Choosing the best set of knives for your kitchen can be a mixed bag of an experience. On one hand, you save money and valuable time by simply purchasing a premade knife set. The downside to this is that oftentimes, you end up with a cheap collection of knives that serve better as a decoration than for cutting.
That being said, there are some good options out there. That’s why we’re going to take you through our top picks for knives sets, ranging from $50 to $400.
Purchasing a Pre-made Set vs. Building Your Own
It goes without saying that knives are an essential part of any chef’s toolkit; Investing in high-quality knives is perhaps the easiest way to upgrade your cooking experience. A knife-block set is simply the fastest way to get all the knives you need, as they include the essentials: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife, among others.
The flipside however, is how they also tend to contain several knives of various utility and usefulness that you honestly don’t need. For example, do you really need a deboning or a carving knife if you don’t carve your own meat? Just because a manufacturer touts their 10 piece set, doesn’t mean you need all 9 knives (the wooden block counts as the 10th piece.)
That’s why we recommend that, if you take your cooking cutlery seriously and want the perfect set – but also don’t want to have rarely-used, superfluous knives sitting around all the time – you simply go ahead and build your own kitchen knife set exactly the way you want it done.
Still, that doesn’t mean that an all-in-one knife set isn’t a good idea. It’s certainly a convenient way to purchase things and having a fancy-looking wooden block to neatly, easily store all those knives is certainly welcome; but avoid running out and grabbing just any old kitchen knife set on sale. Keep reading to understand what you need to know about purchasing a set of kitchen knives, and see our Top 10 Picks.
|S.No||Our Top 10 Picks||Pieces||Price|
|2||Victorinox Swiss Army||7|
|5||Messermeister Park Plaza||9|
|6||Mercer Culinary Genesis||6|
|7||Zwilling J.A. Henckels||19|
Types of Knives Typically Included in Knife Sets
Whichever set you choose, it will almost always contain the basic knives you need for culinary success but will also have a bunch of other types – the fancy names of which you may not recognize. Here’s a quick breakdown of their functions:
Paring Knife – This essential kitchen tool is used to slice small vegetables such as garlic, cloves, and herbs, and for peeling and chopping fruits and veggies. It’s also used for prepping garnishes.
Chef’s Knife (AKA Butcher Knife) – This is the multi-use workhorse knife you need for dicing, chopping, slicing, and mincing virtually anything – meat, veggies, fruits, potatoes. It’ll be your go-to like 90% of the time.
Carving Knife – The carving knife is the classic knife you reach for when it’s time to carve poultry – like whole turkeys and chickens – as well as roasts and hams. It’s good for fish, and for getting large, flat slices.
Slicer – Designed for slicing roasts and meats, slicing knives have blade edges designed to keep meat from sticking.
Fillet Knife – The fillet knife has a long, slightly curved blade that is super sharp and excels at getting those thin, flat edges needed to filet fish and remove bones.
Bread Knife – Your classic serrated blade used to cut breads and other baked goods firmly and evenly.
Boning Knife – This narrow, sharp blade is thing and flexible, which makes separating meat from the bone easy.
Utility Knife – Essentially a shorter version of the Chef’s Knife, the Utility is a good all-rounder for daily cutting tasks. You can get it either serrated or straight, and it is sometimes called a sandwich knife.
Tomato Knife – This tiny serrated knife is designed to quickly, cleanly cut through tomato skins. Many times, they even have forked tips so you can grab the tomato slices after slicing.
Peeling Knife – As the name suggests, the peeling knife uses its curved edge to peel fruits and vegetables smoothly and easily.
Kitchen Knife Set Buying Guide
Purchasing a prearranged set of knives isn’t the most ideal strategy to upgrade your kitchen arsenal, but it’s quick, easy, and affordable. With that being said, you don’t want to just purchase any knife set; so many of them are junk. Here are the things you should understand and consider before purchasing a set of knives:
What’s the Blade Made Of?
Blade material should probably be the first place you look when shopping and comparing knives.
The most common blade metals are stainless steel and carbon steel.
Stainless steels can be an alloy of various metals but must contain Chromium to be considered stainless steel; usually about 10.5% Chromium flies. The advantages to stainless are durability and corrosion-resistance.
Carbon steel is any non-stainless-steel alloy that contains at least 1% carbon; the higher the carbon, the better it holds an edge and the more durable it is. It’s also often lighter than stainless steel.
Other, less popular blade materials are ceramic and titanium.
Forged vs Stamped Blades
A forged blade is made from a single piece of steel that’s heated, pounded and shaped into a blade, and then heated again, cooled and tempered. Forged blades are usually much stronger and heavier-duty than stamped blades.
Stamped blades, on the other hand, are cut from steel using a machine and then ground, sharpened and polished. These are usually cheaper and lighter, but less durable and don’t hold an edge as well as forged blades.
How is the Handle?
Knife handles are usually made from wood or a composite, like fiberglass or other synthetic materials. Neither one is necessarily better than the other; many people prefer the classic look of wood but find it hard to clean and sanitize. Others love the sharp, modern look that synthetic handles offer – as well as the easy-cleaning.
As previously mentioned, it is common for knife sets to be loaded with generic pieces. The goal is to find the balance between quality and price to avoid either breaking the bank or being disappointed with your set; this is why we have reviewed 25 sets to bring you our top picks.
Top brands market high-quality products. Brand like Wusthof, Messermeister, and Henckles have earned a reputation for quality.
The Number of Items
Throughout the process of reviewing these knives sets we can say with confidence that more isn’t better — in fact, almost the opposite is true — the more pieces a set contained was often proportionate to the drop in quality.
A common trend we saw were sets being stuffed with totally useless knives or items. Some knives were just to small to be practical for everyday preparation.
A characteristic of a well designed knife is balance. A strategically balanced knife not only feels comfortable as you grip it, but it promotes proper cutting technique. For example, when weight counts, like when it comes to a chef’s knife, if the weight of the knife is located towards the butt of the handle or towards the blade it forces you to overcompensate when chopping.
A well weighted chef’s knife will contain most of the weight near the knife’s bloster or heal.
Weight of the knife is important for functionally as well as comfort. A chef knife manufactured from a heavy iron will cut with less effort. While a light weighted iron is easier to manage. When it comes to cutting through a thick cut of meat having a heavier knife is best as it offers more chopping power.
Best Kitchen Knife Set Reviews for 2020
What We Like
It has a very useful assortment of knives. This set includes a classic 8” Chef’s Knife, a 3.5” paring knife, 5″ Boning knife, an 8″ bread knife, 8″ carving knife, and kitchen shears, as well as a sharpening steel – in addition to the wooden block. All the useful tools and nothing else, except maybe the carving knife.
The high-carbon stainless steel blades are sharp and corrosion-resistant. They’re easy to sharpen and forged – tough and high-quality enough to last years of use (with proper care). They’re also well-balanced, with good heft and chopping power – while the more-precision knives are still wieldy. They’re pretty beautiful, too.
The synthetic handles are solid. While smooth, they’re easy to grip and wield…and the “tight molecular structure” means they resist fading and discoloration. They are also supposed to be dishwasher safe.
What We Don’t Like
The shears could be better. The handle material on these shears isn’t great, and they don’t create enough sheer “cutting power.”
A smaller knife set that hits all the main points and doesn’t have too many unnecessary knives, this 7-piece set from classic Swiss Army Knife-maker Victorinox comes with an attractive oak block and Rosewood handles.
What We Like
All The Essentials: This knife set includes an 8-inch chef’s, 8-inch bread, 6-inch boning, 3-1/4” paring knife, 10-inch slicing knives, and the 10-inch sharpening steel for keeping those blades honed.
High-Carbon Stainless Steel Blades. They are tough, corrosion-resistant and extremely sharp, and they do an excellent job at holding their edge. And yes – they look great, too.
Well-Balanced. You want your knives to be hefty enough to chop and cut with ease, but also light enough to be wieldy and nimble (and not tire out your wrists). This Victorinox set hits that nail on the head.
What We Don’t
The Handles Could Be Better. They’re made from rosewood, and they look great – but they feel light and cheap. Not super confidence inspiring.
The Block Feels a lil’ Cheap. The wood finish on the oak knife block isn’t very good and wears off and chips when you’re sliding the knives in and out. The knives don’t always fit into the slots perfectly.
This 9-piece set is pricey, but it’s also one of the finest knive sets out there – with everything you could possibly need and a little bit more. It includes a 9” bread knife, 9” slicing knife, 8” chef’s knife, 6” chef’s knife, 6” utility knife, 3.5” paring knife, a sharpening steel and kitchen shears.
What We Like
The Top-Notch Construction. These knives are solid and well-built, and you can feel it when you pick them up. The stainless-steel blades are hefty and perfectly crafted, with VG-10 cores surrounded by 16 layers of SUS410 high-carbon stainless steel on each side. This gives it the look of beautiful Damascus Steel, and means they are amply corrosion resistant. Single-piece bolsters mean solid heft and durability.
The Solid Bamboo Block. A lot of the wooden knife blocks on this list are kind of cheap and tend to flake or chip when hit with a knife edge. Not this one; it’s rock solid and hefty. It kind of has to be, at this price.
