Dinnerware buying guide

Whether you're entertaining or sitting down for a family meal, having attractive dinnerware and accessories adds a little something extra to the kitchen or dining room table. Choose from products like delicate porcelain plates, basic breakfast bowls, stoneware and colourful glassware. Beautiful and practical can be combined, and you might want to purchase a designated dinnerware set for special occasions.

Take a look at Tesco's buying guide to find the best quality products out there and make sure you always impress your guests. Whether it's bone china mugs, or a pristine four person Denby dinner set, Tesco has a huge variety of dinner plates, cups, serving bowls, and hundreds of other items of tableware from a range of brands available to buy online.

Dinnerware materials

The defining feature of plates and general dinnerware is the material it was made from. Each has its own unique style, size and colour, so read our buying guide to find out the best one for your kitchen.


Porcelain is baked at a high temperature to make a strong surface that is quite similar to glass. A very durable substance, porcelain crockery is non-porous, easy to maintain, and is also microwave and dishwasher friendly. These features mark porcelain as one of the most popular options for dinnerware the world over.

Fine china

Fine china is beautiful and refined, perfect for special family gatherings and tea parties, but it is also a great purchase for everyday use. The high quality of many china dinnerware sets means that they are popular heirlooms, often passed down through the generations. Ornate and carefully crafted, if fine china is well looked after it retains its value over time.

Bone china

Bone china is clay with added bone ash that gives it an almost transparent, white colour. While it looks delicate, bone china is actually quite durable, though not as strong as porcelain. The perfect crockery for dining at a formal occasion, it is also one of the best options for everyday use as it can be put inside both dishwashers and microwaves.


Stoneware, like earthenware, is made from clay. It's less permeable than other materials, as it is heated at a higher temperature, which makes it more refined. It is also non-porous so does not need to be glazed. Stoneware pottery is chip resistant, dishwasher safe, and microwave-safe.


Melamine resin is a hard-wearing plastic that offers an effective way of manufacturing stylish and cost-effective kitchen utensils and dinnerware like plates and bowls. It is tough and versatile, but cannot be used for reheating or cooking food in your microwave. It is shatter proof and very difficult to damage, and it can be cleaned inside a dishwasher.


Glass dinnerware is extremely stylish and contemporary. Perfect for decorative bowls and fruit bowls to adorn your kitchen or coffee table, glass products provide some of the best plates and dinnerware for everyday dining.


A staple material used throughout human history, earthenware remains a popular choice for plates and bowls today. It tends to have a more organic and rustic appearance than fine and bone china, and due to the fact that it has a porous material, it needs to be glazed. It is perfectly suitable for daily mealtime use, but should be hand washed to keep it in the best condition.

Dinnerware sets

The easiest and most inexpensive way to purchase crockery for a family is generally to buy a matching dinner set that contains everything from dinner plates and pudding bowls, to tea cups and saucers for your afternoon tea. It is always sensible to think about the types of plates and dishes that you are likely to use before you buy a full set.

Another key consideration when investing in a dinner set is whether or not individual pieces can be replaced. Even the most careful people will end up with the odd broken plate or cracked bowl. If you opt for a set that has solid colours or simple designs, it may be easier to find an acceptable substitute than if you purchase dinnerware decorated with complicated patterns.

It is also a good idea to think about the personality of your home to find the best pieces of dinnerware that matches your property's pre-existing aesthetic. White or neutral colours will match any dinner table, but by choosing the right designs you can achieve a stylish look that will add some extra character at mealtimes.

Check your storage space before purchasing dinnerware. The last thing you want is to invest in a set of beautiful new dinner plates only to find that they're too wide to fit in your cupboard. This is especially important for everyday plates and bowls, as you may want to store your expensive multi-piece bone China set elsewhere to bring out at dinner parties or special occasions like Christmas.

Types of crockery

All dinner sets come with at least a few different types of plate and assorted dinnerware. Here is a breakdown of some of the main ones you will find:

Dinner plates

These tend to be around 10-14 inches wide and are by far the most commonly used item in any dinner set. The majority tend to be white, but there is no limit to the colours and patterns available.


Perfect for everything from a gourmet lobster bisque starter to your bowl of cereal in the morning, bowls are an important addition too.

Side plates

These can be used for appetizers, desserts or just to hold a piece of crusty bread while you tuck into your main course.

Serving platters

Ideal for a more formal occasion - serving platters usually sit under your dinner plate and soup course when having a full course meal. They are always removed before the dessert course.


These are small dishes that are designed to hold a teacup to help protect against spillages and ring marks on tables. often come in tea sets, as well as with more traditional dinner sets.

Whether it's an everyday meal or a special family birthday, it is always nice to serve food on quality dinnerware. Browse Tesco's range of the best dinner sets at great prices today and enjoy delivery straight to your door.

Whether it's an everyday meal or a special family birthday, it is always nice to serve food on quality dinnerware. Browse Tesco's range of the best dinner sets at great prices today and enjoy delivery straight to your door.