Best Flatware of 2020
The Sharecook Matte Black 20-Piece is one of the most comfortable sets for a variety of hand sizes, and its knives and spoons stand out. The 9.5-ounce weight of the five-piece place setting feels both balanced and comfortable to a variety of hand sizes. The handles measure five and a half inches in length and fit both small and large hands quite well, and the smooth edges are easy to hold. The serrated edge on the knife is very impressive and cleanly cuts through meats, salads, and avocado toast without tearing apart our food. The spoon bowls are nicely sized on both the dinner and teaspoon and are comfortable to place in your mouth. Lastly, the fork tines are rounded and pointed enough to easily pick up a variety of foods, from salads to eggs and rice.
One of the biggest downsides to this set is that the matte black finish is prone to showing oils from your hands or food. The finish also spots easily in the dishwasher, but the matte finish does disguise it from a distance. However, this set has one of the best overall finishes to it of all the sets tested. The inside of the fork tines are much smoother than other sets, and there are no rough edges on the handles or spoon bowls. Overall, we are impressed with the comfort, quality, and design of the individual pieces in this set.
If you are looking or a five-piece place setting on a budget, look no further than the Radley and Stowe 20-Piece. This set includes four five-piece place settings whose handles are comfortable handles for a variety of hand sizes. Our test group noted that they like the thicker handle which does not taper much at the neck. Each place setting weighs 9.1 ounces, giving it a nice weight without feeling flimsy or light. The dinner and soup spoon both have a nice bowl capacity that is perfect for soups, cereal, and oatmeal. The serrated knife blade does a great job of cleanly cutting through food, instead of tearing it. One of the more unique aspects of this set is the flat fork tines, which did quite well at scooping up food on our plates.
One disappointing aspect of this set is that the satin finish on the handles is prone to scratching. After just a few uses, each handle developed scratches in its satin finish from being in the dishwasher or just being against other flatware. The inside 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 Berglander 20-Piece rainbow color set was a top pick by parents in our test group for their kids, not only because of the color 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 thickness found in other sets to be ideal. However, we do like the size of the spoons and the 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.
The AmazonBasics 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 the highlight of the set. Both spoons 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.
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 many sets that are 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 underside of the handles is slightly concave, which takes a moment to get used to. The serrated blade of the knife 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 comfortably eat from and preferred the size of 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 like 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 are more like a teaspoon rather than a soup spoon, or dinner spoon. The handles are thick and rounded and smooth; however, we found rough patches on the spoon bowl edges and on the insides of the fork tines and that the knife blades scratched easily. 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 test 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 of use, weight, and balance, 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 is 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 not only considered adult use in our testing but also 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 considered 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, the weight of each 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, how many pieces were in a set, and compared the sets in terms of value. Many of the sets 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 considered 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. What we found interesting was not only how quickly comfort can be determined by 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 20-Piece and the Sharecook Matte Black 20-Piece 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 36-Piece 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 30-Piece 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, except the for New Star set, came with both soup spoons and teaspoons. The New Star set 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 20-Piece soup spoons have a medium-sized bowl with a nicely sized bowl, which is neither too small nor too large. The size of the bowl on the Massugar 20-Piece Silverware Set, LIANYU Black Stainless Steel, and the HOMOGO 20-Piece 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 20-Piece 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 36-Piece teaspoons have a narrower bowl than others, making its 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 did spear everything from salad to sweet potatoes to steaks. However, one set stood out due to the sharpness of the tines. The AmazonBasics Bistro 20-Piece 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 20-Piece are completely flat, and blunt but surprised our testers with how well they were able to scoop and hold food despite being flat.
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 20-Piece consistently has the cleanest cuts of all the sets tested. Where some sets tore more than cut our food, the Sharecook blade cleanly cut through the layers of avocado toast, chicken, salads, and more. The Massugar 20-Piece Silverware Set has a very sharp serrated blade, which cuts well through foods, however, our testers with children felt the edge to be too sharp for their children to use.
Balance and Weight
Flatware can feel too light or heavy in your hand or unbalanced, which can negatively affect your dining experience. For this metric, we considered 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 20-Piece five-piece place setting weighs 9.1 ounces and is a unanimous favorite not only in terms of weight but also for balance by our testers. The pieces feel well balanced in hand and have a comfortable weight to them without being too heavy. The Sharecook Matte Black 20-Piece 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 30-Piece 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 in comparison to other sets tested, which affects the balance point, placing it 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. For this metric, we also closely examined the finish on each set, 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 with 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 20-Piece 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 20-Piece 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 20-Piece 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 AmazonBasics Bistro 20-Piece 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 20-Piece Silverware Set 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 36-Piece, 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 30-Piece set has five-piece place settings for six.
The Radley and Stowe 20-Piece performed very well in both our balance and weight metric and our comfort of use 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 in this metric is the Sharecook Matte Black 20-Piece, 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 the thickness and shape of the handle greatly affected the pieces overall comfort in our hand, and prefer handles that have 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 hand and mouth and the amount of serration on the knife blade that you want. We hope our testing helps you narrow the search and helps you find your next flatware set.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams