The best santoku knife

Katy Severson

Santoku knives are made in a traditional Japanese design with thinner blades and a unique shape meant for making precise slices and cuts.

Santoku knives are some of the most popular kitchen knives among professional chefs and home cooks alike. What makes a santoku knife so great? This type of knife features a thin blade, narrow spine and a unique shape that make it ideal for making thin and precise cuts. 

These knives originated in Japan, but today the santoku style is produced by both Japanese and Western knife manufacturers. When purchasing a santoku knife, you’ll want to consider a few key features — the type of steel, the comfort of the handle, the blade length and more — to help you find a knife that’s best for you. 

If you’re looking for a high-quality santoku knife with an attractive finish and an ultrasharp blade, the Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku Knife is a great choice. 

What to know before you buy a santoku knife 

Steel quality

A knife made with high-quality steel will be sharper, stronger and more durable than one made with lower-quality steel. The steel quality will also affect the knife’s susceptibility to stains, corrosion and rust. Knives made with high-carbon steel tend to be the strongest and sharpest knives available, but are significantly more expensive than stainless steel knives. To learn more about choosing a knife with high-quality steel, check out the chef’s knife buying guide on BestReviews. 

Blade length

The blade on a santoku knife will vary in size between about 5 inches and 8 inches. A 6- to 8-inch blade is an ideal size for most kitchen tasks. However, a shorter blade provides more control, especially for less-experienced cooks. 

Type of handle

Look for a handle that’s comfortable on your hands and wrists and also provides a solid grip — such as a handle made from high-quality wood or dimpled steel. A plastic handle will be less durable and less comfortable. 

Santoku knife features

Thin blade

Santoku knives are designed with a narrow spine and a thin blade, which allows the knife to make slim, precise cuts compared to knives with thicker blades. The narrow spine means that the blade is equally thin from top to bottom, which makes for a very sharp edge that can easily glide through food. Some santoku knives have thinner blades than others. 

Single bevel vs. double bevel

The bevel refers to the very end of a knife’s blade, where the metal has been ground down at a specific angle to form a sharp edge. A single-bevel blade is angled on only one side of the blade, whereas a double-bevel blade is angled on both sides. Single-bevel knives tend to have extremely sharp edges that are favored for many Japanese cooking techniques such as slicing sashimi or peeling hard vegetables. Double-bevel knives are better suited for a variety of other tasks that don’t involve extreme precision. In general, it’s recommended that home cooks choose double-bevel blades. 

Forged vs. stamped steel 

You’ll find santoku knives with blades made from either forged steel or stamped steel. A forged blade is made by forging layers of steel around a strong core. This makes for a stronger blade that stays sharper longer and may also be easier to sharpen. Stamped steel blades are made by stamping one single piece of steel and tend to be flimsier and less durable than forged blades. However, you’ll still find some high-quality brands that use stamped steel. 

Granton edges

Some santoku knives have what’s called “granton edges,” which refers to oval hollows or indentations on the sides of the blade. These indentations are meant to prevent food from sticking to the blade as you’re cutting. This is an especially useful feature if you’re regularly using the knife to slice onions or chop delicate herbs like parsley and chives. It’s also a useful feature of slicing cheese and raw fish. 

Santoku knife cost 

A good santoku knife will cost $50-$200, with some very high-end knives costing even more. The more expensive knives will generally be made with higher-quality forged steel or have special features like a natural-grain handle or hammered finish. For most home cooks, a midrange of $75-$150 is a good place to start. 

Santoku knife FAQ

How do I sharpen my santoku knife? 

A. To keep your santoku knife sharp, you’ll need to regularly hone the knife on a honing rod. Doing this will realign the edge of your knife blade in between sharpenings. Depending on how often you use the knife, you’ll also need to sharpen it once or twice a year using a sharpening stone or whetstone. You may also consider purchasing a manual or electric knife sharpener, though these can damage the knife with improper use. This instructional video will help you learn best practices for sharpening your knife. 

What’s the best way to clean and store my santoku knife? 

A. High-quality knives should always be washed by hand and never placed in the dishwasher, as high heat and harsh detergents can damage delicate handles and blades. After washing your knife, make sure to thoroughly dry it right away to prevent any rust or mildew. Always store your knife with a protective cover of the blade. You can either store your knife individually in a protective sheath or purchase a countertop knife block, which stores multiple kitchen knives in one place. 

Which santoku knife should I get?

Best of the best santoku knife

Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku Knife: available at Sur La Table, Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Our take: A top-of-the-line santoku knife with a seriously strong and sharp blade, comfortable contoured handle and beautiful hammered finish. 

What we like: The knife is handcrafted in Japan with a proprietary VG-max steel core and 34 layers of high-carbon steel for an ultrasharp edge. The hammered finish prevents food from sticking to the blade when slicing. The handle is contoured for comfort and is made with walnut-stained wood for a distinctive look. Plus, the blade is stain-resistant. 

What we dislike: This knife is fairly expensive compared to similar knives. However, most customers find the quality worth the price. 

Best bang for your buck santoku knife

MAC Knife Superior Santoku Knife: available at Amazon

Our take: A lightweight and supremely sharp santoku knife under $100 that’s best for casual cooks and first-time knife buyers. 

What we like: At 5.5 ounces, this knife is seriously lightweight and easy on the hands and wrists. The thin, high-carbon steel blade is very sharp and stays sharp for an extended period of time, even with regular use. Plus, the knife is well-balanced and exceptionally easy to use. 

What we dislike: Some users found that the knife easily rusts and stains. 

Honorable mention santoku knife

Global 7-Inch Hollow Ground Santoku Knife: available at Amazon

Our take: A quality stainless steel santoku knife that’s surprisingly sharp and durable for its price. 

What we like: The stainless steel handle is ergonomically designed for comfort and dimpled for a safe and secure grip. The hollowed edge prevents food from sticking to the blade. Plus, the knife is sleek and lightweight compared to other brands. 

What we dislike: Global knives are made from stamped steel rather than forged steel. However, their supreme manufacturing standards means the quality doesn’t suffer.

Katy Severson 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.

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