Best Flatware of 2021
With its distinctive spoons and knives, the Sharecook Matte Black 20-Piece is our favorite set. Each place setting has five pieces weighing a collective 9.5-ounces, and the utensils feel satisfying and uniform to many different hand sizes. Measuring five and a half inches, the handle length fits big and small hands quite well, with sleek edges that are effortless to grip. The knife's serrated edge cleanly cuts through salads, avocado toast, and meats without tearing the food apart. The teaspoon and dinner spoons both offer a bowl size that easily fits in your mouth. To top it all off, the forks are curved and tapered enough to pick up most foods, including eggs, rice, and salads.
One drawback we found with this set is the matte black finish tends to display oils picked up from your food or hands. Also, when it comes out of the dishwasher, the finish can show a lot of spots; however, they aren't as noticeable from far away. Despite these details, this finish is still one of our favorites out of all the flatware we tested. The spoon bowls or handles don't have any bumpy sides, and the fork tine insides are quite sleek in comparison to the others. The inside of the fork tines are much smoother than other sets, and there are no rough edges on the handles or spoon bowls. On the whole, the quality, comfort, and design of the individual pieces in this set are striking.
The Radley and Stowe 20-Piece is worth checking out if you're seeking a five-place setting on a budget. It comes with four five-piece place settings that have comfortable handles for a variety of different hand sizes. We appreciated the handles' thickness, with the lack of tapering on the neck. Each place setting weights 9.1 ounces, and the weight of each individual piece feels good and sturdy. The soup and dinner spoons are great for cereal, oatmeal, and soups because of their good bowl capacity. The knives serrated blades precisely slice into food without ripping it up. One thing that stands out about this set is its flat fork tines; they allowed us to properly and effortlessly pick up food off of the plate.
On the downside, the satin finish on the handles of this set is prone to scratching. After just a few uses, the handles showed scratches from clanging against each other in the dishwasher or being stored together in the drawer. Moreover, the insides of the fork tines are rough, which means you may need to do a bit more scrubbing by hand to get off sticky food. However, this set competes with much more expensive sets in terms of comfort, balance, and weight, making it a great buy.
The Amazon Basics Bistro 20-Piece flatware set has five pieces to each place setting, including both a dinner spoon and a teaspoon, which our testers found to be the highlight of the set. Both spoon's bowls have a nice depth and shape to them, especially for eating things with liquids, such as soups and cereals. The knife's serrated edge is rather disappointing, and it tore our food more than it cut through it. The fork tines are fairly pointed and easily pick up food.
A five-piece place setting weighs 7.4 ounces, making it one of the lighter weight sets that we tested. This is evident in the handles which came out of the dishwasher bent, making these a poor choice for those who may want a spoon to scoop ice cream from the pint. We also noticed that the stainless steel finish discolored after washing and developed darkened rings over our test period. This is a basic set and should be considered as such.
The Berglander 20-Piece rainbow color set was a top pick by parents in our test group for their kids — not only because of the fun colors but because of the weight of the pieces. A five-piece place setting weighs 7.7 ounces making it more manageable for kids' hands. The adults in our test group found the weight to be middle of the road; it has enough weight to not feel super-lightweight in hand, but lacks the extra ounces and ideal thickness found in other sets. However, we do like the size of the spoons and spoon bowls in this set, which comfortably fit into our mouths and whose capacity is the right amount.
Parents will enjoy that the fork tines are not super-pointy, nor are the serrations so sharp as to easily cut a child's hand. The knife's serrated edge is not as clean or crisp of a cut as some other knives tested. The handle edges on all the pieces are smooth in hand, but the inside of the fork tines are a bit rough. This set looked the best after washing, thanks to its finish that resists scratching and its rainbow color that hides water spots. If you're a parent looking for a way to make mealtime a bit more exciting, we highly recommend considering this set.
If you're looking to attract some attention to your flatware, the gold color HOMOGO 20-Piece set is worth consideration. Our testers found the handle length to be comfortable for a variety of hand sizes but found the size of the bowl on the dinner spoon to be quite large and more akin to a serving spoon. The set also comes with a teaspoon, which surprisingly is a proper teaspoon and is quite diminutive, just barely reaching over the top of a coffee cup.
The finish on the handles is fairly smooth; however, we did notice some rough patches and discoloration on the sides of the handle at the neck. Unlike some sets that were prone to water spots, this set resisted spotting and scratching. This set is one that our testing team all commented on because of the color and is certain to gain attention in your home.
