The Best Ceramic Dinnerware for Every Taste and Table

Ceramic dishes, like our favorite set from East Fork Pottery, serve as the best canvases to show off your food.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Potter's Dinner Set Five Piece
Photo: East Fork

The best ceramic dishes let your food shine, set the scene for the meal, and stand up to heavy use, and our top picks for dinnerware do these three things. Whether handcrafted and organic or polished and industrial, ceramic pieces can work in any home, and you're not limited to investing in just one aesthetic, of course. Moreover, many of our recommendations can withstand use in high-volume restaurants, and with proper care, all of these dishes can become heirlooms. Vitrified ceramic and porcelain pieces (porcelain consists of denser clay fired at higher temperatures) resist moisture, which then prevents bacterial growth.

In addition to our own industry knowledge and research, we spoke with chefs and a ceramicist to guide our selection. We evaluated ceramics based on style, durability, cleaning, and value before deciding on East Fork Pottery's five-piece set as our top choice for dinnerware. Continue reading for our full list of the best ceramic dinnerware.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: East Fork Pottery Potter's Dinner Set

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Eastfork

Each piece of East Fork Pottery is a little unique, as it's all handmade, which means charmingly non-uniform glazes and surfaces that look cohesive and a bit rustic. Rims are left unglazed, giving each piece a distinctive, stylish, and intentionally hand-crafted look.

"East Fork Pottery is some of the best dinnerware you can find for your restaurant. It's reasonably priced and stands up to the demands of a restaurant that churns through several hundred covers a night. In addition, the company works with other local artisans, so you'll always find great home goods and serving goods," says Ted Golden, a restaurateur who also runs the Foodie Buddha dining series in Atlanta.

  • Includes: 5-piece set of ice cream bowl, soup bowl, cake plate, side plate, and dinner plate
  • Colors available: Eggshell, panna cotta, morel, amaro
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Most Versatile: Fortessa Heirloom Smoke Dinnerware Set

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Fortessa

If you're looking for durability and organic shapes but you still gravitate toward mid-century modern, this is your set. Don't be fooled by its almost ethereal look, this set is built to withstand commercial use (or heavy household use). Made of Fortessa's twice-fired Vitraluxe, this set is low absorption (which makes it resistant to bacteria) and ready to handle the high heat of a commercial dishwasher. It's also oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I really love Fortessa for ceramic plates. They've been a tried-and-true partner with my restaurants for a while. They're very reliable and constantly innovating. They represent a number of different sources and artisans, so they always have something that fits my needs," says James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces.

  • Includes: 4-piece set of salad plate, dinner plate, soup bowl, and mug
  • Colors available: Smoke
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Set: Rosenthal 5 Piece Place Setting

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Rosenthalusa

The simplicity of this porcelain Rosenthal set will make the food you place upon it look luxe. There's a reason white plates are the go-to for fine dining – they let the food shine. Rosenthal's elegant and modern white plates are also scratch- and wear-resistant and able to withstand heavy use.

"Rosenthal is my favorite dinnerware," says Brett Naylor, owner of Wilder in Philadelphia. "It is affordable and beautiful. Their white plates look very different from each other and have the perfect tint. They also have amazing patterns that are both elegant and fun."

  • Includes: 5-piece set of bread-and-butter plate, salad plate, dinner plate, cup, and saucer
  • Colors available: White
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Colorful: Haand Ripple Dinner Setting

best ceramic dinnerware
Courtesy of Haand

As the company's name implies, this set is crafted by hand. Made in North Carolina from lead-free, glazed porcelain, these dishes wed organic form with earth-toned glazes. In fact, the shapes of the Ripple set mimic ripples in water.

The dinnerware is also designed to stack neatly in your cupboards, which is uncommon among pieces that don't have a uniform shape. Haand's dinnerware is durable and, according to its website, has a home in 175 restaurants around the world. They're microwave safe and even oven safe up to 400 degrees, though they do not recommend routine oven use.

  • Includes: 5-piece set of dinner plate, salad plate, side plate, pasta bowl, and chemist cup
  • Colors available: Vespertine (blue-green), turmeric, matte white, matte gray, matte black, birch, celadon, fern, burl (mottled brown), concrete, and terra (white and brown)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Value: Crate and Barrel Farmhouse

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Crate and barrel

While pieces of Crate & Barrel's Farmhouse dinnerware start at just $7, this affordable stoneware collection also scores high marks for durability. Made in Portugal, this dinnerware is compatible with the dishwasher, microwave, and warming oven, like the rest of the items on this list. Its elegant, ribbed design can be dressed up or down, so you can use it every day and for special occasions.

"We bought this collection from Crate & Barrel for our new house. We wanted something we would like for a long time – so we ended up with a simple white dish collection that had some texture to it. Also, it's very affordable and easy to replace when you have kids," says chef Marcie Turney, chef-owner of Safran Turney Hospitality in Philadelphia.

