Every good chef knows that a good meal can only be as good as the knife he uses.
No matter if you are dicing, mincing, julienning, or simply chopping away, a good knife is a crucial part of how well your food will be, well, chopped! Slicing ingredients the correct way even partially determines how good the food itself will taste.
Owning a good knife doesn’t mean you have to go to a top culinary store and purchase a $1000 knife set. Although, if you have the coin and the passion for cooking, most chefs will tell you it’s worth the investment.
There are many quality knife sets and single utility knives that are at an affordable price and still deliver quality performance.
Whether you’re a head chef or a home cook, you should read through the list below and consider purchasing a new set of knives.
The list starts on the lower end of the price range, and it works up to higher cost and higher quality knives.
Ceramic knives are really cool because they’re dishwasher safe (most good knives should be washed by hand), they’ll never rust and, with proper care, they should last you for quite a while.
If you don’t really have a lot of money to spend on knives, just invest in a good set of ceramic cutlery. KitchenAid is a household name with a lot of trust behind it.
This set is described as a “10-piece”, but it’s really just five knives and five sheaths. This set includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, 6-inch bread knife, 5-inch santoku knife, 4-inch utility knife, and a 3-inch paring knife. These are good kitchen staples for a good price.
Let’s say you already have a decent amount of knives at home that you’re pretty happy with. The next step is to start investing in single knives that will give you high performance and last a lifetime.
The first single piece you should buy is a standard Chef’s knife with an 8-inch blade, like this Victorinox one. It’s made in Switzerland, is ergonomically shaped and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Chicago Cutlery makes the perfect knives for any home chef who wants a beautiful knife set that they’ll never want to replace. The knives are made from forged high-carbon stainless steel, and the handles are ergonomically shaped.
This is an 18-piece set that comes with a 3-inch peeling knife, a 5-inch utility knife, a 7.75-inch chef knife, and 8-inch slicer, a 7.75-inch bread knife, a 5-inch partoku knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 3.25-inch paring knife and a set of 8 steak knives. This is a great set for anyone who hardly has any knives at all and wants to make the investment now.
The Ginsu 7108 Chikara set comes as a set of 8 or 12 pieces (the 8-piece is $94). The 8-piece includes a special, Japanese-crafted 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5-inch utility knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, a honing rod, and kitchen shears.
The pieces all fit in a bamboo block knife sheath, which is included. Japanese-style handles are very popular for their ergonomic shape and fine quality.
Okay, now we’re getting pricey, but for good reason: the Japanese know how to make a high-quality knife.
This is a piece to invest in if you take the time to make an expert-level meal, even at home, and you actually know a thing or two about cooking. The blade on this knife is stunningly patterned, and the handle is made of wood. This is a kitchen show-piece that, if taken care of properly, you should almost never have to sharpen.
Mercer is a very well-known German knife manufacturer in the culinary world, but their knives are great for the at-home cook who still wants a high-quality knife set. This Mercer set comes with 6 pieces, which are all displayed in a beautiful tempered glass block.
The knives are all made with high carbon, and the tangs (that’s the metal part that is in the handle) are the full length of the handle, so the knives will never break loose.
Wüsthof is a well-known German knife company that puts out some excellent pieces. This three-piece knife set includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, 6-inch utility knife, and a 3-inch paring knife, which are all undeniably the knife staples every kitchen should have.
They’re made of forged, not stamped, high-carbon, and they’ll last you for a long while. Each knife is honed by hand, too, for razor sharpness.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a reasonable starting point for finding the right knife set for you.
The best advice any chef will give you is to start with the basics. If you don’t own any knives (maybe you recently moved, or you’re a budding young home cook starting anew), try to find a set that will cover your dining table cutlery as well.
You will need enough knives to serve a table full of guests as well as cooking essentials, such as a utility knife, a bread knife, and kitchen scissors. If you can find these knives in a block set, even better. One of the most important factors in owning nice knives if to keep them in proper storage so they don’t scratch or dull.
If you already own a decent amount of knives, start splurging on the three most important knives: chef knife, utility knife, and paring knife. If you can get these basics down, your way to being a world class chef, even at home.