Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison

Wusthof vs Zwilling J.A. Henckels

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In the market for new kitchen knives and trying to decide between well-renowned German knife makers Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels?

In this article, I provide an in-depth comparison of Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives and dive deep into their differences, similarities, pros, cons, and much more.

If you’re looking to quickly compare the price of Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives, jump ahead to our comparison chart which shows the current prices on Amazon.

Let’s get right into it:

Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: 30-Second Summary

Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels are two of the most popular knife makers in the world. They have both been in business for over 100 years, and millions of home cooks and professional chefs across the globe use their knives.

The fact is, you can’t go wrong with either but, before you decide which knives to buy, it’s essential to understand exactly how they are similar and how they are different.  

If you only have a minute, here’s what you need to know about Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives.

What Are Their Similarities?

  • History: Both brands have been making knives in Solingen, Germany for over two centuries (literally).
  • Blade Materials: Both brands use the same materials to make their blades; high carbon, rust-resistant steel.
  • Warranty: They both guarantee their knives with a limited lifetime warranty. Their warranties cover defects in materials and craftsmanship.
  • Bolster and Tang: Both brands design their knives with a bolster and full tang to improve balance and increase durability.
  • Caring and Cleaning: Both brands recommend caring for their knives in the same manner; hand-wash only.

What Are Their Differences?

  • Edge Angle: Wusthof cuts their edges at a 14-degree angle and Zwilling J.A. Henckels cuts their edges at a 15-degree angle. Wusthof’s lower angle means that their edges are slightly sharper than Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
  • Blade Hardness: The steel blades of Wusthof knives are harder than Zwilling J.A. Henckels which helps keep the edge longer but makes Wusthof slightly less durable.
  • Handle Design and Materials: The design and material of their handles are different which impacts how they feel in your hand. All Zwilling knives have a distinct curve near the butt end to rest your pinky finger and prevent your hand from slipping. Wusthof’s Classic line of knives shares that same distinct curve, but their other knife lines have smoother contoured handles.
  • Price: Lastly, pricing varies between the two brands and depends on which product line you buy. To get a quick comparison, you can check out their current prices on Amazon.

Quick Comparison Chart

 Wusthof Kitchen Knives Zwilling J.A. Henckels Kitchen Knives
Where They Are MadeSolingen, Germany (City of Blades)Solingen, Germany (City of Blades)
Number Of Forged Knife Product Lines56
Blade MaterialHigh Carbon, Rust-Resistant SteelHigh Carbon, Rust-Resistant Steel
WarrantyLifetime Limited WarrantyLifetime Limited Warranty
Designed With A Bolster And TangYesYes
CleaningHand Wash OnlyHand Wash Only
Edge Angle (lower angle = sharper)14-Degree Angle Per Side15-Degree Angle Per Side
Blade Hardness (higher=harder but less durable)Rockwell Hardness of 58Rockwell Hardness of 57
Handle MaterialWood or Synthetic MaterialWood or Synthetic Material
Price of 8-Inch Chef's KnifeVaries By Seller (Check Amazon)Varies By Seller (Check Amazon)

The History of Wusthof and Zwilling J. A. Henckels

Since 1814, Wusthof has been making knives in the city of Solingen, Germany, which is about 215 kilometers northwest of Frankfurt.

Solingen earned its nickname as the “City of Blades” by becoming home to several blade manufacturers besides Wusthof, including Zwilling J.A. Henckels, DOVO, Dreiturm, and a few others.

Wusthof has been family owned its entire existence—seven generations. Currently, Harald Wusthof and Viola Wusthof lead the company.

The fact that Wusthof has been in business and remained family-owned for two centuries is a testament to the superior quality and performance that they’re able to produce.

If you’re impressed by Wusthof’s longevity, you’ll be even more impressed by Zwilling J.A. Henckels.

Back in 1731, Peter Henckels registered the trademark for the “Zwilling” (Twin in German) logo. The company was later renamed Zwilling J.A. Henckels after Peter’s son, John Abraham Henckels.

Like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels launched in Solingen, Germany. Their headquarters remain in Solingen today; however, they’ve expanded significantly over the years and now have operations all over the globe.

Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels have been around forever and got their start in the same town in Germany that is home to some of the best knife and blade manufacturers in the world.

Can you imagine the competition for talent and resources in that town?

Fortunately for us, that competition results in superior products that we get to enjoy every day. We need more towns like Solingen!

Forged vs. Stamped Knives: What Is the Difference?

Forged knives are manufactured from a single piece of steel that is heated and then pounded by either man or machine.

Stamped knives are cut out (or stamped) from a sheet of steel. There are some benefits to stamped knives, but, in general, they are lighter, lower cost, and considered lower quality compared to forged knives.

Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels make stamped knives to give consumers a lower-priced option, but, for this article, we are only comparing forged knives.

forged knife vs stamped knife

Are you interested in learning more about the differences between forged and stamped knives?

Check out our recent article where we compare Wusthof’s most popular forged knife line (Classic) versus its most popular stamped knife line (Gourmet). 

Anatomy of a Forged Kitchen Knife

Before I break down the differences between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a forged knife. Knowing the purpose of each part of a forged knife will help you understand the details that I’ll cover in a minute.

Blade – Forged from a single piece of steel, the blade is the most important part of a knife. Without a well-designed blade, the performance of the knife will suffer. The hardness of a blade is measured using the Rockwell Scale. The higher the number on the scale, the harder the steel. Wusthof tempers their blades to a 58 Rockwell, slightly harder than Henckels at 57.

Edge – The best edge is sharp and easy to maintain. Sharpness is determined by the angle in which the edge is ground. The smaller the angle, the sharper the edge.

Heel – The heel is the part of the blade closest to the handle. It’s the part of the knife that you’ll use to cut hard vegetables like carrots and parsnips.

Bolster – The bolster is the thick part of the knife located between the handle and the blade. Besides adding weight and balance, the bolster prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade during intense chopping.

Tang – Forged knives are made from a single piece of steel that runs from the tip of the blade through the butt end of the handle. The portion of steel that runs through the handle is called the tang. The tang provides balance and durability and prevents the blade from detaching from the handle since it is all one piece.

Rivets – Rivets are the studs that attach the handle to the tang. In addition to holding the knife together, rivets provide a classic design element to the handle.

Handle – Handles are made from many different materials, including wood, plastic, and other composites such as polypropylene and polyoxymethylene. Despite the pleasing aesthetic, wood handles are becoming less popular since wood is porous and can absorb bacteria from raw foods. Most wooden handles today are sealed with a coating protecting it and making it easier to maintain.

Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: What Are the Differences?

Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels offer a wide variety of styles and designs with nuances that make each appealing in a different way. When evaluating which brand to choose, it’s essential to fully understand what characteristics are the same and what are different.

There are several critical differences between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives including edge angle, the hardness of the blade, design and material of the handle, how they feel in your hand, and their price. This section dives deeper into each of these differences.

Edge Angle – The lower the degree, the sharper the edge. Out of the factory, Wusthof sharpens their knives at a 14-degree angle per side while Zwilling J.A. Henckels sharpens their knives at 15 per side. The difference is minor, but it is worth noting that Wusthof knives are slightly sharper. So why not make the angle as sharp as possible? Well, if you do that, the edge becomes less durable and won’t be able to handle significant abuse from daily chopping. For everyday chef’s knives, 14-15 is ideal. For more details on edge sharpness, check out this post on shapeningsupplies.com.

Wusthof engineers recently developed a new sharpening technique that they call PEtec (Precise Edge Technology). In a nutshell, this technology uses a laser to precisely measure the blade. The technology then calculates the perfect angle based on each individual blade. Once that is determined, they use robots to sharpen the edge to the ideal angle with a whetstone. Finally, Wusthof finishes the blade with a polish using a special disk. This unique process results in superior cutting performance, long edge retention, and consistent quality.

This unique technology and process give Wusthof blades a slight edge (get it?) over Zwilling J.A. Henckels.

