The 10 best kitchen knives and knife sets for 2021
17 March 2021
We all know someone who's evangelical about top quality knives. Find out what they're on about with our selection of the very best kitchen and chef's knives to buy for all your culinary feats.
When it comes to the kitchen, there’s one item that you can’t live without. Used for everything from slicing cheese for sandwiches to finely chopping herbs for sauces, every cook needs a trusty kitchen knife.
With different blades, edges, shapes and sizes to choose from, it can be tricky to know which one to go for, especially as they all do different jobs.
A knife set will come with a selection of knives that will each cater to all your kitchen needs. However, some cooks prefer to find one or two good knives that can tackle all preparation tasks.
The costs can vary widely but, essentially, a good knife needs to be sharp, comfortable to hold and grip, and slice through food with ease. Avid foodies will happily spend hundreds of pounds on professional kitchen knives, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, there are cheaper options that are just as effective.
To help you get the best out of your cooking, here are the best chef and kitchen knives to buy right now.
Best kitchen knives and kitchen knife sets
1. Best overall kitchen knives: Wüsthof Starter Roll Bag, Set of 6
“DH is into his knives in this house. We've now got Wüsthof ones and a whetstone, and they're great.”
Wüsthof produces some of the more expensive knives around, but this mid-range set is more than ideal for the domestic cook. It has everything you need to get started and even comes with a sharpener to boot.
Unlike other sets that are stored in a bulky block, these knives can be rolled away in the bag for storage so you don’t have to worry about any little hands getting hold of the sharp blades.
Price: £125.99Buy now from Amazon
2. Best budget kitchen knives: Joseph Joseph 4-Piece Elevate Knife Set
“I have a lovely Joseph Joseph set. I love it.”
This stylish knife set from Joseph Joseph comes at a very affordable price. Made from stainless steel, the four knives, including a Santoku knife, have a black non-stick silicone coating and a nice touch of colour on each handle.
Don’t be tempted to put them in the dishwasher though as the coating has been known to come off. But we love that the storage case can be stuck to the back of the door – perfect for anyone who loves cooking but is confined to a small kitchen.
3. Best multi-purpose kitchen knife: Kitchen Devils Control Multi-Purpose Knife
“I have Kitchen Devil knives. Sharpest knives I have ever used.”
If you want something a bit more purse-friendly for everyday use, Kitchen Devils knives are the way to go. This utilitarian knife is made from Japanese steel and is great for most things you'd be doing day-to-day in the kitchen.
It’s lightweight and comes with an ergonomically designed handle so it fits nicely into your hand, with a finger stop to ensure you have a safe grip when chopping. It also comes with a 15-year guarantee.
4. Best Japanese kitchen knives: Global Knife Block, Set of 6
“My DH brought me a Global knife set. They are stunning, as was the price.”
“We have two Global knives and have had them for years – they are fab. DH keeps them Samurai sharp with a whetstone.”
These stunning and sleek Japanese knives are a great choice if you're looking to splash out. Made in Japan using techniques inspired by Samurai swords, they're carefully weighted to ensure ease of use at all times.
The knife block comes with five high-quality knives that will make light work of everyday tasks, including an 18cm chef’s knife and bread and utility knives. Plus, they'll look great if you like to show off fancy kitchen gadgets – we won't judge.
5. Best kitchen knives block: Sabatier 5-Piece Kitchen Knife Set Block
“We've got a stellar block of Sabatiers.”
Sabatier have been around for 200 years, so we're pretty sure they know a thing or two about knives. Made in Thiers, France, they come with a 25-year guarantee for your peace of mind.
The set includes more commonly used knives including a paring knife for peeling or cutting fruits, a bread knife and a chef’s knife. They're all made of stainless steel and each has a riveted handle to ensure you get a good grip.
6. Best classic kitchen knives: Victorinox 9-Piece Knife Block
“I can recommend Victorinox – not expensive and not rubbish either.”
Victorinox are best known for their Swiss army knives, but their precision kitchen knives are just as good.
This set of nine has everything you could need for cutting, chopping and slicing in the kitchen with a sharpening steel to ensure your knives last longer. The wooden block even comes with kitchen scissors – much better for cutting pizza than a pizza cutter.
Price: £229Buy now from Victorinox
7. Best chef’s knife: IKEA Vardagen Cook's Knife
“We bought a couple of knives from IKEA to use until we decided which to get. Have stuck with the IKEA ones ever since.”
This 16-inch offering from IKEA cuts through tough foods, like root vegetables and meat, with ease. The stainless-steel blade runs all the way through the handle – reminiscent of more expensive knives.
