Choosing flatware—whether it’s for a first home, crafting a wedding registry, or preparing to host a major event—involves weighing a number of factors. Shoppers can quickly become overwhelmed when faced with decisions about materials, finish, cost, pattern, number of pieces, and more.
The best flatware is usually durable, low maintenance, easy to clean, and has a versatile design that can be used for both casual dining and formal occasions. This guide shares the most important features to look for and offers choices by category for some of the top products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Amazon Brand – Stone & Beam 45-Piece Flatware Set
- RUNNER-UP: HENCKELS J.A Flatware Set 65 Piece Silver, 22520-365
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hiware 48-Piece Silverware Set with Steak Knives
- UPGRADE PICK: Lenox Portola 65-Piece Flatware Set
- BEST CLASSIC: Mikasa Bravo 20-Piece 18/10 Stainless Steel Flatware
- BEST MODERN: Homelux Theory Stainless Steel Set | 5-piece Modern
- BEST SIMPLE: Oneida B336045A Mooncrest 45-Piece Flatware Set
- BEST FORMAL: Mikasa Regent Bead Gold 65-Piece Flatware Set
- BEST GOLD: Berglander 20 Piece Titanium Gold Plated Flatware Set
- BEST PATTERNS: Cambridge Silversmiths Blossom Sand 20-Piece Set
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Flatware Sets
While it’s easy to assume all flatware sets offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality, including material, finish, handles, decorative details, and more. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best flatware set for your kitchen or dining room.
Sterling Silver vs. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel and sterling silver are two of the most popular materials used to make flatware. Each has its benefits, and there are variations within both categories.
- Stainless steel is durable, low maintenance, and easy to clean. Look for flatware made from 18/10 stainless steel, which includes 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel. This mix makes it more resistant to rust and corrosion. While 18/0 stainless steel is more affordable, it contains only trace amounts of nickel and is, therefore, more prone to scratches and corrosion.
- Sterling silver is composed of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. This material has traditionally been used for formal dining, but it requires regular polishing and is not dishwasher safe.
Mirror vs. Satin Finish
The majority of stainless steel flatware is available in one of two finishes: mirror and satin.
- Mirror-finish flatware is highly polished and reflective. This finish has a traditional look, but it tends to show smudges more easily.
- Satin cutlery has more of a brushed, matte look which makes it more casual. While both finishes are equally prone to scratches, they may be less apparent on flatware with a satin finish.
When searching for either mirror- or satin-finish flatware, keep in mind that the finish is usually even and consistent on each piece of a high-quality set.
While most flatware features stainless steel handles, some styles use different materials to reduce cost or create visual interest. Flatware that is either stamped or forged entirely from stainless steel can be more durable and easier to clean.
- Flatware with wood handles is not dishwasher safe and must be hand-washed.
- Plastic handles make cutlery less durable because the material is more susceptible to warping or cracking over time.
- Resin is a durable alternative to plastic, but it tends to be more expensive.
- Rivets that hold the handle to the blade may loosen, causing the handle and head of the cutlery to separate.
- Some stainless steel knives are designed for ideal balance with hollow handles so that the handle is not significantly heavier than the blade.
Comfort is an important factor when choosing flatware that will be used often. Several factors determine the comfort of flatware, including weight, balance, length, and shape.
- When it comes to flatware, weight is a matter of preference. Some favor lightweight pieces, while others prefer heavier cutlery.
- Look for well-balanced flatware that is weighted evenly in the handle and head.
- Flatware varies in length, with some preferring longer pieces and others favoring shorter or medium-length pieces.
- European-style flatware has longer fork tines because Europeans use forks with the tines facing down while Americans generally eat with the tines facing up.
- Deep bowl spoons make eating soup easier.
Flatware patterns vary widely from streamlined, modern styles to ornate, traditional ones. They can include beaded designs, ornamental borders, floral patterns, flared edges, and teardrop- shaped handles. Flatware also can vary in color, with some sets having gold, rose gold, matte black, or multicolor finishing coats. While decorative embellishments can be visually stunning, they’re usually chosen for formal tableware and fancier tablescapes.
Some households may use just one set of flatware year-round, regardless of the occasion. A simple pattern that complements your dinnerware and suits your taste will usually be timeless for years to come.
Consider how many place settings are needed before shopping for cutlery. Usually, 12 place settings are sufficient for most households. These sets can be purchased in three different ways: as open-stock, by place setting, and in box sets.
- Open-stock flatware enables shoppers to buy utensils piece by piece. Open stock flatware tends to be less expensive and often uses inferior quality materials.
- High-end flatware is typically sold by place setting. A standard place setting comprises five pieces: a salad fork, a dinner fork, a knife, a soup spoon, and a teaspoon. Many retailers offer discounts when purchasing multiple place settings. Shoppers generally have to purchase serving ware separately.
- Box sets generally come with 20, 45, or 65 pieces. Most 20-piece sets feature four place settings, 45-piece sets include eight settings and extra serving pieces, and 65-piece sets have 12 place settings and serving utensils.
Our Top Picks
While there are many kinds of flatware sets to choose from to outfit a kitchen, these top picks take into account the features mentioned above as well as overall quality and situation in a variety of categories to suit just about any home.
Made from high-quality 18/10 stainless steel, Stone & Beam’s 45-piece flatware set is durable, easy to clean, and has a timeless design that works for a Tuesday night dinner or a special occasion. It includes eight place settings as well as a serving spoon and fork, a butter knife, a sugar spoon, and a slotted spoon. With 20-piece and 65-piece sets also available, the flatware has a mirror finish and rounded edges. Plus, a satin finish also is available. While this version has a simple and versatile aesthetic, the set is offered in several other designs to suit various tastes.
