The key to finding the best kitchen knife sets for your everyday needs will depend on your cooking habits. The way you cook and the type of prep work you do should be the main criteria. Other considerations have to do with blade material, design, weight, balance, and maintenance.

In this article we will take a look at some of the best kitchen knives and offer tips on what to look for in a knife before buying.

If you are in a hurry and want to know our top pick among the best kitchen knife sets, we recommend the Emojoy 15 Piece Kitchen Knife Set.

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In this article, we will review the following kitchen knife sets:

How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife Set For Your Needs

When we use the word ‘best’ in describing knife sets, we mean the best for you. The foods you cook, how often you prepare them, and your budget will help you decide which set to buy.

Don’t rely solely on brand names. Your focus should be more on knife quality rather than brand. Why? Because sometimes big brands may sell inferior quality knives at a higher price. When doing your research, focus on materials, design, weight, and maintenance.

Knife Set Essentials

Buying knives as part of a set is less expensive than purchasing them individually. Just be sure that your set includes the essential knives you need to prep and prepare the foods you love.

Your kitchen knife set should (at minimum) include one of these:

  • Chef’s Knife – for chopping, cutting, dicing
  • Utility Knife – performs many general functions and can be used on a wide range of foods
  • Paring Knife – helps with peeling and trimming small food items
  • Bread (Serrated) Knife – for cakes, bread, and tomatoes
  • Carving Knife – helps with slicing meats
  • Honing steel or electric honer

Blade Material

Kitchen knives are made of all kinds of materials.  Here is the short list:

Carbon Steel

Comprised of iron with a bit of carbon added to it, this is the blade of choice for most restaurant chefs. A carbon steel blade is strong and will hold its edge. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it rusts, spots easily, and is vulnerable to acids.

I must admit that when my brother gave me a set of carbon steel blades I was shocked by the rust and spotting. I thought he had given me a cheap set of knives. But after I did a bit of research my suspicions were put to rest. Doh!

Carbon steel blades require a good deal of maintenance but, if properly seasoned, they should last for many years.

Stainless Steel

Most household kitchen knives are made of stainless steel. It is durable, rust-resistant, and is slow to corrode when exposed to food acids. They are usually harder to sharpen than carbon steel knives and won’t hold an edge as well.

The formula for stainless steel is basically carbon steel with a smidgeon of chromium added to it. High-carbon stainless steel is what you get when you add more carbon to the mix.

Pattern Welded Steel or Damascus Steel

This is what you get when you take various types of steel and press them together to form patterns. The patterns usually penetrate the blade. They’re beautiful, shatter-resistant, tough, and can be honed to a very sharp edge. They are also very expensive.

Ceramic

Ceramic knives are obviously not made of metal but are becoming more and more popular. They are very sharp, super lightweight and acid, rust, and stain-resistant.

On the downside, ceramic knives are very fragile and can chip or shatter easily. They are also very hard to sharpen.

Other Considerations

A blade’s degree of sharpness depends on what its made of and how it is used and maintained. The metals used in making knife blades include iron, nickel, cobalt, manganese, chromium and more. The only way to know which blade you prefer is to use them.

Form and Function

Just like test driving a car, it is a good idea to take your knives for a spin. The goal is to examine the grip, weight, balance and bolster.

This exercise is impossible to do online. You will have to go to a store where the brand you’re interested in purchasing is on display. (Or you can ask a friend to borrow their knife set.) Hold the knives in your hand and check for:

Weight

Lightweight knives are good for chopping soft ingredients. Heavy knives are better at chopping solid food.

Balance

This is a hard concept to explain, but when you pick up a poorly balanced knife you will know it. Pay attention to the handle/blade weight distribution.

Grip

What is the handle made of and how does it feel in your hand? It should be made of tough materials such as wood, plastic, strong resins or other materials. Avoid handles made of bone or soft wood, as they can crumble over time.

Bolster

This is the boundary or transition point between the blade and the handle. If you can see gaps here it is a bad sign. It means food can become trapped and become a bacterial breeding ground.

Maintenance and Upkeep

It is a good idea to stay away from knives that never need sharpening. You will have to throw them away when they go dull. That’s money down the drain.

Cutting Surfaces

Avoid these types of cutting surfaces:

  • stone
  • glass
  • steel
  • ceramic

Surfaces made of wood or rigid plastic will make for the best cutting boards. When the cutting board is plastic, use a water/bleach/soap solution to clean it. The bleach will penetrate the tiny surface ridges and help you maintain a germ-free environment.

Our Picks for Best Kitchen Knife Sets

Home Hero Stainless Steel Knife Set

What’s Included:

Chef knife
Bread knife
Carving knife
Utility knife
Paring knife
Cheese knife
Pizza knife
(6) Steak knives
Knife sharpener
Peeler
Scissors
Acrylic stand

Product Overview

The Home Hero knife set comes with 5 basic knives that make up your core set. But they also add goodies such as a cheese knife, pizza knife, a professional peeler, kitchen shears, and knife sharpener.

The blades are made of stainless steel that is coated with a nonstick black finish that really stands out. Take care that you don’t use steel wool or harsh scrubbers to clean them or the coating may become scratched or chipped.

The chef-style peeler is perfect for taking the skins off potatoes and carrots. The clear plastic holder puts each blade on display.

