A good knife set is the single most important tool you have in your kitchen. You can spend a fortune on handmade blades from an artisan knife-smith – some of those knife sets are in the $1000s – but that’s not what this report is about. I’m going to show you the types of knife set that someone who cares about both quality and value would buy. In other words, the types of knife set that I would buy. I have both forged and stamped knives here as well as sets that are designed for home and commercial use. I’ve provided links to the best knife set deals online — click here for Victorinox, click here for J.A. Henckels, click here for Chicago Cutlery. I’ve found specific deals at Amazon that are significantly better than what you can find at other retailers (just compare the regular prices!). After my picks of the best knife sets, scroll down to see what to look for when choosing a good-quality knife set.
Best Stamped Knives
Victorinox Swiss Classic 15-Piece Cutlery Block Set
FREE SHIPPING! From the patented Fibrox handles to the tip of the razor sharp high carbon steel blades, these outstanding knives come with a lifetime warranty. The set includes 3.25″ straight paring, 4.5″ serrated utility, Six (6) 4.5″ steak, 5″ and 8″ chef’s, 7″ Santoku, 8″ bread, 9″ steel, shears and hardwood block.
They have the best deal today on the Victorinox Swiss Classic 15-Piece Cutlery Block Set. Take advantage of free shipping! This knife set from Victorinox sets the bar high for stamped knives. It has the pedigree of being made in Switzerland by the same company that invented the Swiss Army Knife. Check out my full report on The Victorinox Swiss Classic 15-Piece Cutlery Block set here. America’s Test kitchen has chosen one of their knives as their favorite and most recommended chef’s knife for years. The handles are made of Fibrox – an extremely durable material that demonstrated that these are commercial grade tools mow available for the home. The selection of 15 pieces is well thought out and versatile. And, oh yeah. They’re razor sharp! Click this link to see this deal at Amazon now.
Best Forged Knives
J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set
FREE DELIVERY: An excellent value set. Offers a wide selection and forged quality at an affordable price. Set includes 3″ paring knife, 5″ serrated utility knife, 5″ boning knife, 6″ utility knife, 7″ santoku hollow edge, 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ bread knife, 9″ sharpening steel, kitchen shears, Stamped Steak Knives (8 Pieces), and the Hardwood Block.
They have the best deal today on the J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set. Take advantage of free shipping! Germany’s J.A. Henckels is one of the first names that comes to mind when talking about quality knife sets. You can see my full report by clicking this link – With’s its triple riveted handles, metal end caps, and high quality forged steel, a little care will ensure a life time of precision cutting. The inclusion of a boning knife, santoku, as well as 8 steak knives make this an incredibly well stoked set for both beginner and advanced cooks. Click this link to see this deal at Amazon.com now.
Best Budget Knives
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18pc Block Set
FREE DELIVERY: An excellent value set. Offers a wide selection and forged quality at an affordable price. Set includes 3.25″ parer, 3″ peeler, 5″ utility, 8 – 4.25″ steak knives, 7.75″ chef, 8″ slicer, 7.75″ bread, 5″ partoku, 7″ santoku, 8″ stainless sharpening steel.
They have the best deal today on the Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18 Piece Block Set. Manufactured from high quality Japanese steel, you’ll be hard pressed to find forged knives at this price point. The inclusion of the santoku and curved peeling knife score points as well. Take advantage of free shipping! Click this link to see this deal at Amazon now.
Before we get to my full report on the best knife sets, here are a few suggestions for cutting boards and sharpeners you might like. Check them out and scroll down for my full report.
Click this link for the best deals on cutting boards.
Guido’s Report On The Best Knife Set
Basic knife skills are easy to learn and will last a lifetime. Here’s a nice video from Allrecipes.com that demonstrates.
