A good knife will serve you well for decades and make food preparation a breeze. Most cooks, professional or amateur, like to invest in the best kitchen knives possible.
But what makes a good kitchen knife?
In this article, we will explore in more detail the knives that are most essential to a kitchen and learn how to find quality kitchen knives that suit your physique, cooking needs, and level of commitment to knife care. We will also review some top picks to help you in your quest for your ultimate kitchen knife.
The Most Important Knives in a Kitchen
The average kitchen houses a plethora of cutting tools; you may have seen knife sets with more than a dozen items in it. There are specific purposes for each type of knife and it’s rare that you’re going to need all of them.
The three most important knives in the kitchen are the chef’s knife, the utility knife, and the paring knife. This trio is included in most knife sets. Depending on the type of food you usually prepare, though, you may find other knives essential, such as the bread knife, fillet knife, or butcher knife.
What Makes a Good Kitchen Knife
The size, weight, and balance of a knife affect how comfortable it is to use over time. The blade style, construction, and material, meanwhile, determine its uses, maintenance, and longevity. To familiarize yourself with the terminology, take a look at this photo, which features the different parts of a knife.
Size, Weight, and Balance
Kitchen knives come in various sizes and require different weight distribution for the tasks they’re made to handle.
A cleaver, for example, should be large and long and have most of its weight on the blade to support the chopping motion. A paring knife, meanwhile, typically has a blade much smaller and lighter than its handle to tackle intricate tasks.
We feel we should pay a little more attention to the chef’s knife here, because it’s the one that you’re going to use for the majority of cutting tasks.
For most cooks, a chef’s knife should see its center of mass right about at the bolster— the point where the blade and handle meet. This is especially true for those who hold the knife at the bolster with their thumb and index finger resting on the blade. Cooks who grip a knife at the handle, however, may feel more comfortable holding a handle-heavy knife.
For people with particularly big, strong hands, a longer and heavier chef knife will feel more adequate. If you have small hands or weak wrists, go for a reduction in length and weight, but not thickness. Blades that are too thin are less sturdy and will bend when cutting tough materials.
Note also that the “item weight” seen on retail platforms don’t usually reflect the real weight of the knife, but rather its whole package weight.
Forged vs. Stamped Knives
A forged knife is made from a single bar of metal and is heat-treated, annealed, and case-hardened to a high level. A stamped knife comes from a prefabricated metal sheet that is cut with a die in the desired shape and then sharpened.
Because they’re thicker, more sturdy, and more durable, forged knives dominate the high-quality (and high-price) end of the market. The best kitchen knives are usually forged.
Stamped knives are thinner, lighter, more flexible, and less expensive. They can’t take as much punishment, but can still serve you well in daily cutting tasks in the kitchen and last for years.
A knife’s edge angle, sharpening angle, or bevel angle is the angle at which the blade is cut to form the sharp tip at the edge. Usually, a knife edge is ground at the same angle on both sides, making a flat V-shape. When we say the knife has a 20-degree edge angle, we usually mean a 20-degree angle on each side of that V.
Kitchen knives can come in a relatively wide range of angles, so you may see anywhere from 12 to 25 degrees.
A smaller edge angle allows the knife to perform precision cuts with less effort, but it also chips more easily. A wider angle makes the blade less resistant to damage, but also make them more likely to squish your food rather than cut it.
Occasionally, you can find a knife (especially among the Japanese selections or bread knives) that is beveled on only one side, with the other side being vertical. Note that these are most often made with a right-handed cook in mind. If you cut with your left, you won’t get the exact performance you’re looking for.
The materials used to create a knife blade affect its overall hardness and lifespan. A way to measure a material’s resistance against indentation and deformation is with the Rockwell Scale, denoted by the acronym “HRC” (Hardness Rockwell type C).
Kitchen knives usually fall within the range of 54 to 63 HRC. A lower HRC value means the metal is softer, so the cutting edge will dull faster than that of a higher hardness value. This is a trade-off, though, because higher-HRC metals are more likely to chip and more difficult to sharpen once they wear down.
