Corelle Isn’t Shatterproof

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2011 • all rights reserved

In 29 years of owning Corelle dishes, only 2 have broken and just one shattered -- not bad for dishes that I truly abused!I’ve recommended Corelle for boat dishes for a long time.  And I still do.  But . . .

In my original article about Corelle, I said:

Corelle is almost unbreakable.  It calls itself break-resistant and in numerous years of using it in apartments, camping and on Que Tal, I’ve only had one plate break and that was when I dropped a heavy skillet on it.  And it didn’t shatter — it just neatly broke in two.

Now, I have to update that.  I just broke a second dish, and it shattered.

I was putting one of the small bowls onto the top shelf of a cupboard (at our house on land), and it slipped out on my hand and fell about six feet onto a tile floor.  That was just too much for its “break resistant” rating:  the result is shown in the photo.

So, considering that Corelle can shatter, why do I still recommend it?

Well, I’ve owned Corelle plates and dishes now for 29 years — in apartments, houses, camping and aboard Que Tal.  And this is only the second dish that has broken, despite numerous drops and thousands of miles traveled, both on Que Tal and on camping trips.  It’s gone through the eye of a hurricane and over a Baja “road” that broke the bottom out of a full 5-gallon water bottle without a problem.  Not a bad record.  And I love the fact that it’s oven and microwave safe — I use the soup bowls for baking small casseroles, quick breads and desserts that are just the right size for two people!

If you absolutely must have unbreakable dishes, melamine is probably the best choice for “real dishes.”  But melamine can’t be used in an oven or microwave and the designs will begin to wear away in just a year or so with normal use.  It can also be hard to find deep bowls that soup and cereals won’t slosh out of.

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  1. Waterwoman says:

    I like Corelle also, and it seems as though you have proven how tough it can be!

    The first year we went to Mexico in 1997, I took (foolishly) a round pyrex bowl that I liked to bake bread in. A sliding cupboard door was left open and it crashed to the floor while coming off a wave. What a mess and I no longer carry Pyrex and I always close and latch the cupboard/cabinets. It takes a while to learn these things!

    I really enjoy your articles Carolyn.

  2. Bruce Bibee says:

    A six foot drop onto a *tile* floor? You have enough headroom to have cabinets six feet in the air and a tile floor on you boat? Sounds more like a house. It didn’t take my wife, of happy memory, that long to break nearly an entire set of Atrika china, but I don’t remember her breaking any of the Corelle. I am planning to use melamine since it is cheap and easy to find – and I don’t have either an oven or a microwave. Melamine is also lighter than Corelle which is important for catamarans. I still think Corelle is a good recommendation for quality and longevity.

    • Carolyn Shearlock says:

      Yep, this was in a house — where we currently are, after six years of full-time cruising. Aboard the boat, with less of a distance to fall, and a nice teak-and-holly sole to fall on, none of my Corelle broke when dropped. The only piece that broke on the boat was a plate in the sink that I dropped a heavy skillet on.

  3. Emily Clough on Facebook says:

    I’ve been buying Corelle for my boat based on your recommendation–I hit the thrift stores with my mom when I’m home visiting and I’ve managed to get quite a collection for not much money!

  4. Glad to hear it! I’ve used it for 30-ish years now and really love it — good idea on getting it from the thrift stores — it certainly doesn’t wear out!

  5. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    I love corelle too. Have used it on all of my boats (and when we land traveled in Mexico) and never had any shatter (knock on wood!). (I can’t stand plastic ).

  6. We just loaded our “first set” of Corelle Dishes on Banyan …

  7. I bought Corelle earlier this year.
    2 dishes fell from the lowest shelf onto my
    non granite counter. It was 9 inches.
    These dishes not only broke they shattered into hunderds of small sharp pieces all over my counter , the stove and food I was cooking and the floor. .
    I have put all my Corelle in the trash.
    My dogs and me are fortunate we wen’t hit by all that glass.
    It’s one thing for a dish to break and be in a few peices. It’s quite another to have a disaster in your kitchen that takes an hour to clean up.

    • Thanks for the comment, but I’m actually quite surprised. I’ve never had a Corelle dish break, let alone, shatter from a drop of that height. I’m somewhat butter-fingered, so I’ve dropped more than my share . . .

      Melamine and plastic are almost totally break-proof, so might be a better choice for you.

