Solingen, Germany is not referred to as the “city of blades” for nothing; they create the finest German kitchen knives you will ever use. In today’s tutorial, I will discuss three top-tier German knife brands from Solingen, providing you the information you need to determine which one is ideal for your kitchen regardless of your budget.
Over my decade in professional kitchens, I’ve had extensive expertise using German knives, which I’m delighted to share with you today. Let’s get right into it!
Our Top Picks
1. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional
The Professional S Series of knives is the pinnacle achievement of Zwilling J.A. Henckel in cutlery.
These knives, the result of over 280 years of manufacturing experience and innovation, are also a favourite of chef Gordon Ramsay! You’ll be prepared to handle any kitchen duty with their 7-piece set, and you won’t have to empty your wallet to do it.
The special steel formula utilised in Zwillings’ knives is the primary factor that makes them my favourite. These are extremely sharp, won’t stain or chip, and hold their edge longer than nearly every other knife I’ve used.
The Professional S Series knives are ice-hardened using a Zwilling trade secret procedure, which contributes to their exceptional performance. This provides them with a sharper and more durable edge than Japanese-style knives.
Add similarly remarkable edge retention to this recipe, and you will spend less time sharpening and more time utilising your knives.
Zwilling was an early user of the full bolster handle design, which lends these knives their exceptional balance. It also functions as a finger guard, preventing slip-ups from resulting in cuts and scrapes.
This set contains a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a prep knife, a bread knife, kitchen shears, and an honing rod to cover all your culinary needs. I’m also a great lover of the bamboo block’s design, which has extra knife slots for any speciality blades you may choose to add to your kitchen.
Overall, there is no other set of German knives I would prefer have in my personal or commercial kitchen. The Zwilling Professional S Series knives live up to their reputation and are more than deserving of a place of prominence in your kitchen.
2. Messermeister Meridian Elite
Choose the Meridian Elite 3-Piece Knife Set from Messermeister if you’re searching for a more simple kitchen setup. It eliminates the weight of a knife block and situation-specific tools to concentrate on the essentials: a chef’s knife, a slicer, and a paring knife.
In addition to allowing you to invest in hand-finished tools without exceeding your budget, reducing your knife collection allows you to do so. Messermeister knives are hand-honed to produce the sharpest possible blade edge.
The one-piece, hammer-forged construction of the Meridian Elite series provides a commendable combination of longevity and balance. In addition to being gentle on the hands and wrists, they are constructed with three rivets and a complete, exposed tang.
In contrast to the majority of German knives, Messermeister’s Meridian Elite line lacks a bolster. While this removes a layer of protection against slips and cuts, it enables skilled chefs to use the entire length of the blade for long, smooth cuts. And if you’re familiar sharpening your own blades, the absence of a bolster makes these knives significantly easier to do so.
This knife set is the best option for someone who is already proficient with knives and wants to reduce the number of items in their kitchen to maximise storage space. These are just as durable as the other knives in this book and will serve you well for years.
3. Wusthof Classic Ikon
The Classic IKON range of knives from Wüsthof emphasises sharpness and edge retention. Employing a unique technique called PEtec (Precision Edge Technology), Wüsthof is able to produce blades that are 20% sharper and last twice as long between sharpenings than ordinary knives.
The blades of these robust and sharp knives are made from a high-carbon stainless steel. A full-tang, triple-riveted handle offers them optimum balance. In my experience, this makes the Classic IKON series feel almost weightless, making it a great pleasure to use and making me look forward to meal preparation.
In its cushions, Wüsthof attempts to achieve the best of both worlds. By adding a half-bolster at the blade, you receive cut and scrape protection as well as the ability to utilise the entire length of the blade. Full heel reinforcement is the finishing touch that complements the natural balance of the full-tang design.
With this set, you’ll have an extensive array of kitchen knives, including a chef’s knife, paring knife, utility knife, bread knife, kitchen shears, and honing steel. The acacia wood block contains additional slots for speciality knives that you may choose to add to your collection.
