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Are you shopping for new kitchen knives and considering Chicago Cutlery?
The brand markets itself as “professional-grade knives for the home” and claims it’s the “the #1 brand in forged cutlery.”
But, are these claims true? Is Chicago Cutlery worth it? Or should you opt for something else?
In this review of Chicago Cutlery, you’ll learn all the important facts about their knives. I cover the pros and cons in detail, so you know what to expect before you buy.
Let’s get right into it.
Use the links below to navigate the review:
- Knife Collections
- Where It’s Made
- Bottom Line: Are Chicago Cutlery Knives Any Good?
When shopping for Chicago Cutlery knives, the first thing you’ll notice is the low price tag.
In fact, you can get an entire set of Chicago Cutlery knives for the same price as one Chef’s knife from high-end brands like Wusthof or Shun.
Below is a table where you’ll find the current prices of Chicago Cutlery knives. The prices are pulled in real-time from Amazon. Click on the chart to get more details about each product.
|Knife Set||Price||View Details|
|Chicago Cutlery Malden 16-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Essentials 15-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Insignia Steel 13-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Belden 15-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Insignia Steel Matte Bronze 14-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Metropolitan 3-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Chicago Cutlery Elston 16-Piece Set||Amazon|
Chicago Cutlery offers a variety of knife collections. You’ll have no problem finding what you’re looking for or discovering new products that you’ll love. But, on the other hand, it can be confusing and intimidating to face so many options.
From Chicago Cutlery, you can buy both individual knives or sets. However, they offer more sets than individual knives.
The best way to shop for a Chicago Cutlery knife is to shop by collection. I’ll walk through their top collections and highlight the key features, so you know what to expect. Keep in mind that the majority of these come with knife blocks for easy storage.
Chicago Cutlery Malden (view on Amazon): These contoured stainless steel knives are modern and classy, shaped to fit comfortably in your hand. They have a 26-degree edge for sharp and precise cutting. These blades are made from high-carbon stainless steel, which is durable and resistant to stains and rust.
Chicago Cutlery Fusion (view on Amazon): The Fusion series is made from high-carbon stainless steel with a 26-degree sharpness. What makes it stand out is the cushion grip handle, which offers both comfort and control.
Chicago Cutlery Metropolitan (view on Amazon): This is one of Chicago Cutlery’s most affordable collections. It features stamped high-carbon stainless steel blades and a 25-degree edge for exceptional sharpness. The full tang and triple-riveted handle allow precise cutting and stability.
Chicago Cutlery Insignia2 (view on Amazon): Each blade is made from high-carbon stainless steel with a full-tang. The full bolsters provide durability and safety. If your finger slips, it won’t catch on the blade. These 26-degree knives have a classic German look and appear more expensive than they actually are.
Chicago Cutlery Essentials (view on Amazon): The triple-riveted contoured handles provide comfortable and safe cutting as well as excellent durability. This collection looks a lot like the Wusthof Classic, but with a stamped blade and no bolster.
Chicago Cutlery Belden (view on Amazon): These knives feature an attractive contemporary style and dual-material design. The handles are round with a mix of synthetic material and steel.
Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition (view on Amazon): The solid wood handle attached by three brass rivets gives these knives a natural, rustic look. The blades are made from high carbon stainless steel with a taper grind edge.
Chicago Cutlery blades are made out of high-carbon stainless steel. Carbon strengthens the alloy and makes it resistant to stains, rust, and pitting.
However, unlike many high-end cutlery brands, Chicago Cutlery doesn’t disclose its exact steel formula.
Some steel formulas are more durable than others and offer better edge retention. Since Chicago Cutlery doesn’t provide specific details on their steel, we don’t know how it ranks.
The handle materials vary by collection. For instance, the Metropolitan collection features polymer handles, the Walnut Tradition collection boasts solid walnut wood, and the Malden collection handles are stainless steel.
Most collections opt for ergonomic or contoured shaping, meaning the handle will fit comfortably and securely in your hand.
The construction varies by collection. You’ll find both stamped and forged knives from Chicago Cutlery.
What’s the difference?
Stamped blades are laser-cut from a large sheet of steel before they’re honed and heat-treated.
Forged blades, however, are heated and pounded into shape from a bar of steel. They’re thicker and more durable than stamped blades but are generally more expensive. If you are stuck between two collections and have the budget, opt for forged.
The Malden, Fusion, and Avondale collections offer forged blades, and the Metropolitan and Essentials collection blades are stamped.
Most Chicago Cutlery knives borrow from the classic German style. They have thicker blades, and many collections include black handles with triple rivets and a full tang. If you are a fan of this design, check out the Essentials (pictured below) or Insignia2 collections.
Are you looking for something a bit more bold or unique? Then check out the Insignia Steel collection (pictured below. It boasts stainless steel blades and handles to achieve a contemporary, almost futuristic, aesthetic.
You may also like the Insignia Steel Matte Bronze collection. It’s similar to the Insignia Steel, but with a rustic bronze finish.
Don’t forget the Walnut Tradition collection. These knives have natural wood handles attached with three brass rivets.
Most Chicago Cutlery knife collections have a 26-degree edge angle — or a 13-degree angle per side.
Out of the dozens of cutlery brands I’ve reviewed, this brand offers one of the thinnest and sharpest edges out of the box.
But the question is: how well do Chicago Cutlery knives hold their edge?
It’s normal for knives to need re-sharpened from time to time, but, according to dozens of customers, you may need to sharpen your Chicago Cutlery knives more often than higher-end brands.
I analyzed over 5,000 reviews from Chicago Cutlery customers and discovered that approximately 1% complain that the edge dulls quickly. The products I looked at were:
- Chicago Cutlery Malden 16-piece Knife Set
- Chicago Cutlery Essentials Stainless Steel 15-piece Knife Set
- Chicago Cutlery Fusion 12-piece Knife Set
By contrast, I also analyzed over 4,000 reviews from Wusthof customers, and only .4% (less than half) complain that the edge dulls quickly. The products I looked at were:
- Wusthof Classic 7-piece set
- Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife
- Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-inch Chef’s Knife
- Wusthof Classic 3-piece Set
- Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-inch Santoku
In the case of Chicago Cutlery, the price reflects the quality. While the poor reviews are rare, they are still worth pointing out. Some Amazon reviewers claim that their Chicago Cutlery knives snapped in half. Not only is this disappointing, but it’s also dangerous.
What’s even more annoying is that this is happening on knives that claim to have a full tang. When blades snap, it’s evident that it’s not constructed with a full tang. While this may be a quality control problem, Chicago Cutlery’s definition of full tang may differ from most brands’.
Where It’s Made
Founded in 1965, Chicago Cutlery was originally made in Chicago. For years, everything was handmade by skilled craftsmen using materials sourced in the United States. The quality and manufacturing standards were extremely high.
However, the brand has since been bought by Corelle Brands LLC, a kitchenware company that also owns Pyrex, Instant Pot, and Corningware.
Being a part of this kitchenware portfolio company allows for lower prices and mass production, but it comes with some changes to the production process. All Chicago Cutlery knives are now made in China.
While there are many upsides to Chicago Cutlery, it’s important to weigh the downsides before you buy.
Durability: The most significant concern with Chicago Cutlery knives is their durability or lack thereof. As mentioned, a few customers have experienced the blade breaking completely off the handle, which is extremely dangerous.
Edge Retention: The knives are sharp out the box, but they require frequent sharpening.
Made in China: Manufacturing in China helps keep the cost (and prices) low, but you sacrifice some quality. Besides, it’s somewhat misleading to make Chicago Cutlery in China, in my opinion.
Stamped Blades: Most Chicago Cutlery blades are stamped, not forged. Stamped blades are thinner, lighter, less durable, and don’t have a bolster.
Bottom Line: Are Chicago Cutlery Knives Any Good?
Now that you know the facts, should you buy Chicago Cutlery?
Are these knives any good?
The main advantage of Chicago Cutlery is its price. Simply put, these knives are cheap. They’re not your “forever knives”, but if they dull or chip, you can pick up a new set without breaking the bank.
Sure, you can get better performance with other, more expensive brands, but Chicago Cutlery gets the job done, and they have thousands of happy customers to prove it.
If you’re looking for decent knives and you’re on a tight budget, Chicago Cutlery is a fine choice.
The downsides of Chicago Cutlery knives are the construction and performance. You won’t get the same quality, durability, or edge retention as other brands, such as Wüsthof, Zwilling, or Shun, provide.
If you can afford more expensive knives, I wouldn’t recommend Chicago Cutlery. Although other brands cost more, they’re built to last a lifetime. They’ll make cooking prep easier, especially if you’re making fresh meals every day.
On that note, if you’re looking for comparable alternatives to Chicago Cutlery in terms of price, high-end brands do offer discount lines. Check out the Wüsthof Gourmet collection or the Henckels International collection. Both of these collections are discount stamped knives produced by renowned brands.
If you’re still in the market for Chicago Cutlery knives, check out the prices and reviews on Amazon.
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