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Cutco vs. Zwilling: Which Kitchen Knives Are Better?

If you’re shopping for kitchen knives but can’t make up your mind between Cutco and Zwilling, you’ve come to the right place.

In this comparison of Cutco vs. Zwilling, you’ll learn how each brand’s knives measure up in terms of materials, construction, design, performance, sharpness, price, and more.

I also break down the downsides and most common complaints about both brands.

By the end, you’ll know the key differences between Cutco and Zwilling and be able to confidently decide which knives are best for you.


Use the links below to navigate this comparison:


Cutco vs. Zwilling: Comparison Chart

The chart below provides a quick comparison of Cutco vs. Zwilling. I dive deep into each of these categories throughout the comparison.

CutcoZwilling
Founded19491731
Where It’s MadeOlean, New York, USAGermany and Japan
Blade Material440A steelGerman stainless steel (X50CrMoV15)
Handle MaterialThermo-resinDurable plastic, wood, or stainless steel
DesignAmerican, modern, unique Wedge-Lock handlesGerman or Japanese-style, depending on the collection
Weight of 8-inch chef’s knife (average)7.2 ounces12 ounces
Edge Angle Total30-degree angle30-degree angle (Japanese knives have an 18 to 24-degree angle)
Blade Hardness56 to 60 on Rockwell Scale57 on Rockwell Scale
Knife Collections115
WarrantyForever GuaranteeLimited Lifetime
Price$$$$ (view on Amazon)$$$ to $$$$$ (view on Amazon)

Introducing Cutco

Cutco is a longstanding knife brand founded in 1949 by two parent companies, Alcoa and Case Cutlery.

Over time, the brand has expanded its inventory and improved its technology, but the same basic principles of producing long-lasting, reliable cutlery with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee remain.

Cutco kitchen knives review

In 1982 Cutco was bought out by its management team, and it morphed into the private company it is today. Most Cutco knives are sold via in-home demonstrations and person-to-person sales through its marketing wing, Vector Marketing.

While these in-home sales presentations are a great way to see the knives in action, people often complain that they feel pressured to buy, making for an uncomfortable experience.

Fortunately, Cutco knives are also available on Amazon and Cutco.com if you prefer to skip the demo.

In addition to kitchen knives, Cutco offers a limited selection of accessories such as pot covers and even gardening tools.

Introducing Zwilling

The origins of Zwilling knives date back to 1731 when German blade maker Peter Henckels trademarked the Zwilling brand with the cutler’s guild of his hometown.

The brand went on to win awards and gain accolades all over the world, and now it is a large, multinational company with customers in every corner of the globe.

Zwilling kitchen knives review

In fact, it’s widely considered one of the best kitchen knife brands in the world due to its ability to embrace new technology while remaining committed to tried and true traditions.

Zwilling is owned by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, the parent company of several other well-known cookware and cutlery brands, including Henckels, Staub, Miyabi, Demeyere, and Ballarini.

Although Zwilling is best known for its cutlery, the company also produces cookware, bakeware, flatware, and small kitchen appliances.

Design

Cutco prides itself on several design features, many of which are exemplified by its cornerstone 8-inch chef’s Knife.

Cutco 8 Inch Chefs Knife
Cutco 8 Inch Chefs Knife

The Wedge-lock handle found on every Cutco knife has a unique series of indentations designed for a comfortable, secure grip.

Cutco Wedge-Lock Handle
Cutco Wedge-Lock Handle

Some people love this design, but others find it unconventional and uncomfortable. I’ve found that it works well for average-sized hands, but it can be difficult to adjust the grip if your hands are small or large.

Cutco long knife handle

Cutco handles come in three color variations: red, black, or pearl. Beyond this, their design is the same across all knives.

By comparison, each Zwilling collection features a distinct look.

Let’s take a look at the design of Zwilling’s most popular collections.

The Pro Collection features a triple-riveted ABS handle with exposed rivets and an attractive combination of a full tang and half-bolster. It’s perfect for using the professional “pinch grip” favored by chefs.

Zwilling Pro Chef Knife
Zwilling knife tang bolster and rivets

The Pro Holm Oak collection has similar features to the Pro Collection but with a beautiful wood handle that gives it a more rustic look.

