A great cutlery set is an essential. But beyond the basic practicalities, the best cutlery sets add pizzazz to your table. As wide-ranging in style as frocks or trainers, they’re a way to show off your sense of taste and nose for trends. After all, everyone deserves to have a table setting straight out of one of London’s finest restaurants.
When choosing the best cutlery set for you, you’ll want to consider style, of course. It’s a personal thing. Not just what you like, but also: what’s going to match with your plates? Your existing colour scheme? Your lifestyle? You need to consider the longevity versus price point equation too.
Classic polished flatware is never going to go out of fashion, and can be enjoyed for years and years – but it can be expensive. Alternatively, black, gold and colourful cutlery sets are bang on trend, bringing a fresh feel to your spread. But not all may be suitable for the long-haul.
Weight and shape are also major factors. Round, smooth bases are easy for little hands to grip, while flatter, heavier ranges will suit a grown-up household. Knives should feel smooth to cut with, without being sharp to the touch; forks should skewer food with ease, without being dangerously prickly.
Finally, when choosing your perfect cutlery set, you’ll want to consider your clean up habits. Some delicate sets require more care, with hand-washing in warm soap waters and immediate drying to maintain their sheen. Others are the bang-around-and-throw-in-the-dishwasher sort. Both have their place; just be sure to check out the creds of each set before you buy, to avoid frustration later.
How we tested
When testing our best cutlery sets, we looked for ones that provided good value for money and were fit for purpose. We’ve included ranges of all different sizes, because everyone is unique – you may be looking for a set for a student flat or a 32-piece-kit for a big family. The sets included let you scale up or down to suit your needs.
The only qualification we put in place? Each range, to be considered, had to have at least the three essential eating tools: fork, knife and dessert spoon.
The best cutlery sets for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Viners savoy 18/10 16pec cutlery set gift box: £60.50, Viners.co.uk
- Best trendy set – Salter 16 piece marble gold stainless steel cutlery set: £40, Freemans.com
- Best for families – Emma Bridgewater polka dot set of 16 cutlery: £90, Emmabridgewater.co.uk
- Best classic set – Robert Welch stanton 7pc place setting cutlery gift set: £39.99, Lakeland.co.uk
- Best vintage vibe – Cotswolds Company arden: From £5 per item, Cotswoldco.com
- Best for eating on the go – WakeCup zero waste cutlery set: £15, Globalwakecup.co.uk
- Best for bold table settings – Colourful 16 pcs stainless steel cutlery set: £9.29, Onbuy.com
- Best for mixing and matching – Asda George pastel cutlery set 16 piece: £13, Direct.asda.com
Viners savoy 18/10 16pec cutlery set gift box
It’s the perfect balance: good old-fashioned quality, but with contemporary style. Heritage brand Viners makes this cutlery set from 18/10 stainless steel and polishes it to a mirror-like sheen that stays gleaming wash after wash. Dishwasher safe and rust resistant, it’s the kind of set you can use every day for years on end. Or at least Viners promises as much – it’s not for nothing that it comes with a whopping 50-year guarantee. Pretty good given that each fork, knife and spoon costs less than £4 each.
There’s a nice, solid weight to the Savoy range, one of the newer ranges in Viners’s arsenal. Good balance, too. And, of course, style. This 16-piece set – with four forks, knives, dessert spoons and tea spoons – has a contemporary vibe with its ergonomic shape, and reminds us a bit of cutlery we’ve seen in sleek Scandi eateries. Yet it’s still subtle and timeless enough to match with a variety of plates, glasses and decors. Which is a good thing. After all, the whole point of an investment set is that it should be something you love using, year after year.
Salter 16 piece marble gold stainless steel cutlery set
Best: Trendy set
Salter has been in business for over 260 years, and is one of the big names in British kitchenware – so, obviously, they know cutlery. And when you pick up any piece in this two-tone set, you’ll feel the quality. That’s not to say it’s overly heavy, as many premium sets are. One of the slimmest and most elegant ranges we tested, marble gold is a particularly good pick for the petite-handed diners among us.
The handle pattern, with its black base and flecks of gold, is designed to mimic dark marble, but it reminds us more of a starry night sky: perfect for bringing out-of-this-world flair to mealtimes. Striking the balance between trendy and classic, Salter’s cutlery set feels like one you can have for years.
So long as you don’t mind hand-washing: you’ll need to scrub ‘em up with warm soapy water after use, as they aren’t recommended for the dishwasher. In other words, keep them for dinner parties, when you can serve ‘em up on a white tablecloth backdrop to really let those metallic hints pop.
Emma Bridgewater polka dot set of 16 cutlery
Best: For families
There’s just something mood-brightening about Emma Bridgewater’s designs, especially her signature polka dots. Whether you’re diving into a weekend brunch or dishing up a bowlful of spaghetti bolognese to the kids, the colourful handles add a distinct air of fun to dining hour.
Rounded and easy to grip, those handles are perfect for little hands to use, too. The teaspoons in this four-place set – along with the included forks, knives and generously-sized dessert spoons – will prove priceless again and again when feeding children. They’re even dishwasher safe. Basically, the polka dot set is the very definition of family-friendly, everyday cutlery. What’s not to love?
