9 best pasta bowls for loading up the carbs

·11-min read
With a wide, flat base and a perky rim to keep liquids contained, the humble pasta bowl can serve in almost any eating scenario (iStock/The Independent)
With a wide, flat base and a perky rim to keep liquids contained, the humble pasta bowl can serve in almost any eating scenario (iStock/The Independent)

The pasta bowl is, perhaps, the most diverse vessel in your kitchen’s eating armoury. While the name hints at its primary purpose – dishing up swirls of linguine or pillows of ravioli – a well-designed bowl can, in fact, do so much more.

With a wide, flat base (much like its cousin, the plate), and a perky rim to keep liquids contained (like a soup bowl) it can serve in almost any eating scenario, whether you’re feasting on stews, couscous salads or yes, spaghetti bolognese.

Given that you’re likely to be reaching for your pasta bowls rather often, it’s important to choose the best one you can. “Best” doesn’t mean the most expensive. It means the one that will suit your circumstances and needs most accurately.

For example, if you have little ones, you are going to want bowls that are near-indestructible and easy to run through the dishwasher.

If you’re a cheffy type, you might want something artisan that really makes your painstakingly crafted food shine: hand-glazed ceramic, say.

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How we tested

Whatever your individual wishlist, all the best pasta bowls should look great on your kitchen shelf and, certainly, when filled with a serving of noodles. So, we inspected each of the best pasta bowls below closely, multiple times: first, when empty, then again, filled with a hot meal – pasta, as well as fried rice, porridge or roasted veg – to make sure they were always ticking visual boxes.

Other factors we considered when testing? Heat retention – the best pasta bowls shouldn’t cool your food too quickly after serving, nor should they get too hot to the touch. They should be easy to clean, too; if not dishwasher-safe, then easily freed of leftover carbonara sauce with minimal hand-washing effort.

Finally, we were picky about size. If you’re cooking pasta, it’s probably because you’re craving something generous, deliciously messy and comforting – not dainty portions. So, to channel that vibe, we chose mostly large bowls. That way, you can load up your bowl with a hefty portion of life-affirming carbs and really get stuck in.

The best pasta bowls for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Denby Studio Blue 4 piece pasta bowl set: £64, Denbypottery.com

  • Best for Instagram chefs – Studio Ophelia Minty Pink Galaxy pasta bowl: £32, Studio-ophelia.com

  • Best for minimalists – Daylesford Campagna pasta bowl 25cm: £26, Daylesford.com

  • Best for bold prints – Emma Bridgewater Artichoke medium pasta bowl: £22.95, Emmabridgewater.co.uk

  • Best for country kitchens – Cotswold Company Cherwell 23cm pasta bowl: £12, Cotswoldco.com

  • Best bargain – Mason Cash Classic collection set of 4 pink pasta bowls: £28, Masoncash.co.uk

  • Best for timeless elegance – Burleigh Regal Peacock pasta bowl: £22, Burleigh.co.uk

  • Best for compact spaces – Corelle Vitrelle meal bowl 46oz (1.35L) 4 pack: £29.99, Instantbrands.co.uk

  • Best for everyday – Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Arbor pasta bowl: £68, Portmeirion.co.uk

Denby studio blue 4 piece pasta bowl set

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Denby is a celebrated name in English stoneware for good reason – it’s been making the stuff for over 200 years. But just because these bowls have been in the country’s kitchens (almost certainly in your nan’s) for decades, doesn’t mean they can’t be cool.

In fact, this Studio Blue set of four speckled grey and blue bowls, inspired by the textures of stone and minerals, shows Denby has got its finger on the pulse of the natural homewares trend.

These are pasta bowls that are relaxed, stylish and timeless; they’ll be a fixture in your kitchen for years to come, especially given they can be used straight from the oven or microwave. Factor in that they’re also dishwasher safe and fairly priced at £16 a bowl and they were our obvious best buy. These bowls are out of stock right now, but you can sign up to receive an email when they’re back.

Buy now £64.00, Denbypottery.com

Studio Ophelia minty pink galaxy pasta bowl

Best: For Instagram chefs

Rating: 8/10

If you have a house full of under-fives or are especially clumsy, you may want to give this stunning hand-painted bowl a miss. But if you are happy to put a little effort into caring for your pasta vessels, this delicate, colourful item will pay it back by making every single thing you put into it look beautiful.

Made by artist-owned Studio Ophelia, each 21cm bowl is glazed in pink and blue “impulsively”, which means no two are exactly alike. The shallow rim makes it best-suited to drier pasta or a few ravioli parcels, rather than anything super saucy, and it also looks nicest with restrained portions – fill to the brim and the stunning pattern becomes almost redundant.

Save the Galaxy bowl for Italian-themed dinner parties – when you want to plate up a first-course mini portion that looks perfect for the ’gram – or for that grey Tuesday when you need a colourful pick-me-up, just because.

Buy now £32.00, Studio-ophelia.com

Daylesford campagna pasta bowl 25cm

Best: For minimalists

Rating: 9/10

Minimalistic white is a popular pasta bowl colour for a reason: it puts the focus fully on your food, letting the juicy hues of tomato sauce or the emerald glow of pesto pop. But, as this pick from lifestyle and food brand Daylesford shows, white doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter.

Handmade in Tuscany with local clay, then glazed to reach gently luminosity, each bowl is gorgeously individual – think slightly irregular rims and the odd artistic dribble of paint. They’re not cheap, but they will look both chic and relaxed in any setting and, at nearly 10in, are big enough to be very diverse. You can just as easily use them to dish up crisps to friends as you can for a Padella-worthy cacio e pepe on date night.

