Looking for the best kitchen knife set? You've come to the right place. After researching over 35 models, we bought the top 15 and tested them side-by-side to help determine which one is best for you. For over a month, we spent countless hours chopping up food, including multiple loaves of crusty bread, over 10 pounds of onions, several butternut squash, bunches upon bunches of cilantro, four thick steaks, and much more. After all our testing, we bring you the most comprehensive review to help you make a smart purchasing decision tailored to your unique needs and budget.
Construction: Full tang, stamped stainless steel | No. Pieces: 12
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent sharpness and precision
Handles fit large and small hands
A good number of steak knives included
REASONS TO AVOID
Squared edges on handles can be uncomfortable
No kitchen shears included
Regarding performance, quality, and affordability, J.A. Henckels International Statement 12 Piece checks all the boxes. The knives in this set slice through produce effortlessly, provide excellent precision and offer exceptional balance at a reasonable price. We happily found the chef's knife worked for us rather than against us. All the knife handles join flawlessly to their steel blades. Even the solid wood storage block is crafted with detail as it houses each knife on its side for better blade protection. These are quality knives reached for first.
With all the attributes come some drawbacks. The knives lack a stainless steel bolster. However, the handles are angled right where they meet the blade providing a solid pinch grip. Speaking of handles, they are on the boxier side. The sharper angles can dig into your palm when slicing larger quantities of tougher ingredients, such as butternut squash. Still, exceptional performance and an attractive price earned the Henckels bragging rights as our favorite set and one we highly recommend to any home chef.
Construction: Full tang, stamped stainless steel | No. Pieces: 10
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptionally sharp and precise
High-quality construction and materials
Attractive acacia wood storage block
REASONS TO AVOID
A short serrated knife blade
The small paring knife is not for everyone
There's no question about it, the Wusthof Classic 10 Piece is a top-of-the-line set. Each piece is exceptionally crafted and very sharp right out of the box, from the tiny trimming knife to the chef's knife. The balance is spot on, and the lighter weight makes this set better for handling delicate tasks like slicing strawberries. Our testers with small to average-sized hands also found the lighter weight easier to weld. The beautiful acacia storage block is a nice addition that allows home chefs enough room to add to their collection by including empty slots.
Where the set falls short is the chef's knife, specifically the length. The 6.5-inch blade is shorter than most chef's knives, which may be a problem for some. Those with larger hands may not like the petite size of the paring knife and want something with more heft. The price is also hard to swallow. However, if premium quality and performance are what you're after, the Wusthof is hard to beat.
Construction: Full tang, forged stainless steel | No. Pieces: 17
REASONS TO BUY
Plethora of pieces
Comfortable rubber handles
Plenty of steak knives
REASONS TO AVOID
Bulky storage block
With the Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17 Piece, you certainly get your money's worth. Out of all the models tested, this kitchen knife set offers the highest number of pieces at a reasonable price. It comes with eight capable steak knives, making it a stellar choice for families who don't want to cut up each other's meat due to minimal knives. Despite the lack of curves, the inclusion of rubber makes the handles comfortable. Families who like to cook up a storm will find everything they need and then some with this set.
It's hard to ignore just how bulky the storage block is, but this is no surprise, given the multitude of knives. The heavy handles throw off balance slightly, but those who need more control for precise cuts may find this to their advantage. Especially considering how rock solid, they feel. Considering all these factors, we highly recommend the Chicago for those who need many durable knives for family feasts.
Construction: Full tang, stamped stainless steel | No. Pieces: 3
REASONS TO BUY
Extraordinary sharpness and precision
REASONS TO AVOID
No storage included
If you're looking to ditch a countertop knife block for a select set of a few quality knives, look no further than the ZWILLING Twin Signature 3-pc Starter. The set includes three barebones essentials to tackle everyday tasks: a paring, utility, and chef's knife. During testing, we found the chef's knife is the ideal workhorse for the home kitchen. At 8 inches, the sharp blade slices through onions and chops herbs easily, practically making our pico de gallo for us. For smaller tasks, the paring knife is up to the challenge. We loved how this knife peeled apples and cubed potatoes without resistance or fatigue.
