The 14 Best Cutlery Brands to Keep in Your KitchenPublished on 05/23/2023 · 12 min readKitchen Expert Alex Alcarraz lists fourteen of the highest quality kitchen cutlery brands on the market today and explains a bit about each!
Photo by Conscious Designs
Knowing how to shop for kitchen knives is a vital skill. Unless you have worked in a professional kitchen or have a huge passion for cooking and all things related, chances are, you don’t know where to start. It can be very convenient to do a general online search for kitchen knives, but end up with something that will often feel shortcoming.
So, what makes a specific brand the best?
Let’s start by focusing on brand loyalty. The best brands in any market sell more than just products; they get to be called the best because they represent a lifestyle, a sense of pride, and even status. These same concepts can be applied to cutlery. The best brands in cutlery stand for legacy, history, quality, and personality. In a professional kitchen, the knife a chef wields tells you a lot about who stands behind the pass, checking each dish that goes out into a dining room. Below you’ll see some of the best knife brands that will make you feel like a pro chef.
Cuisinart is a staple brand of home products that also tackles several cutlery lines. Cuisinart offers knives that are geared for home cooks that want easier care for their tools. Cuisinart knives are made of stainless steel, which makes them easier to sharpen and more friendly when it comes to cleaning them, as opposed to high-carbon steel knives. There are several collections to choose from that can suit the tastes of many. It is most advisable to purchase a full knife set from Cuisinart in order to get familiar with more tools, and eventually upgrade the set in the future with a better understanding of cutlery.
This brand was founded in 1985 by Mino Tsuchida and the Yoshiikin Cutlery company. Mino-san is the main character in Global’s history of success and renown. He is known as Mr. Global due to his devotion to fine Japanese cutlery for professionals and home cooks.
Global knives have the patented Chromova stainless steel that makes up these blades. They remain unchanged, continuing the strong statement of a timeless tool and build. The blades are stamped and then seamlessly welded to stainless steel handles. Sand fills a hollow handle in order to provide balance and a more approachable price for shoppers. The Global Classic line has received a bit of an upgrade and the Global Forged knives are drop-forged, meaning that smelted metal is placed in a mold and then a heavy top ram is dropped on it. Both the Classic line and the Forged line have a hardness level of 56 to 57 which makes them hard enough to have a long-lasting edge and hold resistance to stains.
Cutting through vegetables will be as enjoyable as slicing a piece of cake with these knives.
This is a more affordable line from Zwilling. The same German engineering used to create high-quality high-carbon stainless steel blades within the Zwilling name is used to make knives that perform above their prices in the J.A. Henckels collections. A lot of the knives from the J.A. Henckels-specific brands are stamped, as opposed to forged which allows for more affordable pricing.
Within the J.A. Henckels line, there is a forged knife line that promised a very long-lasting knife thanks to its construction. The Henckels Forged Synergy line is made from high-quality German stainless steel. The ergonomic double-rivet handle has a neat stainless steel backing; it is very comfortable when using and even dishwasher safe.
Bob Kramer is among the most celebrated bladesmiths in the U.S. His workshop in Bellingham, WA produces some of the finest knives in the country. They are handmade by Kramer himself and a very limited number of pieces are made each year.
Bob’s signature Damascus steel blades come from a meticulous process of layering steel sheets of different high carbon properties and then heating them to melting temperature. These are then hammered and folded onto themselves to create even more layers. Imagine cutting through a high quality croissant…the same process of folding dough and butter is applied to steel to create layers making the finished product sturdier and more beautiful with each fold.
These knives are highly celebrated by professional chefs and avid home cooks. Their Molybdenum high-carbon Japanese steel build creates a knife that is incredibly sharp and very resistant to corrosion. A 15-degree angle is applied to all their edges with a western “V” shape edge. The hardness levels within the MAC knives range from 57 to 61 on the Rockwell scale, which ensures users a steel that is hard enough to hold an edge for longer periods of time.
MAC offers a few collections to choose from, with their most popular being their Professional Series which has an added dimpled blade for maximum ingredient release during cutting sessions.
The Mercer brand has had a huge active involvement in the culinary development of large and small business operations as well as educational programs. Their lines expand beyond the silicone and rubber handles that they are mainly known for, into pieces of fine cutlery. Mercer knives are made in Taiwan, which allow for more accessible pricing on all of their lines, however, they do source high-quality materials like German and Japanese steel in their knives.
From their specific lines, the Zum line boasts a thinner tapering blade with amazing edge retention. The Millenia line offers a more comfortable handle and a Japanese steel blade that is razor-sharp and easy to resharpen. The line with the best overall features is the Renaissance line, which has full tang with three rivets along the handle, making this a stable and durable knife. The blade itself is made of high-quality German steel that is engineered to have a long-lasting and very sharp edge. The Genesis line from Mercer offers a comfortable handle that is both soft and sturdy to the touch.
The Misen company stands for culinary products that are offered at approachable prices. The quality of their knives, specifically, is very high. Their AUS-10 Japanese steel is made to create a hard edge that can be incredibly sharp and easy to maintain. This high-quality steel offers great edge retention without having to spend too much time on maintenance.
These western-style knives are designed with a minimalistic point of view and a color spread of handles that perfectly accentuate touches of color in contemporary-styled kitchens. A smooth bolster area allows for easier cleaning sessions regardless of how tough the task may be. These are great knives made to withstand the rigorous demands of a professional kitchen and add style and trust to the hands of a home cook. Expect to be able to add just as much precision to each cutting session as with a more expensive product.
