Whether you are a keen cook or just started the journey, the apt blades must be at your fingertips. And with a good set of knives, food preparation becomes fast, easy, smooth, and comfortable.
However, shopping for a knife or knife set is no less than a skill. For beginners, almost every new knife is sharp, and you will encounter knife sets at a wide price range in varied styles.
So, instead of hanging up on only sharp or stylish, purse-friendly knives or knife sets, look into the factors that hold up a knife over time. To narrow down: your search for the best knife set, we are here with how to choose a good kitchen knife set.
- How to choose a good kitchen knife set? (Kitchen knife buying guide)
- German steel knives vs. Japanese steel knives
- Advantages & disadvantages of knife sets
- How to maintain a knife set?
- Best kitchen knife brands to choose from
- Other essential kitchen knives
- Accessories needed with a knife set
- FAQs: How to choose a good kitchen knife set
- What are the 3 knives that everyone should have?
- What are 6 suggestions for buying knives?
- How can you tell if a kitchen knife is good quality?
- The Final Word: How to choose the best knife set?
How to choose a good kitchen knife set? (Kitchen knife buying guide)
A knife should feel and act like an extension of your hand. There lies the comfort. So, when selecting a knife set, consider the factors that guarantee a comforting and safe experience in the kitchen.
The essential knife trio: (Most used knives in the kitchen)
Many knife block sets contain 5-piece, 6-piece, and even 10-piece knives, which seems to be a good deal only if you are sure to use each frequently. But, in reality, you need three kitchen knives to finish most cutting and chopping.
The three knives used the most are:
It is the large, all-purpose, and most-used knife equivalent to the Japanese Santoku knives. Use it to chop veggies and herbs, cut chicken, slice meat, mince garlic, and so on. Chef’s knives are 5 to 10 inches long. Choose the size you feel comfortable with. But remember, a long knife gives more cutting space.
Paring or Utility Knife:
It is a small knife size ranging between 2- 4-inch. It is ideal for doing finer tasks, like cutting fruits and small veggies, mincing herbs, trimming the fat from meat, or slicing wedges of hard cheese. Too short-paring knives are not as versatile as the slightly longer ones.
A long 9 -10 inches knife with serrated edges is what you need for slicing bread, roasting, and cutting very soft vegetables and fruits with waxy or thick skin. Use it for eggplants, and tomatoes, peeling the rinds of pineapples, melons, and hard winter squash. It is one knife that saves you money since many serrated knives are long-lasting. However, they cannot be sharpened with a sharpening steel.
There are many other knife-specialized knives that you will learn about and gradually add as needed.
Material: What metal is good for a kitchen knife
A knife’s virtue owes to the material of the blades. All knife blades are of engineered alloys of metals that differ in durability, resistance to staining and pitting, ability to hold an edge, and more. Let’s check out those materials.
Damascus steel is not a material but a complex forging process. It is a layering method of two or more steel shaped into repeated folds. Rigid and more brittle steel forms the core and edge, and soft but sturdy steel forms the protective exterior. Damascus steel knives are sturdy and flexible with distinctive patterns.
Carbon steel is one of the strongest and sharpest kitchen knives. It is a combination of steel and 0.5-1.5% carbon that give it strength and razor-sharpness. The only hitch is its vulnerability to rust and stains. Without proper maintenance, it develops an oxidized layer which affects not the performance but reacts with acidic foods.
The extensively used knives by chefs and home cooks, stainless steel knives are an alloy of iron, chromium, and carbon with other metals that give them stain-resistant, durable, sharp edges. The sharpness stays long and can be regained with the sharpening tool at home. Stainless steel knives can be of high-end and low grade with a difference in quality. But remember, a high-end model hardly needs any specific maintenance.
If a knife without metal blades is your preference, ceramic knives are the best alternative. A super-hard, lightweight, ultra-sharp material ceramic blades hold an edge that lives the longest of all. They don’t blunt or wear fast because they hardly cause friction. Ceramic blades being nonreactive to chemicals, neither discolor/rust nor alter the food taste.
High-carbon stainless steel:
These are “designer” versions of stainless steel with a good balance of aesthetic beauty, sharpness, anti-corrosion, and edge retention features. It is probably the standard set for kitchen knives. While stainless steel knives are stamped, high-carbon stainless steel is stamped and forged. However, they need maintenance. Brands like Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Wusthof, Global, and Victorinox sell high-carbon stainless steel knives.
Never scrape off ingredients with the knife’s edges. Turn your knife upside down and push them with the back or spine across the board to avoid blunting. Or use a scraper.
Construction: Know the construction technique of a knife
As a shopper, you will come across stamped knives, forged from, full tang, etc. These term forms are essential for the selection process as they describe the construction. Here is what you must know about them:
Forged knives are the best of all knives. They are sturdy, durable, and well-balanced and feature sharp edges. Each forged kitchen knife is made from a single metal piece molded under high temperature to create the shape.
Knives cut from a flattened steel sheet fall under the stamped knife category. They are generally less expensive and hold quality not so good. Neither of their edges is as good as forged knives. Stamped knife blades are lighter and more flexible advantageous for a boning knife.
A tang is the metal part of the knife that spreads into the handle. A full tang knife means the metal part of the blade extends into the handle sandwiched along the blade’s edge. A full tang knife is a well-balanced knife with a slightly heavier handle. It gives better stability and control.
To find the suitable handle: hold them and mimic slicing and rocking motions to see if it feels balanced and comfortable.
Features of knives: Which feature of a knife is most important?
While searching kitchen knives, you may have stumbled upon various metrics that are essential to know of. Below are those features that will help you select the apt knife set.
Consider the length of the knife blade so you can cut large and small items comfortably. A longer blade has a deeper cutting edge, so things with volume cut more comfortably.
The weight of a knife is also relevant. If you have a heavy knife, often it may not fit well in the hand. At the same time, an extremely lightweight knife may not give the desired result. Hence, go for a knife with a balanced weight so your knife skill grows while you have a more pleasant experience.
HRC (Rockwell hardness) is the unit that measures knife blade hardness, which the C scale denotes for knife steel. The scale ranges up to 100. The sturdier the knife, the closer moves the range to 100. Now, remember most kitchen knife blades have a 55-65 HRC. Although, higher and lower values are possible.
Knife handles come in a variety, each material differing in grip, comfort, aesthetic, and feel. You will find handles of wood, metal, composites, resins, and different types of plastic. Wood looks and feels superb but warp or degrade with time. Metals are long-lasting but not stable to grip. Remember, you may hold it with wet or greasy hands. Plastic or composite are comfortable, firm-to-grip, and securely riveted to the blade.
Wear and Tear:
The best knife set must pass the wear and tear test. It must have made at least 1000 cuts on different foods and surfaces. Look for this accreditation by a reputed organization.
Buy the best-quality knives you can afford. If you don’t have a big budget for a high-end knife set, buy at least one high-end knife you can use for most tasks.
German steel knives vs. Japanese steel knives
|Features||German steel knives||Japanese steel knives|
|Construction||German steel knives have full-tang housing with balanced and symmetrical blades suitable for righties and lefties.||Japanese steel knives have asymmetrical blades slightly tapered into the handle. They are light and front-weighted, which allows controlled movements only to righties.|
|Material||German knives have softer steel ranging between 56-58 HRC, which needs more sharpening but is less prone to breakage.||Japanese knives have more rigid and brittle steel, around 60-63 HRC, which stays sharp for a long but is prone to chipping or cracking.|
|Design||German steel knives are thick and heavy, which gives more versatility, utility, durability, and counterbalance.||Japanese Steel knives are thinner and lighter, prioritizing precision and control.|
|Blades||German steel knives have machine-cut curved blades with wider angles between 17.5-20˚ for rocking cuts.||Japanese steel knives are crafted with hand-refined blades with straighter and sharper edges between 12-15˚ for precise cuts.|
|Usage||German steel blades are perfect for deboning, cutting, and chopping veggies and anything.||Japanese steel blades are best for slicing and precision task.|
Advantages & disadvantages of knife sets
Like everything knife set comes with advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of a knife set:
- With a single purchase, you get a wide range of knives.
- All knives have the same quality, sharpness, style, and edge.
- A kitchen knife set makes buying sharpening tools easier.
- Well-put-together equipment with a sharpening tool.
- You may not need all the knives in a set.
- Affordable sets may have poor quality.
How to maintain a knife set?
Kitchen knife set maintenance means the maintenance of the blades from rust and corrosion. And it depends on the material of the blade. Here are the maintenance tips for each blade material discussed above.
