The first time I decided I needed a knife set, Zwilling JA Henckels was among the most highly recommended brands. The German company has 300 years of experience in making knives, I heard, and so I decided they would be the brand I want.
But when I went online for a research, I was still completely overwhelmed.
For a start, J.A. Henckels has 2 different brands. Then, each of the brands offers like a dozen different Henckels kitchen knife sets with a long list of different knives, some of which don’t even look so different from each other.
Which one should I get? I didn’t want to miss out on an important knife. Nor did I want to buy ones that will stay forever in the block to collect dust.
I figured it must be the same for other people, especially those who just recently considered working in the kitchen on a frequent basis. If you’ve been confused about all the knife sets, rest assured you’re not alone.
As a cook, choosing the right knives is probably only one among a hundred other important and trivial things you have to worry about. Save your time and peace of mind for the real work, and let me be your guide in this matter.
A Comparison of the Best J.A. Henckels Knife Sets
First of all, let’s take a look at these four knife sets by J.A. Henckels. There are other sets with a different number of pieces on the market; however, these are the most popular and well-loved ones.
|18 piece set||16 piece set||11 piece set||7 piece knife set|
|J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio||J.A. Henckels International Classic||Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature||Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature|
|Forged (except steak knives)||All forged||Stamped||Stamped|
|China made, German steel||Made in Spain||Made in Germany||Made in Germany|
|Sharpening steel||Sharpening steel||Sharpening steel||Sharpening steel|
|Hardwood block||Bamboo block||Hardwood block||Hardwood block|
|8in chef's knife||8in chef's knife||8in chef's knife||8in chef's knife|
|6in utility knife||6in utility knife||6in utility knife||5in utility knife|
|3in paring knife||4in paring knife||4in paring knife||4in paring knife|
|-||2.5in peeler||2.5in peeler||2-1/2in peeler|
|5in serrated utility||5in serrated utility||5in serrated utility||-|
|7in santoku||5in santoku||7in santoku||-|
|8in bread knife||-||8in bread knife||-|
|8 steak knives||6 steak knives||1 steak knife||-|
|5in boning knife||5.5in boning knife||-||-|
I made this table so you can take a quick look to see which set includes what.
As you can see, each of the sets includes the three basic knives: a chef’s knife, a utility, and a paring knife.
A chef’s knife is for general cutting, chopping, and slicing in the kitchen. It can be used for many different types of cuts. An utility knife, meanwhile, can be used when you want to slice softer fruits and veggies, or trim excess fat on a piece of meat. Finally, a paring knife is useful for cutting and carving small fruits and veggies with precision and ease.
Each of the knife set also comes with a sharpening steel, a pair of shears, and a nicely made woodblock to store the knives. Note that these 3 are all counted as items in the set. So if you have, say a 11-piece-set, there are actually only 8 knifes.
Also, the size of the blocks may differ to accommodate the different number of items each set offers.
So that’s a quick overview of the 4 sets. Now let’s dive deeper to see how the differences in the sizes and the numbers of items in each set can practically change your kitchen experience.
1. J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set – Best overall
This is one of the larger knife sets offered by the J.A. Henckels International brand. You can find the product name and brand logo along the blade as well as on the butt cap.
In the set: This set includes a chef’s knife, 2 utility knives (one smooth, one serrated), a paring knife, a hollow edge santoku, a boning knife, and a bread knife. They’re all the knives you need for casual as well as complicated cutting work in the kitchen.It also comes with 8 steak knives, a pair of shears, a sharpening steel, and an elegant hardwood block.
The 17 knives can create quite a crowd on the block. Since there are so many of them, it’s quite hard to pick out the right knife immediately. I can’t tell them apart by their handles at all!
Handle: All the knives have a full tang running all the way through a plastic handle, which is fastened with 3 rivets. The butt is a metal cap, which helps to further secure the handle and the blade. It’s beautiful and easy to grip.
Weight and balance: All the knives, except the steak knives, are forged. They’re thicker and heavier than stamped knives, and never bend. With a bolster at the center, they’re also more well-balanced. If precision in the cuts is what you want, you will be happy with these!
Durability: Forged knives are well-known for their durability. These ones are made in China with high quality steel imported from Germany. If you treat them well, they typically hold up for decades.
Sharpness: As typical of all JA Henckels, these knives are surgically sharp out of the box. The ease while cutting actually shocked some users! However, you may need to hone or sharpen them once every few days to maintain the butter-like cuts.
Cleaning: With a smooth bolster at the center separating between the blade and the handle, these knives are extremely easy to wash. It’s best to wash and dry them as soon after use as possible – even the high quality stainless steel is still prone to dullness and even rusting if left dirty.
Overall, these are well-made knives that stay true to JA Henckels moniker.
They’re for the cook who wants quality knives to enhance speed and precision in the prep work so they can focus on making as delicious and eye-pleasing dishes as their creativity allows. With 8 uniformed steak knives, it fits perfectly with a cozy family and friend gathering.
2. J.A. Henckels International Classic 16-piece Set – Best for the classiness-oriented cook
This set of very finely-made knives belongs to the Classic line – one of the best among the J.A. Henckels International’s. Each of the knives comes with a stamp along the blade with the brand name, and place of origin.