The LIANYU Black Stainless Steel five-piece flatware set is a comfortable weight without feeling too light in our hands. The shape of the handles is comfortable; however, the handles' undersides are slightly concave, which takes a moment to get used to. The knife's serrated blade is sharp and does a great job of cleanly cutting through meats and other foods without tearing.
However, the dinner spoon bowl is quite large, and we found it to be much too large to eat from comfortably and preferred the teaspoon for eating. The finish of the edges on the spoon bowls and the fork tines are a bit rough and should be checked when purchased by running a finger or thumb over them. We also found the mirror finish to discolor quite easily from water spots and hand and food oils.
If you're looking for a basic three-piece flatware set that includes a knife, fork, and spoon with a nice weight and balance, we recommend the New Star Food Service Slimline 36-Piece set. This set includes 12 place settings, which means you won't need to worry about running out when you invite friends over for dinner. Our testers liked the weight of the fork, knife, and spoon in this set, which are on par with the heavier sets we tested, and the weight feels comfortable and balanced in our hands. The knife did a great job cutting through a variety of meats and vegetables with ease.
The biggest downside to this set is the short handles, which are best suited for smaller hand sizes or kids. In testing, we felt our hands were a bit close to our food due to the handle length. Because the handles are shorter, the spoon bowls are smaller and more like a teaspoon than a soup or dinner spoon. The handles are thick, rounded, and smooth; however, we found rough patches on the spoon bowl edges and on the insides of the fork tines. The knife blades also scratched easily. Still, if you're looking for a set with a lot of place settings at a reasonable price, the New Star set is worth a look.
Made of 18/0 stamped stainless steel, The Cambridge Silversmiths Cali Mirror 30-Piece is unpopular with our testers because of the thin handles and a lip on the underside of the handles that feel awkward in our hands. This set has fairly long handles, which require those with smaller hands to hold higher up to find a comfortable balance point. The long, thin handles bend quite easily when pressure is placed on them.
The dinner spoon is very large and difficult to eat with because of its size, making the teaspoon a better choice, although its shape is more elliptical with a shallow bowl. The knives are somewhat dull and did poorly with cutting food. The overall finish of the edges of the handles is quite smooth. However, the inside of the fork tines seem unfinished and are rough. Despite coming with six place settings, we can't recommend this set and suggest looking at others.
During testing, we found the Massugar 20-Piece Silverware Set stainless steel handles to scratch very easily, especially in comparison to the other sets. When looking at our set, it looked like it had been used for much longer than our two-week testing period. We also found rough patches along the edges of the spoon bowl and the inside of the fork tines.
The knife's serrated blade was the sharpest of all tested, and the parents in our group commented that they would not want their young children to use it, something worthy of consideration if you have kids in your home. However, the blade does cut very cleanly and quickly through foods. The dinner spoon has a huge bowl, and like other sets with large dinner spoons, we found it difficult to eat from because of its size and found the teaspoon to be a more comfortable size for eating. We do not recommend this set because of its quality issues.
Why You Should Trust Us
Cooking has become a major aspect of Tara Reddinger-Adams' life over the past twenty years, as she has continually worked on refining her cooking skills and frequently cooks up meals that get serious praise by clients on her all-inclusive mountain bike vacations. Tara enjoys extensively reading about and researching products before making a purchase and brings a critical yet practical perspective to her reviews.
Our testers read reviews of the 30 highest-rated flatware sets and began to compare and contrast them to narrow our test group to nine sets. We focused our testing on four metrics; comfort, balance and weight, quality and durability, and value. Our test sets were used at least three times per day and were washed daily to provide true head-to-head comparisons. Our test results aim to help you find the best flatware set for your lifestyle.
Analysis and Test Results
When you think of flatware, a few characteristics stand out — how comfortable the pieces feel in your hand, how well the knife cuts, and how well the pieces stand up to daily use and washing. We began our flatware testing by first washing the place settings in the dishwasher to see if they are prone to discoloration, staining, or excessive spotting. Putting the pieces through the dishwasher also brought out some unexpected imperfections in our sets, such as bent handles and scratching. We then examined the finish of the edges, looking for rough spots on the handles, knife blades, fork tines, and heads of the spoons.
