knife sets with red and yellow background
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

The 9 Best Knife Sets of 2021, Tested by Allrecipes 

These knife sets are a cut above the competition. 
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Every home cook prides themselves on their set of kitchen knives. Maybe it's because they're shiny and new, or maybe it's because they're well worn as a result of years of use. Regardless, a beloved chef's knife or paring knife is one of the most reached-for items in the kitchen for professional chefs and beginner cooks alike.

And while having one or two beloved knives can be fun, it's hard to resist the convenience and satisfaction that come with purchasing a complete set that features a family of kitchen knives all packaged in one gorgeous block (or some other storage apparatus). 

But there's no denying that the world of kitchen knives is a daunting one. Should you go for forged or stamped knives? And what about Japanese knives vs. German knives? And do you actually need an 18-piece knife set or can you get by with just a few on hand? 

We took these concerns into consideration as we tested nine of the most-loved knife sets on the internet. Keep reading to discover our thoughts on the best knife sets on the market, and which one might be the right fit for your kitchen. 

Best Knife Sets at a Glance:

What to Consider When Buying a Knife Set

Kitchen knives — including all that goes into crafting them and which types are best used for what purpose — are their own field of study. There is just so much to know. But you don't have to be a cutlery scholar to buy the right knife set. Here we'll breakdown the essential considerations to take into account when purchasing a knife set, to help you cut through (pun intended) the noise. 

Knife Style

Different types of knives were born out of different cultures, each having been designed to prepare a specific type of cuisine. Most knives available on the market will fall into one of two categories: German/western knives or Japanese/Asian-style knives. 

German knives tend to be heavier and on the thicker side, with a curved shaped that best suits the rocking style of chopping. Japanese or Asian-style knives are defined by their thin, light-weight construction and straighter edge. The reason for this being that Japanese cooking tends to be more delicate and particular, whereas German cutlery is meant to chop through heartier foods like bones and tough winter squash

So, what does this mean for you as the consumer? Ultimately, choosing between German and Japanese knives is going to come down to personal preference, but if you're looking for a more durable workhorse, you might be better off going with German knives. If precision and aesthetics are more of a priority, Japanese knives make a great kitchen statement piece.

Blade Material 

The overwhelming majority of knives on the market (and in this review) are going to have stainless steel blades, the reason for this being that they are easy to sharpen and aren't prone to rusting as easily as other materials. But it's not the only material available. 

Carbon steel is another popular material for its durability and long-lasting edge, but unlike it's stainless steel counterpart, it's prone to rust. Damascus steel knives provide a solution to this conundrum: They're made with a carbon steel core and a stainless steel exterior. But of course, they can cause a jump in price. 

Finally, ceramic knives are a budget-friendly option, but they're not as popular because, as you can imagine, they chip easily and can be quite difficult to sharpen. For these reasons, we've left ceramic knives out of this review. 

Construction

Steel knives can be constructed one of two ways: by either stamping or forging. Stamped blades are literally stamped out of a large sheet of metal — almost like you would do with a cookie cutter on dough. 

Forged knives on the other hand are made through a process of heating and hammering out a knife from a single sheet of metal, which results in a harder knife that keeps its edge for longer. For this reason, forged knives are going to be more expensive than their stamped counterparts. 

Versatility and Set Size

Almost any basic knife set is going to include the following: a chef's knife (the knife that you'll find yourself reaching for 98 percent of the time) a serrated bread knife, and a paring or utility knife (which is just a slightly longer paring knife that is good for slicing cheese or segmenting fruits). 

But of course, almost all knife sets go beyond just the basics. You'll find many of the sets reviewed here also feature a carving knife, a santoku knife, a couple steak knives, and even a set of shears for mincing herbs or general kitchen use. Some sets even feature sharpening and maintenance accessories such as knife sharpeners or honing rods.

We reviewed knife sets ranging in size from six to 18 (!) pieces. If you're simply looking to upgrade your battered chef's knife or paring knife, there's no need to spring for a larger set. However, an 18-piece set may be a wise investment for newly weds or recent graduates.

Storage 

Most of the knife sets featured in this review are knife block sets, meaning that the knives are stored in a wooden block. And while they make a visually appealing addition to any countertop, they're not exactly the most space efficient option. You can find more compact storage options (say for small apartments or for travel), such as a cloth rolls or ergonomically-designed knife stands that can slide into a cabinet or in between appliances on your countertop. 