Even quality and performance like this come with some drawbacks. For starters, no storage block or kitchen sheaths protect your blades. The price is also steeper, considering the limited number of pieces. Still, the ZWILLING is our top recommendation for those who only need a few essentials and are willing to spare no expense.
Construction: Full tang, forged stainless steel | No. Pieces: 8
REASONS TO BUY
Good for tough foods
Attractive and comfortable handles
REASONS TO AVOID
No chef's knife
Very wide and tall storage block
Not only is the Tuo 8 Piece attractive, but it's also effective. The cleavers cut right through meat and harder produce with ease. The Santoku knife was the favorite thanks to its incredible balance, sharp blade, and exceptional ergonomic ergonomics. The offerings don't stop there because even the smallest knife in the set is sharp and ready to handle smaller cuts. German steel combined with pakkawood handles makes this a high-quality set with an attractive aesthetic.
The biggest disappointment with this set is the lack of a chef's knife. We longed for the same quality and sharpness all the other knives possessed but in chef's form. Luckily, the santoku was a remarkable stand-in. The storage block is also ridiculously wide and tall, making it a no-go for tiny kitchens or those short on counter space. Then there's the issue that not everyone wants or needs cleavers. However, those ready to embrace beginner-friendly cleavers who desire a sharp set capable of tackling hard foods will be more than happy with the Tuo.
In 2020, our process began with research into the top kitchen knife sets. We dug deep to find what others were saying about their performance and which features are essential to a good knife. We selected nine sets and got to work chopping, slicing, dicing, and you better believe — eating! With new products on the market, we headed back to the kitchen to conduct side-by-side tests on the original lineup and some new sharp contenders. We cut pounds upon pounds of food to test sharpness and precision, closely examined craftsmanship and quality, found balance points, assessed handle ergonomics, and even considered the style and function of each storage block. Finally, we used the data gathered to select the top performers so we could tell you more about why some knives outshined others.
Our testing of kitchen knife sets is spread across five rating metrics:
Sharpness and Precision (35% of overall score weighting)
Quality and Durability (25% weighting)
Balance (20% weighting)
Handle Ergonomics (15% weighting)
Storage (5% weighting)
To find which ones made the cut, we turned to self-taught home chefs Elizabeth Paashaus and Carissa Stanz. Together, they have well over 30 years of home cooking experience. Over the past 15 years, Elizabeth has reveled in the joy of researching and mastering new cooking and baking techniques and teaching others. She spends hours in her kitchen each day, not only cooking fresh meals for her family but also stretching and folding her sourdough bread, creating dried meals for forays into the backcountry, and meeting her cravings with made-from-scratch desserts. When Carissa isn't cooking at camp, you can find her testing new recipes and whipping up tasty bites in the kitchen. She swears by her trusty cast iron skillet and is on a quest to make the perfect ramen bowl. These two bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and expertise to help you find the best set of knives for your home kitchen.
Analysis and Test Results
We individually tested each knife against its intended function since what makes a good paring knife isn't the same as what makes a quality santoku knife. We compared the sharp edges of each blade, found the balance point, and felt how it aided or hindered our cutting ability. We also assessed the quality of construction and durability, judged the handle ergonomics based on the shape, feel, and size, and appraised the included storage systems' aesthetics, size, and overall usefulness.
In our testing, a higher dollar generally meant better quality and performance. Not only are these premium products more likely to last, but they're less frustrating to deal with in the kitchen. For instance, Wusthof was exceptionally easy to weld, and ZWILLING sliced through food like butter. But that doesn't mean you have to blow your budget on knives. Henckels and Chicago still offer great quality and numerous pieces for the home chef at a more modest price. If your budget calls for a bargain, the Cuisinart will give you average performance suitable for most kitchen tasks.
Sharpness and Precision
A knife isn't a knife without a sharp blade. Right away, it can make or break your time spent preparing food. Therefore, we put a great deal of focus on this aspect of performance. With sharpness also comes precision. A precise knife can thinly slice whatever you throw its way, whether that be tomatoes, cheese, or raw fish. We sliced, diced, chopped, carved, and minced various ingredients to test each knife in every set. We assessed how sharp each blade was by how effortlessly it cut through food and examined said food for clean cuts and desired thickness. Overall, the sharpness of one knife in a given set matched all the others. But because there is some variation in performance, this category is broken down by knife type.