The desired hardness comes down to how you intend to use the knife. A hard blade is great for precision work. If you’re likely to be cutting hard materials, or using big chopping motions like a butcher, go for the softer material. Just realize you’ll have to sharpen your blade more often.
Reviews of the Best Kitchen Knives in 2021
The process of finding a quality kitchen knife can be very time consuming. We’ve spent weeks doing the research so you don’t have to.
- Wüsthof Classic: Best Kitchen Knife to Buy
- Cubikook Santoku: Best Santoku Knife
- Shun Premier: Best Japanese Knife
- Mercer Culinary Renaissance: Best Paring Knife
- Mercer Culinary Genesis 5”: Best Utility Knife
- BUBBA 9 Inch: Best Fillet Knife
- BUBBA Li-Ion: Best Electric Fillet Knife
- Victorinox Swiss Army: Best Bread Knife
- Messermeister Avanta: Best Carving Knife
- Juvale Meat Cleaver: Best Cleaver Knife
- Wusthof CLASSIC Butcher: Best Butcher Knife
Here’s our picks for the Best Kitchen Knives.
1. WÜSTHOF 4582/20 Chef’s Knife: Best to Buy in 2021
With their proven track record, we picked Wusthof as the most important knife to have in your kitchen. The Classic chef’s knife is forged from high-carbon stainless steel, sharpened to a 14-degree angle, and has a riveted full tang. It’s robust, sharp, durable, and reliable, though without the bells and whistles one would expect to see at such a price.
Full tang, riveted handle
Sharp (14 degrees)
Bolster for finger guard
Excellent Balance and Stability
The Classic chef’s knife is forged from one single piece of steel, sporting a thick, solid blade. Its tang runs all the way through the handle and is fastened with three rivets, giving it excellent balance and stability.
The plastic grip, while not particularly pretty, is neatly designed and is fitted seamlessly with the tang and bolster, leaving no gaps for dirt or food particles.
With a bolster that extends to the heel serving as a fingerguard, the knife offers extra safety for the cook. The substantial bolster also adds some weight to the knife, taking it up to a hefty 8.5 ounces.
Those with small hands or delicate wrists may find it a little heavy (in which case, check out the Cubikook Santoku right below). For most, though, the Classic will feel comfortable. The added weight may even aid in the cutting process.
The Right Balance of Hardness - Ductility
At 58 HRC, its hardness is more than sufficient for most cutting tasks, though not particularly impressive compared to other high-end knives. On the other hand, the knife is more ductile and less likely to chip or break under concentrated pressure than its harder counterparts.
With an extra narrow edge and reasonable size, weight, and hardness, the Wusthof Classic will excel at pretty much every cutting task in the kitchen. It’s expensive, but many top chefs have been using their Wüsthof Classic for decades and their glowing reviews suggest it’s an investment with a high return.
2. Cubikook Santoku: Best Santoku Knife
Cubikook is a new name in the cutlery world, but there’s an advantage to that: You don’t have to pay for the brand name. They offer quality knives on par with those of veteran brands, but at a fraction of the price. This santoku knife is a good example.
Forged with German steel
Full tang, bolster
Beautiful rosewood handle
Comes in an elegant gift box
Doesn’t support rocking motion
Small sized, may feel inadequate in big hands
An Agile Body
The Cubikook Santoku is made of German stainless steel— the kind you will find in Wüsthof and Henckels knives. It’s hardened to 56-58 HRC, striking an even balance between edge retention and ease of sharpening.
The santoku features a full tang that is securely fastened into the rosewood handle with three brass rivets. The knife feels solid, balanced, and weighted for its size of 7 inches, but still agile enough for smaller hands.
We loved that the bolster becomes thinner as it runs from the handle to the blade, providing a smooth transition instead of an abrupt indentation. With fingers resting on the bolster, it becomes more comfortable for blade-grippers.
It’s a great design for good sanitation, too: The absence of corners means there’s no space for grease or food particles to accumulate.
Dependable Sharpness for the Three Virtues
As typical of santokus, the Cubikook is sharpened to a 15-degree angle. This gives it a significant advantage when fine slicing and precision cutting. The dimples effectively prevent thin slices of meat or vegetables from sticking to the blade.
