We’ve updated this guide to include the Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set, our new Best Overall.
Life is full of choices: Should you buy a pre-made knife set, or would you be better off spending the time and money to make a set yourself? The answer depends on your kitchen needs. Are you setting up your first kitchen or stocking a rental property? It might be easier and cheaper to buy a set. Plus, many of these sets include bonus items—like a set of steak knives.
Knife sets also make great wedding and graduation gifts. That's why we tasked a professional chef (that's me!) with finding the best you can buy. After hours of chopping, slicing, and dicing, our top pick is the Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set(available at Amazon).
No matter what kind of set you're looking for, for most everyday cooking, it should include a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. Many sets go above and beyond that, adding boning, peeling, tourne, or santoku knives, honing steels, kitchen shears, or even a built-in knife sharpener. Others stick with the basics but offer super sharp blades that are well-suited for upgrade sets for serious cooks.
These are the best knife sets we tested, ranked in order:
Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set with Tempered Glass Block
Cuisinart C77TR-15P Triple Riveted Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set
Misen Essentials 5-piece Knife Set
Global G-835/WS 6-Piece Knife Set with Block
Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Knife Set with Walnut Block
Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Zwilling Gourmet 10-Piece Knife Block Set
Zwilling J.A. Henckels / Miyabi Evolution 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Made In 3-piece Knife Set
Cangshan Thomas Keller Signature Collection 3-Piece Knife Block Set
Gunter Wilhelm 6-piece Premier ProCut Knife Set
Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Material The Trio of Knives
Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set
Five Two Essential Knives (set of 3)
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To earn our top ranking, we were looking for a set that had it all: knives with sharp edges, comfortable handles, and sets that include the right types of knives for a starter kitchen, all available for a great value with a promise of longevity. We’re not asking for too much, right? Apparently not, because the Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set had it all.
Most German-steel knives are heavy, but the knives in this Wüsthof set are relatively lightweight. These precision-forged knives are made from a single piece of continuous high-carbon stainless steel, so they’re super sharp and won't rust easily. The full-tang blade is seamlessly attached to a comfortable polypropylene handle that didn't slip in our hands, even when they were wet.
Each knife was a joy to use, and we appreciated the weight balance around the handle. The bolster is also protected at the bottom by a layer of unsharpened steel, making it easy to grip the blade on the butt edge without running the risk of cutting into your supporting fingers.
The chef’s knife was not only super sharp, but it was also very maneuverable as we chopped onions and sliced through delicate basil leaves. The paring blade was perfectly lengthed for on- and off-the-cutting board tasks, like peeling apples or segmenting oranges. The Kiritsuke utility knife (shaped like a santoku but with a curved edge to facilitate rocking) had no problem slicing soft tomatoes and hard cheese alike, and the two serrated knives—a long bread knife and a shorter utility knife—both tore through crusty baguette like it was butter. As a bonus, the shears are the same highly-ranked pair that we liked when we put kitchen shears to the test.
We were surprised at how sharp and precise the edges on these blades were, too. There was very little drag when slicing through both delicate and dense foods. Most German-steel knives are sharpened to a 20-degree edge, but these knives are sharpened to a 14-degree cutting edge. That gives them the sharpness of a Japanese-style knife with the durability of German steel.
Finish it off with an ultra-slim block (9.5-by-3.5-inches) to maximize counter space (especially helpful for small kitchens), and we were sold. With proper care, we have no reason to believe this Wüsthof set won’t last for a long time. Add in the fact that Wüsthof provides a limited lifetime warranty, and these high-quality knives impressed us enough to be named our Best Overall.
This set includes five knives—an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 6-inch Kiritsuke utility knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife—along with come-apart kitchen shears, and a slim design wooden block.
It's easy to like the Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set with Tempered Glass Block. The set provides the essential knives plus a bonus boning knife, although it's one of the few that didn’t include a honing steel or shears. In the end, we found it hard to complain considering you’ll receive five impressively sharp knives that performed as well as sets three times its price. In addition to the sharp blades, each knife has a great balance and we love the grip of the handles. The serrated knife is one of our favorites in the group.
After testing the knives, we can see why the Mercer brand is the common supplier of culinary school knife kits. Because of its performance and low price, it's easy to choose the Mercer Culinary Genesis as our Best Value pick.
This set includes five knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 5-inch utility knife, and a 6-inch boning knife) which are stored upright in a thin, glass case.
