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Published Jul 6, 2022 9:31 AM

There’s nothing more essential for a home cook than a quality set of sharp knives. Anyone who’s set out to prep a meal without the correct knife — or a dull one — knows what a problem that can be. A good knife set will enable you to easily accomplish a range of kitchen tasks, and the knives themselves should feel easy to hold and maneuver using whatever slicing and dicing techniques suit you. Whether you’re looking to spend a lot or just a little on a new knife set, we’ve rounded up some of the top options for your kitchen.

How We Selected These Products 

We evaluated about 15 different knife sets and considered blade material — all of those selected are stainless steel, the most common and lasting option — as well as types of knives included and storage options. We scoured product reviews to get a sense of the knife sets’ overall performance, and took particular note of any defects or design flaws that could lead to safety problems. We also took into account budget, variety of styles, and appeal to different types of home cooks with different sized work spaces. The brands that we’ve featured are reputable leaders in the culinary tool space, from Cuisinart to WÜSTHOF and Mercer Culinary. We also were careful not to assume that the more knives in a set, the better; many home cooks will be better served by starting small and then adding additional knives based on their own habits and needs.

Best Knife Sets: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Mercer Culinary M20000 Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set

This set is perfect for amateur and veteran cooks alike. Mercer Culinary

Why It Made The Cut: This Mercer Culinary knife set contains a range of blades that will suit the widest range of home cooks — at a price that won’t break the bank, making it our top pick for any kitchen.

Specs:

  • Knives Included: 3.5-inch paring knife, 5-inch utility knife, 6-inch stiff boning knife, 8-inch wavy edge bread knife, 8-inch chef knife
  • Blade Material: High-carbon steel 
  • Storage Option: Tempered glass block

Pros

  • German steel blades
  • Made by a reputable brand 
  • Well-designed, eye-catching block that’s easy to clean

Cons 

  • Doesn’t include steak knives

Mercer Culinary packaged five of its most popular Genesis knives into a set with a beautiful storage solution that’s configured to work in any kitchen. This modern-looking set is made from German steel, and the edges are designed with a subtle taper that allows you to safely increase your cutting speed while the blades reliably stay sharp. The no-slip, ergonomic handles offer maximum comfort and confidence during any chopping, slicing, or julienning task. It’s recommended that you hand wash these easy-to-clean blades. People can’t get enough of these knives’ ability to resist rust and make cooking easy and fun. They’re perfect for people who want an upgrade but are also maintaining a budget. 

Mercer’s consumer experience is built for a variety of needs and tastes: If you prefer a wood or magnetic storage solution, you can shop for those within the brand. For an additional cost, you can also purchase a set that includes a sharpening steel or electric sharpener.

Best Japanese: Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series Forged 8-Piece Japanese Steel Knife Set

Make your life easier with this simple, efficient knife set. GINSU

Why It Made The Cut: This Ginsu Chikara knife set blends superb functionality and design with a stunning look and bamboo storage block.

Specs:

  • Pieces Included: 8-inch chef’s knife, 5-inch utility knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 5-inch serrated utility knife, 3.5-inch paring knife, kitchen shears, honing rod
  • Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel 
  • Storage Option: Block

Pros:

  • Streamlined, easy-to-use handles 
  • Affordable price 
  • Minimalist design

Cons: 

  • Less heavy-duty than some people prefer

This sleek, efficient Ginsu knife set will quickly become your secret weapon in the kitchen, allowing you to slice peppers and pare garlic like a professional. The 8-piece set is highly versatile, and includes a santoku knife that is highly useful in the kitchen but not often included in generalist sets. The set comes in handy for a range of food and meal types, from cutting meat to slicing cheese. Another notable feature: these knives have an extended tang, which means the blade extends down into the handle, offering superior balance and leverage during use.

These knives’ blades are designed to have lasting sharpness and save you from frequent sharpening. They’re “fully forged,” meaning a single piece of steel was the source for all the knives in the set, delivering continuity and sturdiness. The handles are made from a resin material, so you can expose them to water or heat without worry. The manufacturer recommends that you hand wash the knives with soap and water to preserve their sheen and functionality.

Best Splurge: WÜSTHOF Classic IKON 6-Piece Knife Block Set

Best Splurge

This stunning set looks incredible on any counter. Wüsthof

Why It Made The Cut: The WÜSTHOF set is beloved by professional and serious cooks for the knives’ superior precision with blades that have been engineered for exceptional sharpness and retention.

Specs:

  • Pieces Included: 3.5-inch paring knife, 8-inch bread knife, 8-inch cook’s knife, 9-inch honing steel, come-apart kitchen shears and a 15-slot block
  • Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel 
  • Storage Option: Block

Pros:

  • Sleek, ergonomic handles 
  • Includes honing steel  
  • Made from a legacy German brand known for craftsmanship

Cons: 

  • High price 

There’s a reason German knives are among the most popular blades purchased globally, and this set from the family-owned WÜSTHOF drives that fact home. It boasts professional appeal with its exceptional blades and sleek, black handles that are designed for ergonomic comfort with a synthetic material that resists fading and discoloration. The durable steel is specially engineered to avoid corrosion and dulling; its HRC, or a commonly used measurement known as Rockwell Hardness, is 58 — landing it in the sweet spot of long-lasting sharpness that can be slightly more difficult to sharpen. While the price might be eye-popping for some, it’s a better value than buying each of the knives separately. The 6-piece curation includes all the basics most home cooks will need, but WÜSTHOF also offers sets that include seven, eight and 11 pieces, as well as a more affordable six-piece knife block set. People who love this set note that it creates an instant kitchen upgrade that can bring joy to the art of cooking.

Best Budget: Cuisinart C77WTR-15P Classic Forged Triple Rivet, 15-Piece Knife Set

The ideal housewarming gift for starter cooks. Cuisinart

Why It Made The Cut: Made by a trusted household brand, this best-selling Cuisinart set offers a range of knives at an affordable price.

Specs:

  • Pieces Included: 8-inch chef’s knife, 8-inch slicing knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 5.5-inch utility knife, 3.5-inch paring knife, 2.75-inch bird’s beak paring knife, six 4.5-inch steak knives, 8-inch sharpening steel, household shears, and wooden block
  • Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel 
  • Storage Option: Block

Pros: 

  • Multiple color options available 
  • Affordable price
  • Extra-wide safety bolster offers exceptional control

Cons 

  • Some users say the smaller knives are more cheaply made 

For people who are okay without professional-grade quality and want a sturdy set that will last a while, the Cuisinart 15-piece set is a great option. The lightweight knives are easy to clean and hold up well during everyday use. They come in a range of neutral, attractive colors; users say even the white set isn’t prone to discoloration. The handle design features stainless steel rivets for a lasting build and ergonomic comfort. The blades are tapered into a precise, sharp edge that can achieve a fine cut as well as easy rocking motion on a cutting board. For smaller kitchens, this storage block is also a great option because it doesn’t take up too much space. To ditch the storage block altogether, this colorful set from Cuisinart is also a strong budget option.

Best Starter Set: Mercer Culinary – M21910 Genesis 4-Piece Forged Starter Set

Best Starter Set

A no-nonsense set for aspirational chefs. Mercer Culinary

Why It Made The Cut: At a middle-of-the-road price for a set of quality knives, you can’t beat this Mercer Culinary model. 

