Best Santoku Knives Featured Image

7 Best Santoku Knives for 2019

By Bobby B.  |  March 22, 2019  | Knives

Santoku knives have been around for a long time, but just became popular in Western culture in recent years.  This first happened when Rachel Ray announced to the world on her television show that it was her favorite knife.  Ever since, this Japanese-inspired blade has found its way into many American kitchens, and for good reason too.  The best santoku knifes have many utilities in the kitchen as an all-purpose knife.  In fact, it even rivals the ever-popular chef’s knife as a favorite these days.  Read on below to see all of our santoku knife reviews.

In a hurry?  Here are our favorites for the 3 best santoku knives…

Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife - Alpha-Royal Series

 Zelite Infinity
7″ Alpha-Royal

Top Features:

  • VG-10 Japanese Super Steel
  • 67-Layer Damascus Pattern
  • Lifetime Warranty

Price:  Click Here

Dalstrong Santoku Knife - Shogun Series

 Dalstrong Santoku
Shogun Series, 7″

Top Features:

  • AUS10 Japanese Super Steel
  • 67-Layer Damascus Pattern
  • Lifetime Warranty

Price:  Click Here

Shun Santoku Knife (DM0702)

Shun DM0702
7″ Santoku Knife

Top Features:

  • VG-10 Japanese Super Steel
  • Pakkawood Handle
  • Lifetime Warranty

Price:  Click Here

What is a Santoku Knife?

A santoku knife is an all-purpose knife that can be used in many tasks on several different types of food.  Santoku actually means “3 virtues” or “3 uses”.  Many have said that these 3 uses either refer to meat, fish, and vegetables.  These are three foods often cut with the santoku.  Others believe it refers to three of the common cutting types used with a santoku knife, slicing, dicing, and chopping.  We’re not sure which were the original 3 virtues, but in either case, you get the idea.  Similar to a chef’s knife, santoku’s are very versatile, and If you could only have one good knife in your kitchen, a high-quality santoku knife should be considered.

Santoku knives originated in Japan and are often made of Japanese “Super Steels”.  We’ll discus more about the materials below in our buying guide, but basically they are a very hard steel allow that allows for for long-lasting razor sharp edges.  The size and balance of the best santoku knives make even a novice feel very comfortable with them in their hands.  The thinner blade and sharper edge angle mean more precision and accuracy.  They also mean less work, less energy, and less friction when cutting, a difference you really notice.  This is a difference you can really feel.  For answers to more questions on santoku knives like how to use them, how to sharpen them, and what to look for when buying one, check out our complete buying guide below our santoku knife reviews.

Our Best Santoku Knife Reviews

1. Zelite Infinity 7″ Alpha Royal Santoku

Best Santoku Knive - Zelite Infinity Alpha Royal

SUMMARY

The Zelite Infinity Santoku (Alpha-Royal Model) has 67-layers of stainless steel and a real Damascus pattern.  This paired with the grantons on the side of the blade both reduce the liklihood of food sticking to the knife as it’s being cut.  This santoku has good weight, is balanced, full-tang, and made of premium materials.

FEATURES

  • VG-10 Japanese Super Steel
  • 67-Layer High Carbon Stainless
  • Tsunami Rose Damascus Pattern
  • Long-lasting Sharpness
  • Liquid Nitrogen Tempering
  • G10 Handle – Triple Riveted
  • Lifetime Warranty
Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal Santoku Detail Image

WHY WE LIKE THEM

We are amazed by the Zelite Infinity santoku knife.  It has all the features and premium materials you would expect in any of the best santoku knives.  The Damascus pattern on the blade is beautiful.  We really like the German-weight combined with the thin, sharp Japanese-style blade that Zelite has put together.  In addition, the social proof this knife brings to bear is amazing.  Consumers love this knife!  The weight and balance is great and perfect for anyone to use, whether just starting out or an experienced professional chef.

2. Dalstrong Santoku Knife – Shogun Series, 7″ 

Dalstrong Santoku Knife - Shogun Series

SUMMARY

All Dalstrong Shogun Series knives are made of high-quality materials and craftsmanship and their santoku knives are no different.  Dalstrong goes to great lengths to ensure perfection, whether it’s the AUS-10V Japanese steel, the G-10 handle, the included protective sheath, or the scalpel-like edge.

