The Best Flatware Sets for Every Setting

Dine at home in style with chic knives, spoons, and forks to fit every aesthetic.

byHannah Selinger| PUBLISHED May 20, 2022 5:12 PM
The Best Flatware Sets for Every Setting
Courtesy of Food52.
Share

If your original flatware set has sadly dwindled down to a patchwork production with missing forks, you are likely not alone. Finding the perfect set of flatware in a sea of mediocrity  may prove Herculean in scope. Because it’s not just about how well the knife cuts, the spoon scoops, the fork pierces, after all. It’s about the water spots after a dishwasher run, the feel of it in your hand, the way it looks on the table as the candles have melted to stubs. And since most people aren’t constantly swapping out their flatware sets, how well does it integrates into your daily table settings. 

We’ve curated our favorites: sets with pizzazz, sets with heft, sets that will hold up to countless rounds in the dishwasher, sets in matte black and gold. Read on for our picks for the best flatware sets.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Dansk Bistro Cafe Flatware Set

Best Overall
Check Latest Price

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: yes | Items In Set: 20 | Material: stainless steel |

Pros


  • Beautiful, streamlined silhouette
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Tarnish-resistant

Cons


  • Only comes in smaller sets
  • Limited serving pieces included
  • Expensive

Why we chose it: A timeless classic that can be used for both formal and informal occasions. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Dansk has weathered the test of time. This midcentury producer continues to lean into minimalist design in cookware, and this flatware set is no exception. A bistro set with a gentle taper, the aesthetically pleasing design is just one of the many benefits here. Dansk’s set is also tarnish-resistant and dishwasher-safe. The price tag can climb, though; a four-person set clocks in at $120, and a set for eight is $200, so if you need service for a larger household, the numbers may add up. The good news is that is should last for many years, as long as no one sneaks off with the spoons. 

Best Value: Ornative Rena 20-Piece Flatware Set For 4

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: yes | Items In Set: 20 | Material: stainless steel |

Pros


  • Inexpensive
  • Available in four finishes
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons


  • The aesthetic isn’t for everyone
  • They may not hold up to heavy wear
  • May leave water spots

Why we chose it: A wallet-friendly option for those who want the both affordability and a grand aesthetic. 

If price is a sticking point, there may be no better deal around than this 20-piece set from Ornative, which comes in four finishes: black matte, copper, gold, and silver. For under $40, it’s hard to beat the pricing, and this everyday flatware is dishwasher-safe, to boot. Some may argue, of course, that you get what you pay for. This flatware may not hold up to excessive use (some have reported minor chipping of the black, copper, and gold finishes). Still, you really cannot beat this price point. 

Best for a Colorful Table: Mepra Italian Flatware, Fantasia Color Flatware Set

Best for a Colorful Table
Check Latest Price

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: yes | Items In Set: 30, 40, or 60 | Material: stainless steel and resin |

Pros


  • Sets can be purchased up to 12 table settings
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Come in an array of colors

Cons


  • Expensive
  • Bright colors are not for everyone
  • Some colors are currently backordered

Why we chose it: Color meets functional dining design in this timeless flatware set. 

Italian producer Mepra has produced the best of the best with this part resin, part stainless steel flatware set, which adds whimsy to the table. Sets can be ordered in single or mixed colors (a total of 14 selections are available, the most difficult part of which is making a choice). The flatware is dishwasher-safe and comes with a lifetime guarantee, an asset at this admittedly high price point. Sets come in 30-, 40-, and 60-piece configurations and serviceware is also available. Buyers take note, however: some colors are backordered through the end of summer.

Best in Black and Gold: Fortessa Tableware Solutions Arezzo Flatware

Best in Black and Gold
Check Latest Price

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: yes | Items In Set: 20 | Material: plated stainless steel |

Pros


  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Comes in multiple finishes
  • Contemporary look

Cons


  • High-maintenance
  • Only comes in a 4-setting set
  • May be too modern for some

Why we chose it: A sleek set for those looking for gold or black 

For those veering away from the silver part of silverware, Fortessa Tableware has a solution for all. The Arezzo Flatware line comes in multiple finishes, including both gold and black matte, so you can match the look of your flatware to the look of your home. Flatware is contemporary, with sleek lines and angles. Some notes to consider: this set requires a little bit of work, like a hot water rinse before use in the dishwasher if you’re looking to avoid water spots (a must when it comes to gold and black). Also, the set maxes out at four settings, so you may need to purchase more than just one.

Best Tapered: Gaze Satin Flatware Place Setting

Best Tapered
Check Latest Price

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: yes | Items In Set: 20 | Material: stainless steel |

Pros


  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Serviceware available
  • Slim and streamlined

Cons


  • Only comes in a 4-setting set
  • Grip can be uncomfortable for some
  • Very specific design

Why we chose it: A beautiful tapered set that sets a dreamy table 

For a tapered flatware set that will make guests’ jaws drop, this set from West Elm is a thing of joy forever. Made from durable stainless steel, this set is dishwasher-safe, but the black and gold is an upgraded aesthetic touch. The tapered ends may not be for everyone; some guests may find this type of flatware difficult to grip. One other drawback is that this set only comes in a four-setting configuration, although extra serviceware can be purchased separately.

