Last updated: August 9, 2021

Who does not know this? You are looking forward to a nice piece of cake or a juicy piece of meat, but then you don't have a cake fork or the knife doesn't cut properly. Or you want to cook and eat comfortably with friends and realise that you have too little or the wrong cutlery at home.

To prevent this from happening to you at home in the future, we have created an overview of what cutlery is available and how you can find the right cutlery for you.

Perhaps you are also wondering how to uncover cutlery according to etiquette. We show you how to uncover which cutlery. We also give you tips on how to care for your cutlery.

In our large cutlery test 2022 we present cutlery sets and give you the criteria and information you need to find the right cutlery set for you. We show you which types of cutlery are available and which manufacturers.




Summary

  • Cutlery sets are offered in different sizes and quality levels. In addition to knives, forks and spoons, a set should also include cake and coffee cutlery.
  • Depending on the intended use, you can choose ordinary table cutlery, special cutlery or auxiliary cutlery for children, senior citizens or physically and mentally impaired people.
  • Before you decide on a particular cutlery set, you should make sure that the individual eating utensils are rustproof and dishwasher-safe.

The Best Cutlery: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying Cutlery

How much cutlery do you need?

Whether it's for a single person's kitchen or a big feast with all the relatives: There is a cutlery set for every size of household. Buying a set is more common and more practical than buying individual pieces of cutlery. Most often, cutlery is sold in sets of 4, 12, 24, 30 and 68 pieces.

In addition to several knives, forks and spoons, a larger cutlery set also includes smaller coffee spoons and cake forks.

Besteck mit Schleife

Depending on whether you live alone or with several people, or whether you like to have visitors, a larger or smaller cutlery set is best for you. (Photo: artemtation/ pixabay.com)

For a normal household, 6 or 12 forks, knives, spoons as well as coffee and cake cutlery and the most important serving pieces are recommended. This is enough for several meals for 1-2 people and you are also well equipped for the visit of several guests.

Depending on your eating habits and preferences, it may make sense to purchase special cutlery for fish or steak, for example, in addition to this standard equipment.

How do you store your cutlery?

Especially with high-quality cutlery, you should definitely think about the right way to store it and not just throw it all together in a drawer. This damages the material in the long run and it loses its shine.

Cutlery bags are special storage options for your cutlery that you are not currently using. In this way, you can preserve the shine of your silver cutlery without constantly having to reach for the polishing towel. In addition, cutlery bags protect your designer cutlery from scratches and stains.

Did you know that there is a cutlery language?

Adolf Freiherr von Knigge drew attention to cutlery language 200 years ago, which allows you to leave a good impression on the other person.

Knigge believed that everything on the table should have its fixed place. On the left side of the plate should be the fork and on the right side the spoon. The place of the cake fork is above the plate head to the right. Above the cake fork is a small dessert spoon head to the left. On the top right is the place for the glass and on the left for salad plates. The napkin is usually on the plate, but may also be under the cutlery.

Each cutlery bag is equipped with several compartments and pockets for safe storage of knives, forks and spoons. After filling them with your cutlery, you can easily roll them up and store them in a drawer to save space.

Cutlery pockets are available in different sizes and combinations of compartments. An ordinary cutlery pocket can hold approx. 12 pieces, i.e. approx. 6 pairs of knives and forks.

A cutlery bag can also hold only one or two pieces of cutlery and is a popular way of presenting cutlery at the table. Such a cutlery bag for knives and forks can also be easily made from a napkin.

How much does cutlery cost?

Conventional cutlery from Lidl or Ikea is usually available in a 24-piece set starting at 9.99€. The same amount costs between €32.50 and €69.99 at the well-known cutlery manufacturers. Since it has a much longer lifespan and, in contrast to conventional cutlery, scratches less and usually does not rust, we think the price is justified.

For children's cutlery made of plastic, the prices for 2-piece and 4-piece sets are usually less than 10€. There are also stainless steel cutlery sets for the very young family members, often with engraved figures or names. Depending on the complexity of the design, the well-known manufacturers sell them for around 6€, 15€ or 25€.

You can find used silver cutlery on the internet for about 50€, new silver cutlery costs 549€.

What types of Cutlery are there and which is the right one for you?

Since there are cutlery made of different materials and in many designs, everyone can easily find the right one for them. Basically, a distinction is made between the following uses:

  • Table cutlery
  • Special cutlery
  • Auxiliary cutlery for children, senior citizens and physically and mentally handicapped people

Depending on what you want to use your cutlery for, for whom and for what occasion, there are different things you should pay attention to. In the following, we will briefly introduce each of the categories and explain what sub-types there are to help you find the best cutlery for your needs.

What is cutlery and why is it important?

For cutlery, 18 10 stainless steel is the most popular choice today. With a chromium content of at least 13%, it is protected against acid, making such cutlery dishwasher safe.