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Chef's Knife

The Four Star collection boasts a heavy, black plastic handle design with concealed rivets and a full bolster.

ZWILLING Four Star 2-pc Prep Knife Set

The Twin Four Star II series is a more modern revamp of the traditional Four Star collection, except it boasts a steel cap on the butt of the handles.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star II 2-Piece Carving Set

Related: Check out my in-depth comparison of Zwilling Pro vs. Four Star vs. Twin Four Star II.

Zwilling offers a few Japanese-style collections with traditional design features, including Damascus-pattern blades and PakkaWood handles.

The most popular is the Kramer Meiji collection (pictured below), designed by master bladesmith Bob Kramer.

ZWILLING J.a. Henckels Kramer By Meiji 8" Chef's Knife, 0.6 Lb, Silver

These knives are handcrafted in Japan and feature a 100-layer Damascus steel blade and charcoal Pakkawood handles. Kramer Meiji knives are absolutely stunning but come with a premium price tag.

Blade Materials

Another significant difference between Cutco and Zwilling knives is the material used to make the blades.

Cutco knives are cut from a single sheet of 440A grade stainless steel. It’s mid-grade steel that’s durable but lacks the edge retention of premium steel.

Zwilling utilizes high-grade, X50CrMoV15 German steel to make its German-style blades. It’s reliable and used by other German knife brands, such as Zwilling’s main competitor, Wusthof.

Zwilling knife blade

The Japanese-style blades, such as those in the Kramer Meiji collection, are made of FC61 fine carbide steel — a hard steel known for superior edge retention. The Kramer Euroline Carbon collection utilizes carbon steel, which requires more maintenance but holds an edge incredibly well.

Regardless of the steel type, Zwilling uses cooling process known as FRIODUR to harden all of its blades.

This method involves cooling hot metal in sub-zero temperatures during the forging process. In addition to crafting a more durable blade, it also helps Zwilling knives retain a sharper edge.

The brand’s Gourmet, Twin Fin II, Twin Signature, Now S, Twin Gourmet, and Twin Grip collections are all stamped, which means they are made using the same process Cutco uses to make its knives. However, these knives still go through the FRIODUR hardening process.

Handle Materials

Cutco continues its tradition of crafting all-purpose, easy-to-maintain knives through its dishwasher-safe and chip-resistant resin handles.

This engineered thermo-resin is durable and makes the knives easy to keep clean.

Cutco kitchen knife materials

Cutco offers one table knife with a stainless steel handle, but otherwise, the company doesn’t stray from thermo-resin.

Zwilling also favors sturdy plastic handles, but some collections feature wooden handles (Pro Holm Oak and Twin 173), and the Twin Fin II collection features stainless steel handles.

Wood handles are higher-maintenance and not as durable but provide an elegant, natural look that some home cooks prefer.

Construction

Cutco blades are stamped, while Zwilling offers both forged and stamped blades.

What’s the difference?

I recently published this in-depth comparison of forged vs. stamped blades, but here’s the short explanation.

Forged blades start as a single bar of steel, which is heated and pressed into shape. It’s then cooled, tempered, ground, and polished. That process takes many steps and requires a mix of skilled craftspeople and machines.

Zwilling Pro blade spine
Zwilling forged blade

Stamped blades are cut from a thin sheet of metal, and the handle is usually riveted on afterward. These blades are easier and less costly to mass-produce, which is why most discount knives are stamped.

In general, forged knives are thicker, more balanced, and more durable than stamped knives.

While Cutco knives are some of the higher-quality stamped knives I’ve tested, they’re still stamped.

Cutco curved handle
Cutco stamped blade

Zwilling also offers an array of stamped blades, but most of its options are forged. The forged knives generally feature a half or full bolster, while the stamped ones do not.

Sharpness

Both Cutco and all Zwilling’s German collections are sharpened to a 15-degree angle on each side of the blade. Zwilling’s Japanese-inspired collections feature 9-12 degree angles per side.

Cutco offers a Forever Sharpness guarantee, which means the company will sharpen your knives for free for as long as you own them.

Cutco also guarantees to replace any knives that don’t meet your standards, as long as you include the details in an explanatory note.

Zwilling does not offer these guarantees. Still, its knives are known for excellent edge retention, thanks to its proprietary FRIODUR hardening process.

Edge Grind

Cutco advertises two edge grind options, Double-D and straight edge.

Ultimately the Double-D is simply a serrated knife, though Cutco markets it as providing three separate cutting surfaces.

Double-D knives remain sharp for much longer than straight-edge knives. But when they become dull, you can’t sharpen them at home. Instead, you need to send them to Cutco for professional sharpening.

Cutco’s straight edge is the traditional, beveled edge, which you can easily sharpen at home.

These blades are hollow-ground, and the grind visible to about a third of the way up the blade.

Cutco knives blade design

Hollow-ground edges are thinner than typical double-beveled edges, reducing drag and making it easier to produce thin slices and cut through firm ingredients.

By comparison, Zwilling features a more traditional double-beveled straight edge.

Blade Hardness

The hardness of a knife’s blade is paramount to its performance.

If the blade is too soft, it will dull quickly and require constant resharpening. If it’s too hard, the metal becomes brittle, making the blade susceptible to chips and knicks along the edge.

The hardness of a blade is measured using the Rockwell Scale.

Cutco hardens its blades to a 56-60 on this scale, and most Zwilling knives feature a hardness of 57.

However, Zwilling’s Japanese knives feature much harder steel. For example, the Kramer Meiji collection scores 61 on the Rockwell scale, and the Kramer Euroline Damascus collection scores 64.

Price

You’ll be paying premium prices for either Cutco or Zwilling knives, though Cutco’s single stamped collection is more expensive than Zwilling’s stamped collections.

In fact, Cutco knives are even more expensive than some of Zwilling’s forged knives, which is unusual since stamped knives are almost always cheaper.

That said, a few of Zwilling’s forged collections carry a much higher price tag than Cutco’s knives.

The Japanese collections offered by Zwilling, such as the Kramer Meiji collection, are much more expensive than anything offered by Cutco.

But keep in mind, Cutco knives come with the brand’s Forever Guarantee as well as a 15-day return policy, which means you can get a full refund on any product you aren’t satisfied with (excluding engraved knives).

Note that the Cutco Forever Guarantee isn’t just a guarantee for the customer’s lifetime but for the lifespan of the knife itself. If you pass on the knives to someone in your family, the guarantee still stands.

Zwilling knives also come with a warranty, but it’s less comprehensive.

To give you a better idea of how Cutco and Zwilling prices compare, check out the chart below.

Note: You can learn more about each item on Amazon by clicking on the price.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Downsides

As with any brand, both Cutco and Zwilling come with their fair share of downsides and complaints.

Cutco

Overpriced: One of the main complaints customers have about Cutco knives is that they are overpriced for their quality, as you can purchase similar knives for much less from other companies.

The only justification is that Cutco knives are made in America and come with specialized guarantees, while other knife brands usually have less comprehensive warranties.

Stamped Blades: Cutco manufactures stamped rather than forged blades, and these tend to be of lower overall quality. Some buyers complain about the construction, especially when juxtaposed with the prices Cutco charges for its products.

In-Home Demonstrations: To handle Cutco knives before purchasing them, you have to schedule a live demo with a Cutco sales representative. That can be helpful but also uncomfortable and pressure-filled.

Mid-Quality Steel: Cutco uses mid-quality steel that isn’t as durable and won’t hold its edge as long as higher-grade steel.

Limited Options: Cutco only offers one knife collection. None of the knives include bolsters, which means that they lack balance and do not provide protection for your fingers.

You Have to Pay for Shipping: Finally, some customers find that the strong warranty and return policies do not excuse the fact that they have to pay for shipping and return fees. Some buyers complain that this invalidates the “guarantees” since they come with an added cost.

Zwilling

Expensive: Most of Zwilling’s collections are forged, and they carry an overall higher price point than competing brand’s stamped knives. Some people feel that the quality of Zwilling knives, though strong, doesn’t make up for the higher expense.

Food Sticks to the Blade: Another complaint is the relative “stickiness” of some thicker, forged blades offered by Zwilling.

Stamped Blades: Regarding Zwilling’s stamped collections, some buyers complain that the knives aren’t sturdy enough (though others find them adequate).

Bulky Handles: Certain Zwilling collections feature an ergonomic handle intended to make the knives more comfortable. But many people find the handles are too big and bulky for smaller hands.

Heavy: The thick, durable construction of Zwilling knives, especially German-made ones, has resulted in complaints that the knives are too heavy and unwieldy.

For context, the Zwilling Pro 8-inch chef’s knife weighs in at 12.9 ounces, whereas comparable knives such as the Global 8-inch chef’s knife and Wusthof Classic chef’s knife (also 8 inches) weigh 5.5 and 8.5 ounces, respectively.

What Others Are Saying About Cutco and Zwilling

Plenty of cutlery reviewers and media outlets have shared their opinions regarding Cutco and Zwilling knives. Below are some highlights.

Reviewed.com deemed the Zwilling 8-inch Pro chef’s knife number one on its list of “the best chef’s knives,” and the reviewers included the Zwilling Four Star chef’s knife in this ranking as well.

Good Housekeeping named the Kramer by Zwilling 8-inch chef’s knife the “longest-lasting chef’s knife” in a recent review.

New York Magazine’s The Strategist section noted the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro chef’s knife as being “the best German-steel chef’s knife” in a ranking of 15 knives from brands across the market.

CNN Underscored rated the Zwilling Pro 7-piece Knife Block the second-best knife set, stating that “the precision-honed blades are extra-sharp, stylish and just feel really nice in your hand.”

As a whole, Cutco doesn’t receive the same level of media or publicized attention as Zwilling, and the company isn’t regularly reviewed, nor do they frequently show up on “best of” lists.

Still, the brand is well regarded by many verified purchasers. Customers praise the long-lasting durability of Cutco knives, the quality of the brand’s sharpening services, and the reliability of the blades for a variety of culinary tasks.

Many buyers are also fans of Cutco’s customer service department and its promptness in addressing product issues quickly and effectively.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Cutco or Zwilling Knives?

You now know all the key facts about Cutco and Zwilling knives.

So, which brand is right for you?

Before I give you my recommendation, let’s recap the key differences:

History: Cutco is an American company founded in 1949, while Zwilling is a German company founded in 1731.

Design: All Cutco knives feature the Wedge-Lock handle and polished, hollow-ground blades. Zwilling’s design varies across its collections with a mix of German and Japanese-inspired details.

Blade Materials: Cutco blades are stamped from a sheet of mid-tier 440A stainless steel. Most Zwilling blades are forged from high-quality German or Japanese steel.

Handle Materials: Cutco handles are made from engineered thermo-resin. Zwilling uses a similar synthetic material for many collections but also offers wood and steel.

Sharpness: Cutco and Zwilling’s German collections are sharpened to a 15-degree angle per side. Zwilling’s Japanese collections feature 9-12 degree angles per side. 

Edge Grind: Cutco knives feature either straight or serrated (Double-D) edges. Zwilling edges are straight and double-beveled.

Hardness: Cutco hardens its blades to a 56-60 on the Rockwell scale. Zwilling hardens its blades between 57 and 64 on the Rockwell scale.

Price: Cutco knives are more expensive than Zwilling’s stamped knives, but Zwilling’s high-end forged collections are pricier than Cutco.

Downsides: The most common complaint about Cutco is that the knives are overpriced. Zwilling customers also gripe about the cost but also mention that the handles are too heavy and bulky.

Ultimately, Zwilling has a long track record and a well-established reputation for producing high-quality German knives, and the company provides an extensive range of collections.

I recommend Zwilling over Cutco because its forged blades are thicker, more durable, and tend to stay sharper than the stamped knives offered by Cutco.

Additionally, I prefer smoother handles with a more traditional design (like the ones in the Zwilling Pro collection) instead of Cutco’s unconventional Wedge-Lock handle.

All in all, Cutco and Zwilling are both solid choices, but I prefer Zwilling’s designs and favor the durability that comes with a forged blade.

To learn more, view the current prices, and read dozens of other reviews, check out Zwilling and Cutco knives on Amazon at the links below.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for over a decade and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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