CutleryProduct Reviews

The 12 Best Knife Sets

The 12 Best Knife Sets From Kitchens To Camping

Buying cookware and kitchen tools can be tricky: The discounted pricing makes them appealing, but you’ll often end up with unused pieces. When it comes to knife sets specifically, my advice is to assess what you really need before you take the plunge, whether you’re starting completely from scratch, redoing the basics of your collection, or simply want to add a handful of new blades to what you already own — then take your pick from there.

To curate this list, I first took into consideration the backbone of most great groupings: a sharp, durable chef’s knife. With the exception of a couple of speciality packs (like steak knives), every set on this list includes one. It’s the knife you’re likely to turn to most often, and a quality one is a good indication that the others will be well made too. Indeed, I have an entire guide dedicated to buying just that blade individually where you’ll see quite a bit of overlap in brands. But it’s not as simple as just assessing the major players. From there, I looked at what else was included in the set, tested several myself, and then talked to nearly a dozen experts (chefs, cookbook authors, and recipe testers among them). What results is a purposefully varied curation: three pieces all the way up to 20-something, collections with only the basics, ones that come with sharpening tools or blocks and ones that don’t. I also made sure that none have truly unnecessary pieces — but if you’re unsure, my takeaway after doing this extensive research is that a more streamlined set is generally the way to go. You can always build from there.

The 12 Best Knife Sets Cutting Cheese

Best Knife Set Overall

Wusthof Ikon 6-Piece Starter Knife Block Set

Number of pieces: Six | Style: European

Wusthof is a classic company. It’s the one that cook and Top Chef Canada host Eden Grinshpan was told to buy when she was in culinary school, the one that cookbook author Erin Gleeson registered for when she got married a decade ago and still uses, and the one that is preferred by multiple celebrity chefs with varying cooking styles (a quick Google search will tell you that both Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay swear by them). “They’re just super high-quality and they really stand the test of time,” Grinshpan says. “I still have some of the pieces in my kitchen.”

Wusthof Ikon 6-Piece Starter Knife Block Set

Given that Wusthof is so time-tested and such a trusted brand among professionals, I knew they would be a fitting choice for our best overall pick. From there, I perused all its offerings and landed on this particular set for its lineup of pieces, which I think is perfectly well rounded without being superfluous. It comes with a paring knife, a chef’s knife, and a serrated knife — the only three that you really need when it comes down to performing most cooking tasks, like I explained before. But it also includes some helpful accessories: a wooden block to hold your blades safely, a honing steel to sharpen the edges, and a pair of “come-apart” kitchen shears (the “come-apart” makes them easy to clean). “I use the scissors all the time,” Gleeson says, “for cutting everything from pizza and flatbreads to scallions.”

Second Best Expensive Knife Set

Number of pieces: Six | Style: European

This more affordable (for 16 knives) set from Wusthof has a similar setup. The paring knife is a half-inch smaller (which shouldn’t make any noticeable difference for daily use), the serrated knife is three inches smaller (a utility knife intended to cut things like tomatoes, as opposed to crusty bread), and the block is made from a different variety of wood (beechwood instead of acacia).

Wusthof Gourmet 6-Piece Starter Knife Block Set

Most notably, though, the knives are stamped (cut from one large sheet of steel) instead of forged (made from a single bar of steel that is heated and then pounded into shape either by hand or machine). This makes them not quite as durable as they would be otherwise, but also much cheaper — and they can totally do the trick (and do it well), especially if you aren’t particularly hard on your knives.

Best Knife Set With Steak Knives

J.A. Henckels 15-Piece Premium Quality Knife Set

Number of pieces: 15 | Style: European

J.A. Henckels, the more affordable sister brand to Strategist-favorite Zwilling (it makes a chef’s knife, blender, and nonstick skillet we love), makes an all-encompassing knife set that I think is solid, especially for the price. The most notable feature is six matching serrated steak knives (not usually included in these collections) that I’ve found are excellent at cutting through steak and pork chops without ripping or shredding the meat.

J.A. Henckels 15-Piece Premium Quality Knife Set
It also includes the essentials: a paring knife, chef’s knife, and bread knife. Plus there’s a santoku knife (similar to a chef’s but slightly smaller and thinner and therefore easier to wield when I perform more complicated tasks with subtler cuts), as well as a shorter serrated knife, perfect for slicing through tomatoes and baked goods. Though I was a bit skeptical of the quality since this is one of two sets on this list where the knives are stamped instead of forged (the other is the Wusthof Gourmet, above), the handles feel tightly secured to the blades, and overall, they have a nice heft in my hand. They are a bit boxier, and therefore harder to get your palm gripped around in a comfortable position than the more rounded and smooth-edged handles I use regularly — but that seems a small issue for the value you get here.

Best Simple Knife Set

Material Kitchen The Trio of Knives

Number of pieces: Three | Style: Japanese

If you don’t think you’ll use all the pieces in the bigger Wusthof sets above, this one will still have you covered with the three most basic, essential knives — ones that, to my mind, will comfortably take care of pretty much any cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing you’ll ever need to do. In testing, I found the eight-inch chef’s knife to be comfortable to hold because of the rounded handle shape. It’s also balanced in weight, easy to rock back and forth to dice, as well as slice through hefty vegetables with an assured cut.

Material Kitchen The Trio of Knives

The edge is supersharp, and though I’ve only been using it for a few months. Ours have stayed in great condition for years! The paring knife has more of a curve than some others in my collection, making it particularly useful for intricate carving and tasks, like hulling strawberries. And notably, the serrated knife — which I think is the standout of the bunch — is significantly shorter than most, at six inches long. It wouldn’t be substantial enough to cut through a round cake layer to even out the surface, but it can handle other tasks like slicing bread and tomato slices with even more control than a super long blade.

Best Steak Knife Set (Set of 4)

Opinel Table Chic Steak Knives

Number of pieces: Four | Style: European

I’ve long been a fan of Opinel’s well-priced, sharp, and elegant knives (you’ll find them in other Strategist stories, and the brand’s set of paring knives is below). 

Opinel Table Chic Steak Knives

The stainless-steel blades of this quartet have a straight (also called fine) edge, which slices through meat more cleanly than serrated ones I’ve used in the past. (Even if a serrated knife is sharp, you have to saw back and forth a bit by nature.) Just as with high-quality chef’s knives, these have a full-tang construction, meaning the blade runs through the handle, and there’s a bolster in the center to connect them, which makes them super sturdy. They’re also lightweight without feeling insubstantial, and the rounded handle is comfortable to hold. I also appreciate that the shape leans modern but the wood still gives them a timeless look.

Best Knife Set Without A Serrated Knife

Global Classic 3-Piece Knife Set

Number of pieces: Three | Style: Japanese with some European influence

Every other set on this list includes a serrated knife, but if you’re looking to expand your collection without that particular blade, this Global collection fits the bill. (I once found myself in that exact predicament: I already own a serrated blade that I love and find to be plenty for the relatively infrequent tasks it is made for, but wanted a few other straight-edged blades for the high volume of cooking that goes on in my kitchen.) With this configuration, I got a 7-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife.

They all hold an ultra sharp edge, are lightweight enough to manoeuvre with ease but heavy enough to feel in control, and have a comfortable grip. In particular, I reach for the utility knife more than expected. Its size is right between the other two with more of an angled blade. This combination makes it useful for tasks that aren’t so delicate but still require some precision, like cutting into a head of broccoli.

Best Paring Knife Set

Number of pieces: Four | Style: European

Friends have several sets of these knives in their work kitchens at all times because they’re so versatile. The collection comes with a classic paring knife, two serrated paring knives (with more pronounced and subtler teeth), and a bonus vegetable peeler. “Smaller knives tend to be made more cheaply,” they say, “but these are sharp.” They calls the dramatically ridged model a “serious workhorse” that’s great for peppers and chilis, garlic, and shallots, or “small foods that still benefit some serious serrated power,” he says. 

The subtler ridged one, which he uses for more delicate tasks like cutting through tarts and cherry tomatoes, also comes with a hook-like shape at the tip of the knife. That feature is “useful for handheld tasks where you need to get into a piece of food, like cutting the button off a Brussels sprout or the stem off a strawberry,” they say.

Opinel Essential Small Kitchen Knife Set

Best High-level Knife Set

SENKEN 7-Piece Damascus Kitchen Knife Set – Tsunami Collection

67-Layer Japanese VG10 Steel – Chef’s Knife, Cleaver, Santoku, Bread, Boning, & More

Blade materialAlloy Steel
BrandSenken Knives
ColourBlue Resin Natural Wood Pattern
Handle materialWood,Steel,Resin
Blade edgePlain, Serrated

About this item

  • [(67-Layer Damascus Steel)] Masterfully forged from premium Japanese VG-10 Steel into 67-layer folded Damascus for extreme sturdiness and razor-sharp cutting. The Tsunami 7-Piece Damascus Collection is built to last so that you will never need another knife set again.
  • [(Complete 7 Piece Collection)] The Tsunami Damascus Knife Set includes all the 7 most important knives you will need in the kitchen – including 2 Chef’s Knives, Cleaver, Bread Knife, Utility, Santoku, and Paring Knife
  • [(Beautiful ‘Tsunami’ Handle Design)] Each knife is designed with a one-of-a-kind Blue Resin & Natural Wood Pattern that will add a gorgeous accent and bring your kitchen to life.
  • [(RUTHLESSLY Sharp Blades)] Each knife is carefully heat-treated and sharpened to perfection for razor-sharp cutting and extreme durability. The knives allow for extremely thin slicing and impeccable chopping.
  • [(Effortless 15deg Cutting)] Each knife boasts a 15deg edge for superior cutting, as compared to a typical 20-25deg edge found in most Western knives. You WILL feel the difference from the very first cut.

Best Knife Set For Camping

Messermeister Adventure Chef 6-Piece Summit Set

Number of pieces: Six | Style: European

This is one of my favourite sets and the quality is amazing.

Messermeister Adventure Chef 6-Piece Summit Set

This recommendation from recipe developer and cookbook author who says it isn’t strictly a knife set with only knives included, but it comes from the knife company Messermeister, which she has been using since she went to culinary school a couple of decades ago. 

It’s a compact camping set with two particularly good knives — a foldable six-inch chef’s knife and a foldable six-inch fillet knife (yes, those are full-size, made from the same steel as their regular ones). “It’s everything you need to go camping and make really nice food,” Shafia says. “You can even handle things if you catch a fish. Plus you need something to cut against that’s not gonna ruin the knives, so it’s nice that it comes with a cutting board.”

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