FEATURES

  • AUS-10V Japanese Super Steel
  • 67-Layered Damascus
  • 62+ Rockwell Hardness
  • Cryogenic Tempering
  • Rockhollow Divots Reduce Friction
  • G10 Handle – Triple Riveted
  • Lifetime Warranty

Dalstrong Santoku Knife Detail

WHY WE LIKE THEM

To be honest, the BladeAdvisor team sees very little difference between the Dalstrong Shogun santoku and the Zelite Infinity.  They both use similar materials, tempering, handles, and warranty.  The grantons, or hollow-edge area, appear to be slightly different in appearance, but both are very high quality.  The advantage we saw with the Zelite was the social proof from it’s owners.  Both are great choices and there’s no reason you should hold back on the Dalstrong Shogun if you like the looks of it better.

3. Shun Santoku Knife, 7″ Classic (DM0702)

Best Santoku Knives - Shun Classic Santoku DM0702

SUMMARY

The Shun Classic Santoku is another 7″ blade that is forged from high-carbon stainless steel.  Shun Classics are known for their thin, ultra-sharp and durable blades.  This particular knife has a very comfortable D-shaped Pakkawood handle and offset bolster.

FEATURES

  • VG-10 Japanese Super Steel
  • Offset Stainless Steel Bolster
  • Clad w/ 16-Layers of Stainless
  • D-Shaped Pakkawood Handle
  • Made in Seki City, Japan
  • Lifetime Warranty

Shun Classic Santoku (Handle Detail)

WHY WE LIKE THEM

Shun knives have a wonderful history of Japanese knife making.  Of course with the history in Seki City, Japan and it’s knife and sword manufacturing industry, this is a great place to have our next top santoku knife come from.  It has a slightly different look and feel from the others on this list because of the very high-end pakkawood handle and it brings more of an authentic look to this Japanese santoku knife.

4. Wüsthof Classic Ikon Santuko, 7″ Hollow Edge

Wusthof Classic Ikon Santuko WU4176

SUMMARY

From the family-owned, Germany-based company that’s been making knives for over 200 years (we highly recommend their steak knives), Wüsthof brings us another wonderful knife.  It’s forged out of a single piece of X50 Cr MoV 15 (chromium-molybdenum-vanadium) and has a hollow edge to reduce sticking.  This Wüsthof santoku is a nice addition to the Ikon family.

FEATURES

  • X50 CR MoV 15 Blade Material
  • Precision Edge Technology  – 20% sharper
  • Tempered HRC 58
  • POM Handle
  • Hollow Edge Santoku
  • Double Bolster Design
  • Lifetime Guarantee

Heirloom Kitchen Shears Detail

WHY WE LIKE THEM

We love the balance on the Classic Ikon and feel like Wüsthof got the hollows in just the right spot, closer to the edge of the blade than most.  We wish the spine had more of a rounded off feel, but like this cross between a German knife maker and an Asian-style knife.  It makes for a very unique combination that we really like.

5. Global G48 Santoku Knife, 7″ Hollow Ground 

Global G48 Santoku Knife

SUMMARY

Global made another unique looking knife with high quality materials and razor sharp edges.  This Japanese santoku knife uses their blend of Cromova 18 Stainless Steel.

FEATURES

  • Cromova 18 Stainless Steel
  • Long Lasting Razor Sharp Edge
  • Lightweight
  • Hollow Edge Santoku
  • Made in Japan
  • Lifetime Guarantee

Global Santoku Knife - Handle Detail

WHY WE LIKE THEM

We like that it looks different from others.  Similar to the knife above, we also love that the hollows are closer to the blade edge we it belongs.  We did see some infrequent reports of the knife breaking where the blade meets the handle.  Although we’ve never used it, it does appear there is a lifetime warranty on this Global santoku knife.

6. Dalstrong Shadow Series Santoku Knife

Dalstrong Shadow Black Series Review - Santoku

SUMMARY

Dalstrong claims the design inspiration came from the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter.  We see the resemblance!  Using German high-carbon steel and a black titanium-nitride coating for corrosion resistance and non-stick properties, provide a very unique appearance for a kitchen knife.

FEATURES

  • High-Carbon German Steel
  • HRC 58+
  • G10 Handle Material
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cooled
  • Includes “PerfectFit” Sheath
  • Lifetime Guarantee

Dalstrong Shadow Series Santoku - Black

WHY WE LIKE THEM

Dalstrong goes all out to make the most unique santoku knife we’ve ever seen.  This knife is so cool and different, but doesn’t give up many features or benefits along the way.  The steel and hardness are a little inferior to some of the higher-end knives like you saw above.

7. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Santoku Knife (31120-183)

Henckels Santoku Knife

SUMMARY

The Professional “S” santoku knife from Zwilling J.A. Henckels uses a special high-carbon, no stain steel made in Germany.  Of course, forged from a single piece of steel using their SigmaForge process and ice-hardened keeps edge sharper longer.

