Selecting the best kitchen knife set depends on several factors, including your budget, how you cook, and the amount of space in your kitchen.
To help you select the best set for your needs, we’ve identified ten kitchen knife sets—ranging from a starter set to a high-end Japanese-style knife block set. We’ve considered counter space (offering space-saving options as well as some large 18-piece sets) and décor (styles range from high-end sophisticate to minimalist contemporary).
We’ve also explored the different factors to consider when buying kitchen knives. So whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced chef, we’re confident this guide will help you select the perfect knife set.
- Read more: Top 6 Best Electric Knife Sharpeners 2018
10 Best Kitchen Knife Sets 2018
1. Best All Purpose Set – Wusthof Classic Ikon Walnut Block Knife Set
If there is one thing Wusthof is known for, then it is the manufacturing of high quality knives through the incorporation of diligent craftsmanship. This set from Wusthof consist of 7 knives.
There is a paring knife (3.5”), a utility knife (6”), bread knife (8”), cook’s knife (8”). Also included is a honing steel knife, a storage block from walnut, and kitchen shears.
Durability of the knives is guaranteed by using high quality stainless steel with a high carbon content. The handles are made from a high strength, durable polyoxymethylene composites. The two parts are then riveted together.
With the walnut bag, you can customize your knife sets by adding more knives as your needs grow. In addition, the wooden storage block accommodates different handles and blends uniformly with the kitchen décor.
- High quality materials and workmanship
- Knives collection can be updated with time
- Handles and blocks can be altered to blend with the kitchen décor
- The storage block design does not appeal to some users
2. Best Luxury Set – Messermeister Royale Elite Initial Block Set
The Messermeister Royale Elite is made by hand from a German company located in Solingen. It is a town that is regarded as the capital of culinary in the world. Knives in the set have a stainless steel alloy blade on a walnut handle.
Set composition comprises of a paring knife (3.5”), chef’s knife (8”), scalloped bread knife (9”), kitchen shears, fine honing-steel (10”), and a walnut knife block with 16 slots.
The knives are handcrafted from high carbon stainless steel to impart strength and durability into the knife blades.
Their balanced nature and easy grip handles receive praises from most users. However, some users also complain of the amount of care needed to maintain the blades and handles from developing rust.
A lifetime warranty guarantee ensures your knives are protected from manufacturing and material composition related damages.
- Superior craftsmanship
- Can update the collection when needed
- Comfortable grip
- Attractive design
- Lifetime guarantee
- Heirloom quality
- Very expensive
- Wooden handles and blades require special maintenance
3. Best Budget Set – Victorinox Knife Set
The Victorinox knives share the manufacturers as the famous Swiss Army Knife. A complete set contains a chef’s knife (8”), bread knife (10.25”), utility knife (6”), and a paring knife (4”).
A cold-rolled high-carbon stainless steel is ice tempered to create a knife blade that retains its sharpness for quite a considerable amount of time. Ergonomically designed and textured Fibrox handles on each of the knives makes for a slip-free usage. Moreover, the knives feel well-balanced when held in the hand.
You probably won’t be thrilled with the lack of kitchen shears, honing steel or a storing block for your knives. But you do get what you pay for.
- Comfortable in the hand
- Excellent grip Fibrox handles even when wet
- No storage block, honing steel, and kitchen shears
- Requires storage sheaths when stored in a drawer
4. Best Big Set – DALSTRONG Knife Set Block
Dalstrong is a relatively new entrant into the knife manufacturing industry. This knife set from them has a total of 18 pieces of knives. Some of these you might never even get to use.
In the set is a carving slicer (9”), bread knife (9”), Kiritsuke chef knife (8.5”), chef knife (8”), santoku knife (7”), Nakiri Knife (7”), boning knife (6”), utility knife (6.5”), serrated utility knife (6”), straight-edge steak knives 6 (5”), paring knife (3.5”), beak paring knife (2.75”), honing steel (10”), and a walnut block made from wood.
Every knife blade is made from forged high carbon steel. The blades are then hand-sharpened and lastly satin finished. Handles are made from pakkawood riveted in place with 3 rivets for easy to maneuver, comfortable, and non-slip handles.