Specs:

  • Pieces Included: Chef’s knife, paring knife and utility knife
  • Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel 
  • Storage Option: Nylon bag

Pros:

  • More affordable German brand 
  • Exceptionally hard blades 
  • Bolster offers smart protection

Cons: 

  • No storage block 

These Mercer Culinary-stamped blades mean business. From the stain- and rust- resistance to the precise construction of the blade, this set will instantly make a rookie home cook feel like a pro. The Santoprene rubber-like handles look elegant and won’t slip during even the most complicated cooking tasks; they also can take high heat and exposure to oils and other messes. While many home cooks jump into a larger set with too many spare knives for their own needs, this simple set includes the necessities and allows you to build separately on your own. It’s great for smaller kitchens as well as plant-based eaters who aren’t likely to need specialty knives for poultry and other meats. The brand also offers a range of sets with more knives and storage solutions like pocket knife rolls in different sizes, colors, and designs.

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Knife Set 

Your Cooking Habits

The number and type of knives in any given set must fit your preferences and needs. If you’re a vegetarian, you likely won’t need a set with steak knives or a specialty meat carving knife. If you pick up a loaf of unsliced sourdough every weekend at the farmer’s market, you’ll certainly want a strong bread knife in your set. In addition, if you’re a home cook with a ton of counter space who can spread out, a big block with a range of knives may make sense for you. But if you’re just starting out and working in a small kitchen, opt for a smaller set that won’t overwhelm your space. All in all, do your research and consider what each knife does and how that squares with your current or aspirational cooking habits, and select a set from there.

European or Asian Style

While not every knife set explicitly fits into one of these two categories, they’ve become a shorthand form of classification among most professional cooks, food media, and homeware stores. European-style knives are often heavier and thicker and are more prevalent in American kitchens; they can also be labeled Western-, German- or French-style. These knives are traditionally designed to cut tough vegetables and meats. The other increasingly popular category is the Asian knife, which is often lighter in weight and has a less angled blade that can be less conducive to a rocking motion for quick cutting. Many knife sets include a santoku knife, which is a wide, general-use style from Japan.

Storage and Care

Prolong the life of your knives by keeping them clean, storing them properly, and sharpening them to avoid dullness. You could buy the priciest knife set, but without routine maintenance, it will make no difference to your cooking abilities. If your knife set doesn’t come with a sharpener (most do not), you’ll have to buy one. The most common knife sharpeners are manual sharpeners — which are often cheaper and require a bit more labor — or electric sharpeners, which cost more but make the process a bit easier and more effective. Most of the knife sets we recommend include storage blocks, which take up space but are designed to keep your knives safely intact and free from long-term damage. Other options for safe storage include magnetic strips, glass blocks, and in-drawer storage sets. Finally, consider hand washing your knives instead of using a dishwasher even if the latter process is considered safe by the manufacturer; a soapy sponge and some water can be much gentler on your knives and achieve a better clean.

Your Budget

It’s not hard to spend upwards of four figures on a knife set, and for some people who are devoted home cooks looking for a product that will last a lifetime, that price tag may make sense. But lots of knife sets are available at more affordable prices and include all the most frequently needed blades. Shop around to find a set at a price that works for you.

FAQs

Q: How much should a nice set of knives cost?

A typical household set of knives can typically cost between $50 and $200. You can certainly spend much more than that if you’re seeking professional-grade quality and a longer-term investment item. Certain brands and models, such as our recommended WÜSTHOF Classic IKON 6-Piece Knife Block Set, are more expensive, but will endure.

Q: How do I sharpen a knife?

You can sharpen a knife with a few different, key devices, depending on your budget, skill level, and preference. Some of the knife sets we recommend, such as the WÜSTHOF Classic IKON 6-Piece Knife Block Set and Cuisinart C77WTR-15P Classic Forged Triple Rivet, 15-Piece Knife Set, include a sharpening steel to keep your blades in good, workable shape. You can also use a manual or electric sharpener, which we further explain in the Things To Consider section. Lastly, a sharpening stone can help restore the blade on dull knives, though these devices are not commonly used in most kitchens.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re just learning to cook or an accomplished chef, a great set of knives is essential. Experience level, cost, ease of use, and the type of food you like to prepare all come into play, but there are plenty of options to find the best knife set for you.

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