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A great set of knives is essential for your kitchen, whether you’re regularly mincing up a mirepoix or simply carving a grocery store rotisserie chicken for serving. Sharp, easy-to-hold knives make chopping and slicing easier and safer, and can allow you to have greater control when dealing with more intricate cuts.
Knives can be quite a personal choice since they vary greatly in material and maintenance requirements. With all those variables—stainless steel to ceramic blades, plastic to hardwood handles, Granton or flat edges—knife care and sharpening is not one-size-fits-all and should be considered when selecting a set of knives.
Whether you’re shopping for a starter set or upgraded replacement for your current cutlery, keep reading for our picks of the best knife sets.
Great selection of knives
Includes sharpening steel
Poorly made knife block
No serrated steak knives
It’s hard to find fault with this comprehensive set that includes every knife you’ll need, along with a sharpening steel. The blades are made from high-carbon stainless steel and have rubber and metal handles that are designed for style, and as our tester revealed, have a "very comfortable grip." The knife edge is not only super-sharp, but it’s designed to be easy to re-sharpen when necessary, so you never need to worry about a dull blade.
This set includes a 7 3/4-inch chef knife, 7 3/4-inch serrated bread knife, 7- and 5-inch santoku knives, 5-inch utility knife, 3 1/4-inch paring knife, eight 4.5-inch steak knives, sharpening steel, and chop assist. A knife block to hold all of the components is also included. These knives should be hand washed to retain their sharpness.
"Given its extensive array of super-sharp knives, it’s definitely worth the cost." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester
All stainless steel construction
Sharpening steel included
Crowded knife block orientation
While most knives have handles made from wood, rubber, or plastic, these knives are all metal for a sleek, modern appearance and easy care. They’re made from high carbon stainless steel and have a taper-ground blade for a very sharp edge and easy sharpening.
The set includes a 3 1/2-inch paring knife, a 3 1/2-inch bird’s beak paring knife, a 5 1/2-inch serrated utility knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, an 8-inch chef’s knife, six steak knives, a pair of shears, and 8-inch sharpening steel. Our tester particularly loved the paring knife, which she said was "a favorite for small jobs, like slicing nectarines, plums, and berries." The included black knife block holds all the components and adds to the modern look of the set. These should be hand washed and dried.
"We found the high-carbon stainless steel blades ideal for cutting." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Fun, colorful design
Easy to clean
Doesn’t include a sharpener
Can’t identify blade types with blade guards on
Nonstick blades help keep food from sticking and are easy to clean as well. This colorful, affordable set from Cuisinart includes six knives and six matching sheaths, so you can tuck the knives into a drawer without worrying about damaging the blades or stabbing yourself when you reach in the drawer for a peeler. Our reviewer chopped, sliced, and diced and found this set "offers plenty of utility and sharp cutting ability without breaking the bank."
Since these are so inexpensive, they’re also great for taking along to picnics or potlucks, for a college kid’s apartment, or for the vacation cabin or RV. The set includes a 3 1/2-inch paring knife, a 6 1/2-inch utility knife, a 7-inch santoku, an 8-inch serrated bread knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, and an 8-inch chef’s knife. The manufacturer suggests hand washing, but several users said they’ve been washing them in the dishwasher with no apparent harm. Still, we'd recommend hand washing for the best care for your knives.
"Each piece is lightweight, comfortable, and safe to grip thanks to the thoughtfully designed contouring on the handle." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Nice weight for balanced cutting
Wood block has built-in sharpener
Prone to rust with time
This low-cost set saves you money in two ways. First, it’s inexpensive to purchase, and second, you won’t need to buy a knife sharpener to maintain the knives. The knife block has Edgekeeper sharpeners in each slot, so your knives will get a sharpening swipe every time you insert and remove them. The blades are forged from high carbon stainless steel and the triple-riveted handles are comfortable to hold.
This set includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, an 8-inch bread knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, a 6-inch boning knife, a 6-inch cleaver, a 5 1/2-inch serrated utility knife, a 3 1/2-inch paring knife, a carving fork, eight steak knives, and a pair of kitchen shears. The included knife block keeps all of them secure and accessible on your counter. These knives should be hand washed and dried immediately.
Commercial-grade, high-quality materials
Storage roll a little flimsy
For chefs who have mastered their knife skills—this set is NSF certified for professional kitchen use and comes in a knife roll for safe and easy transportation and storage. The handles are Santoprene, which can stand up to rough kitchen use, extreme temperatures, and kitchen oils, while still offering a sure, comfortable grip, even with wet or greasy hands.
The bolster adds to the balance, making these knives easy to work with for long periods of time. The blades are made from high carbon German steel that resists stains and rust and the taper-ground edge stays sharp and is easy to re-sharpen, when necessary.
This set includes a 3 1/2 inch paring knife, a 5-inch utility knife, and a 7-inch santoku, so it’s a perfect starter set that can be added to, depending on the chef’s needs. These knives should be hand washed and dried.
Built to last
A great upgrade set, or the first set for a serious cook, this doesn’t include a whole kitchen’s worth of knives but they are the knives you will use most. Even better, the slim knife block will be easy to find room for, even in a small kitchen. If you feel that you need a specialty knife, you’ll have no trouble finding one to match this set.
The blades are high carbon stainless steel with a forged full tang and a bolster. The handles are comfortable to hold and triple riveted for security. The handle material is a dense synthetic that resists fading, so these knives will look good for years. The set includes a 3 1/2-inch paring knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, an 8-inch bread knife, an 8-inch chef’s knife, and kitchen shears that come apart for thorough cleaning. The included knife block is available in multiple colors to perfectly fit your kitchen décor. The knives should be hand washed.
Great starter set
Comfortable to hold
No serrated knife
If you already have a knife block or you prefer other storage, this knife set is the perfect option since it doesn’t include a block you won’t use. This three-piece set is a perfect upgrade or starter set, with three essential kitchen knives in popular sizes. It includes a 4-inch paring knife, a 7-inch utility knife, and an 8-inch chef’s knife. The blades are precision-stamped for lighter weight and ice-hardened for strength and edge retention. The synthetic handles are triple-riveted for security and designed for a comfortable grip. These should be hand washed.
Food doesn't stick
Good selection of knives
Not the most durable
Ceramic knives are extremely hard and can be extremely sharp while they resist staining and will never corrode. They also tend to protect foods like apples or lettuce from browning after cutting. This four-piece set included the knives you’ll use most often and comes with a knife block to keep them safe when not in use.
This set includes a 3-inch paring knife, a 4 1/2-inch utility knife, a 5 1/2-inch santoku knife, and a 6-inch chef’s knife. The knives in this set have black handles and white blades, but two other color options are also available. The block is made from sturdy, attractive bamboo.
Because ceramic blades are brittle, these should not be used for prying around bones, for cutting frozen or super-hard foods, or for aggressive chopping. They can also break if dropped on a hard surface. For sharpening, these can be sent back to Kyocera, or you’ll need a sharpener that is specifically made for sharpening ceramic blades. These should be hand washed.
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18-Piece Block Set is our top choice because it has a great selection of sharp knives and includes sharpening steel. If you want all the essentials at a more affordable price, we recommend the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Hollow Handle 15-Piece Cutlery Block Set.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, food writer, and product tester. She loves kitchen gadgets and has personally tested all types of kitchen knives and knife sets for The Spruce Eats. Her kitchen is currently filled with a mix of brands—ranging from expensive to affordable—but believes the knives that every kitchen should have are a chef's knife (or santoku), a paring knife, and a serrated knife.
What to Look for When Buying a Knife Set
Number and types of knives: Knife sets will vary in how many knives and what type of knives are included. Know that more isn’t necessarily better if you won’t use all of the knives. If you already have a set of steak knives, you probably don’t need another half-dozen. However, if you don’t have any decent knives at all, it might be your best option to buy a complete set so you get everything you need at the best price.
Style of storage: Some knife sets will come with storage included, which can be either a vertical or horizontal knife block or a roll-up sheath with individual slots. Consider where you are going to keep the knives and how much space you have; knife blocks are a convenient way to store your knives on your counter, but if you’re short of counter space, it’s a good idea to make sure that the knives and block will fit into a convenient cabinet for easy retrieval. If you’re really short on space, you might prefer the sheath storage so you can place the knives in a drawer.
Sharpening options: No matter which knives you choose, they will need maintenance and eventually need to be sharpened. Some knife sets include steels, so you can hone the knives to maintain them regularly, and some knife sets have self-sharpening knife slots. Base your decision on whether you need these options or not.