    • I have used Corelle, (we have some now) and the newer dishware chips and has shattered with some regularity around here. We aren’t tough on them. we bought ours at Target, and I think that may have something to do with it just not being the kind of quality I remember. I think going to the thrift stores for the older stuff is an excellent idea. When I was growing up, Corelle was made here in the US, and it was the best! Now some of it is made in China, and it’s just not the same–at least ours hasn’t been.

  8. I recently discovered Le Cadeaux melamine in some fantastic French, Italian and Spanish inspired patterns and placed an order for our sailboat. Looks to be unbreakable and stylish, which is a hard combo to find :(. I’ll provide a follow-up to this message with a review when my order arrives.

  9. Corelle was “reformulated” a few years ago. If you want the stuff that doesn’t shatter you need to buy someone’s old stuff. They’ve recently had to recall new pie plates because they shatter in the microwave.

  10. I dropped a 2 lb maglite flashlight on a Corelle plate by accident. The plate exploded, shattered into a million pieces (much more than glass) and pieces launched 20 feet away. I was finding pieces in my carpet after accidentally stepping on them up to 2 years after the plate exploded. Not only that, but the pieces were extremely sharp. I’ve dropped Corelle plates often and never had a problem. But god help you if you manage to shatter one.

  11. We use Corelle on our boat and agree that it’s the best! It’s easy to clean, relatively compact/stackable and it’s “real dishes” so we don’t feel like we’re camping.

  12. I also like the fact that it’s easy to find odd lots of Corelle on eBay for cheap, I’ve gotten quite a few pieces that way. The wide rimmed soup plates are perfect for the kind of meals I serve on board.

  13. They are at home in the microwave as well as the oven… They build up shock, though, and explode when they shatter — so if you keep them in a rack or a safe stack, they will last a lot longer. Much heavier, but really great are the “chip-proof” stoneware that you can pick up at Walmart or Kmart… they take more room in the cabinet, but they don’t slide and have the other great features of Corelle. On our boats with better storage, I step up to the “chip-proof” stoneware. I DO NOT include Pyrex or Corelle cookware on board — those do not store well enough to prevent getting shock, and thus they tend to shatter at a faster rate then the dishes. Silicone baking mats for cookies are great washable layers to put between glassware on board.

  14. We use corelle on our keelboat, still use plastic on the trailer sailer though.

  15. and when it shatters, it breaks into tiny, razor sharp shards that are very hard to entirely remove. It truly does SHATTER, it doesn’t just break.

  16. I just broke a 10 1/4 inch Corelle vegetable serving bowl that I’ve had for more than 11 years. I’m so sad, because I can’t get Corelle in France. 🙁

  17. You can get Corelle in England at Sail & Trail. They sell online.

  18. The only drawback with Corelle is that it will shatter into hundreds of pieces. Some of the pcs are so tiny they are almost invisible. It’s a good idea go over the area with a vacuum, mop or wet rag to pick up any tiny bits after sweeping of the broken pcs. I broke countless plates and bowls as a child but I still love Corelle and it’s the best thing going. The older the dishes the harder they are to break. The newer plates are thinner and more lightweight than the 70’s versions. We still use many of my mom’s Gold Butterfly plates [I killed all the bowls] for everyday use. You can often find older Corelle dishes at thrift stores and yard sales. I recently got a whole set of plates and saucers for $5.

  19. In 1998, Corelle changed ownership from Corning to World Kitchen. At that point it seems the construction changed. Corelle earned a great reputation, and held up to all of its chip-and-break resistant claims. The new stuff is downright dangerous. I’ve read horror stories of the glass shattering spontaneously. There was a pic of one plate that exploded IN THE CABINET, no one touching it. Other people were sent to the ER by the shards. I would never, ever, ever recommend this stuff if you have kids.

    I do love Corelle though, as it is lightweight, and the older stuff is genuinely good quality. On the bottom of our plates at home, bought sometime in the 90s, it says “Corelle by Corning”. I have been Googling around looking for an easy way to check the year or ownership of any given Corelle dishes. It looks like the new dishes do not say “by Corning”, as they are owned now by World Kitchen. Still checking out this theory though. So my advice is buy second-hand, and look for the “by Corning” stamp on the bottom!

    • I’ve had post-1998 Corelle and not had a problem. I checked with Snopes and according to it, there doesn’t seem to be any increase in reported problems since World Kitchen bought them (and Pyrex and several other companies). There were occasional problems before and still are.

  20. I just experienced a new Corelle dinner plate shattering in small pieces all over my kitchen and into my dining room. It was everywhere. Scary!!

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