Hand size and shape are a factor in determining how comfortable the handle of a fork or spoon feels during use. Therefore, our testers enlisted the help of friends and family to help with testing. We considered both adult and child use and the factors that may make one set more desirable over another for parents. We considered how large the head of the spoons are and how comfortably, or not, they fit into our mouths. We also assessed how comfortable the individual pieces are in our hands and how comfortable they are to eat with.
Next, we weighed each place setting. Eight of our nine sets included five pieces per place setting; one set had three pieces per place setting. Of those with five pieces per place setting, each set's weight ranged from 7.3 ounces to 9.5 ounces, which our testers found to affect the overall feel and balance of each piece in our hands. We then considered the weight of each piece and how balanced it feels in our hands.
Lastly, we noted how many place settings were included in each set and how many pieces were in a set, comparing the sets in terms of value. Many of the products we tested are priced similarly, which means differences in comfort and quality stand out when considering the set's value.
How a fork or spoon feels in your hand can impact your dining experience. For example, if the handle is short, you may feel like your fingers are too close to your food as you pick it up from your plate. Conversely, if the handles are awkwardly shaped, they may feel uncomfortable in your hand. For this metric, we assessed each set's overall comfort, considering how easy it is to use and how it feels in our hands.
We enlisted the help of friends and family members to give us a greater range of hand sizes for our testing. We found it interesting not only how quickly comfort can be determined, but the consensus amongst testers.
To begin, we picked up the forks, spoons, and knives to determine how they feel in our hands. Some sets have rounded edges to the handles, while others have small lips on the underside. Our testing team is in agreement that the Radley and Stowe and the Sharecook Matte Black are the most comfortable sets in hand. The Radley and Stowe handles have a more rounded shape in comparison to the Sharecook set, whose handles are a bit flatter. The spoon handles of the Radley and Stowe measure 4 ⅛" and the Sharecook measure 4 ⅜", both of which comfortably fit large and small hands and provide us with enough space between our fingers and our food.
The 3 ⅞" handles of the New Star Food Service Slimline spoons feel too short for most hand sizes, and we feel like our hands are in the bowl instead of the spoon handle being in the bowl. In contrast, the long and slender handles of the Cambridge Silversmiths Cali Mirror feel exceedingly long for those with smaller hands, and our testers were not fans of the lip found on the underside of the handles.
Next, we spent time comparing and contrasting the spoon capacity for each set with cereal and soup. All of the sets included both soup spoons and teaspoons — except for the New Star set, which only included teaspoons. Among our test sets, there is a considerable difference in the size of bowls on the tea and soup spoons. The Radley and Stowe soup spoons have a medium-sized bowl, neither too small nor too large. The size of the spoon bowls on the Massugar, LIANYU Black Stainless Steel, and the HOMOGO sets are all considerably larger than the other six sets, and our testers consider them to be more of a serving spoon than a soup spoon because the spoon bowls are simply too large to fit comfortably in one's mouth.
Teaspoons can be used for stirring or eating, and its size, in part, determines how it is used. The HOMOGO gold teaspoon is a true teaspoon with a diminutive handle and bowl; it is best suited for stirring or feeding small children. The New Star Food Service Slimline spoons have a narrower bowl than others, making their capacity smaller than others tested.
Fork tines can be used to scoop or spear food; all of our test sets have fairly blunt tines but could spear everything from salad to sweet potatoes to steaks. However, one set stood out due to the sharpness of the tines. The Amazon Basics Bistro's tines are fairly sharp to the touch, and the parents in our test group felt they were a bit too sharp to be used by small children. In comparison to curved tines, the tines of the Radley and Stowe are completely flat and blunt, but they surprised our testers with their ability to scoop and hold food despite their flatness.
The last test in this metric was how well the serrated blades of the knives cut through meat, avocado toast, and other foods. The serrated blade of the Sharecook Matte Black consistently had the cleanest cuts of all the sets tested. Where some knives tore more than cut our food, the Sharecook blade cleanly cut through the layers of avocado toast, chicken, salads, and more. The Massugar knives have a very sharp serrated blade, which cuts well through foods; however, our testers with children felt the edge was too sharp for their children to use.
Balance and Weight
Flatware can feel too light or heavy in your hand or unbalanced, negatively affecting your dining experience. For this metric, we assessed how balanced the pieces feel in our hands and where we hold them.
