• Go to First Slide
  • Pause
  • Play
  • Go to Last Slide

Types of Bowls

Bowls are an important part of any serving ware collection. Whether you're looking for the perfect bowls for your next dinner party, or you just want more options for daily use, having well-stocked cabinets is essential for every household.

Use this guide from Pottery Barn to learn more about the types of bowls available to you. There might be more styles and options than you realize.

Cereal, Soup or Pasta?

Like almost everything else in your kitchen, bowls are designed to be purpose-specific, making serving and enjoying your meals a little bit easier. When it comes to bowls for eating, cereal, soup, and pasta bowls are the most popular varieties that you'll find in the average kitchen cupboard.

Cereal bowls are typically deep and tall, allowing a little more volume to be added than a soup bowl for example. A tall, deep bowl also keeps cereal from getting soggy while you're eating.

Soup bowls, on the other hand, tend to be shallow and wide, making them ideal for foods with a more liquid consistency. Soup bowls come in different sizes, ranging from small appetizer soup bowls to larger entree bowls.

Pasta bowls often look similar to wide soup bowls, but they are usually considerably deeper. Most pasta bowls can hold a large volume of food, making them ideal for entree pastas and dishes that might otherwise be plated like risotto, seafood, and rice, or meat and pasta dishes like a ragout.

Serving and Snack Bowls

Bowls for cereal, soup and pasta are excellent for serving your guests or just enjoying weekday meals with your family. Serving and snack bowls are also must-have tools whether you're a gourmet chef making food for 20 or a parent preparing an afternoon snack for the kids.

Large serving bowls are ideal for putting food on the table for family-style lunches and dinners so everybody can serve themselves. Having a few handy for multiple dishes like salads, pasta and more is a great idea for every kitchen.

Snack bowls are perfect for those small items that you want to put out on the table like pickles, olives or nuts. They're also good for items like grapes and sliced fruits for a healthy late night snack. 

Buy in Sets

Bowls are an item that every kitchen cabinet needs, but figuring out how many you need can be a little tricky. For the most part, having at least one bowl of each type handy for every member of your family is best. More casual bowls like cereal bowls generally aren't required for guests.

Buying in sets of four allows you to purchase the right number of bowls and have a few extras on hand. If you love hosting dinner parties or gatherings with friends, look to add eight to 12, so you're never short when you have a group.

Mix and Match

Buying in sets ensures that you have enough bowls for every member of the family and all of your guests while providing a uniform look. Not everybody wants that uniform style though.

If you prefer a more eclectic table, look to buy small sets of bowls of the same size to get to your desired number. You can also mix and match your colors for a dynamic, exciting place setting.

Choose Your Materials

Bowls come in many different materials, from classic ceramic to glazed porcelain and bone. All of these styles can work in modern and traditional spaces depending on the color and pattern that you pick.

For a more rugged look, stoneware is an ideal choice. Often finished in natural tones, stoneware is typically oven and microwave safe. It's also extremely durable, providing years of use because of its exceptionally heavy weight.

Colors and Styles

All types of bowls come in a wide variety of colors and styles. For many people, classic white or traditional bone are an optimal choice. These neutral bowls will work on any table and allow you to show off your culinary creations without distraction.

If you prefer a bit more color without going over the top, stoneware or glazed bowls in neutral tones, as well as classic blue, red or green can work well in almost any setting. More vibrant colors like yellow, orange and lime are excellent for casual use bowls where having a matching table setting isn't particularly important.

Storage Options

Most bowls are designed to stack so they can be securely stored in your kitchen cabinets or buffet. Well-made dishwasher safe bowls won't crack or scratch under normal wear even if they're stacked and unstacked regularly.

If you choose bowls with metal rims or decorative touches that may be a bit more delicate, stacking them with a layer of parchment or tissue paper between is often recommended. This will keep materials prone to scratching looking their best for years to come.

Bowls help you perfect your table setting for formal dinner parties and enjoy that morning cereal while you're starting your day. Whichever one you do more, having the right style and number of bowls on hand is a must for your home.