Like with all knives, regular sharpening will ensure it keeps cutting for longer, making it a great tool for everyday use without breaking the bank.
Price: £12Buy now from IKEA
8. Best all-round kitchen knife: Zwilling Four Star Chef's Knife
With a razor sharp blade, this chef’s knife from Zwilling can be used for a multitude of kitchen tasks, slicing effortlessly through everything from fish and meat to hard vegetables with ease.
Made from a single piece of specially made steel, the blade is ice-hardened for extra sharpness. This 20cm knife is part of Zwilling's Four Star range and comes with an ergonomic plastic handle, with the weight evenly balanced across the whole knife for easier cutting.
Durable and corrosion-resistant, this is a good option if you’re looking for one or two good knives for your culinary adventures.
Price: £89.95Buy now from ZWILLING
9. Best sharp kitchen knives: Robert Welch Signature 6-Piece Block Set
This set features six essential knives from their multi-award award winning Signature range. All are made from a single piece of steel which runs the entire length of the blade, making them very well balanced.
The blades are thought to be 21% sharper on the first cut and 135% greater edge retention that the nearest competitor.
Stored safely in a block, with an integrated sharpener, these knives are pricey but made to last and each one comes with a lifetime guarantee. If you’re into your cooking, these could be well worth the investment.
10. Best small chef’s knife: Kai Shun Classic Chef's Knife
While some chef’s knives can be quite large (and let’s face it, a little overwhelming), this one offers the same versatility but with a more compact 15cm blade.
As the stainless-steel blade is smaller than other chef’s knives, the handle is easy to control when slicing, chopping, mincing and dicing all kinds of food. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great all-round knife, especially for those with smaller hands.
What makes a good kitchen knife?
There are two main styles to choose from when buying a kitchen knife – German and Japanese. Here's what to look for in a good kitchen knife:
One of the first things to note is that German and Japanese knives are composed of different types of steel. Japanese blades are made of a harder type of steel, which does also make them brittle – meaning they can be prone to cracking. Harder steel does mean that Japanese blades hold an edge better, but they are often thinner, more delicate blades too.
Japanese knives are usually sharper than their German counterparts, with an angle of 15 or 16 degrees, compared to 20 on the German knives. If you like master craftsmanship, you'll be pleased to hear Japanese blades are almost always hand-honed, whereas German knives are refined with a machine.
This is probably the most important factor when choosing which type of kitchen knife to go for. Japanese knives excel at fine slicing and are essentially precision tools – perfect to cut delicate items like fish and tomatoes. They don't fare well chopping pineapples or pumpkins. In fact, this can actually damage them. German style knives are better for tough to chop items, as well as crushing.
This may come down to personal preference as some prefer a heavier, sturdier knife. It’s worth thinking about how much chopping you will do as a heavy knife can be more tiring on your arm, especially when slicing harder foods. Ensure the weight is evenly distributed throughout the knife to give you greater control – some knives have a full tang, which means the blade runs through the handle to help balance it.
Handles can be made from various materials, such as plastic, stainless steel and wood. Look for a handle that’s comfortable and easy to grip. It should be smooth and fit into your hand nicely – a larger, heavier knife may not be suitable if you have small hands.
Which type of kitchen knife should I buy?
While many of the knives we've featured here are sets, you might just be looking to buy one or two knives, and there are definitely some choices that are better than others.
The most important knife to have in your kit is a chef's knife. It's a great all-rounder for meat preparation, vegetable slicing and dicing, and even crushing items like garlic and olives.
We'd also recommend having a serrated knife in your arsenal – we've all tried to slice tomatoes with the wrong knife and it has never ended well.
Paring knives are great for chopping small items like strawberries or mushrooms – and if your children are showing an interest in cooking, it's a great starter knife for small hands.
If you like baked goods, a serrated bread knife is essential to get through a crusty loaf.
How much should I spend on kitchen knives?
Kitchen knives can vary widely in price from around £10 up to around £850, depending on what size you buy and whether you’re purchasing them individually or as a set.
There are plenty of cheaper knives that will get the job done, but spending more can mean you get better quality material that will stay sharper for longer.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds though as there are some great mid-range options out there too and investing in a sharpener will help keep your knives sharp.
What are the best kitchen knives on the market?
If you’re looking for a good set of knives, the Wüsthof Starter Roll Bag has everything you need to get started in the kitchen. It’s a really good mid-range price for five knives and comes with a sharpener too. We also like that the sharp blades can be safely stored away in the roll-up bag.
How we chose our recommendations
Most of our recommendations for kitchen knives came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which knives Mumsnetters really loved. We also researched various review sites to find out which knives performed well across the board.
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