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When it comes to kitchen knives, brand matters.
The best brands have a long track record of producing sharp, sturdy, well-balanced, and elegantly-designed knives.
Many claim to be the best, but few have the loyal customers, accolades, and longevity to prove it.
So, which kitchen knife brands are the best?
And what makes them better than the others?
In this guide, I provide an in-depth review of the five best kitchen knife brands.
- How each brand makes its knives
- How the knives look, feel, and perform
- How much they cost
- What other experts say about them
- What makes these brands the best in the world
- And much more
By the end, you’ll have all the important facts to decide which brand is right for you.
Use the links below to navigate this guide:
- Best Kitchen Knife Brands: Quick Summary
- Best German Kitchen Knife Brand: Wusthof
- Most Proven Kitchen Knife Brand: Zwilling J.A. Henckels
- Most Unique Kitchen Knife Brand: Global
- Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Brand: Shun
- Best Value Kitchen Knife Brand: Victorinox
- What to Look For In a Kitchen Knife Brand
Best Kitchen Knife Brands: Quick Summary
Buying a set of premium kitchen knives is a significant investment, which is why I go into great detail about each brand in this guide.
If you’re serious about finding the right brand for your needs, I highly recommend reading the entire guide.
But, if you’re in a hurry and only have a few minutes, here is the key information you need to know about each brand.
Wusthof is the Best German Kitchen Knife Brand due to its high-quality materials, innovative manufacturing processes, functional design, and durability.
- There is a lot to love about Wusthof knives, but its most notable quality is durability—these knives will last a very long time. Wusthof makes its blades from X50CRMoV15, which they harden to 58 on the Rockwell scale. This hardening process creates an optimal balance between edge retention and durability.
- Its ergonomic handles are made from either an ultra-durable synthetic material or wood.
- They use an innovative process called PEtec to yield edges that are 20% sharper and have twice the edge retention of its competitors.
- Overall, Wusthof knives are well-balanced and sturdy—the type of knives that you’ll never need to replace.
- Skip ahead to the next section to get the full details about Wusthof, or check out their award-winning knife collections on Amazon.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Zwilling J.A. Henckels is the Most Proven Kitchen Knife Brand due to its consistent and innovative approach to knife making that’s put them atop the cutlery industry for over 280 years—one of the oldest brands across all industries.
- Zwilling makes its blades out of high-carbon, stainless steel. They make the handles from either synthetic materials or natural wood, including Mediterranean Holm Oak and PakkaWood.
- They use a unique ice-hardening process called Friodur to achieve ideal sharpness and long-lasting edge retention.
- Experts at Food & Wine and Good Housekeeping praise Zwilling knives, and top chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, use the brand in their kitchens.
- Skip to this section to learn more about why Zwilling J.A. Henckels is one of the best kitchen knife brands, or check out their collections on Amazon or on Zwilling.com.
Global is the Most Unique Kitchen Knife Brand due to its sleek, all-steel design, high-quality steel, razor-sharp edges, and lightweight/balanced construction.
- Global knives are stainless steel from the tip of the blade to the butt end of the handle and feature black dimples on the handle for grip—a design unlike any other brand.
- The hollow handles are filled with sand, which makes the knives light, balanced, and easy to maneuver.
- The edges are straight, rather than beveled, which keeps the knives razor-sharp for much longer.
- Global knives aren’t cheap, but, in general, they are less expensive than Wusthof, Zwilling, and Shun.
- Get the full review of Global, or check out their knife collections on Amazon.
Shun is the Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Brand due to its innovative approach to materials and construction, gorgeous blade patterns, and commitment to upholding ancient knife-making traditions (like handcrafting each knife).
- Shun makes its blades from a variety of highly-refined super steels, which are stainless steel alloys with high-carbon content.
- Unlike most brands that have a smooth blade surface, Shun blades are like a work of art, marked with gorgeous Damascus and hammered patterns. These patterns not only make a statement, but they also create air pockets that prevent food from sticking.
- Shun handles are either PakkaWood, Tagayasan wood, or a textured synthetic polymer, and most have a D-shaped design that provides control and stability.
- Get the full review of Shun, or check out their collections on Amazon.
Victorinox is the Best Value Kitchen Knife Brand due to its razor-sharp edges, incredibly comfortable handles, and relatively low cost.
- Victorinox offers several options, including one forged knife collection (Grand Maitre) and several stamped knife collections—each with unique design and features.
- The brand’s best-selling knife collection, Fibrox, is a favorite among professional chefs due to its grippy, non-slip handle, hard steel blade, and incredibly sharp edge.
- Most Victorinox knives are stamped, which means the blades are thinner, lighter, and more flexible—but they lack the heft and balance of forged knives.
- Compared to the other brands featured in this guide, Victorinox knives are significantly less expensive.
- Read the full review to learn more about what makes Victorinox knives unique, or check out their collections on Amazon.
Best German Kitchen Knife Brand: Wusthof
Wusthof is one of the most respected and recognized kitchen knife brands in the world.
Wusthof knives are the epitome of German engineering—expertly-designed, precisely-crafted, and built to last.
Family-owned since its founding in 1814, the Solingen, Germany-based company focuses only on manufacturing and innovating kitchen knives, while most of its competitors offer kitchen knives as part of their product lines.
Wusthof’s singular focus on knives allows them to stay ahead of the curve in terms of manufacturing, technology, and design.
Watch the birth and a Wusthof knife in this video.
As you’ll see, producing each knife is a multi-step, labor-intensive process. It requires advanced robotics and skilled artisans to ensure that each knife is worthy of bearing the eye-catching, red Wusthof logo.
Now, let’s dive in and take a look at what makes Wusthof knives so special.
Wusthof makes its knife blades from high-carbon, rust-resistant stainless steel for increased hardness, sharper edges, and luster.
The Wusthof steel formula is known as X50CRMoV15, which is a high-grade alloy that includes carbon, molybdenum, and vanadium.
Wusthof handles are either crafted with sustainable wood such as Richlite (wood composite) or Grenadill (African Blackwood), or synthetic material known as polyoxymethylene (POM), depending on the collection.
