Classic Dishes: Fiestaware

Fiestaware

I had a friend in college who was very skilled at making her home look beautiful. Her apartment was decorated in garage-sale furniture like ours, but she took the extra step and slipcovered her old couch. She had an entire set of Martha Stewart Living magazines that she referred to like encyclopedias.

Our college living situations were temporary, and the extent of most of our decorating was to hang an Ansel Adams or Van Gogh poster print, but her apartment looked like home. When I opened up her kitchen cabinet and saw a stack of Fiesta plates, I was completely smitten.

After I graduated from college I used graduation money to buy my own set of Fiesta dishes. I bought six place settings in different colors so I could mix them up.

Of all my home furnishings, these dishes are what I have used the longest. Fourteen years later, we still use them daily, and they make me happy when I open my kitchen cabinet and see the cheerful colors.

Fiesta dishes

When someone asks what dishes I recommend, I always suggest Fiestaware. It’s also known as Fiesta Dinnerware, and it’s made in the USA by the Homer Laughlin company. Some people collect vintage Fiestaware, but new pieces are at department stores such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The key, and this is very important, is to buy different colors. They are not supposed to be the same color. The only time I ever see Fiestaware on Craigslist is when someone bought all their dishes in the same color, and they redecorated and it doesn’t match, or they got tired of looking at the same color of blue.

With all these years of daily use (fourteen including six with the kids), we’ve never chipped a plate or bowl. The thick, rounded edges are very durable. A few teacups broke after being dropped on the tile, so they’re not indestructible, but I can confidently call them kid friendly.

An advantage is that the classic design hasn’t changed. I added two more place settings after my family grew. It’s easy to replace a plate that is missing or broken.

I didn’t register for china when I got married. I registered for inexpensive white dishes that can go with everything and look formal, so now I have eight place settings of Fiestaware and eight place settings of white dishes when I want a different look. When I have a lot of people over for a meal, I typically set the kids’ table with the Fiesta plates, and the grownups use the white dishes.

Are you a fan of Fiestaware too?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. My Mom loved Fiestaware! But my sister got it all when the house got cleaned out. You are right about the beauty, Mom had them in a cabinet with a glass front so you could see them. And they are heavy. And so much fun to use. I kinda wish I’d asked for Fiestsware when we got married, but our simple white dishes are going strong after 7 years and they are classic.

  2. Yes! I love the cheerful colors and the sturdiness. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I’ve loved Fiestaware since college, too! I honestly didn’t know you could buy it new. I thought it needed to be collected as antiques. We have some “treat” purchases in mind for when we are debt free – so soon I can almost taste it – mine is a new set of daily dishes. Fiestaware is a contender!
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s last post…DIY: Make a Huge Frame for WAY Less money.

  4. I love my Fiestaware too! I got it about 3 years ago, and have eight place settings, all in different colors.

    My mom has all red Fiestaware, and I love how it looks in her kitchen. It works for her! :)

  5. Totally agree with your opinions on Fiesta. Love those dishes!

    Please keep writing this blog. You’ve given me many wonderful ideas, and your posts are written with a warm “voice”.

  6. I LOVE Fiestaware – and for another reason, too. Our family has always had a problem with breaking things made of glass. Plates, glasses, vases, bowls – you name it. If it’s glass, we’ll break it. So I always had incomplete sets of dishes. Very frustrating. My dream was always to have solid colored dishes so I could mix and match and if one got broken, it wasn’t a big deal. So a few years ago, I started collecting the solid colored plates and bowls. I don’t have Fiestaware – I started with some inexpensive pieces from Wal-mart. I’m okay with having different brands – that’s the look I want. But they have to be solid, bright colors. I’m having a blast with the new dishes and now I don’t have a heart attack when someone breaks a dish!
    Patty@homemakersdaily.com´s last post…How to Get Your House Ready To Sell

  7. We got everyday dishes when we got married. 12 years (and 4 kids) later, nearly all of our small plates are broken. I’ve been thinking about what sort of dishes I’d be happy with for another 12 (or hopefully 20 or 30) years, and Fiestaware is at the top of my list.

    I LOVE the cheerful colors peeking out of your cabinets in this picture!