Best for the Outdoors: Homenook Bamboo Silverware Set

Best for the Outdoors
Check Latest Price

Stamped VS Forged: NA | Dishwasher Safe: no | Items In Set: 5 | Material: stainless steel, bamboo |

Pros


  • Eco-minded cutlery for the outdoors
  • Charming and elegant
  • Lightweight

Cons


  • Not dishwasher-safe
  • Only comes as a single set
  • Can be expensive

Why we chose it: An upgraded set for the great outdoors 

These bamboo-handled pieces add a bit of sophistication to every outdoor affair. Forget about dreaded, bad-for-the-environment plastic. Reusable, charming, and lightweight bamboo flatware makes dining outside as noteworthy as dining inside is. Sadly, these wood-handled pieces are not dishwasher-safe, so cleaning them will involve some added labor. Also, sets come one to a package, so the price can tick upward. But it’s a small price to pay (literally and figuratively) for the outdoor fete of your dreams. 

Best Pewter: Alton 20-Piece Flatware Set

Stamped VS Forged: unknown | Dishwasher Safe: no | Items In Set: 20, 42 | Material: pewter, stainless steel |

Pros


  • High-quality, Italian made flatware that will last 
  • Serving set includes fork and spoon
  • Additional teaspoons can also be purchased

Cons


  • Not dishwasher-safe
  • Expensive
  • A more formal look, which may not be for everyone

Why we chose it: A formal pewter set for the luxury home  

They say silver is out, but what about pewter? This substantial set from Williams Sonoma is handcrafted in Italy and offers both heft and grace. It’s the kind of set you pass on from generation to generation, and since it’s not technically silver, you’ll be absolved of the hours upon hours of polishing that actual silver requires. A set like this does have some cons, like the price tag, of course, and the fact that it requires hand-washing. The set’s more formal look won’t appeal to all, but it will make a good complement to a more modern, everyday set.

How We Chose These Products

We compiled a list of categories that we felt were relevant to this piece, including price points, finishes, and outdoor use. We then researched products within those designated categories, based on reviews and brand reputation. Additionally, we spoke to two experts, one of whom was well versed in etiquette, and the other of whom was well versed in how flatware is produced. 

Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Flatware Sets

Types of Flatware Sets

Most flatware sets include five common pieces of cutlery: a salad fork, dinner fork, teaspoon (also called a dessert spoon), dinner spoon, and butter knife. Steak knives are sold separately, as are serving pieces, although some producers add serving pieces to larger sets. 

Material 

The three most common materials used in flatware are stainless steel, pewter, and actual sterling silver. Stainless steel is the least expensive of the three, and silver is the most expensive, and also the most difficult to maintain, since it is prone to tarnish. 

Stainless Steel Grades

Stainless steel grades used in flatware reflect the percentage of chromium and nickel used in stainless steel. These metals add strength, and nickel, in particular, helps with corrosion-resistance and adds luster. Common grades are 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0.

Finish

There are two primary flatware finishes, known as satin and mirror. The satin finish, also commonly referred to as matte, shows fewer fingerprints and is often used for casual dining. 

Stamped vs. Forged

Stamped flatware is cut from a piece of stainless steel, not unlike a stamp, while forged flatware comes from a thick slab of stainless steel, which has been heated and cut to form each individual piece. Due to the heating process, forged flatware is stronger, and, therefore, often more expensive. 

Quantity 

Flatware sets can come in a host of different quantities, from a single place setting to a 60-piece set (service for 12). A common quantity is a 20-piece set, which is service for 20, although many producers offer multiple quantities at different price points so that you can choose the number of place settings that is appropriate for your household.

Ask the Experts

Q: What does a five-piece flatware set include? 

“The traditional Western five-piece flatware set,” says Rachael Narins, a Chef Instructor and recipe developer based in Los Angeles, “includes a salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, a dinner or dessert spoon, and a teaspoon.” 

Q: How many flatware sets do you need to have? 

“For the occasional hostess, at least two sets,” says Deborah Shearer, Founder and Designer of Table + Dine. “One for casual everyday use, and at least one for special occasions and holidays, at the very least.” For those who entertain more frequently, Shearer suggests a flatware set in silver, one in gold matte, and one third, fun option, like black matte, or one with a clear acrylic handle. “I also love tortoise-handled flatware,” she says. “It always adds something interesting to a table setting.”

Q: How do you set flatware on a table?

“The most basic setting,” Narins says, “is to have a fork to the left of the plate, the knife on the right, with the blade edge facing in towards the plate, and your dinner or soup spoon to the right of that.” In more formal dining settings, when more pieces of flatware are used, arrange flatware outward; the pieces you use first go toward the exterior of the plate, she says. 

Q: How should I clean my flatware? 

For sets made from 18/10 stainless steel, the dishwasher is your friend, Narins says, although these sets can also, naturally, be washed by hand. With more delicate materials, take matters into your own hands. “If your set has wood, brass, plastic, resin or silver-plated handles, wash by hand and dry immediately to avoid tarnishing, warping or dulling,” she says. “If you were lucky enough to have your grandmother’s silver passed down to you, you might be hand-washing and polishing when needed,” Shearer adds. 

Q: Can flatware become rusty?

18/10 cutlery, Shearer says, has “terrific rust- and corrosion-resistance, with the most longevity.” It’s also fairly common on the market today. Shearer also says that the best way to guard against rust–and other damage–is to rinse flatware immediately. “Don’t leave food on your flatware overnight,” she says. “At the very least, rinse your flatware at the end of a dinner or party. Food could damage your flatware.” 

Our Take

Flatware is designed to be functional, but it’s also an everyday statement piece. Plan accordingly with the knowledge that you may have to replenish or replace your set down the line, depending on need and usage. With that in mind, Dansk’s bistro set is our top pick for a streamlined, sleek, everyday set that’s broadly appealing.