Robert Welch stanton 7pc place setting cutlery gift set
Best: premium classic
You get what you pay for with cutlery. And Robert Welch, while on the slightly pricier end of the spectrum, goes to prove it. Made with 18/10 stainless steel – the finest grade available – and with a hefty weight, this cutlery makes dining feel like a luxurious experience, no matter what you’re eating. Robert Welch builds cutlery to last too, furnishing each set with a 25-year guarantee. We have another set by the brand that’s we’ve used for well over 10 years, and it’s still going strong.
We love the smooth, ergonomic curves of the Stanton collection – each piece is so comfortable to hold, you won’t mind downing a 12-course feast. The knife cuts like a dream; the fork prongs with finesse. We also love that each place setting comes with seven pieces, perfect for when you’re serving up multiple dishes or sides. In addition to the standard fork, knife, dessert spoon and tea spoon, you’ll get a side knife, side fork and soup spoon. Finally, because it’s sold by the place setting, you can buy exactly as many as you need – to suit one, two or even a dozen diners.
Cotswolds Company arden
Best: Vintage vibe
Looking to channel vintage, country-chic vibes in your kitchen? This brushed metal cutlery range, inspired by the bucolic charm of the Cotswolds, ticks the boxes. Deliberately distressed, its elegantly worn exterior and broad, fanned base would look perfectly at home on any rustic wooden table. Even if you’re just dining in a London flat, rather than some airy barn-conversion kitchen.
As for performance, Arden is a crowd-pleaser. With a knife that’s not too sharp – though smooth-cutting – this is a good pick for families with older children. Meanwhile, that broad, flat base gives plenty to grip onto. Large-handed folk might especially like the feel of it, in comparison to some of the daintier sets listed here.
Strictly speaking, of course, this cutlery isn’t a set – you buy each tool (fork, knife and spoon) in the range separately. But, of course, that means you get exactly what you need. You can just as easily order a place setting for two as you could for ten, making it especially good for couples, students and large families.
WakeCup zero waste cutlery set
Best: For eating on the go
Disposable cutlery – whether plastic or wood – while convenient, isn’t great for the planet. And when it comes to picnics, takeaways or office lunches al desko (remember those?), things always taste better when eaten with proper cutlery. But you’re hardly going to lug a metal set along with you to munch that Pret. So, enter, this easy-to-tote kit from WakeCup.
Made from smooth bamboo – a sustainable, renewable material – this ultra-lightweight set comes wrapped up in a little cotton pouch, easy to pop into your handbag or backpack for munching on the go. It has everything you need for mobile feasting: not just fork, knife and spoon, but also chopsticks, steel straw and straw cleaner too.
If we’re being fussy, we wouldn’t have minded a slightly deeper spoon, but on the whole these are handy: and a definite cut above disposable kit. Need one more reason to buy? Ten percent of profits are donated to the Marine Conservation Society, which campaigns against plastic pollution.
Colourful 16 pcs stainless steel cutlery set
Best: For bold table settings
OK, so maybe this isn’t “forever” cutlery. But if you’re looking for something fun and frivolous – for parties, say, or to convince picky little eaters that mealtimes are fun – this iridescent set adds a dash of wow-factor to your table. It’s a bargain too: under a tenner for four-place collection, including knives, forks, tablespoons and dessert spoons. That’s about 50p per piece.
Under that eye-catching rainbow sheen this cutlery set is made from 100 per cent stainless steel, so it’s built to take a bit of a knocking. And, unlike so many other novelty ranges, they’re dishwasher safe – so you needn’t haul out the rubber gloves every time you dive a spoon into a bowlful of soup or run a knife through lasagne. That means you can genuinely use them for every meal. Which means every meal can be a party.
Asda George pastel cutlery set 16 piece
Best: For mixing and matching
Pretty in pink – and purple, yellow and green – this colourful pastel set from George Home is a mix-and-match joy that lets you bring a different look to your table every day. With four place settings – one in each shade – you can colour block by giving your diners their own signature hue. Or mix ‘em all up, creating an eclectic, kaleidoscopic vibe. There are no rules, and whatever you do looks good. Basically, it’s the closest that cutlery arrangement comes to art class.
Dishwasher-safe, this cutlery set is light and the bases are made of plastic, which means you can throw ‘em around a little bit – ideal if you’ve got kids dining. On the other hand, they’re slightly less comfy to grip than some of others, so give them a miss when you’re enjoying elaborate seven-course dinners. And if you don’t use them every day, don’t feel bad about it. For £13 for four forks, knives, dessert spoons and teaspoons, this set is a bargain even with just occasional use.
The verdict: Cutlery sets
When it comes to the all-important style, quality and price-point intersection, Viners’s savoy range is a top buy. With a 50-year guarantee, you know this cutlery set will be around for the long-haul. And yet it’s both affordable and current for everyday use right now.
When it comes to trendier buys that will dress up your table in style, Salter hits the mark with its marble gold range. The black and metallic handle feels on-point and sleek, but there’s still quality lurking beneath. All at a very fair price point, too.
Finally, if you’re buying for a family, Emma Bridgewater’s classic polka dot set works a treat. Hands of all sizes can grip the smooth the bases with ease, and the colourful look brings fun to any table. And if you can’t have fun at mealtime, when can you?
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Check out our review of the best dining tables to serve dinner with style
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