FEATURES

  • High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • 57 Rockwell Hardness
  • Polymer 3-Rivet Handle
  • Super Bolster Adds Balance
  • Laser Controlled Edge
  • Made in Germany
  • Lifetime Warranty

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Logo

WHY WE LIKE THEM

Not the hardest steel on our list, but this Zwilling J.A. Henckels santoku knife is from a great brand that stands behind their product.  This one has a taller profile than most and also a slightly-rounded bottom, adapting towards the chef’s knife and it’s rocking motion.

Still not sure which is your favorite after reading our santoku knife review?

You can learn much more and see the same criteria we used to choose the best santoku knife in our buying guide below.

Santoku Knife Buying Guide Header Image

Santoku Knives:  The Complete Buying Guide

Now that you’ve seen our favorite santoku knives, it’s time to discuss how you can select your own knife.  Although we spent hours upon hours researching all the best santoku knives, our list doesn’t take into account your specific needs.  Are you looking for a specific material?  Do you have a special use for your santoku knife?  Whatever makes your circumstances different, you should be able to pair your needs with the criteria below to find a knife that works perfect for you. Before we discuss how we choose the top santoku knives, we must first know what they’re used for so we know what’s important.

What is a Santoku Knife Used For?

Santoku knife uses are widely versatile, making it similar to an all-purpose chef’s knife.   Primarily, they are used for slicing, dicing, and chopping.  See the images below for veggies prepared with these different cuts that could be easily done on this Japanese vegetable knife.  Certainly there are other cuts that can be done with a santoku-style knife, but these are the most common. 

Japanese Slicing Knife
Slicing
Japanese Vegetable Knife - Dicing
Dicing
Japanese Vegetable Knife - Chopping
Chopping

So, what kinds of foods would you cut with a santoku knife?  Well, there are many many many foods that you could cut with a santoku.  While meats and fish are common, the most popular choice for a santoku are vegetables as we saw above.  While we most often slice meat, veggies are cut into all sorts of shapes and sizes for different reasons.  Slices might be eaten by hand or even served with a dip.  Diced veggies are used in soups and other dishes where the chunks are a welcome adder to the taste.  Last but not least, chopped vegetables are usually added as flavoring to further support a dish of some sort.

What To Look For In The Top Santoku Knives

Hopefully you’ve read through our santoku knife reviews above to get a sense of what’s available and what the BladeAdvisor team thought were good options.  Just in case you have a special need for your kitchen or wanted to try and match a current set of knives you already had, let’s take a look at what you should be looking for to ensure you make a good selection.  Here are a few things you should consider when searching for the best santoku knife. By the way, these are basically what we used for our selection process above, with more or less concentration on specific criteria to maximize the value for the average reader of BladeAdvisor.com.

Blade & Handle Materials

One of the most important factors to consider in santoku knives are the materials.  A very hard, high-quality blade will ensure it is able to keep a razor-sharp edge for a longer period of time without dulling.  This is called edge retention.  Santoku knives are famous for using “Japanese Super Steel”, which are special steel alloys produced in Japan specifically for knives and swords.  They also commonly use layers of high carbon stainless steel around the core to both protect it and create the beautiful patterns on the blades.  Handle materials can be equally important.  They need to be strong, slip resistant, and impervious to water.  G10, a laminate composite similar to carbon fiber is what’s shown in the image here.  This is our favorite option.  Hardwoods and other plastics are also popular.

Santoku Blade Steel and Handle Material
Damascus Pattern Santoku

Craftsmanship

As with most knives we’ve researched, reviewed, or written about, they are not all created equal.  There are big differences in how they are manufactured and assembled.  The same holds true for santoku knives, and perhaps is even more important.  Similar to most kitchen knives, forging versus stamping provides the consumer with a stronger, better knife.  However, santoku knives are also often made with layers of steel in order to strengthen the blade further.  So, it’s not all about the materials, but also how they are put together.  Some knives aren’t layered and others have dozens of layers.  The best santoku knives on our list have upwards of 67 layers of stainless steel, providing an ultra-hard blade.  The way the blades are tempered and hardened is also important.  Some santoku knives even use cryogenic tempering.  This way of “freeze treating” the steel helps both its performance and aesthetics.

Brand Reputation

Brands don’t mean everything, even in knives, but some brands have great reputations for making high-quality knives for over 100 years.  Although it’s not that important, it does hold some weight.  It means you can feel pretty comfortable that the manufacturer will be around for years to come if you’re going to be filling out an entire set of knives.  It also would probably be helpful if you ever had any issues with the knife in the future.  A lifetime warranty is only good if the maker is still around when the knife has a problem, which could be 10 or 20 years from now.

Some of the knife brands that have been in the high-end market for many years include, but are not limited to Shun, Wusthof, Global, and Zwilling J.A. Henkels.  Zelite Infinity and Dalstrong are both in their relative early years versus the others listed above, but also have a good reputation for high quality.  This consideration is less crucial than others, but something to pay attention to nonetheless.

Kitchen Scissors - Blade Separation
Santoku Knife Review

Product Reviews & Customer Feedback

Reading reviews, ratings, and other feedback online can be invaluable in the process of choosing the best santoku knife.  So many of these knives look exactly like another, but might be priced cheaper.  How do you know if you should buy the one that is more expensive or less expensive?  You read reviews, that’s how!  Product reviews like those here on BladeAdvisor point out the pros and cons of the best products.  Ratings and feedback left by consumers at online retailers will point out the good and bad experiences they’ve had with each of those products.  In may cases it’s easy to see which product has a higher rating and also which has more 5-star reviews.  This is a good way to select between two very similar products.

How Much Does It Cost?

Ever heard the saying “You get what you pay for”?  Of course you have, and yes it holds true with santoku knives too.  Better materials and better manufacturing processes cost more money when producing the knife.  A cheap santoku knife under $50 isn’t likely going to be of the same quality as one priced over $100.  Yes, planning for your budget is important, and you should stick to it.  But, buying a knife on price alone is not a winning battle.  Buying a cheap knife probably just means you’ll end up buying another knife over and over again throughout your lifetime until you pay attention to the things above rather than the price tag.

Santoku Knife Cost

Speaking of Price-Point…

So, as this is often the elephant in the room, let’s discuss further.  The “best santoku knife” list above considers value for the customer.  Of then that means high quality products at a price that is not outlandish.  If price is a larger consideration for you…or the opposite is true and price is not even a consideration and you just want the best santoku knife money can buy, here are a couple of options for you.

Best Cheap Santoku Knife
Best Cheap Santoku Knife

If your budget is lite and price is the most important consideration for you, you should consider the Mad Shark Pro Kitchen Santoku Knife.  It’s still a full-tang forged santoku with a lifetime warranty, but is uses a German steel that is not as hard at only HRC 50+ and a lower quality polymer handle that keeps the price-point down.

Best Budget Santoku Knife
Best Budget Santoku Knife

If you want the best materials and craftsmanship, but don’t care about the name-brand, consider this ChefWave santuku knife.  It uses AUS10V steel, a G-10 handle, has 67-layers, and a lifetime warranty just like those at the top of our list above, but at a lower price-point.  You also get a free sheath with your knife at this price!

High-End Damascus Steel Santoku Knife
Best High-End Santoku

If price is not a consideration for you and you just want the best santoku knife you can buy, consider the Shun Hiro SG2.  This of course is also the best Shun santoku knife available.  The SG2 has a Rockwell Hardness of 64, uses a Pakkawood handle, and micro-carbide steel.  It’s edge and durabilty are superior to even VG-MAX and VG-10.

How To Use a Santoku Knife

Santoku knives perform a multitude of tasks, but how do you really cut with one?  The cut is slightly different than that of a chef knife’s rocking motion.  With a santoku blade, the user makes more of forward chopping motion as you can see in the video below.  It might seem a bit different at first, but you get used to it.  With a high-quality, sharp santoku, cutting is almost effortless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhnHDjKM_CI

Santoku Knife Sharpening

As you may know, there are several ways to sharpen knife blades and the same holds true to santoku knives, however some are better than others.  Here is a list of sharpener types and what our thoughts are on each of them.

Sharpening Steel

The best option for a novice to keep a good santoku knife sharp is a steel.  See the image below if you’re unfamiliar with what a steel is.  They are used for very light honing of the blade to keep it sharp.  They work great if used regularly versus letting your blade get damaged.  If you’re not sure what you’re doing, this is your best bet. If you need more than this, we recommend you consult an expert and have them sharpened commercially. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9XPELRRXT0

Note:  The rest of these options are for skilled knife sharpeners and could re-shape your blade, potentially damaging it beyond repair if you don’t know what you are doing.  You do not want this for your expensive knives.  On the other hand, if you do know what you’re doing, they are great tools for bringing old, dull knives back to life!

