Top 6 Most Recommended Knife Sets in a Block

Published on 01/24/2024 · 8 min readSlice with style and precision! Discover the top recommended knife sets in a block, combining functionality, aesthetics, and culinary excellence.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by elroyspelbos

TL;DR: Knife blocks are a way to safely store and contain your knives. Many different sets come with a knife block, ranging from small three-knife sets to a full complement of 12 or so, including steak knives.

Knives have always interested me, and I inherited my enthusiasm from my dad. As I learned to cook from my mom by helping her in the kitchen, my knife collecting switched from pocket knives to kitchen knives. My pocket knife collection has been pared down, but I still do own a few good ones and a Bowie knife.

Most of the kitchen knives I own were given to me or inherited, but I’ve been building my collection out slowly. I was even lucky enough to find some well-made carbon steel knives that I was able to restore at a thrift store. My knives include stainless steel, carbon steel, and ceramic blades, so I have a good idea of the pros and cons of each variety.

How to Pick the Best Knife Set in a Block for the Job

A knife block set is a kitchen knife set that comes with a block for safe storage. If you’re just starting out or want to upgrade your current collection of knives, a knife block set is a great way to start off with a variety of knives. Like all knives, these sets range from high-quality Japanese or German-made kitchen knives to cheap stamped ones.

A full Cangshan knife block set, including steak knives

What Should the Knives Be Made Out of?

Knife blades can be made out of several different materials, each with advantages and disadvantages. If you’re wondering what the differences between them are, here’s a brief rundown.

  • High-carbon stainless steel: A lot of knives use what is called high-carbon stainless steel. It’s a stainless that’s closer in composition to carbon steel, meaning that it can hold an edge extremely well, but is still corrosion resistant. It’s most often found in Japanese knives and other high-end blades.
  • Stainless steel: For the vast majority of knives, stainless steel is an excellent choice. It’s rust resistant, easy to care for, and can hold a sharp edge.
  • Carbon steel: Before stainless steel was invented in the early twentieth century, knives were made from carbon steel. It’s still around because this alloy is extremely hard, so it can hold a razor-sharp edge. The reason it’s now a specialty material is that it rusts easily so must be dried immediately after washing.
  • Damascus steel: A forging process rather than a type of steel, Damascus steel is made by folding layers over each other and then hammering them into shape. This is an ancient technique, but the beautiful wavy lines that are left on the blade after it is forged make it a specialty item.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic is harder than most steels, allowing it to hold an extremely sharp edge for a long time. The tradeoff is that it’s brittle. Ceramic blades are easy to chip and can shatter if dropped.

The space-saving alternative to a knife block is a wall-mounted magnetic strip. Photo by Di Doherty

What Should a Knife Block Set Contain?

The number of pieces that a knife block contains varies greatly depending on the set and the brand. While there are certain knives that you want to make sure are in your set, there are a lot of others that will depend on your budget and personal preferences.

  • Chef’s knife: This is a must-have for every knife set. Chef’s knives are multipurpose knives that can slice, dice, chop, and mince. They work on poultry, fish, meat, and veggies like onions.
  • Paring knife: No knife set is complete without a paring knife. These little knives are used for tasks that are too small or precise for a chef’s knife, like coring tomatoes, peeling apples, or mincing garlic.
  • Utility knife: A knife set should include a utility knife as well. These are in between a chef’s knife and a paring knife, being around five to seven inches long. Their blades aren’t deep, making them easier to maneuver, and they can either be straight edged or serrated.
  • Bread knife: This is another must-have knife, as it’s the only reasonable way to slice bread. These knives have a long blade and a serrated edge that allows them to grip the bread and cut it rather than tear it. They’re also excellent for cutting cakes and slippery fruits and veggies, like tomatoes or citrus.
  • Santoku knife: I wouldn’t consider this an essential knife, and it typically only shows up in larger sets. However, santoku knives are another type of multipurpose knife that works well on both meat and vegetables, even tougher ones like carrots. It has a curve on the spine, giving you more cutting area to work with.
  • Filet knife: While filet knives are very useful, they’re specialty knives and not necessary for every kitchen. These knives are excellent for cutting fish filets or removing meat from bones. They have a long, thin blade, giving you precise control, and they often have a bit of flexibility.
  • Kitchen shears: I find my kitchen shears indispensable. These scissors are wonderful for trimming excess skin or fat off of chicken, snipping stems off fresh herbs, and opening packages. Good shears disassemble, making them easy to wash.
  • Steak knives: Larger knife block sets will include steak knives. These table knives make it reasonable to cut pork chops, lamb, and, of course, steaks. They’re knives that you want to have, but you may not want them as part of a knife block set, as it makes the block bulky.
  • Honing steel: Also called a sharpening steel or honing rod, many higher-end sets contain one of these. They aren’t a knife, but they are used to keep yours in peak condition. A sharp knife’s edge will curl from use, as it's so fine. A honing rod’s job is to straighten that out and keep your knife in good shape for longer between sharpenings.