Cuisinart C77TR-15P Triple Riveted Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set
While the Cuisinart C77TR-15P Triple Riveted Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set can't rival some of the super expensive sets when it comes to sharpness, it makes up for it in value and design. The chef’s knife has great balance and a comfortable, nicely-shaped handle. It is well suited for chopping tasks and takes down onions with ease. In addition to the full-sized chef’s knife, the set also includes a 5-inch santoku knife, which could come in handy for chopping vegetables or for those with smaller hands.
We’re impressed that this set bundles so many knives for such a low price.
This set includes six knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch santoku knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 4.5-inch utility knife, and an 8-inch slicing knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, six steak knives, and a large, wooden block.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and a serious knife enthusiast. I worked doubles for months during college to scrape together enough money to buy my first knife set. Then, when I went to culinary school, I did the same thing to buy the recommended knife kit! I know what it feels like to spend your hard-earned cash on a purchase like this, and I want you to have all the facts before spending $100, $200, or more on a set of knives.
We selected the top-rated knife sets from different price points from most of the major knife manufacturers. Then, we got to work testing the knives to learn how the set performed as a whole. Usually, we test knives on an individual basis, but the pre-made set had to prove overall usability and performance to really provide good value. It was important that each set included the essential knives and it got bonus points for adding in usable extras. We also were looking for a set that was easy to store.
The tests were designed with that in mind, evaluating value, performance, and ease of storage. We chopped onions and thinly sliced basil with the chef’s knife, peeled apples and segmented citrus with the paring knives, and sliced bread and sandwiches with the serrated knife. Most of the sets came with a smaller utility knife, so we sliced tomatoes and hard blocks of cheese. If the set included kitchen shears, we tested those as well, cutting cardboard and gliding the blades through parchment paper. Along the way, we assessed the sharpness of each blade, the comfort of the handle, and the weight and length of the knife itself to ultimately determine if the set was worth its price tag.
What You Should Know About Buying Knife Sets
Before buying, ask yourself this question: What kind of knives do you like? You may not know how to answer that question yet, but it's worth it to put some thought into how you’ll use the knives before spending money on a set.
For starters, the number of knives included in the set varies greatly and is largely a matter of personal preference. Cooking enthusiasts and professional chefs may prefer to have a different knife for everything, swapping out the all-purpose chef’s knife for a smaller utility knife when chopping a small item like shallots. Occasional cooks are more likely to use one knife for everything, so they can get away with a set that has fewer knives. Keep in mind that knife sets often include extra items, like storage blocks or honing steels, so a seven-piece set doesn’t necessarily have seven knives.
Then there’s the knife material and style to consider. For example, I have a proclivity towards Japanese-style knives (like Shun and Global), which are sharp but quite fragile. I know a great number of chefs who prefer hard German steel (like Wüsthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels) because they don’t chip as easily and are easy to sharpen. I even know a chef who only buys inexpensive ceramic knives and replaces them every three months when they get dull.
It’s impossible for us to know your personal preferences, and we tried to keep that in mind as we ranked and rated. At the same time, there are a few steadfast rules to follow when looking for a top set.
How Many Knives Do I Need in a Knife Set?
Some of the sets we tested only include two knives while others come with as many as eight knives plus extras like steak knives, a honing steel, shears, and a storage block. So, how many knives do you really need?
The larger, all-inclusive sets are perfect for anyone building a starter kitchen. They’re also ideal for those who know they want all the specific knives included in the set, as the set generally offers a discount compared to buying knives individually. Some of these sets are inexpensive and are great for rental properties or anyone with a budget. Many of the big name-brand knife sets (like Wüsthof, Zwilling, or J.A. Henckels) can get quite pricey, so you’ll want to be sure you will actually use all the knives to make it worth the extra price.
Then there are the mid-sized sets that include around five knives. These sets are ideal for serious cooks and professionals who want to have a nice knife for every purpose. Use the chef’s knife as your kitchen workhorse but reach for the santoku when chopping vegetables, utility knife for smaller items, paring knife for peeling fruit and vegetables, serrated knife for bread, and the boning knife when processing a whole chicken.
Of course, there’s something to be said for simplicity. If you don’t cook a lot, or your meal prep isn’t very complicated, you can absolutely get away with a three-piece set. All you really need to get cooking is a chef’s knife (or a santoku knife) for all-purpose tasks, a serrated knife for cutting through bread or tough-skinned vegetables, and a paring knife for all the tasks where a chef’s knife is too large.
