The 6 Best Knife Sets
Looking to add a new knife set to your kitchen? Kitchen Expert Jacob Cummings details what exactly makes a great set, and gives their top picks for your next set.
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Shopping for new cutlery can be overwhelming when there are so many options available on the market. It's important to consider a variety of factors in order to choose the best set for your needs. Here is what you should know when shopping for a new knife block set.
10 Things to Look for in a Knife Block Set
When looking to purchase a new knife block set, consider the types of food you enjoy preparing.The elements that go into the experience of getting a new knife block set include the knives themselves and the overall blade and handle design and materials of which the knives are made, as well as the number of knives in the set, the price, the brand reputation, the maintenance required, and how the set will be stored in your kitchen.
- Type of Knives: Consider the types of knives you need and use most often. What do you enjoy about them? What would you like to be different? If you don’t have knives but are looking to get some, you may want a set that includes an 8-inch chef's knife, a paring knife, a serrated utility knife, and a serrated bread knife, for example.
- Blade Material: Blades can be made from a variety of materials, including stamped or forged stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel, Damascus forged steel, carbon forged steel, ceramic (but don’t get ceramic knives). Each has its own set of pros and cons.
- Handle Material: The handle should be comfortable to hold and grip for your hand. The balance should feel good with your wrist and it’s always important to find a knife that inspires you to cook. But typically, handles should be made from a material that is durable and easy to clean. Some options will have either a half-tang or full-tang design. Generally, full-tang knives will be more durable.
- Number of Knives: A larger set may be more expensive, but it can be more versatile and allow you to have all the knives you need on hand. Many people feel happy with only one to three knives and can accomplish all they need in the kitchen with those three knives. Other people might love the experience of nuanced variety and the special benefits of each specific blade.
- Price: In the long run, it’s not that much more money to spend a bigger chunk of cash upfront. Typically decent knife sets begin around $400-$600 but deals can be found for less during certain times of the year.
- Brand Reputation: While it’s true that reputable brands hold value, it’s also true that countless small production manufacturers worldwide have equal or better offerings for less cost.
- Maintenance: Some blades may need to be sharpened more frequently than others, and in terms of handles, some materials may be more prone to cracking or fading over time. Some can be washed in the dishwasher, but most should only be washed by hand.
- Storage: Make sure the knives will fit in the space you have available and that the knives are easily accessible. You could go with a set that fits in your drawers, but for this article, we’re focusing on block sets.
- Warranty: Most decent knives will come with a limited lifetime warranty that will cover any failure in the event that the handle should fall apart or the blade cracks. Unfortunately, these same warranties will never cover misuse and that definition can be quite broad.
- Counter Space: Some knife blocks will have a small footprint on the kitchen counter, while others might take up quite a bit more space. It’s worth looking at these dimensions listed by the manufacturer to consider how a new knife set will impact your counter space.
Pieces to Consider for Your Knife Set
It’s best to just start with a chef’s, paring, and bread knife. After using them for a while, you’ll feel empowered to keep looking for the blade that fills the gaps in your collection.
- Chef’s: A chef's knife is a versatile and essential tool in any kitchen. If you’re a minimalist, it’s the only knife you might need. It typically has a razor-sharp, curved blade and a comfortable handle. It is a multi-purpose knife that can be used for chopping herbs, slicing meats, and mincing garlic. They come in a variety of lengths from 6” to 10”, and there are also a number of styles that cater to different tasks. The most universal design is the French or German chef’s knife.
- Bread: A bread knife is a specialized serrated knife designed to slice through bread with ease, but it’s also great for sawing through hard vegetables like squash and watermelon. It glides through crusty bread without crushing the soft interior. An 8” bread knife is the most common but it can be found in other lengths as well. This knife makes slicing larger loaves of bread easy and efficient.
- Paring: A paring knife is a small, sharp knife used for peeling, trimming, cleaning, and slicing fruits and vegetables. Typically, a 3” to 4” paring knife is perfect for precision cutting and intricate handheld tasks off of the cutting board. A knife much bigger would be considered a utility knife.
- Utility: A utility knife is one of the most versatile kitchen knives. Designed for a variety of cutting tasks, it has a sharp blade that ranges from 4” to 8” long, making it perfect for slicing and cleaning blemishes. For a skilled user, the right utility knife can also work for boning meats. Utility knives can come in a variety of shapes and blade styles including serrated, but typically a 5” to 6” utility knife is shaped like a mini chef’s knife and is going to be the most versatile.
- Santoku: A Santoku knife is a versatile Japanese chef's knife that is perfect for slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping. It has a straight blade edge and typically measures between 5” to 7” in length, with a tip that ends in a sheepsfoot. This design is more compact and often considered much safer to use than a standard European chef’s knife.
- Slicing or Carving: Often paired with a carving fork, a carving knife is a specialized kitchen tool designed for slicing and cutting large cuts of meat. It features a long, 8” to 14” thin blade with a razor-sharp edge for precise cuts and a comfortable handle for easy grip and a pointed tip that allows for easy separation of meat from bones. But some brisket knives have a rounded tip that prevents the knife point from accidentally digging into the meat during extra long slices. These knives can be difficult for beginners.
- Filet and Boning Knife: Filet and boning knives are thin, sharp, and, sometimes, have a flexible blade that is used to separate meat from the bones. It is typically between 6” to 7” long and has a narrow, pointed blade that allows for precise cutting that assists with separating bones, tendons, and fat from cuts of meat. These knives are essential for tasks such as deboning chicken, fileting skin from a fish, or trimming the fat from steak.
- Kitchen Shears: Kitchen shears, also known as kitchen scissors, are a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks such as cutting meat, snipping herbs, and opening packaging. They typically feature two sharp blades that are hinged together and can be locked or unlocked for safe storage or easy cleaning. They have comfortable and ergonomic handles for easy and safe use and might feature a bottle opener, nutcracker, or a flathead screwdriver on the handle.
- Honing Steel: A honing steel can be a handy way to maintain the edge of a knife between times of properly sharpening. If used incorrectly, a honing steel can heavily damage the edge of a knife which would then require taking the blade to professional equipment to have the edge of the blade reset.
Top 6 Picks for Best Knife Block Sets
1. Anolon 8-Piece Knife Block Set with Built-In Sharpener
This eight-piece knife block set Anolon is a comprehensive kitchen knife set that includes all the essential knives needed for any task. The set includes a chef's knife, bread knife, utility knife, paring knife, and 4” utility knife, all of which have high-quality stainless steel blades for durability and precision cutting. The set also includes a sharpener built into the block, which allows for easy and convenient sharpening of the knives.
2. Cangshan TS Series 8-Piece Knife Block Set
The Cangshan TS Series is made from high-quality Swedish Sandvik 14C28N steel, known for its sharpness and durability. It includes a variety of knives suitable for a wide range of tasks like chef’s knife, paring, utility, bread, and Santoku. It also comes with a stylish walnut knife block. The knives are full tang and have a full bolster at the heel ensuring optimal balance, control, and safety for beginners.
3. Global 10-Piece Takashi Knife Block Set
The Global Takashi set are high-quality lightweight knives that are perfect for any home chef. This set includes a chef's knife, bread knife, carving knife, utility knife, sharpening steel, and a pair of kitchen shears. The knives are made with CROMOVA 18 stainless steel, which is known for its sharpness, edge retention, and rust resistance. The handles are made of a durable and comfortable material that is easy to grip. The set comes with a sleek, modern knife block.
4. Cangshan Thomas Keller Signature Collection
The Cangshan Thomas Keller Signature set is a high-quality collection of knives designed for professional and home chefs alike. The set includes a variety of knives for all types of cutting and food preparation tasks, such as a chef's knife, bread knife, utility knife, paring knife, a funny one for tomatoes, and more. Each knife is made of premium Swedish Damasteel RWL34 powdered steel, which ensures long-lasting sharpness and durability. The set also includes a 16-slot walnut knife block for easy storage and display. The knives have a unique design, with a distinct handle that has a comfortable grip, ensuring a safe cutting experience
5. Steelport Carbon Steel 3-Piece Essential Set
The Steelport Carbon Steel set is a versatile and durable set of knives that are perfect for any kitchen. The set includes a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife, making it ideal for a wide range of cutting tasks. Carbon steel is known for its sharp edge retention and easy re-sharpening capabilities. The knives also feature comfortable, ergonomic wooden handles that provide a secure and comfortable grip. Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, this knife set is a great addition to your kitchen arsenal.
6. Cangshan TC Series 17-Piece Knife Block Set
The Cangshan TC Series features Swedish Sandvik 14C28N steel forged knives. I like to recommend these over other conventional options like Henckels or Wusthof because the cost is so much less for a similar or higher-quality knife. The set includes a variety of knives such as chef's, bread, utility, paring, and steak knives. The knives are known for their sharpness, precision, and durability. The knife block is made of walnut wood, adding a touch of elegance to the kitchen. The set is designed with functionality and beauty in mind, making it a perfect addition for apt beginners or enthusiasts alike.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming to just keep in mind the amount of counter space the knife block set will take up. Knowing exactly which knives and what amount of them will suit you is often not something that we can get right on the first try!
If you’d like some additional help or some extra perspective, you’re always welcome to reach out to a Kitchen Expert here at Curated to get some nuanced advice based on your specific goals, needs, and space limitations!