  8. I love Fiestaware, too. My mother-in-law has a set & they’re so pretty. I hope she’ll pass them on to me someday.

  9. I’ve never commented on your site, though I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it and benefiting from it for about a year now. Thanks for all you write!

    I fell in love with Fiestaware as a child, while reading American Girl “Molly” books and I started collecting it (in several colors of both vintage and new) when I was 16. For years, my dishes were confined to my hope chest and storage boxes…waiting for “someday.” After college, I started using them every day. Old and new colors can be found on Amazon.com and eBay, where they’re usually much cheaper than, say, Belk. Vintage pieces are lighter in weight while still being quite durable; I’ve never broken one, despite my clumsiness.

    • LaPriel Stein says:

      FYI
      Don’t freak out, but some of the old Fiestaware was made with radioactive glazes. Uranium was used to produce the beautiful reds and orange. You can read about it here under radioactive glazes. They have references.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiesta_(dinnerware)
      I was aware of this because I worked in the health and safety department for nuclear facility. They had a man whose radiation dose was always higher then anyone else’s that worked in the same areas he did. So, they asked him where he left his badge every night when he went home. He said on an orange plate. They had him bring the plate in and checked it. Yep, sure enough, it was fiesta ware and giving his badge the extra dosage they kept seeing. I was told that if he ate off that plate everyday, over a life time, it would give him a high enough dose to affect him in some way.
      So, if you have some, Read up on it and decide how you want to use your antiques in a safe way. Again, please do not freak out about this, but do take the time to know what you have and how it may affect you.

      On a more optimistic view…. I love fiesta ware. It is timeless. I don’t personally own any. I have white Correl plates and bowls that I just love. Why? They go with anything, fit in the dishwasher wonderfully, and stack nicely in the cupboards. They are durable. They ar open stock, meaning i can buy a new whatevr when ever! Ihave lots of other misc. pieces in my kitchen ware that are all different colors and patterns. Oh, and the Correl doesn’t get super hot in the microwave and leave the food relatively cold.

      Rachel, I love your blog!

      • i have all white corelle ware as well! i love that it can be dressed up, but it functions quite well for everyday use as well. i can add whatever color i like for the particular occasion w/ napkins, tablecloth, serving dishes, etc.

      • Right. I don’t use my original red Fiestaware with food, just for decoration. So far, the closest new (and safe) color to the original red is persimmon, which is cool too.

  10. I love all white plates myself. I have collections of jadeite plates to mix and match plus willow ware for when I want to mix some colours in. Yours look very pretty in that cabinet though and I am partial to coloured bowls more than plates. I love that stack of bowls!

  11. Not only am I a huge fan of Fiesta, but I live in West Virginia where it’s made. There’s an outlet store at this tiny, bizarre “outlet mall” in the middle of the state called Everything Fiesta where you can get surplus/imperfect pieces for next to nothing. For example, I got my mom salad/dessert plates for Christmas for $2 each and we can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. People make a pilgrimage to the annual tent sale in the summer, though I’ve never been brave enough to go.

    Did you see they just announced the newest color? It’s a deep blue called “lapis.”

    • Also, I love the size of the teacup. Mugs have gotten so big, which is fine for my morning cup of coffee, but the teacups are great for serving dessert to a crowd or cocoa to a preschooler.

    • It’s pretty!

  12. I love my fiestaware! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it!

  13. I LOVE Fiestaware. My grandmother and mother had it, and I have pieces from both of them. I have all-white everyday dishes (I, too, opted out of fancy china when we got married) and I love mixing and matching. Fiestaware really is durable…I don’t think we ever broke a dish growing up. My grandmother’s decades-old Fiestaware still looks great despite generations of use.

  14. I have a set very similar to yours. My orange is lighter and I do not have the darker of your lighter blues. I collected every color and shape that was available in 1997. :-) I have broken one bowl and a couple of plates over time. We use it every day.
    Joy´s last post…Sliders

  15. Do you find them annoyingly heavy for daily use, for kids carrying to and from the table, etc.? I LOVE the colors and style and have always wanted some, but for my wedding was given stoneware Pfaltzgraff plates that have just exhausted me with how heavy and cumbersome they are. They’re chipped and broken now and I would like to replace them with Fiestaware with a tax refund or something but am worried about stacks of heavy plates, etc.