How To Choose Your Perfect Knife Set
For starters, it should include the three core knives you’ll use most in the kitchen: a chef’s or santoku knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. We deducted major points from several brands we tested for not including the all-important bread knife. The set should also include a honing steel (also called a sharpening steel) for keeping your edges sharp, and it’s great if they include a handy pair of kitchen shears. If the set comes with a utility knife, that’s good—you may find this smaller knife handy for slicing cheese or small vegetables. I consider boning knives, carving or slicing knives, smaller serrated knives, tourne knives (often called peelers), or steak knives as bonus items. You don’t need these items for everyday cooking, but having them does come in handy as you become a more serious cook.
Finally, you’ll need a way to store these knives. Most sets come with a storage wood block, but you may not want to use it if your kitchen is short on counter-space like mine. I can’t recommend a space-saving magnetic wall strip enough (like this highly-rated knife strip). Please, whatever you do, don't just throw your knives in a drawer unless they have a plastic cover. They could bang against each other and chip, the blade can dull prematurely, or—worse—you could hurt yourself when reaching for one.
A Few Knife Terms, Explained
Full tang? Triple-riveted? Forged and stamped knives? With so many terms floating around, it’s hard to know where to get started! If you’re looking at more expensive knife sets, you likely don’t have to worry about many of these terms. Almost all of the Zwilling and Wüsthof knives we tested, for example, feature forged, full-tang blades. But let’s dive into the terms so you can be well-informed about your new purchase!
For starters, knives are made by heating metal and hammering it into the proper shape before sharpening the edge. Forged knives start as a single piece of steel, which is formed into the knife blade as well as the bolster for the handle. They tend to be thicker and heavier than stamped blades, which are punched out or shaped using lasers. Stamped blades are inexpensive, but they’re rarely as durable as forged blades since they never get heat treated.
Both types of blades can be full-tang or partial-tang, which refers to how far the metal extends into the handle. Full-tang knives are generally considered to be the best because the knife is one continuous piece of metal from the tip to the end of the handle. You can often see the piece of metal on top of the handle. Many knives attach the handles with three rivets, so you may see the term triple-riveted handles on knife products.
When you buy a full-tang knife, you know it will be stronger and more durable than partial-tang knives, which only extend the metal through half of the handle. Full tang knives are also better balanced, although they are also heavier. Some stamped blades have no tang and they’re simply welded onto the handle. While these are the lightest knives and usually least expensive, they also won’t last as long because the handle can detach from the blade.
Other Knife Sets We Tested
Misen Essentials 5-Piece Knife Set
If you’re looking to purchase a set that contains everything you need to get started cooking for a price that won’t break the bank, look to the Misen Essentials 5-piece Knife Set. In addition to the classic, all-purpose chef's knife, paring knife, and long, serrated bread knife, you’ll also get a santoku knife that’s perfect for chopping vegetables and a smaller utility knife that can tackle smaller foods like shallots. Each knife has a sloped bolster, which means it’s easier to learn how to properly grip the knife on the blade instead of by the handle.
When it came to performance, we loved the Japanese-style, 15-degree edge on these knives. Combine that with how thin the blades are, and you get a sharp knife that doesn’t snag when it cuts through food. The serrated bread knife was sharp enough to cut through crusty baguette without having to apply firm pressure, and the bacon in our BLT sandwiches didn’t cause the blade to snag once during the tests. We loved that the paring knife was comfortable to use both on the cutting board and when hovering above to peel apples, too.
While the set is great for beginner cooks, that doesn’t mean it’s not also a good fit for more experienced cooks. They’re sharp enough to tackle heavy-duty cooking, and the high-carbon stainless steel is lightweight enough to use for extended periods. The double-riveted handles (available in black or blue) are a little on the heavy side, but they worked with the lightweight blades to create a nice balance while you use the knife. The set doesn’t come with a storage block, so you'll need to source this separately if you want one.
This set contains five knives: an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7.5-inch santoku knife, a 9.5-inch serrated bread knife, a 5.5-inch utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. If you don’t need that many knives, pick up Misen's three-piece set, which only has a chef’s knife, serrated bread knife, and paring knife.
The Global G-835/WS 6-Piece Knife Set with Block is absolutely our pick if you're looking to upgrade. While it does include a carving knife in addition to the core four knives, it doesn’t come with a honing steel or a set of shears. That being said, it was absolutely the sharpest set of knives in the group. Using the chef’s knife feels like an effortless extension of my arm, and the serrated bread knife makes it surprisingly easy to slice through crusty baguette. If price isn’t an issue, these ultra-sharp, super-light knives are a perfect choice. They make a great upgrade set and would definitely be on my wedding registry if I had one in the near future.
