The Ultimate Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives

Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives

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Wusthof is one of the most well-known and highly-respected kitchen knife makers in the world.

They’ve been in business for over two centuries and you can find their knives in millions of kitchens across the globe.

Wusthof knives are well-balanced, extremely sharp, elegantly designed, and built to last.

They offer a variety of kitchen knife lines, but their most popular and best-selling line is the Wusthof Classic.

In this in-depth review, you learn everything you need to know about Wusthof Classic kitchen knives including:

  • How they’re made
  • What they’re made of
  • How they perform
  • What they look and feel like (I provide lots of pictures, especially in the Design section)
  • What sets and individual knives are available
  • What the experts are saying
  • What customers complain about the most 
  • What other Wusthof product lines are worth considering

By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to decide if Wusthof Classic kitchen knives are right for you.

Why should you trust me? I’ve not only written 6 other reviews and product comparisons about Wusthof knives (and spent dozens of hours researching them), but I’ve also been using the Classic line in my kitchen for several years. 

Let’s dive right in!

Use the links below to navigate this review:

Wusthof Classic Review: Quick Summary

If you’re in a rush and don’t have a few minutes to read through the entire review (although we think it’ll be worth your time), here’s what you need to know.

Manufacturing Process: Wusthof Classic knives go through a 40-step process before they hit the store shelves. The process, which takes place at their factories in Germany, involves specially designed equipment, technology, and, most uniquely, a human touch by several skilled craftsmen.  

Materials: Wusthof Classic blades are made from a special blend of steel, carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. The mix is designed to maximize hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance. The handles are made from an extremely durable synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM).

Performance: In terms of performance in the kitchen, Wusthof Classic knives are second to none. They are the type of knives that you’ll look forward to using every day. They’re sharp, comfortable, durable, and easy to clean. On top of all that, they come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Design: Two words, functional and elegant. The traditional-style black handle has a fully exposed tang, three steel rivets, and a thick bolster. The blade is smooth, shiny, and thick. These knives not only look fantastic, but they have special design features for added comfort and safety.

Product Options: If you’re indecisive, Wusthof doesn’t make your life easy. With the Classic line, you can choose between 37 different sets ranging from 2 to 36 pieces and over 70 individual knives.

Accolades: Wusthof Classic knives receive praise from respected publications like Good Housekeeping, Gear Patrol, Food and Wine, and Business Insider among others.

Downsides: The most common complaints are that they’re expensive, they dull quickly, they’re heavy, and the red Wusthof logo peels off the handle.

Price: Premium products come with premium price tags. Wusthof Classic knives are not cheap, but they’re also not the most expensive either. You can check out their current prices on Amazon.

Other Product Lines: Besides the Classic, Wusthof offers 6 other knife lines, all with unique features. They have 4 other forged knife lines (Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Grand Prix II) and 2 stamped knife lines (Gourmet and Pro). See the full details in this section.

Bottom Line: You should buy Wusthof Classic knives if don’t mind paying a little extra for extremely sharp, ultra-durable, and elegantly designed knives that are built to last. You should NOT buy Wusthof Classic knives if you’re on a budget, prefer light-weight knives, or don’t want to put in the effort to occasionally hone and sharpen them.

To read hundreds of reviews from real customers and see the current prices, check out Wusthof Classic knives on Amazon.

How They Are Made

There are two types of kitchen knives–forged and stamped. Wusthof Classic knives are forged.

In general, forged knives are higher-quality than stamped knives because they are precision-forged from a single piece of steel.

A forged knife has a thick, heavy blade that extends through the handle, and a bolster that adds balance and prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade.

Anatomy of a Wusthof forged kitchen knife
Anatomy of a Wusthof forged kitchen knife

Stamped knives are laser-cut from a sheet of steel–similar to a cookie-cutter–which makes it easy to mass-produce.

The downside is that stamped knives have thinner, less durable blades that typically don’t extend through the handle and don’t feature a bolster.