    • I don’t carry around stacks of them, but I don’t find them too heavy. At the stores they always have them on display so you can pick them up and see.

    • I have arthritis and chronic fatigue, and as much as I love the look and durability of stoneware plates, I stick with Corelle. My Grandma has a set of formal-ware that is stoneware, and I was in my teens before I could lift more than two at a time to set the table. Even of the luncheon/dessert plates.

      I grew up on Corelle ware, had whatever looked nice from the thrift store when I moved out on my own, and now am back with Corelle. I prefer the un-decorated white, but if they ever have their Strawberry Sundays pattern at the outlet store I will buy those. And since my brother prefers stoneware, I’ll probably inherit my mom’s blue floral set.

    • I had Pfaltzgraff too and loved my pattern, and yes it was heavy, but I didn’t have children then. I had Meadow Lane. I chipped quite a few, and when they stopped manufacturing in the US and moved to China, I stopped getting it. I got Fiesta, and I find they are much more durable, and the shiny glaze is perhaps even easier to clean. I got these for the fun colors though, for the children, and they are heavy, but I believe it’s good for them to learn to care for nice things. I’m not sure, but I believe they are a tiny bit lighter than the Pfaltzgraff-that might not be it, it might just be that they are more comfortable to carry. I would try them before buying if heavyness is a factor. For light plates, I’d go with Corelle. They are not fancy, but we had them growing up, and we rarely broke them. I kinda wish I could have some now for the ease of washing and stacking-they take up so little a space, but the Fiesta is just too happy and fun! And I can’t justify having both right now.

  16. Sunnymay says:

    I found some odds and ends of Fiesta dinnerware at a garage sale and snatched up the pieces that were left. It makes me smile to see the cheery colors that are eclectic when mismatched and still collectible.

  17. I LOVE my Fiestaware! But I have ALL white and accessorize with aqua and blue. I recently did a tutorial on how to clean the marks off them if you are interested :)
    http://www.cleanmama.net/2013/02/kitchen-month-how-to-get-rid-of-marks-on-your-dishes.html

    xo, Becky

    • THANK YOU for this tip!! Can’t wait to try it. We have 8 different colors of Fiestaware – which I totally love – and one of the colors is white, with a lot of gray marks the white stuff looks a lot dingier than the colors, I never knew you could clean them!

  18. I love Fiestaware! I think I have pieces in just about every color they’ve ever made – many of my pieces are from “retired” colors.

    My favorite color? Persimmon.
    My favorite piece? The ginormous pasta bowls that weight in at 3-pounds each!
    Laurie Buchanan´s last post…The Science of Happiness

  19. I have to admit that the picture of plates with all of those colors is inviting. I certainly see why you enjoy them so.

    I’ve always been a Corelle girl, of the solid white variety. I liked the versatility of the white and didn’t want to lock myself into additional color(s), knowing some day I’d grow tired of it. White would always go with anything and I especially liked clear glass for beverages and serving bowls. If I wanted to add color, that’s where I’d use a tablecloth, cloth napkins, runner, etc. I’ve had my corelle for about 25 years and only lost a few items to breakage (no kids here!). I would concur with Leah who mentioned that the fiestaware look heavy and I’m curious as well if they are.

  20. Mercedes says:

    This is such a fabulous post. We just fell for Fiestaware and bought our first mug on Sunday. We’re going to add to the collection piece by piece. So excited to hear it’s popular – and that it’s cool to go multi-colour.

    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Ah, but of course! We actually do have a set of all-white Fiesta dishes which we’ve made fun by having multi-colored serving dishes. That helps me coordinate my table-setting to the seasons more (and allows me to use fun tablecloths which sometimes get a bit overwhelmed with colored dishes). We love them!

  22. So interesting!

    I’ve seen them in stores and the colors are beautiful. I’m a huge fan of white dishes, though, and will probably stick with that. My MIL gave us a full set of beautiful white dishes and I love them – it’s a very simple, classic design. I really appreciate it when a holiday comes around. All I need to do is use some nice napkins and a tablecloth and poof! It’s festive.