Since stainless steel is also not as expensive as silver, this cutlery is particularly suitable for everyday use.

If you suffer from a nickel allergy, you should choose cutlery with 80% stainless steel and avoid cutlery with the addition "acid-resistant".

Many manufacturers also offer cutlery with handles made of plastic or other materials. These are available in a variety of patterns and colours if you are looking for a beautiful and individual look in your cutlery. Table cutlery is also often decorated with engravings.

If you are looking for festive cutlery for special occasions, we can recommend silverplated cutlery as an alternative to real silver cutlery. But since stainless steel is also available in a wide variety of designs, it is definitely suitable for festive occasions these days.

These knives, forks and spoons are also available in different lengths, depending on whether you prefer long, heavy handles or short cutlery.

There is a distinction between knives with and without a serrated edge: the former are much sharper, but they are not as precise as knives without a serrated edge.

Cake and coffee cutlery also count as table cutlery, as these are usually always included in 24-piece cutlery sets.

What is special cutlery and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Perhaps you know the situation: with some dishes you have difficulty using conventional cutlery if, for example, the knives do not cut properly. In such cases, you should use cutlery that is specially adapted to these menus.

Advantages
  • Easier and faster cutting possible
  • Stylish status symbol
  • Material, shape, blade, etc. perfectly adapted to the intended dishes
Disadvantages
  • Additional purchase
  • Not used as often as table cutlery
  • Partly more time-consuming to maintain

The following is a brief overview of the most common special cutlery and their differences:

Steak cutlery

For those who like to grill often, steak cutlery can be very worthwhile. The knives are particularly sharp and have a serrated edge. They can also be used to cut through medium- or well-done meat with ease.

The handle is usually made of wood and this cutlery is also a pretty highlight on the summer table.

Bread knife

A bread knife is larger than a conventional knife and, like the steak knife, always has a serrated edge. It is therefore particularly suitable for cutting firm surfaces, but does not have to be used only for bread. A bread knife can also be the right choice for slippery surfaces such as tomatoes.

Salad servers

This usually includes either a salad fork and spoon or a second spoon with a hole in the middle. This makes it particularly easy to mix the salad with the dressing, and the excess dressing can drip off the fork or hole when you serve it on the plate.

This cutlery is available in both the inexpensive plastic version and the somewhat more expensive and stylish stainless steel or wooden version.

Fish cutlery

To eat fish, use a wide, flat fork and a blunt sliding knife. This fork makes it easier to lift the meat off the bones and the knife prevents the bones from being cut, which could be dangerous. Besides, fish cutlery is mainly used for tradition.

What kind of assistive cutlery is there and who is it best suited for?

Since some groups of people suffer from impairments that make eating difficult, there is suitable cutlery for them to make eating easier.

Children's cutlery

If you have a child, then you surely know that eating with these little ones is not always an easy matter. That's why there are specially shaped children's cutlery sets, the size of which is ideally suited to little hands. Such a set usually consists of a spoon, a fork and a knife. Since the edges are rounded and the blades are blunt, there is no risk of injury.

Advantages
  • No risk of injury due to rounded corners
  • Ideal size for
  • children's hands
  • With many fun designs
Disadvantages
  • Are only sold as a pack of 3/4
  • Knives are not really sharp

There is also children's cutlery made of stainless steel and plastic with great designs of animals or characters from The Ice Queen, The Mouse, The Little Polar Bear and many more, which makes eating much more fun for the child.

Cutlery for seniors and physically and mentally impaired people

Senior citizens or people with physical impairments such as Parkinson's disease are usually no longer able to hold their cutlery properly. Therefore, there is cutlery for them that has a somewhat heavier and larger handle. There is also non-slip cutlery with a rubber grip that can also be bent.

Such cutlery has not been on the market for long, so it is best to find it in shops for seniors and disabled people such as wgp-shop.de or alltagshilfen24.com.

Nice embellishments give the dining table that certain something extra in addition to beautiful cutlery. (Photo: PhotoMix-Company/ pixabay.com)

Buying Criteria: You can compare and evaluate Cutlery on the basis of these Factors

The different types of cutlery also differ from each other in some criteria. We would like to present these in more detail in the following section, so that you can better decide which table, special or children's cutlery is best suited to you and your needs.

The most important criteria include:

We will now introduce you to each criterion individually here and show you how you can best use them in your decision for a new cutlery set.

Products that make up the set

We have already mentioned above that it is best to buy cutlery in sets. However, not every set is the same and there are also differences in the composition of cutlery:

Menu knives, forks and spoons are included in every set, as well as coffee spoons and occasionally cake forks. Depending on whether you are more of a coffee drinker or a cake eater, a different composition can be advantageous for you when buying a new cutlery set.

Special cutlery is also included in some sets, which are particularly suitable for newly established households or if you want to completely replace your previous cutlery set.