A chef's knife is renowned for being the workhorse of the kitchen. So we assessed how well each cut steak, chicken, onions, cheese, cilantro, butternut squash, and more to our satisfaction.
The premium Wusthof and ZWILLING excelled in this metric. The blades on both of these models set the bar high. They flawlessly sliced right through the sticky layers of onions and minced herbs without a hiccup. We do wish the Wusthof blade was a bit longer, though. Henckels also proved to be a favorite as it cuts through chicken breast like butter and slice onions super thin. When mincing garlic or slicing thin pieces of meat to sear for taco night, it doesn't disappoint there either.
It was no surprise that the heaviest knives, the Dalstrong and Chicago, were the best at slicing through the tough flesh of butternut squash. The Henckels also gave us excellent control when pressing through this dense vegetable, whereas the Amazon Basics Color left us struggling to win the battle.
Although we wish it were just a touch sharper, the Ginsu offers remarkable precision. Precise cuts are a common trait of Japanese-style knives, and it didn't disappoint. It gave us thin cucumber and avocado slices that would make any sushi roll proud.
Like a chef's knife, a santoku knife is a versatile tool. The relatively flat blade edge makes it perfect for quick chopping motions rather than rocking. We tested santoku knives on almost everything we tried our chef's knives out on, except for cutting beef away from the bone.
Bell pepper, onions, meat, potatoes, you name it, and the J. A. Henckels owned it. Smooth and clean cuts made dinner on work nights a painless task. The Tuo santoku also excelled in this metric, making it an equal adversary.
The smaller 5-inch santoku in the Chicago Cutlery meant less precision and more effort when chopping large onions. On the other hand, the full-sized santoku proved to be a good tool for the job. Thanks to the sharp blade, it took little pressure to chop up onions and slice through tomatoes.
A serrated knife features a tooth-like blade that bites into thick-skinned produce and crusty bread. So it was only natural that we sliced artisanal sourdough bread and delicate, soft tomatoes to evaluate performance.
The longer blade of the Dalstrong was made with bread in mind. It slices through wider loaves easily, while the sets that only came with serrated utility knives were too short for the job. In particular, the serrated utility blade of the Wusthof is razor sharp but left us wanting more steel to match the diameter of the bread loaves.
However, don't discount these shorter knives just yet. They can be handy for a multitude of other kitchen tasks. For instance, the Wusthof, Ginsu, and Calphalon bite right into tomato skins and follow through with little resistance.
Henckels smoothly sliced through crusty bread without snagging or tearing the soft interior. We were also very pleased to find how razor-thin it sliced tomatoes. The Chicago Cutlery performed admirably, and we found wielding the hefty blade to be a rather satisfying choice when slicing bread for sandwiches.
Beyond the chef's, santoku, and serrated knife, the paring knife might be the kitchen's most used blade. The small size makes it handy for peeling, hulling, or cutting up small quantities of food for more precise cuts. We tested each paring knife by hulling strawberries, slicing cheese, peeling apples, and cubing potatoes.
The bulkier size of the Henckels made it our go-to for getting bite-sized potato cubes. The miniature Wusthof was the perfect size to dig into the tops of strawberries and cut up delicate foods. ZWILLING was an all-around favorite, and the sharp tip of the Tuo was particularly good for hulling and peeling alike. Although, it had no trouble cutting through potatoes during breakfast time.
The Cuisinart stood out for its peculiar bird's beak paring knife. The downward curve makes it a worthy knife for peeling and potentially the one knife you didn't know you needed.
After a few taco nights to eat up all the thinly sliced beef we created, it was time for steak night. Diving into our perfectly seared steak, we could instantly tell Henckels, and Chicago had a leg up on the competition. Both slice through meat with less resistance than most other models. Unfortunately, the Amazon Basics left us feeling like we were trying to saw through wood. We don't recommend pairing these steak knives with a prime cut of meat.
Aside from steak knives, the ZWILLING utility knife caught our attention for its ability to slice razor-thin onions and cube potato after potato with virtually no resistance. The 6-inch length is also a nice size for halving sandwiches. When it came time to make guac, our testers fell in love with the Tuo utility knife.
We loved peeling cucumbers and pitting olives with the miniature trimming knife in the Wusthof. It turned tedious tasks into pleasant experiences. On the other end of the spectrum are the two blade-heavy Tuo cleavers. They proved their worth as they handled butternut squash and delicate herbs alike.
Quality and Durability
Quality and durability are the next factors you'll want to consider. A well-crafted knife built with quality materials is more likely to last. The longer your kitchen knife set lasts, the more your dollar will stretch. We reviewed each one with a fine-toothed comb to examine the materials and construction to pinpoint potential problems. Likewise, quality knives deserve quality storage when not in use. For this reason, we also assessed the quality and durability of the included storage block, or sheaths, by closely examining the construction and materials.
Excelling in this metric is ZWILLING. This brand has a reputation for premium construction and materials, and we found that to be precisely the case. Wusthof would be neck in neck with it if it weren't for the noticeably thinner blades. Although great for precision, it is not the best choice for tough foods and may be prone to chipping. However, they are likely to last with proper care.
From the shape of the blades to the pakkawood handles, Tuo is an attractive and well-built set that's a viable choice for those who value longevity. In contrast, everything about Dalstrong screams high dollar. From the tip to the tang, we couldn't spot a single flaw in construction. However, due to the angles, the storage block began to show signs of the wood wearing around the insert slots. Aside from Tuo, all of these top contenders feature riveted handles that further enhance the strength of the blade joining the handle.
For those who can't pay top dollar, the Henckels is our first choice. The full tang, riveted handles have an endcap polished off with thick stainless steel to increase durability. Throughout testing, the blades remained sharp, and there wasn't any sign of warping. Even the storage block was flawless. The Chicago is another fabulous choice. It features remarkable quality given the price, and it's more robust than others, making it able to withstand the abuse of big meals.
Unfortunately, Marco did not perform well in this metric due to some manufacturing issues. Right out of the box, we noticed that more than one steak knife had a minute gap between the tang and the handle. A small defect like this made us suspect that the handles and blades may eventually separate and break.
While we love the construction of Ginsu, we did notice a subtle chip on the bolster of the chef's knife. It was the same with the Calphalon except it was located near the blade's spine. The steak knives are also a tad flimsy compared to other models.
At some point during testing, we noticed that the Wusthof storage block got an accidental scratch. The material and build of both the Amazon models feel low quality. The Amazon Basics handles don't line up smoothly, so it's easier to imagine them prying loose in the future, though we saw no evidence of this in our testing. The Amazon Basics Color is not full tang — the blade stops at the handle. Knives whose blade material doesn't extend the blade's full length tend to be less reliable and more prone to breaking over time. That, paired with the color coating, led us to suspect this kitchen knife set may quickly wear out or break.
Even if a knife manufacturer lists its knives as dishwasher safe, all knives should be hand-washed and dried immediately to prevent rust and keep the blades sharp. Whether high-end or inexpensive, one of the quickest ways to ruin any knife is to wash it in the dishwasher, where it bangs against other metals and is left wet for long periods.
Balance is important because it affects how efficient, precise, and comfortable a knife is to use. It is a function of how the blade's weight compares to the handle's weight. Due to grip style and personal preference, balance will feel slightly different for everyone. Therefore, we assessed this metric by finding the balance point of each chef's santoku and paring knife. This entailed pinching the knife on the blade with our thumb and index finger, then adjusting until the knife was fully horizontal. We also sliced, chopped, minced, and peeled using a pinch grip and handle grip style.
A well-balanced knife works with you rather than against you, and right away, we could tell the Henckels, ZWILLING, Wusthof, and Tuo achieved this goal. These models excelled in almost every metric, so we expected as much. What we didn't expect was that the Ginsu would be right there with them.
All the Chicago knives were noticeably handle-heavy, which may be a better choice if you grip by the handle rather than at the bolster. Most of the average performers like the Marco and Cuisinart felt slightly off but not enough, so we would throw them out just yet. The knives that truly felt off-balance were both Amazon Basics sets. These have very light handles, so their balance point rests an inch or more forward where the blade joins the handle. Try making a big pot of vegetable soup, and you'll find yourself better off with something else.