POM, an extremely durable food-grade plastic, has a tight molecular structure, which protects it from becoming damaged by moisture or exposure to high-heat.
When it comes to design, Wusthof knives are both elegant and functional.
Below is a look at the Chef’s knife from a few of the most popular Wusthof collections.
Wusthof Classic Ikon:
Wusthof Grand Prix II:
As you can see, the blades are nearly identical across collections.
But, there are some subtle differences.
For example, some collections feature a full bolster (the thick part of steel between the blade and handle), while others have a half bolster.
Some collections have three exposed rivets, while others have two or none.
While Wusthof designs all its handles for ergonomic comfort and control, each collection is unique.
Here’s a closer look at the design of the brand’s most-popular collection: Wusthof Classic.
As you can see, this knife has a smooth black handle with a full bolster and tang (the part of the blade that runs through the handle).
The Wusthof Pro collection is probably the most unique in terms of design.
This collection is designed for heavy use in professional kitchens, hence the name “Pro.” Its non-slip handles have distinct curves and a soft material to maximize grip.
Wusthof sharpens its knives to a 14-degree cutting angle per side for a total cutting angle of 28 degrees.
As you explore options, keep in mind that the lower the angle, the sharper the edge.
Many kitchen knife brands sharpen their edges between 17 to 20 degrees per side. So at 14 degrees, Wusthof knives are sharper than average.
Wusthof’s Asian-style blades, including Santokus and Nakiris, carry an ultra-sharp edge angle of 10 degrees on each side (20 degrees total).
Wusthof tempers its forged knives to 58 on the Rockwell Scale, a benchmark used by knife manufacturers to measure hardness.
Harder blades can tolerate a sharper edge and retain the sharpness better over time. But steel that’s too hard is more likely to chip, so finding the right balance is important.
In general, when it comes to kitchen knives, anything from 55 to 60 should work just fine.
If you’re interested in Wusthof, but not sure which collection to choose, I highly recommend Wusthof Classic.
It’s the brand’s best-selling collection for a good reason.
Wusthof Classic knives have a clean, simply-stated look, comfortable handles, and extremely durable blades.
Although each collection has its unique draw, I want to call out two others worthy of a second look: Ikon and Pro.
Why Ikon? It’s a showstopper.
The exposed bolster on the butt end of the handle gives it balance and presence, and the African Blackwood triple-riveted handle makes it a conversation piece on your kitchen counter.
If you’re looking for a kitchen workhorse, look no further than the laser-cut stamped Pro line.
The ergonomically-designed, slip-resistant handle allows you to produce restaurant quality knife work without tiring your hand in the process.
All Wusthof knives have a limited lifetime warranty, which covers defective items, but not knives damaged by normal wear or improper use.
If Wusthof no longer manufactures the item, they will replace it with something of similar or equal value on a case-by-case basis.
One of the few downsides of Wusthof knives is the price.
There’s no doubt about it—Wusthof knives are expensive. However, with proper care, they will last for decades, so the total cost of ownership is quite low.
The prices vary based on the collection and the type of construction.
But, to give you an idea, you can check the current prices on Amazon of the most popular collections using the links below:
- Wusthof Classic
- Wusthof Epicure
- Wusthof Ikon
- Wusthof Classic Ikon
- Wusthof Grand Prix II
- Wusthof Gourmet
- Wusthof Pro
Wusthof forged knives (Classic, Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Grand Prix II) tend to be pretty expensive because they endure a unique 40-step manufacturing process.
Wusthof stamped knives (Gourmet and Pro) are more economical since the manufacturing process is less intensive, only 14 steps.
I cover the differences between forged and stamped knives later in this guide.
What Others Are Saying About Wusthof
Wusthof has a long list of accolades and mentions from culinary experts across the globe.
Here are just a few of those honors (there are many more):
- Good Housekeeping named the Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Best Overall Chef’s Knife, calling it “razor sharp and super versatile,” and “perfectly balanced and ergonomic.”
- In the same article, Good Housekeeping named the Wusthof Classic 7-inch Craftsman Knife the Most Versatile Chef’s Knife. They claim it was “a top-performer in almost every test.”
- Food & Wine named the Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Best Tough Workhorse Knife, calling it “heavy and powerful” and “very secure and well-balanced.”
- In another review, Food & Wine named the Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set the Best German Steel Set due to its superior edge retention, balance, and durability.
- In their review of the best chef’s knives, The Wirecutter declared the Wusthof Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Budget Pick. In their expert opinion: “In precision, sharpness, and price, [Wusthof Pro is] the best-performing budget knife we tested.”
- In a review of the best knife sets, The Wirecutter named the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Set the Best All-Purpose Knife Set due to its sharp edges, heft, and comfortable handles.
- Housewares Design Awards honored the Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Artisan Butcher Knife and the Wusthof Three-Piece Plum Charcuterie Set in their most recent cutlery awards.
Should You Buy Wusthof Knives?
Wusthof is, hands down, one of the best kitchen knife brands in the world.
The company maintains the highest standards in terms of sourcing raw materials, manufacturing, and design.
The hallmarks of the brand are precision, craftsmanship, and superior control.
Here are some things to consider before buying Wusthof knives:
Solingen-Made: Wusthof creates all of its knives in Solingen, widely known as the “City of Blades” due to the rich knife-making legacy of the area. You might come across “Made In Soligen” knock-offs, but Wusthof is one of the very few brands permitted to boast that distinction since the brand actually makes its knives there.
Superior Sharpness and Hardness: Wusthof uses Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) to yield blades that are 20% sharper and have twice the edge retention of its competitors. Besides that, the high carbon content and manufacturing process gives the knives a Rockwell score of 58, which is the optimal hardness for durability and edge retention.
Variety: Wusthof offers several collections of both forged and laser-cut stamped knives. Each collection has unique features, finishes, and price points—they have something for everyone.
Cost: Let’s face it, Wusthof knives are pricey. So, if you’re on a budget, it might not be the brand for you. If you’re set on Wusthof but don’t have the budget for a forged set, start with a laser-cut stamped knife since they are more affordable, or buy one knife at a time instead of a complete set.
