If you're a foodie couple that loves to cook, a good knife set may be the important tool kit in your kitchen. When you have the right knives for the task, slicing and dicing become a delight. When you don’t, it can be tedious and frustrating (if you’ve ever tried to cut through the thick skin of butternut squash with a dull knife, you know what we mean). Clearly, then, it’s important to have the right knife set, but what “right” means varies widely from person to person.
Some couples might be registering for their first set of real knives, while others are ready to upgrade to professional-quality blades. You might be looking for a practical set for a small space, a workhorse set that will give you all the bells and whistles, or a stunning countertop accent to go with your modern kitchen. No matter your needs or preferences, you’ll be able to find a high-quality knife set that’s just right for you.
Read on for the best knife sets.
Best Overall: Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Statement Knife Block 15-Piece Set
Zwilling and J.A. Henckels is a classic knife brand that's synonymous with quality and endurance. This 15-piece knife set is ideal for everyday use and offers a value that’s difficult to beat. The stamped blades make them lighter than forged knives and, thus, more maneuverable and less likely to wear out your hands and wrists. Light does not mean flimsy, though. Each blade is made from a single piece of high-quality stainless steel (ensuring its durability) and boasts a professional satin finish that is finely honed for lasting sharpness.
The knives feature triple-rivet handles and stainless-steel endcaps for balance, and they are even dishwasher-safe for those days you just don’t have the time or energy for handwashing. The set includes a 3” paring knife, 5” serrated utility knife, 7” santoku knife, 5” santoku knife, 8” chef’s knife, 8” bread knife, six 4.5” steak knives, sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a handsome hardwood block to store everything in.
Best Budget: Amazon Basics Premium 18-Piece Set
Coming in at a great budget price, these knives are an absolute steal (pun intended). The professional quality, stainless steel blades are precision-honed for lasting sharpness. They also have a full tang (meaning that the knife consists of a single blade that extends into the handle) with a secure bolster (the area where the blade meets the handle) and ergonomic, triple-riveted handles. These desirable features make the knives sturdy, durable, and well-balanced, increasing comfort and control and reducing the potential for accidents.
The set also includes a wide variety of blades: an 8” chef's knife, a 7” santoku knife, an 8” slicing knife, an 8” bread knife, a 5.5” utility knife, a 6” boning knife, a 3.5” paring knife, and eight 4.5” steak knives. So, no matter what you’re cooking up, you’ll have the right tools for the job. Extras include a pair of 8” kitchen shears, an 8” sharpener to help you keep your blades in tip-top shape, and an attractive rubber-wood storage block.
Best Splurge: Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Wüsthof has a reputation for making excellent products that last. So, go ahead, get attached. You’ll never need another set of knives. This set includes the essentials (an 8” chef’s knife, a 6” utility knife, a 3.5" paring knife, and an 8” bread knife) and some great extras (a 9” honing steel, a pair of pull-apart kitchen shears, and a 15-slot storage block made of solid wood). Each knife is precision-forged from a single piece of sturdy, high-carbon German steel that resists rust and corrosion. Full tangs are triple riveted to polypropylene handles which makes these knives as durable, well balanced, and easy to control as they are elegant.
Wüsthof uses Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) to ensure a 20% sharper blade with twice the edge retention, which means your blades will stay sharper for longer. Finally, the hardwood block that comes with this set (available in natural, walnut, acacia, and black tones) is gentle on your knives’ edges and stores up to 15 items safely. With this knife block on your countertop, no one will question that you mean business in the kitchen.
Best Roll Set: Mercer Culinary M21820 Millennia 8-Piece Knife Roll Set
If you simply cannot imagine how you’d fit a knife block on your countertop, this knife roll is the perfect solution. Just pull the case out of its drawer and spread it out on the counter when you’re ready to cook. As a bonus, you’ll be able to easily carry your knives with you wherever you go. Visting your parents or renting a beach house and dreading having to use dull knives? Not anymore! This knife case is lightweight and made of tough fabric that resists tears and scuffs. It even has an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap.
And if you’re worried that you’ll have to compromise on quality for the sake of convenience, don’t be. Mercer’s knives are each made of a single piece of high-carbon Japanese steel which sharpens quickly and is easy to maintain. They have ergonomic handles composed of Santoprene for comfort and polypropylene for durability. For safety, they have protective finger guards and textured finger points which improve grip. This set includes six knives—a chef’s knife, a santoku knife, a bread knife, a slicing knife, a boning knife, and a paring knife—as well as a honing steel to keep them in great shape.
Best Self-Sharpening: Calphalon SharpIN Self-Sharpening 20-Piece Knife Block Set
Calphalon’s knife set was made for those who are all about convenience. The richly stained maple wood block has built-in ceramic sharpeners that maintain your knives’ razor edges with every use, and the knives’ labeled handles ensure that you grab the tool you’re looking for every time. Even better, the Calphalon set comes with such an expansive variety of knives that you never have to worry you won’t have the right blade for a specific task. With an 8” chef's knife, 8” bread knife, 8” slicer, 7” and 5” Santoku knives, 6” utility knife, 6” fork, 5.5” tomato/bagel knife, 5” boning knife, 4.5” paring knife, 8 steak knives, and a pair of kitchen shears, you’ll be prepared to slice, chop, peel, pare, cut, and debone anything you like.
