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The Best Flatware Sets
Good flatware can’t make your food taste better—but it will make your meals a lot more enjoyable.
Last Updated Aug. 17, 2023. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 23: Light Summer Meal
Our overall favorite flatware set has been discontinued. In its place, we recommend the Crate and Barrel Caesna Mirror 20-Piece Flatware Place Setting, which includes four five-piece place settings.
What You Need To Know
Few kitchen tools get as much use as flatware, so we decided to test different sets of stainless-steel flatware. We found several great options. The sleek, sophisticated Crate and Barrel Caesna Mirror 20-Piece Flatware Place Setting includes four five-piece place settings. It’s our overall favorite. The Oneida Voss 45-Piece Flatware Set, a heavy but attractive and fairly well-balanced set, is our Best Buy.
What You Need to Know
If there’s anything that can get people talking, it’s flatware. Even people who rarely cook have complaints: Their cousin’s forks are so heavy that they dread every meal, their current set is so poorly balanced that the utensils slide off the plate and onto the floor, their spoons are so dinky that they seem to hold only a drop of soup.
Flatware is an important purchase; it’s expensive, and you’re likely to use the same flatware for years, maybe even decades. You want to be confident that you’re buying a good set. We were determined to find simple flatware that was effective, felt comfortable for a variety of people to use, and was sturdy enough to use every day and then toss in the dishwasher to clean up. We also wanted it to have broad aesthetic appeal. Since sterling silver is pricey and requires special care, we focused on stainless-steel flatware.
The definition of a standard place setting has changed over the years, but today it consists of five utensils: a salad fork, a dinner fork, a knife, a dinner spoon, and a teaspoon. Some utensils can be purchased à la carte (also called “open stock”). Others are sold in sets that include four to 12 place settings and often several matching serving utensils. Typically, the included serving utensils are a serving spoon and slotted spoon, a serving fork, a butter knife, and a sugar spoon.
What to Look For
- Moderately Heavy, Well-Balanced Utensils: The best, most comfortable flatware was heavy enough to feel sturdy and substantial in our hands and—most important—was balanced from tip to handle. That combination of weightiness and balance made the utensils feel like natural extensions of our hands. We could simply pick up the flatware and enjoy our meals without thinking too hard about how to maneuver the forks, spoons, or knives we were using.
- Knives with Serrations: If you regularly eat meat, we recommend investing in a set of steak knives. We still think a regular dinner knife should be able to cut and slice through most foods, including the occasional piece of red meat. The best knives had tiny serrations along the front half of the blade that were sharp enough to neatly, easily slice steak and asparagus.
- Curved, Teardrop-Shaped Handles...
Everything We Tested
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.