This set includes five knives (a 7-inch Asian-style chef’s knife, a 4-inch paring knife, an 8.75-inch serrated bread knife, a 5.25-inch utility knife, and an 8.25-inch carving knife) along with a low-profile, metal block.
Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Walnut Block Knife Set
The Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Knife Set with Walnut Block almost rivals our top pick, but it only comes with four knives plus shears. We absolutely love the sharp, easy to use knives that are more than capable of acing our tests. The utility knife is a stand out in the group with its long, semi-flexible blade. If you don't need any of the extra knives, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, and a 6-inch utility knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.
There was a lot to like about the Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set and a few things we disliked. For starters, these knives are very sharp and basically aced all of our tests. The chef’s knife made quick work at dicing onions, and the bread knife cleanly cut through the thick-sliced bacon on BLT sandwiches. We were a big fan of the utility knife’s wide blade, which made it versatile enough to slice through both dense items (like a block of hard cheese) and tender-skinned foods like tomatoes. While we loved the handle design and grip, the knives are heavy and not particularly well-balanced, so they wore out our hands after extended use. Our major complaint, though, is the price to value on this set. It’s one of the more expensive knife sets on the list, but it only comes with four knives.
This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 5.5-inch utility knife, and a 4-inch paring knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.
The Zwilling Gourmet 10-Piece Knife Block Set offers a ton of super-sharp knives at a great value. You’ll get seven knives with this set, including several “bonus” knives like a peeling/tourne knife, a vegetable knife, and a slicing knife. The knives were well balanced and relatively lightweight, with comfortable handles and sharp edges. While the long paring knife wasn’t our favorite for off-the-cutting board tasks like peeling apples, the set comes with two shorter knives that accomplished the task just fine. Our major complaint with this set was the weird, wavy edge on the serrated utility knife. It wasn’t as functional as most of the utility knives we tested, and it was really difficult to cut dense items like hard cheese. If the knife set had included a regular utility knife, we might have ranked this set higher.
This set includes seven knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 6-inch slicing knife, 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 4-inch paring knife, a 3-inch vegetable knife, and a 2.75-inch peeling/tourne knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels / Miyabi Evolution 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Japanese-style knives have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason. The Miyabi 34010-000 Knife Block Set combines elegance with razor-sharp edges, coming together to give you a beautiful showpiece set that’s incredibly functional. We have no complaints with any of the knives, although the kitchen shears were a bit heavy and didn’t test as well as the others in the group. We love that the set comes with a small santoku knife, giving you a low-profile alternative to the large chef’s knife. Overall, the knives were light and well-constructed, albeit a little expensive for a smaller set of knives.
This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5.5-inch santoku knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, and a 9-inch serrated bread knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.
We loved the Made In 3-Piece Knife Set as soon as we unboxed it. Each knife comes in an adorable package complete with one bandaid per knife, instructions on how to use each knife, and details about how and why the blade was designed. We also appreciated that the knives came with hard plastic sheaths for safe storage, as this set does not come with a block.
These fully forged knives are very sharp, and the double-riveted handles are available in red, black, and wood. The three-piece set comes with a good variety of knives for any starter kitchen. The long chef’s knife has a curved blade, making it ideal for cutting in a rocking motion (as you would when chopping garlic or herbs). It’s also long enough to tackle large items, like butternut squash or pineapples.
The Nakiri knife is a good alternative to the santoku knife that comes in most knife sets. It has a rectangular shape, a thinner blade, and is specifically designed for chopping vegetables. The set also includes a paring knife for smaller tasks, like peeling apples or deveining shrimp.
Our major complaint with this set was the weight. The knives were on the heavy side, which does make it easier to get through dense food but it tired our hands when used for extended periods. We also wish the three-piece set included a serrated knife for slicing bread.
This set includes three knives: a 8.5-inch chef’s knife, a 6-inch Nakiri knife, and a 3.8-inch paring knife.
Cangshan Thomas Keller Signature Collection 3-Piece TAI Block
The Cangshan Thomas Keller Signature Collection doesn’t include as many knives as most of the sets on this list, but it definitely excels when it comes to performance. (Plus, this set is one of Oprah's favorite things!) They’re a bit of a hybrid knife, made with strong Swedish Damasteel RWL34 powdered steel but sharpened to a 16-degree Asian-style cutting edge to make them both durable and razor-sharp. The chef’s knife had no issues creating paper-thin tomato slices, and it was well-balanced and comfortable to use as we chopped the onions. The paring knife was similarly impressive, and we love the look of these showcase knives in their open walnut block. Our biggest complaint is the price-to-value factor: The set is pretty expensive considering that it only comes with two knives.