  23. I really enjoy your posts. I look forward to clicking on the new posts when they arrive in my email box! :) They are always informative and classy. The Fiestaware tip is a good one, I’ll be sure to pass it along to my daughter, who will be married “one day”. Classic never goes out of style.

  24. My mom also has the multi colors in glass front cabinets. SO beautiful.

    I agree with not buying all one color, EXCEPT for white. Every bit of my Fiesta is white, and I’ve yet to grow tired of it in 10 years. I change my decor around a lot – including the kitchen – and the dishes always match. Plus – food looks great on white dishes!

  25. I finally got Fiestaware dishes a few months ago, and they are fantastic! I am an all-white dishes kind of person, but I do plan on adding turquoise next. Who knows, perhaps I will branch out to other colors eventually!

  26. Sara Mazenko says:

    Fiestaware is so happy! It’s energizing to see the colors and the simplicity of the design.

    Spring is bringing out the hominess in all of us it seems – I’ve been cleaning out and appreciating the beauty in my house like crazy the past two weeks!

    Love the pretty pics you posted too!

    Sara

  27. We got plain white China for our wedding. It’s great because we can accessorise with our napkins etc. It’s always gonna be stylish and looks good no matter what the occasion.

  28. Fiestaware would be fantastic to accessorize with. Our accent colour is red. A few pieces in red would look fantastic!

  29. I like that you use proper crockery with your kids! Sure, plastic won’t smash, but there’s nothing like teaching them to use and appreciate real china. With the dinnerware you have chosen, you can easily replace broken pieces if one gets broken. I don’t believe in having ‘good china’ that never gets used- life is too short! I use my good china every day!
    Zoe´s last post…The Home Office Series Part 2: using a Filofax to manage household bills

  30. I have 12 sets of Fiestaware and they are all different colors. They are displayed on white shelves in my kitchen and are used every day. My only complaints are: they don’t fit in my dishwasher very well – I’m sure it’s the dishwasher’s problem ;) and you can scratch them with a steak knife. I have stopped buying new, and only buy thrifted pieces now, but I would like to add a few gusto bowls and a set of canisters. I’m considering the knife block with multi-colored knives too!

  31. Nancy Weber says:

    I have and love lots of Fiesta in many colors and I get them right at the actual factory (Homer Laughlin China) in Newell, West Virginia. They have a regular retail store and then another room with thousands of pieces of seconds. You can’t see anything wrong. It’s an amazing place and an authentic factory outlet.
    You can also go on a tour of the factory.

  32. Oh, I love those colorful photos! We wavered on registering for Fiestaware when we were getting married. But we got Dansk Bistro plates instead (white with a navy rim). I love them for their sturdiness and classic good looks, plus it’s easy to buy replacements online.
    But I have to say, it would be a daily pleasure for me to pick the colors of my place setting if I had Fiestaware. Those colors together please my eye so much.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…The Bias-Cut Copper Skirt

  33. Now I have something new on my wishlist! :-P

  34. Lorretta says:

    Growing up My Mother used Fiesta Ware and now I have it to use! I just love the colors! It brings back the memories from childhood for so many of my friends.

  35. I, too, have loved Fiestaware forever. I bought my daughter four place-settings – she likes orange, so hers are all the same color. The five-piece place setting runs $50 at Kohls. However, I bought my daughter’s settings one setting at a time and each time bought them on sale (usually $28) and used a 30% coupon from Kohls in tandem with the sale. It brought the price down to about $20 per place setting. It took me about a year to get 4 place settings this way, but the savings were well worth it. I myself have 7 place settings – all different colors, and I got mine the smart way – they have all been given to me as gifts. My daughter buys me place settings for my birthday and Christmas. She uses the same sale/coupon technique that I do. It’s just fun that way!!

  36. My husband and I (both foodies) either disagree on housewares for years, or we agree in one minute. We finally agreed on white (after years) and a Pflatzgraff pattern (immediately) now discontinued, but I still love. Our daughter signed up for Fiestaware when she got married a few years ago. We all love the variety of colors in their dishes as well as the simplicity of just one in ours. The fun is in sharing the meal!

  37. We have had our Fiestaware for 12 years. I just added 3 new colors now that we have 5 kids. Coincidently, I’m the only one that has ever broke them- it’s never the kids.