If you like to cut in a rocking motion, though, this knife is not a good choice due to its flat belly. Then again, that’s not how santokus are meant to be used.
The Cubikook Santoku is both a pragmatic and alluring choice: It excels in both performance and aesthetics, and is offered at a reasonable price. Coming in a pretty magnetic box, it would make a nice housewarming gift.
3. Shun Premier: Best Japanese Knife
The Shun Premier is handcrafted in Japan, but it’s more of a hybrid between the Japanese and German chef’s knife. It offers the best of both worlds: durability, sharpness, and relatively low maintenance.
Wide, anti-stick blade
Unique, outstanding design
Strong double-bevel edg
This is a knife that cuts it both on the chopping board and in the aesthetics department.
Phenomenal Edge Retention
The knife sports a VG Max core, giving it a high HRC rating of 60. However, in this case, greater hardness doesn’t come with a greater risk of breakage, thanks to 68 layers of cladding on both sides of the blade.
Beveled at a 16-degree angle on both sides of the blade, the Shun Premier may not have the overwhelming sharpness of the Japanese single-bevel sushi knives. It’s a worthy compromise, though — the Premier being a whole lot easier to maintain. It maintains its edge for longer and when the time comes, sharpening is straightforward. Not everyone has the sharpening skills of a fish slicer, after all.
Compared to other high-end double-bevel chef’s knives, though, the Premier’s sharpness is in no way mediocre. It passes with flying colors in both the paper and ripe tomato tests, and slices through everything like butter, save maybe for hard or frozen food.
Hammered Tsuchime Finish ft. Pakkawood Handle
Slicing is faster and more enjoyable with this knife than any other: its hammered tsuchime finish isn’t only for aesthetics, but also prevents food from sticking to the blade. The wide, substantial blade makes scooping food off the cutting board neat and easy, too.
The grip of the Premier features a gorgeous resin-impregnated wood finish known as PakkaWood, which, combined with the ornately stylized blade, makes this one of the most elegant functional knives on the market.
Admittedly, not everyone finds this knife affordable. But with Japanese quality in every feature, it’s well worth the high price.
4. Mercer Culinary Renaissance: Best Paring Knife
A paring knife’s purpose is to perform intricate tasks such as carving and peeling, and thus it does not need to be sizable or well-balanced. On the other hand, because precision is important, the knife needs a strong, sharp tip and a substantial handle. The 3.5 inch Mercer Culinary Renaissance paring knife offers just that.
Strong, sturdy construction
Small bolster, easy sharpening
Not extremely sharp out of the box
Substantial Handle Length
The blade is forged out of German stainless steel, and, as such, sports sufficient thickness and a full, long tang. The tang is tightly and seamlessly fastened into the POM grips with three rivets — rare for a knife of this size.
Its handle is understandably slimmer and shorter than that of a chef’s knife. Still, it offers enough length to run across the length of your palm (or two thirds across your palm if you have big hands) as you hold it. This offers superb leverage and stability.
If you’ve ever worked with a knife whose handle is buried in the middle of your palm, you will know how awkward it can be and will appreciate this feature.
A Smart Bolster
Being a forged knife, the Mercer Culinary has a bolster. However, instead of enhancing the blade-handle balance, this bolster serves as an extension to the handle to add weight and length. This is a smart move by the designer since you don’t need balance as much as handle-heaviness when it comes to paring knives.
The humble bolster size helps with sharpening, too. It easily stays clear of the small blade as you run it across a rod, stone, or pull-through sharpener.
The knife isn’t particularly sharp out of the box and if you’re used to working with surgically sharp paring knives, you may want to sharpen it to a smaller angle. After that, it won’t need to meet the stone very often: The high carbon stainless steel it’s made with can keep an edge for months at a time.
5. Mercer Culinary Genesis 5”: Best Utility Knife
Part of Mercer’s enormous line, this 5-inch utility blade is great when you need a little more precision than a chef’s knife, but don’t want to chip away with a paring knife.
German high-carbon stainless steel blade
Full riveted tang
A Forged Construction
Though smaller and cheaper than its cousins, the 5” Genesis is still fully forged from German high-carbon stainless steel.