This set includes two knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife and a 3.5-inch paring knife) along with a gorgeous walnut storage block.
Overall, we were pleased with the performance of the Günter Wilhelm 6-Piece Premier ProCut Knife Set. These German steel knives were sharp and precise, cutting through onions and segmenting citrus without issue. The triple-tang design creates a knife that is neither lightweight nor too heavy, creating a balance that makes them easy to use for any task. The knife’s appearance is pleasing, too, with smooth, shiny wooden handles that stand out against the bright steel.
The set only comes with four knives, but it comes with a large, wooden block that has 13 slots, leaving you plenty of space for expansion. Of course, that capacity also means this block is twice as large as a standard knife block (and almost three times as big as the slim block that comes with our top pick, the Wüsthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set), so you’ll want to be sure you have room to store it on the countertop.
This set includes four knives (a 7-inch santoku knife, a 10-inch carving knife, a 10-inch offset serrated bread knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife) along with a honing steel and a large, wooden block.
While we wished the higher-rated Victorinox Fibrox Pro set came with a serrated bread knife, we found ourselves yearning for a chef’s knife with this Victorinox Swiss Classic 5-Piece Kitchen Knife Set. Instead of the classic wide-blade chef's knife, this set comes with a long, thinner “carving knife.” While it does perform all the essential functions of a chef’s knife, we like a wider blade for chopping tasks. On the other hand, we were happy with how light these knives were, and they were definitely sharp. You can’t go wrong with the price, either, although we’re not sure why they decided to provide two paring knives–one serrated and one straight-edge blade. It’s also important to keep in mind that this set doesn’t come with a wooden block, so you’ll have to find your own storage solution.
This set includes five knives (a carving knife, a bread knife, a serrated tomato and table knife, a serrated paring knife, and a straight-edge paring knife).
If you’re specifically looking for a three-knife set, you won’t be disappointed by the Material The Trio of Knives. We love Material products for their balance of function and beauty, and these knives would pair perfectly with its plastic cutting board (our top pick, in fact).
For starters, the knives are absolutely gorgeous. The round handles are not only comfortable to hold while chopping, but their matte, ivory finish looks stunning (especially when stored in the optional block). The Japanese stainless steel has a Damascus steel finish at the ends, making these both elegant and functional. And functional they are: The knives were sharp enough to cut through everything we threw at it, and the paring knife felt like an extension of our hand when we used it to peel apples above the cutting board. We worried that the 6-inch serrated knife wasn’t long enough to tackle a large, crusty baguette, but it took it down without a single snag.
The only reason this set isn’t higher up on the ranking is because it doesn’t come with as many knives as similarly priced sets. That said, if you don’t need the extras, this would be a fantastic set for any home cook.
This set includes three knives: an 8-inch Chef’s knife, a “almost 4-inch” paring knife, and a 6-inch serrated knife. A magnetic stand is available for $75, and knife guards are available for $15.
Cuisinart C77SS-15PK Stainless Steel Hollow Handle 15-Piece Cutlery Block Set
We liked that you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set, but we weren’t impressed with the performance of the knives. They weren’t as sharp as the other knives we tested, and their lightweight construction wasn’t very well balanced when using the knife. We like that this set comes with a large storage block, but it’s heavy and it takes up a lot of space on the countertop.
As a bonus, this set come with six steak knives. Considering the sheer number of knives and the bonus steak knives, the price makes this a great starter set for a beginner cook or for stocking a rental property.
This set includes seven knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5.5-inch serrated utility knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, and a 3.5-inch tourne knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, six steak knives, and a large, matte black block.
We loved the vintage look of the three-piece Five Two Essential Knives set. The soft-touch handles are available in several colors: Smoked Salt, Nordic Sea, Maple, and Rhubarb, and each one has a gorgeous washed-out appearance. These triple-riveted, forged, Japanese steel knives were a little on the heavy side, but they had great balance that made them easy to use.
Where the set lost the most points was in the sharpness department. They just weren’t as sharp as other knife sets, struggling to get through the bacon in the BLT and hanging up on the apple skin when we peeled it with the paring knife. The set only contains three knives, too, so it wasn’t able to keep up with similarly priced sets that come with more (like santoku blades, utility knives, and kitchen shears).
This set includes three knives: An 8-inch chef’s knife, a 9-inch serrated bread knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife.
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