J.A. Henckels may be known for their knives, but they also produce this flatware set that balances high-quality construction with a classic aesthetic. The 65-piece set includes 12 place settings and five serving pieces: a serving spoon, a serving fork, a slotted serving spoon, a butter knife, and a sugar spoon.
Each piece is made from 18/10 stainless steel with a high-shine mirror finish and an ornamental border for added visual interest. The handles are finished with a decorative accent at the base. The knives in the set are forged rather than stamped, making them heavy, strong, and durable.
Hiware’s 48-piece flatware set is made up of eight -place settings. Instead of formal serving utensils that may not be necessary for many modern households, the set includes a steak knife to go with each setting. The mirror finish and rounded edges provide a classic, high-end look at an affordable price.
While affordable utensil sets are often made using low-quality materials, the pieces in this set are made from 18/8 stainless steel, which is composed of 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel for added resistance to rust and corrosion. The set is also available with a matte black finish and comes in both a larger 65-piece set and a smaller 20-piece set.
Lenox’s 65-piece Portola flatware set includes 12 place settings and five serving pieces. The serving pieces include a standard serving spoon, a pierced serving spoon, a sugar spoon, a butter knife, and a serving fork. The flatware is made using rust-resistant 18/10 stainless steel with a mirror finish that won’t tarnish even after years of use.
Each piece in the collection is ergonomically designed and well balanced. Each handle’s base features a decorative beaded channel, giving this flatware an elegant, high-end look. This flatware strikes a balance between traditional and contemporary that makes it well suited for most households.
While Mikasa produces a number of different flatware designs, their Bravo pattern has a simple, classic aesthetic that is sure to be stylish for years to come. The lustrous 18/10 stainless steel provides a mirror finish that is durable and tarnish-resistant. Each piece is gently curved with a ridged edge and teardrop-shaped handle, resulting in a versatile look that’s suitable for both casual and formal dining.
Mikasa’s flatware is sold in 20-piece sets with four place settings that include a salad fork, a dinner fork, a dinner knife, a dinner spoon, and a teaspoon.
With a sleek design and long, stiletto-style handles, this flatware set from Homelux Theory is a great choice for those with modern design sensibilities. The distinctive round spoons will make an impact on any table. The 20-piece set is made from 18/10 stainless steel and includes four place settings, though a 10-piece version also is available. Each piece of cutlery is lightweight and ergonomically designed for ideal ease of use.
Choose from a silver mirror finish, a matte black finish, and a rose gold finish. While the stainless steel is dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends washing by hand for the best results.
The flatware in Oneida’s Mooncrest set has a highly reflective mirror finish and is entirely unadorned, making it aesthetically versatile. Each piece features a slender, flared handle with a softly pointed tip. They’re designed to feel natural to hold, with gently curved edges. The set is composed of 45 pieces, including service for eight as well as a standard serving spoon, a slotted serving spoon, a serving fork, a sugar spoon, and a butter knife.
Dishwasher-safe 18/0 stainless steel is used to craft each piece. To accommodate larger gatherings, a 65-piece, 12-person set also is available.
While sterling silver has traditionally been used for formal dining, this 18/10 stainless steel set is much more practical without sacrificing any elegance. Mikasa’s Regent Bead patterns feature a two-toned design with a silver base and subtly contrasting 24-karat gold beading on the handles. While the pattern is formal enough for special occasions, it’s not so ornate that it would look out of place on the typical dinner table.
The set includes 65 pieces with 12 place settings, as well as a tablespoon, a pierced tablespoon, a cold meat fork, a butter knife, and a sugar spoon. Everything in the set is dishwasher safe despite the gold accents.
Gold-toned flatware has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many brands producing plated cutlery to keep up with the trend. This set from Berglander comes in traditional gold and rose gold finishes and is sold in 20-piece sets.
The flatware is made from 18/0 stainless steel and vacuum plated at a high temperature with a gold-toned titanium finish. Each piece’s soft curve is designed to be easy to hold and is well balanced for ideal ergonomics. The cutlery is durable, scratch-resistant, and dishwasher safe. A gold serving set is also available.
Cambridge Silversmiths makes high-quality flatware in a number of different patterns and finishes, providing a suitable option for nearly any household. Their 20-piece cutlery sets are available with either a satin or a mirror finish and feature decorative details, including floral designs, hammered handles, chevron patterns, mosaic prints, and more. The designs vary in shape, with some featuring rounded handles and others including more modern square handles.
A satin finish offers a more contemporary look and a mirror finish is designed for a more traditional tablescape. Made from 18/0 stainless steel, the cutlery is created for everyday use. It’s low maintenance, dishwasher safe, and doesn’t require polishing.
FAQs About Flatware Sets
As there is a great deal to consider, there may be a few new or lingering questions or concerns about choosing the best flatware set for a kitchen. Check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about flatware.
Q. What is the difference between flatware and silverware?
While the term “silverware” is often used synonymously with flatware, silverware technically refers to flatware made from sterling silver.
Q. What is the difference between 18/10 and 18/0 flatware?
While 18/10 flatware is made from stainless steel that includes 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel, 18/0 flatware is made from stainless steel with just 0.75 percent nickel, making it less resistant to corrosion.
Q. How many flatware sets are needed for a household?
The number of flatware sets needed depends on how many people will be served. A 20-piece set usually includes four place settings, 45-piece sets have eight place settings, and 65-piece sets include 12 place settings.
Q. How is flatware placed on a table?
When setting a table, place forks to the left of the plate and knives and spoons to the right. Place utensils in the order they will be used, starting from the outside.