Ginsu Knives Review: Still the Sharpest?
By Bobby B. | July 27, 2020 | Knife Brands
Ginsu knives have been around for over 40 years. They became a household name in the late 70’s and 80’s with their ground-breaking informercials. I’m sure you’ve heard Ginsu knives pitched as “the sharpest knives on the market”, and you almost certainly remember the “but wait, there’s more!”
The knives were paraded around cutting all sorts of things you’ll never cut in your kitchen; aluminum cans, frozen blocks of food, and more. Not only did they seem to cut everything, but their prices were sooooooo cheap! As you can see in this throwback Ginsu knives commercial, they were offering an entire set of knives for less than $10!
Wow! That’s a far cry from the infomercials and graphics we see today, right? But this really was cutting edge marketing back then. You probably either bought a set of knives from Ginsu or you wanted to. Who didn’t? They could cut through anything!
Ginsu Knives History
Back in the days of their weekly infomercials, Ginsu probably seemed like a gimmick, and maybe for all the right reasons. All the hype over cutting random items that you’ll never cut in an attempt to show that it never becomes dull. Wonder how they were able to do that?
There’s a simple answer. Their knives used serrated blades, similar to Forever Sharp knives. The micro-serrations on these blades meant that a majority of the edge never made contact with the cutting surface. This ensures the blade stay sharper longer.
Were they ever the sharpest knives on the market? I wouldn’t bet on it!
Today, Ginsu has clearly changed their marketing strategy. They’re upfront with customers, making great entry-level knives at super-affordable prices. They’re not the best knives on the market, but they are a great value for what you’re paying.
Ginsu’s Knife Line-up
Unlike many of the top kitchen knife brands these days, Ginsu keeps it pretty simple with just a few different options. It’s a good/better/best sales model with a couple of outlier specialty lines to draw in the crowd looking for something unique. Click on any of the lines below to be taken directly to that specific Ginsu knife review further down the page, along with our favorite knife set from the series.
It looks like a lot when you see the 5 different lines above, but when you drill down, you see there really isn’t that many options outside of the Chikara series knives.
You’ll see below that the Kiso and Essentials knives are basically the same with one small difference, and the Daku series has a single 5-pc set of knives to choose from. Further, Ginsu Koden knives seem like they are being discontinued. Read more in our full review on each Ginsu series below.
Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Review
Ginsu Chikara Knife Set Review:
The Ginsu Chikara Series knives are the absolute best in the line-up. They are fully forged from a single piece of 420J Japanese stainless steel. A forged knife is almost a must these days for any decent kitchen knife. They’re just so much stronger and more robust than a stamped blade.
While they are the most expensive Ginsu-brand option, they are still priced very affordably when compared to competitive knives in the marketplace. In fact, this particular set made our top 10 best kitchen knife sets under $200.
The amount of value for you get in this series of knives is really great. They’re a perfect balance for consumers that don’t want cheaply-made kitchen knives, but can’t afford high-end, more expensive knives. This is by far our favorite Ginsu knife series!
Ginsu Kiso Knives Review
Ginsu Kiso Knife Set Review
Ginsu’s Kiso Series is the mid-level tier option. Again, you get an absolutely top-rate value for your money with these knives. They don’t cost much, and they’re not terrible knives. One thing you’ll likely love is that they’re dishwasher safe, although we always recommend not washing your kitchen knives in a dishwasher. But if you must, this is one of the sets that makes it possible.
Did you notice the knife handles are red? The Ginsu Kiso knives actually come with the option of black, red, or purple handles. That’s quite unique and you don’t see that with many other knives on the market.
But what about the performance of the knives and the materials they’re made of?
Well, I’m sorry to report that they’re made using thin, stamped blades and they don’t even tell us what type of stainless steel used. This is almost always a red flag that it’s not high-quality. Either way, I’m not sure it matters. Who’s kidding themselves? These are a cheap knife set that aren’t purchased for their performance characteristics. It’s either because you want the dishwasher safe properties, the colored handles, or just the Ginsu name without the cost.
Note, this series uses serrated blades, and thus, are marketed as never needing to be sharpened.
Ginsu Essentials Knives Review
Ginsu Essentials Knife Set Review:
Ginsu’s Essential Series knives look nearly identical to the Kiso knives. The only clear difference that we could find is that the Kiso Series is dishwasher safe and the Essential Series is hand-wash only. Again, these are micro-serrated knives that claim to never need sharpening (How to Sharpen Serrated Knives).
These are not great knives, but they are super-affordable. Would buy them? Probably not! If you’re looking for cheap knives, you might as well spend the few extra bucks and get the Kiso knives that are dishwasher safe. Even if you don’t wash them that way, you know they’ll be more corrosion-resistant.
They do also come in black, purple, or red handles, so I guess that’s cool. Besides that, there’s not much else to say about the Essentials knives. They aren’t your best option, even if you’re trying to save a few bucks.
Ginsu Daku Knives Review
Ginsu Daku Knife Set Review
Unlike the remaining Ginsu lines of knives, the Daku series doesn’t have too many options. They come in a small 5-piece set of black, ceramic-coated knives. They’re ultra-cheap and unique-looking with the black finish, but they aren’t anything special besides that. If you’re looking for cheap knives, good option I guess.
If you’re looking for good knives that are black… we’d recommend to keep on looking or check out Dalstrong’s Shadow Black Series. They’re bigger knives, made with better materials, and an overall higher-end set of knives, but also more expensive!
Ginsu Koden Knives Review
Ginsu Koden Knife Set Review:
The Koden Series by Ginsu is an older part of their line-up and appears like it might be discontinued or becoming obsolete soon. They no longer even talk about them on the Ginsu website, and they’re becoming harder to find.
This is an all stainless steel option and almost appear to resemble the knives made by Global Cutlery, although, these Ginsu Koden knives are a much cheaper version.
If you like this set, or any of the other Ginsu Koden knives, pick them up soon as I don’t believe they’ll be available much longer. They are a great looking set of knives for the price, but performance-wise, they leave a lot to be desired.
Ginsu Knives: The full Review
Not sure if you caught it in the individual reviews above, but there’s a large difference between the Gourmet Chikara series, which we like, and the remainder of the Ginsu line-up. The Chikara knives are not world-class kitchen knives, and they aren’t made with the very best materials on the globe, but they’re exactly what they purport to be… an entry-level, affordable option for good kitchen knives.
Chikara knives are made with mid-level steel, they’re forged, and have great Japanese styling. They really are a great budget-friendly set of knives for consumers that want good knives, but don’t want to pay for great knives.
On the other hand, the rest of Ginsu’s line-up is put together with thin, stamped knife blades with micro-serrated edges. They’re good for kitchens where consumers don’t want to, or don’t know how to, sharpen their kitchen knives. They won’t last forever, but when considering the price you pay for them, it doesn’t really matter.
Ginsu knives are sharp (…not the sharpest in the world!) and are low-cost and a good entry level knife with a recognizable name-brand. In addition, most Ginsu knives carry a lifetime warranty. You can read more about which do and which don’t here at Ginsu’s FAQs page.
Another common question…
Where are Ginsu knives made?
There’s a common misconception that Ginsu knives are made in the USA, which is even announced on Wikipedia. Perhaps they were at one time, but we’ve not been able to find any proof of that. In fact, every source we could find seems to point to most, if not all, Ginsu knives being made in China. You’ll find “China” in very tiny print on most of the blades.