Sometimes cutlery sets also come with a wooden box or a cutlery case, so you have a way to store it safely and securely.

Material

To ensure that your cutlery lasts a long time, it is important to choose high-quality material. Stainless steel should be your first choice, but there are also some differences:

You've probably been overwhelmed by terms like 18 10, 18 0, chrome steel or Cromargan stainless steel. But don't let that drive you crazy, because it's all part of stainless steel.

The first number in this numerical notation indicates the percentage of chromium; the second number indicates the percentage of nickel. Chrome steel is usually written 18 0 or 13 0 and therefore has no nickel, which is good for allergy sufferers.

However, the high nickel content of ordinary 18 10 stainless steel ensures that the cutlery is acid-resistant and has a brilliant shine

Cromargan, the brand name of WMF, describes stainless steel with 10 % nickel content and these products also have a high-quality and noble silver look.

In addition to the right tableware, beautiful cutlery can also add the finishing touch to the table setting (Image: PhotoMix-Company / pixabay.com)

Style

When it comes to cutlery, many people also attach importance to an appealing design. However, since everyone finds different things beautiful, it is very difficult to give you objective and neutral recommendations here.

When deciding on the right design - i.e. both surface and style - you can orientate yourself on your tableware and the furnishings of your home. Basically, you can ask yourself whether you like it more modern or traditional.

A timeless or classic style is free of any squiggles and ornaments and therefore always a good choice for everyone. Such cutlery is usually characterised by clearly recognisable shapes and lines and is always suitable for any occasion.

Modern cutlery, on the other hand, is a highlight on any dining table. It is usually very unusually designed with unconventional shapes, asymmetry and ornaments. WMF in particular offers a lot of modern cutlery designed by well-known designers such as Jette Joop or Peter Bäurle.

The shape of the handle is also important and especially a curved one is very trendy. With such an individual look, you can enjoy your meals in style.

If you prefer a more traditional or retro look, you will also find the right cutlery here. Such cutlery often has clearly recognisable, simple shapes and a spade-shaped or octagonal end is also very popular.

If you want to bring more colour into your kitchen instead, cutlery with colourful plastic handles is the best choice.

When choosing the cutlery set, you can orientate yourself on the furnishings of your living or dining room.

Surface

The surface of the cutlery also plays an important role for a chic design.

A distinction is made between a matt or polished and thus shiny look. Polished cutlery is sold most often and is a timeless classic.

If you like something a little more individual, then cutlery with a matt finish is probably the right choice for you.

Did you know that silver cutlery is healthy?

Modern science has already explained that silver can have an antibacterial effect. There is a dosage that, thanks to a combination of silver ions and proteins, can change their geometry and kill the germs.

This influence is more relevant for cans or vessels, because when eating with a spoon, there is little time for the cutlery to release ions.

Stainless and dishwasher safe

These are probably the most important points you should look for when buying cutlery. If these two additions are on your cutlery, then you can be sure that you will enjoy it for a very long time.

Such cutlery is mainly offered by renowned manufacturers, so one disadvantage is that you have to spend a little more money on your new cutlery. But since you will notice this in the quality after a few years, we think that such an investment will be very worthwhile for you.

However, even cutlery with the words "stainless" and "dishwasher safe" can rust. Why this is the case and what you can do about it is explained below

Cutlery is easy to clean in the dishwasher without rusting. Even with constant use, it is robust against scratches.

Serrated cutlery

If you're looking for cutlery, you probably can't avoid the subject of serrated edge. But what exactly can knives with this feature do?

A serrated edge is a type of edge on knives: The blade has a wavy shape. Bread knives always have a continuous serrated edge, whereas normal menu knives either do not have this or only have half of it.

The main difference between serrated knives and other knives is the way they cut: Serrated knives are much more likely to tear and are therefore particularly suitable both for firm surfaces such as steak, pizza or bread but also for smooth ones such as tomatoes. In addition, such cutlery stays sharp longer and you can therefore continue to use bread knives that are a few years old without hesitation.

One disadvantage of serrated blades, however, is that the cuts are not as precise. It is also much more difficult to sharpen these knives when they are worn, as you have to do this for each tooth individually. This can therefore only be done professionally.

Number of place settings and parts

It is also an important decision for you to know how many place settings your cutlery case should have. Many manufacturers also specify how many people the cutlery set is suitable for. You should know how many people live in your household and will use the cutlery regularly, as well as how often you can and want to wash your used cutlery.

Manufacturers have cutlery sets in different scopes of delivery, so you can easily find the perfect set of cutlery for the size of your home.

Most of the test winners come in a 30-piece set for 6 people or a 60-piece set for 12 people. However, it doesn't hurt to have cutlery for more people than actually live in the house. This way you can eat for several days in a row without having to wash up.

