Dinnerware Buying Guide

The Plum Street Pottery dinnerware buying guide is a must read for those just starting out. Make the choice that works best for you!

Place Setting for One: Dinnerware is often sold as individual place settings—all the pieces you’d need for a single person’s seat at the table. The most common is a 4-piece place setting that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl and a mug. A popular and versatile option is adding a second small all-purpose, also referred to as a rice bowl or fruit bowl, to create a 5-piece place setting which works equally well for ice cream, fruit, rice, pudding and gelato. Four (4) four piece place settings equal a 16-piece dinnerware set and four (4) five piece place settings equal a 20-piece dinnerware set.

Denby Blends Truffle 4-Piece Place Setting
Denby Blends Truffle 4-Piece Place Setting

Dinner Plate:
The dinner plate needs to be generously sized for a protein (meat/fish), a starch (potatoes, rice, couscous) and a vegetable. The typical dinner plate ranges from 10 to 11 inches and is perfect for any main course meal. Another consideration when deciding on the size of the plate is the dishwasher. The larger the plate the more difficult it will be to keep the plates from tipping over.

Dinner plates are available in a variety of shapes … the traditional round coupe, round rimmed, square and soft square. The dinner plate shown below as part of a 16-piece set is the 11 inch round rimmed Noritake Colorwave Raspberry. The rim design is particularly attractive with Noritake’s contemporary Colorwave colors.

Noritake Colorwave Raspberry Rim 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
Noritake Colorwave is one of the most popular patterns. It is available in a wide range of contemporary colors in a warm satin glaze.

Salad Plate:
The salad plate generally ranges from 4 to 8 inches and is a terrific dessert plate as well. The salad plate is not only the ideal size for salads and desserts, it is also handy for the casual breakfast muffins and croissants or your favorite sandwich at lunchtime. Salad plates are also available in the same variety of shapes as the dinner plates. The Denby Heritage Terrace 8-Inch Accent Salad shown below is a great example of a functional salad plate and a beautiful accent for your table.

Denby Terrace Orchard Accent Salad Plate
Denby is considered one of the premier stoneware dinnerware manufacturers.

Soup / Cereal Bowl/Pasta Bowl:
The soup/cereal bowl will be one of the most used dinnerware items in your cabinet. Many manfacturers call it an All-Purpose bowl for good reason. It will handle a lot more than soup including chili, stews, rice, pasta, oatmeal, fresh fruit and salads just to name a few.

Dansk Raina Grey Pasta Bowl
Dansk Rain Light Grey Pasta Bowl

Save your cups and saucers for formal dinners. Today’s casual dinnerware designs feature generously sized mugs of 8 to 16 ounces. All mugs hold coffee, tea, hot chocolate and broth. The larger 16 ounce mugs are also great for your favorite soup. 

Gibson Soho Lounge Red Latte Mug
Gibson Elite 18 ounce latte mug works great for soups.

Small All-Purpose Bowl:

One item often overlooked is the small all-purpose bowl. Like its bigger brother the soup bowl and pasta bowl, it is equally versatile but will hold smaller amounts. The bowls will run from 4-inch mini bowls and 5 inch rice bowls to 21 ounce small-all purpose bowls. The addition of this bowl makes a very popular 5-piece place setting. Another way to add all-purpose bowls is to purchase a set of bowls.

Denby Natural Canvas Set of Four Nesting Bowls
Denby Natural Canvas Nesting Bowls

Dinnerware Sets

A single set of dinnerware is made up of multiple place settings. The most common are 16- and 20-piece sets, which offer service for four. What’s in them? The 16-piece set includes four each of the dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl and a mug. The 20-piece set typically includes a small all-purpose bowl that is used for rice, ice cream and gelato. Several manufacturers now offer a 12-piece set. This set does not include mugs on the theory that most families already own several sets of mugs and it lowers the price point.

Open Stock Dinnerware

Last but not least, any dinnerware buying guide must review the ultimate in customization. Open stock dinnerware allows you to pick and choose exactly which dishes, plates and mugs you want and need. Sometimes they are sold as a mix-and-match collection; you can choose from coordinating designs and colors within the same pattern.

No dinnerware buying guide would be complete without discussing the dinnerware materials. Every dinnerware material has its advantages and disadvantages. For a complete review visit the Plum Street Pottery Dinnerware Materialspage.

Please be sure to send us a comment if we missed or overlooked any information that should be covered in our Dinnerware Buying Guide!