Our five-piece place settings range in weight from 7.3 ounces to 9.5 ounces, and our testing showed a definite preference for sets that weigh more. The Radley and Stowe five-piece place setting weighs 9.1 ounces and is a unanimous favorite in terms of weight and balance. The pieces feel well balanced in hand and have a comfortable weight to them without being too heavy. The Sharecook Matte Black was another favorite, weighing 9.5 ounces. With a slightly longer and slimmer handle, we held each piece slightly higher up on the handle.
The LIANYU Black Stainless Steel also ranks high in this metric, with its five-piece place setting weighing 8.4 ounces. As with the sets that weigh slightly more, we welcome the weight in our hand, and the pieces feel well balanced.
One of the lightest weight five-piece sets tested is the Cambridge Silversmiths Cali Mirror which feels incredibly lightweight in our hands at 7.3 ounces and reminds us of inexpensive cafeteria flatware from grade school. Its handles are thinner in diameter and slightly longer, placing the balance point closer to the top of the handle, and as each tester noted, it does not feel right in our hands.
Quality and Durability
A flatware set that quickly discolors, stains, or scratches can at best be a mild annoyance, and at worst, make you feel like you wasted your money. To mimic heavy use, we put at least one place setting from each of our test sets through at least one daily hand wash or dishwasher cycle. We also closely examined the finish on each set for this metric, carefully feeling the edges of the fork tines, spoon bowls, knife edges, and handles for rough spots.
All of our test sets had at least mild discoloration, water spots, or scratching from the repeated wash cycles. Pieces were hand washed using a non-abrasive Scotch-Brite pad, and we used our regular powder dishwasher detergent with a liquid rinse aid on a non-heated drying cycle in our dishwasher. Our testers are not ones to polish our flatware or rush to retrieve it from the dishwasher to hand-dry it, so please keep this in mind when considering how you care for your flatware.
The Berglander rainbow color set showed the least amount of wear after our testing. Its surface resisted scratches and was less prone to water spots than other sets. However, its edges are not well polished, and you can feel rough spots along the handles and the inside of the fork tines.
We found the Sharecook Matte Black to have a smooth finish and relatively smooth edges on the fork tines and spoon bowls. Its matte finish helps to disguise scratches and water spots, but oils from our hands leave smudges on the surface, which we found mildly annoying.
The gold color HOMOGO showed little in terms of scratching from our test period but retains some water spots from washing, which the gold color helps to disguise. Its edges are not well polished, though, especially in the inside of the fork tines.
After a few wash cycles, we noticed the handles on one of the spoons and one of the forks from the Amazon Basics Bistro were bent. The fork handles on this set also developed discoloration from water spots; however, the finish on the edges of the handles and fork tines are slightly more polished than other sets.
The Massugar utensils developed the most scratches during our test period, which are very visible on all of the handles and the knife blade. This set looked like it had been through long-term use despite being relatively new.
When considering a flatware set's value, we took into consideration the number of place settings included and if it performed significantly better or worse than similarly priced sets.
Except for the New Star Food Service Slimline, all of our test sets included five-piece place settings that include a dinner knife, dinner fork, salad or dessert fork, dinner spoon, and a teaspoon. The New Star set includes 12 three-piece place settings, and the Cambridge Silversmiths Cali Mirror set has five-piece place settings for six.
The Radley and Stowe utensils performed very well in our balance and weight metric and our comfort metric. The inside of the fork tines are a bit rough, and the satin finish of the handles is prone to scratching. Another set that stands out for value is the Sharecook Matte Black, with nicely weighted and balanced pieces that are comfortable to use and wash well.
Flatware design can be a fairly personal preference, but our test team found that certain characteristics are enjoyed by most adults. We found heavier-weight pieces to be more desirable than lightweight pieces. When it came to handle length, there was a preference for pieces that were about 5 ¼" in length. Handles that are 4 ½" inches feel too small and short, and handles that are 5 ½" in length felt too long. We also found a handle's thickness and shape greatly affected the pieces' overall comfort in our hands, and we prefer handles with rounded edges compared to those with a lip on the underside.
While we are not particularly cautious about how we clean our flatware, we do prefer pieces that resist water spots, scratching, or staining. However, we also know that some of these issues can be resolved with more care during the washing and drying process. We encourage you to consider how you will not only use your flatware, but how you will care for it, and determine the most important factors for you. We also recommend if you have children to take into account the size of their hands and mouths and the amount of serration on the knife blade that you're comfortable with. We hope our testing helps you narrow the search and helps you find your next flatware set.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams