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What is melamine? All about these break-resistant dishes

Good-looking plates that won't crack under pressure

Collage featuring melamine dishware in front of a background. Credit: Reviewed / The Pioneer Woman / Certified International / Amazon / West Elm

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Ever been browsing at a home goods or kitchen store and picked up a beautiful dish only to find it weighs a lot less than expected and doesn't feel like the stoneware you assumed it was? Say hello to melamine.

Melamine is a lightweight material that comes in many forms, from kid’s dishes to stylish dinner bowls.

Melamine plates are ideal for families, for a couple of reasons: They are ultra-durable. They aren't unbreakable, but they are break-resistant, and not to mention, they're very easy to clean.

If you’re curious about melamine plates and what exactly melamine is, keep reading.

What is melamine?

Melamine is a chemical predominately used to produce plastic materials, and a compound called melamine-formaldehyde resin is used to create dishes and plates, shaped under high heat.

If the term "chemical" is enough to scare you off, don't fret: Melamine is food-safe and heat-resistant. The plastic material won't transfer from plate to food, unless you put it in the microwave. Heating foods, particularly acidic ones, at the extreme temperatures of a microwave can cause the plastic from the plates to transfer to your food.

What is melamine dinnerware?

If you’re worried that melamine plates will make you look or feel like you’re eating off children's dishes every night, it won't. Melamine is versatile in finish and can look remarkably like stone or wood, all the while remaining lightweight and highly durable. Typically marketed as “shatterproof,” melamine won’t chip or break when dropped.

“Shatterproof” melamine dinnerware is an ideal candidate for use out of doors, like on a patio. If someone takes a spill walking out from the house with a dish in their hands, the ground won't be covered in shattered ceramic. Year-round, melamine dinnerware is ideal for those who are accident-prone or have young children.

It's important to note that the clean-up process is a bit easier with melamine, too, and entirely dishwasher safe. While you shouldn’t use a rough tool like steel wool to clean melamine plates, you can give it a strong scrub using the scouring side of a sponge.

Are you liking the sound of this?

6 of our favorite melamine plates and dinnerware to shop right now

1. West Elm Organic Stone Melamine Dinnerware

The West Elm Organic Stone Melamine Dinnerware in front of the background.
Credit: Reviewed / West Elm

A more contemporary design for the modern dinner table.

In beautiful organic shapes, this melamine-crafted dinnerware set is grown-up. With black speckling against the crisp white plates, this set looks like elegant stoneware.

West Elm’s dinnerware set comes with four dinner plates, salad plates, salad bowls, and dip bowls. Since they’re so durable, there’s no fear of your evening ending with a broken plate.

$115 at West Elm

2. Amazon Basics Melamine Dinnerware Set

The Amazon Basics Melamine Dinnerware Set in front of a background.
Credit: Reviewed / Amazon

The perfect starter pack dishware.

If you’re moving into a new home, apartment, or dorm room, this melamine dinnerware is a wonderful starter set. For under $20 you can get a 12-piece set of dishes that includes four bowls, salad plates, and dinner plates.

Coming in a range of beautiful designs, you can go for a set with a fun, floral print or one with the timeless look of crackled ceramic glaze.

From $19 at Amazon

3. Le Cadeaux 12-piece Melamine Dinnerware Set

dinnerware set
Credit: HSN

This versatile dinnerware set can be used for both intimate and formal parties.

This sophisticated Melamine set includes four cereal bowls, four dinner plates, and four salad plates, which reviewers call "generously sized and well-made." Available in an antique white or lemon print that's perfect for the summer months, this durable set is sure to come in handy for occasions of all types, formal or informal.

$169.95 at HSN

4. The Pioneer Woman Country Splatter Melamine Dinnerware Set

The Pioneer Woman Country Splatter Melamine Dinnerware Set
Credit: Reviewed / The Pioneer Woman

The floral design is a good feast to the eyes.

Enameled dinnerware offers a lovely rustic feel, however, it can typically be quite fragile and not dishwasher safe. Not so here! For a dishwasher-safe alternative, the Pioneer Woman collection at Walmart offers this cozy set of dinnerware that looks like splattered enamel.

In this 12-piece set, you’ll receive four bowls, dinner plates, and salad plates. It comes in mismatched colors of yellow, red, cobalt blue, and teal for a shabby-chic look.

$24 at Walmart

5. Certified International Perlette Dinnerware Set

The Certified International Perlette Dinnerware Set in front of a background.
Credit: Reviewed / Certified International

A solid color design for a timeless dinner table.

Delicate pearling along the wavy edge of these melamine plates, give a coastal vibe year-round. Included in the set are four dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls, all easily stackable for neat storage.

Get these plates in a classic cream shade for a timeless look. This set is also available in coral and teal for those seeking a pop of color.

$77 at Wayfair

6. French Bull Kids Dinner Plates

The French Bull Kids Dinner Plates in front of a background.
Credit: Reviewed / French Bull

Perfect for chicken tenders!

Melamine is great for kid's dinnerware, too, like this French Bull set with colorful animals and a cheerful design. You can choose between jungle animals, farm animals, or sea creatures, depending on what your child is currently curious about. $16 at Amazon

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