How We Tested Each Knife Set 

Allrecipes product tester Sarah Zorn started by rounding up the top-rated knife sets from reputable manufacturers including Zwilling, Shun, Cuisinart, Chicago Cutlery, and more. For each set, Sarah used the appropriate knife or knives to chop vegetables, slice bread, carve chicken, and peel apples. She paid close attention to the following metrics: 

  • Functionality: Do the knives slice easily, quickly and cleanly?
  • Versatility: Does the set contain essential knives (chef's knife, utility knife, bread knife, carving knife)? If it includes other knives, are they genuinely useful, or do they just increase the price?
  • Ergonomics: Are the knives comfortable to hold, balanced, and easy to use?
  • Durability: Do the knives get nicked or scratched easily? Does the containment system keep them safe? Is there a warranty?
  • Construction: What are they made of? Are they forged or stamped? How does this contribute to functionality, durability, and attractiveness? 
  • Attractiveness: Are they mere workhorses, or a statement piece in the kitchen? 
  • Value: Are they worth the money you've either spent or saved?

After testing, we've determined which is the right knife set for every type of cook — from beginners to pros, big budgets to small ones, and everything in between. Check out Sarah's thoughts on each set below. 

The Best Knife Sets to Buy in 2021

knife block set with chef's knife out
Credit: Amazon

Best Overall: Chicago Cutlery Insignia 2 18-Piece Knife Block Set

We're going to lead this off with a caveat. The best overall knife set is the one that directly addresses your primary needs in the kitchen, be it power (Zwilling), precision (Shun), value (AmazonBasics), durability (Victorinox), or sexy aesthetics (Zwilling and Shun again). That said, this set manages to touch down on most of the above, especially since it offers the largest assortment of knives (18!) that are smartly and thoughtfully crafted at a relatively reasonable price. 

For starters, the collection contains both a 3- and 3-1/2-inch parer, a 5-inch boning knife, a 5-1/2-inch utility knife, a 7-inch serrated bread knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, an 8-inch chef's knife, an 8-inch slicer, eight forged steak knives, a pair of kitchen shears, and a wooden block with a built-in sharpener. Each full tang and triple riveted blade is made from high-carbon stainless steel, with heavy duty forged bolsters for improved safety. And the set comes with a limited lifetime warranty, which helps make the $179 price tag a bit more reasonable

Buy it: Chicago Cutlery Insignia 2 18-Piece Knife Block Set, $180; Amazon

Basic wooden knife block set with chef's knife on display
Credit: Amazon

Best Budget: AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Block Set 

This set caught us by surprise. If you're looking to inexpensively equip the kitchen of your first sublet apartment, Amazon seems like a reasonable bet. But this collection is nothing to turn your nose up at, even if you're seeking a posher blade upgrade. 

For starters, there isn't any sort of obvious branding on it. So for all party guests know, you could totally be boasting blades from a prestige maker. And the construction is impressive for a set that hovers well below the hundred-dollar mark. Made from a continuous sheet of professional quality stainless steel, each blade is full tang triple riveted, with full bolsters that protect your fingers while cutting.

And with a whopping 18 pieces, you'll be able to tackle each and every kitchen task. Amazon's set is literally chock-a-block with an 8-inch chef's knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 5.5-inch utility knife, a 6-inch boning knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, a pair of kitchen shears, a honing rod, and 8 steak knives. In other words, this premium collection has value written all over it.

Buy it: AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Block Set, $56; Amazon

zwilling knife set in wooden block
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Best High-End: Zwilling Four Star 8-Piece Self-Sharpening Knife Set

This is the set you put on your wedding registry, or purchase as a rite of passage into adulthood, when you ceremoniously dump your mish mash of college apartment knives. 

Crafted by one of the most respected producers of German-style blades, each addition to the 8-piece collection is precision forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel. The Four Star series in particular was designed and developed in collaboration with professional chefs, meaning home cooks will be able to slice and dice with maximum ease and efficiency, and to exacting pro standards. 

The set includes essentials such as an 8-inch chef's knife, 8-inch bread knife, and 4-inch paring knife, plus a number of exciting extras. A 7-inch hollow edge Santoku knife brings the razor-sharp edge associated with Asian design into an otherwise Western collection; a 5-inch fine edge prep knife makes quick work of finely dicing onions and garlic; a 5-inch serrated utility knife will be a brunch-time go to, for its facility with bagels and tomatoes; and a set of kitchen shears includes a screw cap opener in the handle. 

And instead of including a honing rod in the 8-count, the hardwood block actually has built-in ceramic sharpeners, which are not only labelled with images of their corresponding knives for seamless and safe storage, but actively hone the knives each and every time they're removed and replaced from the block. 

Buy it: Zwilling Four Star 8-Piece Self-Sharpening Knife Set, $380; Williams-Sonoma

stainless steel knife set in black knife block
Credit: Amazon

Best for Beginners: Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set

We really appreciated the streamlined, modern look of this set, with its gleaming assortment of hollow handle stainless steel blades (no plastic!), arrayed in a stylish matte black box. And we definitely approved of the price, considering it's under $60 for 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, a 3.5-inch bird's beak paring knife, an 8-inch sharpening steel, and a pair of shears. 

There's no question that they don't cut quite as cleanly or easily as the pricier competition. But we doubt burgeoning at-home chefs will find much to grumble about when it comes to the Cuisinart collection, considering the fact that it's dishwasher safe, has a lifetime guarantee, and is practically unmatched in terms of versatility and cost.

Buy it: Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set, $80; Amazon or Walmart

knife block set with chef's knife outside
Credit: Amazon

Best for Professionals: Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery 7-Piece Swiss Classic Knife Block Set

You might expect that professional chefs would seek out the highest-end knives possible (your Zwillings, your Shuns, what have you). But the truth is, chefs are tough on knives, and they need an assortment of no-nonsense blades that will stand up to the challenge. That's where Victorinox comes in. The company behind the enduring Swiss Army knife, they're all about rugged precision. Which means, their knives are high quality and low maintenance, designed for performance rather than looks. 

The long, ice-tempered blades are sloped and curved to attain a "rocking" motion, which aids in mincing and chopping. And they're balanced, lightweight (being stamped instead of forged), and fitted with textured no-slip grip handles, which reduces strain, and makes them comfortable to wield for long periods of time. 

They're even dishwasher safe, which is a rarity for knives, and come with a lifetime guarantee. Meaning, this is the set for you if you're prone to subjecting your knives to a great deal of use and abuse. 

Buy it: Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery 7-Piece Swiss Classic Knife Block Set, $185; Amazon

asian-style knife block set
Credit: Amazon

Best Asian-Style: Shun Sora 6-Piece Knife Block Set 

Asian-style knives were specifically developed with local cuisines in mind, those that tend to feature delicate seafood and vegetables, as opposed to heavy proteins and fibrous produce favored by Western cultures, and thus, require a lighter hand and a bit more finesse. That said, American consumers are increasingly finding themselves drawn to Asian blades for everyday use, since they're lightweight — which reduces strain — and are incomparably sharp. And if this is the kind of set you seek, you can't do better than Shun.

Handcrafted in Japan, you're going to pay for top-of-the-line quality, with their classic starter set (featuring stunning blades that glide through food like butter) creeping over the $500 mark. That said, you can find performance coupled with value when it comes to the Sora line, which uses proprietary composite technology to produce fabulously efficient knives. Featuring high performance VG10 steel on the cutting edge, and corrosion-resistant Japanese 420J stainless steel on the blade upper, each knife is honed to a 16-inch edge, with a tang extending all the way through the handle, for improved strength and balance.

The bamboo block contains essentials such as a 8-inch chef's knife, 6-inch utility knife and 3.5-inch paring knife, but also includes extra slots, in case you want to scrimp, save, and add a few Shun specialties (such as the kiritsuke, known as the master chef's knife) to your collection.

Buy it: Shun Sora 6-Piece Knife Block Set, $300; Amazon

asian style knife block set with chef's knife on display
Credit: Amazon

Best Value Asian-Style Set: Kitchen Damascus 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set with Block

While $190 may not sound like a reduced cost option in the strictest sense, it certainly is when we're talking about nine Asian-style knives. These handcrafted blades contain 67 layers of superior Damascus steel. They're also absolute lookers, immediately ramping up the aesthetic of your kitchen. And the fact that they come with a lifetime warranty only adds to their comparative value. 

Buy it: Kitchen Damascus 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set with Block, $152; Amazon

Set of black knifes with knife sharpener in front of black box
Credit: Amazon

Best for Small Kitchens: Home Hero Stainless Steel Knife Block 

Let's be honest — knife blocks can be, well, blocky. And we don't all have ample amounts of counter space dedicated to displaying our blades. That's where Home Hero comes in. It manages to efficiently contain 13 stainless steel knives (including a carving knife, a utility knife, a cheese knife, a chef's knife, a bread knife, a paring knife, steak knives, and a pizza knife), plus a pair of scissors, a two-stage knife sharpener and (fun bonus!) a peeler, into a slim, see-through acrylic stand. It's got a decidedly contemporary look, compared to the traditional wood block, and it is a whole lot easier to clean (those containment systems tend to be harbingers for sticky kitchen grease). They're not the sharpest knives on the block, but non-stick paint still helps the mod-looking blades ease their way through food — and look pretty cool doing it.  

Buy it: Home Hero Stainless Steel Knife Block, $50; Amazon

set of knives in roll bag
Credit: Amazon

Best for Travel: Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Piece Knife Roll Set 

Another viable option for chefs on-the-go (or home cooks with limited storage) is the Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Piece Knife Roll Set. Again, they're not the sharpest of sharp, compared to some of the other sets on our list, and largely stick with the basics (chef's knife, bread knife, paring knife, boning knife, slicing knife, santoku knife — nice! — and honing steel). And they're not especially pretty, but that's really not the point. 

The upside here is they come efficiently snuggled into a heavy duty roll bag, with individual pockets for protecting each knife. So you can tightly and safely package your blades after use and tuck them into a drawer, or throw them over your shoulder to bring to a catering gig, or a rented cabin in the woods for a long weekend. 

Buy it: Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Piece Knife Roll Set, $109; Amazon

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