Knife set in kitchen

Chefs love to say that the most dangerous implement in the kitchen is a dull knife. Many people try to make do with old knives, not realizing that they make even common kitchen tasks more difficult and dangerous.

A knife set is an excellent way to make a small but game-changing upgrade to your kitchen. Instead of buying individual knives, you can buy a set that not only complements your kitchen aesthetic but ensures you’re equipped to handle a majority of common tasks.

Knife sets may also come with a storage block, which can help you keep your kitchen organized and extend the lifespan of your knives by protecting them from damage.

In this guide, we look at how to choose the perfect knife set and look at the different types available. We’ll also give you our top picks for the best available knife sets.

Our Top Picks: Summary

The Best Kitchen Knife Sets: Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set
Buy Now
Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set

Quality and aesthetic appeal combine for an excellent knife set.

buy now
$399.95

Why We Picked It

The best knife sets combine quality, utility, and aesthetics, which is why we’ve chosen the Wusthof Classic 7-piece set for our Best Overall category.

This set of 7 stainless steel knives includes a paring knife, serrated utility knife, kiritsuke prep knife, bread knife, chef’s knife, and kitchen shears. Each blade is precision forged with full tang, using high-carbon stainless steel with bolsters. Each knife has a handle of polyoxymethylene. The kitchen shears can be disassembled for easy cleaning.

The set comes with a slim-profile wooden block to preserve counter space, and the block is available in a range of styles to suit most kitchen aesthetics.

The knives arrive extremely sharp and are well-balanced for ease of use.

Keep in Mind

The sticker decal on each knife handle won’t be to everyone’s aesthetic taste.

In a Nutshell

  • 7-knife set including paring knife, bread knife, and chef’s knife
  • Full tang stainless steel with bolsters
  • Wooden, slim-profile knife block
Budget Pick: Sabatier 5218800 Slim-Style 5-Piece Block
Buy Now
Sabatier 5218800 Slim-Style 5-Piece Block

An affordable knife set for any kitchen.

buy now
$69.99

Why We Picked It

Some shoppers will want budget-friendly quality and utility from their knife set, and for this we’ve chosen the Sabatier 5-piece knife set.

This 5-piece set comes with a 6-inch chef’s knife, 5.5-inch serrated knife, 5-inch Santoku knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. Each knife is ergonomically designed with triple rivets and a full tang. The stainless steel handles offer a firm grip and are easy to keep clean, and they’re weighted to offer excellent blade control.

The knives are presented in a bamboo block with an ultra-slim, single-width profile with vertical storage grooves, which will be perfect for smaller kitchens.

Keep in Mind

The knives may not reach the level of quality available from more expensive sets, though they’re perfect for everyday utility.

In a Nutshell

  • 5-piece set including chef knife, serrated knife, and paring knife.
  • Full-tang stainless steel
  • Slim profile bamboo block
Upgrade: Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set
Buy Now
Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set

The perfect upgrade to your kitchen.

buy now
$429.95

Why We Picked It

A high-quality knife set can take your kitchen to the next level. For shoppers looking for an upgrade, we’ve chosen the Shun Classic 6-piece set.

This 6-piece set comes with a 3.5-inch paring knife, 7-inch Santoku knife, 8-inch chef’s knife, 9-inch honing steel, and multi-purpose kitchen shears. Each knife is made of a VG-MAX core with Damascus steel cladding and a Pakkawood handle.

The knives are presented in a dark wood knife block with lateral storage grooves, and each knife, along with the block, is emblazoned with the Shun logo.

The range of utility offered in this knife set is excellent, and the inclusion of tools like the honing steel and shears rounds out the perfect upgrade to a kitchen.

Keep in Mind

Due to lateral storage grooves, this block is wider than some alternatives.

In a Nutshell

  • 6-piece set including Santoku knife, chef’s knife, and honing steel
  • VG-MAX steel core with Damascus cladding
  • Dark wood knife block
Best for New Cooks: J.A Henckels International CLASSIC
Buy Now
J.A Henckels International 31425-000 CLASSIC Starter Knife Set

A great place to start for new cooks.

buy now
$211.00 ($24.82 / pound)

Why We Picked It

New cooks typically look for budget-friendly utility when buying knives, and that’s why we’ve chosen the J.A Henckels knife set.

This set contains 3 stainless steel knives: a 4-inch paring and general utility knife, a 6-inch utility and sandwich knife, and an 8-inch chef’s knife. All are made in Spain using German stainless steel, with a fully forged design and satin blade finish.

These knives are designed for ergonomics and feature a traditional triple-rivet design, which offers both balance and comfort. The knives are extremely sharp out of the box and cover the basic range of functions that a new cook needs in a knife set.

Keep in Mind

While this small set is perfect for beginners, more serious cooks may want more utility.

In a Nutshell

  • 3-knife set, including paring, utility, and chef’s knife
  • Stainless steel design
  • Affordable price
Best Ceramic: Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution
Buy Now
Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution 4-Piece Knife Set

Great at cleaning both hard and carpeted floors, this is the best canister vacuum out there.

buy now
$132.00

Why We Picked It

Ceramic knives are lightweight and stay sharp for a long time, so they’re ideal for shoppers who are serious about their knives. For this category, we’ve chosen the Kyocera Advanced 4-piece knife set.

This set includes a 6-inch chef’s Santoku, 5.5-inch Santoku, 4.5-inch utility, and a 3-inch paring knife. The blades are made from Kyocera’s proprietary zirconia and produced in Japan.

