The best kitchen knife set
Having the right tools in your kitchen makes cooking and preparing meals much easier. Knives are essential -- you use them to chop, dice, and mince ingredients for your favorite recipes. Buying a kitchen knife set rather than individual knives can help you save money and provide you with all the knives you need in one package. This way, you have the right knife for every food prep task.
Check out our buying guide for the tips you need to choose the best kitchen knife set. We offer some specific product recommendations, like our top choice from Zwilling J.A. Henckels, which includes 18 hand-sharpened and polished knives with ergonomically designed handles for a comfortable grip.
Considerations when choosing kitchen knife sets
The most important things to consider when shopping for a kitchen knife set are the number and types of knives that are included. Some sets may only have only four knives, while others have up to 20. If you already have some knives in your kitchen, a smaller set might work well. If you don't have many or are looking to upgrade an existing collection, opt for a larger set.
A utility knife, which can handle a variety of kitchen tasks, including chopping and dicing.
A paring knife, for peeling and cutting small foods like tomatoes or apples.
A chef's knife, which can be used to chop, dice, and mince.
A fillet knife, designed to cut large pieces of fish into individual portions.
A bread knife, which has a serrated edge that can easily cut bread into slices.
A carving knife, used to carve slices of a larger cut of meat, such as turkey.
A cleaver, which is a large knife that's usually meant to cut and trim raw meat.
The materials knives are made of determine how durable they are. When it comes to the handles, opt for sets that use a hard, sturdy material like hardwood, resin, or plastic. Avoid softer materials like bone, which don't hold up well to heavy use.
The blade material is especially important because it affects how long the knives stay sharp. Materials may include:
Ceramic, which can stay sharp for quite some time and is easy to sharpen when necessary. There's no need to worry about rusting, though ceramic knives are pretty pricey and can break if not handled properly.
Carbon steel, which stays sharp, though it's prone to rust.
Stainless steel, which can become dull fairly easily if you opt for a lower-quality knife set.
High-carbon stainless steel, which can stay sharp and isn't prone to rust. It's usually more affordable.
A knife's hilt is the area where the blade meets the handle. Opt for a kitchen knife set with thick, comfortable hilts that don't have any gaps where food may become caught inside.
To prevent injuries, choose a kitchen knife set that's made with a single piece of steel that connects to the handle. A knife whose blade is welded to the handle can become unstable over time and lead to slipping, which may cause injury.
A kitchen knife set should have knives with even weight distribution. This type of balance makes it easier to move the knife and requires you to exert less pressure when you're slicing and chopping.
Most kitchen knife sets include a block or some other type of holder to organize the knives in your kitchen. Wooden blocks are traditional, but you can find sets with more modern tempered glass or acrylic blocks.
Kitchen knife set prices
Kitchen knife sets vary in price based on the number of knives included and their materials. You can find sets for as little as $12, though they're often made from lower quality materials. For a higher quality stainless steel set, expect to pay $55 to $100. For a high-quality carbon steel set, you usually pay between $100 and $200. Premium sets typically range from $200 to $300.
Q. How should I store my kitchen knife set?
A. If your set includes a block, it's best to keep your knives in it. A block prevents the blades from dulling and provides easy access. If your set doesn't include a block, you can keep your knives in a drawer, but cover them with blade protectors to prevent dulling.
Q. How do I know if my kitchen knives need sharpening?
A. An easy test to determine whether a knife has become dull is to see if it can cut through a standard piece of paper. Hold the paper upright and cut downward -- if your knife can't cut the paper in half cleanly, it's time for sharpening.
Kitchen knife sets we recommend
Best of the best: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Knife Block Set
Our take: Professional-quality knife set that includes nearly every knife you need for your kitchen.
What we like: Includes the widest range of knives among the sets we considered. Made from single pieces of German steel for sharp, durable, lightweight design. Ice hardening technique means blades are harder and sharper than much of the competition. Ergonomic handles provide control.
What we dislike: Some users aren't fans of the bamboo block, though it holds up and is bacteria-resistant. May be a learning curve when using knives of this weight.
Best bang for your buck: Chicago Cutlery Fusion Forged 18-Piece Block Set
Our take: An affordable knife set that doesn't skimp on quality or performance.
What we like: Includes 17 versatile knives. Easy to maintain. Knives have an extremely comfortable feel in hand. High-carbon stainless steel means harder, stronger blades that don't rust, stain, or pit.
What we dislike: A few users have issues with the knives breaking. Doesn't include scissors or honing steel. Block is counted as one of the set's pieces, so you don't get 18 knives.
Our take: Doesn't provide as many knives as some other sets, but the quality is outstanding.
What we like: Blades are razor-sharp and handles offer a comfortable grip. Made of high-carbon German steel in one-piece, forged construction. Knives resist rust, stains, and corrosion. Block is made of striking tempered glass.
What we dislike: Only includes five knives, though they are essentials. Doesn't come with sharpening steel.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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