The Taskmaster Shears. Shun’s Taskmaster Shears are some of the best out there already, and worth buying all on their own. Putting them into this set was a good idea.
What We Don’t
It’s expensive. Buying this knife set is a real investment, and while Shun’s quality is top-notch, we think you could put together your own kit – with all the important tools and none of the unneeded ones – in a lot less time.
Want to make sure you have absolutely everything you need…and are never missing anything from your kit? Check out this 18-piece block set from Chicago Cutlery. It has a 3.25″ parer, 3″ peeler, 5″ utility knife, an 8” chef’s kife, 8″ slicer, 7.75″ serrated bread knife, 5″ partoku, 7″ santoku, 8″ stainless sharpening steel…and 8 4.25″ steak knives bringing the total to 17 stainless steels tools and one wooden block.
What We Like
The Forged High-Carbon Blades. They are super strong, professional-grade and very corrosion-resistant. They’re also super sharp, cutting through paper with ease, and hold their edge well. Chicago Cutlery knife sets use what they call their “Taper Grind edge technology,” which is supposed to provide “optimum sharpness” and easy sharpening.
The Rubberized Handles. They provide much better grip and confidence in your hand than regular smooth plastic or composite handles, and we appreciate that.
What We Don’t
They’re Not Very Durable. Many people have reported the handles and blades snapping when used with a lot of force, or even when dropped directly onto the floor. That’s especially a concern with the steak knives. They are also not dish-washer safe and will chip or crack in there.
The Steak Knives Don’t Have Rubberized Handles. They are just one solid piece of metal. They look great and are still useable, but we’d love to have some kind of handle grip to go off of.
A mid-priced option that doesn’t carry the high price tags of Victorinox or Shun sets – but isn’t a basement bargain, either – this 9-piece set from German-inspired, California-based Messermesister packs all the essentials and a few extra goodies as well. The Park Plaza Collection, as it’s called, uses stamped German stainless steel to create a classic European style.
What We Like
Super-Sharp Stainless-Steel Blades. Messermeister used German krupp stainless steel for this knife set, giving in a hardness rating of 56 – so it can hold an edge longer – while remaining light and flexible. It’s high-carbon and rust and corrosion-resistant, and each knife uses a full-tang construction. They make quick work of pretty much any food, too.
The Rock-Solid Handles. Made from triple riveted composite, these handles are solid and securely fastened to the full-tang. Everything comes together into a well-balanced piece, and we’re comfortable that these will last a very long time.
What We Don’t
The Blades are Stamped. While good quality overall, and well-balanced, we’d like to see forged blades – which are more durable and dependable and often hold their edge better.
The Blades Could Be Thicker. Not sure if this the result of the stamped construction or just Messermesiter’s design, but a thicker blade would be more durable and would hold its edge longer.
Some Knives Aren’t Worth The Cost. We’re referring to the Santoku and the Utility knife, for instance; they’re too heavy for the nimble tasks they’re designed for.
The Mercer Genesis 6-piece set is a very affordable, very simple knife set that’s streamlined and sticks with just the basics. It’s got a very clean, streamlined modern look, too – and a cool transparent glass block that lets you show off the fancy blades around your kitchen.
What We Like
High-Carbon Stainless Steel. These blades use real German metal, and the high carbon content means they are strong but light, razor-sharp and corrosion-resistant.
The Blades Are Forged. Forged means thicker metal, more durable build, and thick bolsters. The full-tang construction runs the whole handle, and the edges are taper-ground and hand-polished.
The Black Santoprene Handles. Santoprene is like a hybrid of vulcanized rubber and thermoplastic, so these have a perfect grip and secure, balanced feel. It’s resistant to food oils, too.
The Glass Block is Sleek. If your kitchen has more of a modern look, you’ll like this one more.
What We Don’t
Some People Report Rust. With proper care, these shouldn’t rust – they are stainless steel. But there have been reports, so be sure to keep them properly cleaned and dried.
Block Doesn’t Fit Under Cabinets. The knives must be pulled straight up, and it won’t fit under short kitchen cabinets.
When it comes to sheer bang-for-the-buck, you can’t go wrong with this 19-piece set from J.A. Henckels. It has everything you could possibly need in a kitchen knife set…and a whole lot more, too.
What We Like
The High-Carbon Zwilling Formula Steel Blades. They are sharp and razor honed by hand with “laser-precision,” and even ice-hardened to a Rockwell 57 hardness.
The Ergonomic Polymer Handles. They are durable, tough and grippy – even when wet. A solid and well-balanced handle all-round. They’re even Dishwasher-Safe (even if handwashing is recommended).