  • Includes: Sold open stock or as 4-piece sets (of identical pieces)
  • Colors available: White
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Minimalist: Simon Pearce

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Simonpearce

This hand-thrown stoneware collection will last the ages. Its alabaster glaze provides the perfect creamy white backdrop for both casual weeknight dinners and fine dining. "Simon Pearce products are absolute showstoppers," says Aimee Olexy, owner of Philadelphia's Talula restaurants. "I especially love the Cavendish Dove dinnerware. It is sturdy and incredibly timeless. These plates are rich and heavy. I've been using Simon Pearce elements in my dining rooms for 25 years. Guests ask to buy them on the spot! The clean, snowy white design feels warm and hand-sculpted. Food tastes better from these plates and I never, ever tire of them."

  • Includes: Sold open stock or by the piece
  • Colors available: White
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Most Durable: Made In The Tabletop Set

Best Ceramic Dinnerware
Courtesy of Madeincookware

Made In's glazed ceramic pieces are even glazed on their undersides, ensuring the greatest durability and protection from scratches and bacteria. Made In is so confident in its dinnerware it promotes a one-year no-chip guarantee. Made of vitrified ceramic, which increases its non-porousness, this set is dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe as well as oven safe up to 570 degrees Fahrenheit.

"My favorite pieces of ceramic dinnerware are my bowls, purchased from Made In. It is highly important to have beautiful ceramic to elevate the presentation of each dish, and I consider our ceramic dinnerware another important ingredient to the dining experience. You know what they say: you eat with your eyes first," says Ricardo Sandoval, executive chef at Frame in Philadelphia. Need a matching casserole dish? Made In makes those, too, and we're fans.

  • Includes: 4 dinner plates, 4 appetizer plates, 4 entrée bowls, 4 side bowls, 4 five-piece place settings of flatware, and 1 serving platter
  • Colors available: White, white with red rim, white with navy rim, and white with black rim
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Conclusion

For ceramics with a handmade look that can withstand frequent use (even at restaurants), go for our Best Overall, East Fork Pottery. If you're looking for durability, opt for Made In's comprehensive set. Match any of these mostly-white ceramic canvases with a spunky, daring piece of serveware.

Factors to Consider

Style

Several of our picks, such as Haand and East Fork Pottery, celebrate the fact that their pieces were made by the hands of a human versus clay thrown onto a wheel. These pieces are not identical – glazes and textures differ. If you're looking for an extremely uniform look, choose a brand like Rosenthal or MadeIn. Alternatively, mix and match the hand-thrown pieces with more uniform, industrial plates and bowls to further highlight the individuality of the handmade pieces. Need more simplicity in your life? We're also a huge fan of one-bowl-fits-all pieces like Material's Open Bowl.

Cleaning

Most of our picks are dishwasher safe and can withstand much higher temperatures than other types of tableware. Brands like Fortessa, Rosenthal, Haand, and MadeIn are also used in many restaurants, which means that you can trust them to be commercial dishwasher safe, practically impenetrable to water (and thus bacteria), and able to withstand heavy use and cleaning.

Price

You're generally going to save a little by purchasing sets as opposed to open stock. If a bargain is what you're looking for, Crate & Barrel has many affordable options that chefs and event planners love. If you're looking for heirloom-quality pieces that will last the longest and give you the most bang for your buck, you're going to want vitrified china, such as that of Fortessa or MadeIn.

Pro Panel Q+A

Q: What is ceramic?

A: "Ceramics is the process of taking clay and creating a permanent piece by way of sculpting, throwing on a wheel, using forms for shaping, and then firing. There are endless possibilities [for shaping]," says ceramicist Leslie Boden, who leads the creative efforts of The Staunton Grocery and who throws and fires dishes at her home.

Q: Is ceramic or porcelain better for dinnerware?

A: "I believe dinnerware is a personal preference. Commercial porcelain is fired at a higher temperature [than other ceramics] to make it more durable. Porcelain is also a lighter-colored clay that can produce more vibrant and decorative styles. Stoneware [a type of ceramic] is generally darker and can be more subdued and more organic looking," Boden says.

Q: Do ceramics chip easily?

A: "Dinnerware chips," Boden says. "When throwing a piece on the wheel, finishing it with a smooth, compressed rim and clean edges will help prevent premature chipping. When firing the ceramist also needs to be sure that the glaze is the same cone (temperate measurement) as the clay. Wear and tear are normal but ceramic pieces can last for a very long time!"

Q: Is ceramic microwave-safe?

A: "There are variables. If the clay isn't properly glazed or has a small hairline crack, it could shatter in the microwave. Also, be sure there are no lusters – decorative accents that are sometimes used – when microwaving the piece. If possible, ask the ceramicist who made the piece if it's safe when there are no microwave-safe labels," Boden says.

Our Expertise

Kiki Aranita is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer. As the former owner of a busy restaurant and catering business, she has seen many plates sustain aggression and breakage, and be replaced over the years. She is also an ardent lover of Mexican clay pieces, especially barro negro pottery from Oaxaca and Japanese ceramics, as she was frequently dragged all over Tokyo by her designer parents as a child, searching for unique pieces to add to their dinnerware collections. She has tested products for major publications like USA Today in addition to Food & Wine.

Ceramicist Leslie Boden leads the creative efforts of The Staunton Grocery, which is adjacent to her husband Chef Ian Boden's restaurant, The Shack. The Shack serves its prix fixe menu upon Leslie Boden's stunningly lovely ceramic dishes, thrown and fired at the couple's nearby home.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles