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. 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. Building your own collection of knives based on individual preferences and needs is great, but sometimes investing in a complete set is the easier (and more economical) option. At the same time, you'll want to consider any included storage solutions, sharpening accessories, or knives you already own to avoid buying extra tools you won't use. 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.
To help find the best knife set for your kitchen, we tested more than 20 sets, observing key factors like design, size, value, and performance. We used every knife in each set—making thin cuts of ripe tomatoes, dicing onions, slicing through crusty bread, and hulling strawberries. We then distributed the top-performing sets to our dedicated testing lab for long-term testing in the kitchen to provide even more insight. If you're shopping for a starter set, an upgraded replacement for your current cutlery, or anything in between, we've got you covered with our picks of the best knife sets.
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Set
Great selection of knives
Includes sharpening steel
Block is bulky
It’s hard to find fault with the Chicago Cutlery Fusion set, which includes every knife you’ll need along with a sharpening steel, and extensive testing cemented this comprehensive collection as our top pick. We tested an 18-piece set, which is no longer available and included a peeler; however, this similar 17-piece set has everything you might need for chopping, slicing, and dicing.
The blades are made from high-carbon stainless steel and have rubber and metal handles that are designed for style and, as our tests revealed, have a very comfortable grip. The knife edges are not only super-sharp but they're 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, chop assist, and knife block to hold all of the components. We tried out each knife to slice and chop everything from baby back ribs to baguettes to veggies. The verdict? Impressive performance and superb versatility.
During our tests, we noted that the steak knives weren't serrated, which we found surprising, but they smoothly cut through steak regardless. It's likely that they will need to be resharpened at some point if used often, and they should be hand washed to retain their edge. While we were impressed with the quality of the knives themselves, we felt the block itself left something to be desired—still not a deal-breaker for this all-around winner. Given its extensive array of super-sharp knives, the set is definitely worth the cost. Even after six months of use, these blades were still easy to handle and sharp as ever.
Price at time of publish: $129
Blade Material: High carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 14 | Sharpening: Sharpening steel | Storage: Acacia wood block
There are seven main types of kitchen knives: chef's (or French), santoku, serrated, paring, boning, utility, and cleaver. Not all knife sets include every single one of those—although some do and more—so make sure to evaluate your personal needs before making a purchase.
Cuisinart Advantage 12-Piece Color-Coded Knife Set
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 into the drawer for a peeler. After chopping, slicing, and dicing, we found this set offered plenty of utility and sharp cutting ability without breaking the bank. Each piece is lightweight, comfortable, and safe to grip thanks to the thoughtfully designed contouring on the handle. You just have to memorize which color knife is which since it's hard to tell while the sheaths are on.
Since these ceramic knives are more affordable than similar sets, 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.
Price at time of publish: $25
Blade Material: Ceramic | Number of Knives: 6 | Sharpening: None | Storage: Individual plastic sheaths
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Set
Commercial-grade, high-quality materials
Glass may smudge easily
No room to expand knife collection in the block
This set of five knives (3 1/2-inch paring knife, 5-inch utility knife, 6-inch boning knife, 8-inch bread knife, and 8-inch chef's knife) comes with a beautiful knife block made of wood and tempered glass. 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 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.
These knives worked like a dream during our tests, producing thin tomato slices and finely diced onions with practically zero resistance. In fact, they were some of the smoothest and most balanced cutting knives of all the sets we tested. We loved how easy it was to work for long periods of time, thanks to the comfortably-curved rubber handles and bolster. The set has every knife that your average home cook would need without too many extraneous and unnecessary knives, and the glass knife block is a nice alternative to your standard wooden block that would fit beautifully in a modern-style kitchen. Our only qualm was that the glass knife block could be hard to keep clean among kitchen splatters and grease.
After testing them long-term for six months, we maintained that these knives were a great value for the price. The grippy handle still looked new after repeated washing, and the blades remained quite sharp.
Price at time of publish: $180
Blade Material: High-carbon German steel | Number of Knives: 5 | Sharpening: None | Storage: Magnetic wood and tempered glass stand
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Hollow Handle 15-Piece Block Set
Great variety within the set
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 an 8-inch sharpening steel.
We particularly loved the paring knife, which quickly became a favorite for small jobs like slicing nectarines, plums, and berries. However, we found the high-carbon stainless steel material on all the blades to be ideal for cutting. The included black knife block holds all the components and adds to the modern look of the set. While they may look hefty, the knives are surprisingly lightweight due to the hollow handles. These should be hand washed and dried.
Price at time of publish: $60
Blade Material: High carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 12 + scissors | Sharpening: Sharpening steel | Storage: Black hardwood block
Henckels Classic 15 Piece Self Sharpening Block Set
Ash wood base is accented with stainless steel
Knives produce clean cuts
Knives are fully forged with triple rivet handles
Paring knife is on the smaller side
The set includes a 4-inch paring knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 5.5-inch prep knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, an 8-inch chef's knife, and eight 4.5-inch steak knives. The block uses a combination of dark-stained ash wood and brushed stainless steel.
What really sets the block apart is the self-sharpening feature. It's topped with a stainless steel cap that contrasts the wood nicely for a modern, industrial look. Plus, there are dedicated sharpening slots that sharpen each time a knife is removed and returned to the block. It also has a labeled slot guide to keep every knife organized in its proper place. This set also gained extra points for the quality of the knives themselves—they're fully forged and feature triple-rivet handles to provide additional balance and comfort. The size of each knife is just right, and the chef's knife, in particular, felt very sturdy. The block is attractive, compact, and lightweight.
In our tests, the chef's knife in this collection sliced perfectly through paper to test its sharpness and cut tomatoes cleanly. The paring knife was able to hull strawberries without any effort as well, though we noted the handle might be too small and thin for those with larger hands.
Price at time of publish: $260
Blade Material: German stainless steel | Number of Knives: 14 + scissors | Sharpening: Built-in | Storage: Ash wood and stainless steel block
Wusthof Classic Ikon 7 Piece Block Set
Knives are fully forged and full tang
Block is sleek and compact
The well-known Wutshof kitchen brand certainly lives up to its reputation with this stunning 7-piece knife block set. It comes with a 3.5-inch paring knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 5-inch hollow edge Santoku knife, an 8-inch bread knife, an 8-inch chef's knife, kitchen shears, and a 6-slot Acacia wood knife block. We love how the slim block design (9.5 x 3.5 inches) helps maximize counter space while maintaining a stylish, sleek design–perfect for apartment living.
After testing these knives long-term, we found ourselves reaching for the chef's knife at practically every opportunity. At the same time, the Santoku knife also got a lot of use thanks to its ideal length and weight. These knives are sharp, sturdy, and easy to handle—plus, the Acacia wood is a really nice touch and feels elegant and modern. This is a universal knife set with blades built for hard-working use that will surely live up to its investment with the proper care.
Price at time of publish: $695
Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 6 + scissors | Sharpening: None | Storage: Acacia wood block
Farberware Edgekeeper 21-Piece Forged Triple Riveted Block Set
Nice weight for balanced cutting
Wood block has built-in sharpener
Knives are fully forged, full tang, with triple rivet handles
May be prone to rust with time
This set saves you money in two ways. First, it’s less expensive than similar sets 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 fully forged from high-carbon stainless steel, and the triple-riveted handles are comfortable to hold—impressive features considering the price
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.
We love the classic design of these knives and their aesthetically-pleasing wooden block. The chef's knife sliced cleanly through both the tomato and the onion, though the bread knife was a bit lacking in terms of sharpness. The paring knife also impressed us with its lightweight, well-balanced feel and sharp tip for coring.
Price at time of publish: $70
Blade Material: High carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 18 + scissors | Sharpening: Built-in | Storage: Cherry stained wood block
Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Series 8 Piece Set
Versatile for multiple kitchen tasks
Thin handles may be uncomfortable for larger hands
Block is bulky and difficult to store
This set of Japanese-style knives includes an 8-inch chef's knife, a 7-inch Santoku knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 5-inch non-serrated utility knife, a pair of kitchen shears, and a honing rod. The tiered knife block, although it takes up a good amount of space on the counter, makes it easy to see exactly where each knife is stored. It's also lightweight and made using bamboo, a sustainable and renewable material.
We were big fans of the Santoku knife in this set. The handle felt extremely balanced, and the heel design features a thick, heavy bolster. All of the knives, however, were super sharp right out of the box. The chef's knife was able to slice completely through a sheet of paper without catching and cut through a tomato with little to no effort. The paring knife also performed well–easily hulling strawberries thanks to the sharp point of the blade.
Price at time of publish: $100
Blade Material: Stainless steel | Number of Knives: 5 + scissors | Sharpening: Honing steel | Storage: Bamboo block
Best for New Kitchens
Sabatier Sharpening Edgekeeper Pro 21-Piece Forged Triple Rivet Knife Block Set
May be too many knives for some
Not all knives arrive super-sharp
Block arrangement not intuitive
The perfect set for a new kitchen, and great for cooks who don’t like sharpening their knives, the knife block in this set has sharpeners inset in the slots that hold the straight-edged blades. This is a comprehensive set, so the cook won’t need to add to it unless they’re doing very specialized cutting. Besides the block, it includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch slicer, a 6-inch boning knife, a 6-inch cleaver, a 5 1/2-inch serrated utility knife, a 5-inch santoku knife, a 4 1/2-inch utility knife, a 3 1/2-inch paring knife, a 3-inch paring knife, a 3-inch bird’s beak paring knife, eight 4 1/2-inch steak knives, a carving fork, and kitchen shears. The knives have a comfortable handle with three rivets for security and a full bolster for safe cutting.
During testing, we noticed that while the block itself is conveniently compact, it's doing a lot of work holding all of those knives and can seem a little bit crowded. We also noted that some of the knives don't come extremely sharp straight out of the box, but a little sharpening on the block and they were ready for action.
Price at time of publish: $99
Blade Material: High carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 18 + scissors | Sharpening: Built-in | Storage: Wood block
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18-Piece Block Set is our top choice because it has a great selection of sharp knives and includes a sharpening steel. If you want all the essentials at a more affordable price, we recommend the Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Set.
How We Tested
We tested 21 knife sets in our dedicated testing lab, highlighting design, material, sharpness, value, size, and of course, performance. After slicing through a sheet of paper to assess sharpness straight out of the box, each set was put through a series of tests–including thinly slicing ripe tomatoes, dicing onions, cutting bread, and hulling strawberries. We assigned ratings for each attribute based on our tests and added insights based on our own expertise and kitchen knowledge. We also sent several knife sets to our experts to test at home in their own kitchens.
Other Options We Tested
- Zwilling Professional "S" 7 Piece Knife Block Set: Although the paring knife in this set was comfortable to hold with a good weight, the chef's knife was dull and took a large amount of effort to cut through tomatoes and onions. Considering the high price of this set and the low performance of the chef's knife (which is typically the star of the show), we couldn't justify adding it to our list.
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 on 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.
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.
What makes a good knife set?
With so many options to consider, it might be hard to distinguish a good knife set from a poor set. What makes a good knife set is almost entirely up to you. The three major factors you should consider are what do you need to prepare and cook regularly, what’s the highest quality of those tools you can afford, and how much effort do you want to make to maintain the set. Everything else is really preference and bonus. If you make steaks and roasts regularly, consider getting a set with steak knives. If you’re interested in some butchery work, find a set with a boning knife and cleaver. If you stick to mostly fruits, veggies, bread, and pre-butchered meats, a simpler set will serve you just fine.
Once you’ve established what you need, look for a set that offers those tools made with the best materials you can afford. High-carbon stainless steel is the standard for most knives and can be found at reasonable prices. Explore handle finishes for both comfort and aesthetics.
Finally, a good knife set is one you can maintain easily. While we recommend you wash all of your knives by hand to preserve the sharpness and integrity of the blade, you might want to look for a dishwasher-safe set if that realistically suits you better. If you’re not interested in sharpening your knives, get a set that comes super-sharp right out of the box. Ultimately, the most expensive set doesn’t mean it’s the best set for you if you’re never going to use all of it.
Are self-sharpening knife sets good quality? Or should you opt for a separate knife sharpener?
If this is your first set of knives, chances are this is also your first experience with sharpening knives. In that case, having a knife set with an option for simple knife sharpening is a wonderful advantage. Built-in sharpeners are easy to use with quick results. Sets that include a steel to help hone your blade are also great, with a very small learning curve.
On the other hand, if you’re more experienced with sharpening knives and this set is a step up for your collection, consider investing in a separate knife sharpener for more refined knife edges.
Are knife sets worth it? Or should you build a collection by buying each knife separately?
For most people, a reliable high-quality knife set is worth it. Like we mentioned above, it’s all about what you plan on using it for. Even a smaller set with three knives will give you a much wider range when preparing food. If you’re enthusiastic about cooking but aren’t in a position to buy a dozen styles and sizes of high-end knives, a quality larger set will have you cooking up a broader range of culinary delights. Once you’ve become acquainted with the sizes and styles of knives that you use most often, you can start taking a look at individual knives that suit your tastes and customize your collection further.
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, including the Sabatier 21-Piece EdgeKeeper Pro Forged Cutlery Set featured in this roundup. 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.