What We Don’t
The Blades are Stamped. They use “laser cutting” to ensure perfect edges, but they are super thin and we’d still rather have forged blades. Some users have even had blades snap.
They Could Be Easier To Use. Some of these knives – including the bread knife and the chef’s knife, are very thick and heavy…and crush food more than slice right through it.
Lots of Extra, Unneccesary Pieces. The eight steak knives are great, but we don’t really have use for the tiny boning knife or the utility knife (which is pretty much just another steak knife).
Looking for something sleek and modern, as well as dirt cheap? Grab the Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Knife. It’s dirt cheap, durable and gorgeous. For this reason we have selected this Cuisinart knife set as our Best Kitchen Knife Set for the Money.
What We Love
One-Piece High-Carbon Stainless Build. These knives are light but strong, well-balanced and corrosion resistant. They are precision-tapered and ground and hold their edge extremely well.
Dishwasher-Resistant. Many knives on this list claim to be dishwasher ready, but don’t hold up well. These fare quite well in the dishwasher, however, and come out spotless.
Ergonomic Handles. They may not have any kind of rubber or grip, but the metal itself is easy enough to hold onto – even when wet – and they fit comfortably in the hand.
Great Steak Knives. These compact, serrated blades
Super Affordable. Really, at this kind of price tag…how could you complain?
What We Don’t
Rust Problems. This is mainly the case for handles and knives that weren’t properly dried or taken care of. The bolts and hinges on the shears are another place likely to get some rust problems.
Thin Blades. Especially on some of the smaller, thinner knives – like the utility knife and the steak knives. Some reviewers complained of bending and chipping.
The knives in this DALSTRONG German 8-piece set are razor-sharp and top-notch quality. Pick one up…and you will instantly feel the craftsmanship and precision handiwork. It includes a chef’s knife, santoku, carving / slicing, bread, utility knife, serrated utility knife, paring knives and honing rod.
What We Like
Top-Notch Quality Blades. Made from high-carbon German steel, these blades are strong, well-balanced and precision-made. They go through paper like its butter.
The Pakkawood Handles Rock. Laminated pakkawood is tough and strong. The handles are easy to grip and the ergonomic shape fits in your hand perfectly; receivers have noted that they can chop comfortably with these things for long periods without their hands hurting. And they use a full-tang with triple rivets for an all-around solid build.
Gorgeous Knife Block. It’s solid, dark-stained, real acacia wood.
The knives are handcrafted with attention to detail with perfect finish and no cornered edges to get painful when chopping or slicing a bunch of food and cause fatigue. It has got solid grip and light weight.
What We Don’t
Blades Could Hold Edge Longer. Reviewers find these knives dulling quite quickly and need to hone and sharpen them quite often.
The Block Could Be Better Quality. It may look beautiful, but many users have noticed it splits and cracks after a while – especially if moisture gets in. Make sure all blades are 100% dry before putting away!
Some Extra Pieces. The serrated utility knife, for example, doesn’t have a lot of specific uses…and we could do without the 9” carving knife.
Don’t want to deal with sharpening your knives? Just get this self-sharpening knife set from Calphalon. It has ceramic sharpeners built right into the block, eliminating the sharpening rod found in most other sets.
What We Like
Fully-Forged, High-Carbon Steel Blades. Reviewers say they have some good heft, are thick and solid, and hold their edge well.
Balanced, Labeled Handles. They are ergonomically shaped and have a solid full-tang construction. People say the composite material is grippy enough when wet – and all the knives are labeled on their handles for easy identification when they’re in the block!
The Self-Sharpening Block. Combining the sharpening rod and the knife block saves space, and it’s very easy to use. The block’s compact footprint occupies little space on the counter, and it’s a gorgeous walnut-stained hardwood.
Streamlined Essentials. No unnecessary pieces here. There’s the requisite Chef’s Knife, a Santoku knife, paring knife and serrated utility knife – as well 4 steak knives and kitchen shears. No useless bread knives or carving knives.
What We Don’t
Blades Rust. Even the best stainless steel has some problems with corrosion, apparently, and reviewers have seen rust in just a few weeks of work.
Steaks Knives Are Stamped. The regular knives are forged, but the steak knives are stamped…and can’t be used in the self-sharpening slots.
Recommended with Reservations
Stone Boomer Knives – 14 Piece Knife Block Set
At this price point we couldn’t leave this affordable set out of our review. It’s not all upside though, but with it’s sleek modern appearance it’s almost worth it’s price tag if purchased for nothing more than just a decoration. The knives arrive sharp, but hold onto the sharpening stone as the poor blade design will require sharpening sooner than later.