Style/Weight: Not everyone likes German-style knives like Wusthof. This type of knife is thicker and heavier than Japanese or American made knives. Although Wusthof knives are well balanced, some people prefer lighter knives that make precision cuts and quick knife work a bit easier.
I’ve been using Wusthof knives in my kitchen for years. It’s a brand that I would recommend to anyone without hesitation for all the reasons I just covered.
Wusthof knives are available on Amazon where you can check the current prices and read dozens of reviews.
Now that you’ve learned about Wusthof, let’s take a look at another one of the best kitchen knife brands, and one of Wusthof’s biggest rivals: Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
Most Proven Kitchen Knife Brand: Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels hails from Solingen, Germany.
Johann Peter Henckels started Zwilling J.A. Henckels back in 1731 by, making it one of the oldest and most proven brands in the world.
The Solingen knife maker had the foresight to register the “twin” symbol (Zwilling means “twin” in German) that’s become one of the most recognizable logos in the cookware industry.
The company is still headquartered in Solingen, but they also have global centers of manufacturing and operation in France, Italy, Japan, Belgium, and many more countries.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a premier creator of cutlery but also manufactures cookware, kitchen tools, tabletop items, and personal grooming implements.
Although the company is best known for its premium cutlery under the Zwilling brand, they’ve built a kitchen empire that also houses these popular cookware brands:
- Staub (enameled cast iron cookware)
- Miyabi (Japanese-style cutlery)
- Demeyere (premium stainless steel cookware)
- Ballarini (non-stick cookware)
- Henckels International (affordable stamped knives, manufactured in Spain and Asia)
After more than 280 years in the knife-making business, I’d say they’re worth taking a look at if you are searching for the best kitchen knife brand.
If you’d like to see how Wusthof and Zwilling stack up head-to-head, check out my detailed comparison.
For now, let’s take a closer look at what Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives have to offer.
Since there are several distinct brands of knives under the Zwilling J.A. Henckels umbrella (Zwilling, Miyabi, and Henckels International), we’ll focus on Zwilling in this guide.
Zwilling makes its blades from German stainless steel that is a rust-resistant, high-carbon alloy boasting superior sharpness and edge retention.
There are more than a dozen Zwilling collections, and most of them feature synthetic or wood handles.
The Pro Holm Oak collection has gorgeous Mediterranean Holm Oak handles, which are light-colored and natural-looking.
The Kramer Meiji collection has PakkaWood handles, which is a dark wood with distinct grains.
Depending on the Zwilling line you choose, blade designs and shapes abound.
Some knives, like Kramer Euroline, feature a Damascus design, a 100-layer wavy Chevron pattern protecting a steel core.
Other lines, like the Zwilling Pro, have a more simple and classic design.
Here’s a quick look at the design of other popular Zwilling collections.
Zwilling Pro “S”:
Zwilling Four Star:
Zwilling handles bear a distinctive curve just before the butt that is not only a beautiful design element but also a functional addition—it provides a place for your pinky finger to rest and prevents your hand from slipping.
Handles are either riveted or permanently bonded.
Here’s a sample of the different handle designs that Zwilling offers:
Zwilling forged knives are sharpened to 15 degrees per side for a total edge angle of 30 degrees—a slightly greater angle than Wusthof, but not by much.
Remember, the higher the degree angle number, the less sharp the knife.
Zwilling knives have a Rockwell Hardness of 57, an indicator of how well a knife brand will retain its cutting edge.
For perspective, Wusthof scores a 58 on the Rockwell scale. The higher the number, the harder the knife, but the high number also decreases durability.
When shopping for kitchen knives, anything in the 55-60 range is ideal.
Navigating all of Zwilling’s knife collections can be confusing and overwhelming. So, let me simplify it and give you my recommendation.
The most popular Zwilling collections, and the two I recommend, are the Pro and Pro “S.”
Both have a classic Western-style blade profile made out of high-carbon steel, and a contoured, triple-riveted black handle.
You can buy both collections as individual pieces or sets ranging from two pieces to over 15 pieces.
The main difference between Zwilling Pro and Pro “S” is that the Pro has a half bolster that allows you to sharpen the entire edge, while the Pro “S” has a full bolster that provides more balance and protects your hand from slipping onto the blade.
Check out my in-depth comparison of these two popular Zwilling collections if you want to get a closer look.
Bottom line—Zwilling gives you lots of options, but if you’re looking for knives with a classic design that perform incredibly well, check out Pro and Pro “S.” Both are available on Amazon: Pro, Pro “S.”
Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers a limited lifetime warranty, which covers the full replacement cost of defective products that you purchase through Zwilling or a Zwilling authorized seller.
Like Wusthof and the other brands in this guide, Zwilling knives aren’t cheap.
Individual pieces start under a hundred dollars, but sets range from hundreds to thousands, depending on the collection and number of knives in the set.
In general, the Zwilling Pro Holm Oak and Zwilling Kramer Meiji collections tend to be the priciest due to their unique wooden handles.
The Pro, Pro “S,” and Four Star collections are more affordable, but still pricey compared to brands like Cuisinart.
If you’re willing to sacrifice performance and durability slightly, the Zwilling’s stamped knife collection, Gourmet, is the least expensive by far.
You can check the current prices of the most popular Zwilling collections on Amazon and Zwilling.com at the links below:
- Pro: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Pro “S”: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Pro Holm Oak: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Four Star: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Twin Four Star: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Kramer Meiji: Amazon, Zwilling.com
- Gourmet: Amazon, Zwilling.com
What Others Are Saying About Zwilling J.A. Henckels
But, it’s not just everyday customers that love Zwilling knives. The brand gets its fair share of praise from culinary experts, and its knives rank at or near the top of most “best of” lists.
Here are examples of what others are saying about Zwilling:
- Reviewed.com tested 15 different knives and named the Zwilling Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Best Overall Chef’s Knife. They praise its “solid, well-balanced blade,” and it’s “easy to grip and seriously comfortable” handle.
- In that same review, Reviewed.com experts also honored the Zwilling Four Star 8-inch Chef’s Knife, complimenting its versatility and overall reliable performance.
- Gear Patrol recently named Zwilling one of the Best Kitchen Knife Brands for its traditional Western-style design, quality materials, and long legacy.
- Along with the Wusthof Classic Chef’s knife, Food & Wine named the Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Best Tough Workhorse Knife, saying that “there’s nothing that [it] can’t do.”
- Good Housekeeping gave Zwilling Gourmet knives a score of 85 out of 100 for its balance, sharpness, and affordability. The one thing they didn’t love was the square, angular handles, saying they’re slightly uncomfortable and too small.
- Gordon Ramsay, the Michelin Star Chef and restaurateur, uses Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives in his MasterClass videos. And if Chef Ramsay is using them, you know their quality knives.
Should You Buy Zwilling J.A. Henckels Knives?
If you’re looking for a set of knives from a brand that’s proven its value in the market for hundreds of years, you should strongly consider Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives are sharp, balanced, and built to last.
They’re elegant but not flashy. The black or wooden handles give Zwilling knives a classic, timeless look that will complement every kitchen style.
Here are a few things to consider before buying Zwilling knives:
Sharpness: Zwilling J.A. Henckels uses innovative processes to maintain the sharp edges of its kitchen knives. Their unique Friodur ice-hardening method not only increases the initial sharpness of the blade but helps to keep it sharp for longer.
Variety: Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers kitchen knives under brands (Zwilling, Miyabi, and Henckels International), and each brand has several collections with unique features. So, with Zwilling, there are a variety of designs and price-points available.
Cost: In general, most Zwilling J.A. Henckels knife collections are expensive. However, the Gourmet collection, since it’s stamped, is more affordable. If you’re looking to save, another option is to start with one knife (like a Chef’s knife) and build up a more extensive set over time.
Tradition: Zwilling J.A. Henckels is not only one of the longest-lasting knife brands in the world; it’s one of the longest-lasting brands across all industries. A business simply can’t survive that long without producing high-quality products and continuously innovating and improving along the way. There are no risks with this brand. When you buy Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives, you know you’re getting one of the best products available.
Bottom line—if you like German-style knives, Zwilling J.A. Heckels, along with Wusthof, is one of the best brands you can buy. The differences between these brands are minor and, whichever you choose, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Now, let’s transition from German knife brands over to one of the most unique Japanese-style knife brands in the world, Global.
Most Unique Kitchen Knife Brand: Global
The power behind Global Cutlery is captured in the smile of a man who has a passion for knives and a seemingly inexhaustible work ethic.
Affectionately known as Mr. Global, Mino Tsuchida is a family man and entrepreneur who founded Master Cutlery Corporation in 1985.
Through his partnerships with Yoshikin, a metal manufacturing company in Niigata, Japan, and visionary industrial designer, Komin Yamada, Tsuchida launched the Global Cutlery brand with twelve knives.
Instead of bringing another Japanese-style knife to the market, Yamada combined Japanese precision and German durability to produce a knife that the cutlery world had never seen before—razor-sharp, balanced, stylish, and durable.
Global knives, which feature innovative edges and balancing, are still manufactured in Niigata, Japan. The knives are crafted in the centuries-old tradition of the Samurai warrior—strong, exact, and wickedly sharp.
Global knives have a distinct look that instantly stands out.
Rather than having a synthetic or wood handle bolted to the blade with steel rivets like most premium kitchen knives, Global knives are stainless steel from the tip of the blade to butt end of the handle.
Although they appear to be one piece, the steel blade and handle are welded together at the connection point, and the hollow handles are filled with sand to achieve the perfect weight and balance.
Some people love this look of Global knives, while others prefer something more traditional. But, one thing is for sure, they stand out and are memorable.
Over the past few decades, Global knives have gained popularity, and, nowadays, you’ll find them being used in fancy restaurants, on cooking shows, and by top chefs like Ludo Lefebvre.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Global one of the best kitchen knife brands.
Global blades and handles are made from CROMOVA 18 stainless steel, an alloy containing chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. This combination delivers the ideal hardness, improves edge retention, and resists rust.
This special steel contains 18% chromium, which is the key ingredient that makes the steel “stainless steel.” In contrast, the steel Wusthof uses to make its blades contains only 15% chromium. So, Global knives are more resistant to staining than most brands, at least on paper.
Global knives have an incredibly unique and modern design. I think it’s fair to say that the look of this brand is polarizing.
Some people love how clean, sleek, and modern Global knives look. Others prefer the texture and aesthetics of a black synthetic or natural wood handle against a shiny steel blade—the look that you get with brands like Wusthof and Zwilling.
As you can see, the knife is stainless steel, top to bottom.
The blades have a gradual inward-bending curve ideal for cutting and helping food to slide off easily during use.
The pattern of recessed dots or dimples on the grip of the handle is an iconic feature of the brand.
Global makes its ergonomically-designed handle from two pieces of identical stainless steel. They weld the two pieces together to form a hollow chamber that they fill with sand for balance and weight. After fusing the handle parts, they weld the stamped blade to the handle.
Global has a handful of collections with subtle design differences, but they all feature long cutting edges and no bolster. Each knife has a secure area to rest the thumb that is far from the blade.
One collection, SAI, has a textured blade designed so that food doesn’t stick when you’re cutting.
Here’s a quick look at each Global collection (besides SAI, which you can see above).
Global knives feature a straight, double-edged wide blade, noticeably sharper than the beveled edges that are a standard for many Western and European kitchen knives.
Global claims that its “straight edge results in a dramatically sharper knife which stays sharper longer.”
In the illustration below, you can see the difference between straight and beveled edges.
Global Classic and Global Ukon knives are sharpened to an acute angle of 15 degrees per side (30 degrees total), while SAI and NI knives have a 12.5-degree angle per side (25 degrees total).
Global blades are hardened to between 56 and 58 on the Rockwell scale, which is an ideal rating for kitchen knives as it strikes a delicate balance between durability and edge retention.
Unlike Wusthof and Zwilling, which offer several different knife collections, Global only has four—Classic, NI, SAI, and Ukon.
While all four collections are impressive, the most popular, by far, is Global Classic (see on Amazon).
With the Classic collection, you get the signature stainless steel handle, iconic slip-resistant dimples across the entire surface of the handle, razor-sharp straight edge, and convex blade profile.
Are the other collections worth checking out? Absolutely.
In fact, the NI, SAI, and Ukon collections are very similar to the Classic. The most significant difference is in the design of the handle.
The Classic collection has dimples across the entire handle, while the NI collection has two rows of dimples on the spine-side of the handle, and the Ukon collection has three rows of dimples on the edge side of the handle.
The SAI collection is the most unique with one row of dimples on the handle, and a textured blade made out of three layers of steel. The design is beautiful, but a little too flashy for my taste—to each his own.
The other difference is that the Classic collection has over 40 individual knives and several knife sets available, while the other three have fewer options combined. So if you’re looking for a complete set, your best bet is the Classic.
Global offers a limited lifetime warranty and will replace any defective knife, but will not honor any warranty claim stemming from misuse, accidents, or poor maintenance.
Global knives are on the pricey side, but they’re less expensive than some of Wusthof or Zwilling J.A. Henckels offerings.
How much less expensive? For single pieces, expect to pay $10 to $30 less than the two German brands, but the actual price difference depends on the collection, which type of knife you buy, and where you buy it.
For sets, you could save as little as $30 or as much as several hundred dollars, depending on the collection and number of pieces in the set.
Check the current prices of each Global collection on Amazon:
What Others Are Saying About Global
Global gets its fair share of praise. Here’s what the experts have to say about these one-of-a-kind kitchen knives:
- Good Housekeeping honored Global calling the 7-inch Santoku Chef’s knife from the NI collection the Sharpest Chef’s Knife. They also named the Classic 9-inch Chef’s knife the Best Value Japanese Knife.
- Food & Wine awarded the Global 7-piece set the Best Professional-Grade Pick.
- In another article, the experts at Food & Wine named the Global Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife the Best Lightweight Chef’s Knife calling it “Grippy, easy to control and very nimble.”
- The Strategist consulted with 25 experts, including head chefs at Michelar Star restaurants, restaurateurs, and Top Chef judges, and concluded that the Global Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is the single best kitchen knife you can buy. The experts are quoted in the article saying things like “it holds a sharp edge very well” and that it’s “sturdy enough to last for years.” Worth noting—in that same article, they ranked the Wusthof Classic 6-inch Chef’s knife as the Second-Best Chef’s Knife.
Should You Buy Global Knives?
Take one look at Global knives, and you can quickly tell that they’re unlike most brands.
Some people love the sleek and modern look of the fully stainless steel knives, while others prefer a more traditional style, like Wusthof and Zwilling.
If you’re on the fence, here are some things to consider before you decide:
Unique: Of the many knives I’ve seen and handled, I think Global is one of the most uniquely designed. At first glance, you may wonder how you’ll hold it since the entire knife is stainless steel, but the recessed dimples on the handle give it stability during use.
Weight: Global knives are incredibly balanced but lightweight compared to Wusthof and Zwilling. For example, the Zwilling Pro 8-inch Chef’s knife (see on Amazon) weighs 8 ounces while the Global 8-inch Chef’s knife (see on Amazon) weighs 5.5 ounces. If you like a bit more heft, Global knives may leave you feeling like something is missing. On the flip side, if you have issues or ailments with your hands or wrist, this may be a better option. Often, you don’t know how you feel about a knife until you have it in your hands.
Tradition: Global may not have over 100 years of history, but this is no fly-by-night brand. Since 1985, Global has been producing premium knives that top chefs around the world use in their kitchens. Global knives, designed by visionary designer Komin Yamada, are still manufactured in Niigata, Japan, and the founder is still traveling near and far to show off what his knives can do.
Cost: Compared to cheap department-store knives, Global knives are expensive. But they’re more affordable than most of the other premium brands I cover in this guide (see current prices on Amazon).
Sharpness: Dull knives are dangerous knives, but you won’t have that issue with Global. Due to the straight edge grind (rather than beveled), Global knives are known to stay sharp longer than most.
Bottom line—Global is one of the best kitchen knife brands due to its high-quality materials (COMOVA18), unique steel design, razor-sharp edges, and relatively low cost.
Global knives are available on Amazon where you can check the current prices and read dozens of reviews.
Now that you’ve learned about Global, it’s time to consider another Asian-style knife brand: Shun.
Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Brand: Shun
Shun, pronounced Shoon, is an award-winning cutlery brand owned by the KAI Group, a blade manufacturer that’s been in business since 1908.
Every Shun knife is handcrafted in Seki City, Japan, a region that’s been home to the top Japanese blade makers for over 800 years.
In the beginning, the KAI Group focused on folding knives and razors, but eventually launched Shun and entered the kitchen knife market in 2002.
The hallmarks of the brand are innovation, variety, beauty, precision, and high performance.
Two things make Shun knives special: blade materials and design.
Shun uses a variety of highly-refined “super steels” to manufacture each blade. These steels provide Shun knives with superior sharpness, edge retention, and stain resistance.
The handcrafted blades feature distinct Damascus and hammered patterns that not only look stunning but also provide pockets of air that aid in the release of food, making slicing and chopping effortless.
The beautifully-designed handles are made with either ultra-durable resin-treated wood or synthetic materials, and they’re designed to resemble ancient Japanese swords.
Bottom line—If you prefer a simply-designed Western-style knife, stick with Wusthof and Zwilling. But, if you like the Japanese-style design and features, Shun is the best brand on the market.
Now, let’s get into the details about what makes this brand so unique.
Unlike most brands that use one type of blade steel across all collections, Shun uses a variety of highly-refined super steels, including VG-MAX, VG 10, SG2, Dual core VG10 /VG2, AUS8A, or AUS10A.
What is a super steel?
In the simplest terms, super steels are stainless steel alloys with high-carbon content that lends to the blade’s superior hardness, wear and corrosion resistance, and beauty.
Another unique aspect of Shun knives is that, in some cases, the brand uses two different types of steels to make a single blade.
For example, the Shun Sora Chef’s knife has a VG10 cutting core (edge), which contains vanadium for excellent sharpness and edge retention. For the upper part of the blade, they use Japanese 420J stainless steel, which is corrosion-resistant and ultra-durable.
Shun handles are made from PakkaWood (composite wood), Tagayasan (high-quality wood native to Southeast Asia), or a textured synthetic polymer (thermoplastic/rubber) blend that is exceptionally durable.
Shun blades are thinner and lighter than most of its competitors, but they are also made of harder steel. All knives are either steel or composite tang for balance, and most of the collections have a steel cap on the knife butt.
The blades are more like a work of art than a cutting tool. The Classic and Premier collections feature a 69-layer Damascus-style blade surface, ideal for repelling food while cutting.
The Premier collection has tsuchime-finished or hammered blades for a handcrafted look and quick food-release functionality.
The Sora collection offers a tri-layer, San Mai edge, an ancient Japanese-inspired edge construction with a hard center and softer sides designed for quick and easy cutting jobs.
Shun’s handles range from dark to light tones and have a glossy or sleek wood-grained finish. Most collections have a D-shaped design that prevents the knife from twisting while cutting for control and stability.
Shun D-shaped handle:
By contrast, the Kanso and Sora collections have tapered handles and knife butts.
Shun knives are cut at 16-degree angles on each side for a total edge angle of 32 degrees.
By contrast, Global knives are cut at 12.5 or 15 degrees on each side depending on the collection, so Global knives are sharper than Shun.
Angles between 10 and 16 are incredibly sharp, but some moderately-priced knives between 17 and 20 degrees will still cut through anything, you’ll just have to use a little more force to break through really firm foods.
The hardness of Shun blades varies across collections. They run between 58 and 61 on the Rockwell Scale. Compared to the other brands in this guide, Shun uses the hardest steel.
Helpful Resource: Check out my comparison of Shun vs. Wusthof for details about the exact hardness of each collection.
Hard steel is good for two things. It can tolerate a sharper edge, and it can retain that edge for longer.
On the flip side, harder steel is more likely to chip. To avoid damaging the edge, Shun recommends using a back-and-forth slicing motion instead of aggressively pressing downward and chopping, as you might with a German knife.
Shun Classic (see on Amazon) is, by far, the most popular knife collection.
Knives in this collection have gorgeous Damascus-clad blades with a VG-MAX cutting core. To make the blade, skilled artisans bond 34 layers of Damascus cladding together per side (68 total).
The Classic handle is made out of ebony PakkaWood, which is a resin-treated wood that’s durable, moisture-resistant, and won’t harbor bacteria. The dark, round handle is as comfortable as it is beautiful.
With the Shun Classic collection, there are dozens of individual knives and several knife sets available. So, if you’re looking for something specific, you’ll find it.
Shun offers a limited lifetime warranty for its knife collections. This warranty only applies to knives purchased through authorized Shun sellers. Like most brands, Shun will replace any product that is considered defective, but this does not cover normal wear, misuse, or damage due to poor maintenance.
In general, Shun is an expensive brand, but, in my opinion, well worth the price.
The premium materials, craftsmanship, and gorgeous design of these knives demand a high price point.
The price varies by collection and set. If you’re on a budget, the Shun Sora is the least expensive collection. If you have the money to spend, Shun Premier and Shun Dual Core tend to be the most costly.
You can check the current prices of each collection on Amazon at the links below.
What Others Are Saying About Shun
Shun is a nine-time winner of the Blade Show Kitchen Knife of the Year. Here are a few more accolades for one of the best kitchen knife brands around:
- Good Housekeeping named the Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s knife the Best Overall Japanese Knife due to its long-lasting edge retention, sturdy PakkaWood handle, and gorgeous Damascus-patterned blade.
- The experts at Good Housekeeping also honored the Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s knife, awarding it with the title of Most Ergonomic Japanese Knife. The thick, contoured PakkaWood handle and lightweight blade make it one of the easiest and most comfortable knives to use.
- Reviews.com ranked the Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s knife the Best for Experienced Cooks praising it’s lightweight, yet balanced design, D-shaped handle, and razor-sharp edge.
- On the flip side, experts at The Wirecutter weren’t too impressed with the Shun Classic chef’s knife, calling it “a heavy German knife with a Japanese name.” They claim that the handle is uncomfortably long, and the edge is just so-so.
- Experts may have mixed opinions, but verified customers on Amazon have nothing but good things to say about Shun. Customers love it’s beauty, sharpness, and durability.
Should You Buy Shun Knives?
Shun is one of the best kitchen knife brands, and, as you just learned, have the accolades to prove it.
But is Shun the right brand for you?
Here are the main points to consider before you buy Shun.
Japanese-style Knives: Japanese-style knives are polarizing; you either love them or hate them. Compared to German-style knives, Japanese knives are lighter in weight and have thinner, harder blades. So, if you prefer a knife with a thick, soft blade that can take a little more abuse, go with Wusthof or Zwilling. But, if you want a knife that’s more agile and precise, Shun might be the brand for you.
Sharpness: Shun knives are sharp, but not as sharp as Wusthof, Zwilling, Global, or some Victorinox offerings.
Hardness: The blade steel that Shun uses to make its knives is extremely hard, which means it’s more brittle and susceptible to chipping or microchipping (tiny chips). For best results, your technique with Shun knives matters. Never chop harshly. Use a slow, methodical slicing motion. For bones, thick meats, and coarse vegetables, opt for a Shun Classic Western Chef’s Knife or Meat Cleaver.
Handles: Shun offers reverse grip knives suitable for left-handed users but claims its D-shaped knife handles should be functional for lefties or righties.
Design: Shun has traditional Japanese-style design elements that look good while still being functional, such as the Damascus-style surfaces of Classic and Premier collections.
Cost: Shun is a high-end brand, which comes with a high price tag. So if you are looking to save money on a new knife set or knife, you may want to consider other brands. You can always start with one piece and build.
Bottom line—Shun is the leading Japanese-style kitchen knife brand and it has been for many years. These handcrafted knives perform as good as they look, and to say they’re stunning could be an understatement.
Shun knives are available on Amazon where you can check the current prices and read dozens of reviews.
Best Value Kitchen Knife Brand: Victorinox
Founded by Karl Elsener in 1884, Victorinox started as a cutler’s workshop in the town of Ibach-Schwyz, Switzerland.
Elsener focused on creating quality products and boosting the local economy. By 1897 he created one of the most iconic products in global culture today—the Swiss Army Knife—a multi-faceted utility knife with more than 500 million units produced.
Today, Victorinox is an independent family-owned company that is still headquartered in Switzerland but has production sites all over the world. The brand is a respected manufacturer of kitchen and professional knives, watches, fragrances, and travel gear.
The current CEO, Carl Elsener, a direct descendant of the founder, was inducted into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame in 2011.
The multi-generational family brand continues to produce stunning, award-winning forged and stamped kitchen knives that are popular among professional and home chefs.
Let’s take a closer look at this legendary brand.
Victorinox makes its blades out of a stainless steel known as martensitic, which is a blend of carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. This makeup lends to the blade’s corrosion resistance, hardness, and durability.
Victorinox knife handles are either wood or synthetic, depending on the collection.
The two wood handles that Victorinox offers are Walnut and Rosewood; both contrast beautifully against the brilliance of the steel blades.
The synthetic handles are out of one of the following:
- Polyoxymethylene (POM)
- Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)
- Polypropylene copolymer (PPC)
- Polypropylene (PP)
These polymer-based handles are designed for long-lasting wear, hygiene, and ergonomic comfort.
In terms of design, Victorinox offers a lot of variety.
Grand Maitre is Victorinox’s only forged knife collection (the others are stamped). It has a full tang construction with a thick bolster (the part between the handle and blade). The handle comes in either black or rosewood and features a slight downward curve at the butt end to secure your grip.
As you can see, the design of the Grand Maitre collection closely resembles the Wusthof Ikon:
The blades of each Victorinox collection have a unique shape ranging from straight to rounded or upward-curved.
The handles are ergonomically-designed with either triple-riveted bonding or no exposed rivet. Each collection has a distinctive handle shape; no two collections are alike.
Here’s a quick look at the most popular Victorinox collections:
Victorinox Swiss Modern:
Victorinox Swiss Classic:
Victorinox Grand Maitre:
Standout collections in terms of design include Rosewood and Swiss Modern.
The Rosewood collection features dark, sheen-rich wood handles, and thin and sharp blades.
The Swiss Modern collection features geometrically-shaped handles made of Italian Walnut Wood, a modern yet elegant profile (admittedly, I’m not a fan of the Swiss Modern design).
If you’re a fan of color, you’ll like the range of tones available for the Swiss Classic handles. For all knives in this collection, you can pick between black or red, but the steak and paring knives in that collection also come in yellow, orange, pink, blue, and green.
Victorinox cuts its blades to a 15 to 20 degree-angle per side, but the exact angle varies by the type of knife.
The knives that you use most often, like the chef’s knife, have an edge angle of 15 per side, 30 total.
If you’re keeping score, that means Victorinox knives are sharper than Shun (32 degrees), the same as Zwilling (30 degrees), the same as Global Classic and Ukon (30 degrees), but duller than Global SAI and NI (25 degrees), and Wusthof (28 degrees).
The truth is, two or three degrees doesn’t make a huge difference. What matters more is how well the knife can retain its edge—and that’s something all the brands in this guide, including Victorinox, do very well.
Victorinox blades have a Rockwell hardness score of 55 to 56 depending on the knife. This
level of hardness puts Victorinox within the ideal 55-60 range for quality kitchen knives.
To achieve this optimal balance of hardness, flexibility, and edge retention, Victorinox heats the steel between 1,850 and 1,940 degrees Fahrenheit and anneals it between 320 and 482 degrees.
As you’ll learn in a moment when I talk about the brand’s accolades, the most popular Victorinox knife collection, by far, is the Fibrox.
Victorinox Fibrox knives are designed with input from professional chefs and built to withstand the abuse of everyday, intense use.
This collection features an incredibly comfortable TPE (synthetic) handle that has a textured feel to prevent your hand from slipping, and a razor-sharp blade that rarely needs sharpening.
It may not be the most elegant-looking knife collection, but that’s not why you choose it. You pick this collection because it’s comfortable, safe, sharp, and, arguably the best part—it’s inexpensive (see the current price on Amazon).
If you prefer a more substantial and more elegantly-designed knife, one with a thick bolster, full tang, and gorgeous triple-riveted handle, check out the Grand Maitre collection.
It’s Victorinox’s only forged knife collection, and you can expect it to perform similar to Wusthof and Zwilling knives. The main downside—it’s significantly more expensive than Victorinox’s stamped collections (see the current price on Amazon).
Victorinox offers a limited lifetime warranty for kitchen knives, but provides no support for damage caused by wear, misuse, or product abuse.
Of all the brands in this guide, Victorinox is undoubtedly the most affordable.
The Grand Maitre is the most expensive collection of the brand because it’s forged.
The remaining collections are stamped, and, in general, stamped knives are less costly because they require fewer steps to produce.
Check out the current prices of each Victronix collection on Amazon at the links below:
- Victorinox Grand Maître
- Victorinox Fibrox
- Victorinox Rosewood
- Victorinox Swiss Classic
- Victorinox Swiss Modern
What Others Are Saying About Victorinox
Like the other brands in this guide, accolades abound for Victorinox kitchen knives. Here is just a small snapshot of the brand’s praiseworthy mentions:
- America’s Test Kitchen named the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s knife the Best Chef’s Knife. The ATK experts love its grippy, non-slip handle, hard steel blade, and incredibly sharp edge.
- Epicurious tested 20 different knives and named the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s knife the Best Budget Chef’s Knife praising its comfortable handle, sharp edge, and affordable price.
- Good Housekeeping honored the Victorinox Grand Maitre 8-inch Chef’s knife, calling it the Best Ergonomic Chef’s Knife due to its curvey, comfortable handle, and exceptional performance.