At this price point, I especially like the attention to detail in the aesthetics of Wüsthof’s knives, a subject I recently covered in further length in my evaluation of all Wusthof lines. Their curved handles offer them a comfortable feel and a contemporary touch, and they look fantastic displayed in the acacia wood block that is supplied. Overall, it appears and feels like a substantial improvement over other knife sets.
What To Look For
To buy the best German kitchen knives, you must have a good understanding of their construction. Thus, when you’re reading a set of requirements, you’ll know precisely how they compare to industry norms and what you need for your personal culinary style.
While selecting the knife sets mentioned in this guide, I considered the following categories:
Type Of Knives
The number of varieties of knives you need for your kitchen depends depend on your cooking abilities and objectives. Yet, don’t be deceived: a moderate number of high-quality knives is often preferable to having too many options.
This tutorial focuses on seven-piece knife sets for this reason. These are far more economical than purchasing the knives individually and will allow you to prepare 90 percent of recipes. Moreover, a seven-piece set will not weigh you down with unnecessary knives. In conclusion, I consider a seven-piece set to be the optimal balance of value and adaptability.
If you’re on a limited budget or like a simple kitchen, though, a three-knife set is your best option. Opt for a chef’s knife, paring knife, and slicer, but keep in mind that it is proportionally more expensive than a 7-piece set, even though the total cost is less.
Solingen, Germany is recognised for the quality of its knives throughout the world. What is the reason? As they’ve been creating knives for nearly 300 years, they’ve developed an impressive variety of steel kinds and knife styles.
As steel is an alloy — a mixture of iron, carbon, and other trace minerals — not all forms of steel are the same. Each of the major German knife manufacturers has created its own unique type of steel, which gives the knives increased durability, sharpness, and/or edge retention.
Typically, German knife manufacturers combine their speciality steels with full-tang construction and riveted handles to obtain the optimal balance. Consider these three characteristics to ensure that your knives are of the highest quality and durability.
In addition to using proprietary steel compositions to create their finest blades, German knife producers will select bolster designs that are notably distinct from those of their competitors. The main bolster is located where the blade meets the handle, providing additional strength and a finger protection.
German vs. Japanese Knives
Professional kitchens regard German and Japanese knives as the most prestigious silverware. Both styles of knives are recognised for their superior craftsmanship, yet they differ in significant ways.
The primary distinction between Japanese and German knives is the type of steel utilised for their blades. Particularly, Japanese steel has a higher carbon concentration, resulting in blades that are harder, sharper, and more brittle. German steel is softer, less prone to chipping, and retains an edge for a longer period of time at the expense of being slightly less sharp.
Irrespective of the materials utilised in their manufacturing, the designs of Japanese and German knives are notably distinct. It is a matter of personal opinion whether you prefer the weight and feel of a Japanese santoku knife or a German chef’s knife, therefore there is no “better” option than the one you love using more.
Both German and Japanese knives have a place in the home and professional kitchens, in my opinion. Neither is superior to the other; they simply offer distinct advantages that will appeal to chefs of various styles.
The special steel blends used in German knives have three main advantages:
- Greater edge retention. You’ll sharpen German knives less often than any other type of knife.
- Enhanced durability. German steel blades resist chipping and cracking.
- Stain- and rust-resistant. Proprietary blends of steel are less vulnerable to water staining and corrosion.
Despite their high quality construction, German kitchen knives still have two notable drawbacks:
- They’re expensive compared to American-made kitchen knives. This is due partly to import fees, but also because of the time-honored traditions and handiwork that go into making German knives.
- They’re not as sharp as high-carbon blades. The softer steel used in German knives won’t ever take quite as sharp of an edge as Japanese or other high-carbon blades.
As evidenced by my selections, I have a preference for traditional and enduring German knife brands.
For the majority of kitchens, I strongly recommend a seven-piece set. It will provide you with the best selection of knives at a discount relative to purchasing them separately, without overwhelming you with knives that are too specialised.
Wüsthof’s Classic Ikon 7-Piece Knife Set With Block is a worthy improvement to the ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional S 7-Piece Knife Set With Block. The Messermeister Meridian Elite 3-Piece Starting Set is the best option for anyone who wishes to make their knife selection as simple as possible.