These knives have fully forged blades and premium bolsters and tangs designed for strength and balance. They are made of high-carbon, no-stain German steel for life-long durability, and their blades have a nonstick coating for easy cleaning and maintenance. Their contoured handles ensure a comfortable and secure grip. They even come with a full lifetime warranty!
Best Colors: Cuisinart 6-Piece Knife Set with Blade Guards
There are so many reasons to love this knife set. First, for anyone who needs to watch out for curious children, these knives are a godsend. Their blade guards will keep tiny hands safe, and their bright colors make it easy to code your knives as you prep. Whereas most sets have similarly shaped knives that are easy to mix up, the bright red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple hues of these knives make it easy to keep your chicken knife and your veggie knife straight.
For those who don’t have to worry as much about food safety, these brightly-colored blades are just plain fun. Like other high-quality knives, they're made of professional-grade stainless steel. Their nonstick coating makes slicing and cleaning easier, and their ergonomic handles improve control, keeping the chef just as safe as everyone else. This set comes with an 8” chef’s knife, an 8” bread knife, an 8” slicing knife, a 7” santoku knife, a 6.5” utility knife, and a 3.5” paring knife.
Best Design: Cangshan 6-Piece Tai Knife Block Set
These elegant, forged blades are made of high-alloy Swedish steel and put through a six-stage heat treatment that makes them exceptionally strong and sharp. Their sleek, angular handles—which come in a crisp, fresh white or an arresting, onyx black—offer a glimpse of the full length of the blade they surround and are secured by a single mosaic rivet which gives them a clean look. The set includes five luxurious knives: an 8” chef’s knife, an 8” bread knife, a 7” santoku knife, a 5” utility knife, and a 3.5” paring knife.
If you’re looking for a superior knife set that doubles as a stunning kitchen counter centerpiece, the Cangshan Tai knife block set is exactly what you want. It’s easy to see why this set won an International Red Dot award for design. Its triangular walnut block is striking, simultaneously classic, and unusual. It retains the simple elegance of a traditional woodblock, but the open sides offer a modern peek at the gorgeous knives within.
Best Variety: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18-Piece Knife Block Set
For those who demand quality and variety, Chicago Cutlery’s Fusion knife set is a dream come true. The 17-piece set includes a 7.75" chef knife, a 7.75" serrated bread knife, a 7" santoku knife, a 5" santoku knife, a 5" utility knife, a 3.25" paring knife, eight 4.5" steak knives, sharpening steel, a chop assist, and a lovely chestnut-stained wood block. The set is undeniably versatile, and the quality of these knives is shockingly high for the price point. Like most top-notch knives, they are forged from high-carbon stainless steel for a stronger, sturdier, and more balanced blade that resists stains, rust, and corrosion.
Because of Chicago Cutlery’s signature 26-degree, taper-ground cutting edges, they are sharp and precise, and they stay that way longer than cutlery from many leading brands. Their contoured cushion-grip handles are definitely a plus as they ensure a comfortable and secure grip. It’s also worth noting that the steak knives aren’t just superfluous extras. They have full tangs and are of the same superior quality as the rest of the knives in this set. In fact, customers frequently purchase them on their own.
Best Customizable: Berti Italian Cornotech-Handled Kitchen Knives
Let’s say you’ve already got a knife that you could never part with. She’s perfect, you’ve named her, and no one else is allowed to touch her. Then, you need a knife set that you can mix and match based on your needs. At Food52 you can choose from a selection of gorgeous Berti knives to make your own set: a curved paring knife, a straight paring knife, a tomato knife, a utility knife, a chef’s knife, a bread knife, and a carving knife.
These knives are handcrafted in Italy, and their blades are made of high-carbon, laser-cut steel. Their triple-riveted handles are made of Cornotech, an extra-durable material that looks and feels like ox horn. You can add these beauties to your own block or order them with the individual blocks Berti makes for them—each of which features a black silhouette of the appropriate knife and Italian script identifying the types of food it is meant to slice (verdure, carni e formaggi, pane a dolci). Together, these lovely little blocks look like a set of books, and they lend a cozy, homey air to any kitchen.
Best Precision: Shun Hikari 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Sharp. That’s the only word you need to describe Shun’s knives. If you’re a pro in the kitchen and looking for the tools to elevate your culinary game, look no further because these knives are a work of art—elegant, precise, and thoughtfully designed. Their D-shaped, birch PakkaWood handles are beautiful, lightweight, comfortable, and moisture- and bacteria-resistant. Their dual-core stainless steel blades are clad on each side with 71 micro-layers of high-carbon, high chromium stainless steel to create Shun’s signature “hornet’s nest” pattern.
