• Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set, Tempered Glass Block

  • How We Tested

  • Things to Know When Buying a Knife Set

  • Other Knife Sets Under $200 We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Mercer Culinary
Credit: Reviewed /Lindsay D. Mattison
Best Overall
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set, Tempered Glass 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. To top the cake, 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.

Pros

  • Performs as well as more expensive sets

  • Great balance

Cons

  • Doesn't include honing steel or shears

How We Tested

The Tester

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 a lot of money on a knife set.

The Tests

We selected 12 top-rated knife sets of 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 (which we’ll talk about in a minute) 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.

Related content

Things to Know When Buying a Knife Set

Before buying a knife set, ask yourself this question: What kind of knives do you like? You may not know yet, but it's worth exploring before you spend money on a set. For example, I know I have a proclivity towards Japanese-style knives (like Shun and Global) while I know a great number of chefs who prefer German steel (like Wüsthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels). I even know a chef who only buys inexpensive ceramic knives and replaces them every three months when they get dull. So, it’s impossible for us to know what your personal preference is 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 knife set.

First of all, it needs to include the three core knives: a chef’s or Santoku knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. The set should also include a honing steel for keeping your edges sharp and a pair of kitchen shears always come in handy. 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.

Finally, you’ll need some way to store these knives. Most sets come with a block, but that may not be important if your kitchen is short on counter-space like mine. In which case, I can’t recommend a space-saving magnetic wall strip enough. 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, or worse you might hurt yourself when reaching for one.


Other Knife Sets Under $200 We Tested

Zwilling 36131 Gourmet 10-pc knife block set

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.

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Lightweight

  • Great value

Cons

  • Paring knife is unwieldy for some tasks

  • Utility knife not great for dense items

Wüsthof 8940 Gourmet Seven Piece Mobile Block Set

While the knives included in the Wüsthof Gourmet 7-Piece Piece Mobile Block Set Model 8940 aren’t quite as glamorous as some of the other top-ranked Wüsthof sets, you really can’t go wrong with the value on this one. The set includes every knife you’d need for a starter kitchen: A chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife. As a bonus, it also includes a small, lightweight santoku knife. Although the knives felt slightly off-balance, they’re very sharp and comfortable to hold. The only knife in the set we didn’t love was the utility knife, a long, skinny knife that struggled to get through the hard cheese. It’s also important to note that this block only holds the five knives, so it’s not well-suited for expansion.

This set includes five knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch santoku knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 4.5-inch utility knife, and a 3-inch paring knife) along with kitchen shears and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Comfortable to use

  • Great value

Cons

  • Doesn't feel balanced

  • Long, thin utility knife struggles on thick items

Zwilling 30707 Twin Signature Knife Block Set

While we loved the sharp blades on the knives in the Zwilling 30707-000 Twin Signature 7-Piece Knife Block Set, we felt it fell flat compared to some of the other sets. We appreciate the price tag that comes with a smaller set, but this one doesn’t come with a serrated bread knife, providing the less-useful peeling/tourne knife instead. Most home cooks don’t have any use for this knife; a paring knife can do everything a tourne knife can do, and more. We loved the lightweight, sharp chef’s knife, and the paring knife was one of our favorites in the test group. But, in the end, we found this set lacked value considering that it only provides three useful knives. We wouldn’t be opposed to looking at a larger knife set in Zwilling Twin Signature line that included a serrated bread knife, like this 11-piece set

This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 4-inch paring knife, and a 2.75-inch peeling/tourne knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Sharp blades

  • Comfortable handles

Cons

  • No serrated bread knife

Henckels International 35342-000 Classic Knife Block Set

While knives included in the J.A. Henckels International 35342-000 Classic 7-Piece Knife Block Set didn’t lack anything in the sharpness department, we found this set generally lacking. The chef’s knife was a touch on the heavy side in an unbalanced way, making it a little awkward to use. The edges on the handle weren’t as rounded as some of the other knives, so it wasn’t very comfortable, either. What we loved about this set was the paring knife, which was effortless to use and fit nicely in our hands. We were also fond of the santoku knife, which had a better handle and improved balance compared to the chef’s knife. In the end, considering that this set doesn’t come with a serrated bread knife and we didn’t like the chef’s knife, we thought these knives were a touch pricey considering the contents.

