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What Are the Different Types of Serving Pieces?

By Tiffany Manley
Updated May 16, 2024
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Serving pieces include a variety of products used to serve foods and beverages. These pieces can be divided into several categories based on material, function or type. Beverage dispensers, tea pots, serving flatware, platters, bowls and stands are all types of serving pieces. Ranging from beautiful and intricate to plain and functional, serving pieces carry out a variety of functions for everyday meals and occasional entertaining.

Porcelain, glass, plastic and metal are some of the materials out of which serving pieces might be made. Sometimes the material is used for function, such as keeping a product warm or cold. Other times, the material is used for decorative purposes.

Some serving pieces are designed to serve beverages, and others are designed to serve food such as turkeys, sandwiches or fish. Other pieces are designed to serve a specific type of food, such as cheese, deviled eggs or condiments. Some individuals choose to have on hand a wide array of serving pieces for every possible entertaining scenario, and others decide to stock up on versatile pieces that might be used more frequently for a number of purposes.

Containers that serve beverages are one type of serving apparatus. A wide variety of these containers are available and they carry out different functions. Tea pots, carafes and warm beverage dispensers hold warm beverages such as tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Other pieces include lidded jars with spigots to serve beverages such as lemonade or water and pitchers that can be used to serve a variety of beverages.

Serving flatware is comprised of various utensils used to serve food. The main types of serving flatware are large spoons, large slotted spoons, ladles, serving forks, carving knives and salad serving pieces. Serving flatware can be a great addition to a serving set because they can be used for everyday dining as well as entertaining.

Bowls and platters are two more relatively essential serving pieces. Platters serve as presentation pieces as well as serving pieces and can be used to serve large items such as turkey or ham. Bowls might be used to serve vegetables, gravies, sauces or starches such as rice or stuffing.

A serving stand not only functions as a serving piece, it also can provide a decorative accent. Stands might hold cakes, cupcakes, sandwiches or bars. Many serving stands are elevated, so they might provide a nice contrast on a beautifully set table by adding height to the item.

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Discussion Comments
By nextcorrea — On Feb 08, 2012

I have a beautiful set of pewter serving pieces that originally belonged to my grandmother. I almost never use them, only on very special occasions, but I don't want them to sit in the cupboard unused completely. I think my grandmother would like to know that her be beautiful dinnerware is still in use.

By backdraft — On Feb 07, 2012

A few years back I found an industrial coffee maker at an estate sale. They were selling it very cheaply and I thought it would be handy to have.

I only have big gatherings at my house three or four times a year, but when I do I can turn on that coffee pot and have enough coffee for all my guests to drink as much as they'd like. It is so much easier than trying to brew four or five pots of coffee in a row.

By chivebasil — On Feb 06, 2012

I think the most practical piece of serving equipment is a good pair of salad tongs. One side should be forked and the other side should be spoon shaped yo scoop all the different ingredients of the salad.

Anyone that has tried to serve salad with two forks or what not knows how cumbersome it can be. Oftentimes you end up with salad all over the table or guests end up with a plate of just lettuce as all the topping fall back into the bowl. Be a good host and offer your guests proper serving utensils.

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