Blade Hardness – While researching kitchen knives, you will likely come across a reference to Rockwell Hardness or HCR. The Rockwell Scale is used by knife manufacturers to measure the hardness of a blade. The higher the number, the harder the steel. Similar to the angle of the edge, there is no perfect level of hardness, the ideal hardness is dependent on the intended use of the blade. Harder steel keeps its edge longer but is less durable than softer steel. Softer steel, while more durable, will lose its edge faster. For kitchen knives, anything from 55-60 works well.

All Wusthof forged knives have a Rockwell Hardness of 58. Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives have a Rockwell Hardness of 57.

Handle design and material – Each knife has a different style handle that plays a significant role in the look, feel, and elegance. The Epicure and Ikon Wusthof lines have wood handles, but the others are made out of polyoxymethylene. Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ Pro Holm Oak and Twin 1731 lines feature wood handles while the others are made from synthetic materials. The best material entirely depends on your personal preference.

Here is a look at Wusthof handles:

Wusthof handles
Left to Right: Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Classic, Grand Prix II. Photo credit: Wusthof.com.

Here is a look at Zwilling handles:

Zwilling J.A. Henckles handles
Left to Right: Zwilling Pro, Pro Holm Oak, Professional “S”, ★★★★ Four Star, Twin Four Star II, Twin 1731. Photo credit: Zwilling.com.

As you can see in these pictures, Zwilling’s handles all have a sharp, distinct curve right before the butt end which allows you to rest your pinky finger and prevents your hand from slipping. It also adds a beautiful design element. Wusthof’s Classic line (top picture, second from the right) has a very similar curve, but the rest of their lines have smoother curves. The handle on Wusthof’s Epicure line actual bends in the other direction, which gives it a much different feel than the others.

Speaking of how these knives feel in your hand…

How the knife feels in your hand – One of the most important factors in deciding which knives to buy is how it feels in your hand; however, comfort is highly personal and subjective. Each product line from both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels has a different handle, weight, bolster, tang, etc. I highly recommend holding the knives before you buy because you might be surprised at which one you prefer. At the very least, order a few different options and return them after testing out the grips. You might feel strongly about a particular design, but after holding it, realize that using it every day would be a challenge.

Price – Last but certainly not least is the price. Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels both make high quality and high performing kitchen knives. Because of this, unfortunately, they are not cheap. The pricing varies by brand, product line, and whether you buy a set or individual knives. Check out the chart below to see the latest pricing on Amazon.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: What Are the Similarities?

Now that you understand the differences let’s dive into how Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives are similar.

History – Both companies have been in business forever, and both started and continue to operate out of the “City of Blades”, Solingen, Germany.

Blade material – Both make their blades out of high carbon, rust-resistant steel. When it comes to knives, it all begins with the materials, and high carbon, rust-resistant steel it the optimal material for long-lasting performance and durability.

Lifetime warranty – Both include a limited lifetime warranty on their cutlery. Read more about Wusthof’s and Zwilling J.A. Henckels warranties.

Bolster and tang – All forged lines from Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels include a bolster and full tang to protect your hand from slipping onto the blade, improved balance, and durability.

Tang of Wusthof knife
Tang of Wusthof Classic Chef’s knife

Hand-wash only – Both manufacturers highly recommend that you DO NOT wash them in a dishwasher.

Logos – Coincidentally (or not?) both companies have similar looking logos that are red and white. Make sure you don’t confuse the two!

Wusthof logo:

wusthof logo

Zwilling J.A. Henckels logo:

Henckels logo

 

A Breakdown of Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ Product Lines

Wusthof has five forged knife product lines. The differences between Wusthof’s forged knife product lines (Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Classic, and Grand Prix II) are subtle but important to note when determining which one to buy. This breakdown will help you understand what each line offers.

Wusthof Epicure

Wusthof 3982-7/20 Epicure Cook's Knife, 8 Inch
Click image to view on Amazon

The Epicure product line features a wider blade for easy handling. It has a full bolster for superior balance, protection and grip, and a full tang attached to the handle with a double rivet. Wusthof makes the Epicure handle out of Richlite, a composite of recycled wood fibers. Its handle is elegant and more rounded than the other lines.