Forged vs Stamped
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about knives. What’s better, forged or stamped? Well, that depends. Stamped knives can be made from the same steel as forged but they’re cheaper. Forged knives are stronger due to how the steel reacts during the forging process. As a result they hold their edge for longer. Stamped are more flexible, so if that’s what you’re looking for stamped is a better choice. Forged have a bolster (a think band of metal between the knife blade and the handle) that provides balance and a buffer between your hand and the sharp edge. On the flip side, stamped use the full length of the edge for cutting. In my opinion, each has a benefit and neither is universally superior to the other.
You want something that fits comfortably in your hand and doesn’t feel intimidating. 8″ is a standard chef’s knife size. Some people are more comfortable with a smaller size – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re just starting out learning knife skills. But once you do get comfortable you’ll find that 8″ has more versatility and a smoother rocking motion than shorter knives. The knife set should be well balanced and sturdy. Some flexibility may be desirable in certain specialty knives like a boning or fillet, but for the blades typically found in a knife set rigidity is a good quality.
Plastic, wood, bone, carbon fibre, steel, copper, brass, Fibrox, mother of pearl, ivory, tusk, soap stone, shell – I’ve seen handles made of all these different materials. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages in use, appearance, and durability. The handles of a knife set can also make a significant difference in terms of cost. If we set aside pricing, consider the materials needs in terms of care and durability first. Knives that need to be treated like museum pieces tend to take some of the fun out of using them to make Tuesday night dinner.
Since we’re talking about a metal knives here, there’s a direct correlation between weight and quality. Light knives use less metal and are cheaper to manufacture. A good knife has some weight to it that gives you a greater sense of care and control when using it.
I’ve tested knife sets that were not particularly sharp out of the box. It’s not a big problem for me because I have an awesome electric sharpener. However, not everyone does. As far as I’m concerned, the knife set should be razor sharp out of the box. I know I’ll have to hone and sharpen it over time. There’s no way around that. But for me to recommend it to you I want to know that when you unbox the knife it’ll be ready for optimum use.
Important Note If the set you choose includes serrated knives they should not be sharpened with the honing steel! That means bread knives, some utility knives, and many steak knives.
A purist’s knife set will have exactly 3 knives – chef’s, pairing, and bread. You can do nearly everything with those 3 as far as cooking is concerned. But this ain’t a monastery and we shouldn’t have to possess extraordinary knife skills to be able to enjoy ourselves in the kitchen. A good pair of shears are an amazing tool. A set of steak knives are not only practical, they give a sense of specialness to a barbecued feast of meat. And I happen to like those 4″ serrated utility knives! So forget about the purist’s attitude. There’s no need to go overboard with specialty knives that you’ll never use, but a good set will have options like a santoku, a smaller chef’s knife, and/or the others I’ve just mentioned.
Some manufacturers offer a single choice of material for the block. Others offer a wide selection to suit your decor. I’ve seen manufacturers who provide blocks with more slots than there are knives in the set. This allows you to augment with more knives later if you want. It’s a nice touch.
Some manufacturers will say that their knives are dishwasher safe. That may be technically true in that if you placed your knives in the dishwasher completely away from anything else and ran it, then they are dishwasher safe. Dishwasher’s tend to be problematic because the sharp edge of a knife can easily get nicked or dinged when it comes in contact with other hard surfaces like cutlery. No matter what the manufacturer says, if you want the best performance from your knives in terms of sharpness and maintaining their edge, hand wash and dry after use.
I insist on a lifetime warranty for any knife I buy. If there’s a defect, I want it covered by that warranty and replaced. Period.
What’s In The Box
Every knife set will have it’s own list of items. Keep in mind that the block itself is counted as a piece in your set.
Cooking can be a joy or a chore. Your attitude toward it is the main factor, but being stuck using cheap junk as your equipment certainly can take a lot of the fun out of it. The knife sets I’ve chosen are all good quality, functional, and well priced. I hope you’ll find something that’s right for your kitchen. Happy chopping!
Look for good value, but be prepared to spend for quality – Guido
Here are a few additional items you’ll want to have a look at.
If you want to know even more about knives just click the links below: