Since it was first written, this article has been updated with new suggestions. Since it was first published, this article has been checked for accuracy, pricing, and availability. We stand behind our choices for the best knife block sets.
How We Picked
We used our years of testing knives and using them in the test kitchen and at home for a wide range of tasks, like dicing vegetables, cutting up chickens, and carving roasts, to choose the best knife sets. We looked through review sites to see what other people suggested, and we read through user comments to see what home cooks had to say.
We thought about how the knives felt in our hands and how well they cut. We also thought about how many pieces were in the set. Some of the knives on our list are ones we think you will use often in your everyday cooking.
Our Top Cookware Set Picks:
- Best Nonstick: Anolon Advanced Home 11-Piece Cookware Set
- Best Budget: Rachael Ray Create Delicious 13-Piece Cookware Set
- Best Ceramic Nonstick: Blue Diamond Pan Cookware-Set, 14 Piece
- Best Nontoxic Set: Caraway Home Cookware Set
- Best Value Stainless Steel: Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad 12-Piece Set
1. Best Overall: Wusthof Classic Nine Piece Block Set
Included: 8″ cooks, 6″ utility, 8″ bread, 8″ carving, and 3″ and 3.5″ paring knives, kitchen shears, honing steel, block
We think these classic knives are almost perfect and are worth spending a little more on. Forged with a full tang, they feel good in your hand, are easy to control, and are neither too heavy nor too light. Wusthof calls the chef’s knife a “cook’s knife.” It has a round blade that glides when you lift it to cut a carrot or onion and can be rocked back and forth when you’re chopping parsley into tiny pieces. It’s sharp enough right out of the box to cut ripe tomatoes without squashing them. Still, it’s heavy enough to cut a whole chicken into four pieces.
The handles are made of plastic, so they won’t warp or break and will always feel smooth when you hold them. You’ll find a great variety of tools in the block, including all the essentials plus a pair of scissors and a sharpening steel. If you run your knives along the steel at the right and consistent angle, you can “tune up” the blades, but you will have to sharpen them again at some point.
2. Best for the Low-Maintenance Cook: Henckels Classic 15-Pc Self-Sharpening Block Set
Included: 8″ chef’s, 7″ santoku, 5.5″ prep, 4″ paring, 5″ serrated utility, and eight 4.5″ steak knives, kitchen shears, block
We’ve already said that a sharp knife is the best kind. Each slot for a fine-edged knife in the block that comes with this set has a mechanism that sharpens the blade every time you take the knife out and put it back. You don’t have to pull out a steel or hold the blade at the right angle to keep it sharp. And since you’ll be sharpening them often, you may be able to go longer before you need to put a whole new edge on your knives.
These forged, well-balanced knives aren’t as heavy as Wusthof’s, which some cooks will find more comfortable. Only when cutting through an acorn squash or a chicken leg is the light weight a little bit of a drawback.
Each knife has its own place in the rack. There are labels on the slots to help you put each piece in the right one. This set comes with a lot of different tools, like a santoku, a tomato slicer with serrated edges, and eight steak knives. But keep in mind that there is no carving knife, so if you make a lot of roasts, you will need to use the chef’s knife or buy another tool.
3. Best Asian Knife Set: Shun Classic 5-Piece Starter Block Set
Included: 8″ chef’s, 6″ utility, and 3.5″ paring knives, honing steel, block
This Shun set has the best knives from Asia. They were made by hand in Japan from Damascus steel, which is made by welding different metals together and folding them into layers. The process gives the blades a beautiful swirled pattern and makes them stronger and sharper. You’ll notice that the blades are very smooth and highly polished, and that carrots and potatoes don’t stick to them.
The way these knives are made also makes them expensive, which is why you get a carefully chosen set. With their thin, light, gliding blades, you can easily carve or fillet a fish, but you probably won’t want to use one of these beauties to cut through a crusty loaf of sourdough or debone a leg of lamb. Since the bamboo block is small, it won’t take up too much room on your counter. If you need to sharpen these knives again, use a sharpener made for Asian knives or take them to a pro who knows how to sharpen them.
4. Best Value: Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series 8-Piece Set
Included: 8″ chef’s, 3.5″ paring, 7″ santoku, 5″ straight and serrated utility knives, sharpening steel, shears, block
Forget about those old TV ads for Ginsu knives that showed them cutting through cans and made them a joke. This brand actually makes really good tools out of Japanese steel that sell for a crazy amount of money. They are sharp right out of the box, and they stay sharp. They also feel very well balanced in the hand. The rounded handles look like those on much more expensive Asian cutlery, but the chef’s knife has the classic European shape that is good for chopping and rocking and has enough weight to break through chicken bones. A santoku is included so that you can slice vegetables or cut meat into very thin slices for a stir fry.
5. Best Basic Set: Misen Essentials Knife Set
Included: 8” chef’s knife, 9.5” serrated knife, 3” paring knife
The Essentials Knife Set is a good name for this three-piece set because it has the three knives we think you must have. Not only can you chop, mince, and slice with an 8-inch chef’s knife, but you can also carve a roast and take the bones out of a chicken with the heavy heel. The paring knife comes in handy when peeling an apple, taking the core out of a tomato, or slicing a single clove of garlic. For cutting a crusty baguette, every home needs a knife with serrated edges. The knives in this set are just as good as those from well-known European brands, but they cost much less because they come straight from the manufacturer.
Even though the chef’s knife has a thin edge like an Asian knife, it has the shape of a western blade for weight. You’ll find that it easily glides through a tomato, making paper-thin slices. It also rocks back and forth to chop garlic or herbs. The bolster is sloped on all of the pieces, so you can use the pinch grip that the pros use to get good control.
Misen says that you should wash these knives by hand. The colour of the handle can be red, blue, black, or grey. You can buy a 5-piece set with a 7.5-inch Santoku and a 5-inch utility knife if you want. Blocks, magnetic strips, and storage in drawers can be bought separately.