Forged vs Stamped Knives
Forged knife (top), Stamped Knife (bottom)

Each Wusthof Classic knife goes through a 40-step process and is touched by approximately 300 skilled craftsmen before it reaches the store shelf.

Here’s exactly how Wusthof Classic knives are made.

Note: This list includes only the major steps, not all 40.

  • First, high-quality stainless steel is cut into rectangles the size of the blade.
  • Then, the steel pieces are heated to approximately 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius).
  • Wusthof’s proprietary machinery precision forges the bolster (the thick part of the blade that separates the handle and edge).
  • Each steel piece is laser-cut into the shape of the blade.
  • While the steel is still soft, the blades are heated again to 1,920 degrees Fahrenheit (1050 degrees Celsius) in a tempering oven and then cooled down quickly. This process hardens the steel to 58 on the Rockwell Scale which gives Wusthof blades a perfect balance of durability and edge retention.
  • Once again, the blades are heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) to prepare them for grinding.
  • The blades go through the grinding machine starting with the spine (the flat side opposite the edge). Although robots do the heavy lifting, skilled craftsmen run quality control checkpoints at this step and several other steps along the way.
  • The blades are cleaned and inspected.
  • Special machines electronically etch the Wusthof logo on the side of the blades–but only the perfect ones get this stamp of approval, the others are discarded.
  • The handles are attached to the tang (part of the blade that runs through the butt end of the handle) by three steel rivets.
  • Robots then polish the bolster, handle and tang. Again, skilled craftsmen inspect the product during this step.
  • The handle and rivets are polished smooth.
  • Wusthof’s proprietary PEtec sharpening process uses computers, lasers, and a special whetstone to sharpen each blade to the optimal angle. This process results in an extremely sharp, long-lasting edge.
  • Finally, the edges are honed by hand, tested for quality, and packaged for delivery.

Why does Wusthof go to such lengths to manufacture their kitchen knives?

It’s simple; to produce the best quality product money can buy.

Any company can mass-produce knives in a factory, but without all of these steps and attention to detail, Wusthof wouldn’t be able to offer a product that performs as well or lasts as long as their Classic knives do.

This attention to detail and obsession with perfection is why they’ve been in business for over two centuries!

To get a behind-the-scenes look at this process in action, check out this quick video.

 

Blade Material

Wusthof’s manufacturing process is impressive, but those 40 steps, 300 skilled craftsmen, and specially designed robots mean nothing if the process doesn’t start with the best materials.

Fortunately for consumers like us, Wusthof doesn’t cut any corners in terms of their product.

Their blades are made from a special blend of high-quality steel, carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium.

The scientific label for the material they use is X50 Cr MoV 15, but it’s often referred to as German Stainless Steel because several other German knife makers, including their major competitor Zwilling, use the same blend.  

But, what’s so special about this material and why does it matter?

It’s all about the balance between durability and edge retention.

Hard steel will hold its edge for a long time, but if the steel is too hard, it’s more likely to chip or break.

At 58 on the Rockwell scale, Wusthof Classic knives are hard enough to retain its edge for a very long time, yet soft enough to withstand daily abuse without issue.

In contrast, many Japanese-style knives are much harder then Wusthof Classic knives. For example, Shun, one of the top knife makers in Japan, hardens their blades to 61 on the Rockwell scale. This means that Shun knives will hold their edge longer, but they’re more likely to chip.

Most knife makers aim for their blade hardness to be between 55 and 60, but there is no perfect number. The ideal hardness depends on the intended use of the knife.

If you need a knife to gently slice delicate proteins like fish, edge retention is more important and you might want harder steel.

But, if you’re looking for a set of workhorse knives that you don’t have to worry about breaking if you slam into a bone, German Stainless Steel is the best.

Handle Material

Wusthof Classic knife handles are made out of the synthetic material Polyoxymethylene, or POM for short.

POM is engineered with a tight molecular structure which makes it extremely durable, hard, and resistant to discoloration/fading. It can endure frequent exposure to moisture and high temperatures which is exactly what you want in a knife handle.

This same material is used to make eyeglass frames, ski bindings, small gear wheels, hardware, and furniture.

In terms of function and durability, POM is the perfect material for knife handles. It provides a reliable grip, you’ll never have to worry about it breaking, and, unlike some wood handles, POM is non-porous so bacteria and other germs can never penetrate it.

It’s easy to use, easy to maintain, and it’ll never break.

The only downside is that it doesn’t have the natural look of wood handles. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, you should check out Wusthof Ikon knives (see on Amazon).

Performance

Over 200 years, Wusthof figured out how to make pretty amazing knives—and their Classic line is no exception.

When you purchase a set of Wusthof Classic knives, here’s what you can expect in terms of performance.

Sharpness

Out of the factory, the edge of these knives is sharpened at a 14-degree angle on each side (28 degrees total), which is extremely sharp.

I always judge the sharpness of a knife by the way it cuts a tomato and these can slice it into thin strips with ease.

Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife Cutting Tomatoes

Sure, you can find knives with sharper edges on the market but, unless you’re working as a sushi chef, a 28-degree edge is optimal. If a knife is too sharp, its edge becomes brittle and is more likely to chip.

Wusthof Classic knives have a perfect balance—sharp enough to slice through a ripe tomato, yet durable enough to break through bones and cut rock-hard vegetables.

Edge Retention

What good is a sharp edge if it doesn’t stay sharp?

The combination of high-quality steel and meticulous manufacturing processes (i.e. their proprietary PEtec technology) gives Wusthof Classic knives the top edge retention in the industry.

Wusthof Classic knives only need to be sharpened once or twice a year (according to Wusthof), and that’s if you’re using them frequently.

Helpful Resource: On Wusthof.com they provide really helpful tips on how to hone and sharpen their knives using hand-held and electric sharpeners, sharpening steel, and a whetstone.

Well-Balanced

One of the things I love most about Wusthof Classic knives is that they’re extremely well-balanced.

The moment you pick up the Classic Chef’s knife you’ll notice its heft. It feels thick, heavy and solid. You’ll know right away that what you’re holding is ultra-durable.

Since Wusthof Classic knives are forged, the blade extends completely through the but end of the handle which distributes the weight and provides you with more control.

It the picture below, you can see that I’m holding the middle of the knife with two fingers and it doesn’t tip one way or the other.

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Balance

The part of the blade that runs through the handle is called the tang. When the tang runs through the handle, as it does in Wusthof Classic knives, it’s called a full tang. A half tang is when it only runs halfway through the handle.

Here’s a close look at the full tang on a Wusthof Classic Chef’s knife.

Safety

Wusthof Classic knives have a few features that make them safer than most.

First, the Chef’s knife, which is the most frequently used and versatile knife in the set, features a full bolster.

The bolster is the thick part of the steel located right between the blade and handle. The bolster adds weight and balance, but more importantly, it protects your hand from slipping onto the edge of the blade.

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Safety

Secondly, the full tang that I talked about a minute ago ensures that the blade can never detach from the handle.

The blades of stamped knives often extend into the handle only partially. In those cases, aggressive chopping or hitting an unexpected bone could cause the blade to break off and potentially hurt someone.

Lastly, the butt end of Wusthof Classic handles curves sharply downward which prevents your wet hands from slipping.

Easy to Clean

Cleaning Wusthof Classic knives is a simple process.

Immediately after using them, washing them in warm water and dish soap. Dry them thoroughly.

Wusthof strongly recommends avoiding the dishwasher because the blades could bang into other utensils and become damaged. Also, extreme heat and excessive detergent could cause corrosion (although very unlikely).

Based on my experience, a quick rinse and wipe does the trick, so there’s no need to waste space in your dishwasher.

Guaranteed to Last

Wusthof Classic knives are made with a high-quality stainless steel blade and extremely dense synthetic POM handle. Both materials are built to endure heavy use for years.

Durability is in the DNA of these knives.

But, if that’s not enough, these knives come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

So, if you happen to receive a set with any defects in materials or craftsmanship whatsoever, you can ship it to Wusthof and they will repair it or send you a new one free of charge.

Design

When it comes to the design of these knives, a picture is worth a thousand words. So let’s take a look.

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife and Santoku Knife
Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife (top) and Santoku Knife (bottom)

Two words that come to mind when I look at Wusthof Classic knives are functional and elegant.

As you can see in the picture, the handles have a distinct black surface that contrasts well with the shiny and smooth steel blade.

If you take a closer look at the handle of the Chef’s knife, you can see that the steel blade extends and is exposed through the handle (this is the tang).

Here’s a picture of the bottom side:

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Handle Front

Here’s a picture of the top side:

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Handle Back

The handle has three exposed rivets that connect the POM to the steel tang.

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Handle Rivets

Its contoured handle is extremely comfortable and, as I mentioned previously, it has a sharp curve at the butt end which is nice to rest your pinky finger on. Besides comfort, the curved butt end adds safety by preventing your hand from slipping.

The blade on the Chef’s knife is thick and has a traditional western-style curvature that’s found in many German knives. It has a smooth surface and comes to a sharp point at the tip.

Wusthof Classic Chefs Knife Blade

The blade on the Santoku knife has a straighter edge and vertical indentations that reduce friction between food and the blade and make it easier to chop hard vegetables such as potatoes.

Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife
Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife

If you look at pictures of Wusthof Classic knives online, you’ll see the bright red Wusthof logo on each of the handles.

Wusthof Classic Handle Logo

So where is that logo in the pictures of my knives?

Well, you should know that the logo is just a sticker. Over time, the red color wears off. When that happened to mine, I just peeled the stickers off.

Honestly, I prefer them without the logo, but if you like the look of the red logo, you need to understand that it won’t last forever.

All-in-all, I love the design of Wusthof Classic knives. They’re extremely comfortable, functional, and elegant.

When we have guests over for dinner I always get asked, what brand are those knives? They’re beautiful.

Product Options

Wusthof has 5 forged and 2 stamped knife lines and out of all 7, the Classic is their most popular.

Due to its popularity, the Wusthof Classic line has the most sets and individual pieces available.

Wusthof offers a total of 37 sets ranging from only 2 pieces up to a 36-piece mega knife block.

If you’re just looking for individual knives, you’re in luck. Individual Wusthof Classic knives come in every shape and size from the traditional 6,8,10,12-inch Chef’s knife to the 5-inch soft cheese knife.

To see all the options available, check out the sets and individual knives on Amazon.

What the Experts Are Saying

It’s one thing to read the hundreds of reviews from satisfied customers on Amazon, but it’s another thing to top the “best of” charts and get endorsements from the experts.

These are some of the accolades that Wusthof Classic knives have recently earned.

Good Housekeeping tested several knives in their Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab and rated the Wusthof Classic 8-inch chef’s knife (see on Amazon) the “Best Overall Chef’s Knife” for its razor-sharp edge, perfect balance, and ergonomic handle. It beat out stiff competition from Zwilling, Shun, and Global.

Good Housekeeping Best Chefs Knife_Wusthof Classic
Good Housekeeping Best Chefs Knife: Wusthof Classic

Related Reading: Check out our in-depth comparison of Wusthof vs. Zwilling and Wusthof vs. Shun.

Gear Patrol awarded the Wusthof Classic Serrated Utility Knife the “Best Serrated Knife” due to its size, weight, and affordability (check price on Amazon).

Gear Patrol Best Serrated Knife_Wusthof Classic
Gear Patrol Best Serrated Knife: Wusthof Classic

Food and Wine tested 14 highly-rated chef’s knives and named the Wusthof Classic 8-inch chef’s knife (see on Amazon) the “Best Tough Workhorse” saying that it’s “heavy and powerful” with “indestructible German blades”.

Food and Wine Best Tough Workhorse_Wusthof Classic
Food and Wine Best Tough Workhorse: Wusthof Classic

Business Insider declared the Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set (see on Amazon) the “Best High-End Knife Set” due to its superior sharpness, edge retention, and durability. Also, the fact that the block doesn’t take up much counter space was a huge bonus.

Business Insider Best High End Knife Set_Wusthof Classic
Business Insider Best High End Knife Set: Wusthof Classic

We at Prudent Reviews named the Wusthof Classic 6-inch Chef’s knife (see on Amazon) the “Best Overall Chef’s Knife Under $100” due to its durability, edge retention, and elegant design.

Prudent Reviews Best Chefs Knife Under $100_Wusthof Classic
Prudent Reviews Best Chefs Knife Under $100: Wusthof Classic

Common Complaints

So far, I’ve been singing the praises of Wusthof Classic knives.

The fact is, they’re pretty awesome.

But, no product is perfect and this is no exception.

Although dissatisfied customers are the minority, these are issues that those customers complain about the most.

They’re Expensive

The biggest complaint about Wusthof Classic knives is that they’re expensive.

It’s true, they are not cheap. Depending on the exact product, you could easily spend over $150 on just one knife or over $500 for a knife set.

But, they’re expensive for a reason. They’re a premium product, made with the highest quality materials.

You can find much cheaper knives but, in most cases, you’ll have to keep replacing them when they chip, break or wear out.

Wusthof Classic knives, if cared for properly, will last a lifetime.

Jump to the Price section of this review to get a better idea of the current prices for the most popular sets and individual knives.

The Edge Dulls Quickly

This one is somewhat of a head-scratcher since Wusthof Classic knives are known for their sharp edge and long-lasting edge retention.

But, I’ve seen enough complaints about it that it’s worth mentioning.

Some customers complain that the edge starts sharp but dulls quickly. Others say that it’s only worth it if you also buy a very expensive sharpener to maintain the edge every so often.

Since the vast majority of customers are very satisfied with Wusthof Classic knives’ edge retention, I’m assuming these complaints are due to either misuse or unrealistic expectations.

Wusthof recommends that you hone your knives regularly and sharpen them no more than twice a year. Their recommendation is pretty standard. You’re not going to find knives that can hold their edge for much longer without regular honing and yearly sharpening.

They’re Heavy

I’ve referred to Wusthof Classic knives as the workhorse more than once in this article.

They have a thick blade, full bolster, and a dense handle which makes them heavier than most.

The added weight makes these knives feel sturdy and reduces the force you need to exert downward as you chop.

If you prefer a feather-light knife that won’t tire you out, this line might not be for you.

Instead, you should look into the Wusthof Gourmet (see on Amazon) which is their most popular stamped knife line. They are very similar to Wusthof Classic knives but are lighter in weight. For more details, check out our recent article Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet.

The Logo Peels

Most customers don’t realize that the red Wusthof logo on the handle is just a sticker.

Even when you touch the knives and feel the handle, it’s hard to tell.

Some people get into the minor design details and those that buy Wusthof Classic knives because they love the red logo on the handle are disappointed when they realize it washes out after a while.

Now you know.

Price

As I mentioned in the Complaints section, Wusthof Classic knives are expensive.

But, compared to similar premium knife brands like Zwilling, Global, and Shun, their prices are very competitive.

If you’re willing to make an upfront investment, these knives will end up saving you money in the long run since you’ll never need to replace them.

The exact prices vary based on which products you’re interested in.

But, to give you a good idea, you can see the current prices on Amazon of the most popular sets using the links in the chart below.

I’ve included links to their main German competitor, Zwilling, so you can get a sense of how their prices compare.

 Wusthof ClassicZwilling Pro
6-Inch Chef's KnifeCheck PriceCheck Price
8-Inch Chef's KnifeCheck PriceCheck Price
7-Inch Santoku KnifeCheck PriceCheck Price
10-piece Block SetCheck PriceCheck Price
12-piece SetCheck PriceCheck Price

Other Wusthof Product Lines to Consider

If you do a quick search on Amazon for “Wusthof” you’ll realize that they offer several other lines besides the Classic.

Although they have many similarities, each line has its unique features.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each line (besides the Classic) has to offer.

Note: The first five lines (Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Grand Prix II) are all forged knives sharpened with PEtec technology so they have the same edge angle and retention as the Classic. The last two (Gourmet and Pro) are stamped knives so there’s some drop off in performance and durability, however, they are less expensive.

Wusthof Epicure (see on Amazon): The Epicure line features rounded, double-riveted handles made from Richlite which is a composite of recycled wood fibers. Similar to the Classic, it has a full bolster and exposed tang.

Wusthof Epicure Chef's Knife
Wusthof Epicure Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Ikon (see on Amazon): The Ikon line features a gorgeous brown handle made from African Blackwood that shows subtle wood grains. It’s capped on the butt end with a second steel bolster that adds balance and an elegant aesthetic. Wusthof considers this the “Jewel of Our Collection”. If you’re looking to ‘wow’ guests with beautifully designed knives, it’s hard to argue for any line other than the Ikon. If you want to learn more about this line, check out my recent article where I compare it head-to-head against the Classic.  

Wusthof Ikon Chef's Knife
Wusthof Ikon Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Classic Ikon (see on Amazon): The Classic Ikon has everything that the Ikon does except its handle is made out of polyoxymethylene (POM) which is the same material they use in the Classic handles.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef's Knife
Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Grand Prix II (see on Amazon): The Grand Prix II has a unique look because the rivets that hold the handle to the tang are encased by synthetic handle material rather than exposed. Besides that, these knives have a full bolster and a steel Wusthof logo embedded into the lower portion of the handle.

Wusthof Grand Prix II Chef's Knife
Wusthof Grand Prix II Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Gourmet (see on Amazon): The Gourmet is Wusthof’s most popular stamped knife line. It looks almost identical to the Classic but has important differences. Its edge is not as sharp, the steel is not as hard, it doesn’t have a bolster, and it’s much lighter in weight. On the positive, it’s significantly less expensive compared to the Classic. If you’re interested in learning more about the Gourmet line, we recently published an in-depth guide comparing it to Wusthof Classic.

Wusthof Gourmet Chefs Knife
Wusthof Gourmet Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Pro (see on Amazon): The Pro is Wusthof’s other stamped knife line designed specifically to meet the demands of the professional chef. These knives have a specially designed handle that’s extremely comfortable and makes it nearly impossible to slip which is critical for those cutting, chopping, and slicing for a living.

Wusthof Pro Chefs Knife
Wusthof Pro Chef’s Knife

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Wusthof Classic Knives?

Are Wusthof Classic knives worth the high price?

Are they the right knives for your kitchen?

Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife with bowl of fruit

For me, the answer is yes.

Why? Because they’re extremely well-rounded.

They’re sharp, well-balanced, durable, and I love their design. They look, feel, and perform like a premium knife should and although they’re expensive, they are not the most expensive line on the market.

You should buy Wusthof Classic knives if….

  • You want knives that can withstand the abuse of everyday cooking.
  • You want knives that are sharp but need to be honed and sharpened every once in a while.
  • You want knives that have some weight to them and feel solid in your hand.
  • You want knives that have a classy look that fits well with any kitchen design.

If you are nodding your head right now, you should check out Wusthof Classic knives on Amazon where you can find almost all of their sets and individual pieces along with hundreds of reviews.

You should NOT buy Wusthof Classic knives if….

  • You’re on a limited budget. If this is the case, check out Wusthof Gourmet knives (see on Amazon).
  • You prefer a light-weight knife. Japanese-style knives like Shun (see on Amazon) tend to weigh less.
  • You want the look of a wood handle. The best option for that (in my opinion) is the Wusthof Ikon (see on Amazon).
  • You prefer to buy inexpensive knives that you can throw out whenever they get dull. I suggest you check out this Amazon Basics set or this Cuisinart set on Amazon.

Do You Agree or Disagree with Our Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives?

Let us know in the comments below!

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