Use a honing knife to keep your blades sharp and avoid accidents in the kitchen. Photo by Cottonbro Studio

Top Recommendations for Knife Sets in a Block

Knife blocks are the answer to storage problems — you no longer need to buy a magnetic strip or figure out how to safely store them in a drawer. While knife blocks take up more space on your counter than a magnetic strip, they can be put in more places and be moved more easily if you choose to rearrange your kitchen. Here are my recommendations for knife block sets that will last you a long time.

1. Shun Premier Starter Block Set

If you’re looking for a starter set or to upgrade your main knives, this five-piece set contains a chef’s knife, utility knife, paring knife, bamboo knife block, and sharpening steel. As they’re Japanese-made blades, they’re razor sharp and built for precision in their cuts. It’s a compact knife block that doesn't take up much room, allowing for easy storage. That being said, starter sets aren’t sufficient for many home cooks, especially as they lack a serrated knife.

2. WÜSTHOF Classic Ikon 8-Piece Knife Block Set

If you’re looking for German-style knives, this set including two types of paring knives, a serrated and a straight utility knife, and a chef’s knife is a solid choice. The knives are forged with German steel and have a full tang and understated black handles. The block itself is acacia wood, making it attractive and long lasting. It even has shears and a honing rod. The lack of a bread knife will be problematic for some, though the serrated utility knife can handle most bread-slicing jobs.

3. Global Takashi Knife Block Set

This kitchen knife set includes a nakiri knife, which is unusual. That’s a Japanese vegetable knife that excels at prep work, particularly cutting up veggies. The set has the other basics like a chef’s knife, utility knife, paring knife, and bread knife, all of which are made of high-quality steel. However, not everyone finds Global’s distinctive metal handles comfortable, and even though the knives are stainless, they can’t go in the dishwasher.

4. Mercer Culinary 6-Piece Genesis Glass/Stainless Block Set

Mercer experimented with a different type of knife block for this set, having one that’s made of glass and steel. The knives are put in completely vertically, putting the blades on display even when they’re put away. The Genesis line is an affordable option with synthetic handles, forged blades, and full tangs. While these knives don’t have quite the same edge retention or balance as a premium brand, they’re durable, have sharp blades, and a grippy handle.

5. Henckels Modernist Self-Sharpening Knife Set with Block

This 14-piece knife set comes with all the basics, plus steak knives and a santoku knife. The most interesting aspect about it is that it’s self-sharpening. That means that there are sharpening surfaces inside the knife block that sharpen your knife every time you put it away or take it out. This is a time saver and helps with edge retention, but knife sharpeners are harder on your knives than a whetstone.

6. Miyabi Birchwood SG2 Knife Block Set

If you want beautiful knives, this set has Damascus steel blades and birchwood handles. Miyabi’s knives are a little bit heavier than some other Japanese knives, but that makes them more durable. This set includes the basics, and they’re made of high-quality Japanese steel with comfortable wooden handles. However, it’s the most expensive item on this list, despite only having seven items, and the birch handles ensure it can only ever be handwashed.

Find the Ideal Knife Block Set for You

Photo by Cooker King

A set of knives is an investment, and it can be difficult to be sure that you have just the right one. If you have any questions or concerns or you want to be sure you know what you’re getting, chat with a Curated Kitchen Expert! This free service allows you to talk with an expert in the subject to make sure that it’ll be the perfect knife block for you.

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