Unlike many other J.A. Henckels International knives, which are made in China, these are Spain made.
In the set: There’s a chef’s, 2 utility knives (a 6 inch unserrated and a 5 inch serrated), a hollow-edge santoku, a paring knife, a bread knife, a boning knife, a curved peeling knife, and 6 forged steak knives (all unserrated). It also comes with a sharpening steel, one pair of shears, and a superb bamboo block that I’m sure you will love.
Handle: Typical of JA Henckels knives, these come with a full tang and an ergonomic plastic handle. They’re securely fastened to each other with 3 metal rivets, giving them extra sturdiness and stability.
Weight and balance: Each of the knives in this set is forged from a high carbon stainless steel. They feel firm and nicely weighted in your hand. They’re extremely well-balanced, with a bolster that adds more weight to the middle of the knife.
If you’ve used casual knives before, you will immediately notice the difference when you have your grip on these. You can even tell with your eyes closed!
Durability: Thick, strong, and made of high quality materials, these knives can hold their edges for a lifetime. Even the steak knives are all forged to ensure you never have to replace them. All of them come with a lifetime warranty.
Unlike stamped knives, these never feel flimsy. No bending or direction change while you cut firm stuff. Each of the knife is an extension of your intention, offering highly accurate cuts every single time.
That is, if you know how to maintain them properly.
Sharpness: The knives are shaving sharp (although we don’t recommend using them for shaving). They can keep their edge with only occasional honing for about 6 to 12 months before they need serious sharpening.
Cleaning: Cleaning these knives is a piece of cake, as it is other Henckels knives. Wash them immediately after use with mild soap, wipe them dry with a towel, and put them into the block. Never leave them dirty or put them into the dishwasher – that’s not how to treat high end knives!
All forged, made in Spain, and surgically sharp, these knives cut where, when, and how you want it. It’s the best for the cook who seeks their joy and pride in giving clean, precise cuts on the materials to make every dish they serve a classy piece of art.
3. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 11-Piece Set – Best for the precision loving home cook
This set is made-in-Germany, and is a Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature with a red logo on the handle. The logo is also printed along the blade, as well as at the front of the block.
In the set: You will find a chef’s knife, a hollow-edge santoku, a utility knife, serrated utility knife, a paring knife, a bread cutter, and a peeler. It also includes one 4 ½ inches steak knife.
Also counted as items in the set are a pair of shears, a sharpening steel, and a wooden block.
Handle: The handle is made of polymer. It’s ergonomic, easy to hold, and is fastened to the tang with 3 metal rivets. The tang is long – it runs all the way through the handle, as opposed to those in cheap knives which only run through one-third of the handle length.
Weight and balance: All of the knives are stamped, which means they’re cut out of a large metal sheet. All the items are thin and are of moderate weight, compared to forged knives.
Durability: With high-carbon stainless-steel blades, the knives keep their edges over time very well. They’re also ice-hardened, which keeps them free from chipping and staining. Definitely not one of those knives that gets dull and rusty after a couple uses!
Sharpness: These are hand-honed by the most professional artisans from JA Henckels and are amazingly sharp. You may need to be extra careful the first time you use and wash them. The sharpening steel is extremely handy for a quick honing whenever you feel like it.
Cleaning: Cleaning these knives is a bliss, thanks to the materials as well as the simple and seamless construction. Wash them with soap and rinse them under water after use, before drying them with a piece of cloth. It’s advised to not put them into the dishwasher – that would reduce the life of the plastic handle quite quickly.
If you’re a home cook who is not only practical but also highly aestheticism-oriented and want all the kinds of your food cleanly and nicely cut, this set is for you.
4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 7-Piece Set – Best for the starting home cook
In the set: This set comes with a chef’s knife, a utility knife, a paring knife, and one peeling knife. Together with the shears, the sharpening steel, and the wooden block, they make the smallest set currently offered by Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
As a Twin Signature, all of the knives in this set come with red Henckels twin logo on the handle, and the brand name and origin along the blade.
Handle: The traditional-style polymer handles are a bliss to hold – they offer a much better grip than steel handles. They’re fastened very securely to the tangs with three rivets and a special glue, leaving no space for small particles of food to get stuck there.
Weight and balance: As they’re stamped knives, these are naturally thinner and more lightweight than forged knives. They’re well-balanced, as all Henckels are. However, apart from the 8-inch-chef’s knife, other items may be slightly smaller than you imagine.
Durability: The set is made with high carbon, stainless steel – very firm and durable. These blades have also undergone a Friodur ice-hardening process, which further strengthens them and protects them from discoloration.
They are, however, quite thin, as typical of stamped knives. If you try to cut very firm items, you may see the blades slightly bend.
Sharpness: These knives are VERY SHARP. When they’re made, the edge is laser cut for extreme consistency of the angle on the blade. Then it gets hand-honed by the professionals. If you’ve been using casual knives, the difference is like day and night.
Cleaning: Since there’s no space between the handle and the tang, these knives are quite easy to clean. Therefore, it’s best to wash them by hand even though the producer says they’d be safe in a dishwasher.
With the basic knives and necessary accessories, this set is a good starter for the new home cook. Add into the collection some steak knives, and you should be ready to go.