- The Wirecutter chose the Victorinox Fibrox 4-piece set as their Budget Pick saying that these knives held their edge longer than any other set they tested. They also named the Victorinox 3.25-Inch Paring Knife the Best Overall Paring Knife. Its thin blade and ergonomic handle make it comfortable and easy to maneuver—precisely what you want in a paring knife.
Should You Buy Victorinox Knives?
As you consider which kitchen knife brand fits best for your needs, here are a few things to think about when it comes to Victorinox:
Stamped vs. Forged: One of the most significant differences between Victorinox and the other brands in this guide is the manufacturing process. Besides the Grand Maitre collection, which is forged, all other Victorinox knives are stamped. Stamped knives have thinner, lighter, and more flexible blades. However, they don’t have the heft and may not feel as durable as forged knives.
Design: Each collection is unique in its design elements. The handles come in all sorts of shapes, colors, and materials (synthetic, Rosewood, Italian Walnut). Regardless of your taste, you are sure to find something that appeals to you visually. If you’re looking for a professional-grade knife, consider the Fibrox Pro collection, which is designed by kitchen professionals.
Cost: The brand has high-end looking pieces that are more affordable than the likes of Wusthof, Zwilling, Global, and Shun. If you’re buying your first set, Victorinox is one of the most affordable introductions to premium kitchen knives.
Bottom line—Victronix knives are beautiful, functional, and affordable. It’s one of the most respected kitchen knife brands for decades, and its iconic red shield logo represents what the brand is all about: precision, quality, and innovation.
Victorinox knives are available on Amazon where you can check the current prices and read dozens of reviews.
What to Look for in a Kitchen Knife Brand
Now that you know what makes the best kitchen knife brands so special, I want to share some general tips on what to look for as you prepare to make your selection.
Brands like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, and Victorinox have been around for more than a century. And even though brands such as Global and Shun are relatively new, they come from age-old legacies and traditions.
The point is, you want a brand with a good reputation and a long, consistent track record of producing high-quality kitchen knives. Longevity is often an indicator of a great brand.
Style: Japanese vs. German
Consider the style of knife you prefer: German (a.k.a. Western), Japanese.
German-style knives like Wusthof and Zwilling J.A Henckels are often forged, full tang, more substantial in weight, and feature a bolster. The blade is thicker and made with softer steel, which makes it ultra-durable and virtually resistant to chipping. They are perfect for heavy-duty knife work like slicing a pumpkin or deboning a chicken.
Japanese-style knives such as Global and Shun are thinner, sharper, and more lightweight than German knives. The steel is often harder, which improves edge retention, but makes it more brittle. So, Japanese-style knives are best for handling softer vegetables and meats.
To prevent the blade from chipping, Shun specifically instructs you to slice back and forth instead of chopping down on hard foods.
In this guide, we also looked at Swiss-made knives: Victorinox. These knives are more German than Japanese, but they have their own sense of style that serves as a happy medium between the other two.
Forged vs. Stamped
Forged knives require a more complex manufacturing process. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, the blades of forged knives are heat-treated and molded a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel.
It’s a labor-intensive and costly process, but it’s the only way to produce the thick bolster that you’ll find on most forged knives are known. The bolster is the part of the blade where the handle and blade meet.
It adds weight and balance to the knife, but can also act as a finger guard, preventing your hand from slipping onto the blade.
Often with forged knives, the blade extends through the butt end of the handle. The section of the blade that extends through the handle is called the tang. The tang not only adds balance to the knife, but it also makes it safer since the handle and blade cannot become detached.
Stamped knives are cut (or stamped) from sheets of metal, which makes them less costly to mass-produce. In general, stamped knives have thinner, lighter blades, no bolster, and are usually inexpensive. The cheap no-name brand knives you find at any department store are stamped.
But, not all stamped knives are low-quality. In fact, every brand in this guide makes a mix of forged and stamped knives, and the quality, performance, and design of these knives are excellent.
The key here is to know what you’re getting into. If you prefer a heavy, balanced knife, and you don’t mind spending more, go with a forged. If you prefer a knife that’s lighter, easier to handle, perhaps less durable, but much less expensive, go with stamped.
Weight and Balance
Having a balanced knife is a safety measure, but also determines your comfort while using the knife to prep foods.
Full tang forged knives tend to be more balanced than stamped knives due to the distribution of weight from the tip to the butt end.
There’s no brand with “perfectly balanced” knives; it all comes down to your personal preference.
So, I encourage you to hold the knives in your hand before buying, or at least keep the receipt if you buy online.
It’s wise to choose a brand that has a wide range of stock so that you can build your collection over time.
Having options gives you flexibility so you can curate your ideal knife block instead of buying a predetermined set that may contain knives you’d rarely use.
All the brands in this guide provide a lot of options, but some collections within each brand are more comprehensive than others.
For example, the Wusthof Classic collection has dozens of individual knives of all types and sizes, plus over two dozen knife sets. So, with Wusthof Classic, you can start small and build your perfect set over time.
On the flip side, the Global SAI collection only has 14 individual pieces available. Don’t get me wrong; the 14 knives available will likely cover your needs. But, compared to the Wusthof Classic collection, there are significantly fewer options to choose from if you need a specific type and size.
The point is—once you narrow down the brand, do some research on the collections and make sure the one you choose has types and sizes of knives you need.
Look and Feel
Last, but certainly not least, is the look and feel. Unfortunately, I can’t give you much advice here; the best look and feel is entirely personal.
There are many great brands to choose from, but you should pick the one that feels right when you hold it, makes you excited to use it, and fits your personal sense of style.
Just keep in mind, the brands I covered in this guide build their knives to last. So choose a set that will make you smile now, and for years to come.
Which Kitchen Knife Brand Do You Think Is the Best?
I hope this guide was helpful as you decide on your next kitchen knife or knife set purchase. What brand are you leaning toward? Do you have a favorite brand that’s not on the list? Let me know in the comments!
If you found this guide helpful, you should also check out:
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Wusthof vs. Global: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Shun vs. Wusthof: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Shun vs. Global: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro vs. Pro “S”: What’s the Difference?
- Best Chef’s Knife Under $100: Top 6 Compared
- Wusthof vs. Victorinox: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- The Ultimate Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives
- Made In 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review (With Pictures)