Electric Sharpeners

Some electric knife sharpeners say they will sharpen a santoku knife, however we think there are better ways if you’re a skilled on a whetstone, as you’ll see below.  If you do decide to use an electric sharpener, please pay special attention to the type of blade you have.  Not all edges are manufactured at the same angle, but electric sharpeners tend to sharpen to a specific angle, so first make sure it matches your knife edge.  Some santoku knives also only have a bevel on one side.  There should be special instructions with your sharpener for this case. In either case, electric sharpeners can have abrasives that will re-shape your blade, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you ruin an expensive knife.

Whetstone

If you must use something more abrasive than a steel, we recommend using a whetstone stone for this task, especially if you spent good money on a high quality knife.  Keep in mind that you could damage the knife if the angle is not adhered to.  The video below does a good job of showing you step by step instructions on doing just this.  Odds are if you have good, hard steel, you won’t need to do much shaping and sharpening, but rather a very light honing.

Whetstone for Sharpening

Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone

This is a professional-grade whetstone at a very reasonable price-point.  It’s also multipurpose and can be used on almost all your knives.  If you don’t already have a whetstone for your good knives, please consider one.  This one is great, but there are many other choices that are good also.

Click image above for more information on this whetstone.

Manual Sharpeners

Another option, admittedly less desirable than a whetstone or steel, is a manual sharpener marketed for santoku knives.  Again, please pay attention to the edge angle on these before buying something.  Here’s an example… 

Santoku Knife Sharpening

Chef's Choice Santoku Knife Sharpener

This sharpener is marketed specifically towards santoku knives and sharpens at a 15 degree angle.  It gets good reviews online, so it’s probably fine for lower-quality knives that will need sharpened more often and don’t cost so much that you’re concerned about ruining them.

  Click image above for more information on this sharpener

Santoku Knife Sharpening Video 

Here’s a video showing “Burrfection” sharpening a santoku on a whetstone.  There are several videos on YouTube that can give you some pointers if you decide to go the whetstone route.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_kGeCFttPA

Santoku Knife Sizes

Santoku knives come in 2 common sizes, 5-inches long and 7-inches long.  A 7 inch santoku knife is the most widely used.  It’s also our favorite.  At this length, it’s very similar to the 8″ chef’s knife that is so popular in the United States, making it more comfortable for users that are used to that knife. As you can probably tell by looking through our santoku knife reviews, we lean heavily towards the 7″ version and feel the 5″ version is well, kind of unnecessary.  If you feel the 5″ is a good fit for your kitchen, here’s a good one to look into.  Otherwise, we recommend you stick with a 7 inch santoku knife if you can only afford one or the other. 

Best 5″ Santoku Knife

Dalstrong 5″ Santoku Knife – Shogun Series

This 5″ version of one of our favorite santoku knives is still made of AUS-10V Japanese Super Steel w/ a core hardness of HRC 62+.  It also carries over the premium G-10 handle and 67-layered damascus found on the larger version.  All the materials and specs are right if you’re looking for a mini-santoku.  Dalstrong makes a beautiful knife and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee as well as a lifetime warranty against defects. 

Dalstrong 5-inch Santoku Knife Logo
Best 5-inch Santoku Knife

Best Santoku Knife Review:  The Final Cut

Well, we certainly hope you enjoyed our recommendations and reviews of the best santoku knives available.  We poured through thousands of online reviews to better understand what actual consumers thought of each of these great knives to sort them out and make sure we weren’t recommending anything that had issues after longer use.  If you have several knives of a certain brand, don’t be afraid to pick the knife on the list that matches your kitchen set.  We think we came up with a great list, any of which would make your kitchen a happier place!

Not only did we want to share with you our favorites, but also educate you so you could rely on your own instincts and new skills to choose for yourself the knife that best fits your needs and skill level.  We discussed when to use, how to use, and the sharpening of santoku knives.  We also covered the long and the short of it (literally), with our review of the mini-5″ and standard-7″ versions of santokus.

“Buy the Best Santoku Knife Within Your Budget” – BladeAdvisor

We want to close with few comments letting you know that while staying with your budget constraints, buying the best knife now will likely save you money in the long run.  The knives on our list above are built for a lifetime!  But when you spend your money on cheap junk knives, they don’t work and they break.  Then you have to buy another one.  If this happens, hopefully you’ll learn your lesson and not go through it again.  If you’re here because of you’ve done this before, make sure you don’t do it again.  Buy the best knife your budget will allow.

As you saw above, the BladeAdvisor team selected the Zelite Infinity 7″ Alpha-Royal as our favorite santoku knife.  Before we part, here’s a fun video of a Japanese chef showing off his skills with a santoku knife!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVgzHUaPt4Y

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