This feature gives the knives the distinctive look of Damascus steel while simultaneously reducing friction for clean, effortless slices that enhance the flavor of the food. Their long-lasting edges are hand-sharpened to a 16-degree angle, making them easy to maintain. Full-welded, polished bolsters promote a comfortable chef’s grip, and embossed handle caps provide perfect balance, both of which ensure precision, safety, and control. This set includes the essential knives (an 8” chef’s knife, a 6” chef’s knife, a 4” paring knife, a 6” utility knife, and a 9” bread knife) as well as a slim, eye-catching, space-saving birch block and honing steel for lovingly maintaining these gorgeous knives.
What to look for in a kitchen knife set
There are many, many excellent knives out there to choose from, but there are a few things the best products have in common. Here are some important features to consider as you choose the knife set that’s right for you.
If a knife has a full tang, that means it consists of a single piece of metal that extends down the length of the handle. If your blade is welded or joined to another piece of metal at the hilt, it won’t be nearly as strong or durable.
High-carbon stainless steel
Most of the best knives are made of high-carbon stainless steel, because it sharpens quickly and holds its edge. Regular stainless steel knives can also be a good choice and tend to be significantly less expensive. They can go blunt more quickly and do take longer to sharpen than high-carbon steel, but you’ll never have to worry about rust.
Forged vs. stamped blade
Generally, a forged blade is preferable because the forging process makes the blade stronger and more durable. However, stamped blades are lighter and easier on your wrists. If you experience joint pain easily or simply don’t like the feel of a heavy blade, a stamped blade might be a better option for you.
The bolster is the point at which a knife’s blade meets its handle, and it may surprise you to learn that this is where you are supposed to hold your knife (not the handle) when chopping or slicing. Gripping the knife at the bolster gives you more control and allows for a more secure grip. So, your knife’s bolster should be sturdy and comfortable to hold.
You’ll also want to make sure that you choose a set of knives with comfortable handles. Get your hands on your knives before you buy them if you can. If you cook often, you’ll be grateful for a handle that fits your hand and grip well.
When choosing a set, make sure that it contains everything you’ll need. While most sets contain the basics (chef’s knife, paring knife, utility knife, bread knife) some contain a lot of useful extras. Many sets include santoku knives and special knives for boning and filleting. Take a look at what kind of knives are out there and what you consider a must for your kitchen. You can, of course, buy individual knives to add to your set, but it’s nice if you don’t have to.
What are the main types of kitchen knives?
The chef's knife is is the most important, go-to knife in your kitchen. It has a broad, curved blade and is suitable for most kitchen tasks. A santoku is like a chef’s knife, but it is shorter and thinner. Its blade is straight, so it doesn’t rock like a chef’s knife, but it is perfect for fine mincing, slicing, and dicing. It also has a textured surface that prevents food from sticking to the blade.
A paring knife is a short blade with a sharply pointed tip. It’s ideal for jobs that require precision like peeling fruit and veggies or trimming fat, while a utility knife has a small, sharp point that helps with trimming, filleting, and maneuvering in hard-to-reach areas.
A boning knife features a thin, curved shape that makes it optimal for separating meat from the bone. A carving knife has a narrow blade that provides less resistance as you cut through meat and tends to yield thin, uniform slices. Steak knives feature slightly a larger blade than your typical dinner knife. They have serrated edges and sturdy handles for grip. Bread knives also feature a serrated edge so you can slice a loaf without pushing down on it and flattening it.
How do you sharpen kitchen knives?
You can sharpen your own knives or have them sharpened by a professional at a cutlery store once or twice a year. If you’re going to sharpen them yourself, we’d suggest learning with a lower quality knife that you don’t care about too much. You can use a manual or electric sharpener which you slide your blade through, but these can shave more steel from your blade than necessary or damage your blade if not used carefully.
A whetstone is usually a better bet, ideally a two-sided whetstone with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other. After you’ve sharpened your knives, we’d also recommend going over them with a honing steel, meant to smooth and straighten the edge of the blade and make it true.
What are the best kitchen knives?
The highest quality knives have blades made of high-carbon steel. These blades are forged rather than stamped and have full tangs. Some of the most trusted brands include Wüsthof, Shun, Henckles, and Zwilling.
It's important to have the right knife set, but what “right” means varies widely from chef to chef. Some people are looking for their very first set of knives while others want to upgrade to professional-quality blades. Many need practical sets that won’t take up too much space in their kitchens while others are aesthetes looking for stunning kitchen centerpieces. Certain chefs want blades so sharp that everything turns to butter while others are most concerned with keeping the little ones in their home out of trouble.
Why Trust Brides
You can definitely trust contributing writer Mckenzie Eggers when it comes to knives. She cooks often and has zero patience for sub-par tools. She’s deeply attached to her set of Wüsthof knives which she’s had for over a decade and will probably refuse to part with for the rest of her days.