The lightweight Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar drinking glass was the most durable glass we tested. It’s made from tempered glass (a type of heat-treated glass that’s stronger and more resistant to breakage caused by extreme temperature changes than regular soda-lime glass) so it can be used for both hot and cold beverages. Several of our testers liked the size of this glass, saying it would be appropriate for a variety of beverages, including water, juice, iced coffee, beer, and wine. The Rock Bar glass has a thicker lip than our upgrade pick, the Duralex Picardie, but still stacks neatly without sticking.
For those looking to spend about a dollar per glass, we recommend the IKEA 365+ tumbler. Like our main pick, the 365+ tumbler is made of tempered glass and was able to survive repeated 3-foot drops onto a marble floor. Its simple, casual design pairs nicely with many styles of dinnerware, and its tapered shape makes it easy to hold and stack. The 365+ tumbler is sold as a set of six glasses and is available in 10 and 15 ounces.
We recommend the pricey Duralex Picardie glass for those seeking a more elegant drinking glass for everyday use. The gently contoured shape of the Picardie glass makes it a pleasure to hold, and the slight flare of the lip provided the best drinking experience of any glass we tested. Made in France of tempered glass, the Picardie was durable enough to sustain 3-foot drops onto a marble floor. The Picardie glass is slightly heavier than our top pick, and occasionally sticks together when stacked, but it’s usually available in a wider range of sizes, from 3 to 17 ounces, and comes in a few alternate color options with limited sizes in marine or a set of six 8-ounce glasses in a mix of colors from the MoMA Design Store.
The IKEA Godis glass is taller and narrower than our other glass picks, which makes it a great shape for both water and cocktails. It looks similar to a collins glass, only wider and slightly tapered so it’s stackable (when two 14-ounce glasses are stacked they measure about 8¾ inches tall). Because it’s not tempered, the Godis glass should not be used for hot beverages, and it’s not as durable as our other picks. It survived a 3-foot drop onto a hardwood floor, but not onto a marble floor. It costs less than a dollar per glass, so if one bites the dust you won’t be heartbroken. The IKEA Godis is sold in a set of six glasses and comes in two sizes: 8 and 14 ounces.
We recommend the US Acrylic Classic 16-ounce Water Tumbler for outdoor use, or if you have young kids in your family. Our testers were impressed by how much this tumbler looks like regular glass and in our tests it didn’t fade or crack in the dishwasher after more than 20 wash and dry cycles. Because it’s wider than a typical collins glass, it’s suitable for both water and cocktails. The US Acrylic glasses stack well, but because they’re so tall they take up more space than our other picks. The glasses are sold in sets of six and are available in multiple sizes: 9, 12, 16, and 24 ounces.
Everything we recommend
Why you should trust us
To help us better understand the difference between glass types, we reached out to experts such as Jane Cook, PhD, chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) in Corning, New York, and William C. LaCourse, PhD, a professor in the Glass Engineering department at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. We also spoke to Zachary Rudolph, an artisan glassblower who has taught classes at the Bay Area Glass Institute in Santa Cruz, California. Additionally, we asked our science editor, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, PhD, to research the common materials used to make plastic drinking glasses.
To see how tempered glassware holds up in a busy restaurant setting, we contacted Szoke Schaeffer, co-owner of Concord Hill, a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.
We also looked at several drinking glass reviews from sources such as New York Magazine, The Kitchn, The Spruce, and The Guardian. Finally, we searched for drinking glasses at Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Webstaurantstore.com, and Amazon.com.
I (Michael Sullivan) have reviewed wine glasses, Champagne glasses, dinnerware, and food storage containers, along with other kitchen equipment for Wirecutter. For this guide, I researched more than 50 drinking glasses and tested 13 for our 2017 update. This guide builds on work by Wirecutter senior editor Eve O’Neill.
Choosing between glass and plastic
Wondering which kind of drinking glass to get? Here’s how we’d decide.
Choose tempered glass if you:
- Prefer a durable type of “safety glass” that is less likely to break, and will shatter into small cubes if it does
- Intend to drink both hot and cold beverages from your glasses
- Want something that’s suitable for both everyday use and formal occasions
Choose soda-lime glass if you:
- Don’t mind a glass that is less durable and can shatter into sharp pieces if it breaks
- Intend to drink only cold beverages from your glasses
- Want something that’s suitable for both everyday use and formal occasions
Choose plastic if you:
- Want something lightweight that won’t shatter
- Want a casual drinking glass for kids or outdoor use
A word on tempered glass
Tempered glass is ideal for tableware because it’s very durable and less prone to breaking from thermal shock (sudden or extreme changes in temperature, such as pouring a hot liquid into a cold glass, can cause different parts of the glass to expand at different rates, leading it to crack from stress). On rare occasions, minor damage (like nicks and scratches) can cause tempered glass to break unexpectedly (read more on why and how this happens). That said, tempered glass is often referred to as “safety glass,” because when it does break, it crumbles into cube-shaped pieces rather than long, thin shards—this is why tempered glass is used for side and rear windows in cars and glass shower doors. And according to our experts, spontaneous fracture in tempered glassware is pretty rare, particularly if you take good care of your glassware.
Other types of glass
Some drinking glasses are made from borosilicate glass, which is highly resistant to thermal shock. However, it’s more brittle than tempered glass and more expensive. For a primer on the difference between crystal, nonleaded crystal, and soda-lime glass, see our guide to the best wine glasses.
How we picked
After speaking to our experts and years of our own long-term testing, we made a list of the most important features to look for in an all-purpose drinking glass:
Quality and aesthetics
Whether you’re choosing glass or plastic, the best all-purpose drinking glass should be clear, simple in design, and free of imperfections, so you can see the liquid in the glass. Because you’re likely to drink from this glass more than any other one in your home, we think it’s important that it be something you want to reach for again and again. Ideally, it should also be a glass that’s appropriate for all occasions—casual or formal—and it should be simple enough to fit the aesthetic of most tableware.
Because drinking glasses get so much use, their durability is a priority. Tempered glass is by far the most durable type of glass we tested: Some tempered glasses were able to survive repeated counter-height drops onto a marble floor without breaking. This wasn’t the case with the soda-lime glasses we tested, which broke every time they hit a marble floor from a 3-foot height. We also included plastic tumblers in our roundup, which unsurprisingly were the most durable glasses we tested. Though some of the plastic glasses we tested suffered minor scuffs and scratches after repeated drops onto a marble floor, none broke.
Shape, size, and weight
The size of the glass is a matter of personal preference, but after years of long-term testing, we wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 10 to 12 ounces for an everyday drinking glass. That said, we looked for glasses that were available in multiple sizes to accommodate a range of preferences. Many of our testers said they prefer using a smaller 4- to 6-ounce size for drinking juice, cocktails, or wine, and larger 12- to 16-ounce glasses for water or iced tea.
A good drinking glass won’t be too thick either. Most of our testers were partial to thin-rimmed glasses, which felt best against their lips. Thick glassware can feel clunky, and too much like a storage container rather than a drinking glass.
Ideally, the glasses should stack nicely so they take up less space in a cupboard. That said, we still included non-stacking glasses in our roundup for people who have ample cupboard space or prefer the look of straight-sided glassware.
Price and availability
We searched for glasses that are sold at multiple retailers and have proven longevity with little change in design over the years, because it’s frustrating to break a glass only to find out it can’t be replaced. We tested glasses costing between $1 to $5 each, and didn’t include many high-end offerings. Glasses that cost $10 or more are typically more decorative and have limited availability, plus they aren’t particularly affordable when you’re looking to buy a set of four or more.
Additionally, we ruled out many glasses meant for restaurant use, like these Anchor Hocking glasses, because they’re sold only in sets that are too large for some households. It’s best when the glasses are sold in smaller sets of four or six, or sold open stock so if a glass breaks it can be easily replaced.