Build Your Own Knife Set – Our All-Star Lineup
The best bang for your buck is to put together your own kitchen knife set. We’ve got two lineups here.
- The first is our recommended set that’ll give you great knives for the vast majority of jobs around the kitchen.
- The second is our value set, suitable for starting off a new apartment on the cheap.
The real value of choosing your own set is that you can mix and match. Maybe take the value set, but upgrade the chef’s knife since it’s your #1 knife.
Before we jump into our two lineups, here’s our recommendation for the knife block.
A knife block is important for maintaining your knives. It keeps their edges from banging into things in a drawer and it keeps you from having to reach into sharp edges to grab things around them. We’ve got two choices of block here, and it’s just down to personal preference which style you like.
The J.A. Henckels block is a traditional block with individual slots for each knife. It’s got plenty of room to expand your set over time, and the slots are big enough to fit large knives, unlike some sets.
The Mantello block is a universal block with a bundle of plastic rods in an open box. You put your knives wherever you want and the friction of the rods holds them in. This is easily reconfigurable if you’re thinking you might change up your collection, plus it’s easy to clean.
THE RECOMMENDED DIY SET
The chef’s knife is the most important knife in your kitchen. The Wüsthof 8” Classic is a forged knife with a nice solid spine, full bolster, and great handle.
Lots of paring knives try to be mini chef’s knives, but they’ve got a different job to do. The Henckels Kudamono has a wonderful shape and great balance for all your precise jobs.
If you keep your chef’s knife good and sharp, you don’t need a serrated knife too much, but there’s nothing better for cutting a crusty loaf of bread. The F. Dick 10” Prodynamic has a good shape and enough length to cleanly slice a large loaf.
Boning knives come in several styles: curved or straight? Flex or no flex? I prefer a flexible straight blade myself, but all of the variations of the Wüsthof Gourmet 6” are first rate. The foot is especially good on these knives, and very useful for scraping.
THE VALUE DIY SET
It’s a stamped blade and the balance is a little odd, but it’s got a great handle and a nice shape. You won’t find anything better than the Victorinox Fibrox 8” without spending twice as much.
The Victorinox Fibrox is a little razor blade on a handle. It’ll handle most anything, and the price looks like a misprint.
For your serrated knife, you need length and grabby teeth. The Mercer 10” delivers on all counts.
Choose your stiffness and shape, they’re all pretty good. If you don’t know what shape you like, a Victorinox Fibrox is a cheap way to find out. The handle is good, but the foot is lacking.
Those four knives plus the block are your baseline set, but here are some bonus knives worth adding.
When it comes to cutting up bones, like when spatchcocking a chicken, kitchen shears are precise and powerful. The Messermeister 8.5” do that and many other small jobs very well, and are easy to clean.
It’s not a knife, but it’s often included with knife sets. A steel is no substitute for sharpening, but will touch up your edges in between sharpenings. The Henckels 9″ has enough length to be worthwhile at a reasonable price.
I pull this one out maybe half a dozen times a year, but it’s amazing for gliding through a pork roast or separating cake layers. The Victorinox 12” is definitely an extra, but extremely good. Note: it doesn’t fit anywhere. Get a knife guard that fits it before you cut yourself on it.
Taking your knives on the road? Whether you’re headed to an Airbnb for a weekend or cooking at your folks’ place, it’s good to use your own knives. A roll is much better for your knives and your hands than rolling them in a towel.
Knife Set Care, Sharpening and Storage Instructions
Stainless steel is rust proof. Hence, you can cut lime, tomatoes, and other citric foods without any health risk. On the other side, carbon steel blades rust by cutting acidic foods and leaving it wet. But it retains its sharpness for longer period.
It is always better to cut your food on hardwood cutting board as wood is soft for the blade. Plastic boards are hard and can damage the knife’s cutting edge. You will want to wash plastic boars with detergent under warm water, especially when you cut raw meat over it. Always keep knives in a place away from other utensils. It is better to wash knives by hand rather than detergent and rinse and dry with towel. Knife blades are not always dishwasher safe and their blades are damaged with other utensils.
Knives become dull and chip. So, keep them in utensils drawer without getting contracted with other items. It is better to put them in blade guard sheath or plastic sleeves which come with it or can be bought separately. To store each knife separately as per its size, some knives are available in wooden block. It ensures safety and sharpness of knife.
You need to sharpen steel knives more often to retain the razor sharp edge for longer. This way, you may want to use an electric knife sharpener, honing steel or whetstone. For steel knives, you might also like high-power electric diamond knife sharpeners.