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The new, must-have addition to any hostess' arsenal is break-resistant dinnerware. It's less expensive and more durable than traditional porcelain pieces, so you won't have to take out a small loan every time a guest accidentally drops a stack of soup bowls. And unlike paper plates, these sturdy pieces are reusable, which dramatically cuts down on waste.

To help you avoid buying dishes that are prone to chipping, scratching, breaking, or staining, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) tested 29 lines of break-resistant dinnerware.

What We Looked for in Break-Resistant Dinnerware

GHRI evaluated the break-resistant dinnerware for:

  • Ability to resist scratching from use.
  • Ability to resist chipping.
  • Ability to resist breaking when dropped.
  • Ability to be cleaned in the dishwasher.
  • Ability to resist degrading in the dishwasher if dishwasher-safe.
  • Ability to be used in the microwave oven.
  • Results of use in the microwave if microwave safe.
  • Ability to resist staining.
  • Helpfulness of instructions included with the dinnerware.

How We Tested Break-Resistant Dinnerware

  • We reviewed the materials that accompanied each line of plates, to determine whether the dinnerware was dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • Testers cut slices of steak with a sharp steak knife 40 times to see if the plates were prone to scratching.
  • Using our drop testing machine, we dropped plates six times each onto wood and slate. Then we inspected the plates for damage.
  • We knocked the edge of each plate against a granite slab to see if it would chip if dropped or knocked against a countertop.
  • To test stain resistance, we poured piping-hot tomato sauce onto each plate and allowed to sit overnight before cleaning.
  • Dishwasher-safe plates went through 14 cycles and then inspected for faded patterns, chips, scratches, or other damage.
  • We reheated a piece of lasagna on all microwave-safe plates to see how well they withstood heat.

What to Look for When Buying Break-Resistant Dinnerware

To determine which break-resistant dinnerware is best for you, consider the following:

Material: Most break-resistant dinnerware is made from melamine (a type of plastic), but Corelle dinnerware is made from tempered glass, which also offers the advantage of being chip- and scratch-resistant, as well as microwave safe. Melamine isn't microwave safe, but plates made from melamine are generally lighter in weight and less likely to break if dropped on a very hard surface like slate or brick.

Weight: Heavy plates may feel like they're high quality, but they're actually no more durable than their lightweight counterparts. In fact, in our tests, heavier plates were even more likely to break when dropped. When shopping, choose a weight that you feel comfortable carrying.

Decide What You Need: It may be tempting to buy a full set, but you might be getting more than you really need. While large sets of dinnerware tend to offer a better value per piece, you should decide in advance whether you really need matching bowls or salad plates.

Breakage: Remember that the dinnerware is break-resistant, not unbreakable. Over time it's likely that at least one piece will break. If you fall in love with a certain pattern, consider buying extra pieces. Designs change seasonally, and you may not be able to get a replacement next summer.

Tips for Using Break-Resistant Dinnerware

  • Just like regular dinnerware, break-resistant dinnerware can chip or break. Use care when using and storing.

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