An Expert Guide to Wusthof Classic Knives

Published on 12/01/2023 · 12 min readUnlock culinary precision with an expert guide to Wusthof Classic knives. Explore the exceptional craftsmanship and top recommendations for your kitchen!
Jane M., Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Jane M.

Photo courtesy of WÜSTHOF

When I purchased my first Wüsthof classic chef’s knife, it felt like my world changed as a cook. Working with professional chefs and cookbook authors, I frequently heard the refrain that if you could invest in only one top-of-the-line kitchen tool, it would be a superior chef’s knife. I also took a basic knife skills class, which I think is essential for every cook to gain confidence in using knives and cutting vegetables, fruits, meat, and herbs properly. A good knife actually makes the work of cutting easier, more precise, and more enjoyable.

What is a Wüsthof Classic Knife?

Wüsthof’s classic knives have been bestsellers for more than 200 years and are referred to as “the Original.” They are hand-forged in Solingen, Germany, whose moniker is City of Blades (enough said!). Forged knives involve heating and pounding the knife from a single bar of steel, while stamped knives are cut from a large sheet of steel and then heat treated.

Wüsthof Classic knives have a longstanding history that has earned the company and its products a stellar reputation. Wüsthof’s production process involves 54 manufacturing steps to turn “a special mixture of chrome, vanadium, molybdenum, and stainless steel into a quality knife.”

What to Consider When Buying a Wüsthof Classic Knife

What style and length of blade does the knife have?

Photo courtesy of WÜSTHOF

Check the product specs about the thickness of the blade, the description of its edge and sharpness, whether the blade is coated or polished, and what the tip of the blade looks like. The Classic collection has “91 different blade shapes” that can handle every type of food preparation. Ultimately, you’ll choose the knife length and blade style that feels right for you, determined by your individual preferences and the main items and tasks you’ll use your knives for.

What’s a bolster?

The area that separates the blade from the handle is the bolster. While some knives are made without a bolster or a half bolster (like Wüsthof’s Ikon line), Wüsthof Classic knives have full bolsters that help ensure safety and provide balance when cutting.

How comfortable does the handle feel?

Photo courtesy of WÜSTHOF

An ergonomic handle design is a big factor in your comfort level with a knife. How the grip feels makes all the difference in your knife skills (I can’t tell you how many home cooks I witnessed in cooking classes holding their knives incorrectly!).

Carefully review the product specs for whichever Classic knife you’re considering. The best way to know how it feels is to try one in person. Because my hands are on the small side, I gravitate toward lighter-feeling knives with smaller handles and shorter blades.

How Often Do You Need to Hone and Sharpen the Knife?

Photo by Will Thomass

One reason people tend to have inferior knives is because they fail to sharpen them. Since Wüsthof Classic knives are an investment, it pays to hone and sharpen them regularly, either by yourself or by getting them done by a store or professional sharpener. Some vendors, like Zwilling, have started to offer self-sharpening knife blocks. Carefully review Wüsthof’s recommendations and guidelines to know what to expect.

What’s the Best Way to Maintain Classic Knives?

As with most high-quality knives, the worst thing you can do is stick them in the dishwasher – a practice I’m afraid I’ve witnessed regularly. Dishwashers not only dull knife blades, but they also can ruin and fade handles over time. In other words: Don’t do it. Like, never! Once hand washed and dried, it’s best to carefully store knives, meaning not throwing them into any old drawer. Many people love having a knife block on their counter for easy access. When I worked at a bed-and-breakfast, however, for sanitary purposes, we didn’t store knives in a block because the inserts can’t be easily cleaned and trap dust and dirt over time. I prefer using a magnetic knife strip or a drawer organizer to keep my knives in pristine condition.

What Are the Different Types of Wüsthof Classic Knives?

Wüsthof’s Classic line contains a wide variety of options to meet every cook’s needs. Let’s review the lineup of knives and their ideal uses.

Chef's Knife

A chef’s knife is considered THE essential tool for every cook. Want to chop onions, mince garlic, cut through a butternut squash, or slice through a chicken breast? The chef’s knife will do the job. The reason Wüsthof’s Classic chef’s knife has been a favorite for decades is its versatility. The 8-inch is $170; the 10-inch is $200.

Benefits:

  • This is your go-to knife for basically any kitchen task. It could easily be the one knife you use most of the time.

Be Aware:

  • Chef knives can feel intimidating to new or infrequent cooks. Their size can seem big, and the long knife blade can feel dangerous and hard to handle.

Santoku Knife

The Wüsthof Classic 7-inch Santoku is another all-purpose tool that quickly became my favorite knife after I purchased it. This works like the chef’s knife for slicing, dicing, and chopping meat, vegetables, fruits, and more. A 5-inch knife is $150. The 7-inch version is $175.

Benefits:

  • The blade is straighter and less curved than a chef’s knife, which can feel more comfortable for control and balance, especially if you have smaller hands.
  • The blade is shorter than a chef’s knife.
  • The hollow edge easily releases food from the blade.

Be Aware:

  • Santoku knives don’t have a sharp tip at the end of the blade, like a chef’s knife or utility knife, and they have a different feel when chopping and rocking.
  • The shorter blade length and different edge can make this a less desirable choice for chefs who do a wide range of chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing.

Paring Knife

Another must-have in a cook’s knife line-up, a 3.5-inch paring knife is ideal for tasks like peeling, trimming, or cutting at a sharp angle for decorative work. Wüsthof also has a serrated paring knife, which is great for slicing tomatoes and other delicate items that you don’t want to tear. A 3-inch flat cut paring knife is also ideal for smaller fruits and vegetables.

Benefits:

  • Along with a chef’s knife, a paring knife is essential for tasks involving smaller pieces of fruit, vegetables, and meat. I use one a fair amount for cutting cheese.
  • The light weight and small size make the knife easy to maneuver.

Be Aware:

  • A paring knife isn’t designed for heavy chopping, slicing, or dicing larger items, such as a watermelon or a chicken.

Bread Knife

Wüsthof Classic bread knives come in 8-inch or 9-inch options ($135 and $150, respectively). I have Wüsthof’s double-serrated bread knife, which I love because it can easily handle thick, crusty artisan breads.

Benefits:

  • Serrated edges slice through bread without breaking it (and also great for tomatoes)
  • The serrations mean the blades aren’t hitting the cutting board, allowing the knife to last much longer.

Be Aware:

  • This is a single-purpose knife, so it might not make sense if you don’t eat a lot of bread.
  • Serrated knives are hard–if not impossible–to sharpen. I never sharpen my bread knife, which is double serrated, meaning it has serrated edges within serrated edges.

Utility Knife

The Wüsthof Classic 6-inch Utility Knife, at $120, is a versatile tool that can be used for tasks that don’t require the heft of a chef’s knife. It also comes in a 4.5-inch version.

Benefits:

  • Great when you don’t want to hold a larger-sized knife for easier maneuverability, such as slicing a chicken breast into cutlets. Because it has a sharp pointed tip, this knife is particularly useful for larding meats.

Be Aware:

  • Despite its name as an all-purpose tool, I find that I use my utility knife the least. My chef’s knife, Santoku, and paring knife accommodate the majority of my needs.

Steak Knife

The Classic line offers a wide variety of steak knife options in different materials. A single 4.5-inch steak knife is $100, or a variety of sets are available, ranging from $96 to $280 for four knives.

Benefits:

  • Cut through cooked beef, chicken, and other meats quickly and easily without shredding the fibers.

Be Aware:

  • Steak knives are designed specifically for meat, so they have a limited purpose.

Special-Purpose Classic Knives

Wüsthof offers several specialty knives in its Classic series, including a tomato knife, a Chinese chef’s knife, a super slicer, a boning knife, a cleaver, a carving knife, a filet knife, a Craftsman knife, and a Nakiri knife.

Benefits:

  • These knives are built-for-purpose and offer exceptional features for their intended tasks.

Be Aware:

  • Buying a special-purpose knife depends on what cooking and food preparation you do most frequently. Any knife will offer benefits; the trick is to have a set of knives that offer the most benefits and use on a regular basis to make the investment worth it.

Features to Look for When Buying A Wüsthof Classic Knife

Knife Design

Some people find a thick bolster clunky for their preferred grip and pinch, making the knife feel heavy. The full bolster can also make sharpening a little bit trickier, too. If you prefer a different style, you can look for knives without a bolster or with a half bolster. You might also want a different style of handle. Your personal preferences will dictate your desired blade shape and size.

Since Wüsthof handles are designed with a full-tang blade - meaning you see the metal all the way through the handle - some cooks find that the spine, where they rest their hand, isn’t as smooth as they might like.

How Easy Is It to Sharpen and Hone the Knife?

As noted above, a forged knife requires sharpening and honing. Not sharpening and honing your Classic knife correctly can damage it or affect its durability, so you have to be prepared to stay on top of those tasks. Dull blades are dangerous and inefficient, regardless of the knife style. They lead to more injuries from slippage, and they require more pressure to use.

Wüsthof has designed their knives to be sharp, hard, and efficient, even with everyday use. To gain comfort with honing your knife, follow the company’s instructions on their website. For people who don’t want to use a Whetstone, Classic knives can be sharpened with a handheld or electric knife sharpener, which are designed to make the job easier. With regular honing, Wüsthof says their knives only need to be sharpened once or twice a year.

If you’re not comfortable with even that minimum amount of sharpening, you might decide to get a different knife that’s less expensive and made from a different material, which you can replace over time and don’t have to sharpen, such as a ceramic knife, which is incredibly sharp but they tend to break. Given their low price point, it may be preferable to get that and simply replace it when needed. Or, you might prefer to try a knife set from Zwilling, for example, that comes with a self-sharpening block.

If stamped knives seem preferable, be aware that since their blades are thinner and more flexible, they actually might not be as easy to sharpen as forged knives. Still, while stamped knives used to be considered low or poor quality, some chefs and home cooks do prefer them. Some brands, such as Victorinox, are considered comparable in quality to forged knives, and the lines about quality are blurring. Some people simply prefer the lighter feel and look of a stamped knife. The downside is they tend to be easier to break, and, as mentioned, the blades typically aren’t as hard or sharp.

Pricing

Wüsthof knives have a higher price point than stamped knives because forged knives are more labor-intensive and difficult to produce. Plenty of home cooks are happy with lower-cost stamped knives that feel comfortable and lighter, and they don’t mind replacing them over time. For example, ceramic knives are very inexpensive, sharp, and work well. But they are also easy to break.

Overall, forged knives are a worthwhile investment, and you’ll have them for a long time, even with rugged and repeated use. Blade retention is a significant factor in choosing a forged knife over another style. Also, Wüsthof offers a limited lifetime warranty, which helps back the investment. But your knives will only keep performing well based on how well you take care of them.

How to Choose the Right Wüsthof Classic Knife For You

Photo courtesy of WÜSTHOF

Lee

Lee is a new cook who wants to develop his skills. He’s looking for a knife that can comfortably be used to handle most tasks. Lee tends to chop onions for use in chilis and sauces. He has started experimenting with chicken curry dishes, and also peels his fruits and vegetables. Lee’s goal is to add a bread knife down the road to have the holy trinity of knives.

Features Lee Should Look For:

  • A chef’s knife and paring knife, which can be used for most tasks

Wüsthof Classic Knife Example: Wüsthof Classic Starter Set

Susan

Susan’s family of four eats mostly vegetarian meals. She wants to get healthful meals on the table as quickly as possible when everyone gets home from work and school.

Features Lee Should Look For:

  • A full length blade to easily chop vegetables for fast stir-frys and quick sautéing.
  • A lighter knife

Wüsthof Classic Knife Example: Nakiri knife

Linda

Linda has friends over regularly for wine and cheese. She is looking for knives for everything from cutting different cheeses to making uniformly shaped crudités and slicing charcuterie, such as smoked sausage.

Features Lee Should Look For:

  • A utility or flat-cut paring knife

Wüsthof Classic Knife Examples: Classic 4.5" Utility Knife, Classic 3" Flat Cut Paring Knife

Find the Best Wüsthof Classic Knives for You

Photo courtesy of WÜSTHOF

Buying knives can feel intimidating, especially if you’re starting out in your culinary adventures, honing your craft, and you want to maximize your investment.

As Curated kitchen expert Jacob Lewis wrote in a review of the best Wüsthof cutlery, Wüsthof’s Classic line of knives is what built Wüsthof’s reputation. “The full-bolster design adds heft, rigidity, and durability to the blade, making it incredibly tough.”

To help answer your knife questions and find what works for your specific needs, reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert. They’re here to help you choose what’s right for you. And if you’re like me, you’ll also find a few things to put on your wish list that you’ll look forward to getting in the future.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Kitchen on Curated

Zwilling Pro Self-Sharpening Knife Block Set · 7 Piece Set
$389.99$449.99
WÜSTHOF Classic Chef's Knife
$200.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Fully Serrated Paring Knife · 3.5 Inch
$95.00

Browse more Wusthof Kitchen

WÜSTHOF Classic Flat Cut Paring Knife · 3 Inch · Black
$95.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Double Serrated Bread Knife · 9 Inch
$150.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Bread Knife · 8 Inch · Black
$135.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Utility Knife · 6 Inch
$120.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Utility Knife · 4.5 Inch · Black
$95.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Steak Knife
$100.00
WÜSTHOF Classic Super Slicer · 10 Inch
$170.00

Browse more Wusthof Kitchen

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