As ceramic blades, they’ll stay extra sharp and retain their sharpness much longer than steel blades. They are, however, a little more fragile than steel knives.

The Kyocera ceramic blades are available in two aesthetic options: black handles with black blades and red handles with white blades.

Keep in Mind

This set doesn’t come with a block, so buyers will want to invest further to protect and store their knives.

In a Nutshell

  • 4 knives, including 2 Santoku knives and a paring knife
  • Made from proprietary ceramic
  • Lightweight and easy-clean

How We Chose the Best Knife Sets

To choose the best knife sets, we looked at a few key areas to help us determine how they performed in the kitchen. Our favored knife sets were those that handled the basics incredibly well, making them suitable for most kitchens.

Here are some of the areas we use to select our top picks.

Types of Knives Included

Knife sets range from containing the regular array of knives for everyday use to more specialized knives. The number of knives in each set can also vary, as can their diversity.

As the composition of a knife set describes its everyday utility, we look at which knives are included to decide what kind of customer they suit. We favored sets with a good range of applications, which makes them suitable for handling most kitchen tasks.

Materials Used

The materials used to manufacture knives decide most of the elements of their performance, from their sharpness to their balance and comfort. Most knives are made of stainless steel, though Damascus steel and ceramic knives are popular alternatives.

Knife handles can be made from a wide variety of materials, with most modern handles using some form of plastic. This keeps knives bacteria free and easy to clean.

Common knife block materials include wood, glass, and plastic. Not all knife sets come with a block, but we also noted the block’s materials when included.

Comfort

Ergonomics matter in a knife. A good knife should have precision balance, sit well in the hand for the best possible leverage, and have the weight needed to do its job.

We look at each of these knives to see how they feel to use, from both our observations and using customer feedback. This includes the weighting of the knife, how it sits in the hand, and whether the material is comfortable to hold.

Sharpness

You would be forgiven for thinking that all new knives have roughly the same level of sharpness. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Cheap, low-quality knives often have “good enough” sharpness, which, in practice, isn’t good enough at all. Owners of low-quality knives put themselves at risk and have a more difficult time in the kitchen.

We look at each knife set to determine whether the knives arrive sharp and how long they’re likely to keep their edge. This is key to ensuring that the knife set is a useful, convenient, and safe addition to the kitchen, and therefore whether it justifies its price.

What to Consider When Choosing a Knife Set

When choosing a knife set, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Here are a few things to consider when trying to decide which set is right for you.

What’s Included

Each knife set comes with a different assortment of knives, from standard all-purpose sets to those that contain knives for more specific purposes.

When choosing your knife set, think about what you want out of it. There’s no point in choosing a specialist set when you’re unlikely to use half of the included knives. This is a waste of money and will only clutter up your kitchen.

Instead, most people are better suited to an all-purpose knife set, with a range of knives to handle most everyday tasks. Typical knives included in an all-purpose set are a chef’s knife, one or two general utility knives, and a paring knife. Another popular everyday knife is the bread knife.

Blade Materials

Knives are made from a variety of materials, and various combinations of blade and handle materials are available.

The most common blade material is stainless steel, which keeps its edge well and doesn’t rust. Ceramic blades are another popular alternative. These keep their edge over ten times longer than a steel blade and can be extremely thin for fine slicing. However, they can chip if not cared for properly.

Most modern knives use plastic or stainless steel for the handle, which makes them easy to wipe clean and reduces the likelihood of bacterial growth.

Design

A knife’s design dictates everything from its performance to its comfort and aesthetic appeal. A quality knife should sit well in the hand and be balanced for ease of use. High-quality knives are usually full tang, which means the blade is anchored through the handle. Blades without full tang are much more likely to separate from the handle.

Your knives will need to find a home in your kitchen, so you’ll also want to choose a set that works with your kitchen decor. Available designs range from the fun and frivolous to the elegant and classy, so you can choose a set to suit your personality.

Knife blocks also come in a range of styles, including wood and glass. Some kitchens use magnetic hanging strips instead. Knife blocks vary in layout and width, with slim-profile blocks being better suited to smaller kitchens.

How to Care for Your Knives

Whether you’re investing in an expensive set or buying budget-friendly knives for everyday use, caring for your knives will prolong their lifespan. To get the most out of your knives, keep the following in mind.

Storage

Some knife sets come with a block, which makes storage simple. When knives are kept loose, their edges can become dull or chipped through handling. This is especially true of ceramic knives, which are prone to chipping when not cared for properly. If your knife set doesn’t include a block, it may be advisable to buy one separately or to invest in a magnetic storage strip.

Cleaning

While it’s tempting to throw knives in the dishwasher, this can cause similar problems to improper storage. It’s better to wash knives by hand in soapy water, though for safety reasons, be sure to never leave a knife in the sink.

Sharpening

Sharpening your knives is also key to their longevity, but there’s an important difference between sharpening and honing.

Honing a knife is done by running it against a honing steel, which many people have in their kitchen already. This reforms the blade’s edge and improves its perceived sharpness. You should hone a knife every one or two uses.

Sharpening a knife restores its edge by grinding away its imperfections. This should only be done once or twice a year, but it produces more noticeable results than honing.

Think of the difference between honing and sharpening as the difference between cleaning a razor blade versus replacing it. The former only affects perceived sharpness but is key to extending its overall lifespan.

Related Resources

Looking for more kitchen guides? Be sure to check out our other pages.

Products You May Be Interested In:

Daniel James