The box in which the knives are shipped in looks great, making it an ideal gift for a cooking enthusiast. Customer service is prompt in attending to enquiries and complaints. In addition, the company offers you a 100% money back guarantee.
These are some of the features love about this knife set. On the other hand, the numerous knives take up plenty of your kitchen counter space.
- Lots of knives in the set
- Affordable if you consider the items in the package
- High quality materials and craftsmanship
- Takes up lots of counter space
- Chances of ending up with filler knives is high
5. Best Minimalist Contemporary Set – Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Knife Block Set
Mercer has cut a niche for itself in the manufacture and supply of high quality, precision culinary devices. This knife set has 6 pieces of knives. It includes a chef knife (8”), bread knife (8”), boning knife (6”), utility knife (5”), paring knife (3.5”), and a storage block made from tempered glass.
The cutlery grade steel used to make the knife blades neither rusts, corrodes nor discolors. You are still expected to hand-wash the knives to maintain the appearance. Precision forging creates a durable knife.
The handles are designed such that they generate a solid grip as a result of the Santoprene material used in the construction.
With the storage block, you can easily find a specific knife. An additional magnetic stand combining glass and wood is also provided.
- Contemporary design suits most of modern kitchens
- Ergonomic handle
- Non-slip grip
- Limited-lifetime warranty
- Block taken apart when cleaning
- Affordably priced
- No honing steel and kitchen shears
- Block design difficult to use at times
6. Best Starter Set – Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star Starter Set
Zwilling J.A Henckles is a renowned German cutlery manufacturer. They produce this set consisting of 3 knives for cooks just getting started.
The three knives include a chef’s knife (8”), serrated utility knife (6”), and a paring knife (4”). All the knives are housed in a pleasant gift box, ideal for an enthusiast home chef.
Production of the knives involves a process known as Sigmaforge. The results are high carbon stainless steel knives resistant to rust or corrosion. In addition, the blades are sharp, sturdy and difficult to break. A soft-textured polypropylene handle on each knife is easy on the hand. At the same time, it does not slip when in use.
- Allows for future customization of the set
- Quality knives
- Affordable price
- No honing steel, storage block, and kitchen shears
7. Best for Limited Counter Space – Chef Essential Knife Block Set
Chef Essential knife set has 7 knife pieces in a variety of blue, red, and black colors. The set has a chef knife (8”), slicing knife (8”), bread knife (8”), santoku knife (7”), utility knife (5”), and a paring knife (3”). An easy to wash block is part of the package.
There is no designated slot for every knife, meaning that it takes a smaller space on the counter.
These high carbon stainless steel knives are given a neat marble coating. Although the blades are rust-resistant and dishwater safe, it is recommended that you hand-wash them for longevity.
A soft, non-slip, ergonomic handle on each knife blade allows for adequate knife control and stability when in use. A lifetime warranty is offered on the knives by the manufacturer.
- Compact design has a small print on the counter
- Various color choices
- Lifetime warranty
- Reports of the coating flaking off
- Kitchen shears and honing steel not part of the package.
8. Best Knife Set with Built-In Sharpener – Chicago Cutlery Insignia 2 Knife Block Set
This is an affordable knife set at the lower-end of the price spectrum. The set has 18 pieces of knives and a knife sharpener.
It has a chef’s knife (8”), 2 paring knives (3” and 3.5”), a boning knife (5”), a utility knife (5.5”), serrated-bread knife (7”), Santoku knife (7”), slicing knife (8”), 8 steak knives (4.5”), kitchen shears as well as a wooden storage block with knife sharpener built into it.
The fully tanged stainless steel blades are fitted into ergonomic handles made from a polymer material. Handles are secured onto the tang using 3 rivets for structural integrity.
Handwashing of the knives is recommended so as to maintain their functionalities.
- Great value for the price
- A sharpener is built into the storage block
- Great lifetime warranty
- Poor quality at times
- You might not need some of the knives
- Blades require frequent sharpening
- Rust spots develops on occasions
9. Best Japanese Stainless Steel Set – Global G-835/WS Knife Set
The Global 6-piece knife set is hand-made from Niigata, Japan. Part of the package includes an Asian cook’s knife (7”), carving knife (8.24”), utility knife (5.25”), paring knife (4”), and a storage block made of stainless steel.
By creating an alloy of chromium, vanadium, and molybdenum, a CROMOVA stainless steel is created. The alloy is then forged from the resulting alloy. Consequently, the blade maintains a sharp edge, becomes stain and rust resistant.
To optimize knife balance, their hollow handles have a sand filling. The handles are then textured with dimples for a non-slip handling. Since the knives are made from stainless steel, they are easy to keep clean.
- Professional-grade knives
- Non-slip grip
- Easy care stainless steel
- Lifetime warranty
- Relatively pricey
- Reports of the block wobbling
- No honing steel or kitchen shears
10. Best High-End Japanese-Style Set – Shun Premier Essential Block Set
The Shun Premier Essential knife set traces its origins from Seki, a city in Japan. It is the same city in which the famous Samurai sword is manufactured. It is, therefore, not surprising that these knives are known for their sharpness and unique Japanese styling.
The set comprising of 7 tools has a paring knife (4”), utility knife (6.5”), chef’s knife (8”), bread knife (9”), kitchen shears, honing steel, as well as the wooden storage for the knives.
The Japanese super steel used to manufacture the knife blades imparts on them the sharp edges with a 16 degree angled-edge. Such an angle blade is made of a Japanese super steel that allows the knives to maintain their sharp edges. The 16-degree angle makes them sharper than traditional European styled knife blades.
One of the unique features of these knives is the Tsuchime hammering finish applied on the blades. The hand-hammering technique creates dimples on the blades, to ensure food doesn’t stick on the blades. The handles are made by impregnating a Harwood with resin to create pakkawood.
Giving it a resin finish eliminates moisture absorption by the handle. Afterwards, the handles are buffed and sanded for a glossy finish. No matter your grip, the handle fits in like a glove.
- Unique design
- Attractive knives
- Maximized efficiency
- Extremely sharp
- Grip meant for either right or left handed cooks
- Requires prior knife usage knowledge for longevity
- Delicate knives
- Not recommended for dense or hard materials
Things to Consider When Buying
1. How You Cook
When selecting a kitchen knife set, consider how you cook. You don’t want to purchase a set that contains knives that you don’t need or won’t use. That being said, all kitchen knife sets should have the following essentials.
- Chef’s Knife – The 8-inch chef’s knife is the workhorse of the kitchen and is used for chopping, slicing, and dicing.
- Paring Knife – Usually 3 to 4 inches long, the paring knife is used to pare, core, and peel fruits and vegetables. It can also be used to devein shrimp or cut small garnishes.
- Serrated Knife – Also known as a bread knife, this 10-inch long knife is ideal for cutting bread as well as cakes and vegetables like tomatoes.
- Santoku Knife – The santoku is the Japanese version of the chef’s knife. Designed to slice, dice, and mince, the santoku is shorter and thinner than a chef’s knife. Some chefs prefer them to the classic chef’s knife.
- Kitchen Shears – Although not a knife at all, kitchen shears are an essential part of your kitchen knife set. Kitchen shears are used to cut chicken or vegetables and snip herbs.
- Honing Steel – Although some knife sets come with built-in sharpeners, the more critical piece is the honing steel, which is used to tune up (or realign) your knife blades.
Contrary to popular belief (and the marketing used by some manufacturers), a honing steel doesn’t sharpen your knives, but it does keep them in good shape. You can hone your knives daily to keep them in the best shape.
Depending on the type of food you cook, you might also seek out additional knives, such as a boning knife (for separating meat from bone), a cleaver (for chopping through bones and meat and hard fruits and vegetables like pumpkins and squash), or a fillet knife (for cutting thin fish slices).
However, if you’re not a big fish eater or processing large pieces of meat, these knives may very well sit untouched for years. Most knife manufacturers sell “open stock” knives, which are specialty knives from the same lines as the knives sold in kitchen sets. This allows you to expand on and grow your knife set according to your needs.
Knives are either forged or stamped, and the method of construction affects their price and weight. Forged knives are made from a single piece of molten steel that is heated and then beaten into shape. By contrast, stamped knives are stamped out of one sheet of metal.
Forged knives are usually considered to be higher quality, but excellent quality knives can be found using both means of construction. Here are the characteristics of each type.
- More expensive
- Weigh more
- Have a bolster (thick junction between the knife blade and handle)
- Thicker blade
- More durable
- Less flexible
- Cost less
- Lighter weight
- Usually don’t have a bolster
- Thinner blade
- Tend to bend when cutting harder materials
- More flexible
3. Blade Materials
Kitchen knives are usually made from steel, although ceramic knives have become popular recently. (Most experts don’t recommend ceramic knives due to chipping and breaking.) However, not all steel is created equal.
The highest quality steel is carbon steel, which holds its edge longer and is easy to sharpen. However, carbon steel can rust easily, and care must be kept to keep the blade as dry as possible.
Most home cooks opt for stainless steel, which resists stains and corrosion. However, stainless steel knives can dull quicker and are more difficult to sharpen. Even though stainless steel doesn’t have the same maintenance needs as carbon steel, kitchen knives should still be hand washed instead of tossed in the dishwasher. This is because the harsh chemicals used in dish washing detergents can affect even stainless steel.
Signature stainless steel alloys combine the best qualities of both carbon and stainless steel. You’ll mostly find these alloys in Japanese blades. Because these alloys are specially formulated, they are often quite pricey.
4. Handle Materials
Kitchen knife handles can be made of various materials, with the most common being composites (e.g., plastics) and stainless steel. Both materials offer strength and longevity.
Many high-end knife sets come with wooden handles, which many value for their style and sophistication. However, wood handles must be kept dry or wood rot can set in, which results in unpleasant odors and splitting of the wood. Only buy wooden handles if you can care for them properly as these knives cannot be tossed in the kitchen sink.
5. Comfort and Safety
When shopping for kitchen knives, choose a knife that feels balanced and comfortable in your hand. Some knives might be too heavy or the handle too large for you to hold comfortably. Many knives are designed with ergonomic handles, which can significantly increase their comfort.
Kitchen knives are very sharp by design, so you don’t want to drop them or have them slip while cutting. A non-slip or textured grip (as well as a knife that feels balanced and comfortable) will help to increase safety.
Finally, consider purchasing sheaths for your knives if you’re storing them loose in a drawer.
6. Care and Maintenance
All good quality kitchen knives will require some degree of care and maintenance. Almost all kitchen knives should be washed by hand, and high-end knives with wooden handles need special care as the handles cannot get wet and the blades are prone to staining and rusting.
For safety reasons, it is good practice to wash, dry and put away your knives immediately after use.
All knives will require professional sharpening at some point. For most home cooks, knives will only need to be professionally sharpened once a year. However, regularly honing your knives will extend their lives and the time between sharpening. The materials of your cutting board (see below) will also affect the life of your knife blades.
7. Cutting Board Materials
You’ll extend the life of your knives by using wooden cutting boards. Harder materials such as plastic, glass, and ceramic will dull the blades. The only exception should be if you are working with raw meat. A plastic cutting board should be used for raw meat so it can be disinfected in the dishwasher afterward.
Consider storage for your knives before purchasing. Many kitchen knife sets come with a wooden block for storage. Magnetic strips are also an option and are an excellent choice for kitchens with limited space. If you’re storing your knives in a drawer, purchase sheaths for the blades to avoid getting cut. Another option is an in-drawer knife block.
9. Kitchen Décor and Space
A final consideration is the amount of space in and the appearance of your kitchen. Kitchen knives come in a wide variety of materials and finishes, so choose a set that compliments your kitchen décor.
You can choose from storage blocks in a variety of shades and stains to coordinate with your cabinets or countertops. Storage blocks also come in glass, wood/glass combinations, or stainless steel.
Consider how much space a knife block will take up on your counter. If you have limited counter space, measure the block to ensure it will fit on your counter. If you don’t have the space to store knives on the counter, store your sheathed knives in drawers or hang them from a magnetic strip.
Hopefully, this article has helped you determine which kitchen knives you need and what set offers the style and price that best suits your budget and tastes. A good set of kitchen knives can last you a lifetime so take care to select the set that suits your needs and can evolve along with your cooking skills.