Buy now £26.00, Daylesford.com

Emma Bridgewater artichoke medium pasta bowl

Best: For bold prints

Rating: 8/10

A 2021 autumn release from designer Emma Bridgewater, this artichoke-themed bowl has us whizzing away on a mental holiday to sun-drenched Tuscan climes every time we look at it. Featuring the brand’s trademark relaxed, cosy country style, the English earthenware dish might sit at just over 9in but, thanks to a particularly broad, deep base, it feels like it can hold loads.

Basically, this is exactly the kind of greedy bowl you want to pull out on a chilly autumn evening, piling it high with a shockingly red pasta to contrast with the green and purple veins of the artichoke print.

Like other Emma Bridgewater pasta bowls, this one is dishwasher-safe, though you’ll want to avoid the microwave and use a lower temperature wash and liquid detergent to maintain that brilliantly bold pattern.

Buy now £22.95, Emmabridgewater.co.uk

Cotswold Company Cherwell 23cm pasta bowl

Best: For country kitchens

Rating: 9/10

You don’t have to live in the Cotswolds to channel its bucolic vibes. All you need – besides walls painted in Farrow and Ball green and some original wooden beams – is farmhouse-chic kitchenware, including this clean and simple stoneware pasta bowl from the Cotswolds Company.

Made in Portugal and hand-finished, the endlessly versatile Cherwell bowl feels solid and sturdy but still with a dash of artisan country style, thanks to a lightly faded rim. Handily, it’s microwave-, freezer-, dishwasher- and even oven-safe. And, you can buy a set of four for under £50. An all-round winner.

Buy now £12.00, Cotswoldco.com

Mason Cash classic collection set of 4 pink pasta bowls

Best: Bargain

Rating: 9/10

Looking to add a dash of colour to your kitchen on a dime? This set of four pale-pink bowls from Mason Cash will do the trick, letting everything from pesto fusilli to creamy carbonara pop in Instagram-perfect hues.

They’re dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe but the surface is so silky smooth that you almost needn’t bother – they wipe clean under the tap with very little effort.

Compared with some bowls they are a touch on the heavy side – the bottom lip, which keeps the bowl’s bottom off the table, no doubt adds a bit of weight – but with so much to like, including an incredibly friendly price of £7 per bowl, there’s nothing really to complain about..

Buy now £28.00, Masoncash.co.uk

Burleigh regal peacock pasta bowl

Best: For timeless elegance

Rating: 8/10

Burleigh has been producing its iconic regal peacock collection since 1913, back when Queen Mary was a fan. This recognisable Oriental bird motif, typically seen in royal blue, is made in Stoke-on-Trent using tissue transfer printing, a labour-intensive Victorian method that involves ink, French cigarette paper and a whole lot of specialised skill. But this autumn, Burleigh’s refreshing the look with a fabulous new hue; say hello to the emerald-sage green Regal Peacock.

It’s a colour that feels contemporary and fresh, giving the peacock new relevance for homes in 2021 and beyond. And yet, this piece is still timeless; a pasta bowl with pure class. We loved its mid-table weight, smooth exterior, elegant but organic shape – it’s the bowl that you’ll buy now and keep for ever. You’ll be needing a set, and that can add up, but consider them an investment that you can pass on to the carb-loving grandchildren.

Buy now £22.00, Burleigh.co.uk

Corelle vitrelle meal bowl, 46oz 4 pack

Best: For compact spaces

Rating: 8/10

Whether you’re in a shared flat or student digs – or even looking for a great pasta bowl for a campervan, this set of four Corelle bowls are heaven-sent. They stack like a dream, saving precious space but are also very light and rather deep, great for saucy or messy pastas. They’re strong, too, made from triple-layer glass, which is chip and crack resistant (and covered by a three-year warranty). Plain white, they go with pretty much any other plates and bowls, ideal if you’re building on an existing collection of dinnerware.

Other selling points? The bowls are very thin and super smooth, making for easy cleaning (they’re dishwasher- and microwave-safe). As a trade-off though, the bottoms can get hot when you first ladle in food. So, to be safe, serve atop placemats or TV trays if your pasta comes with lots of bubbling sauce.

Buy now £29.99, Instantbrands.co.uk

Sophie Conran for Portmeirion arbor pasta bowl, set of 4, dove grey

Best: For everyday

Rating: 9/10

Here’s a little secret: we’ve been using some other Sophie Conran for Portmeirion pasta bowls for nearly a decade, and they still look as good as new. Which is why we’re excited to see the newest collaboration launch between the designer and traditional pottery maker: Arbor.

Dressed in evocative but timeless pastel dove grey, with an organic, slightly undulating rim reminiscent of a coastal wave, this collection is both elegant and durable. Suitable for oven-to-table dining, as well as dishwasher-, microwave- and freezer-safe, there are few occasions when the set of four wouldn’t suit. We’ll have to wait another decade to see if they hold out as good as our other Sophie Conran pasta bowls but we’re feeling optimistic.

Buy now £68.00, Portmeirion.co.uk

The verdict: Pasta bowls

When buying your dream pasta bowl, you need to consider how, and how often, you’ll be wanting to use it. But whether your priority is durability, looks or versatility, we believe that Denby’s Studio Blue set ticks every box.

If you’re looking for a dish with an artisan touch, we are big fans of Daylesford’s Campagna pasta bowl – made in Italy, it oozes rustic vibes while still feeling classy. Plus, it’s big: great for greedy eaters.

Finally, if you’re looking for a plate with personality, try Emma Bridgewater’s Artichoke Bowl. With its beautiful, colourful print, it had us salivating over the prospect of veggie pasta before our pot was even on the boil.

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