Contrary to its name, stoneware is not, in fact, made of stone. It’s created by firing clay at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The misnomer shouldn’t dissuade you from stocking up on stoneware plates, bowls and cups for your table, though, as it’s an incredibly beautiful material regardless.
Plus, while it’s not strictly speaking made of rock, stoneware is still very durable—much more so than any of the porcelain, china or glass you have lying around. It’s also the preferred medium for heating up food, as a stone plate will hold heat and distribute it evenly, so your meal will stay warm long after it’s been taken out of the oven or microwave.
Stoneware is also a favorite for its resistance. No chemicals or metal will seep into your food or drink if you’re using one of these plates or cups. While there are plenty of different varieties of stoneware sets out there, each with their own virtues, here are four of the best to choose from.
1. Stone & Beam Stoneware Set
Stone & Beam’s 18-piece stoneware set comes with six dinner plates, six salad plates and six bowls—all with a matching rustic aesthetic. The dishes make for great all-around tableware, able to transition from Sunday brunch to a formal dinner with ease. Plus, they’re all dishwasher safe, so you won’t have to break a sweat cleaning them.
Pros: A versatile 18-piece set for almost every occasion.
Cons: Rustic aesthetic may not be for everyone.
2. Rivet Stoneware Set
If you’d like your table to have some artistic flair, then Rivet’s stoneware set is for you. Available in designs that mimic textures of watercolor paints and marble, these plates and bowls are statement pieces no matter how you slice it. You won’t have to trade looks for functionality either, as the whole collection is microwave safe.
Pros: Plenty of bright and neutral color options, so you’re spoiled for choice.
Cons: No cup options unlike other sets.
3. Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Set
Pfaltzgraff’s set comes with 16 stoneware pieces: Four dinner plates, four salad plates, four bowls and four mugs. The variety should be enough for most dinners, but you’ll want to only break these out for special occasions, as their floral design is a sure conversation starter. Plus, because they’re handcrafted, no two patterns or colors are ever quite the same.
Pros: A gorgeous set that’s sure to impress.
Cons: Its intricate design doesn’t lend itself to everyday use.
4. Le Creuset Stoneware Set
Le Creuset’s set, which runs the gamut from cups and bowls to plates, is a great gift for the chef in your life. Each of the 16 pieces features a nonstick glaze that easily releases food for clean up, and boasts superior heat retention, even among other stoneware sets. It’s also quite resilient, resisting any chips or scratches a steak knife might leave behind on other sets. The pieces can even be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Pros: A durable set that’s great for chefs.
Cons: Far from the most stylish offering available.