Prone to corrosion, carbon steel blades need proper maintenance. Hand wash and thoroughly pat dry it soon after every use. A light rub of mineral oil periodically is a good practice.
Ceramic knives need no special maintenance other than taking care of. It shatters if dropped and may chip or break if used indecorously. Being rigid, you cannot sharpen a ceramic knife with a home sharpener. Send to the manufacturer or to a specialist to re-sharpen.
High carbon stainless steel:
The maintenance a high carbon stainless steel blade requires is hand washing, pat drying to preserve the handle, and storing properly.
High-end stainless steel knives need no maintenance at all. Just wash, dry, and store.
Because being a combination of alloy and metals, Damascus steel blades have no single maintenance rule. However, you must know the specific maintenance for the edges and the exterior.
When washing, avoid prolonged soaking. Hold the handle out of the water and wash it immediately.
Best kitchen knife brands to choose from
Below are the brands that received a worldwide reputation for kitchen knives.
Zwilling is a renowned name in the cutlery industry. Established in Germany, Zwilling currently has 26 different knife sets, high-end and well-balanced.
You may have heard the name many times. WMF stands for high-class German kitchen appliances. Kitchen knife sets are one of their best creations. Currently, WMF has nearly 50 different German steel knife sets.
Güde, one of the best knife manufacturers from Solingen, has been in business for four generations. Güde is synonymous with knives of the highest quality. Currently, it has seven knife series, each with a unique design.
The Swiss brand Victorinox has a wide range of products—from bags and watches to perfumes and kitchen and pocket knives. The brand has almost 45+ Chef’s knives and wide professional-use knives.
This German knife manufacturer has been manufacturing knives for 200+ years. The company is in Solingen, where the best German knife brands house. Wüsthof has over 300 different kitchen knives, including numerous knife sets.
The name AMC is known to those dealing with high-end cookware. But, besides the pots and pans, AMC also has a range of kitchen knives. The collection has five designer knives, a knife block, and a diamond sharpener.
This German knife brand based in Winnenden targets the professionals-catering and food processing industries. Giesser has numerous kitchen knives, most of which come in sets.
When it comes to kitchen appliances, Fissler is as well-known a name. You have heard of Fissler pots, pans, and more. But it also has around 50 varied knives with matching accessories such as knife blocks. Fissler even has electric knives.
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, has teamed up with renowned kitchenware brands and brought his cookware and cutleries.
Tim Mälzer, the celebrity German chef, has brought his line of kitchenware, including the Kai-Shun and Kai-Shun Premier knives made of Damascus steel.
Other essential kitchen knives
Besides the essential knife trio: there are specialized knives for specific tasks. The following are those knives:
This knife specializes in deboning and de-skinning meat and poultry. This knife has a long, thin blade suitable for the purpose. The blade is generally flexible.
Carving or meat knives:
It is a knife long as Chef’s knife but with a narrow blade. The blade of a carving knife is bent upwards in a moon-shaped pattern that carves meat with precision.
Similar to a boning knife in design, a fillet knife has a longer and more flexible blade- 7″-10″ long. It brings out the delicate fillets from whole fish and fine-clean the fish of pin bones.
Kitchen shears are the most integrated handy tool in the knife set. Whether you want to cut the whole chicken into halves, pan-dress whole fish, or cut pastry dough or parchment paper, herbs, and truss string, kitchen shears offer the best help. They even feature bottle openers. For thorough cleaning, the blades separate.
Accessories needed with a knife set
Only a set of knives are not enough. For proper performance and maintenance, you need certain accessories. After all, the cutting tools need to be kept safe.
Made of wood: a knife block is designed for a specific knife set. Any knife may not fit perfectly inside the block. Therefore, before buying, find the one best for your knife set.
A knife bag is a practical essential for an enthusiast cook who travels or camps often. It has pockets and compartments to hold each knife and other tools in place. Wherever he goes, he has the tools to show his culinary skill.
What is a knife without a cutting board? Today cutting boards come in a variety, not only in size and shape but in material. You will get wooden, plastic, bamboo wood, and metal sheet.
Grindstone or sharpening rod:
With extensive use: knives start losing their sharpness, and here you need a whetstone or grindstone. You can also go for sharpening rods. They increase the knife’s efficiency. However, sharpening tools are only financially worthwhile for high-end knives.
If you want to show style and professionalism with your knife sets, go for a knife case. It is a mini suitcase with sections to hold each knife and other tools in place. Even you can carry some loos dishes in it.
Blade protection cover:
In recent times, many knives come with blade covers. However, you can buy it separately for knives devoid of it. A blade cover is a plastic cover that shields the entire blade. It keeps you and your family safe from the mishaps that can occur.
FAQs: How to choose a good kitchen knife set
How many knives belong in a knife set?
The number of knives in a knife set varies. But in general, three knives are essential- a bread or serrated knife, a paring knife, and an all-purpose Chef’s knife.
How much does a knife set cost?
The price of knife sets depends on the manufacturer. You can get most knife sets for around $50. However, many variants also cost well over $150. Check our guide to the best knife set under $50.However, high-quality knives are expensive but last longer. Inexpensive ranges have a short lifespan.
How long does a knife set last?
The longevity of every knife depends on its quality and proper maintenance. High-end knives can last a lifetime.
Are inexpensive knives worthy?
Inexpensive knives have good-quality steel housing. Because of the low production cost, they are machine-grinded and never get the labor-intensive finishing that can turn them into great knives.
What are the 3 knives that everyone should have?
- Chef’s Knife: A versatile, all-purpose knife with a broad blade typically ranging from 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) in length. It is used for various tasks such as slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing. The chef’s knife is a go-to tool for most kitchen activities.
- Paring Knife: A smaller knife with a narrow, pointed blade typically around 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in length. It is ideal for precise tasks like peeling, trimming, and intricate cutting, such as deveining shrimp or creating decorative garnishes.
- Bread Knife: Featuring a long, serrated blade typically around 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length, the bread knife is designed for slicing through bread without crushing or tearing it. Its serrated edge allows for smooth cutting through crusty or soft bread, making it a must-have for any bread lover.
These three knives cover a wide range of kitchen tasks and are essential for most culinary endeavors.
What are 6 suggestions for buying knives?
- Determine your specific needs: Before making a purchase, assess the intended use of the knife. Are you looking for a kitchen knife, a hunting knife, or a multi-purpose utility knife? Understanding your requirements will help you narrow down the options.
- Consider the blade material: Blade material greatly impacts the knife’s performance and durability. High-carbon stainless steel, for instance, offers excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. Alternatively, ceramic blades are known for their exceptional sharpness, but they may be more prone to chipping.
- Evaluate the handle: A comfortable and secure grip is essential for safe and efficient knife handling. Look for handles made of durable materials such as wood, composite materials, or high-quality synthetic polymers. Ensure that the handle design suits your hand size and provides a firm hold.
- Examine the blade construction: Different blade construction methods affect the knife’s strength and longevity. Full-tang knives, where the blade extends the entire length of the handle, are generally more robust. For folding knives, sturdy mechanisms like liner locks or frame locks are preferable.
- Check for balance: A well-balanced knife ensures better control and reduces strain during prolonged use. Hold the knife by its handle to assess its balance point. Ideally, the knife should not feel too blade-heavy or handle-heavy.
- Set a budget and compare prices: Knives come in various price ranges, so it’s important to set a budget beforehand. Research and compare prices from different reputable brands and retailers to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.
How can you tell if a kitchen knife is good quality?
- Blade material: High-quality kitchen knives often use high-carbon stainless steel or other premium alloys known for their sharpness, durability, and resistance to corrosion.
- Blade construction: Look for knives with full-tang construction, where the blade extends throughout the entire length of the handle, ensuring better stability and strength.
- Handle quality: A good-quality knife will have a well-designed handle made from durable materials such as wood, composite materials, or high-quality synthetic polymers. The handle should provide a comfortable and secure grip.
- Balance: Hold the knife by the handle to check its balance. A well-balanced knife will feel neither too blade-heavy nor too handle-heavy, allowing for better control and reducing strain during use.
- Sharpness: A high-quality kitchen knife should come razor-sharp out of the box and maintain its sharpness over time. Look for knives with a finely honed edge for efficient cutting.
- Reputation and reviews: Research the brand’s reputation and read reviews from other customers to get an idea of the knife’s overall quality and performance.
The Final Word: How to choose the best knife set?
A good, high-end knife with proper maintenance last a lifetime. Hence, choose wisely and buy the knives that best suit your need. And if you want to know about the best knife set, read 19 Best Knife Sets Under 50 dollars, Best knife set under 200, and Best Kitchen knives set under $100.
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