These are Japanese knives that have received a bit of a Western push in their making. In 2004, Zwilling J.A. Henckels acquired a Japanese knife factory in Seki City, Japan. This event led to the birth of Miyabi. It takes 42 days to produce a single blade after a 13-step forging process that blends tradition and cutting-edge technology. The two main options for Miyabi knives are divided by the hardening processes used. Cryodur focuses on making the steel harder and less flexible, while Friodur focuses on a slightly softer steel with more resistance to damage and stains. It is important to remember to avoid using these knives to cut through bones. Their hardness level can make them sensitive to chipping on very hard surfaces.
The best Criodur line has to be the Miyabi Black 5000MCD67, which has an ice-hardened level of 66 on the Rockwell scale and an MC66 core steel. It is beautifully guarded by a total of 132 layers of Damascus steel.
The best line from their Friodur steel tempering process is definitely the Miyabi Evolution 400FC. 46 sets of hands touch each blade before they are ready to be sent out to stores. The steel is slightly softer, so a few more regular sharpening sessions will be needed, which are still largely fewer than most conventional kitchen knives.
This company can trace its history to over 100 years ago in the production of high-end knives. The Kai Corporation launched its Shun Cutlery brand as a culmination of a dream that longed to blend traditional and modern engineering of high-end Japanese blades for the U.S. and European markets.
Shun knives continue to be made by skilled craftsmen with at least 100 technical steps, using high-quality Japanese carbon steel. There are several lines that Shun offers as part of their repertoire of excellence. Shun knives also have the advantage of being sharpened for free. Shipping fees are charged, however, the actual sharpening service is complimentary for as long as you own the knives. The Classic Blonde and the Shun Premier Blonde with the handcrafted tsuchime finish are definitely a great addition to any collection.
The Japanese-style knives from Shun offer all the benefits of numerous years of traditional craftsmanship with the cutting edge of modern technology.
Coming out of Portland, OR, these knives are more than just cutting tools. The company was founded in 2020 by Rhon Khormaei and Eytan Zias. Their dream was to create an American-forged high-quality knife that disrupted the general market with a goal of locally-sourced American materials and craftsmanship.
There is only one line of knives that are made by Steelport. Their high carbon steel forged knives hold razor-sharp edges. The knives are intended to gradually develop a patina that reflect the work of the hands that wield them. Along with a thoughtfully crafted steel, locally sourced Oregon Big Leaf Burl wood is used for the handles which are then submerged in resin to avoid shrinkage and warping. The entire knife’s hard edges are buffed to leave a smooth surface throughout except for the impressively sharp cutting edge. Rhon and Eytan love to describe these knives as heritage pieces for their timeless design that can perform for many years.
Their most successful knife is their 8in chef's knife, which has received many praises and commendations from local professionals in Portland. It is also important to mention that their bread knife is among the very best in the business.
Consumers are mainly familiar with Victorinox as the makers of the original Swiss Army Knife watches, travel gear, and fragrances. However, this company’s first-ever focus was cutlery. About 125 years ago, Karl Elsener invented the Swiss Army Knife, and this one object launched the brand’s direction as a lifestyle brand more so than just for accessories. Victorinox stands for innovation and tradition all in one. Pocket knives became the stepping stone for generations of fine cutlery products to come.
People who work in kitchens can easily tell you that they are very aware of Victorinox. These are knives that are great for budding young chefs who are getting a first-hand taste of a professional kitchen. The Swiss Classic line is largely used in catering operations, schools (secondary and collegiate), as well as hospitals and hotels. The steel is relatively soft which makes them very shatter-resistant and unlikely to chip. Its straightforward design and very grip-friendly handle make it an excellent tool for those who do not know what is comfortable yet. It is also great for those who are happy to hold a no-fuss sort of knife that is there to get the job done without asking for much.
This can easily be the most ubiquitous knife brand in the market. The reason for its market recognition is related to more than just being sold at Bed Bath & Beyond. The company started in 1814 by Johann Abraham Wüsthof. His small business started out by making scissors. Slowly as years passed, the business grew and so did the family. In 1881, one of Johann’s sons, Robert, made a trip to the U.S. which had some unfortunate events. However, through hard work and perseverance, Solingen-made knives found a buyer interested in bringing in more knives from Germany.
Wüsthof makes several cutlery lines that are of very good quality. Oddly enough, the most successful of them all has been the Wüsthof Classic line. These are forged knives with a full tang and bolster. It is a great everyday knife that will get those big tasks done, including dicing onions or breaking down a hardy butternut squash.
This knife maker has several brands under its belt, as seen above with Miyabi and J.A. Henckels. Nevertheless, Zwilling does boast their own individuality as the bigger part of the umbrella. With a history of operation dating back to 1895, the company continues its search for constant innovation and consistent quality from its original city of manufacturing, Solingen, Germany.
The best of the Zwilling knives are the ones in the Zwilling Pro line. These German knives boast improved edge retention and rust resistance that will last a lifetime. A chromium and carbide blend in the steel also increases its flexibility and durability. You can break down whole chickens with minimal effort with their Pro boning knife.
The Zwilling Kramer collaboration allowed owning a Kramer-designed knife to become more accessible to knife aficionados and professional chefs. The collaboration has a few collections to choose from. Each collection has different aspects in the arrangement and layers of their Damascus steels.
Bob Kramer continues to hold at heart that each one of the blades that bears his name should hold a piece from his own hands. Each knife is made in Seki, Japan in its entirety, except for the Kramer emblem. Bob Kramer himself makes these in his Washington workshop and ships them to Seki to be added onto the handles of each Zwilling Kramer knife.
If you have any questions about these knife brands and knife makers, make sure to reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert. Each one of them is equipped with the knowledge to guide you to your favorite piece of cutlery ever.