths, napkins, and florals.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Pottery Barn Luna Flatware Set

Neither too modern nor too ornate, Pottery Barn’s top-selling design is striking yet classic enough to be used day in, day out. With a gracefully proportioned shape that pairs long lines with a solid handle, this set is made from 18/8 stainless steel, the second-highest grade of chromium and nickel, which stands up relatively well to corrosion. Complement these utensils with thin ceramic dishes that have just a hint of a lip for a contemporary look that feels timeless.

Best Value: Lianyu Flatware Set

With more than 17,000 positive ratings on Amazon, this ultra-affordable set—the number-one best-seller on Amazon—has been put to the test. The simplified design is available in a range of finishes, from standard silver to a trippy, iridescent rainbow, but its appearance isn’t the only draw: Reviewers are routinely impressed by the solid weight, comfortable balance, and unbeatable price, but we like that it comes in 10-, 20-, 30-, and 60-piece sets. At less than $50 for the latter, you can afford to try a new style for your next dinner party.

Best Modern: Alessi Dry Flatware

The furnishings and homewares of award-winning Italian designer Achille Castiglioni are often on view at the Museum of Modern Art, so it’s no surprise that even his cutlery concepts are works of art. Unique yet approachable, each piece subtly juxtaposes a squared-off matte handle with a softly curving, polished end. Though more expensive than other options, this is one design that will never go out of style.

Best Traditional Design: Crate & Barrel Grand Hotel II Flatware

If you’re looking for a nostalgic design that goes from black-tie dinners to cereal breakfasts without missing a beat, this is the set for you. With their timeless mirrored finish, the classically curved handles are lined with delicate beadwork that adds a traditional flourish without going full-on Downton Abbey. It’s also a perfect starter set: You can build on it with Crate & Barrel’s matching steak knives and serving sets.

Best Vintage Inspired: Sharecook Matte Silverware Set

Inspired by mid-century Scandinavian designs, this set updates whimsically tapered forms with a range of colors bold enough for even the most playful table settings. Think: Alice in Wonderland meets Alvar Aalto. We like the matte rose gold finish, which looks just as chic alongside a minimalist, ultramodern plate as it does next to an antique copper serving dish.

Best Bistro Style: Sabre Bistrot Flatware

We adore the unpretentious charm of this classic bistro-style flatware. Made in France, the utensils feature an unexpected brushed stainless steel finish and durable riveted handles made with your choice of dishwasher-safe acrylic or teak for everyday ease. Go with black or ivory if you’re feeling timeless, or multicolored for a look that’s très éclectique.

Best Gold: Farmhouse Pottery Stowe Flatware

Mining the Internet for glamorous (but not gaudy) gold flatware is always a challenge, but this set hits pay dirt on all accounts. Pairing the perfect warm hue with a delightfully tactile brushed finish and tastefully simple shape, these pieces make every meal feel that much richer. The best part? They’re actually made of stainless steel, so they’ll last just as long as your heirloom china.

Best Black: Heath Ceramics Muir Flatware

Looking for a set you can truly feel good about buying? Crafted in New York by Sherrill Manufacturing, the last remaining flatware manufacturer in the country, Heath Ceramics’s Muir flatware is the first American-made pattern to hit the market in nearly a decade. It’s also a stunner thanks to its earthy matte surface and dramatic onyx finish—and the simplicity of its minimalist design.

Best Multicolored: West Elm Fantasia Flatware Set

Why settle for one bold hue when you have the whole rainbow at your disposal? Made in Italy, these lively sets feature resin handles over stainless steel frames that taper at the neck for a touch of visual drama. Colors come in sets of 5 or 20, so pick your favorite, or mix and match depending on what’s for dinner.

Best On-the-Go: W&P Porter Utensils With Silicone Carrying Case

Single-use plastic utensils are never a good look. With this inventive set, you never have to eat with them again. Housed in a dishwasher-safe silicone carrying case—you can choose from a blush-hued terrazzo pattern or a variety of quiet pastels—W&P Porter’s trio of utensils are all pleasingly sturdy and eco-friendly. Just pop them in your bag and be ready to dig in on a train, at the park, or even in the office.

Ask Domino

What’s the best quality of stainless steel flatware?

Stainless steel is an alloy, or blend of multiple metals. When it comes to flatware, the grades 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0 refer to the percentage of chromium and nickel present in the steel. The higher the percentage of nickel (the second number in the fraction), the better. Why? Nickel improves the shine, weight, and resistance to corrosion. Thus 18/10 stainless steel is the best-quality flatware to invest in. But according to Cure and Ortega, “Other ratios are not bad, they are just more susceptible to oxidation and rust if they are not handled and washed correctly.”

How do you set flatware on a table?

Forks go to the left of your plate; knives and spoons sit on the right. Place each piece in the order it will be used, starting from the outside and moving in.

How We Vetted These Products

Every product in a Domino guide meets these criteria:

  • They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
  • They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
  • They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews from both our creative community and third-party websites to know that they pass the test IRL.

The products in this story are independently selected by (obsessive) editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

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