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Article: How to Curate a Stylish Collection of Serving Utensils

How to Curate a Stylish Collection of Serving Utensils
How-To Guide

How to Curate a Stylish Collection of Serving Utensils

When hosting your friends and family, having the right serving utensils is one of the ways to ensure a more pleasant experience for your guests. From setting out corresponding spoons and appetizer forks next to each dish on the buffet table to carefully selecting a pattern you love for a spreader knife at an intimate dinner party, every gathering relies on utensils to get the food from platter to plate. 

What is a Serving Utensil?

Serving utensil is an umbrella term that includes every utensil you would use for serving food, from soup ladles to appetizer forks to cake servers and more. They come in various shapes and styles to help someone scoop, cut, spread, slice, stab, or transfer food from a serving dish to dinnerware. 

The Importance of a Serving Utensil Collection

Having a variety of serving utensils can allow you to carefully curate your serving spread with the exact look you wish to achieve. Collecting a wide variety of different serving sets, appetizer forks, spreader knives, and more allows you to get creative with each tablescape, inspiring you to set a table you love every time. 

Owning a collection of serving utensils helps you prepare for any size gathering. Owning several types of serving utensils can allow you to host large gatherings. Having a plethora of different utensils means you'll be ready to host anything, from a spontaneous brunch celebration to a formal dinner party.

The History of Serving Utensils

Gone are the days when you needed a different type of serving utensil for every dish. Generations before us seemed to have a utensil for everything, from mustard ladles to strawberry spoons. There were even utensils called "food pushers" that allowed young children to push their bites onto their fork or spoon without using their hands! While it may sound fun, it wasn't entirely practical. 

When Do You Need to Use Serving Utensils?

Nowadays, serving utensils are more casual and multifunctional. Though the wide breadth of utensils has since narrowed, one thing remains the same—you need some type of serving utensil every time you serve a meal, whether setting an everyday table for you and your family or hosting a large holiday get-together.

5 Considerations for a Serving Utensil Collection

A serving utensil is one of those necessities that can easily be taken for granted, but having the correct designs set out for a meal can make the whole gathering feel seamless. With a wide variety of appetizer forks, ladles, spreader knives, and more to choose from, there are five elements to consider to ensure you have a well-rounded and useful collection: 

1. The Function

    There's nothing worse than a clutter-filled kitchen, but how do you avoid an overly stuffed utensil drawer? The secret is considering the function of each serving spoon, appetizer fork, and spreader knife in your collection. Think about the types of food you typically prepare so you can choose appropriately functional utensils that can best serve each dish. The ideal serving utensils collection will have multiple pieces with versatile functions, so you're prepared to serve any recipe that comes your way. 

    When to Use a Serving Spoon vs. a Serving Fork

    When it comes time to pair serving utensils with a dish, you should remember that the shape has to match the serving function. When you need to pierce something solid like meat or cooked vegetables, a serving fork works wonders. But, a serving spoon is perfect if there's a dish with a looser or liquid base, like a soup or pasta or a particularly saucy recipe. Sometimes, they're even best used in tandem. 

    2. The Look

      Serving utensils are more than a practical tool — they can change the look of your tablescape. To find tongs, salad servers, and more that pair beautifully with your tablescape, make sure they match or complement your existing serveware color palette. When you play with mixing and matching appetizer forks and spreader knives with dinnerware and serveware, you'll unlock endless design possibilities. 

      3. The Color 

        We're all about functional design and believe that the decorative details of a serving spread can only enhance the experience for our guests — so why have boring utensils when you can have beautiful, colorful appetizer forks, spreader knives, and more that pair perfectly with your serveware and dinnerware sets?

        While there will always be a time and place for classic silver or gold, colorful appetizer forks or spreader knives can add layers and depth to your serving spread. Whether you're sprucing up a patio party with a serene blue appetizer spreader or enjoying the vibrant options from Sabre as much as we do, you’ll find that owning a variety of serving utensils in different colors is essential. 

        4. The Material 

          We believe your serving utensils should be designed to last, and investing in the right material is the secret to ensuring lifelong use. Our serving utensils are mainly comprised of ceramic and wood, but we encourage everyone to own a mix of serving utensils with different materials so you're ready to dish up any recipe. 

          The material of the serving utensil you choose depends on the cookware or serving dish a recipe is in. A softer utensil material, such as wood or resin, pairs perfectly with a ceramic serving dish, as any sounds are softened, and the risk for scraping or chipping is lessened. Metal utensils are best for serving straight out of the oven, grill, or cast-iron skillet; wood appetizer forks can always be used with wood.

          A Few Popular Serving Utensil Materials:

          • Wood
          • Resin
          • Acrylic
          • Ceramic
          • Metal
          • Enamel
          • Mixed material

          5. The Quantity

            As you stock up on appetizer forks, spreader knives, and salad servers, sometimes it's not a matter of which ones, but how many. We've covered the essentials for adding the right functions, colors, and materials to your curated collection, but it's equally important to ensure you have everything you need on hand—and that can mean having multiple of the same type of utensil. Consider what your entertaining goals are to judge how many of each appetizer fork, spreader knife, or serving set you may need to pull off gatherings of all sizes.

            Suggested Serving Utensil Quantities

            You wouldn't want to be caught with a delicious dish and no way to serve it! Whether you're in need of a few spreader knives for a charcuterie board party or multiple appetizer forks for an elaborate buffet spread, we suggest having these quantities in your curated collection:

            • Salad serving set (1-2)
            • Serving spoons (1-3)
            • Serving forks (1-3)
            • Cake server (1)
            • Spreader knives (3-5)
            • Appetizer forks (3-5)
            • Appetizer spoons (3-5)

            Where to Place Serving Utensils for Each Serving Style

            The serving style of your gathering dictates every little detail — including where the serving utensils are kept:


            As buffet gatherings are self-serve, each dish has to have its own serving utensil to avoid cross-contamination and make the line flow smoothly. Which ones you use depends on your menu, so it's important to determine which utensil each recipe needs. 

            For buffet-style set-ups, you’ll want to set out spoon rests next to each serving platter and bowl so guests know which appetizer fork or spreader knife pairs with which dish. You can also let your serving utensils rest in each serving tray or bowl for added convenience and to prevent any confusion as to which dish each utensil belongs to.


            Family-style serving is the most intimate self-serve style, where each platter and bowl is kept in the center of the table and passed around by guests as they fill up their plates. In this case, appetizer forks and salad servers are typically kept propped up in their respective serving bowl so that passing the dish is quick and easy. 


            The design of your serving utensils is less important during a plated meal, as the food, serving pieces, and utensils generally stay out of sight in the kitchen. Guests only experience their plate and dining utensils as the host serves them a finished plate of food. Just make sure that each utensil has its own clean spot to rest to keep each dish in tact.

            Coton Colors Essential Serving Utensil Designs

            With years of collective hosting experience, our family understands the importance of a well-rounded serving utensil collection. That's why we've designed a few go-to pieces that work in everyone's kitchen. Get a glimpse at these versatile must-haves and find a style you love:  

            Signature White Knob Serving Spoon

            A serving spoon is one of the most useful serving utensils a host can have — and that's why we take pride in our Signature White Knob Serving Spoon. With stainless steel and seven white ceramic knobs stacked to create an easy-to-grip handle, this spoon always helps you serve in style. Whether you're dishing out dessert during a romantic dinner for two or searching for a spoon that matches the serveware for your charcuterie board, this contemporary design works for occasions big and small. 

            Signature White Knob Serving Fork

            When you have a recipe that requires you to spear, stab, or serve with precision, a serving fork is the way to go. With three stainless-steel prongs and a white, knobbed ergonomic handle, our Signature White Knob Serving Fork can complement any tablescape, from everyday to formal. Pair it with the matching spoon or use it on its own. 

            Fundamentals Appetizer Utensils

            Smaller serving utensils are often overlooked — but they're actually one of the most necessary designs. From dishing out hors d'oeuvres to dressing up a charcuterie plate, appetizer utensils are a small and mighty addition to any collection. 

            Our wooden Fundamentals Appetizer Utensil Sets include an appetizer fork, spoon, and knife {all of which can be bought individually}, with a wide range of colorful handles, such as olive green or brass. Rather than setting out regular flatware, these special serving utensils offer a pop of color and rustic texture to any table. Whether you’re using one appetizer fork or a few sets, having multiples on hand will prepare you for any gathering. 

            Appetizer Spreader Knives

            Appetizer spreader knives are wonderful little utensils that are a must-have in any kitchen. With an easy-to-hold handle and a rounded knife edge, spreaders can be used to, as the name suggests, spread! From smoothing butter onto a delicious dinner roll to smearing dip from a crudité platter onto fresh veggies, a spreader knife is an essential entertaining item for any host. We recommend having a few different designs, such as the red striped spreader knife or classic acacia wood spreader knife, to be ready for any occasion. 

            Salad Server Sets

            With one spoon-shaped and the other featuring fork tines, the two utensils in a salad server set work together to help you serve a salad with ease. We offer several salad server sets, from the Iris Blue Drop Mango Wood Set to the Fundamental Wood Ruffle Set, so you’ll be ready for any occasion. The combination of timeless wood and vibrant patterned handles allows you to pair them with almost any dinnerware collection to create a unique look that fits your serving style.

            Cake Servers

            Cake servers are incredibly useful for weddings, birthdays, and other extra-special events where you may serve a crowd-pleasing Pecan Pie or Apple Cake with Caramel Icing. While we don't currently have one in our designs, we have servers that are our favorites in our homes.

            Our Recommended Cake Servers:

            Do Serving Utensils Make Good Gifts? 

            Between housewarming parties and hostess gifts, it's always a good idea to have a few universally loved serving utensils on hand for grab-and-go presents. We recommend stocking up on a few sets of stylish salad servers, charming toothpick holders, appetizer forks, and spreader knives {complete with your favorite jar of jam}. 

            Now you’re in on the secret: serving utensils are essential in setting a lovely table for any occasion. Between understanding what to consider as you pick each fork, spoon, and knife and getting an in-depth look at our must-have designs, you can build your serving utensil collection and become the host you've always dreamed of being. 

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