Food & Drink
The Different Types of Dining Plates and Their Uses
A plate for everything and everything on its plate.

1 - Bread plate
2 - Charger
3 - Dinner plate
4 - Salad plate
5 - Soup bowl

Bread and butter plate

Hermès Mosaique au 24 bread plate

Defining features: The smallest plate on the table measuring five to seven inches in diameter.

Use: These little plates are used at breakfast and informal dinners. It is optional for formal dinners. These are taken away before dessert is served. In a table setting, this is placed on the left side of the diner.

The bread plate and butter knife are located at the left-hand corner of your plate setting.

Appetizer plate

Bernardaud Soleil Levant plate

Defining features: Size varies from four to seven inches, slightly curved edges and typically no indentation

Use: Not to be confused with the bread and butter plates, appetizer plates are a bit larger in size. They are meant to hold bite-sized appetizers, charcuterie, fruit, or cheese.

Salad plate

Bernardaud Capucine salad plate

Defining features: Usually round in shape, salad plates come in two sizes: The larger one is eight to 8.5 inches and the smaller one is an inch less.

Use: Remember that the salad plate is larger in size than the bread and butter plate. These small plates primarily hold individual portions of salad.

Soup plate or soup bowl

IMAGE Hermès 

Hermès Mosaique au 24 soup plate

Defining features: A wide, shallow bowl with one-inch rims, typically nine to 10 inches in diameter

Use: The shallow soup bowl is usually one-and-a-half inches deep with a well that is six to seven inches across and is served and taken away with an underplate. These shallow types are usually the only ones used during formal dinner service. During informal meals, soup bowls without rims or saucer-like coupe bowls may be used.

The shallow soup bowl atop the other plates.


Crate and Barrel Shimmer gold charger

Defining features: Decorative edges, flat, and usually 13 to 14 inches in diameter, making it one of the largest plates on the table

Use: Used mainly for decoration, chargers are an optional addition to the tablescape. Place them underneath each dinner plate setting during a special, more formal gathering with full-course dinners. One does not usually eat off these large wares but a first-course salad plate or soup bowl may rest on top of it.

Dinner plate


Hermès Mosaique au 24 dinner plate

Defining features: 10 to 12 inches in diameter

Use: The most used plate during the entire meal, the dinner plate comes out during the main course, after the salad. Sometimes it is the plate resting just above the charger. Many use the same plates for both lunch and dinner, while others distinguish the lunch plate as lighter and an inch smaller.

Dessert plate

Hermès Mosaique au 24 dessert plate

Defining features: These plates are seven to nine inches across and are ornately decorated.

Use: Utilized during both informal and formal meals, dessert plates are also called luncheon plates by some manufacturers. Common encounters with the dessert plates are during wedding receptions, parties, and events where single smaller servings of desserts are prepared for guests.


Hermès Mosaique au 24 teacup and saucer

Defining features: Less than 10 inches in diameter with an indentation for a cup

Use: Saucers are primarily paired with teacups or coffee cups and the indentation in the center makes it so that the cups its holding does not move around. Never use or substitute a saucer for any plate.

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