It also comes with a bolster and a tang that runs all the way through the handle and is fastened with a rivet. These features, which are usually only seen on high-end knives, significantly increase its balance and durability. This is one of the rarer cheaper-end-of-the-market knives that can last for decades with proper maintenance.
The knife has a plain black Santoprene handle that’s molded to fit securely in your palm. This material is durable and easy to keep clean, too.
Though we didn’t discuss utility knives above, it shouldn’t surprise you that they are highly versatile, but serve a different function than the larger chef’s knife. You’ll notice the blade is no wider than the handle, making them a lot less convenient than a chef’s knife when chopping on a board.
On the other hand, this makes it easier to maneuver the knife in the air. As such, this utility knife is perfect for slicing your sandwiches, bagels, fruits, cheeses, and many other small items. Many believe this versatile little knife is an essential kitchen item.
Furthermore, if you don’t have a boning knife, it can serve as a reasonable stand-in there too.
Like nearly all of Mercer’s offerings, the Genesis is covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
6. BUBBA 9 Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife: Best Fillet Knife
BUBBA is a popular name among fishermen and their fillet knives have a lot to offer in the kitchen too. With a secure grip, strong but thin blade, and a coating that protects it from salty materials, the BUBBA 9 Inch Tapered Flex is the knife you need if you’re prone to working with whole fish.
Sufficient hardness for most kitchen tasks
Firm, secure grip
Not suitable for precision work
Handle splits may accumulate germs
Tapered Flex Thin Blade
BUBBA fillet knives come in several different degrees of flexibility, from Stiff to Ultra Flex. The Tapered Flex line leans towards the flexible side, but still offers sufficient rigidity for most casual tasks.
This one sports a thin, narrow blade that will run smoothly around the bones of a big fish or beef rib. At the same time, there’s sufficient hardness and stability nearer the handle to remove gills, divide smaller bones on a fish, or remove excess fat on a turkey.
The long pointed tip allows it to handle more detailed jobs with ease. It excels at skinning, plucking out fins, or puncturing and cleaning out the gut.
Being pliable, however, it’s not a great choice for precision cutting. It also isn’t the one to reach for when you want straight, clean cuts through particularly thick pieces of meat or the spine of a 30-pound tuna.
Fillet knives tend to deal with more salt than other types of knives: from the fish themselves (in the seawater that remains on the fish), and if you’re on a fishing trip in the sea (from the salt in the air). It doesn’t take long for a knife, especially a high carbon one, to develop a little corrosion on its blade.
Designed for both seawater and freshwater fish, the BUBBA knife blade is protected with a titanium-nitride coating to prevent corrosion. This coating also improves edge retention, keeping the knife razor-sharp for a long time.
BUBBA’s fillet knives are recognizable by their iconic red handle. It’s also very ergonomic with a contoured grip and a fingerguard. As for the narrow splits in the grips, we have mixed feelings. On a knife that’s constantly stained with water, blood, and fat, they help immensely with increasing friction and preventing slips. On the other hand, these cracks can also be a breeding ground for germs, if you don’t wash them thoroughly.
7. BUBBA Li-Ion Cordless Electric Knife: Best Electric Fillet Knife
If you have to work on dozens of fish at a time, an electric fillet knife will be well worth the investment. This BUBBA kit includes blades of different sizes and stiffness to handle any type of fish. It’s portable too if you want to do the filleting right there on your boat.
Compact design, portable
Affordable for what you get
Easy to use
Big bulky handle
More complicated washing process than manual knives
Powered by an electric motor, the BUBBA fillet knife’s blade moves rapidly back and forth so you don’t have to saw through the fish. It comes complete with four blades: two flexible (7-inch and 9-inch) and two stiff (9-inch and 12-inch).
As such, it can handle all kinds and sizes of fish with ease: from trouts and salmon to tuna. Be it skinning, dividing, or filleting, there’s no task it can’t deal with. It only takes a few seconds to alternate between blades, too.
Not confined to a power outlet, the BUBBA offers the option of a rechargeable Li-ION battery. Now, the perfect fillet is achievable right there during your camping or fishing trip! Plus, there’s a LED battery life indicator so you will always know when to recharge the device.
It also comes with a compact EVA box, allowing you to store the blades, charger, and batteries neatly in one place.
You can never be too careful with a sharp blade, especially when it’s an automatic one like an electric fillet knife. Thus, BUBBA added a trigger guard to prevent accidental activation of the motor. Its handle is extra grippy too, with a rough surface and ergonomic design. The only small downside is its size, which may feel a little too bulky for someone with small hands.
8. Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro: Best Bread Knife
Whereas meat prep often benefits from an expensive, stiff, forged blade, there’s no need to break the bank for a bread knife. The Victorinox, crafted in Switzerland and stamped from European steel, does the job just fine.
Sharp serrated edge
Thin blade, cuts neatly through bread/fruit
Narrow blade, not suitable for large bread
The Victorinox features a long, straight body with an 8-inch blade — long enough to handle any size of loaf. Fully serrated from tip to heel, its sharp edge is more than a match for tomatoes, pineapples, and, of course, loaves of bread. It will deliver a clean, smooth cut through any hard crust with little difficulty.
Although the plastic handle is nothing to write home about, it’s comfortable to hold and easy to clean.
A Lightweight Body
The Victorinox bread knife is beveled on only one side of the blade. This means it tends to create an angle as it cuts through a loaf, making one end of the slice thicker than the other. This will not have such an obvious effect when slicing through lighter bread. When slicing particularly thick, heavy bread, you may have to apply a little pressure to keep the cut straight.
Since the knife has a narrow, and thus lightweight, blade, you could slice a dozen loaves without tiring your wrist.
On the other hand, it may feel a little flimsy if you’re slicing thick, hard loaves. In which case, you may want to check out its Victorinox brethren with a wider blade.
The knife is dishwasher-safe, although Victorinox still recommends hand-washing.
9. Messermeister Avanta Kullenschliff: Best Carving Knife
Boasting a forged construction, pointed tip, and anti-stick dimples along its blade, the Messermeister Avanta Kullenschliff Carving Knife is the one to reach for when you want a clean, precise cut of meat from a rib.
Sturdy forged construction
Good blade-handle balance
Lack of storage box
Accompanied by a fork of the same quality, it’s an unbeatable set, especially considering the price.
Designed for Working on Meat
On the Messermeister, the spine is curved, which combines with the belly to create a long, pointed tip. This allows it to puncture through the even toughest of parts and follow the contours of the bones, carving out the most meat possible.
It’s more an in-the-air knife, but the Messermeister is surprisingly good at working on the cutting board, too. This is thanks to a full bolster, which adds some weight to the handle and balances out the long blade.
The 16 dimples on each side of the blade create air pockets that encourage thin, moist slices of meat to fall off instead of sticking to the blade or each other.
The Perfect Combo
The set includes a fork to assist with precision cutting and secure transferring of food.
The fork is made from the same materials as the knife, with its two tines being one-inch shorter than the blade. It also has the same butt-capped, triple-riveted pakkawood handle that’s both elegant and easy to clean.
The set could only be more perfect if Messermeister included a box or other container for storing. They’re meant to be used together after all. Then again, for the price point, you can’t really complain.
10. Juvale Meat Cleaver: Best Cleaver Knife
If you’ve never had a cleaver before, here are two things to look for when buying one: a broad, soft blade for chopping, tenderizing, and mincing meat, and a sturdy construction. The Juvale has both, and, even better, it’s sold at a very affordable price.
Heavy blade, full tang, sturdy build
Ductile stainless steel
Hole for hanging
Wooden handle needs extra care
When it comes to knives, a high level of hardness often translates to a high level of effectiveness.
Not with meat cleavers, though. Since they have to put up with a lot of high impact use from cutting tough materials (small bones and cartilages, for example), a hard, brittle blade would mean a higher risk of chipping and snapping.
So, instead of high carbon steel, the Juvale is made entirely from stainless steel. This material has a lower HRC, and thus offers sufficient ductility to survive any kind of abuse. Stainless steel is also more resistant to corrosion caused by meat juice.
You have to run it through a honing rod more often to keep the edge straight, of course, but that’s a lot easier than fixing a chipped edge.
The blade is stamped, as you can tell from the price and the lack of bolster. It’s thick and strong enough for most home kitchens, hence our favor for it. However, if you often have heavy-duty chopping to do, a more substantial forged knife like the Wusthof would be a better fit.
Triple-riveted Wood Handle
Despite being a stamped knife, the Juvale still boasts a full tang that’s visible between the grips. It’s fastened to the grips with three rivets too, giving you the confidence to make high, powerful chops without worrying about the blade flying off across your kitchen.
Juvale has an interesting choice for the handle material. On one hand, wood is elegant, grippy, and exudes impressiveness. On the other hand, it’s easily affected by heat and moisture. It’s essential that you give the knife a thorough wash and use a cloth to dry it off immediately after.
With such a wide blade, this knife isn’t going to fit in any block nor will it leave space for anything else on a magnetic holder. Thankfully, there’s a hole on the top of the blade so you can hook it on the wall.
11. Wusthof CLASSIC Butcher Knife: Best Butcher Knife
If you work a lot with meat and want a knife that’s more versatile than a cleaver but with a more meat-specific design than a chef’s knife, invest in the Wusthof CLASSIC Butcher Knife. It’s expensive, for sure, but its look and functionality are worth every penny.
Contoured blade, sharp tip
Wusthof makes some of the finest knives on the market and this butcher knife is a good example.
The knife boasts a forged construction and a full bolster that extends to the heel. On a butcher knife, this is particularly good because the bolster not only safeguards your finger but also offers some extra impetus when there’s tough cartilage to trim or a small bone to break.
With a contoured blade and sharp pointed tip, skinning and trimming are a piece of cake. The blade is wider near the tip, giving you the leverage to chop effortlessly on the board. On each side of it are 13 anti-slip dimples to reduce friction and speed up the cutting process.
Wusthof makes the handle from POM, a plastic that’s known for its resistance against moisture and discoloration. It’s easy to clean, too, with no cracks or textures. As typical of Wusthof knives, it’s fastened with three rivets along the thick full tang.
The handle is flush, but we have to say it is more functional than it is pretty. On a knife that’s constantly in contact with raw meat, however, hygiene and stability are much more important than looks.
Top-rated Kitchen Knives Comparison Table
|Product||Blade Length||Edge Angle||Material/ Hardness||Consider it if...|
|Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife||8 in||14 degrees||* High-carbon stainless steel|
* 58 HRC
|You want the most well-rounded knife and are willing to pay for it|
|Cubikook Santoku||7 in||15 degrees||*Stainless steel|
|You want good quality without the brand price tag|
|Shun Premier||8 in||16 degrees||* High-carbon stainless steel core, stainless cladding|
* 60 HRC
|Aesthetics and quality are equally important to you|
|Mercer Culinary Renaissance Paring Knife||3.5 in||15 degrees||* High carbon stainless steel|
|You're looking for a strong knife for peeling, carving, and other intricate tasks|
|Mercer Culinary Genesis Utility Knife||5 in||15-18 degrees||* High carbon no stain steel|
* 58 HRC
|There are random cutting tasks that don’t require a full chef’s knife|
|BUBBA Tapered Flex Fillet Knife||9 in||20-25 degrees||* High carbon stainless steel, Ti-Nitride coated|
* 56 - 58 HRC
|You have a few fish to fillet at a time|
|BUBBA Electric Fillet Knife||7 - 12 in||20-25 degrees||* Stainless steel|
* Ti-Nitride coated
|You work with fish very often|
|Victorinox Fibrox Pro Bread Knife||8 in||18 degrees||* European steel||Medium-sized bread is a staple in your home|
|Messermeister Avanta||7 - 8 in||N/A||*Stainless steel||Roast and grilled meat is an important part of your diet|
|Juvale Meat Cleaver||8 in||N/A||* Stainless steel||Your food prepping involves chopping ribs and hard vegetables|
|Wusthof Classic Butcher Knife||8 in||N/A||* High-carbon stainless steel|
* 58 HRC
|You work with large pieces of meat daily|
A Word on Kitchen Knife Handle Material
A good kitchen knife can last a lifetime, so you want a handle that is both comfortable in your hand and easy to maintain. Make sure it’s not too slippery even when it gets wet, and that both its width and length are a good match for the size of your hand.