This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, and a 4-inch paring knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Paring knife effortless to use

  • Nice santoku knife

Cons

  • No serrated bread knife

  • Expensive

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set

We really have no complaints about the performance of the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set. The Swiss Army owned company is well known for making great knives at a value price. What we don't love about this set, though, is the lack of a serrated bread knife. The chef’s knife performs incredibly well, and the super minimalistic paring knife is one of our favorites in the group. Unfortunately, the set includes a small serrated knife instead of a larger bread knife, which we find to be a grave oversight. That knocks the set down a few rungs in the scoring.

This set includes 4 knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, a 4.5-inch serrated tomato/bagel knife, and a 5-inch utility knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Favorite paring knife we tested

  • Good performance

  • Good value

Cons

  • Doesn't include a bread knife

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. Because it meets our quality standards, we would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a knife set under our target 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.

Pros

  • Great value

  • Good design

  • Includes a 5-inch Santoku knife

Cons

  • Knives not as sharp as other sets

Victorinox Swiss Classic Kitchen Knife Set, 5 Pieces

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).

Pros

  • Good value

  • Knives are light weight

Cons

  • Doesn't include a chef's knife

  • Doesn't include a storage block

Vremi 5 Piece Colorful Knife Set

The Vremi 10-piece Colorful Knife Set - 5 Kitchen Knives with 5 Knife Sheath Covers totally looks like a set of ceramic knives, but they’re actually made from stainless steel. They have a comfortable, soft-grip handle and they'll add a splash of color to your life! They’re not the sharpest knives on the block (or, rather, in the block), but they’re not exactly dull, either. Because each knife comes with an individual, hard plastic cover, this would be a great knife set for your camping box or to take on-the-go (any bartenders out there?).

This set includes five knives (a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a serrated bread knife, a utility knife, and a carving knife) with five hard plastic covers.

Pros

  • Comfortable, soft-grip handle

  • Great set for a camping box

Cons

  • Not very sharp

Calphalon 1924554 Classic Self-Sharpening 6-Piece Knife Block Set

As far as beginner knife sets go, you could certainly do worse than the Calphalon 1924554 Classic Self-Sharpening 6-Piece Knife Block Set. For starters, these knives were as sharp as some of the more expensive knife sets, and we love that the block has a built-in sharpener, which is great for beginner cooks—it takes the question mark out of how to use a knife sharpener or honing steel.

This set’s major downfall was the lack of a serrated bread knife (something we think is essential in a good starter set). We also thought the knives were a little on the heavy side, and the chef’s knife has a very long handle, which threw off the balance and made it difficult to use for extended periods of time.

This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch santoku knife, a 6-inch utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife) along with kitchen shears, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Includes self-sharpening block

  • Knives have sharp edges

Cons

  • Doesn't include serrated bread knife

  • Chef's knife handle is too long

Henckels International 35309 Statement 12-pc Knife Block Set

For the price, the J.A. Henckels International 35309-000 Statement 12-Piece Knife Block Set isn’t a terrible deal. The knives themselves are lightweight and sharp enough to tackle every job we threw at them, but the handle design got in the way of making this a stellar set. The handles are a little clunky for our liking, making them awkward to hold.

We also didn’t love the paring knife, which features a wide blade and thick handle, making maneuverability difficult. That said, if you’re looking for a budget knife set that comes with steak knives and you prefer getting a santoku knife instead of a utility knife, this would be a fine starter set for most kitchens.

This set includes four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 3-inch paring knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, six steak knives, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Great budget sets

  • Includes steak knives

Cons

  • No utility knife

  • Awkward handles

AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Knife Block Set

You get a startling number of knives for a great price with the AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Knife Block Set. That being said, it really isn't my favorite in the group. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of knives you find in the drawers at a vacation rental property. They aren't effortless to use like some of the other sets I tested were, but they certainly get the job done. As a chef, I would go a little crazy using these knives on the regular, but this set would work just fine for someone who doesn't cook very much.

This set includes seven knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, a 5.5-inch utility knife, a 6-inch boning knife, and an 8-inch slicing knife) with a honing steel, kitchen shears, eight steak knives, and a large, wooden block.

Pros

  • Good value

Cons

  • Needs too much effort to use regularly

Meet the tester

Lindsay D. Mattison

Lindsay D. Mattison

Professional Chef

@zestandtang

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, food writer, and amateur gardener. She is currently writing a cookbook that aims to teach home cooks how to write without a recipe.

See all of Lindsay D. Mattison's reviews

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