How we tested
For our 2017 update, we tested glasses made from a range of materials: tempered glass, non-heat-treated soda-lime glass, nonleaded crystal, and plastic.
We chose 13 finalists (both glass and plastic) and ran multiple drop tests: We knocked the glasses onto both hardwood and marble floors from a height of 3 feet. We also hit the rim of the glasses against the edge of a marble counter to see if they would break. Because sudden changes in temperature can cause a glass to break, we performed two temperature tests: We pulled hot glasses from the dishwasher and immediately filled them with ice water, then took glasses that had been in the freezer for an hour and filled them with boiling water. Much to our surprise, none of the glasses broke in either test. We also washed and dried the plastic glasses over 20 times in the dishwasher to see if they would crack, fade, or become cloudy.
Our pick: Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar Glasses
We think the affordable Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar glass is the best all-purpose drinking glass for most people. This timeless bistro-style glass is durable, lightweight, and dishwasher-safe. Because it’s made of tempered glass, it can be used for both hot and cold beverages, and can bounce off a hard floor unscathed. The Rock Bar glass has all the features we look for in an everyday drinking glass and it’s available in a variety of sizes.
In our testing, the Rock Bar’s tempered glass withstood freezing temperatures, boiling water, and other extreme abuse. Impressively, it didn’t break after being subjected to more than 12 counter-height drops onto a marble floor. In our previous tests, it also survived a drop from 8 feet onto a linoleum floor and 3½ feet onto concrete. (In fact, this glass is so durable, Montessori Services sells a small 2-ounce size for 1- to 2-year-olds.)
Our testers praised the Rock Bar’s “excellent stackability.” These glasses nest easily and compactly: When two 12.5-ounce glasses are stacked they measure just 6⅝ inches tall, even though each glass is 4¾ inches tall. The defined ridge around the perimeter of the glass allows one to gently perch on top of another without getting jammed in too tightly. This wasn’t the case with the Duralex Picardie and IKEA Vardagen glasses we tested, which occasionally stuck together when stacked.
Aside from its durability and functionality, we think the classic design of the Rock Bar glass makes it appropriate for all occasions. Several of our testers liked the versatility of the glass, saying it would be suitable for a variety of beverages, including water, juice, iced coffee, beer, and wine. The smaller 6.75-ounce glass is a nice size for espresso, too. The wide mouth of the Rock Bar glass is pleasant to drink from and it doesn’t hit the bridge of your nose. Its tapered design and faceted sides also make it easier to hold.
The Rock Bar glasses are made in Spain and are available in multiple sizes: 6.75, 9.75, 12.5, 13.25, 16.25, and 22 ounces. (They also come in a variety of colors including, ice, peach, and mint). Bormioli even makes Rock Bar shot glasses.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Even though the Bormioli glasses are impressively durable, all glass is inherently brittle. You still need to treat them with care and stack them gently. Also, it’s important to remember that tempered glass can, on rare occasions, spontaneously shatter after sustaining minor surface damage (see more on why and how this happens). For tips on how to care for your glassware and avoid shattering, see our care and maintenance section.
Some of our testers felt the bistro styling of this glass looked like dated restaurant glassware. Others preferred the design and said it was classic and timeless. Glassware is subjective and everyone’s tastes are different. Above all else, we recommend choosing glasses that you will enjoy using.
Our testers agreed that the slightly thicker lip and the pronounced ridge around the middle of the Rock Bar glass lack some elegance compared with our upgrade pick, the Duralex Picardie glass. Also, one of our testers said the ridge made the Rock Bar glassless comfortable to hold than the Picardie. However, the extended ridge is what allows the Rock Bar glasses to stack so well without sticking.
None of the glasses we tested were free of minor imperfections, such as an occasional bubble or ripple in the glass. That said, the Bormioli had fewer imperfections in the glass than much of the competition.
Budget pick: IKEA 365+ Glasses
At about a dollar per glass, the IKEA 365+ tumbler is an affordable and durable glass that can withstand the rigors of daily household use. In our tests, it survived drop after drop onto a marble floor, faring almost as well as our main pick, the Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar glass. It also survived our thermal stress tests and didn’t chip when knocked against a marble countertop. Like our main pick, it’s made of tempered glass so it can be used to serve both hot and cold beverages. We think its simple, casual design will fit the aesthetic of many styles of tableware. The 365+ glasses are also tapered and stack well without sticking.
The IKEA 365+ is sold in sets of six glasses and is available in 10 and 15 ounces. (We also tested the now-unavailable 6-ounce size but didn’t like it because it looked like a small bowl and had a wide mouth that was awkward to drink from.) Some of our testers thought the 10-ounce glass was too small.
The IKEA 365+ glass has a similar shape to the IKEA Vardagen glass, which our testers also liked. However, some felt it looked like a plastic glass or something you’d see at a diner. Others were fond of its ribbed sides and retro look. If you like the 365+ glass but are pining for a bit more design detail, the Vardagen glass is nearly identical to the 365+ glass in terms of durability, price, and size range (except the smaller size comes in better shape). Just remember that, like our other tempered glass picks, both the 365+ and Vardagen glasses are strong but not invincible, and will last longest if treated with care.
Upgrade pick: Duralex Picardie Glasses
We love the look and feel of the classic French bistro-style Duralex Picardie glass. This tempered glass is slightly heavier than our main pick, and occasionally sticks together when stacked, but its shape is more refined.
For those seeking a more elegant glass for everyday use, we recommend the Duralex Picardie. It’s more expensive than our other picks, but its contoured shape is pleasant to hold and the thin, slightly flared lip is a pleasure to drink from. Made of tempered glass, the Picardie is durable, and sustained drop after drop onto a marble floor without breaking in our tests. It’s lightweight enough that lifting it isn’t a chore, and it stacks well too. We think it’s a versatile glass that accommodates a variety of cold and hot beverages well. It’s also widely available and sold in a range of sizes.
There’s no doubt the Duralex Picardie’s elegant design is part of the reason it has remained a staple on family tables and at French bistros for decades. According to its website, Duralex began producing glassware in 1946. The company has changed hands several times over the years, but its glasses continue to be made in France. Szoke Schaeffer, co-owner of Concord Hill, a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, told us in an email, “We like the durable yet casual look and feel. Everyone recognizes these glasses and it brings a comfort and nostalgia…” That said, design is subjective. Depending on your taste, you may find these glasses classic and timeless or tired and dated. However, the majority of our testers appreciated the Picardie’s enduring design.
None of the glasses we tested were free of minor imperfections, and the Duralex glasses were no exception. When held up to the light you can see an occasional bubble, sandy particles, or striations in the glass. These flaws aren’t noticeable unless you’re looking for them, but it’s something to know before you buy.
Long-term test notes
We’ve received some comments from our readers saying their Duralex glasses have spontaneously shattered. As discussed in a separate section of this guide, all tempered glassware has a small risk of randomly breaking, usually due to minor past damage or flaws. But to see if this was a more frequent problem with Duralex, we consulted Szoke Schaeffer, co-owner of Concord Hill, who has been using the Duralex Picardie glasses in her restaurant for three years. She said, “We haven’t had any spontaneous breakage, however there have been a few times when the glasses fall on a hard surface and shatter into a million tiny pieces.” She went on to say, “They are pretty durable—we have had to order more as time passes, which is understandable, but we are happy with them and will continue to use them.” If tempered glassware, like the Duralex Picardie glasses, is a durable enough to withstand the rigors of a busy restaurant, we think it’s a reliable choice for home use too.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve noticed that the Picardie glasses occasionally stick together after they’ve been stacked in a cupboard. We don’t think this is a dealbreaker, but just keep in mind that they may require a little wiggle to release them.
Also great: IKEA Godis Glasses
We recommend the non-tempered IKEA Godis for those who want a really inexpensive glass, or who are concerned about the (slight) risk of tempered glass spontaneously shattering. It’s made of soda-lime glass, so it’s not as durable or resistant to thermal stress as tempered glass. However, it’s even cheaper than our tempered budget pick, the IKEA 365+ glass, and a great option for those who don’t love the look of faceted glassware and prefer something simple with clean lines. The Godis glass is tall and narrow, which makes it best for water, juice, and cocktails, and the slightly tapered sides allow it to stack.
The Godis design is simple and classic, with a slightly tapered shape that allows for stacking (when two 14-ounce glasses are stacked they measure 8⅞ inches high; each glass measures 6 1/16 inches tall). Though it’s taller and narrower than our top pick, the mouth of the glass is wider than that of a typical collins glass, so it shouldn’t hit the bridge of your nose. Its lip is thicker than the lip on our upgrade pick, the Duralex Picardie, but our testers didn’t find it distracting. One of our testers said the Godis glass “would be good for a more formal dinner and everyday use.” We think it’s a versatile glass that can be used for many types of beverages. However, because it’s not tempered, you should avoid drinking hot beverages from this glass.
Also great: US Acrylic Classic Water Tumblers
Drinking from a plastic tumbler is undoubtedly less glamorous than drinking from a glass. That said, a plastic cup is the most convenient option for picnics, outdoor parties, and poolside lounging. One of the great features of the US Acrylic tumbler is that it gives the illusion of real glass, so it’s a significant step up from the ubiquitous colored Solo cup. One of our testers said that its tall, narrow shape “makes for an enjoyable drinking experience.” The lip of the tumbler is smooth and rounded, unlike the one on the Carlisle plastic tumbler we tested, which had an unpleasant seam. The US Acrylic cups were the only plastic ones we tested that weren’t branded with the maker’s unsightly logo on the bottom. In certain light, we noticed that they have a slight purple hue, but we’re willing to forgive this minor flaw because they look so much like real glass.
Though the US Acrylic tumblers appear straight-sided, they have a subtle taper that allows them to stack (when two 16-ounce tumblers are stacked together they’re about 10½ inches tall—each is about 6 inches tall). Keep in mind that stacking your plastic cups will likely cause them to scuff over time. Also, when they’re stacked they sometimes stick, but a gentle wiggle is all it takes to release them.
The American-made US Acrylic tumblers come in a set of six glasses and are available in multiple sizes: 9, 12, 16, and 24 ounces.
Why did my tempered glass spontaneously shatter?
We’ve read customer reviews on Amazon and feedback from our readers reporting that their tempered glasses “spontaneously shattered.” Though the glass experts we spoke to stressed that this occurrence is very rare, tempered glass can break seemingly out of the blue. And when it does, it crumbles into many tiny cube-shaped pieces, which can be alarming (though, as mentioned in another section of this guide, it’s intentionally designed to shatter in this manner as a safety precaution).
You can extend the life of your glasses by treating them with care. Cook says, “Glass is inherently brittle and has a certain amount of unpredictability in it. All glass has that unpredictability. The tempering is an attempt to reduce the unpredictability, but it is not perfect.” If the disadvantages of tempered glass outweigh the advantages for your lifestyle, we recommend using soda-lime glasses or plastic glasses.
Care and maintenance
Though tempered glassware can withstand extreme hot/cold temperature changes, we still wouldn’t recommend testing its limits by subjecting it to unnecessary abuse (such as taking a glass from a cold fridge and filling it with boiling water).
After removing glasses from a hot dishwasher, the experts we spoke to recommend letting them cool before stacking them in a cupboard. LaCourse says, “When they’re hot and clean, they will scratch easily.” Hot glasses will also be more prone to sticking. Cook explained that, “when they’re warm, they’ve expanded slightly. As they cool down, if you put a colder glass inside of a warmer glass, they’re just going to grab onto each other. So you’re more likely to get a glass stuck inside another glass, and it needs to be pounded out or put under running water in order to get them apart, which all leads to more surface damage and shorter lifetime.”