Pros: Cons:
Very sharp Black finish may degrade over time
Rust and stain resistant Sharpening may scratch the finish
Stainless steel blade with a protective coating Should only hand wash
Good value for the price

Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set

What’s Included:

8” Chef Knife
8” Slicing Knife
7” Santoku Knife
5.5” Serrated Utility Knife
3.5” Paring Knife
3.5” Bird’s Beak Paring Knife
All-Purpose Household Shears (Scissors)
8” Honing steel/sharpening steel
knife block
(6) 4.5” steak knives

Product Overview

The Cuisinart C77SS-15 Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set is a basic,  affordable option for any home cook. Each knife is made of high carbon stainless steel blades and durable bolsters to ensure balance,  stability, and control.

The hollow handles are ergonomically designed for a comfortable fit for almost any hand size.

Remember, carbon steel blades are susceptible to rust and are acid-sensitive so it is a good idea to season them properly, hand wash/dry, and routinely sharpen them.

Pros: Cons:
Blade made of high carbon stainless steel Must wash and dry immediately after use
Easy-grip handle design Dishwasher may damage nonstick coating
Beautifully designed and balanced
Durable bolster for stability and control
Ergonomic (hollow) handles
Sharpening steel included
Knives are lightweight

Emojoy 15 Piece Kitchen Knife Set

What’s Included:

8” Chef Knife
8” Slicing Knife
8” Santoku Knife
8” Bread Knife
5” Utility Knife
3.5” Paring Knife
Kitchen Scissors
Honing Steel
(6) 4.5” Steak Knives
Knife block

Product Overview

The awesome thing about the Emojoy 15 piece knife set is that it contains the essential knives you need for everyday cooking and knife maintenance. The German-engineered high carbon stainless steel blades ensure cutting accuracy and blade stability. 

The blades are designed to hold their edge and are easy to sharpen. The tang is fully exposed, so you can see that that the individual knives are made from a single piece of steel. The handles are triple-riveted to hold the blade in place as a safety measure.

I like that the set comes with clasp enabled kitchen shears. This feature helps when you’re trying to remove the skin from chicken and for holding bones in place. Since blade maintenance is very important, a honing tool is included.

Pros: Cons:
Very sharp blades Must hand wash
Good collection of essential knives Should clean and dry immediately after use
High carbon stainless steel blades
Durable bolster for stability and control
Triple Rivet Pakkawood handles and knife block
Clasp designed kitchen shears included
Honing steel included

J.A. Henckels International Statement Knife Block Set

What’s Included:

3″ Paring Knife
5″ Serrated Utility
7″ Santoku Knife
Hollow Edge 8″ Chef’s Knife
8″ Bread Knife
(6) 4.5″ Steak Knives
Sharpening Steel
Kitchen Shears
Hardwood Block

Product Overview

If you like knives that are lightweight, then you may like this set. The blades are stamped stainless steel, which makes them lighter than carbon steel forged blades. It will also have a thinner spine.

The knives are triple-riveted with end caps designed to help with balance.

Your essential knives are included, plus you get shears and sharpening steel.

Pros: Cons:
Blades made of stainless steel Should hand wash and dry
Precision stamped blade construction for durability Best to hone before use
Satin finish blade construction
Triple rivet handles with stainless steel end caps for balance
Very affordable
Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening 15-Pc. Cutlery Knife Block Set

What’s Included:

4-1/2″ Paring Knife
6″ Utility Knife
6″ Serrated Utility Knife
7″ Santoku
8″ Chef’s Knife
Kitchen Shears
(8) Steak Knives (stamped steel)
Knife Sharpening Block

Product Overview

The Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Cutlery Knife Block Set has a collection of features that will help make meal prep simple. I love that the handle end caps are labeled so you don’t have to pull knives out of the block to find the blade you want. Sweet.

The main cutting knives in this collection are made of forged high carbon steel, the choice of professional chefs. The knife block itself has built-in ceramic sharpeners for the non-serrated blades. Even though these knives are marketed as “no stain steel” you still need to avoid placing them in the dishwasher to clean. You will also need to wash and try immediately (by hand) after each use.

Be aware that this set does not come with a bread knife. It does, however, have a serrated utility knife for use in cutting sandwiches or crusty bread.

Pros: Cons:
Blades made of forged, high carbon steel Wash by hand after every use
Labeled handles on end cap for easy ID in block
Triple-riveted handles, contoured for secure grip
Full tang (handle)design for strength and balance
Block has built-in sharpeners
Lifetime warranty

Conclusion

Each one of these kitchen knife sets has features that set them apart, but we chose the Emojoy 15 Piece Kitchen Knife Set as the winner of this roundup. Why? It ticks all the boxes.  

First of all, this set has every kitchen knife you need to accomplish basic cooking tasks. Secondly, the blades are made of high-carbon stainless steel – the type of metal preferred by most professional chefs. Additionally, the Pakkawood handles and bolster ensure a professional look, stability, and knife control.

This kitchen knife set takes it up another notch by including kitchen shears with a unique clasp design. The shears are great for pulling skin off poultry and trimming meat fat. It also holds bones in place so they don’t slip away. The honing steel is the icing on the proverbial cake. 🙂

Main image photo credit: stijn on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND