The Different Types of Dining Plates and Their Uses

Dining Plates and Their Uses

Typically, you can see a wide range of sizes and types of tableware, cutlery, and plates when attending an event or dining out at a restaurant.

Knowing this tableware and ceramics’ different types and functions is essential to every diner.

Check out several dishes or tableware sets commonly used to serve food on formal occasions such as in restaurants.

We will also review their other names and functions in this article.

Dinner Plate

The dinner plate has been the most used item in every meal, as it is the type of plate used for main courses.

This plate typically is 11 to 12 inches in diameter. It usually comes out after the salad bowl. Many people use this type of plate for both lunch and dinner dishes.

To prepare the main course, one sets the dinner plates on the table, usually in the front of the diner. The server will carry the dinner plates and side dishes to the table.

After a while, they will serve the other dinner plates, dishes, and utensils on the table.

Bread and Butter Plate

The bread and butter plate is the smallest among all the plates on the table, measuring five to seven inches in diameter.

It is often used for bread and butter and is also called a side plate or quarter plate.

This little plate is commonly used at breakfast or simple dinners. It is usually placed on the left side of the diner, next to the fork. It is taken away when dessert is about to be served.

Bread and butter plates are often used to separate bread and butter from other foods such as milk, gravy, and juices.

During formal dinners in Europe, bread and butter plates are available but are not set on a formal dinner table in a private residence in North America. It is possible to pass thinly sliced melba toast with broth.

Fish can be eaten in a pastry shell, and toasted crackers are passed with cheese and butter at room temperature.

Bread is often served between different wines at a formal dinner in a restaurant or bar or between courses during long lapses.

Informal dinners and lunches are eaten with bread and butter.

If a plate for a slice of bread or a roll is not offered, the food item is placed on the tablecloth or surface of the dinner plate, where the butter is also set.

Salad Bowl

This plate is used primarily to serve salads. It has two forms of different sizes and also has a round shape.

The first type of bowl is about 22 centimeters for large sizes. The second type of bowl is about 20 centimeters for small sizes.

Keep in mind that the salad bowl is larger than the bread and butter plate. This small tableware mainly contains portions of salad.

After the main course is cleared, the salad plate is placed before the guest at a formal meal. An arranged salad is presented on a plate to the diner.

The salad plate is used to serve the salad, which is presented before the main course in an informal meal.

These plates are presented on a dinner plate when a salad is the main course.

Soup Plate/Soup Bowl

The soup plate has a different shape from other dish types. This plate is used to hold watery foods such as soup.

The bowl serves as a soup container, and the edge of the plate is like a cup with an arch.

There are variations between soup plates for formal meals and casual meals. The soup plate is usually smaller in height for formal dinners; in this case, it is a 9- to 10-inch-wide, shallow bowl with one-inch rims.

This shallow bowl is usually served with an underplate. Usually, the only types used during formal dinner services are these shallow types.

Soup bowls without rims or saucer-like coupe bowls can be used during informal meals.

Soup bowls come in different shapes; the temperature and structure of the soup specify its form.

A thick chunky beef soup retains heat and is often served in small, large cups, which effectively disperse heat.

If the soup has pure broth or a smooth texture, it is recommended to serve it in a deep bowl, which holds heat well.

Clear or transparent soups must be served in tiny cups, preserving and maintaining the temperature.

Appetizer Plate

This is a type of plate that can be used in varied sizes. This plate is a bit larger than bread and butter plates, starting from four to seven inches.

Typically, this plate has a slightly curved tip without an indentation. The appetizer plate holds appetizers like cut fruits or cheese.

Appetizer plates are also known as a fruit, side, or berry bowls. The fruit saucer plate is a thin, shallow dish, and it removes juices streaming from fruits.

Because a formal meal is served course by course, side dishes are not used; an appetizer plate is offered only at casual meals.

Dessert Plate

These plates are seven to nine inches wide and decorated with ornamentation.

Most manufacturers call it a luncheon plate, as it can be utilized during casual or formal meals. Its purpose is varied, as snacks, cakes, appetizers, and sweets can be served on dessert plates.

This plate can be seen on formal dining occasions, such as weddings, gatherings, celebrations, or parties where guests serve desserts.

Dessert plates are thinner and lighter than dinner plates. The dessert plate is often used for formal and informal meals, though it is not necessary for either purpose.

These plates are decorated with ornamentation and are not part of a set of dinnerware.

Saucer Plate

This plate is commonly served with a teacup. A saucer plate has a diameter of approximately 10 inches, with an indentation in the center to prevent the teacup from moving around.

This plate is not interchangeable with any plate, as it is used only to hold coffee cups or teacups.

The core of a saucer plate features a downturned shape to fit a matching cup. Sometimes, this downturned level is elevated and may not appear in antique saucers.

This plate helps prevent surfaces from suffering damage due to the heat of a cup. It is also useful for collecting spills, splashes, and drips from the cup.

Additionally, it covers both the table linen and the person sitting in the stand-alone chair holding both the coffee cup and the saucer.

Saucer plates are a more convenient place to put a wet spoon, which could blend sweeteners or creamers with tea or coffee as it heats the beverage in the cup.

Many users pour hot tea or coffee from the cup into the saucer; the increased surface area helps prevent exposure to burns.

It increases the cooling rate, enabling the drinker to enjoy the coffee rapidly after blending.

Charger Plate

This kind of plate has decorative edges.

It is flat and generally between 13 to 14 inches in diameter, making it one of the biggest plates on the table. Chargers are an extra addition to tableware.

A charger plate is used primarily for decoration, as it holds all the plates and bowls on top of it. Place this plate in a different, more formal environment, with full-course meals under each dinner plate arrangement.

Typically, one does not eat these large plates, as they are used only for decoration.

In the first course, salad plates or soup bowls should sit on top of it.

Charger plates have different purposes aside from the fact that they are beautiful and add to the table’s decor in a fine dining establishment.

They not only create an attractive appearance and anchor the dining table, but they are also aesthetically pleasing to the guest or diner.

These plates also protect the table and tablecloth from getting dirty during the service courses.

The plate catches food items, spills, and other messes that would otherwise stain the tablecloth or fall onto the table.

It also helps keep the heat in the dinnerware as it is placed just beyond all the plates and bowls.


You have just read about the different types of dining plates and their purposes.

Make sure you have a good understanding and awareness of these types of plates, as they might be helpful for you when you are attending a special occasion or just a casual event.

It’s better to be prepared than unaware of these critical matters.

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