A quality knife should feel like an extension of your hand. The best ones have a handle shape, weight, circumference, and length that enhances productivity decreases fatigue, and prevents hand slippage. To begin our handle ergonomics test, we gripped each knife using a pinch grip and handle grip. Then we assessed how each grip felt when tackling large quantities of produce and meat. We also tested these knives in the large hands of tall men, medium hands of women, and small hands of children — supervised, of course!
One design aspect of a kitchen knife that can detract from the comfort of the grip is the lack of a smooth transition between the blade and handle. Surprisingly, we found ourselves reaching for the Tuo time and time again. The angled bolster provides a smooth and solid pinch grip while the pakkawood handles are some of the most comfortable in the lineup. The lightweight Wusthof handles provided a comfortable feel that made it easy to prep meals without any sign of fatigue.
Size is another important aspect to consider. The size and curves of the Henckels handles were great for average-sized hands. However, we found ourselves wishing they were a smidge more comfortable — both for a pinch grip and handle grip. Although the corners add stability, the squared edges dug into our hands more than other contenders when cutting items like root veggies. The ZWILLING set may be a better option if you want curves tailored to your hand with squared edges that don't dig in so much.
A rectangular-shaped handle adds stability by preventing it from turning in your hand during use. The curved hook on the butt of most handles also keeps the knife from sliding out of your hand.
The lightweight and slimmer size of the Wusthof works particularly well for those with average to smaller-sized hands. Individuals with larger hands may prefer options with a more hefty grip, such as the ZWILLING, Chicago, Tuo, and Dalstrong. Out of all the sets, the Chicago was the only one that featured a rubber handle. We found this to be a bonus for comfort and slippage prevention. The Calphalon is also an admirable contender. Although it wasn't our top pick, it performed better than the average models such as the Marco and Cuisinart.
When it comes to storing your knife set, you should consider which of the three standards is right for you: knife block, sheaths, or magnetic strip. Except for two, every model we tested came with a knife block. A good knife block should not only protect your blades and offer streamlined functionality for quick selection, but it should also be aesthetically pleasing. It will live on your kitchen counter, after all! To sort out the best from the rest, we weighed in on the size, functionality, and aesthetic of the included storage options.
The model that stood out the most is the Henckels. It features prime knife storage with nicely spaced and angled slots to efficiently make a selection given your current needs. This low angle also makes it easier to remove the knives if the block is stored on a counter underneath upper cabinets. Insert any knife into the horizontal slots, and the blade will rest on the side, offering extra protection. The only knife set offering this perk is the Yatoshi. All other sets have vertical slots where some or all of the knives rest on the blade. You can circumvent this issue by resting the knife on the spine, although this isn't ideal.
The storage block of the Wusthof stood out for its looks. We love the acacia wood and slot spacing. It also offers empty slots to add additional pieces to the set. However, some may find the vacant slots to be less visually appealing and worry a knife or two may be missing when, in fact, everything is safely stowed away.
Several of the knife sets feature built-in knife sharpeners. Anyone who doesn't own one may find this beneficial in a pinch. However, the Calphalon went a touch overboard. The storage block sports four built-in knife sharpening slots — three of which you must always store a knife in. We find it rather excessive and not necessary.
In our experience, it's worth investing in a knife sharpener. A proper knife sharpener will not only sharpen your blades but also maximize the lifespan of your knives.
ZWILLING doesn't come with a storage block or even knife sheaths. This won't be an issue if you already own a magnetic strip. We were also pleased to discover enough magnetic force to keep the Amazon Basics Color on a strip even while using the plastic sheaths.
While quality is not a question, not everyone will be a fan of the adjustable Dalstrong knife block. It has a royal aesthetic that feels targeted towards a specific demographic and is less likely to appeal to a wide range of users. Also, be sure to store your knives upside down. We found inserting the blade side down resulted in wear around the slots.
Picking the right kitchen knife set among all the choices can be difficult. We won't tell you that there is one right set for everyone, but we can make your job easier. We did all the research, tested each knife out, and provided you with all the information we could so you could make the best selection for your unique needs. After considering how your needs align with each model's performance and features, we hope you feel ready to select your perfect kitchen knife set.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.