Best Kitchen Knife Brands
When it comes to finding the best kitchen knife brands, there are a lot of different options out there. To narrow it down, it’s important to know what each brand stands for, what they’re good at, and how experienced they are. Here we take a look at some of the best brands on the market and explain what makes them stand out from the rest. If you’re new to the knife buying process, we recommend that you start by reading through our kitchen knife buying guide. It will help you determine which knife features are important to you which in turn will help you find the best brand for your needs.
All the best kitchen knife brands produce quality knives that, if cared for properly, could last you a lifetime. That being said, each brand has its own style and design and some may fit your needs (and your budget) better than others. Therefore, before investing in a certain brand, you want to be sure it’s the right fit for you. In order to help you make that decision, we’ve put together a list of what we believe are the best brands across five different categories.
Table of Contents
- Best Kitchen Knife Brands
- Wusthof: Best German Kitchen Knife Brand
- Shun: Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Brand
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels: Best Tried-And-True Brand
- Dalstrong: Best Up-And-Coming Brand
- Cangshan: Best Kitchen Knife Designs
- Other Top Kitchen Knife Brands
Wusthof: Best German Kitchen Knife Brand
Wusthof is a German company that has been making knives for over 200 years. All of their knives are made in Solingen, Germany and they are one of the most well-known and respected brands in the industry.
Wusthof uses precision edge technology (PEtec) to make its high-carbon stainless steel blades 20% sharper with twice the edge retention as other brands. They offer a wide variety of different series, each designed for a specific purpose. All come with Wusthof’s limited lifetime warranty designed to protect your investment.
Whether you’re looking for a basic set of knives or something more specialized, Wusthof has you covered. They are often regarded as one of the best knife brands by professionals across the community. Good Housekeeping and Food Network both list Wustof’s chef knife as either the best traditional or best overall chef knife in their top picks. We recommend reading our full Wusthof review if you’re interested in learning more about this accomplished brand and what they have to offer.
Wusthof Collections and Designs
Wusthof offers a variety of knife collections with a range of price points. Regardless, each is made with the same high-quality materials and attention to detail we come to expect from the Wusthof Brand. Though they have many beautifully designed series, there are three that Wusthof is most known for.
The Wusthof Classic is their most popular line and it’s great for those looking for a versatile set of knives that can handle any kitchen task. The Classic series is expertly forged and includes a full bolster, full tang, and riveted synthetic handle. Created from high-quality materials these knives are durable and crafted to last a lifetime. The Classic collection has over 90 different blade shapes, ensuring it has a knife to fit every need.
The Wusthof Gourmet is a lighter-weight, non-forged line of knives. Even though the blades are laser-cut they are still made from the same quality high-carbon stainless steel and use Wushtof’s proprietary precision edge technology for exceptionally sharp edges. Because this series is not crafted using the forging process, it has a lower price point than the other Wusthof collections. This makes the Gourmet series perfect for those on a budget or just starting out in the kitchen.
Wusthof Classic Ikon
The Classic Ikon line is a step up from the original classic line. The difference between the two is that the Classic Ikon has a double bolster (in front of and behind the handle) to offer top-of-the-line performance. If your looking for the best of the best, a step up from the Classic Ikon is the Ikon. The difference here is that the Ikon handles are made from African Blackwood with triple-rivets not the synthetic material used in the Classic and Classic Ikon. Both Ikon series are all about craftsmanship, comfort, and performance. You really can’t go wrong with either one.
Who Should Buy Wusthof?
We recommend Wusthof to anyone looking for high-quality kitchen knives. The Classic, Ikon, and other forged collections are best for dedicated home chefs who want to invest in knives that will last them a lifetime. The Gourmet series is a great option for new or seasoned chefs looking for more affordable high-quality knives to add to their collection. Whatever your situation might be, with Wusthof’s wide variety of blade shapes and designs, there’s sure to be a knife that fits your needs.
Shun: Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Brand
Shun Cutlery is made by the Kai Corporation in Seki City, Japan which has been around since 1932. Shun knives are hand-made by skilled artisans, each one taking over 100 steps to finish. The result is a functional, beautifully designed blade typically marked with a Damascus or hammered pattern.
Shun makes mostly traditional Japanese-style knives with lighter, thinner, sharper blades compared to their western-style counterparts. They have a proprietary VG-MAX stainless steel that has added carbon to increase its strength, giving the blades exceptional sharpness, edge retention, and durability. All this combined gives Shun knives a high-performance edge that’s capable of making precision cuts.
To learn more about what makes this traditional brand one of today’s most well-known kitchen knife brands, see our full Shun Cutlery review. If you’re looking for a durable and beautiful set of Japanese knives, Shun is the way to go.
Shun Collections and Designs
Shun does a great job of incorporating different options throughout their knife collections to meet as many customers’ needs as possible. However, while they do offer knives at different price ranges, the amount of time and craftsmanship that goes into making each knife still puts most of their collections in a higher price range compared to other brands. Here we highlight three of their most popular series.
The Shun Classic series is their most popular and best-selling line of knives. These traditional Japanese-style blades are made with a VG-MAX steel core with 34 layers of stainless Damascus cladding on each side. The handles are made of ebony Pakkawood and designed to comfortably fit into your hand. Shun’s Classic series offers the widest selection of blade shapes and designs. They also offer some of the classic series knives in a blonde series that features a lighter, natural-colored Pakkawood handle.
The Shun Premier series is an upgrade from the Classic line. These knives also have a VG-MAX steel core with 34 layers of stainless Damascus cladding on each side. However, they have a hammered blade finish (also known as tsuchime). This allows food to release more easily from the blade when cutting. This series also has a slightly thinner blade making it easier to handle and lighter in the hand. Finally, the handles of the Premier knives are contoured walnut Pakkawood. The Shun Premier Nakiri is featured on The Food Network’s The Chef’s List. Their video provides a great overview and demonstration of why the Shun Premier is one of their favorites.
The Shun Sora series is Shun’s most budget-friendly line of knives. The cutting edges of the blades are made with high-carbon stainless steel (VG10) giving them a razor-sharp, durable edge. Then, to save on cost, the upper portions of the blades are made from Japanese stainless steel (420J). The handles in this series are made from a textured polymer blend giving them a more modern look while also keeping costs lower. While they might not have the same Damascus cladding or beautiful wood handles, the knives in the Sora series still offer exceptional sharpness and precision.
Who Should Buy Shun?
Shun knives are the best Japanese-style kitchen knives are the market today. They’re made with high-quality materials, designed to perform exceptionally well, and backed by a limited lifetime warranty. If you’re serious about wanting a Japanese-style knife, Shun should definitely be on your radar. However, remember that Japanese knives are designed for specific tasks and can easily be damaged if not used properly. Because of this and their higher price point, we think Shun is best suited for someone who already has some experience using Japanese knives and is looking to upgrade or add to their collection.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels: Best Tried-And-True Brand
Zwilling is one of the oldest knife makers in the world. Founded in Solingen, Germany in 1731 they are known for their German heritage, high-quality German steel, and fine craftsmanship. Today, Zwilling J.A. Henckels has grown to offer several different brand lines to suit every need and budget. Some of their other popular brands include Henckels International and Miyabi (Japanese-style knives). While Zwilling knives are made in Germany, these other brands are made in various locations all over the world. Though many of the brands created by Zwilling J.A. Henckels are quality brands, Zwilling is the most proven and therefore what we focus on here.
Zwilling makes both forged and stamped knives. All of their knives are made from high-carbon German stainless steel and hardened through a process called friodur to increase their sharpness and edge retention. The forged knives have a full tang, and either full or half bolster designs to provide balance and durability. When it comes to handles, Zwilling has a variety of materials to choose from including synthetic, wood, plastic, and even Pakkawood.
You’ve probably noticed that Zwilling has many of the same characteristics as Wusthof, and you’re right. Both companies have been making high-performing, German knives for centuries. Wusthof has a slightly sharper edge angle and also has a marginally higher Rockwell Hardness rating, which is what made us choose it as the best German brand. However, you can’t go wrong when choosing either of these brands.
Zwilling Collections and Designs
Zwilling has been around for a long time, therefore they offer many different knife collections. Some of their collections are similar to one another with only minor differences such as handle material or full/partial bolster (for example the Pro vs Four Star vs Pro S). While others are significantly different such as forged vs stamped blades. The nice thing about Zwilling is that they definitely have something for everyone. Below we describe three of their most well-known series.
Zwilling Four Star
The Zwilling Four Star is currently Zwilling’s best-selling series worldwide. It was first introduced back in 1976 and has been a customer favorite ever since. The Four Star series is forged from a single piece of high-quality German stainless steel and features a full tang with a full bolster design. The ergonomic handles are molded plastic (polypropylene) and bonded with no gaps. The Zwilling Four Star series is an excellent option for both home cooks and professional chefs alike. If you’re looking for high quality at a reasonable price, this is the series for you.
The Zwilling Pro series is the company’s flagship line of knives. These forged knives are made from the same high-carbon German stainless steel as the Four Star series and feature an innovative curved half bolster that is designed to help guide your hand into the proper grip position. The handles on the Zwilling Pro have triple rivets and come in a white or black polymer (resin). The Zwilling Pro series is ideal for individuals looking for a high-quality knife that will last a lifetime.
The Zwilling Gourmet series are stamped knives. They are stamped from a single sheet of the same German steel used in all Zwilling knives and undergo the same hardening process. Because the blade is stamped it is thinner and lighter compared to Zwilling’s forged knives. The handles on the Gourmet series are ergonomic and made from synthetic materials. The Zwilling Gourmet series is a good entry-level option for those looking to get their first taste of German steel without breaking the bank. If you’re just starting out and not sure if you want to commit to a more expensive knife, this is a great place to start.
Who Should Buy Zwilling J.A. Henckels?
As you can see, Zwilling J.A Henckels is a brand that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef like Gordon Ramsay (who uses Henckel knives in his MasterClass) they have a knife that will suit you. We recommend the Zwilling brand if you’re looking for a high-quality, German-made knife with multiply design options to choose from. Zwilling will be comparable in price to Wustof but again, if taken care of, these knives can last for generations.
Dalstrong: Best Up-And-Coming Brand
Dalstrong is a relatively new knife brand that has been making a big splash in the last few years. They bring modern technology and methods to knife making, which is what has made them attractive to many consumers. The materials, build, and designs of Dalstrong are world-class, but their price points are lower than many of the “big name” knife brands.
Dalstrong manufactures all of their knives in Yangjang, China. They’re able to keep their costs low by importing high-end steel from Japan, Germany, and America and mass-producing their knives there. The steel they use varies across the different knife collections, but AUS-X (Japanese steel) and ThyssenKrupp (German steel) are used for the majority of their knife series. Both are high-carbon stainless steels similar to those used by Wusthof and Shun. Handle materials also vary by collection. Resin, Pakkawood, carbon fiber and G10 (fiberglass resin) are a few of the options offered. Despite being mass-produced, all Dalstrong knives are forged by trained knife makers and most feature a bolster and full tang. Like other high-end brands, Dalstong also stands behind their knives with a limited lifetime warranty.
In addition to using high-quality materials, Dalstrong knives are also extremely well designed. They are bold, inventive, and appealing to those looking for something other than a traditional, classic look. Dalstong has managed to create a high-performance knife brand that has a sleek, modern feel. Aside from their innovation, Dalstrong is also passionate about giving back to the culinary community. Not only do they partner with Michelin star chefs but they also spotlight aspiring chefs on their Chef Blog. To learn more about this up-and-coming brand see our full Dalstong review.
Dalstrong Collections and Designs
Dalstong currently offers eleven knife collections with plans to add more in the future. In addition to their unique handle materials and designs, Dalstong also offers an array of blade designs such as Damascus, titanium coated, and frosted. They’ve found a way to push the limit when it comes to design without compromising the performance of their knives. While many other brands focus mainly on one style of knife, Dalstong has both Japanese and Western-style knife collections available. As you’ll see with Dalstrong, each of their collections has a different design and purpose. Out of the eleven collections they offer, three of the most popular are the Gladiator Series, Shogun Series, and Phantom Series.
Dalstrong Gladiator Series
The Gladiator Series is Dalstrong’s most popular Western or German-style knife collection. The blade is forged from German ThyssenKrupp high-carbon stainless steel and the handle is an ergonomic G10 resin. The steel is similar to that used by Wusthof. The difference is Dalstrong doesn’t harden their blades to the degree that Wusthof does meaning the Dalstrong blade may need to be sharpened more often. Like most traditional German knives, the Gladiator series has a full bolster adding weight to make the knife feel perfectly balanced in your hand. Dalstrong offers great knife sets in this series at an affordable price.
Dalstrong Shogun Series
The Shogun Series was designed with Japanese influences in mind. These forged knives still have a full tang and tapered bolster but are lighter and thinner than the Gladiator series with a more delicate blade. They’re made with a Japanese Steel (AUS-10V) core clad with 67-layers of Damascus and hammer finished into the Shogun series signature Tsunami Rose blade pattern. The blades are sharpened to an 8-12 degree angle making them some of the sharpest knives on the market. Everything about these knives from their blade construction to their G10 handles increases their durability and ability to last a lifetime. If you’re wondering how Dalstrong compares to Shun’s Japanese-style knives see our Dalstrong vs Shun comparison.
Dalstrong Phantom Series
The Phantom Series was designed with professional chefs in mind. These blades are forged from high-carbon Japanese AUS-8 steel, tapered for flexibility, and polished to a satin finish. They are sharpened to an angle between 12-16 degrees giving them a slightly less acute edge than the Shogun series. They’re still extremely sharp but can withstand more heavy use than their thinner counterparts. The series design is stunning with D-shaped, Pakkawood handles that include an attractive red spacer and stainless steel end cap. With their quality construction, design, and materials, the Phantom Series has become a favorite among professional and home chefs.
Who Should Buy Dalstong?
If you’re looking for an up-and-coming brand with innovative designs and quality construction, Dalstrong is worth checking out. They offer a wide variety of collections to choose from and with a mix of German and Japanese influences there’s something for everyone. You can definitely get a nice set of kitchen knives that are built to last from Dalstrong. One thing to consider, however, is that they are a newer brand and therefore the number of blade shapes they offer is limited. So if you’re looking to build your collection of knives and want them all to match, you may want to first check that Dalstrong carries all of the knives you are interested in.
Cangshan: Best Kitchen Knife Designs
The Cangshan Cutlery Company was founded by Henry Liu with the goal of creating “beautiful function”. He had a vision for making knives that were truly unique and beautiful, not just basic kitchen knives. His dream came true when he found a manufacturer in Yangjiang, China who shared his vision. Over the past few years, the Cangshan brand has grown and recently began to partner with factories in Germany and Japan to begin creating German and Japanese knife lines.
Cangshan’s current knife lines combine both Western and Japanese inspiration. Their designs are truly one-of-a-kind and to prove it they have been awarded nine prestigious Red Dot Design Awards, along with numerous other design awards.
In terms of function, Cangshan offers quality kitchen knives that have mid-to-high range prices. They use mostly German steel except for a few series that use Japanese or Swedish steel and offer full tang stamped and forged collections. Their creativity shines through in their handle designs and materials. They offer a wide variety of handle materials such as teak, African blackwood, high alloy steel, walnut, and synthetic polymer; and, their handles are ergonomic with contoured finger grooves to provide a comfortable and secure grip. If you’re looking for a quality knife set with a modern design, Cangshan is a great option.
Cangshan Collections and Designs
At last count, Cangshan offered 27 different knife collections. The main difference from series to series is the design of the handle. However, other differences include the type of steel the blade is made from and the handle material.
Some of Cangshan’s most popular knife lines include the S1 and N1 Series, both made forged from German steel and the TS Series forged from Swedish steel. Cangshan has a nice selection of starter sets and block sets to choose from. As far as individual knives go, they offer all of the basic kitchen knife shapes as well as multiple steak knife sets.
Cangshan S1 Series
The S1 Series is one of Cangshan’s most popular lines. These knives are forged from high-carbon, German stainless steel (X50CrMoV15). The blades are full tang, have a full bolster, and are heat-treated to a hardness of 58 giving them great edge retention. The S1 series has white polymer, riveted handles. They are designed to provide a comfortable grip and are durable and stain resistant, but can get slippery when wet or greasy. If you like the look and feel of the S1 series, the S series is made from the same materials but offers a black handle. Overall, the S1 knives are capable of making precise cuts and perform well across a number of kitchen tasks.
Cangshan TS Series
The TS Series is one of Cangshan’s more recent lines and what they consider an update to a traditional knife. These knives are forged from Swedish stainless steel (14C28N). This steel offers an incrediable hardness of 59 or higher making it durable and giving it the ability to hold its edge even longer than the German steel used in the S1 series. Though this means you won’t have to sharpen the blades as offen, keep in mind that harder steel is more prone to chipping. This just means you’ll need to be more careful when cutting around things like bone. The TS series also has full tang blades and a full bolster. This series has black polymer, riveted ergonomic handles . If you’re looking for attractive, well-priced knives the TS Series would be a great option.
Cangshan N1 Series
The N1 Series is one of Cangshan’s more unique lines. These all metal, hollow-handled knives were the 2016 RedDot award winner and the 2018 German Design award winner. The blades are similar to the S1 series as they are forged from the same German steel (X50CrMoV15) and heat treated to a hardness of 58. The handles, though hollow, are ergonomically designed and weighted to provide a comfortable, balanced feel in your hand. The sleek, modern design of this series is what draws people to it. If you’re looking for a more traditional look, the S series would be a better fit. However, if you’re looking for an attractive, modern series that’s sure to be a conversation starter, the N1 Series is an excellent option.
Who Should Buy Cangshan?
Cangshan is a great option for anyone looking for quality knives with a modern design. The wide variety of collections means there’s sure to be a set that fits your style. One of the great things about this brand is they offer many different sizes of knife sets. So whether you just want a basic 5-piece set with the essential knives or a full 23-piece set that includes everything a chef could want, you’ll be able to find it at an affordable price with Cangshan. Even though, this brand has only been around for a short time, they’ve already won countless awards and have wonderful reviews. They also stand behind their knives with a lifetime warranty protecting you against manufacturer defects. If you like Cangshan’s designs and are interested in learning more about this brand, see our full Cangshan review.
Other Top Kitchen Knife Brands
Of course there are hundreds of brands of kitchen knives in the world. Many of them are good, but we believe the ones highlighted here stand out as some of the best. Every brand will have its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Wusthof is a German brand that offers excellent quality and durability. Shun is a Japanese brand that offers beautiful designs and superb craftsmanship. Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers both quality and value. Dalstrong is an up-and-coming brand that offers amazing quality at a good price. Cangshan is a brand that offers modern designs and quality construction. The list could go on forever.
There are also high-end niche brands that are known for making specific types of knives. For example, Yoshihiro is known for making some of the best sushi knifes for professional and home chefs. To learn more about these and other brands, check them out on our brands page.
At the end of the day, choosing a brand that fits your needs and budget is the most important thing. With so many great brands to choose from, you’re sure to discover one that’s perfect for you.