  38. I love Fiesta Ware, too. And ours are multi-colored. We got an open plate display cabinet unit with an extra shelf for bowls at IKEA, brightens the room so much. The rest we have behind glass doored cabinets, I saw a pink full set in a thrift store once, older set, we passed. Enjoy!!
    Janet

  39. What great advice to give to an upcoming bride! Brilliant idea… I had no idea that it was so durable.

  40. Karla Coffman says:

    Very fun! I have previously heard of using all white dishes and all clear glass drinkware, but I NEED COLOR! Preferrably sturdy colors. I have some colorful mixing bowls but almost all of them have chips. So sad! I am putting these on my list for my new kitchen. (Our current one is from 1901)

  41. That is so smart. I’m in the market for new dishware but haven’t made any purchases because I haven’t found anything worth buying. Now I know what I’m going to get. Thank you!

  42. Yes! I love these dishes and I hope to slowly replace my everyday dishes with Fiesta ware. Thanks for the tip on not buying a single color – I couldn’t decide which color I liked the best to do this :) You’re so smart for not registering for china but asking people to buy all white instead! I wish I’d been so wise – then I wouldn’t have a hutch full of expensive china I never use!
    Carrie´s last post…Perched In The Bare Trees

  43. I love, love, love Fiestaware! When we sold all of our stuff before our move, I told my husband that I wanted Fiestaware when we bought new dishes. I can’t decide if I want a set like yours or if I want to go all white with some pieces in turquoise. I also love that it’s made in the USA! Thanks for sharing.
    Amanda @ The Scacchi House´s last post…Maple Soy Salmon and Wild Rice

  44. Fiestaware is on my wish list for my 20th anniversary present. My daughter & sister have been asking me which color I want, but now that I saw your post, I am thinking, “why limit myself to just one?” Recently I have gotten paranoid about lead in dishes, and searching for lead-free dishes is what led me to look at Fiestaware.

  45. Here, on the British Isles, it would be the Denby dishes (http://www.denby.co.uk), cups and mugs which are beautiful, simple and sturdy. :)
    I’ve had the Linen set of plates, bowls, mugs and serving dishes for years, the kids have been using them since they turned 4 and I have one tiny chip on a mug after dropping it on the floor.

  46. Cindy Jo says:

    I love my Fiestaware – like you I love to open my kitchen cabinet and see how the different colors mix. I bought it after I got tired of my all white dishes which I still use when the Fiestaware is in the dishwasher. I try to buy a set every year on Black Friday when I get a great price on it, but at the same time I’m trying not to over indulge in it so that it’s not overwhelming to store. Trying to keep it simple – while consumerism beckons me to buy, buy, buy! What a struggle. I enjoy your Blog – keep up the good work!

  47. Oh, I LOVE Fiestaware. I have been drooling over all the colors on the Macy’s website for the past few months!

  48. I love Fiestaware. My favorite aunt and uncle had them and used them when we were there for holidays when I was a child and I always thought they were so pretty and I associated the dishes with them. My uncle gave them to me after my aunt died. I have them in our china cabinet, but I have always been afraid really to use them because I don’t want them to get broken (and I doubt that they are supposed to be used in the dishwasher – the old ones anyway), though I do use the gravy boat several times a year and put it in the dishwasher. My aunt and uncle used to go to antique sales and estate sales and buy various pieces.

  49. The Fiestaware is so pretty and cheerful–very classic! I’d love to see that in the cupboard everyday.

    I went with Mikasa Italian Countryside when we got married a couple of years ago. It is classic and versatile too. Easy to dress up or down, replace pieces, and mix in different colors or patterns of other dishes.
    Angela´s last post…Getting Ready For Baby

  50. we love our fiestaware. going on 10 years with it (we registered for it when we got married too). we have it behind glass cabinet doors and it’s so pretty. so fun for parties, too. since everyone else in our family also has fiesta we pool it together and it’s enough for even a big function.

  51. I love the look of it. So cheerful.

  52. Oh gorgeous colors! If my plates were that colorful, I would want glass doors on the cupboards. My pick has always been Corelle, because all the patterns stack neatly, they are light and do not ever chip. When they do break, they do it right! I hunt for Corelle at every chance, and send them to my missionary friends, where cupboard space is often at a premium. But those ladies too would love the bright colors of Fiesta!

