If you only had ONE piece of equipment in the kitchen- what comes to mind? Talking to various chefs and cooks, they share just ONE recommendation. A great knife set.
That’s right, you don’t need the microwave or air fryer or indoor grill or pizza oven or whatever fancy multitasking kitchen gear is hot on the market. (Don’t get me wrong, those tools add a lot of fun and save a ton of time in the kitchen! However, a good knife set is the foundation of all at-home cooking.)
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A great knife set SEEMS easy to pick out.. but just a quick look at everything available will show it’s not. Knife sets can range from under $50 to well over $400! And each knife comes with their own strengths and weaknesses. So where do you even start?!
Right here! We’ve done all the research for you. Not only do we talk to our team of chefs in-the-trenches but also passionate home cooks. Getting the best information from every different angle:
The Top Knife Set Choices For 2021
In a rush? Here are our favorite knife set recommendations. We go into more detail about why we like them later on in this article.
|Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-piece Forged Knife Block Set||$$||BEST PRICE|
|Home Hero 17-Piece Kitchen Knife Set||$$||BEST PRICE|
|Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set||$$||BEST PRICE|
|Global 7-Piece Ikasu Knife Block Set||$$$||BEST PRICE|
|Victorinox Fibrox Pro 4-piece Knife Set||$$||BEST PRICE|
|Wüsthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set||$$$||BEST PRICE|
|Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set||$$$||BEST PRICE|
|Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Knife Set||$||BEST PRICE|
|Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Cutlery Knife Block Set||$||BEST PRICE|
Our Favorite Knife Set Reviews
Here are our reviews of the best knife sets in 2021 to help you choose the right one for your needs. These recommendations run the gambit from incredibly affordable to the knife set of your wildest dreams.
1: Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-piece Forged Knife Block Set – Best Pick
Sharp, high quality knives when you maintain them properly
Great grip and balance on these knives
Glass case is stunning and easy to clean
The case rattles and can be noisy
Need to wash by hand, otherwise knives will rust
Stain-free does NOT mean stainless. Higher quality knives yet higher maintenance
These knives are some of the most beautiful and cost-effective on this list. My dad, the chef, taught me you always want to shake hands with your knife. (That way it fits comfortably in your hand and allows you to cut in control!). And when I shake hands with these knives I feel confident and reassured. Ready to cook.
The glass case is stylish. However depending on your countertop it can be a bit loud. The glass can rattle around when you use the knives. Otherwise very simple to clean and convenient to use.
2: Home Hero 17-Piece Kitchen Knife Set – Best Starter Pack
Gets the job done without a lot of knife maintenance
Very handy knives for pizza, cheese and the scissors
NOT for you if you want these for work in a professional kitchen
The black coating does deteriorate over time if you’re not careful
The vegetable peeler isn’t that effective. Many better options out there.
The name “Home Hero” says it all. The set is fun and included a variety of handy knives you never knew you needed. (I LOVE the pizza knife). If you’re someone who cooks for hours a a day I’d pick up a sturdier set of knives.. For the price point, variety of knives, and the knife quality this is a great starter set for the serious gourmet home cook.
3. Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set – First Runner Up
Great starter set in terms of quality per price
Sturdy knives, the handle and blade are one-piece
Blades are shaped for more advanced cutting.
NEED to handwash and dry immediately after use.
Knives are dainty. If you have big hands, you may want to go with another option.
The scissors in the set leave a lot to be desired.
When it comes to a kitchen knife set you want a reliable piece of metal that can get the job done. This Cuisinart set achieves both! Made out of one-piece of steel you end up with one solid knife that can last for all your home cooking adventures.
Plus, the knives are a bit more advanced than the other sets. Let me explain. Instead of a straight blade, the blades are slightly curved. This means a longer cutting line and smoother cuts with less wear and tear on the knives. If you, or a friend, are looking for set of knives to grow into as a home cook, these get our highest regards.
4. Global 7-Piece Ikasu Knife Block Set– Best From The East
Knives hold their blade well, super thin blade.
Light and professional feel
Block is great looking in any kitchen
Some reports of packing issues, sometimes the block comes cracked.
The thin blade may take time to get used to.
High maintenance knives (be careful cleaning and drying)
Now, we’re getting a bit fancy. We can agree that food differs depending on where you are in the world. (Good luck finding New York quality pizza in Japan!) Similarly, knife-making techniques and even criteria differ as you tour the globe. This Ikasu set focus on speed and sharpness.
You’ll end up with a light feeling blade. Try holding their Chef Knife in your hands and tell me you don’t feel the urge to slice and dice veggies for dinner! This style of knife features a super thin and sharp blade.
Funny note: Most people are worried that sharp knives lead to more kitchen injuries. The opposite is true! A sharp knife will do it’s job well. BUT a dull knife? A dull knife will end up slipping and increasing your odds of getting cut.
5. Victorinox Fibrox Pro 4-piece Knife Set– Best Starter Set
Knives hold edge well
Good variety of knives in the set
The packaging isn’t stellar (if gifting)
very light knives, not super upscale. Makes them good for daily use though
The bread knife is long and gets “floppy”
As a home chef, you ONLY need 2 pieces of equipment to start: Just a chef’s knife and a pairing knife. This Victorinox knives are workhorses. They won’t impress your brother-in-law or get the most likes on Instagram.. however if you want a clean-cutting knife set that does the job you’re in luck.
Especially compared to the sets in this list, you’re looking at a small investment for a kitchen tool you’ll use day-in-day-out. There’s a few notes when ordering these knives that the packaging is bare-bones and that the bread knife is a bit floppy. Yet you’re not looking to pay for fancy packaging or the world’s most rigid bread knife.
6. Wüsthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set– The Best Of German Steel
Blade comes extremely thin and sharp
Durable and cuts through everything/anyting
Great set up in terms of variety of knives- not overwhelming as with other knife sets
The walnut block can be too bulky for small kitchen counters.
The smallest knife slot doesn’t fit well in the knife block
The stickers on the knife for branding may get in the way
Wüsthof has lasted the better part of a century because of it’s quality. If you’re looking to invest in a knife set to be proud of and use for the next decade (or to pass down to your kids!) this may be it.
The steel’s quality is top notch. These knives can cut through anything you’d want to cut. Probably even a few things you don’t want to. (If you’d like to test cutting your shoe in half, be my guest!). Also, due to the thin sharp edge you’ll have no problem slicing through delicate herbs or fruits- even tomatoes.
Main complaints I’ve heard mainly come from the knife block. Personally, I love housing my knives on a magnet strip on the side of my fridge.
7. Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set– The Dream Set
Incredibly sharp professional knives
No unnecessary knives, useful selection
Room to grow and get new knives!
Risk of knicking the knives, they’re sharp but thin
The block isn’t great in terms of how it’s stained and fitting on the counter
High maintenance knives, may need to hone and clean immediately
This set may be the most expensive on the list, but for good reason. Compared to the other high-end knives on this list, the Shun set comes in VERY thin and uses much harder steel.
What’s that mean? Good question. Wüsthof knives are a bit thicker and use a softer steel so while they aren’t AS sharp, they also are less likely to chip. Shun knives will be able to make much more precise cuts and ideally last longer- unless you miss-treat these knives. If you bang these knives around or use them to slice rocks or whatever people do to mistreat knives, they will get nicked.
If you’re looking for the best shun knives under $500, you may enjoy our recent review here.
8. Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Knife Set– Best Beater Knives
Attractive and colorful design
Come with knife coverings, handy
Most affordable knife set
You get what you pay for – knives are durable yet aren’t as sharp as the other choices
The knives are pretty small
There’s not much variety, similar knives in different colors
Far and away the most colorful knives, this Cuisinart set is what I’d refer to as a “beater” knife set. I first learned about this idea from my dad. He’d have his nice watch for work.. and have an indestructible, less expensive, watch to beat up when he was cooking or relaxing. The idea is the same here! Cooking at the beach or a barbecue? Bring these knives! Looking to get your kids knives for college? Get these!
In terms of longevity, these knives are great for home cooks who prefer to order in most nights. You do want to have a safe durable knife to handle some work.. however, if you’re going to use be cooking more than once or twice a week, I’d invest in a more durable set.
9. Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Cutlery Knife Block Set– The Best For Serious Home Cooks
Superb when on sale!
Has a sharpener in the knife block
A big step up from regular knives, great as a gift
Doesn’t include a bread knife!
Knife doesn’t hold it’s edge well (need to care for the knives)
You have to complete the set on your own (block comes with empty slots)
Calphalon is the first higher end knife brand I was ever introduced to. So it holds a special place in my heart. I view this Celphalon set as the divider between “children” and “grown ups” in the kitchen. Similar to the stainless-steel Cuisinart set that made runner up above, this set covers all the fundamentals of what you need.
The big difference is that this set is missing a bread knife (something every home cook should have!). Not to mention the the block comes with empty slots, which is discouraging when you invest in this beautiful set only to see that it’s sitting on your kitchen counter missing a few spots.
I’d recommend doing your best to find these on sale.
Your Ultimate Knife Set Buying Guide
How do you know a knife set is good? Or- even more confusing- if a knife set is better than another knife set?! That’s an excellent question and the reason why these knife sets were all judged based on the same criteria. Whether you’re looking at our recommendations or not, here’s the 5 Quality Knive Tenets we used to make our decisions:
First and foremost, we looked into the durability of the knife sets. Here, durability not only speaks to how sturdy the knife is but also how much maintenance is included with the knife.
For the higher-end, more professional knives, you’ll need to hand wash and dry pretty much immediately after use. The reason being these knives are made of high-carbon steel. It can rust quickly if left to “soak” or when put in the dish washer. Of course, these professional knives will last a lifetime when properly maintained.
On the flip side, a knife that’s lower quality can still be durable and take more “abuse”. These knives made out of ceramic or composite materials and metals won’t have as much maintenance. Although, a sharper higher quality knife IS less likely to injure you- most cooking injuries from knives are from dull knives.
A side note here too is making sure the knife is one solid piece. You’ll notice on other knife sets- not on this list- may have the blades and handles as two distinct pieces held together. In the long term it’s more comfortable and no risk of the blade separating from the handle having the knife be one piece.
Naturally, price is a key factor when it comes to the value of the knife sets. That’s not to say that cheap knives or bad or expensive knife sets are the best as a rule. Price is important because it determines what and why you’re getting your knives for! Typically, if you’re investing just a little in your knives, you’ll have knives that are easier to maintain that can get the job done. The problem is less expensive knives typically won’t be as durable and they become MORE expensive in the long term. (Since you’ll have to replace those knives more often).
On the other hand, a higher-quality knife can afford stricter standards and make a higher quality knife overall. The trap here is you don’t want to end up paying more for a brand’s name and instead invest in a quality knife set.
A knife needs to be sharp- that’s the one job a knife has! Sharpness is both super important and super simple. For this, it was looking into how smooth the knives could cut. Some knives needed you to saw through your ingredients.. whereas others felt like you were slicing through butter every single time.
Feel is where the tires hit the rubber. This is all about the user experience. How does the knife feel in your hands? Can you dice a whole bag of onions without having to ice your hand after? Here we looked at the balance of the knife, how comfortable the grip is, and even the ease of use of the knife.
As a note, the shape of the blade makes a big difference. You’ll notice that longer knives tend to be more professional. The reason for that is the longer blade allows you to work less by using the leverage of the knife. Similarly, some knife blades are curved or shaped in different ways to offer easier cutting experiences.
Last and certainly not least is design. Sure, you can just use your knives. At the same time, there’s a whole tradition and art behind making knives. From sturdy German steel knives to razor-sharp Chinese knives or even colorful modern ceramic knives.
In addition, there are different ways to house your knives. Whether you get the classic stained block or a sleek see-through case. Much better than simply hiding your knives in a kitchen drawer.
People Also Ask
Why are Japanese knives so good?
Japanese knives feel lighter. They tend to be more balanced and comfortable in your hand. This is because they use steel that is harder and thinner (which helps it hold their edges). This all allows for precision that professional chefs like.
Is Japanese or German steel better for knives?
Both Germany and Japan are known for their centuries of knife-making. Both have their pros and cons. Typically, Japanese knives are sharper and more precise. German knives are sturdier and ideal for breaking down tough vegetables or whole chickens, for example.
Are forged or stamped knives better?
When a knife is forged, it tends to be harder than stamped knives. This makes forged knives have better blade retention. Stamping techniques have come a long way so that gap is closing though!
To conclude, when you consider price, comfort, and durability our top pick is the Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-piece Forged Knife Block Set. At the same time, you may have different tastes when it comes to what you want in a knife set! For a more scaled-down set I’d recommend the Home Hero 17-Piece Kitchen Knife Set. On the other hand, if you just want to go for the top of the line I cannot recommend the Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set enough
Frankly, all 9 sets made this list of top knife sets- even the colorful Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Knife Set.
So we hope that helps to narrow down some of the best kitchen knife sets available. We’ll continue to monitor any new units that come out and add to this post if we see any that look promising.
Let us know which one you go for and if you have questions about any knife sets that didn’t make this list.