Choosing a Chef Knife Set is like assembling a team of super heroes: they need to be valuable in their own right while complementing each other well. Whether you're an amateur or a professional chef, you'll need a chef knife set that works for you and works well. Read on for more on how to choose the best chef knife set in 2023.
Best Chef Knife Sets
- Shadow Black Series 5 Piece Knife Block Set
- Shogun Series X 5 piece Block Set
- Phantom Series 6 Piece Knife Set
- Crusader Series 8-Piece Block Set
- Gladiator Series 18-Piece Colossal Knife Set
- What is a Chef Knife Set?
- How to Choose a Chef Knife Set
- What Essential Knives Should A Chef Knife Set Have?
- Best 5 Piece Chef Knife Sets
- Best 6 Piece Chef Knife Set
- Best 8 Piece Chef Knife Set
- Best 18 Piece Chef Knife Set
- Frequently Asked Questions About Knife Sets
A good kitchen knife is the most valuable tool for any cook, both amateur and professional. Actually, this even applies to people who barely ever cook; because even preparing a sandwich will require the use of something to cut the bread.
But the infinite number of recipes also call for very diverse tasks. And even when there are superheroes like a chef’s knife, capable of performing a wide array of cuts; you will eventually need specialized knives for filleting, peeling, boning, carving… and so much more.
If you’re analyzing whether you need a kitchen knife set, or you made the decision and are trying to find the right one, keep reading because we wrote this for you!
1. What is a Chef Knife Set?
A Chef Knife set is an ensemble of knives containing different types of blades designed for different purposes.
A knife set can have between 3 and 18 pieces and should include, as a start, a chef’s knife and other -preferably- multi-purpose knives (usually a utility knife and a paring knife). These will be used daily in a professional kitchen.
Bigger sets will include some specialty knives that may not be pulled out as frequently; but they’re still important to have in hand. The “right” knife set will be different for everyone and will depend on which recipes are cooked in the owner’s kitchen; both frequently and eventually.
For a home cook, owning and using the right knife for each recipe allows for more precision, control and safety, and will make the process of cooking more enjoyable. For the professional chef, however, a good knife set goes beyond “nice to have”, and becomes somewhat imperative.
2. How to Choose a Chef Knife Set
It may sound superficial; but before jumping into any important investment, and even before you start checking the types of knives included; we suggest you take a minute to read about the brand, the quality, the product references and users’ testimonials.
- Types of knives: Stating the obvious, a chef’s knife set shall include a classic chef's knife or a santoku knife, and at the very least, two other knives. Among these two other knives, it’s important to own a paring knife. Then, you can complete it with a serrated knife, a utility knife, a carving knife… There are many combinations. Some sets include kitchen scissors and a sharpener. Ideally, your set should cover most of (if not all) your cooking needs.
The number of knives: Totally up to you and how active / diverse your kitchen is. More professional sets have more than 15 pieces; but a smaller set may be perfect for you as long it contains just the right pieces; varied and versatile enough to adapt to your preferences and needs.
Knife characteristics: It’s not only about evaluating the set as a whole; it’s vital that you also look closer at the knives themselves. Sharpness, feel, comfort, and the quality of the materials are just basic, non-negotiable points. Then, there are many other things to look into: Are they full tang? Is the handle ergonomic? Forged knives or stamped knives? Are they stainless steel? Are they single - or double bevel? do they feel too heavy or maybe too light?
Design: This is meant to be your cooking artillery, you have to like how your knives look. Luckily, there is a kitchen knife set for everyone, from classic to avant-garde, minimalist or colorful.
Safety and storage: Another important element to consider when choosing a set of kitchen knives is the storage options. This works two ways: 1) What sort of storage is offered by the knife manufacturer to put all your knives when they’re not being used: is it a block? a magnetic holder? or nothing at all? This is important not only to provide safety but to compliment the design of the set. And 2) How much storage space is available in your kitchen? Which brings me to my next point:
Size and space: Some knife sets can be really massive and, while that feels luxurious and highly convenient; in reality not all kitchens have the space for it. Take that into account.
Good value for money: Consider the brand, the quality and the number of knives included in the set to assess how convenient is this purchase for you within the margin of your budget.
3. What Essential Knives Should A Chef Knife Set Have?
Today, there are many types of sets as there are types of knives. There are sets including everything: chef's knife, butcher's knife, utility knife, bread knife, carving knife, cheese knives, etc. as well as extra utensils like carving forks, kitchen shears, a cutting board set or a knife sharpener.
While it is tempting to think that the best kitchen knife set will be the one including more pieces, including a board set, there’s actually a growing tendency among top chefs and culinary authorities around the world to apply the "less is more" philosophy in the kitchen.
Maybe a small set of three knives will be enough for you to successfully perform your everyday tasks; as long as they’re multi-purpose and suitable for your recipes. Or maybe five will be your number.
There’s a knife for every cut, yes, but not everyone needs all of them. Arguably, you’ll do just fine with a versatile broad-bladed chef's knife, a paring knife and a utility knife; the rest of the knives can be purchased a la carte if they are needed.
Let's take a look at the characteristics of the main knives that should be included in a chef knife set:
A chef knife is THE knife. Because it is so powerful and versatile, it is the first knife everyone should have in their kitchen: the experienced, the enthusiast, or even people who only cook on the occasion.
This multi-purpose knife is large and strong, but at the same time agile and light. The blade is long and wide with a straight edge that tapers to a fine tip. There is no one fixed length for a chef’s knife (that will depend on the cook’s preference) but it’s usually between 8 and 10 inches.
It is perfectly suited for everyday chopping and mincing tasks, as well as peeling, slicing, julienning, carving, boning and even crushing garlic; but it can also withstand the pressure of heavy cutting work and larger, thicker, tougher foods. The wide and curved blade allows for a rocking motion which is perfect, for example, to chop a lot of vegetables at once.
To sum it up, you can use a chef’s knife for just about everything! To own a good, sharp knife that feels comfortable to hold, is to secure yourself with the most versatile knife there is.
This small but efficient knife is the perfect tool for chopping, mincing, slicing and coring fruits and vegetables; as well as making delicate and precision cuts. Day-to-day kitchen tasks, like peeling a potato or an apple, become light and easy with this handy little knife.
Paring knives are small and narrow to work on smaller foods, where a chef’s knife might be too much. The blade of a classic paring knife is short and thin, 3 to 4 inches long; and has a sharp, angled tip.
Besides the classic version, there are two more types of paring knives: the bird's beak (the blade resembles a sickle); and the sheep's foot knife (featuring a flat blade edge and rounded spine).
It could be said that a utility knife is halfway between a paring knife and a chef's knife; and a good alternative for both in most cases.
Smaller than a chef's knife and longer than a paring knife; this multi-purpose blade is often used for food prep; especially cutting fruits and vegetables.
The blade of a utility knife is about 6 inches long. It can be straight, serrated or even with a scalloped edge. Utility knives are often popular among cooks with small hands.
Nice to have knives
Also known as the bread knife, this one can complement very well a chef knife set. It’s meant to cut through foods with a hard crust and a soft interior, such as bread in general.
The long blade, serrated with small teeth like a saw, can also slice delicate fruits and vegetables, cheeses or puff pastries; because it won’t damage their soft or fluffy texture when cutting the crust.
Many cooks complement their chef knife set with this Japanese knife, which is also a multi-tasker that can cut, chop and dice meat, fish or vegetables; although its ‘specialty’ is raw fish and sushi.
In comparison, it is smaller than a Western chef's knife (between 5 and 9 inches) and the blade has a different curve.
If you are into cooking fish, though, you can also include a filet knife in your set. This is used for working fish the proper way, slicing and removing the bones without damaging the flesh.
There are different types of steak knives, meant to work with meat and super important to have for barbecue lovers.
The carving knife, one of the longest and thinnest knives out there, is ideal for cutting and serving thin cuts of meat (along with its close relative the slicing knife). The butcher knife with a wide, flat, rectangular blade is sturdy enough for large or small cuts of meat before cooking. The boning knife has a strong, sharp blade to cut the meat around the bones, without tearing it.
4. Best 5 Piece Chef Knife Sets
Please allow me to put it like this: if Batman were to buy a knife set, it would be this one.
This black knife block is simply stunning. There’s something about the Shadow Black series’ unique visual design that makes you feel automatically empowered to cook the most challenging recipes.
But beyond this unparalleled modern aesthetic; this block contains the five most efficient knives a cook can own: an 8" chef's knife, a 7" santoku knife, a 6.5" serrated knife, a 5.5" utility knife and a 3.75" paring knife.PROS
- High-carbon, vacuum-treated steel to ensure strength, toughness and durability.
- Each knife is coated with a black titanium nitride non-reflective coating, which toughens the blade and improves its non-stick properties.
- The unique geometric shape of the handles meets all ergonomic requirements for an exceptional grip and maximum comfort.
- Visually striking midnight-black design.
- While I’m a fan of the shadow black series; it’s true that it can only fit certain decorating styles. Plus, you have to REALLY like black.
- Another con related to design: it will be difficult to combine these knives with other knives that you may buy outside the set in the future. So if design consistency is a thing to you, then consider this: buying this set might mean that you’re stuck with the Shadow Black Series from now on.
Excellent variety and elegant presentation. The set comes with an 8" chef's knife, an 8" bread knife, a 7" santoku, a 6" utility knife and a 3.5" paring knife.
The design combines wood and metal: industrial aesthetics for the modern, yet practical chef. Plus, all knives in the series are engraved with Dalstrong-exclusive 'Tsunami Rose' pattern, which embellishes and distinguishes the blade.PROS
- The block is designed to facilitate access to all knives and takes up minimal countertop space. Perfect for medium or small kitchens.
- Classic, elegant, handcrafted design in acacia wood.
- Japanese super steel with superior performance and incredible edge retention.
- The knives have a hand-polished spine and a solid tapered bolster that provides balance and safety through a firm handle.
- All knives are multi-purpose, but still, if you’re looking for more specialized knives, you may need a bigger set.
- While the pattern is distinctive to the Shogun series; some people prefer their blades to have a flat surface.
5. Best 6 Piece Chef Knife Set
Phantom Series blades are forged and hand-sharpened during a painstaking 45-day process to ensure quality and performance close to perfection.
This set contains an 8” chef's knife, a 9.5” Kiritsuke chef's knife, a 9" bread knife, a 7” santoku, a 5” utility knife and a 4" paring knife. They are all assembled in a magnificent wooden tower that looks like a fantasy dragon spire.PROS
- Not one but two types of chef’s knives; this set is perfect for “Alpha” cooks.
- The wooden block is magnificent, with 6 columns and magnets on the sides to hold the knives.
- The block also offers space for storing more knives and knife accessories, not only the ones included in the set.
- Excellent value for money.
- While six is a good number for a set, some chefs may be looking for a different combination of multi-purpose knives.
6. Best 8 Piece Chef Knife Set
“Less is more”. The minimalist stainless steel look in the Crusader knives also gives that scalpel vibe that will make you feel like a doctor, saving lives as you pull your blades from the block.
The set includes an 8" chef knife, a 7" santoku knife, an 8" bread knife, a 6" utility knife, a 5.5" serrated utility knife, a 4.5" paring knife and a honing rod. The block really has a unique design (as we would expect from one of Dalstrong’s most stunningly designed series) in Manchurian ash-wood.
If you already have a modern, minimalist design at home or your restaurant; or if you’re looking for that ‘something’ that brings a contemporary touch to an otherwise classic room; there’s no question this set is for you.PROS
- Stunning aesthetics and unique design in stainless steel.
- Just the right number of pieces to handle everyday recipes and occasional, more elaborate tasks.
- The groove in the Crusader knives reduces friction and the risk of food sticking to the blade. It also improves balance and feel.
- The fact that both blade and handle come from a single piece of stainless steel makes these knives hygienic and easy to clean.
- All knives are NSF certified.
- While I personally love minimalism; it may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to design.
- Fans of the traditional wooden handle may not like the feeling of the steel on their hand.
- These knives have a lightweight feel, compared to other series and materials. Some people prefer knives that feel heavier.
7. Best 18 Piece Chef Knife Set
“Battle Ready Cutlery”. This massive knife block from the Gladiator Series is truly the ultimate solution to all your knives’ needs. This series was always focused on practicality and comfort with a classic look.
The set includes a 9" carving / slicer, a 9" bread knife, an 8.5" Kiritsuke Chef Knife, an 8" chef knife, a 7" Santoku knife , a 7" Nakiri knife, a 6" Boning knife, a 6.5" Utility knife, a 6" Serrated Utility Knife, a 5" Straight edge steak knives, a 3.5" Paring knife, and a 2.75" Bird's Beak Paring Knife.
All that, accompanied by a 10" honing steel to keep your swords ready and sharp; organized into a handmade acacia wood block and wrapped in exquisite gift packaging.PROS
- You get basic knives, Japanese style knives, Western knives, and very specific knives to cover every kitchen task.
- The German steel used in the Gladiator series is premium quality, high carbon and extremely resistant.
- The blades are ultra sharp (hand-sharpened and hand-polished with added chromium).
- This series puts extra effort in comfort and maneuverability, and to that end, the handles have an ergonomic design with a natural grip that really feels great in your hand.
- Considering the number of pieces, the premium tag and the price; this is more of an actual investment than a casual purchase. Investments are always intimidating.
- ‘Colossal’ is not just a name. This set will take up a fair amount of space in your kitchen, so review your placement or storage options.
8. Frequently Asked Questions About Knife Sets
Is a Santoku knife the same as a Chef Knife?
They are very similar, but not exactly the same. A Santoku knife is great for cuts that are meant to be thin and precise. Santokus are considered a type of chef knife.
Is stainless steel the best material for a knife set?
Different materials will offer different advantages, but we definitely recommend high carbon stainless steel as your primary choice. Steel is strong, easy to clean and will stay sharp for a long time.
Should a knife set include kitchen shears?
Shears are considered an accessory and not essential in a knife set; but they’re definitely nice to have and can cover a range of tasks from slicing a pizza to opening food packaging.