Wood, the most traditional material, works well and looks pretty. However, it is vulnerable to moisture, mold, and bacteria. Plus, wood is often more expensive than plastic and other synthetics.
Polymer and rubberized handles may not look as good, but they’re more sanitary than wood and often last longer as well. They’re also easy to form into whatever shape the manufacturer desires, so ergonomics becomes less of an issue.
Some brands offer wood that has been treated or encased in a polymer resin. This gives it a traditional look without the vulnerabilities of bare wood. These are generally great options, though they may be a bit more expensive than pure synthetics.
Best Kitchen Knife Brands
The top seven brands of cutlery products on the US market.
1. Shun Cutlery
Shun (pronounced “shoon”) is a Japanese company that draws inspiration from the storied history of Samurai sword-making techniques. They hail from Seki City, a place viewed as the heart of Japanese blade making for centuries.
Like the blacksmiths of old, Shun views the personal connection to the blade as crucial. Each knife receives individual, hands-on attention during the forging process. Their fusion of high-tech materials with both modern and classical production techniques results in fantastic blades that are famous all over the world.
Dalstrong is a Toronto-based company that draws on Japanese techniques. They source high-quality steel from various places like Germany, Japan, and elsewhere, and then manufacture it all in Yangjiang, the home of China’s own blade making tradition.
Though a relatively young company, Dalstrong has become known for quality at a reasonable price. Few will dispute the fact that their steel comes out looking beautiful, though some may argue they focus more on aesthetics than they should. They do back their products up, though. On the off chance there is a problem, Dalstrong offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and lifetime warranty.
Wüsthof is a famous German brand, but has expanded to include some Japanese styles in their product line as well. The company has been owned and operated by the same family for seven generations out of Solingen, Germany’s “City of Blades.”
Wüsthof uses modern forging technologies and the latest inspection techniques to maintain their renowned level of German engineering. That said, they don’t let automation take over the process fully. Every blade gets personal attention to ensure they can consider it worthy of the brand’s storied history. Wüsthof makes some of the best kitchen knives on the market nowadays.
4. Zelite Infinity
Zelite Infinity is a family-operated manufacturer with a small footprint, but a big reputation. Like many of the world’s best smiths, Zelite specializes only in knives, and so has honed their craft well. Their products are made from imported Japanese VG-10 “Super Steel” and crafted over the course of 60 days using German standard operating procedures.
Unlike many, Zelite only sells online, meaning you won’t be able to go to the store and try the knife on for size. However, they set customers’ minds at ease with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Victorinox is probably most famous for their Swiss Army Knives, beloved by scouts and handymen the world over. But since their founding in 1884, they’ve had plenty of time to expand. Unlike most of the knives on this list, Victorinox’s kitchen cutlery is stamped rather than forged. However, it is regarded as among the best in the stamped category.
7. Mercer Culinary
Based out of New York City, Mercer Culinary is famous for their barware and wide line of restaurant-oriented kitchenware. Their immense cutlery line covers all uses and features inexpensive stamped and high-end forged blades. They also focus on specialty kitchen items using modern materials such as their high-temperature nylon “Hell’s Tools” line.
6. J.A. Henckels
With three centuries of experience in making blades, the Germany-based J.A. Henkels is one of the most trusted cutlery manufacturers in the world. J.A. Henckels maintains several different knife brands and produces multiple product lines, tapping both the high-end and budget cutlery markets.
J.A. Henckels knives, most of which are hand-honed by the company’s master bladesmiths, are famous for their sharpness. They’re also known to be very durable— it’s not unusual to see Henckels knives passed down among generations in a family as kitchen heirlooms.
Best Kitchen Knives: The Bottom Line
Picking the best kitchen knives can be a little tricky, and we recommend sticking with well established brands for guaranteed quality. You don’t always have to splurge on the most expensive items— sometimes the improvements are minimal and barely detectable by a non-professional cook. That said, don’t hesitate to invest in a quality knife when you find one. With proper maintenance, it can serve you for decades.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.