  53. I too love my fiesta ware, and love all the colors (I never replace with the same color. I put mine in the dishwasher with no trouble, an I too think they are durable. However I am very clumsy and have managed to break a piece or so a year, but I don’t think you can blame the plates since I also managed to break all of my wine glasses in one year after moving.

  54. I just picked up a set of fiesta ware dinner plates this weekend. I got 8 (all Turquoise). I love the rainbow colors but I tend to mix my dinner plates with my other dishes (small salad plates and bowls) from different brands so I knew going with one color was right for me :). I was thrilled to get all 8 for around 50.00 with a really good coupon and am so glad to read that they hold up really well. I’ve had so many different brands and got tired of my nicer pieces chipping over time and ending up with only 2 plates.

  55. I love mine. I started buying the over time back in 2001.

  56. We have odds and ends of Fiesta, collected over many years. We eat snacks from little yellow Fiesta fruit bowls and have yellow and peach color platters. The dog eats from a yellow Fiesta bowl, heavy enough it stays in place. I think there may be some plates stored.

    It bothered my first daughter-in-law that we didn’t eat from a ‘set’ of matching plates at meals. I hope that isn’t what drove her to drink.

  57. We have odds and ends of Fiesta, collected over many years. We eat snacks from little yellow Fiesta fruit bowls and have yellow and peach color platters. The dog eats from a yellow Fiesta bowl, heavy enough it stays in place. I think there may be some plates stored.

    It bothered my first daughter-in-law that we didn’t eat from a ‘set’ of matching plates at meals. I hope that isn’t what drove her to drink.

  58. I cherish my set as well. I bought mine about the same time frame you you from the Betty Crocker catalog.
    http://www.halleshobbies.com/collections/

  59. You’re right! I have these and I got them in 2 shades that are almost the same because I like the color and it matches. Sometimes too many mixed up colors looks cluttery to me. However, I got one other complimentary color at the other end of the color spectrum, and now dishes are more fun, but I believe I should add a few more colors or at least one. :)

  60. I love the colors, but dishes seems to be bit thick for daily use. I have simple Cornelle plates that are thin that I like. I wished it came in vibrant colors.

    Speaking of colors, I do like blue glass ware from depression era time.

    Preeti

  61. Oh, I love Fiestaware too! The picture with all the colorful plates, bowls, and such is so festive! I don’t own any, but it would be next for my purchases when I replace my cheap stuff. Good to know that it’s so durable! I love that the look hasn’t changed and you can go for vintage or new and it all looks good together! Thanks for sharing. Always love your blog!

  62. I’ve missed reading you! So nice to see a new post.

  63. I LOVE my fiestaware. I received mine as a wedding gift 10 years ago. I favored all plum colored and over the years, I have added bits and pieces to my collection. My kitchen has always been grape themed (it started with a white elephant gift exchange gone wrong, but the best thing that could have ever happened in the long run) my dishes are always the perfect size and perfect color.

  64. Rachel, you’re so right! I bought a single place setting of peacock blue Fiestaware in college, and after 4 years I was too sick of it to imagine buying an entire set. When I read your suggestion of buying different colors, it was a complete eureka moment. :)

  65. After 20 years of marriage, I am selling all our wedding china and donating our every day stuff and investing in multi-colored fiestaware. I just did an experiment in our kitchen to figure out how much kitchen stuff I need, and figuring out how many place settings to buy was one of the main questions I wanted to answer. It’s on my blog if you want to see what I ended up using in my quest for a minimalist kitchen: http://wp.me/p2OSP4-og

    Your post is very timely, and your fiestaware makes me smile.

  66. We’ve had Fiestaware since we married as well. It is still one of my favorite things. They make me happy every time I open my kitchen cabinet. I agree, they are very child-friendly.

  67. I just saw this in a store today and started thinking that this is what I want to replace my old, plain Pier 1 dishes. To get different colors, do they sell them open stock?

    • Each place setting comes in a box so you can buy different colors, and you can also buy individual pieces.

  68. I love this! They are so pretty and look much better than a matching set of everything the same colour or matching pattern. You have inspired me ;-)
    Mel Caldicott´s last post…Holy Space – Connecting with God as the Real You!