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 knife set. Plus, many of these sets include what I like to call bonus items—like steak knives.
Knife sets also make great wedding and graduation gifts to give. That's why we tasked a professional chef (that's me!) with finding the best knife set. After hours of chopping, slicing, and dicing, our top pick is the Wüsthof 8845 Grand Prix II 7-Piece Block Set(available at Amazon for $329.95).
No matter what kind of set you're looking for, for most everyday cooking, the best knife sets include a good chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. Many sets go above and beyond that, adding boning knives, peeling or tourne knives, honing steels, santoku knives, kitchen shears, or even a built-in 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 8845 Grand Prix II 7-Piece Block Set
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set with Tempered Glass Block
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
Wüsthof Gourmet 7-Piece Piece Mobile Block Set Model 8940
Miyabi 34010-000 Knife Block Set
Zwilling 30707-000 Twin Signature 7-Piece Knife Block Set
J.A. Henckels International 35342-000 Classic 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set
Cuisinart C77TR-15P Triple Riveted Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set
Victorinox Swiss Classic 5-Piece Kitchen Knife Set
Vremi 10-piece Colorful Knife Set - 5 Kitchen Knives with 5 Knife Sheath Covers
Calphalon 1924554 Classic 6-Piece Knife Block Set with Self-Sharpening Knife Sharpener Block
J.A. Henckels International 35309-000 Statement 12-Piece Knife Block Set
AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Knife Block Set
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To earn our top ranking for knife sets, 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 8845 Grand Prix II 7-Piece Block Set had it all. We’ll start by saying these aren't the lightest knives we tested. In fact, they have quite a bit of heft. We didn’t count that as a negative, though, because they were also perfectly well-balanced, keeping our hands from tiring out after extended use. That heft also helped the sharp blades effortless cut through a variety of different size, shape, and textured ingredients.
Most of the knives in this set were our favorites in the group as we tested: 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 utility knife had no problem slicing soft tomatoes and hard cheese alike, and the bread knife 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.
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. It’s certainly not a set for the budget-conscious, but these are incredible knives. With proper care, we have no reason to believe they 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 four knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 4.5-inch utility knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife) along with a honing steel, kitchen shears, and a large, 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. 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.
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 $100.
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 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.
What You Should Know About Knife Sets
Before buying a knife set, 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 example, I have a proclivity towards Japanese-style knives (like Shun and Global), which are wicked sharp but quite fragile. I know a great number of chefs who prefer hard German stainless steel (like Wüsthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels) because they don’t chip as easily and are easier to sharpen. I even know a chef who only buys inexpensive ceramic knives and replaces them every three months when they get dull.
That said, 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 knife set.
How To Choose The Best Knife Set
For starters, a knife set 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 knife sets 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 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
Global G-835/WS 6-Piece Knife Set with Block
The Global G-835/WS 6-Piece Knife Set with Block is absolutely our pick if you're looking for an upgraded knife set. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You absolutely can’t go wrong with the ultra-sharp, super thin blades in the Shun Classic 6-Piece Slim Knife Block Set. They’re so sharp, you could almost think about cutting an onion and it would dice itself! Unfortunately, the price is simply too high for the set (especially considering that you don’t get a serrated bread knife out of the deal). We love Shun knives for their excellent edges and beautiful aesthetic, but you would be better off buying these knives individually for this price.
This set includes three knives (an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch Santoku 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).
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.
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.
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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.