In addition to all these recommendations, there are other individual sizes of cutlery sets. For example, a 24-piece case is also suitable for 6 people, but it does not include smaller forks for cakes, for example.

We therefore think that a larger set with 60 or more pieces is worthwhile, especially for larger families. On the other hand, smaller families with up to 3 members or singles who also receive visitors from time to time are well served with a smaller cutlery set with around 30 pieces.

However, children's cutlery is almost only available in sets of 3 or 4. One option here would be to buy several sets so that the child has a variety of cutlery and thus more fun at mealtimes.

Facts worth knowing about Cutlery

How long has cutlery existed and when was it invented?

Nowadays, cutlery is part of everyday life and it is hard to imagine a household without it. But how exactly was it invented?

The first tool for eating was the spoon, which was modelled on a scooping hand. The knife, which was used to chop food into bite-sized pieces and then eat it with the fingers, is almost as old.

These two types of cutlery have their roots in the Stone Age, while the first forks were only found in antiquity from 1200 BC onwards. It was not until the industrial revolution in the 19th century that it was possible to use cheap metal for cutlery production, which made forks affordable for the common people.

By the way, cutlery got its name from the fact that people used to always carry their cutlery with them. From the Middle Ages onwards, everyone had their own spoon, which was even passed on to their descendants around 1800: this is where the famous saying "to give up the spoon" comes from

What cutlery is used in other cultures and how is it used there?
The "cutlery" that most people in the world use is fortunately always with us:

About 3.5 billion people eat their meals with their hands. This has its roots in ancient Rome, as the Romans always ate lying down and therefore only had one hand free. In India, too, people nowadays eat exclusively with their fingers, but only with their right hand, as the left hand, which is considered "unclean", is always used when going to the toilet.

The second most common way of eating is with a knife and fork, but this also varies in some countries: Americans cut up their entire meal small and then eat it afterwards only with a fork. The Italians - unlike us Germans - usually eat spaghetti exclusively with a fork.

Chopsticks, which you know from Chinese restaurants, are used by 1.2 billion people worldwide. The chopsticks are only held with one hand, as the other hand is used to hold the bowl.

How do you set the cutlery correctly?

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed at large banquets with several courses and don't know which cutlery goes where when setting the table? Don't panic, the principle behind it is actually quite simple:

Cutlery that you use with your left hand goes to the left of the plate, cutlery that you use with your right hand goes to the other side. The cutlery that will be used first is placed on the outside. Cutlery for dessert is placed on top of the plate, with the spoon handle to the right and the fork handle to the left.

Otherwise, you can serve each course separately so that there is not too much cutlery on the table.

How do you look after your cutlery?

Everyone uses cutlery every day, but only very few people know how to look after it properly. But it is very important, because otherwise it loses its shine and gets unsightly edges.

It starts with the dishwasher cycle. It is important that you only load the dishwasher with stainless cutlery and make sure that the cutlery does not touch other dishes. You should also clean it as soon as possible after use and not leave it lying around dirty for too long.

When all your dishes are washed, leave the machine open to allow the steam to escape.

Then place a towel inside to soak up the remaining condensation and prevent rims on knives, spoons and forks.

If stains do form on your cutlery, use normal cleaning products and a soft cloth. Never use scouring powder or steel wool, as this will damage the surface of the cutlery.

You can put your cutlery in a cutlery tray. The dividers inside the box ensure that each piece is protected from scratches by fitting tightly.

Why does cutlery rust in the dishwasher and what can you do about it?

You have certainly experienced this at some point: you want to take your newly bought cutlery out of the dishwasher and then notice that small rust spots are visible. Since this is of course particularly annoying, we explain what you can do about it and how such a thing is even possible.

18 10 Stainless steel cutlery is considered "dishwasher safe", but even so, it is not always spared rust. However, this is rust film, which is mainly caused by other, non-stainless dishes in the dishwasher, such as pans.

Salt can also cause pitting, which are small, initially barely visible holes. Therefore, you should always add dishwasher salt just before washing the dishes and make sure that its residues do not remain in the machine for too long.

Where does the cutlery lie after the meal?

While this is not important at home during "dinner for one", there are two positions you should know when visiting a restaurant.

The "20 past 8" position - "I'm taking a break"

If the knife and fork are arranged in a triangle at the eighth hour and the twentieth minute - in other words, at 8:20 o'clock - you show the waiter or waitress that you are taking a break but would like to continue eating. This prevents your plate from being cleared prematurely.

The "20 past 4" position - "I'm done"

The knife and fork are placed parallel to each other on the plate clock. The handles point down to the right - figuratively speaking, to four o'clock. The knife represents the hour hand pointing to the fourth hour, the fork is the minute hand on the twentieth minute - twenty past four. If you place your cutlery in this way, you show that your plate can now be cleared.

Image source: PhotoMix-Company/ pixabay.com

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