Kitchen knife sets
Owning a quality set of kitchen knives isn’t just reserved for professional chefs. Anyone who enjoys cooking, prepares their own meals or is simply interested in the culinary world can benefit from a good knife collection. A well-made knife set should be thought of as an investment, making chopping and slicing safer, and meal prep quick and efficient.
Due to the pandemic, home cooking is on the rise. Many first-time cooks are even finding the experience to be an enjoyable form of creative expression. This top pick, Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Knife Set, offers a variety of blades meant for precision, perfect for both beginners and experienced chefs.
What to know before you buy a kitchen knife set
Types of knives
Knife sets can include a variety of knives designed to tackle different tasks. These include:
- Chef’s knife: Your chef’s knife will likely be used most often, as it’s made for slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing and more. Blade length can range from 6-14 inches.
- Slicing knife: Utilizing a long thin blade, these knives are meant for slicing through roasts, turkey, steaks and even some vegetables.
- Carving knife: Similar to slicing knives, a carving knife is best used to portion out meat and poultry.
- Carving fork: A long two-pronged utensil, carving forks are used to hold food securely in place while cutting, protecting your hands and fingers.
- Bread knife: As the name suggests, a bread knife sports a long serrated blade designed to easily slice through bread. Average blade length for a bread knife is 7-10 inches.
- Utility knife: Smaller than a chef’s knife, these knives are designed to do a little bit of everything, from slicing to dicing. These knives are ideal for prepping fruits and vegetables.
- Boning knife: With a thinner and more flexible blade, boning knives are great for separating meat from the bone.
- Paring knife: These smaller knives with 3-4 inch blades are versatile and are primarily used to trim, cut, peel and prepare produce.
- Cleavers: Cleavers sport larger rectangular blades and can be used to cut through most meats, or used to finely mince vegetables and herbs.
- Knife sharpener: Some sets include a steel honing rod or built-in knife sharpener which is used to keep your blades in pristine condition.
Forged vs. stamped
When choosing a knife set, consider whether the knives are forged or stamped, as it can play a role in their overall quality.
Forged knives are crafted by an expert and use either heated or melted metal to form the distinct blade shape. This method produces a heavier, well-balanced, durable and oftentimes sharper knife.
Stamped knives are usually machine-cut from large sheets of metal, making them lighter and less expensive, but also less durable.
While it ultimately comes down to preference, the blade and handle materials can be an important factor in your decision, depending on your style of cooking. Common blade materials include:
Carbon steel: Carbon steel is tough, durable and easiest to sharpen, but issues with rust can occur.
Stainless steel: Resistant to rust and corrosion, these blades are another long-lasting option; however, their overall quality and sharpness can vary.
High-carbon stainless steel: Lightweight and easy to sharpen, blades made with high-carbon stainless steel are a solid option, though they can sometimes be expensive.
Ceramic: Ceramic knives won’t rust or stain, and their blades tend to remain sharper longer than steel models. One downside is their higher likelihood of chipping or cracking.
When choosing a handle, those made out of wood, metal, hard plastics, fiberglass and resins last longer than more decorative options like bone.
There are several ways you can properly store your kitchen knives at home. Many sets come with a knife block, which is essentially a block of wood with cut-out slits designed to store and protect your blades.
Other popular storage options include magnetic knife strips, which can be conveniently installed in your kitchen and suspend your knives in place by the blade. These don’t work with ceramic sets.
Knife docks are somewhat similar to wooden storage blocks but are designed to fit in your kitchen drawer, separating the blades and keeping them from dulling or being damaged.
A chef knife roll bag is a great storage option for those who might want to travel with their knives, as they feature convenient handles and keep your knives secure while on the go.
What to look for in a quality kitchen knife set
Weight and balance
If the weight of your knife is too heavy or too light, you may run into issues when preparing your meals. Ideally, you should have a knife that feels balanced in your hand without feeling overly top-heavy or flimsy. Having a sturdy grip and feel means there will be less effort required when chopping and slicing multiple ingredients.
Those who prefer slightly lighter knives may benefit from a Japanese knife set, while those looking for heavier options will be satisfied with a German-style set.
The area where the blade and handle join is called the hilt. Quality knife sets should have a hilt that feels thick and comfortable in your hand, as this is often where your grip will land.
Sharp blades mean fewer accidents and injuries, as well as more efficient preparation. High-quality knives should be sharp from the start. By choosing a material that doesn’t dull quickly, you can reduce the amount of time spent sharpening your blades.
How much you can expect to spend on a knife set
You can find less expensive knife sets for under $100, though high-end models can cost upwards of $300.
Kitchen knife set FAQ
Are kitchen knife sets a worthwhile purchase?
A. While it depends on how often you cook, for most people a knife set is absolutely worth it. By choosing an inclusive set, you won’t have to worry about lacking the necessary tools when attempting to make more advanced dishes or trying new recipes.
Can I store my kitchen knives in a drawer?
A. It’s fine to store your knives in a drawer if you’re using a knife dock. Otherwise, the loose blades can dull over time and are more likely to cause cuts and injuries when reaching your hand in to remove them.
What’s the best kitchen knife set to buy?
Top kitchen knife set
What you need to know: An appealing 7-piece collection from a respected brand, perfect for all skill levels.
What you’ll love: Precision-forged with high-carbon stainless steel, these knives can easily cut through the toughest ingredients.
What you should consider: Somewhat expensive for a 7-piece set, but it does feature premium construction.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top kitchen knife set for the money
What you need to know: The unique industrial appearance will appeal to a wide array of home chefs.
What you’ll love: This set features multiple knife styles with sharp blades at an affordable price.
What you should consider: Blades can sometimes tarnish after extended use.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: With a wide variety of quality knife options, you can cook up any meal.
What you’ll love: The high-carbon stainless steel perfectly complements the Pakkawood handles, offering stylish professional quality.
What you should consider: For some users, the blades dulled quicker than expected.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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