Are you shopping for new kitchen knives but don’t want a cheap, mass-produced product made in China?
In this guide, you’ll discover the best kitchen knives NOT made in China. These knives are made in the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Switzerland, and Spain.
You’ll learn about each brand, what it offers, what makes it unique, and where you can find the knives.
Use the links below to navigate the guide:
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in the United States
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in Germany
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in Japan
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in France
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in Switzerland
- Best Kitchen Knives Made in Spain
- Bottom Line
Looking for the best kitchen knives made in the United States? Consider Cutco, Kramer Knives, and Lamson. All three brands offer sharp, well-constructed knives and have a reputation for longevity and high performance.
Cutco was founded in 1949 in New York and is the largest kitchen cutlery manufacturer in North America.
When other companies outsourced to overseas facilities, the brand has produced knives from its factory in Olean, New York, for over 70 years.
I’ve thoroughly reviewed Cutco knives, and they’re well-built and ultra-sharp. They come with Cutco’s Forever Guarantee, in which the company promises to repair or replace any defective knife for its lifetime. They also provide a free sharpening service for life (you pay a small shipping fee).
Each knife must pass through 25 quality standards to bear the Cutco name. The brand has one collection of knives, all made from high-carbon AISI 440A grade stainless steel with thermo-resin handles. Check out this quick video to see how Cutco knives are made.
Cutco also makes accessories such as kitchen shears and cutting boards and fully-clad cookware, tableware, and garden tools.
You can’t find Cutco knives in retail stores. They are primarily sold through in-home presentations. However, you can purchase them online.
Kramer Knives are made in Bellingham, Washington, by the skilled hands of Bob Kramer, Master Bladesmith — a hard-earned title that approximately only 120 other people hold in the US.
Kramer, an accomplished chef, started with a sharpening business, and the brand grew into a knife manufacturing company organically. He began a quest to sharpen knives and ended up learning how to make them by hand.
Kramer makes unique, handcrafted knives from scratch. Most of the knives are sold through auctions.
He also offers cutlery at fixed prices and has licensed designs produced by Zwilling J.A. Henckels. Zwilling’s Kramer-inspired knives are made in Japan and sold on Zwilling.com, Amazon, and SurLaTable.com.
To learn more about buying a handmade knife, visit KramerKnives.com.
Lamson is one of the oldest cutlery manufacturers in the US. Silas Lamson and Abel Goodnow started making knives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, in 1837. The company was initially named Lamson & Goodnow.
Today, its knives are manufactured in Westfield, Massachusetts. Lamson also makes kitchen tools, barbecue tools, and kitchen accessories like silicone hotspots that function as a potholder, trivet, or jar opener.
Lamson kitchen knives are either made from high-carbon stainless steel from Solingen, Germany, or Lamson’s proprietary alloy. They feature beautifully crafted wood or acrylic handles.
The brand has a history of making beautiful knives that last. Portions of the original 62-piece dinner set presented to President Ulysses S. Grant were on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC for a time.
Solingen, known as the City of Blades, is Germany’s knife-making capital. But Germany as a whole has a rich history of knife manufacturing. If you want a German-style kitchen knife, look no further than WÜSTHOF, Zwilling, Messermeister, and Güde.
WÜSTHOF kitchen knives are made in Solingen, Germany. The company is the legacy of Johann Abraham Wüsthof, who started out making scissors in a cellar in 1814.
The brand has been family-owned since its founding (seven generations) and employs some of the world’s top knife artisans.
I’ve reviewed WÜSTHOF kitchen knives extensively. The high-carbon, German stainless steel forged and stamped knives are exemplary. From the iconic look of the Classic series designed in 1886 to the modern Aeon series with its black Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating, WÜSTHOF kitchen knives are some of the finest ever made.
The brand is one of the few permitted to use the label: Made in Solingen. This is a big deal because Solingen is the only city in the world that has earned its own trademark. A brand must meet strict quality standards and manufacturing requirements to use the label.
Besides WÜSTHOF knife collections, the company also makes kitchen accessories, knife storage solutions, and sharpening tools. In short, it offers everything a home chef needs to prepare food properly.
Zwilling, a brand of Zwilling J.A. Henckels, also makes knives in the famed City of Blades, Solingen, Germany. The company has been around since 1731, making it one of the oldest businesses still operating.
Zwilling’s primary product is kitchen knives, with blades made from high-carbon, no-stain steel.
It offers over two dozen collections, some forged and others stamped with finely crafted handles of all types. Zwilling’s German- and Japanese-style knives suit the needs of any chef, from amateur to professional.
Its most popular collection, Zwilling Pro, features thick, ultra-sharp blades and hefty handles. These knives are workhorses that withstand significant abuse in the kitchen.
The brand also makes kitchen shears, knife storage blocks, cutting boards, and sharpening products.
While reviewing Zwilling knives, I discovered the unique process it uses to harden and sharpen blades. Known as FRIODUR, the method uses sub-zero temperatures to cool hot metal. As a result, Zwilling knives are incredibly sharp and stay that way.
Bernd Dressler and his wife Debra founded Messermeister in 1981. The original name was Dressler American Marketing Company (DAMCO). In 1985, they rebranded it as Messermeister, which means knife master in German. Today, Debra and her daughters are at the helm, making it not only a family-owned but a women-owned business as well.
Messermeister crafts all its knives in Solingen, Germany, but is an American company based in Ojai, CA.
Bernd was born in Germany and had a passion for making handcrafted cutlery in the traditional hot-drop forging process he learned from German knife masters. By 1992, the company introduced a redesigned bolster that allowed the entire edge to be sharpened.
The brand boasts an extensive offering of knives in multiple collections. Messermeister also collaborates with bladesmiths from other countries to create unique knife offerings, such as the Kawashima collection — the sharpest knives the brand has ever made.
Besides cutlery, Messermeister makes kitchen tools, knife storage products, sharpeners, and apparel.
Wondering how this Ojai, California-based company compares to other German knife brands? Read my review to see how it compares with WÜSTHOF.
Want to read more about this brand or make a purchase? Visit the Messermeister store on Amazon.
Winner of multiple coveted Red Dot Design Awards, Güde is a family-owned and operated knife maker based in Solingen, Germany. Karl Güde debuted the business in 1910.
By 1923, his son Franz was leading the business. Franz invented the back-set serrated edge in 1931, followed by the pointed teeth serrated edge in 1941 — both are still in use today.
It takes up to 55 steps to make a forged Güde knife. That level of craftsmanship is uncommon, but it’s an everyday choice for this brand. Güde knives have unique designs and shapes, and since each one is handcrafted, no two are identical.
The knives employ an alloy of chrome, vanadium, and molybdenum or Damascus steel. Each collection is as stunning as functional. You can watch the knife-making process to get a feel for the brand.
Besides kitchen knives, Güde makes knife accessories and apparel.
The best kitchen knives made in Japan are Shun, Miyabi, Global, Mac, and Yoshimi Kato. These finely constructed Japanese knife brands have specific edges and angles that offer unmatched sharpness.
The Shun Cutlery brand story began in Seki City, Japan — one of the foremost knife-making centers of the globe. For over 800 years, it’s been central to the Japanese cutlery industry.
I’ve reviewed Shun knives and can attest to the quality and attention to detail. The high-quality steel and impeccable craftsmanship of Shun knives are world-renowned. And it all began with Saijiro Endo, who founded the company over 112 years ago.
Today, Shun is still under the leadership of the Endo family. The brand remains true to the ancient ways of making knives, requiring no less than 100 steps to handcraft each one.
Shun features an array of knives with unique designs and benefits. The Damascus steel blades are popular. They have an attractive layered look with a zigzag pattern, made from forge-welding two types of stainless steel together.
Shun also produces cutting boards, knife storage, and sharpening tools.
Miyabi, a Zwilling brand, launched in 2004 in Seki City, Japan. The knives are a collaboration of German and Japanese styles resulting in meticulous design, scalpel-like sharpness, and high performance.
Besides knives, Miyabi offers cutting boards, knife storage, and sharpeners. But its primary offering is kitchen knives.
They feature impressive wood or synthetic handles and features like Damascus or hammered blades or Katana edges. Some blades boast over 100 layers of steel. From Gyutoh knives to Santoku and everything in between, Miyabi has a mix of specialty and multi-purpose knives.
Simply put, these Japanese-style knives are a work of art infused with German precision.
Besides knives, Miyabi offers cutting boards, knife storage, and sharpeners.
What to see how Miyabi compares with Shun? Read my review.
Mino Tsuchida, Global’s founder, was born and raised in Japan and grew up with a keen interest in tool production. In 1985, he teamed up with industrial designer Komin Yamada to launch the brand.
Global’s parent company, Yoshida Metal Industry Co. Ltd., manufactures the knives in Niigata, Japan. Unlike other popular Japanese knife brands, Global has a streamlined offering with just three collections.
All the knives have a distinct, clean look and are completely stainless steel. They are composed of CROMOVA18, a unique steel blend that keeps them stain-resistant and extremely sharp.
When I reviewed Global knives, I learned an interesting fact: though they have a forged look, they are all stamped knives. Each knife has sand-weighted handles welded onto the blades. This type of construction makes Global knives lightweight yet well balanced.
Global also makes sharpening tools, kitchen tools, and knife storage solutions.
MAC may not have the brand recognition of Shun, Wusthof, or Zwilling, but the company has been around since 1964 and has sold over 25 million knives. Its knives are handcrafted in Seki City, Japan, and are the design creation of Tatsuo Kobayashi.
MAC’s knives have a distinctive edge. They aren’t like Japanese knives with a single bevel edge or German-style knives with a straight V-shaped blade. According to MAC, the edge is “slightly off-center.” This design gives the knife versatile performance, as it can produce paper-thin slices and straight cuts.
Today, the company is led by Katsuto Kobayashi, the founder’s son. MAC sticks to its roots, employing Japanese artisans to make, grind, and sharpen each stamped, stainless steel blade.
MAC uses a high-carbon/molybdenum alloy for its blades. The steel does not contain as much chromium as stainless steel, making the blade more likely to rust and stain. However, it also means the knives will stay sharper for much longer and perform better than typical knives. MAC makes a conscious choice when choosing its steel to prioritize performance over appearance.
All knives come with a Pakkawood handle, a wood and resin composite that’s durable and resistant to heat and moisture.
The MAC MTH-80 8-inch chef’s knife has gotten high praise from publications like Good Housekeeping and Food & Wine Magazine and was recently named the best chef’s knife by The New York Times Wirecutter.
Like many other knife brands, MAC sells sharpening tools and other kitchen accessories like shears.
Yoshimi Kato is a certified blacksmith and current president of Kato Knife Manufacturing Inc. in Takefu, a town in Fukui prefecture, Japan. He is the son-in-law of Hiroshi Kato, who is highly regarded amongst knife makers in Japan. In 1953, Kintaro Kato (Hiroshi’s father) founded the company.
Echizen (part of Takefu), the region where Yoshimi hand forges the knives, has been a hub for the art of knife-making for 700 years.
You can watch Yoshimi hand-making a knife in this video. His hands create some of the most beautiful knives from that region, and you can find his work at multiple Japanese knife retailers. The knives have stunning wood handles, thin blades, are incredibly sharp, and often use gold-standard steel known as VG10.
Are you looking for the best kitchen knives made in France? Then put Made In and Sabatier-K at the top of your list.
Made In is a relatively new brand and Sabatier-K has an over 200-year history, but both manufacture knives in Theirs, France.
Made In is a direct-to-consumer cookware brand founded in 2016 by Chip Malt and Jake Kalick. What’s unique about Made In is the brand’s commitment to work with the best artisans and source the best materials.
In search of the best production partner, their travels took them to Thiers, France, a globally respected region for knife making. If a knife boasts that it’s Made in France, odds are it’s made in Theirs.
Made In makes forged knives with blades made from X50CrMoV15 steel and resin handles. The brand sources every part of its knives in France and partners with skilled knife makers to produce nitrogen-treated, high-performance kitchen knives.
I’ve thoroughly reviewed Made In knives, and they perform just as good, if not better, than brands like Wusthof and Zwilling. However, Made In knives cost significantly less since they sell exclusively online (MadeInCookware.com and Amazon) and avoid retail markups.
I recently named Made In the best overall chef’s knife for under $100.
In addition to kitchen knives, Made In manufactures cookware, bakeware, serving ware, kitchen accessories, and pantry items like shelf-stable goods for cooking.
Sabatier-K is the creation of Philippe Sabatier. This multi-generation family business makes forged knives in Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, a region in Thiers, France. Since 1810, the Sabatier family has crafted kitchen knives of indisputable quality.
The brand produces about 100,000 pieces of cutlery per year. It uses Z50C13, a high-carbon stainless steel that is corrosion-resistant and easy to sharpen. Each step of the Sabatier knife-making process is extremely detailed, from heating the steel to polishing each part of the finished knife by hand.
The company manufactures kitchen knives, pocket knives, table knives, and tools for use around the home, such as garden shears and serving forks.
When looking for Sabatier-K knives, the K is important. Many Sabatier families produce knives of varying quality. This brand uses the K to set itself apart.
Victorinox is known for its iconic creation, the Swiss Army Knife. But did you know it also manufactures high-quality kitchen knives in its Switzerland factory? It all started in 1884 with Karl Elsener opening his cutlery shop in Ibach-Schwyz.
Today, Victorinox is a global brand offering five distinct knife collections. Most knives are stamped, but there is also one forged option known as Grand Maitre. All knives are made from high carbon stainless steel and feature wood or synthetic handles.
One of the brand’s most popular collections, Fibrox, was designed by professional chefs. The steel is soft to prevent chipping, and the handle has a grippy texture to prevent slipping. It’s a lightweight knife that pro chefs could use for hours without fatigue.
Still, Victorinox has options to suit all cooking levels, from amateur to expert. Thanks to its relatively affordable prices and excellent performance, I recently named Victorinox the best value kitchen knife brand on the market.
Henckels, a brand under the Zwilling J.A. Henckels umbrella, has several knife collections. While most are made in China, its Classic line is made in Spain with keen attention to detail. The well-known brand has a rich history in knife making dating back to 1731 with founder Peter Henckels.
Henckels is also known as Henckels International or J.A. Henckels. Its Classic collection is perfect for the home chef who desires a top-shelf knife without spending a fortune.
Classic knives are forged from high-quality German steel known as X50CrMoV15 and feature triple-riveted, satin-finished, synthetic black handles.
One unique perk about this brand is that it offers self-sharpening knife storage blocks. Each slot is designed to sharpen a knife when removing it from the block.
Want to learn more about Henckels knives? Check out my review.
The best kitchen knives not made in China are Cutco, Kramer, Lamson, WÜSTHOF, Zwilling, Mesermiester, Güde, Shun, Miyabi, Global, MAC, Yoshimi Kato, Made In, Sabatier-K, Victorinox, and Henckels.
While it might be tempting to buy cheaper knives that are made in China, keep in mind you tend to get what you pay for.
Knives made with relaxed quality standards and low-quality materials will not last. Plus, knife-making is an art. The very best knives are made by companies that have relied on generations of experience and skilled craftspeople.
If you want a quality knife, it’s worth it to spend more and buy from a reputable company that’s been in business a while. That most likely means buying from a company that manufactures its knives in a country other than China.
Bottom line — China may be the cheapest place to produce goods, but it is not where the finest knives in the world are made.
Read more reviews and check the current prices of each brand at the links below:
- Cutco (United States)
- Kramer (United States)
- Lamson (United States)
- WÜSTHOF (Germany)
- Zwilling (Germany)
- Mesermeister (Germany)
- Güde (Germany)
- Shun (Japan)
- Miyabi (Japan)
- Global (Japan)
- MAC (Japan)
- Yoshimi Kato (Japan)
- Made In (France)
- Sabatier-K (France)
- Victorinox (Switzerland)
- Henckels Classic (Spain)
- Best Cookware NOT Made in China: The Definitive Guide
- Best Cookware NOT Made in China (VIDEO)
- Cutco Kitchen Knives Review: Are They Worth the High Price?
- Zwilling Kitchen Knives Review: Everything You Need to Know
- Wusthof vs. Messermeister Kitchen Knives: An In-Depth Comparison
- The Ultimate Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives
- Are MAC Knives Any Good? An In-Depth Review
- Wusthof vs. MAC Kitchen Knives: 11 Differences
- Best German Kitchen Knives: Top 5 Brands Reviewed
- The Ultimate Review of Global Kitchen Knives
- Are Victorinox Kitchen Knives Good? An In-Depth Review
- Are Henckels Kitchen Knives Any Good? An In-Depth Review
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Made In 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review (With Pictures)
- Shun Kitchen Knives Review: Are They Worth It?
- Butcher Knife vs. Chef’s Knife: 9 Key Differences