Wusthof Ikon

Wusthof Ikon Blackwood 2pc Prep / Starter Knife Set - 8" Cook's and 3.5
Click image to view on Amazon

The Ikon line features a slightly less narrow blade and a half bolster. The half bolster allows you to sharpen the entire blade. Like Wusthof Epicure knives, Ikon knives have a full tang. But, unlike Epicure knives, the Ikon handles have three rivets and a bolster on the butt of the handle for added balance and elegance. Wusthof makes Ikon handles out of sustainable “Grenadill” African Blackwood. It’s a gorgeous looking handle and knife. If you want to take a closer look, check out our recent in-depth comparison of Wusthof Ikon vs. Wusthof Classic knives

Wusthof Classic Ikon

Wusthof Classic Ikon 14-piece Knife Block Set (Acacia Block)
Click image to view on Amazon

The only difference between the Classic Ikon and Ikon is the handle. Wusthof makes the Classic Ikon handle out of a sleek synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM).

Wusthof Classic

Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set (Acacia)
Click image to view on Amazon

The Classic line features a full bolster for balance, protection, and comfort. The handle is made out of the same material as the Classic Ikon, Polyoxymethylene (POM), but has a different design. I like the Classic product line the best because of how the handle feels in my hand. It has a lip at the butt of the handle that provides a secure grip and makes it easy to control.

If you want to learn more and see up close pictures, check out our recent in-depth review of the Wusthof Classic line

Wusthof Grand Prix II

Wusthof Grand Prix II 7-Piece Cutlery Set
Click image to view on Amazon

The Grand Prix II features a full bolster, triple-riveted full tang, and polypropylene handle. The rivets are encased with an outer layer which gives it a slightly different look compared to the other product lines.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Has 6 Forged Knife Product Lines

Similar to Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers a variety of options with six different forged knife product lines: Pro Holm Oak, Zwilling Pro, Professional “S”, ★★★★ ® Four Star, Twin(R) Four Star II, Twin® 1731.

Here is what each product line has to offer:

Zwilling Pro

ZWILLING Pro 7-pc Knife Block Set
Click image to view on Amazon

Henckels markets the Zwilling Pro line as the most user-friendly knife available. It features a smaller bolster that enables you to sharpen the entire blade while still providing balance and protection. It has a full tang with a triple-riveted handle made from synthetic materials. The handle features a lip towards the bottom for added grip similar to the Wusthof Classic.

Zwilling Pro Holm Oak

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels 38461-203 Chef's Knife
Click image to view on Amazon

The Pro Holm Oak line is exactly the same as the Zwilling Pro, except the handle is crafted from Mediterranean Holm Oak.

Zwilling Professional “S”

Zwilling J.A. Henckels 35617-100 Professional S Knife Block Set, 18 Piece, Black
Click image to view on Amazon

The Profession “S” line is classic German design with a triple-riveted handle, full bolster, and fully exposed tang throughout the black, synthetic handle. For more detailed information on the Pro “S” collection, check out our recent in-depth comparison of Zwilling Pro vs. Pro “S”.

Zwilling ★★★★ Four Star

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels 35065-700 Four Star Anniversary 8-pc Knife Block Set,
Click image to view on Amazon

The Four Star is Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ top-selling knife featuring a full bolster, black handle with covered rivets for a sleek look.

Zwilling Twin Four Star II

Zwilling J.A. Henckels 30071-203 8-Inch Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, Black
Click image to view on Amazon

Similar to the Four Star, the Twin Four Star II has the same features but also includes a bolster in the butt of the handled for added weight, balance, and performance.

Zwilling Twin 1731

Zwilling Twin 1731 Chef's Knife
Click image to view on Amazon

The Twin 1731 line features a curved bolster that makes handling safe and comfortable while allowing you to use the entire blade. The handle is made out of untreated, oiled ebony wood, giving it an elegant classic look. The Zwilling logo is engraved on the bolster for additional elegance. Warning: this knife is extremely expensive. 

Bottom Line: Two of the Best Knife Manufacturers in the World

I wish I could definitively recommend one brand over the other, but it is not that simple.

The fact that both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels have been in business for over 200 years speaks volumes about the quality and consistency of both brands’ products.

Regardless of which brand you buy, you’ll get the high-quality, high-performing knives that are elegant and will last forever. There are pros and cons of each, but it comes down to personal preference.

Stores like Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel carry both brands and will let you test them on fruits and vegetables in their stores.

I highly recommend testing them out before you buy or, if you order from Amazon, order one knife from each brand to try out.

You can check the latest prices and read hundreds of reviews for Wusthof Knives and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives on Amazon at the links below.

I was in Williams Sonoma the other day, and I passed by the knife section. Guess which brands were side-by-side in the case?

That’s right, Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels (Wusthof on the left, Zwilling J.A. Henckels on the right). Talk about competitive!

Wusthof and Henckels knives in the case at Williams Sonoma

If you’re looking for a nudge in one direction or the other, I highly recommend Wusthof Classic knives.

They’re incredibly sharp, ultra-durable, elegantly designed, and priced very competitively (check out the current price on Amazon). 

Some of their other knife lines, like the Epicure and Ikon, have more elegant handle designs, but I value comfort and function over aesthetics.

If you’re still not sure, check out our recent in-depth review of Wusthof Classic knives. You’ll learn how they’re made, what they’re made of, how they perform, how they look and feel, how much they cost, common complaints, and so much more.

If you’re not convinced German-style knives like Wusthof and Zwilling are right for you, check out our recent articles, Shun vs. Wusthof and Cutco vs. Wusthof, to get an in-depth look at how the top Japanese-style (Shun) and American (Cutco) knives compare to German knives.

Thank You for Reading Our Comparison of Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Forged Kitchen Knives!

Have you had a different experience with Wusthof or Zwilling J.A. Henckels? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are there any other kitchen knife brands that you think are better? Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly; we would love to hear your feedback.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for your article, appreciate the depth you used! I only began purchasing quality cutlery a couple of months ago, and have acquired seven in all so far, but am returning two; The two piece Henkels Pro 7″ Chef and Rocking Santoku knives. They look and feel like cheapo $20 knives. I do not at all care for their shinny chrome looking surfaces, plus they both arrived defective with a splotchy stain completely covering both sides of both blades. Maybe an acid wash during production, i can’t tell. Deal breaker though. The Twin 1731 Chef’s knife is the only one I’d own, but i would never pay $500 for one… The Wusthof Classic Ikon 6″ I got today is vastly superior to the two Henkels in every way! Ordering their 8″ soon, as the 6″ is more like a prep or utility than a Chef’s knife, at least to me. Also got a few Yaxell knives that are awesome, but that’s another subject… Thanks again for your nice informative site!

  2. This was great. I’m not professional and am getting my first set of non-junk knives. I was just given a gift of a Henckels “Statement” 7-block set $100. I was debating about adding $100 of my own to upgrade to a “Classic” in the International knives. Now that I understand more, for my uses the stamped, and no bolster Statement is probably fine. I’m not a heavy user so I assume the non-forged won’t fall apart instantly. The hand feel seems to my liking.

    I would like to know more about the self-sharpening. The block comes with that for each knife. Is it a nice addition that helps keep them honed over time until they need professional sharpening… or is it a gimmick that will wear the blade unevenly and be a problem? I have a farberwear sharpening rod that worked well enough on my prior cheap knives.

    • Hi Cheri,

      Thanks for the comment! The Henckels International Statement knife set that you got as a gift. Even though they are stamped, they will still hold up well. However, they won’t be as hefty as Henckel’s forged sets.

      The self-sharpening block will keep your knives very sharp (check out the reviews on Amazon) since it grinds the edge every time you pull a knife out. However, knives don’t need to be sharpened that often. So, you might find that using this block will wear down the blade faster than usual. With that said, this set is very affordable and should last several years.

      Let’s us know how it goes and best of luck!

      Andrew

  3. this was great and exactly what people need. Its so easy to fall into a value trap with the market flooded with knife blocks on sale. Having technical facts help to distinguish not only the methodologies during the manufacturing process but also help to understand why they’re important. This article was super helpful. Thank you.
    I had no idea that the angle of the blade was measurable and available to the public. I had no idea that JA Henckels and Wusthof were legitimately so close with their manufacturing process that it fundamentally boils down to the handle material and comfort. I like the curvature of the Wusthof handles but the price point is something that I may need to work towards. Thank you – like for real.

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