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What Is the Difference between Crockery and Cutlery?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Crockery and cutlery are both used in the serving and consumption of food, but while crockery is typically a vessel into or onto which food is placed, cutlery refers to a variety of hand tools used by both cooks and diners to prepare and eat meals. Types of crockery include plates, bowls, and cups, and cutlery consists of knives, forks, and spoons. In addition, specialized types of crockery and cutlery exist to accommodate foodstuffs that require special handling.

The term crockery is commonly used in the United Kingdom to describe what Americans often call dishes, dishware, or dinnerware. Distinctions are sometimes made between crockery used for holding food that has not yet been served and individual pieces of dinnerware off of which individual diners eat. Many crockery sets include large platters, plates, and bowls that are designed to hold significant amounts of food from which individuals may be served or help themselves. Depending on cultural practices, individual diners may have their own plates and bowls into which they or their hosts place the food they intend to eat. These diners then eat directly off their own plate or bowl. In some areas, formal meals are distinguished by the use of several different types of crockery at a single meal, which may include separate plates or bowls for meal courses as well as side dishes such as a salad or bread and butter.


As with crockery, distinctions are made between types of cutlery that are used for preparing, serving, and eating food. Kitchen knives, for example, are typically very sharp and used to cut and chop food in preparation of being cooked or added as an ingredient to a dish. Serving forks and spoons are typically large pieces that can be used to serve food to individual diners from communal serving plates and bowls. In many countries, each diner has his own set of cutlery, which typically consists of a knife, fork, and spoon, all of which are designed to assist him in eating his food.

Dinnerware is often called crockery.
Dinnerware is often called crockery.

Both crockery and cutlery are considered household necessities in many countries, particularly in the United States and in other countries in which it is commonplace to eat food from individual plates and bowls and to use utensils when doing so. Many households will have separate sets of crockery and dining cutlery for formal and informal meals, using inexpensive and simple designs for everyday dining, while reserving the more expensive and elaborate items for special occasions. In some families, sets of crockery and cutlery become family heirlooms, passed down through the generations.

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Discussion Comments


@bagley79: Why don't you post the extra pieces you don't use on Ebay? If you have no use for them, I can almost guarantee someone else does. For instance, people who use their coffee cups regularly will have chipped and broken pieces that they need to replace to keep their set complete. You won't get a ton of money for them, but you certainly can get them out of you cupboard and put to good use in another person's home. Sometimes, you can make out very well doing this if it's a very popular and discontinued pattern.

Check the completed listings in your pattern. If it's a big seller, then list it as an auction with a low start price and let the bidders fight for your pieces. If it is not as popular, offer them as a fixed price per piece (or setting if it's a cup and saucer). Good luck!



When it comes to the really nice crockery and kitchen cutlery sets, sometimes I am overwhelmed. I feel like I am spending a lot of money on pieces that I will never use.

For instance when we sit down to a meal, we never use a separate plate for bread. Very few people in my family drink coffee, so I also feel like all the mugs that come with the set won't get used.

You save money when you buy a set because it can get expensive when buy individual pieces at a time. The only downside is if you won't use the extra pieces, they are a waste of money and just take up room in your cupboards that can be used for something else.


I have separate crockery and cutlery sets for every day and for special meals. I keep my nice crockery and cutlery stored in an old antique buffet table.

Our every day set of utensils and dishes gets a pretty good workout. If I tried to use nice pieces for our meals everyday, they would get ruined in a hurry.

I usually buy cheap cutlery because it seems like we are always losing spoons. I think they must accidentally get thrown away or something because I always end up with less spoons that knives or forks.

When I am setting the table for a nice meal, I enjoy getting out the good dishes and knowing I have enough matching pieces for everyone, and that they aren't chipped or scratched.

The only disadvantage to using the nice crockery is that I don't put it in the dishwasher. It takes longer to do the dishes by hand, but at least I don't have to do it like this every day.


When my Dad was stationed in Germany in the service he bought a beautiful crockery set for my Mom. This is stored in her china cabinet and only gets used on special occasions.

It is a beautiful, high quality set that she has had for over 50 years. Since I am the only girl in the family, this set will be passed down to me.

Every holiday meal that I ever remember eating at my parents house was served using this crockery. There are more pieces there than I would know what to do with, but a beautiful matching set like this is fun to have for those special occasions.


When I was in college, one of my friends was trying to make some extra money by selling dinnerware sets. This wasn't a bad idea except that most of the people she knew where college kids who really didn't have the money to spend on something like this.

It was also something that most college kids aren't thinking about. Sitting down to a nice meal with a matching dinnerware set is the last thing on their mind.

This is a good thing to buy for a new bride though. It is always nice to have a nice dinnerware set in your new home. I know some brides will have a pattern picked out and listed in their registry. That makes it easy for others to buy pieces for their set.

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    • Dinnerware is often called crockery.
      By: Francesco83
      Dinnerware is often called crockery.